Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Back into Triathlon retirement - for good!

My retirement from triathlon didn’t last long.

Not even a month after the London Triathlon and the bug bit. I was waking up to a 6am alarm call to head to Matlock.

Not my usual start to a Bank Holiday Monday, I must say. It often entails struggling to get out of the sack until midday after a day of drinking.

But, after paying just £7.50 to enter, a snip in the world of triathlon, I was lining up in Matlock.

The MARS Triathlon is in its seventh year and was superbly run.
The problem was, even the swim seemed uphill. It was torture.

After that first leg at Matlock Lido it was the ten-mile bike ride, which proved more than a little gruelling.

Having not got on the bike since London’s efforts, the last thing I expected was the mammoth climb in the middle of the bike section on Lea Main Road.

Never ending, it led to some having to push their bikes at times. I didn’t but such was the severity of the slope, that would have been the quicker option!

But after a second transition into the run, I felt good. After all, that is what I have been doing plenty of since London.

What I did not expect was the run to be to the tliff that towers over Matlock at 389ft, and back down. That is a challenge when walking, let alone running.

I’ll hold my hands up, I came to walking pace on a couple of occasions. A few beers the night before wasn’t the best preparation for this.

But on the way down, nearing the end, I noticed a child, in full triathlon gear, powering up the hill, a smile on his face.

As I finished in, to be fair, a poor 74 minutes, I was just happy to have crossed the line although a good bit of exercise for a Bank Holiday.

But when I looked at the results, I saw that little lad had finished more than two minutes ahead of me.

And, the best of it was, he was just NINE years old.

A storming effort for such a little nipper, one to look out for in the future.

But maybe now really is the time to put my triathlon gear in the back of the garage....for good!

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Monday, 10 August 2009

Mission accomplished at London Triathlon

Mission accomplished.

After seven months constant training, the London Triathlon is no more.

And in the past week, I have had a week of doing nothing except over indulge in alcohol and rubbish food.

But, I have to say, all that hard toil was well worth it.

After a week recuperating and a few days away, the body is no longer stiff and I can look back on the events of just over a week ago with fond memories.

More than 20 family members and friends headed down for the weekend and thankfully, it all went to plan.

While my time of two hours, 52 minutes and two seconds was never going to make the impressive F1 driver Jenson Button worry (he did 2 hour 7 mins), it did see me break the three-hour barrier which was my personal goal having started the year with my fitness levels at virtually zero.

A successful 1.5k swim (I got out without drowning) was followed by the 40k bike ride that I completed in one hour 18 minutes.

In the end, I used the sturdy town and trail bike and did not risk my mate’s road bike, on which I suffered a puncture at the Macclesfield Triathlon back in May.

Had I chosen that, I am certain I could have shaved a lot more off my time but seeing numerous competitors out of the 13,000-strong field over the weekend struggling to mend punctures, I was glad I stuck to my bike.

But if the first two disciplines proved somewhat enjoyable after months training to get fit, the run was pretty hellish.

For the first 5k lap, I was suffering from a stitch and struggled and by the second 5k lap, my legs were buckling.

But with thousands making their way around the dockside at the ExCel Arena and crowds cheering everyone on, it gave you the motivation to keep going.

And the elation when crossing the finishing line was a feeling I will not forget in a hurry.

Not just for completing the race but knowing all those early morning sessions, those in the winter, spring and summer, were all worth it.

And in doing so and with the help of a few people I have helped raise more than £1,500 for Nottingham-based charity When You Wish Upon A Star.

With it all over, there’s an empty void to be filled at the moment.

But I cannot shake off the fitness bug. After a week off resting, I am itching to get going tonight.

The only question that remains is swim, bike or run? Maybe I’ll just do all three.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/

Friday, 31 July 2009

Why I'll tackle London battered and bruised

Of all the advice I have sought from athletes or on the internet, nowhere did it state falling off your bike as great preparation for the London Triathlon.
After seven months of fairly incident free training in the pool, on the bike and out running, I was in the final straight.
A few days to go, eating and drinking correctly, and some light workouts in all three disciplines as I bid to be in tip-top shape for London.
I was feeling great. Then, on Thursday night, bang.
Well, more a crash, bang, wallop followed by screams of expletives and me upside down on the pavement.
At full pelt, less than a mile from home, I somehow struck the kerb and proceeded to grate my body across the pavement and into somebody’s garden wall.
What a time to crash off my bike.
Blood gushing from both knees, elbow and hand, my first thought was that was lucky.
After all, coming off at speed could have led to a whole host of unthinkable possibilities on a busy road.
But while escaping with cuts and bruises at first felt made me thankful, with the Triathlon three days away, the clean up operation did not.
The bike, given a good going over, was still in one piece but the same could not be said of the skin around my joints.
At present, Savlon is my new best friend and dressing the wounds are becoming a regular occurrence during the day.
I am sore. Very sore. And there is not enough time for the wounds to heel.
Thankfully I am still in one piece (kind of) to line up in London at 1.10pm this Sunday.
But instead of tapering down properly, feeling as fresh as a daisy, I will start the race battered and bruised, hurting before I even begin.
I am sure throughout my knees will give me a timely reminder of why I should have avoided that kerb on Thursday night.
So, I am down but not out and while hardly the best preparation for my first full triathlon, I just hope it proves the last hurdle I have to overcome to complete this challenge.


To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wetsuit test passed - in the bath

NEVER did I envisage there would be a time in my life that would involve the bath, a wetsuit, baby oil and a stopwatch.

But that day arrived this week.

With the London Triathlon just days away, the training is done. It is a case of tapering down and steadying myself ready for the big day.

But it is the technicalities that need to be worked on.

Having never wore a wetsuit before, it is not just a case of trying it on - but making sure I can get it off. And quickly.

For when I step out the Victoria Docks following a 1,500m swim this Sunday afternoon, I will need to remove this second skin in double-quick time at the edge of the water before progressing to transition.

And with a 40k bike ride and 10k run to follow, the last thing I need to be doing is wasting precious time and energy flapping around trying to remove this skin-tight device.

On the recommendation of some elite triathletes, to give myself peace of mind I zipped myself up into the suit (not easy either) and I soaked myself through in a bath full of cold water.

Ridiculous, I know. But it got worse as from the second I stepped out to the moment it was removed, I had the missus on hand with the stopwatch.

Firstly, I panicked as I failed to quickly get my arms out and that lost valuable time but it was all done in 30 seconds.

I was pleased with that, I envisaged from the warning calls it would take longer.

The baby oil smothered on my arms and legs beforehand no doubt helped and at the second attempt, it was down to 22 seconds.

Job done, two attempts was enough. Despite only the wife as an audience, it was a ridiculous scene being played out in the bathroom of our house.

So I hooked up the wetsuit to dry out ready for London and the next time I will be peeling my way out of it will be this Sunday.

It will be slightly different to getting out of the bath but with hundreds, possible thousands lining the Docks. I don’t want to be the one flapping around on the edge unable to free myself.

Despite probably being fatigued and the adrenaline pumping, I must remember to keep my wits about me.

Oh, and the baby oil.


To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Sven proves anything is possible!

Talk about a surreal week.

Sven Goran Eriksson checks in at Notts County as the new director of football.

Whatever next? Elvis will return. Shergar (right) will be found and win next year’s Derby at Epsom.

Stevie Roden wins the London Triathlon in a record time, handed the GB vest and then wins gold at the Olympics in London in 2012.

Slow down a bit. Maybe I am getting carried away there a bit. I mean, if Shergar was found he would be too old now to compete!

I have seen some things happen during my time covering sport in Nottingham but the Sven appointment has still left me more than a little stunned.

But if anything, it helped take my mind off the task ahead for myself in London a week on Sunday.

That was until my official ‘start’ pack landed through the letter box.

I will be off in wave 15, 1.10pm. I will boast the number 9,121.

A few hundred people will set off at the same time as me and to avoid being trampled on in the open water of Victoria Docks, I plan to stay back and set off behind them.

It will be a struggle completing 1,500m, let alone doing it after a frantic start in which the endless legs smashing around end up kicking you all over as the competitors fight for position.

Either way, it all now seems very real. From the detailed plans of where to be at what time to the race rules and regulations for the big event.

With plenty of family and friends coming down for the weekend, I do not want to disappoint.

I just hope it is not red hot, given my early afternoon start. If that is the case, I really will feel the burn - quite literally.

What lies ahead, how will it go, who knows?

But after this week and Sven, nothing can be ruled out.

Well, maybe the victory was a little bit far fetched.


To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Olympic legend has put me in the zone

WOW. Now, I am not worried at all.

In fact, bring on the London Triathlon.

It is not every day you get advice from an Olympic champion. Sorry, Olympic legend.

But when Ian ‘Thorpedo’ Thorpe popped into the Nottingham Evening Post the other day (top right), he was only too happy to offer me a few words of wisdom about how to treat the next couple of weeks before the big day.

And all those insecurities and fears about the swim, bike and run in London evaporated when Thorpe told me to, well, stop being stupid.

Enjoy the day. It’s party time.

And when a five-time Olympic swimming champ offers a word or two in your ear, you make sure you’re listening.

“My personal opinion,” he explained. “Your training should always have been harder than what the competition is.

“The competition itself is the time to celebrate all of that hard work that you have put in.

“The early mornings, the times when you come home and can barely stay up to eat your meal before you go to bed just to wake up and do it all again the next day.

“It is just about enjoying the competition, don’t be frightened of it.

“Think of that when you are competing, remember the hard work you put in to get there and remember how you got through it, got back up, got back on the bike and kept on going.

“Remember how you kept running even though you wanted to stop and keep all of those reminders there because it will be worthwhile.

“It is one of those things where it is an accomplishment for yourself rather than just going in there and looking at where you come, what the result was.

“The hard work in the lead up is as important as what the end result is.”

And with those words of wisdom, I offered him a shake of the hand, hopped on the train and got back to my training.

But instead of fear, the Thorpedo has instilled a sense of excitement in me.

August 2 cannot come soon enough.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/



Tuesday, 7 July 2009

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

I paid a visit to the swimming complex at the University of Nottingham the other day.

I went down to see Nova Centurion head coach Bill Furniss as he put his charges through their paces.

Stood poolside, I looked on as double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington effortlessly clocked up the lengths.

Dozens were in the pool, of all ages, and I spoke to a few teenagers like Georgia Hohmann, Ann Morris and Dan Mills (top right) who are all heading to this week’s European Junior Championships in Prague.

Bill pointed out that this was a nice easy session, almost like a warm down.

But as the youngsters glided through the water, doing a variety of strokes, they made it look so easy.

With a smile and almost looking like they were not moving, they were covering the 25m lengths in a time I could only dream of. And they were not even trying.

With less than four weeks to go until I battle the London Triathlon, I spent a few minutes looking on to pick up on their clinical technique.

For my 1,500m swim on the first leg in the Docklands, I will probably be doing mainly breaststroke. It will hardly help my time, but it might ensure I complete it without being plucked from the water.

So the following morning, armed with the knowledge of watching Nottingham’s elite and world’s best in Adlington (bottom right), I headed for my local pool.

Goggles on, I went about my repertoire of strokes and it felt good. For about 50m.

Then I began to lose all coordination, I tired rather quickly and ended up splashing around in the water like my old mongrel dog Rebel when we used to let him play in the Hardwick Lakes as kids.

It is too late in the day to teach this old dog new tricks.

Who was I kidding. Watching on for five minutes at a Nova training session was hardly going to help me swim like any of them.

They are reaping the rewards of years of total dedication, week after week of gruelling training to rival any other competitor in any other sport.

Me, I have just been doing enough to ensure I have it in the locker to get over the finish line in the ExCel Arena.

It will be hard. It might look clumsy and a little awkward and lacking the finesse of a Nova swimmer, a Notts AC runner or top biker.

But I don’t care, as long as I make it.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/