Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Does it get any better than this?

Years ago, sometime in the late 1980's, I recall a TV interview with Liverpool FC hero Craig Johnston (nickname Skippy) where he explained how he had become disenchanted with football after the Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, had told him after they had won the FA Cup Final that it ‘didn’t get any better than this’.

After that comment, Johnston felt that if, indeed, it didn’t get any better than that, then why stay in the game, because surely everything afterwards can only be going downhill? He left the UK to return to his native country. I don’t know what he has been doing since then, but he certainly disappeared from the UK football scene – more’s the pity.

I have just returned from Australia – ironically, Johnston’s home country – after having competed for Great Britain in the World Championship Sprint Triathlon Championships against some of the best amateur triathletes in the world. And, as I write this blog – my final blog – I am left wondering if it can get any better than this. As I sit here now, I truly doubt that it can.

Regular readers will know how much it meant to me to qualify for Team GBR. Hours and hours of training, regardless of time of day, the weather, the cost - all in the pursuit of representing my country, hoping to fulfil a childhood dream.

Having fulfilled that dream, I am very proud and pleased to present to you my diary of the time spent in Australia. I suspect a lot will mean nothing to the reader, and nor is any of it necessarily grammatically correct because it is all written in my own, unedited words as things happened.

Moreover, it is a frank and honest account of what happened ‘down under’ (and I apologise in advance about how long it is, but I didn't want to miss anything out) and is really intended for my own personal use, as an aide memoir of what went on and to hopefully trigger happy memories for me when I look back when I am old and grey, and when I bore my grandchildren senseless of the time I ‘played for my country’.

So, sit back, inject a little caffeine, and see what you think…

Day 1 – Thursday - flight

OK, nothing major to report. Emirates airport amazing architecture. All going according to plan.

Day 2 – Friday – flight

Due to time zone changes this day never actually happened.

Day 3 – Saturday – sleeping/unpacking/chilling

Flight lands on time (6.30am local time). Transfer to hotel. Unpack. Lunch on promenade. Supermarket. Sleep. Drive around the district at midnight. Have found free wifi to use during our stay here.

Day 4 – Sunday

Ride the cycle course. Dead flat and very fast.

Ok, so I gotta stop being star struck - have been talking to a guy doing the Oly in my AG (Charles Ashwanden) who had won his age group at Blenheim and came 7th overall, beating most of the elites on the bike.

The team hotel is full of GB athletes (obviously). I need to realise that I earn’t my place here, just like everybody else. Still, it is strange thinking I am here to compete against these guys who are the best in the world.

A thought occurs to me. With Ironman, any old Tom, Dick of Harry can enter (‘any old’ sometimes being the operative word). With this event, you need to earn your place, so you get no slackers here. They’re all here because they set their goals, got them, and this is their AA+ race as well as it is mine. The mindset of a world athlete is different from an Ironman. It is more serious, believe it or not.

Off to Sea World. Polar bears. Eating out in the evening at a lovely sea food restaurant. Late night interval run for 30 minutes. Home, bath, bed.

Day 5 – Monday

Up at 10am.

Sort bike stuff – tyre/seatpost. MGM studios – great park rides. Back at hotel.

Too dark for planned bike ride. Last hard full session – an interval run along the sea front. It’s not everyday you bump into Tim Don on a training run.

A-M and I in rather silly moods so decide to post funny comments on the team Notice Board in the reception in our hotel.

Great restaurant – Marios – where a waitress there had lived for a while in St Albans waitress. Dogidoo. Chavs. Both previus comments are private jokes.

Day 6 – Tuesday

Short 35 min interval run session. Colin’s day for triathlon stuff – no theme parks today! Gotta keep off my feet.

Drive to bike shops/swim at Miami outdoor 50 metre pool/lunch on lovely beach at Burleigh heads/shopping/back to hotel.

Easy run, feeling good – easy 7 minute miling. Chilling evening in.

Day 7 – Wednesday

Up at 8am.

Ride the course. Can’t believe how many non-TT bikes there are. The bike course is dead flat, except for a small incline at the turnaround point. Hoping for a sub-30 minutes bike split (haha)!

Registration. It all feels very, very real now.

Aquathlon goes well. Good first run (although overtaken as usual), OK swim (but keep cramping and getting overtaken), great second run (not being overtaken, but am overtaking for a change - yippee). Beat mate Dave Knight (competing at Oly distance in 30-34 age group) by 1.5 minutes! Not a good time or placing (39/42 in age group)(264/372 overall) but happy considering I am against Oly distance athletes and also without the bike (my strongest part). Happy that I am not feeling any of the pains and injuries which I have recently been suffering from. This is the real deal!!!

Eating too much rich food. Probably putting on the pounds but hey it helps with the likely non-wetsuit swim.

Day 8 – Thursday

Busy day today! Swim practice on the course. Lovely wetsuit swim, getting good sighting points.

Now off for Team GB race briefing. This is the real deal – briefing, photos (meet the other guys – taking plenty of team and tritalk photos).

Getting the bus back with Dr Sarah Springman OBE (a GB legend of Ironman who, I think, held the GB female Ironman record before Chrissie Wellington and who is a top-dog at the ITU) who ushers us onto the bus!

Fellow age grouper Blake Bedford (really funny guy who I had got to know at the qualifying races back home) breaks a rib whilst out on a training ride out here and so is out of the race – how gutted must he feel? $300.00 nicked by cleaner from hotel room. At least I am not in Blake's position (fingers crossed). Trying not to make a big deal out of the theft.

Now off to the pasta party, then the Parade of Nations – been really looking forward to this.

Parade of Nations absolutely awesome. Waiting for the off when all athletes are taking photos of each other and other nations. Awesome experience and atmos. The New Zealanders spontaneously do the Haka which is something else. The biggest pasta party ever!

Off to see some Whales tomorrow.

Day 9 – Friday

Easy bike with Dave including 4 x 1 min intervals. Feeling good, keeping on his wheel.

Report stolen money. Manager seems sympathetic and will make investigations.

Off to see the whales - fantastic! Whales and dolphins and great weather, great post lunch.

Back for a nap and a look at the start lists to compare names from the aquathlon. Off to the venue to do the run route at tempo pace – last training session before the race. Feeling good!

Shopping. Early to bed for the final early night.

Day 10 – Saturday

Olympic age groupers and male elites today.

Watching the age groupers – great atmosphere and great course for spectators. Taking loads of video.

Getting a bit twitchy now.

Off to drop the bike off. Very hot! The male elites are fab - got a great vantage point in the grandstand, although am staying on my feet too long. Brownlee wins!!! That boy is awesome.

Grub, then to bed at 9pm for an early start! Tomorrow’s the day!!! Eating too much, but no worries - it’s all carbs!

Day 11 – Sunday – RACE DAY!!!

Race Report:


Get up early – 4am – having packed everything the evening before. Shower, breakfast, final check, then off at 4.45am to catch the 5am bus across the road. Get on the bus where there are other athletes whose faces I recognised but don't know their names. The bus is quiet with nerves.

No problems getting to the venue – get there at 5.15am.

Enter transition with bag, helmet etc, having taken the bike down the previous day. Video going into transition. It is still dark, but the sun is gradually rising.

Find my bike where there are many other athletes, one of whom is Rory Bryan (another Brit age grouper) who is just a couple of spaces away from me. Chat briefly. Rory chatting to other athletes in what can only be described as an attempt to intimidate them, but in a very 'jolly hockey sticks' kind of way (he's quite posh), saying how well he thinks he is swimming at the moment. Can’t help but like him though.

I am getting into the zone but also treating it as any other pre-race prep. All goes well, then out I come and we head for the start, well ahead of time.

By the time I finish in the toilet, etc. the 30-34 age group are in the pre-race holding area. This means that there is not long before I have to start getting ready, and so this I do on the grass slightly away from the beach, in the usual way.

Once ready I head to the holding area where I meet up again with Iain Martin (another fellow age grouper and friend from tritalk) and also Kealan Toal introduces himself to me. A few nervous jokes and we are ushered down to the start line.

An eerie silence prevails, whereupon I realise that this is now all very real. There we are, 62 of us lined up on the beach, ready for the gun. It is a strange feeling. Very strange indeed. Months and months and months of training has brought me to this point – the point at where I had decided I would strive to get to 24 months earlier – and here I am. I am actually moments away from the gun.

I take a step forward from the start line, turn around, look at the competition for a few seconds, and then step back. No turning back now.

The countdown begins and before I know it the gun goes off and off we run into the sea. I wonder if I am on the internet.

Swim – time 14:06

The swim goes well. I had already picked out my land-based sighting points and stick with them.

Using bilateral breathing and concentrating on all elements of my stroke. I adopt a good rhythm and find the occasional draft. I take straight lines and don't veer off course at all.

Notice Becket Bedford (brother of Blake) beside me (as usual!) in his Orca 3.8 wetsuit, but manage to pull away from him as he goes slightly left off course. Turn the final buoy and start kicking my legs to get them ready for the bike.

Exit the water, hear A-M call my name and start to undress as I run fast to transition.

T1 – time 1:47

It is a long run up the shore and around transition to my bike, by which time my wetsuit is around my waist. Get to my bike, wetsuit off, helmet on (note number belt only required for the run), take my bike and off I run with it around transition to the bike exit, run up to the bike mount area on the road, jump on, feet on shoes, head out onto the bike.

Perfect transition. Feeling good.

Bike – time 32:44

Get up to a good speed and slip my feet in, by which time I am into a fast pedalling rhythm.

So far, so good.

I don't have a clue where I am in the race, although I do notice quite a few bikes left in transition, so I know I am not last. But I do remember glancing at my watch coming out of the water and it was something like 14 minutes so feel a bit flat that the swim wasn’t fast. No worries, I am now out on my bike and chasing down plenty of cyclists ahead of me (consisting of earlier waves who are younger males and all female age groups).

Turn the first 180 degree corner onto the fast stretch of around 5 km, although the first part of this is uphill so it does take it out of my legs and lungs at first. Get into a good rhythm though soon after this and am picking off other cyclists.

Find myself in a pack of some Aussies and other nationalities (mainly USA) who are clearly drafting (illegal) off each other. Try to overtake these but find that the effort required takes it out of my legs, so I let them go.

I continue to pick off athletes, only being overtaken by the occasional one or two from a later age group. Overtake Wayne Poulter (another GB athlete who I have been beating in qualifying races) who re-overtakes me on the hill, but I overtake him again later on the flat stretch and continue to increase my lead on him (eventually by over 2 minutes).

Notice fellow GB’s ahead of me coming in the other direction, having obviously already reached the turnaround – Alan Harris, Kealan Toal, Iain Martin.

Reach the turnaround and again put my foot down. Am going at a steady rhythm and high cadence and speed (averaging 24.9 mph), then get caught up in a group again consisting of younger riders on their second lap. Finger wagging from a draft buster, but what can I do? I let them go slightly ahead of me until eventually many of them head left at the end of their bike-leg and the end of my first lap.

A guy named St Croix and I are left to continue out into the turnaround for the second lap whereupon he pulls away. At last I am on my own, then some way after the turnaround I see Becket take the turnaround the wrong way and head for the bike exit. I thought he must have got it wrong because he's quick, but he ain’t that quick!!! (found out later he had followed a group of younger riders and had taken the wrong turn to finish, instead of taking his second lap).

Continue along the very fast road in a similar speed to the first lap where I pick off many riders and am only overtaken very occasionally by faster older riders.

Finally get to the end of the bike, relieved I haven't fallen off at the turnaround points and/or punctured, heading to the dismount line at speed, dismount perfectly, then run with my bike down the path to transition.

A personal best time, made all the more satisfying that it is all off my own steam, and not with the assistance of drafting off anyone else.

T2 – time 1:02

Another perfectly executed transition. Rack bike, shoes on, pick up hat and race belt and off I run whilst putting on the hat, race belt and taking a gel.

All going according to plan, including nutrition, although I hadn’t drank the entire bottle on the bike.

Run – time 22:00

Feel sluggish on the run, not helped by the first part out of transition being up and over a purpose-built bridge over the ‘bike in’ path. Nevertheless, get into a good rhythm, but this is clearly going to be the time when all the cyclists I had overtaken are going to run me down.

180 strides per minute (something which I had been practising all year), I am running Ok, but I had obviously pushed it hard on the bike, because I know I can run faster than this.

Brits ahead of me were, I knew, Rory Bryan, Alan Harris, Kealan Toal (who is obviously having the race of his life) and Iain Martin. Behind me is everyone else, Wayne Poulter, Barry Holmes, Beckett Bedford and anyone else. Am determined to stay in my current position, although at the turnaround of the run I can see Wayne and Barry pulling me in.

Get to the turn into the final 400 metres and Wayne flies past me. I try to stay with him but he is just too quick. Let him go and concentrate on picking off other runners and keeping Barry away.

Get to the finishing chute, take my flag from a very smiling Jasmine Flatters (team manager) and run to the line. Sprint finish with two others – Aussies I think – and manage to beat one, whilst weakly holding my flag in the air. I have finished!!!

Overall – time 1:11:37, place (overall AG) 40/62, place (Brits AG) 6/11, place (overall males and females) 359/868

A post-race analysis of the results shows the following:-

1. I was 44th out of the water;

2. I gained one place in first transition by starting the bike in 43rd place;

3. I gained three places on the bike by coming into second transition in 40th place;

4. I gained a further two places in second transition by starting the run in 38th place; and

5. I dropped two places on the run by finally crossing the finish line in 40th position.

I suppose that means I'm 40th fastest at my age group in the World and 6th fastest in the UK - maybe not entirely realistic but, hey, you gotta be in it to win it!

Full Race Results here and here


Am handed my medal and head out to the athlete area where I join Rory, Alan and Iain. Speak briefly about the race then speak to Kealan and congratulate him on his fantastic race. He says he was with a pack on the bike, which does seem to explain his fast bike split.

Wayne, on the other hand, has worked very hard to catch me. He says that he felt that I had tried to stay with him, but he simply beat me fair and square, so well done to him.

Barry and Becket follow, as do any other remaining Brits.

Take my time in the athletes area to take in and savour the moment, then head out to be greeted by A-M, Dave and Leava. The race is over and I wear my medal with immense pride. Job done. A-M and I head out to near the transition area and I lay there looking into the sky.

Walking back after the race for some post race grub and beers we get talking to a photographer. He is going on about races he attends. Tells us his name – Nigel. Nigel Farrow. Wow - the one and only Nigel Farrow (my words, not his!)! Tri photography royalty. A name I had heard of for years and there he is – flesh and blood. Really nice guy.

Awards ceremony later that evening is quite simply something else.

The presentations to the Paratriathletes and, in particular, to a guy aged 84 who receives a standing ovation from the 4000 or so in the crowd, are very emotionally charged.

There then follows an amazingly unique sight which I have never witnessed at any event before, not even at multi-national events such as Ironman, and that is a Moroccan-market-style swap shop in the centre of the venue wherein athletes from many nations are trading their nation’s tee-shirts and race kit with those of other nations. It is an extraordinary sight indeed where 100 or so athletes are tightly packed together bartering and trading. Extraordinary indeed, but apparently this is usual at the World Championships.

Day 12 – Monday – after race

Wake up to no alarm clock.


Out to the beach for the day. Lovely lunch. Back to the hotel to go to the police station to report the money theft the previous week.

Planning on some beers this evening with A-M, Dave et al. Smoke my Cuban Cigar (gift from mate Peter Wade) – my first smoke in over 20 years. Sit out on the balcony with A-M. Times are good!!!

Great night out with A-M, Dave, 'Mad' Martin (his cousin) and Leava. Drinks aplenty.

Bed. Need to be up early to tidy for the final day. Sad .

Day 13 – Tuesday

Up early and packed.

Plan is to go to the pool for the day for some final sunshine, then off!

Got to go to the police station again to get the crime report number. Do that. Back to the hotel, then off home.


So that’s it. That is the week (or, rather, 13 days) that was. I am sitting here writing this blog on the plane back to the UK. No doubt I will be putting the finishing touches to it when I arrive home and have opened all the bills.

I have many, many pictures and videos of the week, certainly far too many to put up here, so I shall be creating a flickr (or some other similar internet-based program) account to which I shall upload in due course, and maybe also will upload my race-week video once I have learned how to edit and upload it to YouTube.

In the meantime, here is a rather fuzzy video of me and my flag falling across the finish line (scroll forward to 16:23), here is a link to a short video on the ITU website, here is one to the BBC highlights show and here are a few of my favourite photos…

A few of us tritalkers at the team GBR photo-shoot.

And some of the 40 - 44 age groupers (that's me third from the left)

Me and Dave (bottom row, left to right), muscling in on a group photo at the Parade of Nations.

A screen-shot of the Haka at the Parade of Nations - spine-chillingly impressive.

Me running (sort of!) at the aquathlon.

That boy Brownlee sprinting away from his nemesis Gomez. We had the best seats in the house.

The nerves are jangling on the start line. It's dead quiet.

Me kissing my finisher's medal, waving my Union Flag which I was passed for my finish line sprint.

Smoking the Cuban cigar which my mate Peter had given to me after Blithfield for qualifying. I had saved it for race day.

I must thank Anne-Marie who has been with me every step of the way on this fantastic journey. She was there at the very beginning when I made my decision to try for the team – all those months ago (about 24 of them!) at the Northampton Sprint – right the way through to the finish line on Sunday, and every qualifying race in between. Her support and belief in me throughout has been immeasureable.

Jasmine Flatters, the team manager – whose extraordinary organisational abilities kept the whole thing flowing smoothly, and who I must thank for ‘being there’ when this rather naive newbie needed help during the week – created a Facebook group, and so here is the link (again, most probably only for my own use).

There was also an extensive thread on tritalk here about the Age Group World Champs, upon which I was quite a regular contributor.


Triathlon has taken me to many fantastic places around the world. But surely none so better than the beautiful Gold Coast. And surely none so better than to compete for my own country.

Sitting within throwing distance of Elite Alistair Brownlee crossing the finish line, in first place, and thus winning the title, at the Grand Final of the triathlon World Championships. Then going back to get ready to compete for GB in the race of my life the following day. What more could a triathlon fanatic want? Well, frankly, nothing. Surely it can’t get any better than this.

It's certainly been an emotional 12 or so months with its fair share of downs as well as ups.

From a personal perspective, it's been great. Adam has passed his 11+, Emily has fallen in love, Joe has passed a plethora of GCSE's. The kids are growing into well-rounded individuals and hopefully my exploits have shown them that, however unlikely they are, dreams can come true if you really put your mind to them.

From a triathlon point of view, there's been the joy of seeing myself rise above the results lists as each race went by, culminating in Age Group podium places at Northampton and Blithfield. There's been the countless PB's in what has got to be my most successful year in triathlon to date. And, of course, there's been the pride of representing my country.

But then there's been countless sleepless nights pondering over whether my tyre will survive the 35 minutes needed to stay on course. And the sacrifices I have had to make to train when I really, really haven't wanted to, when I’ve wanted to pick up the ‘phone and order in a chicken tikka masala.

The culmination of all these ups and downs was my trip to The Gold Coast this week and it definitely surpassed all expectations. The Australians are lovely people – very accommodating - and the Land of Oz is a beautiful place. The local food was great. The company was superb. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

I am now looking forward to taking some time off. No training. No training log. Plenty of curries and beers.

And, alas, no more blog.

My blog was only ever conceived as a log of my thoughts and training leading up to my hopeful qualification for the Worlds, and its ultimate intention was to report on the race. Thus, it has served its purpose and so this entry will be the last.

In thoughts similar to that of Kenny Dalglish when he spoke to Craig Johnston in the 1980's, I doubt my triathlon career could get any better than it has over the past couple of weeks, and so my blog happily finishes on an all-time high.

Adios, my friends, it’s been emotional, and thank you for sharing it with me.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The lull before the storm

Once Upon A Time there stood many magnificent castles upon a hill in a place on the East Coast of England. There then descended upon this place a terrible wind. A wind of such force and magnitude that it blew down all those glorious castles that stood there.

The winds blew for many years until finally they abated. The local community began to rebuild their lives and their houses until eventually a new village arose. That village was called Wells-Next-The-Sea.

All remained calm and well for many years. Until the winds returned. And they returned with such gusto that the villagers fled once more. They ran and ran and ran…

I have just returned from a short camping holiday with Emily and Adam at Wells-Next-The-Sea, surely without doubt the windiest place on earth. It didn’t rain. It didn’t snow. Heck, it was even sunny. But, boy oh boy, was God busy blowing down on our campsite that week with such force that even my mate Crackers and his travelling companion Ben Fogle would have found it difficult to withstand. Eventually, in fear of our tent suffering the same fate as Aunt Em's house in the Wizard of Oz, a day early and after a night where I can honestly say I didn’t get a single minute of sleep, we decided to call it a day and return home.

That’s not to say that we didn’t have a good time. Spending time together, without the disruption of school, work and triathlon (yes, triathlon), was, as always, a wonderful experience. We did some great things about which we will always remember (surely there cannot be anything better than strolling along a beautiful golden beach at sundown with your children) , but alas, as with all fairy tales, it did have to come to an end, and so we are now getting on with our normal lives before the kids return to school.

So, back home and it's here. My final blog before heading out to Australia to race on 13th September. The lull before the storm, so to speak. I leave on Thursday with the rest of the GB Team, suitably chavved up in my tracksuit and trainers. I can hardly believe that, after all this time, all the training – through wind, rain and shine – and all the expense, D-Day is finally here. I am so excited.

If you're interested, the race will be on t’internet. The races start Aussie time on Sunday at 6.45am which, by my reckoning, is Saturday 9.45pm UK time. Here’s a couple of links from which you might find the live stream:-

It's only a short race - blink and you'll miss it - so you'd better be ready if you want to catch a glimpse of Bradley - GBR - making a dash for it across the line! I'll be the guy with a beer belly finishing near the back.

Back to the week’s activities, and I raced Bedford on Sunday. I did this highly enjoyable event last year, and the lure of it being a Euro qualifier this year brought me, and many other top athletes, back for more. Quite pleased with my time, especially with a) not puncturing and b) not falling off, so I consider it job done. I only really have one eye on the Euro’s, and I haven’t actually checked to see where I came or if I qualified. Maybe I’ll have a look sometime this week.

Big ‘matey’ congratulations to Jev, Dan, Mark K, Andrew and John (mate, mate from tri club, coach (‘ironmate’), mate from Italian training camp, mate from gym respectively) who all had great races. Jev, in particular, who thinks he might have qualified, at his first attempt (smart arse!), for the Euro's. Well done, mate, and a great way to round off a great season.

A few pics of the race. Promise me you won't laugh.

Who ate all the pies?. That CAN'T be my normal physique...

Colin, Jev, Dan...

Hey, there's the Pie-man again...

...and again...

So, that’s it, one and all. The next time you hear from me will be my race report from Oz. I will be thinking of you all next week in windy Blighty. Or, then again, maybe I won't - I will have one or two other things on my mind!



EDIT: Since posting this blog, Joe has gone and got himself 9 GCSE passes, narrowly missing out on 10 for want of an extra mark at Drama. So, he's now at 6th form with a few more years of studying ahead of him. Am so proud of Joe who did have difficulties combining his social and academic lifestyles, so to come through with so many passes is one hell of an achievement. Well done, son - very, very proud of you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Run, rabbit, run

Normally, at this time of the year, I am glued to the TV with Adam for the start of the football season. But not this year. Not football anyway.

Adam has been away camping with his mum and siblings, Joe and Emily, this week. And I've taken the opportunity to watch what I want to watch for a change. And what a week to do it, what with the plethora of triathlon on TV.

There's been the London Triathlon and a whopping 3+ hours of live racing at Hyde Park on the BBC. As you might recall from last week's blog, I was actually there watching and racing there last weekend, but I did have the foresight to Sky+ it in anticipation for my delight and delictation during this week's lonely weekday evenings.

So, armed with Jaffa Cakes and Jelly Babies (my junk foods of choice), I sat down and watched over 4 hours of non-stop triathlon. And I loved every minute of it. It has to be said that Steve Trew's BBC commentary was spot on, as usual, but his co-commentator was obviously not an expert in triathlon and it was quite apparent that he didn't actually know what he was talking about (he even once remarked about how the SWIM was undulating). Nevertheless, a great few hours of viewing.

I joined Jev this week for a special Old Thatch Cinema Society screening of Donnie Darko. Actually, it was only me and Jev, preceded by a few beers in the pub and a few more beers back at his.

I had been meaning to watch Donnie Darko for years now, but had never got round to it, so we decided that Wednesday was as good a time as any (Jev's girls had gone away too). A fabulous film, although I have to admit rather confusing, with a brilliant soundtrack. So good, in fact, that I watched it again at home the following evening to try to make more sense of it. And I did make more sense of it. But only a little. So I guess I'll have to watch it again. I'm no Jonathan Ross or Barry Norman, but a highly recommended film.

My turn to take the kids away camping this week, so we're off somewhere (exact venue not yet decided) on Monday, then back for a few days before heading off to The Gold Coast. Joe won't be coming camping with us. He's going to the Reading Music Festival with his mates, and also is getting his GCSE results on Thursday. Fingers tightly crossed for both, and no doubt much to report next week.

So it's all go in the Bradley household at the moment.

It's all go for Jasmine Flatters too. Jasmine is the Age Group Team Manager for Australia (and, coincidentally, was Race Referee at Hyde Park last week) and is planning meticuously to make sure that the whole thing goes smoothly for her team. She has started up a GBR Age Group Team Facebook group and is also sending regular emails to us all with last minute arrangements.

I have been racing for many years, have raced every distance, both in the UK and abroad, from Super Sprint to Ironman, yet never has there been so much to organise as there is for this race. We also have our very own team bike mechanic. Very impressive organisation - but then again it IS the British team, so it should be top-notch organisation I suppose.

Australia is getting very close now. And very real. And very exciting. I can hardly believe that I am only a couple of blogs away to reporting back about the race of my life.

Between watching TV, drinking far too much beer and eating far too much junk food, I did have a great week's training, and I'll post up details shortly.

Next week will be plenty of early morning runs before the kids have woken. One of our options is the New Forest where there's plenty of wildlife. Plenty of rabbits to chase too. Hopefully no giant ones though (fans of Donnie Darko will get the link).



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jim'll Fix It

We are all familiar with Jimmy Saville and his marathon exploits.

Some of us, particularly those born before 1980, will remember him on our TV screens making dreams come true on his show 'Jim'll Fix It'.

I remember one show in particular where a youth football team (and when I say youth, I mean 11 year olds) were treated to a game of football against the Manchester United first team at Old Trafford in front of a large crowd. The looks on those boys faces were so memorable. I can still remember them now, some 30 or so years later.

Imagine watching, say, Brazil v Italy (maybe the two best footballing nations in the world) at a packed-out Wembley Stadium, then, when the game has finished, hopping over the fencing, onto the pitch, then playing against the winners. That's similar to what happened this weekend at Hyde Park...

This weekend saw the next round of the ITU World Championship series come to Hyde Park where the best triathletes in the world were racing. I went down there with Anne-Marie, Mitten, Dan and Stuart (and family) for the day, and what a day it was!

Alistair Brownlee is taking the triathlon world by storm by winning all of his three World Cup races so far, and all he needed to do was place top 10 to get enough points to go to the top of the leader board. But he had a pretty impressive field up against him, including Gomez, Kahlefeldt, Tim Don, et. al. And of course his little brother Jonathon.

We found ourselves within feet of the Elite men when they were being introduced to the crowd and a funny thing happened. Some guy (number 7 I think) walked up to the top guys (Brownlee, Gomez, Kahlefeldt) and tried to puff up his feathers by spontaneouosly throwing himself on the floor in front of them and doing some press-ups. Brownlee gave a jovial "boo, hiss", but it was all in good spirits, and of course he had the last laugh by eventually coming out as winner.

T'was a great day out with great company, watching some great racing (and spectacular crashes!). What more could you want?

Then on the Sunday, I came back to race the same course. It was also billed as the first-time outing for my new GB tri-suit and tracksuit.

The race was, however, a complete nightmare from start to finish.

The swim was a fist-fest. With waves of just 60 athletes, I was hoping for quite a clear run with some decent drafting but it was, quite simply, fisticuffs all the way round. Then I went off course (when will I learn).

Then there was the bike. Oh, the bike. 3 twisty turny laps, and half way through at Hyde Park corner I was off. The Stig from top gear would have been proud of my handling as the bike skidded – steering into the skid – but then before I knew it I was a$%e over t%t. Got up, brushed myself down, and off I went. But after that it was game over and I didn’t really get back into it.

The picture up top is a close up of a certain part of my anatomy which came off quite badly whilst skidding on the tarmac. I'll let you guess which part, but suffice to say I won't be sitting down much until it has healed up a bit.

The run was OK and culminated in a sprint finish against James Cracknell (Crackers to me and his mates!). I think he actually crossed the finish line just before me, with his gangly legs striding ahead of me in a Basil Fawlty kind of way. But I thought that this was a good opportunity for Jim to fix it for me to be on TV by crossing the finish line with him, so I gave it an extra surge to cross with him. Here is a link to the video sprint finish.

I hasten to add that he did actually start in the wave ten minutes later then me.

I might have mentioned previously that I had tentatively registered my interest to qualify for the Europeans in Ireland next year, and Hyde Park was the first of the three qualifying races. Well, I came 7th in the list of athletes who were trying to qualify, so actually it wasn't such a bad day at the office after all, and who knows what might have happened if I hadn't come off the bike. Maybe a top 4 automatic place?

A few pictures of the day, all taken by Stuart's ever-present wife, Sarah...

All this crashing off the bike and puncturing is getting a bit too regular now. I think it’s because I am competing at a higher level nowadays and therefore taking more risks. Thinner, more lightweight tyres which are more prone to puncturing, faster into corners on wetter surfaces. With more risks comes more speed, buy also of course more chance of it all going wrong. And that’s precisely what has happened to me over the past couple of months. But, hey ho, no point crying over spilt energy drink. Tomorrow’s another day, I have achieved my aim of qualifying for the World’s this season, so its not so bad if some races don’t go, err, according to plan. It’s still frustrating though.

Back to football and my team has now reassembled for Summer training in preparation for the start of the season in September. Now in the Under 12 age group (wow - I started coaching them all those years ago as small children in the Under 8's), we have acquired a couple of extra players who have strengthened the squad considerably. We might not have any Torres's and Ronaldo's (or should I say Robsons and Dalglish's?), but I reckon we have a good chance of quite a few wins this season.

A couple of congratulations this week. Anne-Marie and Mitten for completing the Cambridge Olympic distance triathlon. Both in training for Ironman Austria 2010, and Mitten also for the Vitruvian next month.

And also a big fat hands up to Stuart who is entering his fourth decade this week. His present from Sarah was a lovely new pointy helmet which he suitably adorned at Hyde Park this weekend, and it seemed to do the trick because he had a storming bike leg. Well done, Stu!

This week the kids are away camping, so I am on my own. Good oppurtunity to get some quality training in before I take them away next week which will inevitably be an easy training week before my penultimate race of the season at the Bedford Weekender (second Euro qualifier).

In the meantime, enjoy the sudden upsurge in sunshine and temperatures.



Monday, August 10, 2009

Slow news day...

Mondays are usually a sluggish day for the newspapers. This week's blog is a bit like that really.

Been training lots, working lots, organising the trip to Oz, bit more training, lots more work, plenty more organising. All means there's not much time to blog, or even think about what I'm going to blog about.

Another PB this week though. This time it was the turn of the 5km run at Bushey Park with 20:33. Very pleased with that, especially since I am still feeling a slight niggle in my groin and wasn't at full speed. Who knows, I might even break that 20 minute milestone someday soon.

But then this was followed by a slow 10 mile bike time trial with Stuart from the tri club in 24:48. Funny, only a few months ago I was dreaming of sub-26 minutes, but now if I don't achieve sub-24 then I feel I have failed. Conditions were not perfect though, and it did follow a hard hill session up Ivinghoe Beacon the day before, so I don't feel too bad about the slow time.

Big congratulations to my mate Alex whose wife, Angie, gave birth to their first child - Ethan Alexander Lotter-Maggs. Congratulations to the Maggs, and looking forward to wetting the baby's head sometime soon.

Mixed feelings about next week/weekend.

Happy that it is the ITU Elite Race at Hyde Park on Saturday where I will be spectating with Anne-Marie, Dan and Stuart from my tri club, followed the next day with me and Stuart racing the sprint race on the same course as the Elites (which also doubles as a European Qualifier in which I have tentatively registered my interest).

But sad that the kids are going away camping for a week, and I just know that I am going to badly miss them and the sound of Joe and Adam arguing! Hey ho, gives me time to fit in some more hard training in preparation for Oz. And maybe think of something more interesting to write about for next week's blog!

Until then, enjoy the sunshine.


Monday, August 03, 2009


"Dear Colin Bradley
Membership Number: 12788

Congratulations on your selection to the Great Britain team for the ITU Triathlon World Championships – Gold Coast Australia, Sprint Distance. I hope that you continue to train safely before heading over to the Gold Coast for the 13 September. This letter confirms your place on the team."

I received this email from the BTA this week. Good, innit?

This week I’ve been reflecting back to my result from Blithfield and my selection to the GB team.

I have had many emails, texts and calls congratulating me on my selection, but perhaps the most poignant was from Richard, a fellow coach from my football club, who admitted that he hadn’t avidly been following my blog (tut, tut), but that he had been following my progress from time to time.

Richard said that when we were kids we would all dream about representing our country and that I was now actually going to do that. It was only after reading that that it really dawned on me what I had achieved. Yes, I HAD always dreamt of representing my country, although it was as the next Kevin Keegan and obviously that never happened. So, what better way than by doing so in the sport which I now love – triathlon. So, I suppose I should be quite pleased with myself, really.

Still reflecting back to my days as a kid, it was all the rage to wear designer tracksuits (Diadora, Kappa, Lacoste, etc., etc.) in the early 80’s when I was a teenager. As a bit of a fasionista, I could always be seen in my favourite Kappa jumper, Diadora tracksuit bottoms and Nike trainers. Until, that is, one day when I was 'taxed' (the practice of being mugged of your designer clothes) by a local thug named Vince Hughes.

Not since those days have I worn a designer tracksuit. Nowadays, such clothing is the reserve of the audience of the Jeremy Kyle show and the shell-suit posse. Until now, that is, because this week I took delivery of my GB Age Group team tracksuit kit (see photo up top and below), and I haven't felt so 'cool' wearing it since my teenage days. Very chavtastic, don’t you think?

Hopefully, I will receive my named trisuit (currently on order) in time to show it off at my next race which is the Hyde Park Sprint at, yes you’ve guessed it, Hyde Park, in two weeks time.

The race is a Euro qualifier, and although I have tentatively put my name down as trying to qualify, to be honest the pressure is off now that I am going to Australia. The weekend promises to be very exciting with the elites racing on the Saturday and I shall be going down to watch them strut their stuff with my mate Dan from the tri club.

Big, big congratulations this week to some other friends from my tri club – Sarah, Paul (aka Pablo), Tony and Andy – who all took part in this weekend’s UK Ironman in Bolton. Sarah came 10th female overall (beating an elite) and Paul and Tony successfully completed the course. Unfortunately, Andy DNF’d – haven’t yet heard what happened, but hopefully he is OK. As has been said many times before, it’s getting to the start line which counts. Finishing is just the icing on the cake. Well done guys and gals.

My training last week was almost non existent which was how I had planned it. Back to the serious task of training this week for a rather important race in just over a month. I certainly WON’T be wearing my tracksuit though – that’s packed away for special occasions. Now, where’s my audience ticket for the Jeremy Kyle show…



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Off to see the Wizard...

And we all know where he lives, don't we? Yep, Oz...and following today's race, that's damn well where I'm racing on 13th September.

Yes, I am extremely happy to report that I placed 1st today out of the athletes who were racing to qualify, so secured my slot for the World Sprint Championships automatically without having to rely on the roll-down.

Let me repeat that, because I can hardly believe it myself, and to be honest I so enjoyed typing it the first time that I am going to type it again...

...I will be racing for GB in the World Sprint Triathlon Championships at the Gold Coast on 13th September 2009.

After months and months and months and months of preparation, endless hours visualising myself on the start line alongside the best Age Groupers in the World, swimming, biking and running through everything the British seasons had to throw at me, I have done it.

I shan't bore you with the details (you can read my race report here), but suffice to say I am a very happy chappie. The race went perfectly according to plan with the only athlete in my Age Group ahead of me being Sharkie Jaggard who had already qualified at the first race at Grendon.

I am going to take a week off. Less training - more beers. Then back to training in preparation to race against the best Age Groupers in the World in 6 weeks time.

Here's a few photos (all taken by the ever-present Anne-Marie)...

Coming out of the swim

Coming in on the bike (punctureless at this point in time)

Sprinting across the finish line


Just been told I qualified!

Me and A-M pre-celebration

Me post-celebration

There's a short video of me speaking very shortly after the race which I'll upload as soon as I've figured out how to.

Meantime, I'm off back down to the pub for some more beers.