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Swim coaching begins

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | 1 Comment »

It seems like an age ago that I booked my swim coaching, but the wait was finally over today when I had my first session.  I was only 30 minutes but even in that short time I have made real progress, and it’s given me a real confidence boost…

I have 3 more sessions booked over the next couple of weeks, and I’m pretty sure that if I can get in several practice sessions in between, then in a couple of weeks time I’ll have my basic front crawl stroke nailed, and be well on the way to developing my swimming to a level where I can train for the Ironman with confidence!

We started off briefly discussing my goals, and then my coach Jan, an ex competitive swimmer who trialed for the 1988 Olympics, and a triathlete herself, watched a few lengths of my normal stroke to see where I was starting from.  I was quite surprised when she said that my stroke wasn’t too bad, and that with a few small changes I could make big improvements.

The rest of the session was spent doing some basic drills, getting my breathing timing correct, and working on both my kick and arm stroke, and body/head position.  I was really impressed with how fast I seemed to progress – it makes SUCH a difference having an expert tell you exactly where to position your head, body and limbs and how to co-ordinate the stroke.

The biggest changes seemed to be my head position, the amount of roll on each stroke, and the timing of my breathing.  Just small changes to each of these has already made a big difference to my comfort, speed and confidence in the water, and I can’t wait to get to the pool in the morning and put what I’ve learned into practice!





Amazing Places To Swim

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | 2 Comments »

With my swim coaching booked to start next week, I’ve been thinking about different places where it would be amazing to swim. I’ve been lucky enough to swim in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans already, the Mediterranean, Aegean and Carribean seas, but what about more obscure or adventerous swimming destinations?

A few years ago I cycled along the length of Loch Ness, and aside from the cold that would definitely be a cool plce to swim, but I think you have to look further afield to get really interesting swimming spot…

Bioluminescent Bay is a bay in Puerto Rico which contains massive numbers of bioluminescent micro-organisms which glow when the water is disturbed. Swimming at night creates a blue glowing “halo” effect around the swimmer’s body, so that sounds like an awesome place that should be added to my “places to see” list!

Jellyfish Lake” also ticks all the boxes for being interesting and adventurous. The late is on one of the limestone islands of Palau, and since the lake is sealed off from the ocean with virtually no predators, the jellies there have evolved to be stingless.

The third amazing spot is known as “Devil’s Swimming Pool“, or “Devil’s Armchair” at the top of Victoria falls in Zambia – 420 feet above the river below! You can relax in the water right up to the edge (in the dry season) and look over the sheer drop – now THAT looks like an amazing place to swim!

Got any other ideas for AMAZING places to swim?  Leave a comment below…





Training Schedule For Half Marathon

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | No Comments »

Well, after being told by my doctor to rest for several weeks I’m now feeling very gittery and itching to get back to training.  Due to being laid up for so long I’ve missed my chance at entering the Perranporth Triathlon, so my training will now me base building towards starting Ironman training in January, and aiming for a reasonable time in the Eden Project Half marathon in 13 weeks time.

The schedule below is based on the Sub 1:50 training schedule on the Runner’s World website.  I’m easing into the running gradually over the next few weeks, and will need to listen to my body and adjust accordingly.  I’ll most likely cycle on most of my rest days, and will probably switch the Thursday runs (or at least some of them) to cycling too.

My goal is 1:45 which I’d be very happy with considering that Eden is quite a tough hilly course.  If I can achieve that, or at least get very close to it, I’ll feel confident going into my Ironman training shortly afterwards.

We have a few commitments over the summer, including 2 weddings to attend, and a multi-day stag do which I’ll have ti work around as best I can…

Week Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
1 3M Easy Rest 2M Easy Rest 3M Easy Rest 4M Easy
2 3M Rest Rest 4M Easy REST Warm up, 2M fast, warm down 5M Easy
3 4M Easy 3M Faster than Mon Rest 4M Easy REST Warm up, 4 x 400m, 3 min jog recoveries 6M Easy
4 4M Easy 4M Faster than Mon 5M with 15 mins of 30 sec fast, 60 sec jog 4M Easy , off road REST 1M jog, 5M fairly fast, 1M jog 7M Slow
5 4M Easy 6M Hilly 5M inc 16 mins of 1 min fast, 1 min jog 5M Easy REST Wedding Wedding (5M Slow)
6 4M Easy 6M Start slow, finishing faster 4M Easy Warm up, 8 x 90 secs fast, 90 secs slow Stag Do Stag Do 8M Slow
7 4M Easy 6M Fairly fast 4 x 3min fast, 2 min recoveries 5M Easy REST 2M Slow, 1M fast, 2M slow 10M Slow
8 5M Easy , off road 6M Start slow, finishing faster 3 x 5 min with 5 min recoveries 5M Easy (6 x 150m fast strides) REST Wedding Wedding (5M Slow)
9 5M Easy 5M (16 X 1 min fast, 1 min slow) Warm up, 2 x 2M timed at threshold pace 5M Easy REST 1M Easy, 4M Fairly fast, 1M Slow 10M Steady
10 5M Easy , off road Rest 8M Fairly fast 4M Easy REST 4M on grass (6 x 200m strides) 10K Race (plus warm up/down)
11 5M Easy , off road 6M Steady inc up hill bursts 3 x 5 min with 5 min recoveries 5M REST 6M (10 x 30 sec fast, 30 sec slow) 12M Steady
12 5M Easy 5M (16 X 1 min fast, 1 min slow) Warm up, 2 x 2M timed at threshold pace 6M Easy REST 1M Easy, 4M Fast, 1M Easy 10M Steady
13 5M Easy 7M Comfortable pace Warm up, 2M race pace, 2M jog 5M Easy (6 x 30 sec fast) REST 3M Eden Project Half Marathon




Race For Life Truro 2010

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | No Comments »

While I’ve been resting on doctor’s orders for the past couple of weeks and unable to train, my wife has been out there pounding the streets, and yesterday entered her very first running event – the Cancer Research “Race For Life” in Truro.

She was a little nervous being that it was her first ever event, and due to being away at Glastonbury a couple of weeks ago she felt that she hadn’t trained enough, but on the day she was fine.

The weather was kind, if a little humid, and it was a really good turn out of around 1,400 runners, joggers and walkers all raising money for a great cause.  The oldest runner was an amazing 94 years young, and the youngest were several babies and toddlers in prams and pushchairs being pushed along by their mums!

It’s a really great event for anyone who is interested in getting into running but is wary of signing up for a 10k.  It’s an incredibly friendly and non-competitive event, and there really are all levels of entrant, from a reasonably speedy 22 minutes to the final entrants walking with pushchairs (and one lady pulling a trolly which her dog was curled up in!)

Best of all, Cress is now training for a half marathon with me, so it will be great to finally enter an even with her… and while the doc told me to rest for 4 weeks, I feel pretty good now so I’m going to ease back into training again this week ;)

If anyone wants info on the Race For Life and to find out where your nearest event is check out http://www.raceforlife.org/

Note – new this year there is also a series of 10k events, open to both women and men.  Check for your local event at here





Parking Ticket Update

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | 1 Comment »

Well the response to this has been great.  Yesterday the story appeared in our local paper, The West Briton, and since then a ton of people have visited the web page at http://www.squidoo.com/armtrac-security-services and posted comments of support, and stories of their own dealings with Armtrac.

The article in the paper included a quote from a local councillor branding firms like Armtrac as a “blight on the town”, and stating that the council, “must average one complaint a week.  They are driving shoppers out of the town”.

The web page has already received hundreds of visitors, has been “liked” on Facebook more than 20 times, but best of all it’s climbing the Google rankings and currently stands near the top of the second page of search results for both “Armtrac Security Services” and just “Armtrac” so with any luck it will hit page one in a few days, and be easy to find for other “victims” of Armtrac’s scam.

UPDATE : As of Monday 12th July the web page now ranks #1 for “Armtrac Security Services” on Google.com and Google.co.uk





Dodgy Parking Ticket

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | 3 Comments »

OK so this is not the sort of thing I normally blog about, but this got me REALLY annoyed…

On Saturday my wife and I were issued a “parking ticket” by a private security company named Armtrac Security Services… WHILE I WAS SAT IN THE CAR!!!

We had stopped in a parking bay adjacent to a shop in a local town. There were plenty of empty bays, including the one next to ours, and I stayed in the car with the keys in the ignition while my wife popped inside quickly, and within a minute or so an unmarked van had pulled up close behind our back bumper blocking our car in.

The driver who was not in any sort of uniform jumped out and took a photo of the car, and when I asked what the hell was going on he said I was getting a parking ticket. I said no worries, that I would move my car, and asked him to move his van which he refused to do. No matter what I said he refused to move his van while he wrote out the ticket, then he handed me a “Charge ticket” for £60 and then left.

The parking bays to my left and right were empty, and by delibarately parking on the road so as to block me in he was the one causing an obstruction, double parking a silver mini-van opposite and preventing any other vehicle from passing.

The ticket states that we have 7 days to pay, otherwise the price increases, and that “If you have reason to appeal a £5.00 administration fee will be charged.”

What a joke. So as soon as I got home I went online to find Armtrac’s website, and it turns out not only do they not have a site, but the address they give is a mail forward, and the phone number is an 0871 redirect… basically they are hiding!

Well not any more. I’ve created a page all about Armtrac and their dodgy business in the hope of exposing them. I’ve also been interviewed and photographed by our local newspaper, and I’m waiting to hear back from a researcher at the local radio station who says they are looking into it.

These guys are scammers, their entire business model involves “pouncing” on people to issue these tickets and I’m sure it’s illegal. I’m taking legal advice and will fight them all the way, but in the meantime hopefully anyone searching “Armtrac Security Services” after getting one of these tickets will find this page and the Squidoo lens and realise that they are not alone, they they should NOT pay the ticket, and that Armtrac need to be stopped!

[rant over]





Tri And Give A Dam

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Ironman | No Comments »

Yesterday I was forwarded a YouTube video of a guy named James Lawrence, a triathlete doing an amazing challenge for charity whose bike was trashed by Delta airlines, who refused even to give him a refund on the air freight for the bike! Here’s the video:

James is trying to raise $5 million for drought relief in Africa by competing in 20 half Ironman triathlons in just 30 weeks. He’s already completed 4 of the races, and he’s already registered for the other 16.

Anyway, after watching the vid I checked out his site at Tri To Give A Dam and the project is amazing. Incredible pictures of the project’s work in Africa, and some a truly inspirational challenge so I just wanted to share it and maybe help send a few more people to the site and raise a few more dollars for a great cause. Talking of which, this will give you an idea of what the charity does and why it’s so important:

So, go check out James’ site and blog, follow his progress in the challenge on Twitter, and if you don’t agree with Delta’s treatment make sure you forward that video on!





Life gets in the way

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | No Comments »

No matter how good your intentions, or how important a project is sometimes things happen and life gets in the way!  For the past week I’ve not managed to run at all due to a twisted ankle, and I’ve not had time to blog due to a crazy work schedule.  These last 2 days both of those 2 things have been stressing my out, and I’ve been worried that I’ll not achieve the goals I’ve set for myself but this morning I decided not to let it get to me, and just deal with it!

While I’ve not be able to run I did swim last week, and I went cycling on a very nice Cannondale tandem on Friday.  As I mentioned in a post last month, my father in law is going to be cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End for charity in the summer, and since he is blind he is riding a tandem.  His partner for the trip is away on a climbing trip so I offered to cycle with him so he could keep up with his training.

It had been a long time since I rode a tandem, and since his new Cannondale had double sided pedals (flat one side, SPD on the other) I decided to wear flat shoes.  That was a good decision, since finding your balance when pushing off on a tandem takes practice, but after a couple of hours I got the hand of it again so next time I’ll wear clipless shoes.

I also made time to get out and about on Saturday.  It was our wedding anniversary so Cress and I went hiking on the south coast.  I was a little worried about my ankle, but in fact it wasn’t a problem and we did a new route starting at Rinsey and explored the cliff paths around there.  We climbed down to an isolated little beach for a picnic lunch, and generally saw several groups of climbers out on some great looking granite faces… Definitely a cool spot to explore any time you’re in Cornwall!

View Larger Map

Climbers and a kayaker near Rinsey

As for blogging, the reason for not having time to get on here is mostly due to launching a new product/service for my business – Speedy Websites.  I’ve been developing the duplicateable sites over the past month or so, and last week we did all the promotions and launched the site.  I think it will still be busy for a little while longer, but it’s not as crazy as it has been so hopefully I can find more time to blog from now on… but when I don’t have time, I’m going to try not to stress about it!


Wow this triathlon thing can get expensive!  I’ve been going over my “shopping list” the last couple of days and it’s really starting to add up.   Apart from the actual race entry fees (the Perranporth Triathlon in a few weeks is £40 which isn’t too bad, but the Ironman is £345!) and swimming coaching (£60 per hour) and travel/accommodation expenses, there’s a whole bunch of equipment needed both for training and racing.  It kinda got me thinking – what is the minimum equipment needed, or put another way – how cheaply can someone get into triathlon?

Minimum equipment for triathlon

Now a bunch of this is going to be stuff that a lot of people already have, but quite a bit is fairly triathlon specific and will involve an expense for anyone wanting to get started with the sport, so let’s take a look at each stage in turn:

Equipment for the swim

Well the biggest expense here is going to be the wetsuit, unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm enough that one isn’t needed.  While a lot of active people may well already own a wetsuit it almost certainly won’t be suitable.  Wetsuits for surfing, kayaking or diving for example are too bulky and restrictive for swimming efficiently, so at the very least you’ll probably want to “splash out” on a budget triathlon specific suit.  From doing a little research the budget suits made by Orca look like a good deal for beginners.

After the wetsuit the swim stage isn’t too costly – a decent pair of goggles is essential, but anyone who already swims probably has a pair.  Other than that, you just need a swim suit of some description – while a triathlon specific suit might be ideal for shorter races especially, I see no reason why beginners can’t get away with a normal swim suite or pair of shorts under their wetsuit.

Equipment for the bike

OK, here’s where it gets expensive!  If you’re lucky then you already have a road bike you can use, if not then this is where you’ll need to be spending some real money.  Triathlon bikes can be very expensive, but beginners are recommended normally to start on a normal road bike anyway.  I come from a mountain biking background and have been riding Specialized mountain bikes for years, so I’m intending to get a Specialized Allez.  There also appear to be good budget offerings from Scott, Trek and a few other brands.  I think this is the one piece of equipment that it might be worth checking the second hand market for.  I’ve seen some amazing deals on second hand bikes in the past, so shop around and check places like eBay and the classifieds ads in your local paper.  There are a LOT of options when it comes to the bike though, so I suggest either grabbing the abslute cheapest second hand bike you can find, doing a couple of races, then selling it again and upgrading now you know what you want… or doing some real research before making the investment in a bike that will last.  Apart from the make and model, you need to decide on frame size (get fitted at a local bike shop!), gearing (double, triple or compact chainset, size of cassette etc>) and a whole load of options like brakes etc.  If you’re using clipless pedals then you’ll also need compatible cleated shoes.  Note – when you’re budgeting, remember that most decent bikes won’t come with pedals so you need to include the price of whatever pedals you want in your budget (but many bike shops will give you a deal on the pedals if you ask!)

Apart from the bike itself you’ll need a few extras.  First and most important is a helmet which is compulsory in all races, and essential for all training.  If you already ride a mountain bike you’ll already have one, otherwise head to a local bike shop and try a few on for comfort, but luckily they are relatively low cost these days.

You’ll also need one or more bottles and cages for carrying drink, a pump, and preferably puncture kit and/or spare tube (and know how to use them!)

For clothing on the bike, you can either keep a tri suit on (if you wore one for the swim) or wear cycle shorts and a jersey.  You’ll also want some gloves/mitts and last but not least some sunglasses to protect your eyes, believe me you don’t want to be flying down a hill and have a bee or a piece of grit from the road hit you in the eye!

Equipment for the run

OK so the major expenses were dealt with for the bike stage, and if you already run you may well have everything you need here.  The most important thing of course is running shoes, and this is one area not to skimp.  If possible visit a specialist shop and get fitted.  Find a pair which are suitable for your foot type, and are comfortable – you’re going to be doing a lot of miles in them and a decent pair of shoes can make the difference between trouble free running and knee/ankle injuries.

Other than the shoes, you can probably get away with whatever you have available – shorts, vest/jersey and keep your sunnies on from the bike stage.  You might also want a hat/visor if you’re running in a sunny climate, and as an optional extra you can go for lace locks which will help you transition faster, rather than wasting time tying shoe laces.  Finally, a race belt might be a useful addition, allowing you to attach your race number and simply clip on rather than messing about with safety pins in transition (and some can attach energy gels too)

Wow  that’s a lot of stuff, and potentially a lot of expense.  Add to this items like energy bars/gels/drinks, magazines and books about the sport, and all manner of extras like heart rate monitors, cycle computers, bike tools and spares, wetsuit lube, muscle rubs, hydration systems and all manner of race and training aids you’ll see for sale in shops and online and you’ll quickly see that this is not the cheapest sport, but I believe it can be done on a budget if you’re careful about what you buy and stick to the basics.

Personally I’m currently looking around for a suitable bike (probably Specialized Allez if I can find one at the right price) and will need to invest in a wetsuit in a few weeks, but other than that I’m just going to use what equipment I already have, and focus on the training (while my wife is helping to satisfy my geeky gadget addiction by buying me a heart rate monitor for my birthday!)





Perranporth Surf Challenge Triathlon

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action | 5 Comments »

2010 will see the Perranporth “extreme” surf triathlon in its 23rd year.  I’ll be honest, when I was searching for the “ideal first triathlon” I was looking at the dates and the distances and not much else.  I wanted to find an event of around sprint distance in late summer, and the 2 events which would have been ideal (The St.Agnes Triathlon and the West Cornwall Sprint distance at Hayle) both happen to be on weekend when I have to attend friend’s weddings!

So, scouring through lists of triathlon events I came across the Perranporth Triathlon, hosted by the Perranporth Surf Lifesaving Club.  The date looked fairly ideal – 12th September which gives me a few months to train (and learn to swim properly!!!) and the distances look acheivable – 800 – 1000m swim (depending on conditions), 35km bike and then 7.5km run – easy!  Well, that’s what I figured when I committed to the event here on the blog yesterday.  Now I know that the north coast can be very unpredicatable, and and there’s a good change it will be a rough swim, but there’s also a chance it will be flat calm so I decided not to worry about that – and I know I can manage the 35km bike OK, and hell it’s not even a 10k run!

“The toughest triathlon in the Southwest”

Well, that was yesterday, and since then I’ve been doing a little research on the race, and I have a little more respect for it now!  Adventure Cornwall called it “the toughest triathlon in the Southwest” which sounded ominous, but then I figured maybe that’s because there aren’t too many tough triathlons down this way!

Then I found an article on the BBC website calling it a “gruelling test of stamina” while the Independant had an article stating it was “one of the toughest UK events” and the author wrote after entering the event in 2007 that he and the other competitors were “so weary that we could barely speak, we all wore a look of dazed, strung-out joy, the kind more regularly associated with hallucinogenic drugs

Oh!  Well look on the bright side, he did use the word “joy” in there!

Finally I stumbled up on this list of the ten toughest triathlons in the UK (according to Scott Bikes and Look) and low and behold there’s the Perranporth Surf Challenge at number 7!

So why does the event have such a fearsome reputation?  Well, as I already mentioned the swim has a lot to do with it.  The Atlantic coast can get pretty rough, even in summer and I’ve lived in the area all my life so I know what the sea can be like.  But it’s not just the swim!

The bike route is 2 laps of a 19 km loop, and being Cornwall it’s fairly hilly.  In particular the first mile or so is a really nasty climb, and you have to do that twice!  One reporter wrote “The 2 lap 40k bike course starts immediately with a 20% climb, has no real flat sections and can be tough in the wind” – nice!

Then if that wasn’t enough, a run of 7.5km might not sound like much, but it’s on sand which means it saps your energy – just want you need at the end of an event like this!

So, I have 16 weeks to prepare myself for this.  It was supposed to be a gentle “dipping my toes” into the sport of Triathlon, but it looks likely to be quite a challenge, and a good taster of what the Ironman might be like next year!  I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for calm water like in this video of the 2006 race: