Guest blogger: Marc Davies – Off-season winter blues….

December, a month stuck at the end of the year, predominantly cold, wet, windy, and filled with too much of this and that right? I said to myself no matter what happens, weather wise at least, I would carry on training.  Just progressing, nothing too major or specific to help increase my base.

I made myself an achievable weekly training plan in November covering the winter months, so that everyone at home that could understand could see the reason why I was letting my side of the bed get cold in the mornings.  For November for the most part it worked great.

Mondays – Rest day.

Tuesdays – AM Run HIIT / PM Swim HIIT

Wednesday – PM Bike/Turbo or outside

Thursday – AM Run Mid distance Tempo/ PM Swim – Drills/Tempo 1km

Fridays – Bike Endurance/Distance

Saturdays – Run Endurance 10k or more

Sundays – AM Bike Turbo or Group 25mile/ PM Swim Endurance 2km or more.

Come week 2 of December that was it Man-flu, arrghhh!!!! I hate being ill, and fought of all the bugs going around the household previously with some pride, borderline smugness, but boy oh boy did this feel crap.  I convinced myself 1 or 2, maybe 3 days off resting would do the trick, along with virtually taking out shares in Lemsip Max Strength meds.  4 days later and a loo roll was still my best friend. By Friday I became humanized again, and was already planning a weekend of training, starting with a gentle ride around the Shire with fellow MAMIL Dean. (Middle Aged Men/Maiden In Lycra).  Apparently, although I deny all knowledge of this of course, I was like a bear with a sore head because I couldn’t train.

That Saturday Morning I agreed to meet him and head out through Watermead Park to Syston, then out to South Croxton, Queniborough, East Goscote, Cossington, Rothley around to Cropston Reservoir, back into Cropston and down and up through Thurcaston, then finally back to Birstall. Some nice hills to get the legs and lungs working, some nice descents, all good stuff, so it seemed in theory.

After 2 coffee’s, a bowl of porridge and a banana I dusted of my wheels from the garage, and as my lungs inhaled the chilly sub-zero air, I immediately had a nice wakeup call as I struggled for the next breath.  After about a minute of trying to compose myself, I contemplated if this was the right idea, but then quickly realized that letting a mate down is poor show, and I had been itching to do something, anything, to stop the frustration within, so I cracked on.

I met Dean and off we went at a placid pace, discussing the week’s activities and impending move as we pootled along.  13km in and the climb on Croxton Road started, so being weary of not blowing a gasket before we even got to the top, I took my time relatively speaking.  800m later I was panting like chain smoker, another 100m and I was sounding like a cat coughing up a fur ball.  Oh this was fun I thought, never-mind if it cleared the cobwebs off then it’s got to be good.  The icy downhill was a welcome rest though, but had to be treated with respect.  No setting a PB on a downhill sector today.  We continued on at a steady pace and managed a steady 30km/k on the A607 which thankfully had been gritted.  As we neared Rothley and the A6 the view that greeted us was breath-taking.  So much so we stopped for an obligatory picture.   Winter wonderland at its best!

We continued on, and as we progressed I continued to feel better with every Kilometre.  As we passed the Reservoir we saw a few other crazy assed individuals who had the same idea as us, and I was quiet please I hadn’t lost my marbles completely.  Through Thurcaston on Leicester Rd I knew the double dip hills lay ahead, so I blitzed it as fast as I dare going down so as to carry momentum passed the pub and on the first ascent.  It felt good, no repeat of the earlier incident, and the legs felt like they had worked a bit.  Now came the second hill, same again, carry the speed, and dig deep, rhythmic cadence and I would soon be at the top.  As I looked back I could see Dean had dropped off somewhat, but I couldn’t stop halfway up, so as the legs felt the burn, I carried on to the top, pulled in and waited for him, and apologised for leaving him when he caught up.  We got back to Birstall and parted company to thanks for a great spin round.   The rest of the day I felt amazing, good with myself, legs a little tired, but otherwise chipper – the endorphins had worked wonders.

By the following day I was back to square one. Que Lemsip and now cough medicine too… marvellous.  The week before Christmas and I was still feeling pants, on top of which we were going to be moving over the New Year and now had a house to decorate before we moved in, which included getting rid of miles of Woodchip, a lot of steam, which one would be forgiven for thinking it could help the cough, but no not I.  Something had to give, and it was training.  Instead of getting up at 4am to go for a run, I would go off and either strip a wall, or paint it.  Instead of going to the pool in the evening it was more stripping, painting, crack filling.  I even tried convincing myself I was getting a good nonspecific upper body workout.  Yeah right.  All the while the little devil on my shoulder was screaming loud “you’re missing too much training”, it was getting seriously frustrating.  Was I the only one who could see? It would have been great to fit in the decorating in the day, around reduced training intensity, but as a stay at home Dad priority has always been to look after our 18month old, and as great as she is at helping me do things, I couldn’t very well expose her to the hazards of decorating the new place.

That Saturday enough was enough, I took a day off from decorating and decided I would go and ride the same route as I had the week before, and set off 8:30 that morning, to a less frosty, warmer but overcast ride, it felt really good, my legs warmed up nicely, I was making good pace on last week’s ride at least.  I started the same climb at 13km and slowly but surely started to feel the wind pushing me sideways.  Oh this is fun! Not!  What is it they say oh if you hit the wind just use it to train harder, but don’t over compensate blowing all your energy on a head wind.  As I turned into it on the bottom of Croxton Rd to head back to Queniborough, I hit it head on, and it wasn’t so much of a bit of hard work, more of a battle to keep moving forward.  All the while I had Sylvester Stallone’s voice in my head going “it ain’t about how hard you hit, but how hard you get hit, and keep moving forward”, I convinced myself as I started the descent on Ridgemere Lane as long as I kept moving forward, I would get a break somewhere.  But as I was struggling to do 20km/h when normally I would do 35-40km/h it became clear that there wasn’t a chance in hell.  As I pushed on through to the A607 and Cossington I started to bonk, I really had nothing left in the tank.  I dropped the gears, and a cog, and started spinning gently, and after 24km decided enough was enough.  I knew what nearly 2 weeks of not training, illness, and the stress of decorating had all done.  I was so angry.  I decided to bug out and gently ride home.  Almost an hour later I was standing in a hot steamy shower and was asking myself what have I got to do to shake this bug, get back training, juggle all the balls and not drop one?

Christmas came, and it seemed a welcome relief from everything.  It was family time, and my so carefully planned but thrown out of the window training programme had factored in a few days off here and there.  It was nice to be feeling better ‘ish’ and to enjoy a glass of wine or three, relax, and above all enjoy the time with our kids.  New Year’s week it started all over again, decorating, moving bits, but this time with the help of my brother who came to stay with his family.  We agreed that we were going to do something, so as I hadn’t run for nearly 3 weeks, I suggested a nice early morning ride New Year’s Eve, nothing strenuous, out to Cropston Reservoir, up to Beacon Hill, and maybe a bit further if he felt up to it.  As we got ready to leave it was icy as hell, but we went for it anyway, taking our time, and being gentle with the brakes.

It actually wasn’t that bad, the scenery was perfect; the roads although seriously iced up by frozen rainfall and snow dusting were “technically challenging” but fun still.  Chris was glad he had taken me up on the ride, and loved what he experienced.  As we started to ascend Beacon Hill from Woodhouse I sensed him dropping off, so I backed off and let him take the lead, but getting going again a quarter of the way up and trying to get onto the back of his wheel was quite a challenge.  However, the agony was worth it as we pulled into the car park.

This was one hell of a way to end the year, and it felt good if not bloody cold.

We headed back, and I warned Chris I was going to give it a bit of a push on the downhill back to Woodhouse, and we set off together.  It was great to feel the wind and watch the speed build, but then as I hit 63km/h I started to have a wheel wobble that lasted the best part of 700m down the hill, and boy was it scary, I changed my grip and body position slightly, released some of the tension and gently started breaking on the back wheel, and it started to fade.  Damn that was a scary first.  Chris caught up and he could see my eyeballs on edge.  I explained what happened and he just laughed.

We discussed going a tad further, but as he had lost all feeling in his toes, it was time to head home and warm up. 30km wasn’t a bad day’s work with the very best of company, and great way to end the year, as we had started it. With a ride.

New Year came and passed with a bit too much alcohol, cheese and biscuits, and of course Fireworks, but as for training well that would have to wait another 2 weeks, as the move took place and cleaning the old house to inspection standard replaced all the decorating.  I jumped on the scales on the 2nd of January and I had only gained 3kgs from over the whole festive period and took some comfort it wasn’t the near enough 10kg of last year.  I had by now accepted I wouldn’t be able to train again until everything was finalised, even if I still hated the idea of not doing anything properly.  I came to the conclusion that if you train enough it becomes addictive.  It’s true what they say, that people get the off season training blues, I have certainly had mine.

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Get to know Conor Murphy

Conor Murphy, Elite Triathlete, Interview…

First tell me a little about yourself:

how old are you?

Do you study or work and train or train full time?
Train full time, worked as a chartered accountant ant until I was 25.

height, 173cm
weight, 62kg
body fat, 9%

When did you start triathlon?
Full time racing elite level 2011, (though did race in triathlons as a kid in Ireland growing up, though in my late teens and early twenties I focused more on Gaelic football)

What was your first Tri like?
First elite race was brutal, April 2011, Braschatt Continental cup race, Belgium, very competitive field, I got pumped, it was a baptism of fire, a good wake up call to what elite level racing was all about after a decent year if age group racing in 2010,

What attracted you to triathlon?
Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed working as an Accountant, but I really enjoy racing Triathlon.

Which of the 3 sports are you best at?
Unfortunately none of the 3 individual sports are stand out for me, I’m pretty average at them all.

Which is your favourite of the 3?
Cycling, it’s the speed and g-forces going round corners that give me a real kick.

What distances are you racing?
Sprint and Olympic distance ITU races

What’s a typical training day in Kenya like?
6:30am Early morning run, followed by run drills. Up to 90mins
11am Swim up to 6km
90mins map
3pmUp to 3hr hilly bike ride or gym work
7pm dinner
8pm bed

What’s a normal training week like for you?
Swim up to 25km over 6 sessions
Bike up to 300km over 5 sessions
Run up to 100km over 5 sessions
Gym up to 3hrs a week over 3 sessions

Do you eat healthy or just whatever calories you can get into you?
With such demands on the body with the training load I have to put the best quality foods in to get the best performances out.

What sports nutrition do you use?
None, use real natural unprocessed foods, I can get all my nutritional requirements by eating well.  In races I use kinetica caffeine gels for the Olympic distance races.

Do you have any sponsors?
Frogisland Triathlon, Gradeall Int Ltd, Vodafone, Triathlon Ireland and their sponsors.

Who would you like to be sponsored by?
An Airline like Ryanair for European races and Emirates for transcontinental races… And maybe Guinness… Always fancied a black and which bike with a golden harp on the top tube

Do you train using heart rate?

What’s your resting heart rate?
33 at sea level

Do you use a power meter?

Best race experience and worst?
Best – Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow, fantastic atmosphere, first time many of my friends and family from Ireland got to watch me race.
Worst – Edmonton World Championships 2014, after one of my best races of my career in the Stockholm WTS 8 days before, (got sick from the water after the race as did 50% of the athletes) was empty for Edmonton, practically came last, no energy.

What were your highs lows in 2014?
Highs – Debut in World Championship Series race in Auckland, finished 22nd
Lows – DNF World Championship Series race in Yokohama, food poisoning pre race.

What are you goals for 2015 and beyond?
Qualify for Rio 2016 Olympics

What motivates you?
Improving, winning and progressing

Who are your sporting heroes / idols and why?
My Ma and Da, they were never elite/full time athletes, but they have an relentless and inspiring work ethic in their occupations and if I can match and apply this to triathlon I will be successful.

What other hobbies do you like?
Gaelic football (although I shouldn’t play to keep all my energy for Triathlon training, mainly a spectator now)

What do you do to relax?
Read, chat on the phone to my Granny, hangout in coffee shops.

Choose one:
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Sweets or chocolate? Neither
Water or electrolytes? Water
Gels or solid fuel? Solid
Train or recover? Train
Train or race? Race
Hot or cold weather? Hot
Drafting or non drafting? Drafting
Massage or stretching? Massage
Sprint or Olympic? Olympic
power or heart rate? Power

Advice to newbies or beginners?
Address niggles/pain immediately, usually 1 day easy fixes most issues instead of getting properly injured and having weeks out.

Triathlon bucket list?
Olympic Games

Where do you buy your Tri gear?

what’s your mile time?

fastest 10K time?

Fastest Olympic time?
1hr 47mins

what’s your favourite piece of training / racing gear?
My bike

what goes through your mind the night before a race?
Relax, all the hard training is done, should be just following a well drilled routine, switch the brain on to over drive 10mins pre race.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?
Not really, usually speak to my family the morning of the race and my longterm coach and mentor Dwyer O’Hagan

does it take long to recover after a race?
Depends what race and distance, 3 days and everything is usually back to normal

Anything you don’t enjoy about Tri?
Nerves 3mins pre race start before the gun goes off… Not sure anyone enjoys those adrenaline hits.

Do you do much strength work?
About 90mins gym work per week

proudest moment in triathlon?
Winning World age group champs in 2010 in front of my family in Budapest

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Chipping away at it – Marc Davies Blog Part III

By late September my knee had recovered, and I was back on it running, cycling, and the swimming carried on.  I got a phone call from the ever competitive brother, who wanted to know if I fancied doing the Devizes Half Marathon in October, and I agreed, not realizing the Leicester Half was the following week, which I kind of promised I would do anyway. So there was born my crazy 7 day half marathon challenge, and all for MacMillan Cancer Support.  I knew that I could do 10k no problem but 13 miles? Anything is possible.

I trolled cyber space and found plenty of advice for training for a Half Marathon, with lots of just running programmes, but I wanted to maintain my swim and bike until at least a week or so before, so I ended up keeping Mondays as rest days, Tuesdays 3mile run to the pool, 1 to 1.5km swim, Wednesday 6-7mile run, Thursday 1.6-1.8km swim, Friday 50mile bike, Saturday rest, Sunday Long Slow Distance runs building up to doing 13.1miles or more. Through September and early October I pestered everyone for donations, wrote blogs as to why it was so important to me, even a poem.  It was working the pennies were rolling in and the running was getting easier.  I did a slow half Marathon distance in September at 2hrs 13mins but it was a first, the second training run in October 2hrs 6mins.  The following week would be the Devizes Half.

October the 19th loomed and as my brother lives near Devizes we would spend the night before at his with the family.  He wound me up saying his foot was hurting him, and he thought his trainers had, had it. I couldn’t sleep a wink.  I was awake nearly every hour.  I struggled with my race day breakfast of Porridge, Banana, Erdinger and beetroot juice. I was feeling seriously stressed because I knew what it meant to me.  I just wanted to register, get our numbers and get on with it.

As we lined up together I got the “yeah I am going to take it easy to start with”, “will see how I go”, but that was all game talk.  Our partners and kids made it to the start point to cheer us of, just in time. The gun went and we were off. I waved my mad bunch goodbye to cheers of “go on Daddy/Marc”.  A few minutes later Chris said “see ya at the finish”, and was gone.   I decided to hang on to the 2hr pace guy for as long as possible, with the plan to breeze past him after mile 10. Nice plan, until the hill on Mile 2.

I knew it was going to be long and hard, and there would be a few more smaller hills, but after every up hill is downhill.  I dug deep, and remembered my training, smaller more frequent steps to maintain my cadence.  I did it, and opened up on the downhill to stretch out the legs.  It worked.  I was enjoying it, and every water/fluid station was a welcome shower.  Especially as the gloomy grey morning was turning into a Sunny windy day.  It was almost as if those up above were smiling.  I even managed a conversation with complete strangers, which was a good indicator I wasn’t pushing too hard.

By Mile 6 I could feel the fatigue start to creep in, I was 2 SiS gels in, 2 to go, and half way through my Viper Active Orange drink, I reeled in a lady called Kit, and she stuck with me for the rest of the race, helping me keep at a sensible, I will finish pace.  She was trying for 1hr 45mins region and I for 2hrs, but all that went out of the window after the first killer hill.  We pushed each other on, and after a few miles gathered quiet a group around us, well until mile 11, when the course changed from nice firm road to wet, muddy stoney gravel and a very steep hill.  Nice!! I probably could have walked faster, but I was adamant I wasn’t going to stop running.  Kit was still 15 meters behind, but as we crested the hill she caught up.  With 400mtrs to go, we approached Devizes green and the finish home loop, and we gave it everything.  I saw my kids running alongside cheering, my brother cheering and at the finish my partner and our little girl.  As I crossed the finish line the flood gates opened.  I had completed the first step, on near as damn it my old back yard, and I knew Mum would be smiling.  My time was 2hrs 7minutes.  I was more than happy.  Oh and my ever competitive brother 1hr 45minutes.  We both wore our finisher’s medal with pride as we walked into the Moonrakers for a celebratory pint and to swap battle stories.

2 hours later I would drive the 3hour drive home feeling blessed, relaying the story of the race to the kids and my partner.  Monday morning loomed and walking down the stairs was a challenge, especially carrying a 14mth old, but no pain no gain right?  I knew that Leicester wasn’t far away, and to stand any chance of surviving that half marathon, I knew I needed to get my muscles sorted, my aches gone, and glycogen stores replenished.  Que taking out shares in ibuprofen gel, deep heat, ice baths, and eating pasta like Mussolini’s third cousin, and omelette’s until I was about ready to lay eggs myself.  Midweek I knew I needed to get out and run to keep my legs working, so I did an easy 10k around Watermead Park and Birstall.  The rest of the week was going to be just rest.

Race day on the 26th October for the Leicester Half and full marathons arrived.  The Madness of trying to park up, before the race and walk with kids and pushchair to the start was annoying but once I saw a few familiar faces, and got the nervous loo break out of the way, I was good and clock watching for the start.  The plan, go out to about half way nice an easy and then speed up for the inbound leg.  As the gun went we all walked towards the start and slowly started running towards London Road.  Once I got onto London Road, I felt good, and let my legs go at what I felt comfortable with, by mile one I had done an 8min 15sec mile, too fast.  Mile 2 – 8:21, still too fast, I was feeling good, my legs seemed happy with the pace, so I kept on it.  By mile 5 my bladder decided it really couldn’t hang on, and I stopped and found a bush, then got going again, but now everything felt harder, strange almost.  I had lost any rhythm, and was now feeling gut rot.  By Mile 6 my knees were starting to ache.  I knew once I hit Watermead Park and King Lear Lake, I would be on familiar ground, and close to seeing my partner Catherine and the kids on Wiles Lane.  As I got to the hill on Wiles Lane I could hear her, the kids, and friends who had come out in the village to cheer me on I got a massive buzz of emotion.  I was in agony, but I knew now was not the time to quit, just one foot in front of the other, just keep moving.  I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, but all I had to do was get to the finish, no matter the pain.  After all my pain would go but those suffering from Cancer would maybe never be pain free again.  I owed it to them to man the hell up, and even shouted “shut up legs” which gave me a psychological push.

As I got close to New Walk I saw a familiar face of an ex college, and the two of us spurred each other on up the gentle hill, as I got to the top, I could see and hear my Sister in Law cheering and I knew the finish wasn’t far away, but I couldn’t see my Partner anywhere in the crowds.  I pushed and gave it everything for the finish, and felt completely drained and beat.  I checked around and then saw my partner crying because she had missed me finishing.  I hugged her and reassured her, that it didn’t matter, seeing her in my home village with my friends was more important.  I checked my tracker 2hours 4 minutes, get in there new PB on tired achy legs.  I then discovered it wasn’t the only PB.    I was happy.  I had completed what I set out to do, run two half marathons 7 days apart, and raise as much as I could for MacMillan.

The following day the pain would hit hard, but good old ibuprofen, deep heat and ice took the edge off it nicely.  The messages of congratulations flooding through social media and text messages were amazing.

The donations on and to me personally with messages were moving, and I sat down and read them all again.  It had been worth all the hours of training, all the pain, and above all the sacrifices.

I looked back over my training this year, and I realised if I can get from a 118kg sofa troll to 85kg double half marathon runner in one year, from here on in I can work to do an Ironman!

Bring on Outlaw 2015 – I will complete it.

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Chipping away at it – Marc Davies Blog Part II

Marc Davies Blog Part II

For a week after I rested, only going out on the bike once for a gentle ride and one gentle training swim.  The next thing was to concentrate on getting faster at everything, because I wanted to do Oakham next and then Desford and then maybe a few running races towards the end of the season, and look for an Ironman for 2015.  At Least that was the plan.

I started to increase my distances across the board, and was getting on well with 10k runs, 40mile biking, and swimming roughly a 1km at a time, whenever I was in the pool.  The weight carried on coming down little by little, but it would sit at a 92kg then drop about 3 weeks later, and stay off.  Was I building muscle, quite probably?

Mid June and training for Oakham was going great, I would ride off to Oakham and try the bike section a few times, and ride back.  One night in the pool I was talking away with a friend, and I heard about the Rothley 10k, it was only a few days away, but as I had done several hilly 10k training runs at about 54mins mark, I was happy I could give it a go.  So I lined up on the start on June 17th in my tri-suit, and set off.   It took all of about 2mins for it to dawn on me; I was the only one wearing a tri-suit and looked a right plonka.  56mins and 48secs later I was crossing the finish line, rather annoyed with myself for going too fast at the start, trying to maintain my 5k pace, even up the naughty hill at the start, and slightly miffed that I had lost 2 mins over my best 10k distance in training.  But never mind a free swanky T-shirt and a lesson learned.

Oakham Sprint Tri came about, I had tapered, mentally set my targets, had everything in mind set to give it my best.  My support crew were amazing being dragged out of bed early on a Sunday Morning. I assigned each a pivotal role. Tayla (12) head of marketing and PR, Ayrton (6) race mechanic, Leah (6) Lollipop girl and Elly-May (11mths) chief cheer leader, they loved it.  Once I had my life squared away in transition, I had a bit of time with them to chill which was great to take the mind of race nerves.  We all went pool side to have a look, and were really shocked.  No way was the pool 25mtrs, was it? My word it seemed small, and choppy.  I have been on calmer crossings across the English Channel.  Never mind, it’s the same for everyone. I dived in and barely clung to the side the water was so low, and then I was off.

I planned to do 100mtr Front crawl, 50mtr breast, 100mtr Front Crawl, 50mtr breast, and bomb the last 100mtr Front crawl as fast as possible.  It had worked in training, and I was getting times of 9 mins 15 sec.  It was hard going, and unbelievably choppy, I must have swallowed water god knows how many times, but then the ultimate, collision with someone on the downward length. I got moving again, and just blitzed the last 50 metres.  10mins 10 sec total swim time.  Gutted, I knew I was better than that, but never mind, head down, get into transition and get biking, I knew I was going to be strong on this.

One by one, I picked off fellow age groupers going through Oakham, and felt great doing it.  I started to get out in the rural hilly part, and felt a buzz as I picked off two guys on race bikes on my heavy Carrera Crossfire in quick succession.  Then it would be miles before I saw another competitor.  This was a good sign, no one passing me on TT Bike or Race bike, and then on the return to Oakham section I started catching another few fellow age groupers.  There was another massive hill and I could see the pair struggling, so I mashed on the pedals, because I knew I could bomb down the other side, into Oakham, and put some distance on them.   10ft before the top of the hill, as the hail stones started to pound, I passed both of them.  Going downhill I pushed as hard as I could, and maxed out at 40mph, then tucked everything in and got low. As it levelled off I looked back and could see I had some good distance on them.  Then came a T junction, and the Marshal motioned me to stop for traffic, and as it became clear to go, the two guys passed me.  Sods law.  I came into T2 a little peeved, but that all went out the window once I saw my support crew holding signs or encouragement.  I ran out of T2 holding back the tears, I couldn’t let them see me crying, again.

The run outward felt good once I had resumed composure, I felt good, I didn’t push, and passed several people struggling, and gave words of encouragement for them.  I planned to take the outward fairly easy, and then nail the return leg.  It worked, as I rounded the drinks table and half way point, I could see a guy from a college about 20yrs my junior  cresting the top of the hill about 150mtrs ahead of me, that was it, that was my target, pick him off, pass him, and pull away.  As we got to the crossing where they were doing road works I could smell the bitumen, and knew I had him. I pushed on passed him, getting further away with every stride, and as I got back onto the College grounds I checked back, and had done it, all that was left was a sprint finish to a bundle of hugs, kisses and smiles.  I felt good and happy with my 1hr 35min race time, considering the weather, the pool, it was an achievement.  The best reward came in the car on the way home, Dad can I do a kid Triathlon? From my 12year old.   She has the bug, even now.  So next year once she swims properly she’s going to have a go.

I carried on training, pretty much the following week as normal, and now in possession of a lucky competition win of a Specialized Shiv Elite 2013 TT bike; I was flying on the bike at least.  I knew Desford wasn’t far away, and it was next on my to do list.  But about 2 weeks before, on a family bike ride, I ended up going down with my youngest on the back, trying to avoid one of the other kids who had stopped dead. We had just set of too, but before I could even get my foot out of the cleats it was knee into gravel time, and any chance of doing the Desford Tri out of the window.  Instead I offered to Marshall and had an awesome time doing it.

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Chipping away at it… from Fatboy to wannabe Ironman – Marc Davies Part 1

October 2013 I looked at the scales in sad disbelieve, this can’t be right, is this thing calibrated? I know I will bash it a bit… Ugh 118kg (260lbs in old money).  Right I need to do something before I have a heart attack, without having a heart attack.  I know I will bike a bit more, and go for a run every now and then.  Great idea, erm… yes well 1.77miles around the block and my lungs felt like they were going to leave my body any time fast.  6mile bike ride in 45mins as fast as I could possibly go and I felt like I was going to explode if I went another meter.  A stark reality check, but then I had been burning the candle at both ends, doing silly double shifts, partying too hard, eating junk.  The image in the mirror that scared me every morning was distressing.  My jeans were too tight at a 38” waist, I was buying new clothes to fit and it all was getting XXL.  So I did what most people do, diet, well that was good for a Kilo or two, but nothing major.  I needed to get serious, and realise it wasn’t going to happen overnight.  Working stupidly long hours and being on the road didn’t help much, as trying to stick to any sort of gym or training plan would go out of the window one week from the next.

I realised running was going to be out of the question for a while until I lost some weight and my legs and knees could take it without feeling like a cripple for days afterwards.  I had to concentrate on cycling for now, and started going out at least three times a week as a minimum, and at least for an hour or so.   By Mid-December 2013 I was getting 30 miles done in roughly 2hrs 5 minutes, and weighed 95kg. Yes Progress…

It was at this stage I considered doing a Triathlon, it was late one Thursday evening, and I just watched an age grouper cross the finish line of Ironman Canberra, probably a re-run, he had 7 kids, a farm in the outback, and managed to train around farming and the family.  He also had an amazing wife who supported him.  That Friday evening over a pint of Trooper in my local with some friends and family, I continued to mull it over.  Everyone was asking what was up, because of my unusual quietness.  So at the fear of laughter, I blurted it out.  “I want to do a Triathlon, possibly an Ironman”.  To my surprise no one laughed, and were quiet supportive.  After another pint, Trooper is too good to just have one, it became clear I needed to try a smaller distance first, and get back to swimming.  I did a sponsored Triathlon when I was in the RAF Regiment, where I swam the best part of 2.5km and biked 50km and then did a full CBT (Combat Fitness Test – 10mile run with everything), how hard could it be? Ok that was 13 years ago, but still….anything is possible.


I still recall the first day in the pool, I couldn’t manage 50mtrs without stopping and that was breaststroke, and as for 400m, well that took about 18mins, and resulted in near death experiences.  Ok who was I kidding I was never going to be a torpedo.  But with time I knew I would at least be able to swim 400mtrs without stopping, and clinging to the pool like a limpet mine after every 25mtrs.  I worked on the strategy if I can nail it breaststroke, just get it done, then I could possibly have the lungs to do it partially front crawl.  So I swam at least once a week, and made sure when I did it included at least a mock race attempt at pace.

Christmas came, and as usual, you eat all the wrong foods, drink all the wrong tipples, and if my brother had anything to do with it New Year would be messy, and it was.  New Year’s day I stepped on his scales, boom 106kg.  The expletives ran through my mind, which mostly concentrated on chastising myself for over indulgence.  Once my heart rate had returned to normal, it became apparent I was going to have to dig hard.  Over the course of the celebratory festivities my brother had decided we were going to have to do a triathlon together or at least against each other, and the Leicester Sprint Tri would be it.  Bank Holiday Monday race day, a weekend of having him over with the family to compare training notes, go over the routes, brilliant.  Oh and wine of course!  I should explain of course at this point Chris is 9 years my junior, lanky, and loves nothing more than running up hills or muddy puddles for fun.  He also trains 4 hours a day when he is on shift at the Tidworth House Rehab for Soldiers centre.  What was I letting myself in for?

The plan was to train hard, so I started full of desire the first week of January.  On the 13th, 18miles in to a 30 mile endurance ride, I realized I could fly quiet literally across the bonnet of a Ford Fiesta.  I had been flying down Anstey lane and was going through Blackbird Road Junction as my lights went from green to amber, the idiot, (who probably got his licence from a cereal packet) decided to jump the lights, and I just saw him heading to cross my path, I braked as hard as I could, and snapped the mechanism in the lever, as I got my speed from 30mph to 19mph on impact, it was going to end one way.  Ouch, Ouch and well I will let you imagine the burning rage in one’s eyes.  As I slid of the bonnet, untangling the bike, I realised my left leg took the worst of it.  No claret spilling out of my head, arms and digits all ok.  Yep I was alive.  I could put weight on the right leg, and the pain on the left was immense, but I hobbled a few steps with the bike, and immediately checked it out, no major damage so it seemed, phew!  The driver apologised and then accused me of going through a red light, and then drove off.  He only came back once he saw the police and me in an ambulance, with some crock story.  Lucky for me I had deep tissue bruising, the world’s sorest dead leg, and no broken bones.  Amazingly there wasn’t a scratch on the car, and even the bonnet deflected back.

February I started to train hard again, well so I thought, I would spend two sessions a week in the pool, a mid-week quick 13 or 16 mile bike, and carry on working away at my running trying to get 3 miles done without stopping, as many times as I felt my body could take it.  Fridays I would get on the bike gently pedal over to the English Grammar School the other side of town, and then go hell for leather around the bike course, and then pootle back the long way via Houton on the hill, Scraptoft and Barkby then back to Birstall.  All tolled a nice 50 miler.  Whatever I was doing it was working, my weight kept coming down, sure the calorie counting helped, but the muscles on my legs were now bigger than ever.  By the end of February I was back to 95kgs and bruises free.

Through March and April, I carried on training at least 4 days a week with alternate days as rest days.  I had my 400m swim down to 12-13mins depending on how many people I had to navigate in the pool, 16 miles around north Leicester, including some fruity hills down to 50mins, and my 3 mile run time about 28mins.  I was starting to feel confident.  I was starting to see a reflection in the mirror that I liked, and I became completely obsessed with Triathlon.


Mid-April my partner Catherine suggested I could try a dry run at a Sprint Tri from the Pool, straight on to the bike, do about 12miles, and then run the 3.3mile course on our doorstep.  So on a sunny Sunday Morning I gave it a go, I swam 400m in 11mins 30sec, T1 was out the back of my Banged up old Landrover Discovery and lasted 10 minutes, as I fought in vain to get the Front wheel back on the bike.  The Bike was brilliant, I went balls out and did it in 50mins, T2 was home, where my partner was there waiting to take the bike whilst I changed footwear and went again.  I did the 3.3 miles in 31 mins.  All in all 1hr 45 mins something.  I knew now I could do it.


Race day loomed, and this was going to be it, my first ever Tri.  My Brother was quietly confident he could match my time, because whatever he lost on the Swim and bike, he would make back on the Run.  I knew at my best I could do the swim in 11mins flat, bike in 40-45mins dependant on wind around the airfield, and run in about 28mins.  Chris went in the pool first as he was going to be 15mins plus, and I counted his lengths for him, well until I had to jump in.  Chris finished as I was about half way through my swim, and I was having a mare.  I overtook the same guy twice, and then struggled on the last 50mtrs.  I got out of the pool and looked at my watch 10mins 50sec, result.  I faffed about in T1, as my cycle shorts struggled to go up my wet legs.  Once I mounted my Carrera Crossfire at the mounting point, I knew there was only one thing to do, hunt Chris down.  How hard would it be to catch a bright orange stick insect on a Mountain bike that had seen better days?  I started passing other age groupers, conscious of the drafting rules, and felt great.  I got round the back of Leicester Airport, and in the distance I could see bright Orange, it had to be Chris, and I was reeling him in little by little.  As I came up to the Junction with Washbrook lane, I caught up; it wasn’t Chris, but another age grouper.  Damn.  He had to be close.  I pushed on and bombed it down the hill.  I came back into the school and didn’t let up until the dismount point, where I flew off and passed someone on the timing mat. I saw my family and shouted “where’s Chris?” I got 2 mins ahead of you.  I knew it hung in the balance now.  He can run, with legs like a gazelle, but if he was only that far ahead, I might still have a chance on the stop watch.  I left T2 full of confidence and hunger; I left the School grounds, and soon realized I hadn’t tightened my trainer elastic in T1, stopped and sorted it, and got off again.  After a mile I saw my brother Chris coming the other way, we high fived, and carried on.  On the inbound leg I knew the hill lay ahead and dug deep and gave it everything, I rounded the corner and could hear my family screaming my name, and that was it I found another gear.  I crossed the finish line full of emotion.  I did it in 1hr 28mins, and beat my own goal of 1hr 35mins.  The best was still to come, Chris had whooped my ass by five mins, posting an overall time of 1hr 23mins.

The Analysis had already started in my head, if I hadn’t fluffed T1, stopped; I might have just about beaten him.  Secretly I think he still hasn’t forgiven me for beating him at clay pigeon shooting with his own shotgun.  But still we are brothers, and there was no love lost.  He attributed his success to the bike, highlighting that it had never gone so fast.  I shouldn’t have serviced it on the Saturday beforeJ.

With nearly all the family, in-laws, and friends at the finish, I couldn’t help but let the emotion of success flood out as I hugged my partner, and our baby girl.  I hadn’t won a medal, or title, I hadn’t even got top in my age group, but I had succeeded in the first step of what I set out to do complete a Triathlon.  I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner or the kids pushing me on, and believing in me.

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Steve Pascale-Jones 2014 Season Roundup

The Aviemore Half/End-of-season Blog

After an up and down season I finally came to my final race of the year; the Aviemore Half Marathon on October 12th.

I’d entered this race so long ago that I’d almost forgotten I was in it! With post-Equinox blues still present from 3 weeks prior, I hadn’t really prepared for this race like I normally would have done, either long-term or short term. I had also relaxed my previously strict diet a little and, whilst far from a porker, I didn’t feel quite as tight as I had done.

For most of 2014 my training had been focussed around improving in Ultra Marathons, which had undoubtedly worked well, but I had not done anywhere near as much speed work as usual. That being said I have only done two official half marathons before and I was confident that I was generally fitter and faster all round. My two previous halfs were Loughborough in 2013 where I did a 1h39m02s and Market Bosworth earlier this year where I just beat my Loughborough time, finishing in 1h38m38s having had a few weeks off training with ITB issues. With my general fitness good and a favourable course profile (it has a net downhill) I was hopeful of doing OK. I set myself two targets: a sub 1h35m race (so a big PB needed) and a top 100 placing. Based on previous years results this would be tough but it should hopefully be achievable.

For this one last race this year I paid extra attention to doing things properly. I don’t like to have too much in my stomach so a very light breakfast of fruit and Fuel10K was consumed before the 90 minute drive to Aviemore. Once again, my lovely wife Adele was in charge of transport and cheerleading duties.

It was a cold morning so I was well wrapped up on top of my race kit with leg warmers, beanie hat and Frog Island jacket keeping the chill away. Once registered at the race HQ we had a shortish bus ride to the start area up on the hills in the woods above Aviemore. As we arrived at the Badaguish Outdoor Centre where the race (and the simultaneous 10K race) was to start from, the smell of fresh coffee filled the air. Thoughtfully the race organisers actually laid on hot porridge, tea and coffee for any of the 1000 half marathon and 500 or so 10K runners. Nice touch and very welcome on such a chilly morning, thanks!

One hot coffee and my pre-race energy drink consumed I initiated a very thorough and intense warm-up for the 30 mins or so prior to the race start. I waited until the last possible moment before removing my extra layers and dumping my drop bag for collection at the finish. I took my place in the sub-1h40m section and kept bouncing and moving keeping my HR around 155bpm before we got going. Target would be around 176-178bpm. At the start I said hello to West Highland Way Race Director Ian Beattie, who I recognised, and wished him luck.

We were off. Although this race has a net-downhill, the first 9 miles are on trail, mainly in the forest and around the edge of the Loch, meaning it’s anything but easy. I was glad to have chosen the extra cushioning and grip of my Skechers Go Run Ultra’s rather than the slightly faster but firmer Go Run Speed’s. There is one small climb after 1/2 a mile but the main climb in the race comes between 3 and 4 miles, meaning it’s essential that you are well warmed up and zipping along by that point. My plan was to be well revved up at the start, go hard for the first 4 miles and then use the downhill gradient to allow me to maintain the pace (effort level) I had.

I started hard, very hard, and my HR was straight up to around 178bpm. I flew past quite a few people. I hit the 1 mile point and a downhill, this was hard already!! Oh well, keep pushing! As I hit the climb at 3 miles I was seriously in danger of blowing if I ran at my current intensity all the way to the top, so I actually paused and let a couple of people past on a narrow single track section. This was wise though as I was able to use them as pace makers. As i was running I was constantly doing sums, knowing that if I could be around 7:15/mile then I was well upon PB pace. Although I don’t use a GPS watch, the 1 mile markers and my HRM made this easy to calculate. I was checking the time as I went through each marker, knowing the key was if I was 29mins or quicker after the 4mile mark (the highest point of the race) then I was on for a good race. As it was I think I went through in 28m45s. Proper Bo indeed!!

From this point it was the usual race scenario of trying to pace myself both via feel and HRM. My indicated ave HR was around the 180 mark, very high but it felt maintainable and I tried not to worry about that too much figuring that my high level of fitness plus the intense warm up had enabled me to rev a bit higher than usual, happy days.

The race passed through a final forest section over a small wooden bridge and I spotted Ultra Running Supremo Donnie Campbell so gave him a shout as I went by (I may be looking at using him for some coaching in 2015). One of my competitors was kind enough to offer me a gel just as I was consuming exactly the same type of gel myself….. great minds and all that!

As we rejoined the road I had either dropped most of the people I was with or had been dropped myself by the really fast guys and girls. No worries. Being the freak I am, I’m usually shouting some kind of verbal abuse (which is not appropriate for a blog) at myself to keep going so I indulged in a bit of that. Most of the road section was flat or downhill. However a course is only as easy as you allow it to be and the previous 9 miles of hard trail running meant this was by no means a picnic and there were people being reduced to a walk even on the downhill sections and I gave a few shouts of encouragement as I went by. There were also a few of the 10K back markers who I made sure I gave some positive, kind words to. As their race had started at the same time as ours, with a slightly different course but finishing with the same road section, this meant they were going approx half my speed or less with a couple of miles still to go.

Pressing on I came into the last mile and Aviemore itself. I caught a couple of more runners with a final push, one of whom tried to get me in the sprint for the line….. haha, fat chance my friend! Despite being almost on my knees there was no way he was getting past me and I kept to the left side of the finishing barriers meaning I knew he would have to come by on my right hand side. I pumped my arms hard and allowed kinetics to do their job. Sure enough he couldn’t get by me. As I finished it was nice to get a shout out over the PA system for “Steve Pascale-Jones of Racetime Events finishing strongly”. I was over the moon to see Adele waiting for me with a much needed Fuel chocolate recovery shake!

I finished with an official time of 1h34m06s, a PB of over 4m30s and a placing of 87th out of 916 half marathon finishers. I was very happy with that as I achieved BOTH of my goals in my final race of 2014.


This is how my 2014 race season panned out:

Jan 11th. Country2Capital 45 Mile Ultra. 8h29m34s. 198/315. Top 63%.

Mar 1st. Belvoir Challenge 26 Mile XC. 1h26m40s. DNF after 8 miles.

Mar 9th. Ashby 20. 20 Mile Road Race. 2h29m56s. 185/1071. PB by over 10mins. Top 17%.

Mar 23rd. Loughborough Half. DNS due to ITB injury.

Apr 6th. 1485 Spring Duathlon. DNS due to ITB and calf injuries.

May 11th. Bosworth Half. 1h38m38s.118/569. PB by 24 secs. Top 21%.

June 21st. West Highland Way 96 Mile Ultra. 8h58m43s. DNF after 34 miles.

July 5th. Great Glen Way 72 Mile Ultra. 13h40m50s. 19/86. Broke previous course record by 26 mins. Top 22%.

Aug 23rd. Speyside Way 36.5 Mile Ultra. 5h34m08s. 18/97. Top 19%.

Sep 7th. Tiree 35 Mile Ultra. DNS due to logistical issues getting to the island.

Sep 20/21st. Equinox24 24 Hour Ultra. 120km in 14h14m47s. 25/74. Forced to withdraw whilst around 5/6th place due to severe nausea. Top 34%.

Oct 12th. Aviemore Half. 1h34m06s. 87/916. PB by over 4m30s. Top 9.5%.

I had many ups and downs this year, as you can see from my results. In the races where I did quite well I do think that, with more course knowledge, I could have gone much better, especially at the Speyside Way.

My highlights included a gloriously sunny day and 10min PB at the Ashby 20, a good performance at the Great Glen Ultra bagging 3 UTMB points and breaking the previous course record, being selected to attend an Ambassador Day for running brand Ashmei and attending the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to watch my good friend Conor duelling with the Brownlee’s.

Next year is already looking exciting. I am off to Mallorca for my first proper training camp in April with my Racetime Events teammates in April and I have also entered my first actual triathlon but, rather than mess about, I have gone straight into a half-Ironman at Challenge Poznan in Poland which, just this week, has been named as the race which is the 2015 European Long Distance Championships!!! No pressure then.

I have also entered the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May with the view of getting a reasonable time, hopefully somewhere around 3h15mins.

My main aim in 2015 will be the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series overall positions. There are Long and Short series titles as well as a combined title too. I finished in 143rd place out of 1200 or so qualifiers this year in the combined sees despite not even knowing I was in it!!

I am still contemplating entering the ballot to get in the CCC race at UTMB 2015, but funding and the odds will be against me on that one :-(

Thank You’s:

I want to say a few quick “Thank you’s” to everyone who has supported me this year:

Firstly my wife Adele who gives up a hell of a lot on a daily basis to help me succeed; sister Louise and brother-in-law Stuart for taking me to races; Johnny and Laura from Racetime Events for being so supportive and for working so very hard 25 hours a day!!; friends/teammates/superheroes Claire & Duncan; training partners Steve Salter, Stewart Sale, Terry Withington and Emma Rathbone; Nicola, Nini and all my other inspiring RTE teammates; everyone at Frog Island Triathlon; Brett Worth at Skechers Performance (without question the finest running shoes around today, for me at least!!); Jon and Sean at FuelYour10KHours (delicious pre and post race granola, porridge and shakes); Robert and Stuart from Ashmei (I love their running clothing and am excited about the new cycle and triathlon gear-available to pre-order NOW!!); and to all the race organiser, marshals and volunteers Thank You.


See you all out on the road, trail or in the water in 2015!!!












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12th October 2014 23rd Cartagena World Cup

12th October 2014
23rd Cartagena World Cup

Columbia is an awesome place to race.  I arrived in Cartagena 4 days ago and I’m back in the airplane leaving Columbia now… way too soon.  I’m on route to Korea for the last race of the season in Tongyeong.  It’s a long haul trip, around 50hrs door to door.

So anyway, Cartagena was hot, humid and very wet.  October is rainy season and it pissed down briefly every day.  The race location was changed 2 days before the race due to flooding down town.  I stayed near the old town in a cheap and cheerful tiny hotel.

The race was an Olympic distance triathlon, a 2 lap 1.5km swim, an 8 lap 40km bike and 3 lap 10km run.
My race was ok.  I had one of my better swims of the year 15secs down on the swim leader Varga, I didn’t make the lead bike pac of 15, I got to within 10 secs of the lead pack after transition, but didn’t make it.

From there I was in the second bike pack of 8, and we lost 1min to the leaders.  The conditions were mental on the bike, serious winds and crazy thunderstorms and sections of the road that had 3 inches of flood water.  From there the aim was to stay out of trouble on the bike.  Onto the run and I was pretty flat, I ran as hard as I could and just about held on.  It was pretty hot and humid so I made sure to pace my run effort and take on as much liquid as I could when necessary.

So I’m in Medellin airport now in Columbia, in 8hrs time I’ll land in JFK New York, then a 13hr flight to Beijing and then a little hop across the Yellow Sea to Busan in Korea, from there a short bus ride to Tongyeong and all being well I’ll arrive there on Tuesday night.  Race is on Saturday morning in Tongyeong, it’s an Olympic distance World Cup, the last World Cup of the year and my last race of the season.


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28th in Cozumel World Cup 5th Oct 2014

28th Cozumel World Cup
5th Oct 2014

I raced for the first time in Mexico at the weekend.  The race was a sprint distance World Cup race. The race was on the Caribbean Island of Cozumel, it’s an awesome spot.  It’s very humid here at present with temperatures in the low 30s and 80/90% humidity.

For me the race went ok, I managed the humidity well, so that didn’t effect the performance in any way.  The men’s race was at 11am so we were finishing just under the mid day heat.  On race morning I woke up early and did all my pre race routine earlier than usual before the heat really kicked in.

I went to the race checkin about 75mins before the race, (it was just outside our accomodation).  It was very hot and the main thing was to stay cool in the conditions, I found a fan in the athletes lounge and sat I front of it for as long as possible.  After a quick swim warm up I was on the start line and ready to go.

I had a decent swim, about 15secs down on the leaders and into the main chase pack with all the race favourites in there.  My chase pack bridged up to the lead pack on the 3rd of the 4 out and back flat bike laps that went up and down the promenade.  The lead pack by this stage had nearly 35 guys in it and the narrow meandering promenade lead to a lot of nervous moments for everyone as we charged into the T2.  I had a decent position with 1km to go at the front of the pack but didn’t have the power to hold it coming up to the dismount line. I entered T2 about 4th wheel back.

The run was 2 laps of the promenade, it was just hard and fast, I ran as hard as I could, though it was only good enough for 28th place which really is not good enough.  I travel to Columbia tomorrow to race in the Cartagena Olympic Distance World Cup on Sunday.

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When Frog Island Triathlon met the Brownlee brothers…

When Frog Island Triathlon met the Brownlee brothers…

Composure, meet Nicola, she could do with a lesson or two!

When Spencer from Leicester Triathlon notified us of this opportunity initially, the sceptical ones among us (i.e. all of us) thought it was the world’s best triathlon prank. Were the Brownlee’s really going to come to Leicester to a pie shop for a book signing? It didn’t seem all that likely, and in the absence of any official advertising I was disguising my glee, in case it turned out to be a hoax (well spencer is a bit of a joker) ;-)

Two days ago I saw a relatively unofficial looking poster and the Walkers Pie Facebook page that did state they were coming – heart beat increases – would spencer really go that far and create fake posters hmmm?

Why didn’t I want to believe it was real?

Well that’s a good question… perhaps because these iconic brothers are incredibly impressive athletic human beings which can be intimidating for the underachieving triathlete (me).

Maybe the fact that they represent what triathlon is about for me – family and achievement and this would be the culmination of many years of triathlon-ing and looking in at the pro’s from a safe distance.

Either way, i was excited and wanted it to happen and when you want something really bad, you don’t want it to be taken away!

Well it’s now Thursday evening and I can say confidently that Spencer was not hoaxing us; they did indeed pay the pie shop a visit! Wahoooo


Thursday Lunchtime…

Ever early we were there about 11.40, excited and nervous and admittedly still a little disbelieving (where is my faith eh?) so we sat down and tucked into pie and mash which was delicious – if they didn’t show at least we got great food hey! We spotted a chap with a fancy looking camera and learned that he was there from the Leicester Mercury to photograph the event – bingo this was all the confirmation I needed to let myself get truly excited and believe. Clock watching and completely ignoring Elliot’s attempts at conversation over lunch, I squirmed in my chair and twisted this way and that attempting to catch a first glimpse of the boys!

Then they were there, just like that, they sat at the table right next to us! As Jessica Nurse said later ‘they look just like they do on TV’ which I think is the best quote of the day!

First off they had to do some promotional things, my favourite of which was pretending to eat a huge pie whilst the photographer got within inches of their faces. The life of celebrity! Glam!

I saw my opportunity as the giant pie was craned away.

My dad and uncle had done the Brownlee Triathlon last year and they had been lucky enough to meet Johnny post-race and grab a quick photo with him. I thought I would see if Johnny would mind signing one each for Kev and Steve – as they are also brothers in triathlon – albeit a bit older and with less hair.

At the moment of my approach the man from the Leicester Mercury jumped in and introduced me to them, oh no now I seemed like someone of importance, now I have to say something funny/intelligent even RELEVANT would do fine … come on Nicola, you are intelligent…. Hmmm well ok you have the ability to string a sentence together. But the brain was just not cooperating and I was caught like a deer in the headlights. Brain = flat lining!

Suffice to say I babbled my way apologetically and gratefully through the conversation. To make matters harder for me, the camera man suggested we pose naturally for a photo, you know one of those where you pretend to be having a conversation! How do you look natural when you are freaking out? I think I was completely overwhelmed by meeting two people whom I have admired and followed the careers of for years.

What do you talk to people about when you feel like you know them but they don’t know you? The weather? Well it was a nice day I suppose! Their book? Well I read it about a year ago and frankly, despite enjoying it very much, I was already struggling to be coherent as it was, never mind trying to recall accurate details about the book to ask interesting questions! That i work in a triathlon shop that sponsors Conor Murphy – could have been some common ground there! But did I think of any of that …nahhhh. So I settled on ‘what brings you to Leicester then?’ hardly inspiring eh!

So I got through the encounter without any composure whatsoever and probably didn’t leave much of an impression on them. As the reporter hinted afterwards, they probably weren’t as overwhelmed with me as I was with them. But very generously they took the time to sign my book and one photo each for my dad and uncle which I hope will be a lovely surprise for them!

Despite my nervous temperament and profuse sweating, I loved it, they were polite and happy to chat (even idle drivel with me) and they answered the questions from the reporters in good detail, even though they have probably been asked the same questions hundreds of times over. I never know whether people want to be hero worshipped but these boys do represent a level of commitment and hard work and talent that we can all aspire to! We may not all represent GB or go to the Olympics but we all do achieve every day whether it is getting out of bed to go for a swim before work, completing your first GO Tri, or even contemplating the thought of one day doing a triathlon – these boys are representing what can be done, and are excellent role models.

When asked who his hero was, Johnny replied simply ‘Alastair’. And this really resounded with me, humble in nature and prepared to work hard to the limits and beyond is a big part of what helps these two achieve so much. But I think that it is the support of your family or those who you love in achieving your goals that is the essential thing.

I got into triathlon because my uncle and my dad inspired me, and it’s given me 10 years of wonderful memories so far (the most recent of which is meeting these two inspirational individuals)! Triathletes tend to be humble and keen to share their knowledge and experience to help a novice or stranger and this I think is a really valuable asset that we can use to help the sport grow.

I hope that via the GO Tri’s, coaching and just chatting to people that I can pass along the love of a sport, or at least inspire someone to do something challenging and different from the norm.

Thanks to Alastair and Johnny for taking the time to visit Leicester and to Walker and Sons Pies for hosting the event. It was truly special and meant a great deal to a lot of people.

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Equinox24 2014 Steve Pascale-Jones

Equinox24 2014

In 2013 I committed to entering the inaugural Equinox24 race almost by accident. As the sole member of staff at Frog Island I felt bad that, although I was volunteering at triathlons with marshalling duties, I was not competing in any races as my own competitive spirit gave way to the fact that my standard of swimming is just so, so poor (which I’ll be rectifying soon).

And so, when Johnny who runs triathlon organiser Racetime Events, said that he was putting on a big new race and there was no swimming involved, I committed there and then. When he revealed it was a 24 hour running race, well I’d already signed up both mentally and to other people. I couldn’t back out, so I turned up, had a go and did OK, placing 7th and completing 16x 10km laps in 22h50m.

Jumping forward to September 19th 2014 and things have changed quite a lot. I have caught the ultra running bug and have changed my lifestyle to such an extent that my wife, Adele, and I have moved to Scotland and are now driving back down to Leicestershire from our new home in the Highlands, which is almost exactly 500 miles!

Equinox fever had me in it’s grip and just 10 days into 2014 I was doing my first ultra of the year, the Country2Capital from Wendover to Paddington in London. Other races that followed included the Belvoir Challenge (DNF), Ashby 20 (PB), Bosworth Half (PB), West Highland Way Ultra (DNF), Great Glen Ultra and Speyside Way Ultra. I also had entered a few other races which I unfortunately did not start due to injury/logistical issues. I have had a bit of a see-saw year and I can definitely say that the mental battle of running is the hardest part. all that being said I was very happy with my preparation for Equinox and was confident of a good race.

Friday September 19th: 7am

Adele and I set off from our house, The Bothy, in our little Seat Mii. We await the result of the Scottish Referendum on the radio to see if we’ll be allowed back in after the race! Results are in and the ‘Naws’ have it. All that’s over to Adele and I annihilate the contestants on Pop Master with our combined musical knowledge! (I should point out that we are pub quiz mercenaries!).


After a short detour to Nottingham we arrive at Belvoir Castle and curse the fact that our car has lowered sports suspension on the ‘driveway’ onto the campsite. I was very surprised to see just how many people were already camped up and ready. This was going to be a BIG weekend. I marshalled our way down to the solo camping area and we jumped out. Before you could say ‘Baden-Powell’s on viagra’ I had erected our tent in super quick time and we went off for an explore.

Straight away I saw some familiar faces and had a nice catch up with Tina who was running solo, having been inspired whilst marshalling last year. We also chatted to race organiser Johnny, Steve H, Brett from Skechers, Robert from Ashmei and a couple of other folk before setting off for replenishment.

Last year I didn’t get ANY food from the caterers at Equinox and I wasn’t going to make that mistake this time, so Adele and I got ourselves a coffee and ordered a pizza…. and it was delicious.

Belly’s full, we turned in for an early night.

Saturday September 20th: 8-11.55am

We got up and saw a lot of new arrivals setting up their camps including my good friend Stewart Sale. We both did EQ24 solo last year and ran through the night together. Stew was just using an open tent simply as somewhere to leave his food and clothing. I lumped my stuff in with his. As he didn’t have anywhere to actually sleep I offered him the option of kipping in our tent should he need it.

A little while later and the three musketeers were complete when Steve Salter arrived, another 2013 soloist. Time for a pre-race picture. Steve had been very quiet on social media recently and I thought he might have ambitions of doing well…… if he could stay awake this year!

Coffee’s drunk, breakfast eaten and time was dragging and we all just wanted to get started. 11.30am came and the pre-race briefing completed it was time to head to the start line.


All assembled on the start line. The runners at the front were twitchy-they were doing the supporting 10km race and would be all done in 30-50mins. We were all in for the long haul. So soloists, pairs, small and large teams all lined up.


And we are off! At everything from flat out 10km race pace to a leisurely walk. Equinox really is a race for everyone. Last year I got caught up in the melee and really started a bit too hard. This year I came with a proper plan, with a schedule for each lap, which, if I managed to execute to the best of my ability, I was confident would put me in the mix come 24 hours time.

Laps 1-4

Although I start off steadily, very steadily, my heart rate is higher than is my target due to sheer adrenalin and the racing instinct. It’s very, VERY hard to keep forcing yourself to ease off when every fibre of your body wants to go for it, especially when you can see that your competitors are charging off ahead! However, I know that the vast majority of runners rarely, if ever, run further than a marathon so I’m expecting the early birds to slow up after 4 hours or so, whereas I am aiming to keep a fairly constant pace throughout the whole race. My schedule for the first 4 laps is 1h06m per lap, despite this I come in at 1h03m, 59m17s, 58m53s and 1h03m18s. It’s no effort so far and I’m feeling good. I tell Adele that I’m generally very happy and that I have some time in the bag.

It was great to be able to pace myself at the start as it meant I got to chat with new friends like Alexa and Sid before I lost the ability to string cohesive sentences together!

Laps 5-8

Things were going well and I was generally happy still. As predicted a lot of soloists had started too fast. Stew, Ade, Paul and a few others I knew had all gone zooming off ahead early on and I was now catching and passing them.

It was great to see Nicola and Elliot marshalling at the start/finish line and I mentioned that I was happy to them and had gone through the (1st) marathon point in approx 4h30m, not too shabby in a 24 hour event.

One of my friends, Paul Corderoy, is an experienced ultra runner and had finished one place above me, albeit by over an hour, at EQ24 last year. I knew that he had completed Challenge Weymouth the previous week to Equinox this year so was likely to be tired. Sure enough I caught him on the main tarmaced hill at 4km on lap 6 or 7. I pushed on straight through the water station at 5km onto the off-road section. That was a decent scalp to take, although with Paul having such a big ginger beard maybe taking his chin would be a better phrase!

At some point, I think around lap 5 or 6, Big Steve Salter passed me, which was annoying but not worrying too much as it’s such a long race and I was confident n my own plan. I had set myself a target time of 1h10m for these laps and was pretty much on the money with 1h11m02s, 1h07m44s, 1h06m18s and, due to a loo stop which needed a diversion, 1h19m11s.

By this point, and the aforementioned loo stop, head torches were already on and it was decidedly chilly too with some light drizzle. Now things weren’t as comfortable.

Laps 9-12

On lap 9 we were now well into darkness. One of the nicest things about this was somehow being recognised by the Team Shabba Runners who were camped at about the 1km to go point. As I ran by a shout went up “Are you Steve Pascale-Jones?”. I replied “Yes, that’s me!” to which I got the legendary response “WE’RE TWITTER!!”. Thanks guys, that really cheered me up as this was a bad lap.

Through the night I had a staggered schedule which I revised to a straight 1h20m per lap. Don’t forget that all lap times include any stopping to eat, drink, stretch, go to the loo, feel sorry for oneself etc. In terms of heart/lungs/legs I was still feeling really good, comfortable even, but an old enemy reared it’s head, or rather bent it double at the side of the course.

BLEEEUUURRGH…………. Yep, I was sick.

Nutrition in ultras has been proving my toughest challenge. When it goes right you don’t think about it or even notice it at all, but when it goes wrong……..      BLEEEEUUUURRRRGGHHH………..

Despite being sick twice, I still managed to complete lap 9 in 1h18m18s. Not to worry. I did think this might happen at some point. In ultras you have to expect problems. It’s how you handle them that matters. So I stuck with plain water to drink and not too much food and lap 10 seemed OK passing without major incident in 1h16m42s, still on schedule. Brilliant!!

But the storm wasn’t over. I managed to push on through lap 11 in 1h19m20s (on schedule) despite being sick again. Now I was starting to get a bit worried as I was barely eating so as not to irritate my stomach too much. It was nearly one in the morning. Even running 1h20m laps I was still getting through several hundred kcal’s/hour and needed some sustenance. Lap 11 finished, I popped into the tent, grabbed a couple of bits and carried on. Back onto the course, I tried to eat just one cashew nut and it came straight back up. No sick though as there was nothing left, just what appeared to be, by the light of my head torch, the lining of my stomach. Not feeling good now.

I pushed on anyway, but lap 12 saw me unable to take on any more food, little drink and I was ill three times. Of course I wanted to go on. But I will admit that I lost the mental battle. After running the last 40km in 5h30m on no food, in the dark and mostly on my own, I finished lap 12 in 1h34m54s after I spent a good 20mins battling my own inner demons which told me that I KNEW I could podium this year but that I should withdraw. Maybe I could have pushed on and recovered later on in the race. But it was 2:15am and the prospect of another 5 hours in the dark wasn’t looking too good, whereas the thought of getting into bed was. And so, after  120km and 14h14m17s of running I withdrew.


When I woke up, it was nice to hear just how many people were asking after me. For what it’s worth, I didn’t sleep too well and shivered all night, despite wearing all my kit and a fleece hat. Maybe withdrawing was the wiser choice this year? I was sad to see that the 2013 winner, Mark Dodgson had also had to withdraw, despite being near the lead, with a fractured ankle.

On the plus side, it meant that I got to enjoy the carnival atmosphere, eat some delicious food (3x breakfasts I think it was!) and meet with some great friends. Adele and I had a great chat with Robert from Ashmei and I bought an awesome new running shirt, whilst Adele got some socks. It was also nice to talk to Brett from headline sponsors Skechers Performance. If you still haven’t checked out their awesome range do so, you will not be disappointed. If only my stomach performed like my Go Run Ultra shoes I’d be winning races left, right and centre!

As the race drew to a close there were some determined performances from Stewart who bagged his 160km/100 mile target despite looking a bit like the walking dead and Steve S who crossed the line jubilant just after 11am on 19 laps. Unknown to him however Johnny, Adele, Steve’s wife Sam and I were all watching the timing board. Steve was in 2nd place, but the guy in 1st had already finished. Johnny barked instructions and we sent Steve off for another lap, meaning he was the only solo runner to hit the magic 20 lap/200km mark!!

And so Equinox ended for most on a big high (Steve, Alexa, Stew, Team Shabba, Team Cake etc) and for others on a bit of a low due to injury (Me, Tina, Mark D), but I’m sure that we all be back bigger and better in 2015!!

Bring it on!! :-)

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