They are off again…

Do you remember you supported Headcase Charity a couple of years ago? You read the blog, you reposted the Facebook updates, you Liked the stories of injuries, training, diets, operations, results and best of all you donated as the months passed leading up to the pitching of aging bodies against the challenge of Ironman race. 
Can we call on you time and support, – and hopefully spare cash once again. We raised nearly ÂŁ50k over 18 months, comprising a variety of events, auctions, culminating with the Ironman race in Nice. This enabled us to support a full time PhD researcher for a year to find a cure for GBM brain tumors. Still 100% fatal with average life sentence of 14 months, yet only gets 0.01% of total U.K. Charity fundraising to try and find a cure. 

It’s on again, 13th May 2017. Join the journey and support the efforts to raise funds again to continue the quest to find a cure. No money is taken in Administration fees, and it’s a real direct effect you will be having.

Your involvement in likeing, reposting, tweeting, commenting as well as donating will help the pain seem worthwhile. 

Read the story thus far on this blog.

Team Russell: Tony, Peter, David & Dan

Starting blocks…..Peter

So I’m averaging 25k per day on the bike double on a Sunday, running is a problem as I have a knee injury which is restricting me, but 1or 2 runs a week around 5k a time – no swimming yet, but then that’s always a last minute thing for me. So by the time I reach the start line for my ‘fourth’ half ironman I will be ready, no booze during January but then again I don’t drink much these days. So really looking forward to this one as long as my pedal doesn’t fall off this time !!

Benchmark…David

So with 145 days to go I have a lot to do. On average I am running and cycling each week. However I am also eating and drinking way to much during this festive period. My plan is to become focused as we start the New Year!! STOP drinking for Jan and make this thing happen.

Don’t Panic, Carry on peddling

So I am not sure I can go a whole year without supporting and providing some funds for Headcase, it just don’t seem right. So following the hip replacement and recovery, (completed my first race as planned in May) and then completed Blenheim in June, following which the next health challenge arrived…..so an atrial flutter (could of thought of a more manly name ! ) apparently the bottom half of my heart is going three times faster than the top….( some have commented that’s the same as my brain and mouth…..I will let you work out which way round ) Anyhow bit of a drag, so went for a re boot a week ago and it hasn’t worked so next one lined up, does make a difference but allowed to just carry on training, so that’s exactly what is happening….

So next challenge is the 70.3 Half Ironman in Bahrain on November 20th, both Dan and I are going for it…first night time 70.3…under lights ! could be interesting. Soooooooo a little bit of support would be really appreciated, we are currently about 4k off our 50k target so just a little from each will get us to that point….appreciate I have asked before and many have donated but this isn’t going to go away, the progress is gathering pace and great strides have been made from our funding, so please find it in yourself to make a small contribution.

It’s been a challenge to get back to some sort of fitness, but each time I think about that I slap myself and remember what Colin went through, along with many others…..we must just not give up on this so as I have said please help with just a little…..appreciate it !!

So BANG goes the plan …….

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So just over 4 months ago I became younger…having a significant body part replaced certainly in my eyes reduced my overall age and got me back closer to my younger brother who has had a total crisis relating to his recent birthday.

hip picAnyhow with renewed vigour I set about preparing for my first race with my new hip…..little did it know when it was cast that it was in for a real test…so far it has travelled over 1800 k in training so it’s passed all its running in tests.

So plan …. Stay under the radar, train and then race and then perhaps depending on the outcome re visit the charity pages for another crack at helping the fight against the terrible disease that claimed our mates life. Then bang Dan goes viral with his tale from last year and it restarts the mission !!!!!

So having for nearly my entire life been an old school trainer ( just volume ) I also decided to get help and indeed settled on the guy that had help Dan smash his last race. So up pops a plan and I start to realise just how unfit you become in a relatively short period of time, in fact the first 1k run I did resulted in two days of almost no movement !!!! Anyhow not being a quitter I have stuck with it and it is getting a bit easier..but still away to go. I am currently a little over four weeks to run until my first race and that’s scary, but it hopefully will turn out to be a great day as that afternoon I am at Stamford Bridge and we may just see some silver wear !

But back to the reason apart from keeping fit and drinking beer, Headcase has become totally connected to each race we do….mostly because that’s where it all started but also because real progress is being made in finding, dare I say it a cure !!!!. It therefore seems easy to help and promote this fight, I have planned several races this year and we will see how it goes, but on December 12th all being well both Dan and I will be attempting the 70.3 in Bahrain, that will be almost a year to the day my new body part joined this fight….so again we ask for any help in terms of donation that you can make, please pass this onto others and get them involved we MUST get this sorted….it just cannot be allowed to take away friends and family on such a regular basis. I made a promise to Colin and I will continue to do what I can to keep it, but cannot do it without you.

After all it’s only money and as a friend of mine once said…..you get it all back and the end of each month !!!!!

Thanks in advance for any help

Dynamic Dan’s Dauntless Determination……

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Dan “Ever since I took part in my first triathlon back 2010 at Blenheim, it had never crossed  my mind that I wouldn’t complete the race even in the most darkest of times during the run. That was until November last year.

It was the first ever half Ironman distance in Dubai and Dad had flown over to race even though deep down we both new he would never complete it. This was solely due to the fact he had about 6 degrees of movement in his hip before the involuntary electric shock manuovere was activated. If you spent any time with him towards the end of last year you will know what I am talking about. It’s funny now but at the time it definitely wasn’t.

With that taking up most of the conversation prior to the race, never did I once think that I could also be in danger of not completing it. To be honest, I wasn’t confident in having a great day as I hadn’t put in enough hours, but having raced in Mallorca earlier this year and leaving a bit disappointed, I was determined to leave everything I had out there and try and nick a result.

IMG_5550My wave started and we began the swim but around the 1k mark I was beginning to feel very sick. I am not sure whether it was nerves, the sea water or the jel I had just taken before the race, but it wasn’t enjoyable and cost me a bit of time without a doubt. I exited the swim around the 36min mark and relatively happy all things considered.

I really enjoyed the bike course as it was on a road I use when driving all the time. Up and back down Hessa street 3 times with a tail wind going up and a headwind back, I had a lot of fun. The only issue was that I felt the need to consume 6 – 7 gels over the 2 hours and 47 mins I was on the bike. There are millions of different articles and pieces of advice you can find on the internet about best practice and rule of thumb when it comes to nutrition, but I can tell you right now, that is way too much.

Completely oblivious of what I had done, I entered T2 in a pretty strong position with my only worry being that I may of gone too hard on the bike and if my legs would hold up for the 21kms ahead of me. “you’ll be fine’ I said to myself. “Just go off steady and build in to a rhythm – you’re way ahead of schedule”

FullSizeRenderSo off I went running at around 5.10min k pace which is slow but I was very happy to stay at for the first 5k. Its worth pointing out at this point that it was around 10.30am and the weather was around 32 degrees C. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that is bloody hot and not ideal when you’re about to embark on a half marathon. Even less ideal when you’re unaware of what is just around the corner.

The first couple of k of any run off the bike is tough while you get your legs used to the change in motion and your heart rate a steady pace. But by 3k I was still not feeling good, and by 4k I was feeling worse. Then my stomach started playing games and by the 5.25 turnaround point it had enough.

I spent the next 15.25 kms following a clockwork routine of Run, Puke, Walk, Run, Puke, Walk. To say it was rough would be a rather large understatement.

IMG_5558Even in the best conditions that is not something you want to go through, but when its beaming sunshine and every bit of energy you had stored is now plastered across the crescent of the Palm, it’s actually quite dangerous. I was unable to consume anything aside from water and even when I did that, I saw it again moments later. I still don’t know how I managed to get to the end but I stumbled across in 5hrs 43 mins and 46 seconds. 23 seconds slower than Mallorca earlier in the year and a 2:15:55 half marathon split! Ouch!

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It took me a good while to recover from the race and that gave me time to reflect on what happened. This sport is bloody tough and if you want to do it well there are no shortcuts at ANY level. Although the nutrition issues played a key role in my day, I was 100% guilty of showing a lack of respect to the distance and I said to myself the next day that will never happen again.

Its a bit of a cliché but how often do you hear people say that you learn more from disappointment than success? It’s thrown around all the time particularly with sport but in my case it couldn’t of been more true. I looked at what I was doing and what I wanted to achieve in the sport and decided that I needed a complete overhaul. I realised I wasn’t happy just being a middle of the pack athlete and needed to do something about it particularly with training structure and planning. My answer was simple. I needed a coach.

I found my guy and met him 2 days later. 3 days later I had my first assessment session and by the end of the week I had started my personalised training plan all structured towards my next race which was 4 months away – Challenge Dubai. We looked at my weaknesses and technique and worked out how I could get the most ‘bang for my buck’. Like most age groupers I have a pretty unpredictable job which means I have to be flexibile and plan my sessions in order to get the most out of them. Before I would just rock up to the gym with no plan or just head out on a 10k run at one pace not knowing if it was really helping me improve. Having a weekly plan allowed me to plan around my work and social life and gave me the confidence that what I was doing was working. This proved to be pivotal in my improvement as it relieved the mental stress I was putting on myself regarding training – one of the biggest issues age groupers come up against in this sport.

Aside from the Christmas period I pretty much trained everyday in one shape or form but averaged around 6 hours a week in the 4 months – almost half the average when I was training for Ironman. Obviously its worth noting that I was only training for a half so that would make sense but I knew deep down that this was the fittest i’d been for a long time and was only really lacking the endurance needed for a longer event which you can only get from hours and hours in a low heart rate state, or what’s otherwise know as f***ing mind numbing training!

Training Peaks

February came and I got my usual chest cold 3 weeks out from the race. This was another bonus of having a coach as he helped me understand that it wasn’t going to effect my fitness level enough to make a difference and that all the bulk of the work was already done. The stress I put myself through before Ironman France when I thought i’d lost all my fitness in the 2 weeks leading into the race was actually probably more detrimental to my performance than the illness that I caught. Stress is literally the number one evil and the more you can limit it the better you will become.

We put my plan together which included my nutrition and HR zones and I was ready to go which was something I had never done before, particularly with nutrition. I removed gels altogether from my plan and stick with solid food and high calorie chews.My relationship with jels has now come to an eternal end.

Feeling excited, I woke up on the morning of the race and the weather was like nothing id seen before in dubai. The wind was blowing at speeds up to 50kmph and the sea was like something you’d expect to see on the coast of Australia, not in Dubai. As such the swim course was moved inside the bay and became 2 loops. I was actually really relaxed for some odd reason, perhaps it was that I knew I had done the work and stress levels were low I don’t know. The pro’s went off first and were thrown around like rag dolls in the 3ft waves. I was still very relaxed.

The swim was as rough as it looked. So much so that I came out in over 40mins and way off my target time. While I was annoyed I knew there wasn’t anything I could do apart from bike hard and run harder. So that’s what I did.

By the time I had reached 45km split averaged around 39kmph. Granted there was a pretty big tail wind for about 30km of that but the other 15km was made up of horrific side wind that actually blew people off the bike. I knew that was fast as it was way beyond what I planned but I was well within my HR zones that I set out with my coach before the race. Happy days!

The way back wasn’t so enjoyable into huge headwinds but I managed to hold on and get to t2 with a 2:37 bike split and an average of 34.2kmph, whilst also nailing my nutrition. Buzzing!

It was at this point where I told myself to just stick to the plan on the run. Stay in my zones planned and if I have anything left at the end use it. And that’s exactly what I did. Looking back at my data my HR pretty much stayed between 3 beats of each other the whole way (155 – 158 between zone 3 &4). That might not mean much to you but to me and my coach that was amazing as it allowed me to stay just below threshold and at the same pace for the whole 21k. I had executed my plan perfectly and as a result ran my fastest ever half marathon off the bike (1:42:32) and was over the line in 5:06:34 (9th in AG).

IMG_5557As always, when you look back at a race, you ask yourself could I have done more here and what if I did that there, its inevitable and this was no different. But for me, this was my first real breakthrough race i’d had and it really showed me what I could acheive. In all honesty, I hadn’t really changed much in terms of hours trained or types of exercises over the 4 months, in fact, I probably did less and kept it simpler than before. The real difference was that I highlighted what was the real factor in the way of me improving and resolved it. I worked out I needed a structure to suit my life and eliminated the mental stress I was putting on myself. The result speaks for itself.

I’m now planning the rest of my year and working out what races to do. Last weekend I did a sprint where I managed to get 8th place (out of 71) which was really fun – 1 hour 20mins of full on pedal to the metal. Sadly though that was the last triathlon here until October but in truth there is a lot I need to work on before I race again later in the year.

The race in Dubai managed to raise another 90 quid for Headcase which was brilliant but we need CAN and MUST do more. We’ve all put so much into this over the last few years achieved great things. Now is the time to evaluate where we are going and and what we need to do in order to take this to the next level, we can’t stop!

The triathlon bar has been raised and new targets have been set. Let’s all analyse what we can do to raise the fundraising bar and make 2016 the year of breakthroughs.