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/

Friday, 26 June 2009

Pain is temporary, failure is permanent

I pulled on a T-shirt to train in the other day with a slogan that sums it all up.

It was one handed out for competing in the Lincoln Triathlon back in April.

Emblazoned across the chest are the following words.

Pain is temporary. Failure is permanent.

And as my legs buckled underneath me on yet another run, on yet another day of training, it simply acted as a spur.

There is no room for failure. And as the London Triathlon edges ever nearer (five weeks from now), the enormity of the task in hand becomes clearer and clearer.

It is a lot different from training back in January and February. The sun is out for one.
And while it is pleasant, the heat is making the step up in training even harder. But it could be 30c on August 2, so I have to be ready.

But as I wilt with the sweat pouring, I have those words etched into the back of my eyes.
Failure is permanent. Failure is permanent.

And as if I did not need any extra pressure piled on me, it arrived the other day in the form of a man I have never met.

Notts County kindly put a small piece on their website earlier this week, telling of my bid.
As I used to cover the club for the paper, their press officer gave it a plug.

What I did not expect was for one Magpies fan to support my bid and When You Wish Upon A Star by donating £100.

The name - David Wilkinson.

A generous, kind, welcoming act for which I am so grateful.

But when such sponsorship comes in, as it has been of late in various forms, you know there is no room to mess it up.

I must complete the 1.5k swim, 40k bike ride and 10k run. The pain will fade, letting people down would never go away.

So that slogan from Lincoln will stay with me now right to the finish.

I do not want to be remembered as a failure forever.

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, 18 June 2009

Great triathlon training advice in the Nick of time

After almost six months slogging away with my training, I needed a little inspiration to get me down that final straight.

And this week it arrived, in the shape of an e-mail that popped up on my screen while at work.
The sender. Nick Dunn (top right).

Immediately, the name rang a bell.

He is the West Bridgford triathlete who finished an astonishing second in last year’s London Triathlon. The winner of the 2008 Nottingham Triathlon.

The man who stormed to victory in the Mansfield Sprint Triathlon back in April - my first ever one in which I finished nearer 200th than first!

I knew his name as I wrote an article about him a couple of years ago and by chance, he stumbled across the story of my bid and called in with some advice months ago.

Turns out he was sifting through his e-mails, spotted my name and dropped me a line to ask how I was getting along.

At the bottom, the line of if you need any advice, just...

Before I could finish reading, I had fired one back. I’ll take up that offer. After all, this is a leading triathlete, a man with a successful personal training business in the city. I would be silly not to ask for a few pointers.

And by the time the day was out, there it was. A detailed e-mail back instructing me how to fine tune, get fitter and build myself up in the last few weeks to be in optimum shape for the rigours of the London Triathlon - 1.5k swim, 40k bike ride and 10k run.

Boy, do I have my work cut out. I have a feeling I will not have much spare time on my hands.

A mixture of long distance, intense and mixed sessions stand before me and Sunday August 2 when I take to the waters of London’s Victoria Docks.

But, unlike before, this variety has given me that spring back in my step and a thirst for more training.

Just six weeks. Six tough weeks.

But thanks to the tips and advice of Nick Dunn, I feel I might just get over that finish line.


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/

Monday, 15 June 2009

It's about time I got back on the bike

I must get back on the bike this week but to be honest, I am dreading it.


And not because I have just had a slight break from training while I enjoyed a week on holiday.

More because just before, a friend of mine I was riding with came crashing down at about 20mph. And it wasn’t pretty.

Thankfully, there were no broken bones.

And I am glad, as I think I might have caused his crash!

Hurtling down the Five Pits trail, my mate Phil had dropped a good 20 metres behind after we had finished an uphill sprint.

Thinking he was taking a breather, I carried on pushing a little harder believing he was well back on the gravelled track.

That was until I slowed down, inadvertently drifted to my right only to hear some kind of warning scream and than a buckling of my back tyre.

He had been racing up behind, going past me when I wondered into his path and I heard the screeching of brakes, a slight tug on my back wheel and then the noise of Phil and his bike careering across the gravel into a hedge bottom.

Blood from head to toe, some pretty bad cuts but as he jumped up quickly, it appeared nothing broken.

With a bridge and steep drop just a few more metres up the track, it could have been a lot more serious. But he found the heavily bramble-filled hedge to the side of the track.

A steady ride back to base, a clean up and soon he was feeling the full force of the crash, sore and struggling to walk.

He took it all in good spirits, but I think he was glad I was away soon after on holiday so we did not have to hit the trail again. He would be safer on his own.

And after I punctured his tyre on his road bike in the Macclesfield Triathlon a week or so earlier, I doubt whether he fancies coming out biking with me again!

Either way, I need to dust mine down and get some miles under my belt this week, after all, the London Triathlon is just seven weeks away.

But after seeing a crash at those speeds first hand, I am a little bit daunted about getting back on two wheels.

Well, I’ll have to be man about it. It’s time to up the training as time is running out.

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/

Monday, 1 June 2009

Bubble bursts in Macc Land

Forget Rookie of the Year, more like Chump of the Year following a disaster at the Macclesfield Triathlon.

High hopes of completing the 400m swim, 25k bike ride and 7.2k run were quite literally blown apart.

After borrowing a proper road bike, I was flying at the start of the bike course, making my way through the scenic back roads of Macclesfield. I felt in great condition.

Overtaking a few of my fellow competitors, confidence was growing. This road bike makes a real difference.

It was only just after half 8 in the morning, I had been up since 5.15am and made the 75-minute drive over the Cat and Fiddle to get there. The swim had gone well, it all seemed so worth it.

That was until I turned onto the A34 and within seconds, I struck a hole in the road and my back tyre blew apart.

I could see it coming, I just could not avoid it without risking pulling out in front of an overtaking car.

As the thin tyre popped, the bike shook violently from side to side as I came to a shuddering halt on the grass verge.

A few expletives sprang to mind, especially as it dawned on me that with this new bike, I had no spare inner tube. No back up plan. No mobile phone. No chance.

A few competitors came past and the friendly nature overtook that competitive edge as they asked if I was okay, fearing I had an accident.

I waved them on with a smile before realising I had a good five or six mile trek back to the transition zone at the local leisure centre.

It was like a run of shame, pushing the bike along where I had just come from while wave after wave of triathletes went about their work, many offering their commiserations as they flew past.

But to end with a DNF against my name was a miserable experience, especially given the effort put in to training.

Maybe I should have put a little more effort into the planning in case such a blow out happened!

Lessons learned and one more to help me make a successful trip around the London circuit come August.

I just wish now that early morning alarm clock had never gone off.

A lie in would have been much more rewarding that a wasted trip to Macclesfield.


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, 22 May 2009

Stevie Roden - Rookie of the Year?

I can see it now, Stevie Roden - Rookie Champ 2009.

Medal wrapped around my neck, maybe even the national anthem.

Hang on, I am getting carried away a little bit.

It is just this Sunday will see me compete in my third Sprint Triathlon - this time in Macclesfield.

But I noticed the first person back out of the first-year competitors will be crowned the rookie champ.

A chance to really put myself to the test. Rather than flagging down near towards the 200th finisher, I could have something to aim for over the 400m swim, near 26k bike ride and 7.2k run.

Training has been going well and I have finally got my hands on a road bike.

An old mate of mine, going back years, has popped up to team up as my training partner when he is free.

And Phil Ashmore has come to the rescue by letting me borrow his gleaming yellow road bike. It is the real deal.

Now, I have mentioned in the past how much quicker I could go on this. It could shave a few minutes off my time. And practice has gone well.

The real test will come in Macclesfield.

So, a better, more purpose-built bike over the bulk of the course will stand me in good stead.

Rookie champ it is then.

Well, a quick look at the times of the Rookie winners from the past two years made it clear. I should dream on.

It appears, looking at their times, I would need a propeller on by back in the pool and not just a road bike but two wheels that are powered by petrol. And as for the run, maybe a pair of roller blades?

If I wanted such a title, to get into that kind of shape I think I would have to quit work and train full time!

I should forget Rookie of Macclesfield. Instead, I should concentrate on just staying awake.

An 8.05am start time means getting up at 5.15am on Sunday morning.

Forget Rookie champ, rising at that time at a weekend will be an even bigger accomplishment.


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, 14 May 2009

I don't want to be the next Eric the Eel

I KNEW word was spreading about my London Triathlon bid, but well, this was ridiculous.

I ventured off to Watermeadows in Mansfield for a spot of “tuition” from a colleague to try and speed me up a bit in the pool.

As I waited for him I went through a few warm up laps, only to notice a good 50 people sitting in the spectator gallery to my left.

Wow. This lot turned out for me?

Obviously not. It was the parents of loads of youngsters from Sherwood Swimming Club, having their class in the far three lanes.

Like machines, they flew through the water at pace, making it look effortless while racing a breakneck speed.
Oh dear, I thought. For I had to position myself in the slow lane, next to the spectators, and soon I became a little unnerved.

Their kids looked like professionals, gliding through the water yet there I was, a grown man, about to get a few front crawl tips to try and put come lengths without passing out.

Now, breaststroke, I am comfortable with any day of the week. Freestyle, well, that is another story all together.

So when my tutor for the evening arrived, sports colleague Matt “Phelps” Halfpenny, I was in trouble. Gurgling, forgetting when to breathe, I looked more like Eric the Eel (top and right) from the 2000 Sydney Olympics than somebody a few months away from kicking off the London Triathlon with a 1,500m open water swim.

I was glad when the kids from Sherwood vacated the pool, their parents no doubt wondering who the hell was making a splash for all the wrong reasons in the slow lane.

It was clear, I have a long way to go to be able to swim with the finesse of those teenagers.
With the few pointers picked up from Matt, I now have a good four sessions a week pencilled in for my local pool. I need to nail this.

And I am about to embark on a few classes with newly-formed local club Absolute Triathlon.
I am now under no illusions. Those kids make it look easy through years of practice.

As for me, I will be happy to be able to put in a performance that ensures I just go unnoticed, slipping under the radar of the spectators in London.

The last thing I want is to become the Eric the Eel of London.

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, 7 May 2009

I don't want to leave myself exposed in London Triathlon

I suppose it is vital not to get caught up in the moment.
So far, in the Mansfield and Lincoln Sprint triathlons, there have been a few spectators out to offer their support.

Mainly friends and family all packed close to the transition zone so when out on the open road and running, you only get the odd supporter at the end of their drive offering a clap, a cheer or a few words of encouragement in your moment of need.

But the full London Triathlon will be a different beast altogether.
Out around the ExCel Arena in London’s Docklands, thousands will gather and on the streets there will be hundreds more offering support.

It should make for a carnival atmosphere, one to saviour. If anything, it will fuel the adrenaline and when flagging, give you that extra boost to find that little bit extra.

I have plenty of family and friends coming down to make a weekend of it. I think they need to see it to believe it when I say I am taking part.

But I cannot afford to get carried away, especially after reading up on a funny, if not rather embarrassing and painful story from a triathlon in Germany a few years ago.

As one enthusiastic athlete came down a steep descent at speed, the crowd were shouting to him.

He hadn't a clue what they were saying, simply taking it all in. But he soon found out....they were warning him of the hairpin up ahead.

Sure enough, he didn't make it round. He hit the crash barrier where his tri-shorts caught up on a bolt on the barrier and his bike went over the edge, but caught in bushes rather than going down the banking.

This bloke had a few cuts but, thankfully, nothing serious and with a little help from the crowd, he retrieved his bike and was on his way again.

When he came to the last 200m of the run, the crowd were cheering like mad as each competitor crossed line.

This bloke, caught up in the moment, raised his hands and was clapping and waving as he finished his run.

Slowly the crowd fell silent, then there were a few titters...he glanced down to his horror to see himself being partly exposed from his shorts, a result of where the bolt had ripped them in the earlier crash. Now that is embarrassing. And true.

The race will be tough, not at times, but at all times and a lapse in concentration could prove dangerous.

This German tale was a gentle reminder for me not to get too excited - or I could be left more than just a little red faced.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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, 1 May 2009

Little bro gives me hope that I won't crash out

My brother gave me plenty of reason to feel I am not a no hoper on two wheels this week.

After all, I had started to worry that my biking skills were not coming up to scratch quickly enough for the London Triathlon.

The middle bike section is the bulk of the challenge, 40k in London, so if you make it your strongest, it will greatly help with your time.

Needless to say, in the two sprint triathlons I have done so far, I have pushed myself hard on two wheels. But my times, well, could do with some improvement.

I don’t boast a proper road bike but my town and trail version is up to the job. I just started wondering, am I?

I feel like I am getting stronger, feel like I am getting better out on the open road when training. There are still three months until London, so plenty of time to improve further.

But that is where I come back to my brother, Gary, who has given me the perfect boost.

He is less than two years younger and recently decided to get fit again, buying a book “Scrawny to Brawny”.

Well, he soon jacked that in and is definitely siding on the scrawny side still.

So a couple of weeks back he bought a new bike to help quicken the two-mile commute to the city centre in Bristol for his place of work.

This was his latest fad.

But within days, he had an accident. Not serious, I might add. Somehow as he turned left down a street, his bike went right and his handlebars fell off.

Cue Gary being cannoned from his bike, scuffing his nice suit, buckling his wheel, shattering his breaks. His wheel bent, he chose to abandon his new bike in a hedge. Had he stuck to his earlier book, maybe he would have had the strength to carry it home and repair it.

Luckily, the bike came off worse than him.

Needless to say, he will not be getting back on a bike again in a hurry, not without stabilisers. (Me, with Gary's latest bike, top right)

So maybe my biking skills are not so bad after all.

I just need to keep working, keep up the miles, increase the hill work and fight through the pain barrier.

And, unlike the younger Roden, I must remember to keep my handlebars tightened up at all time.

After all, your handlebars falling off is embarrassing enough on a dark night in a quiet street in Bristol.

Never mind in front of hundreds of spectators in the centre of London.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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/

Monday, 27 April 2009

Fun in Spain equals triathlon pain

It is all in the preparation.

Nothing can be achieved without putting the hard work in before hand.

Hence a hectic training schedule since the start of January as I prepare for the London Triathlon on Sunday August 2.

But last week, I went completely against every rule in the book prior to my second Sprint Triathlon at Lincoln.

A two-day trip to Spain ended in, well, two days of drinking. And drinking too much.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a right good laugh in the sunshine of Murcia.

But as far as preparations go for a gruelling race, spending last Wednesday and Thursday drinking lager, red wine and whatever else was put in front of me did not help.

Getting up at 6am to arrive at Burton Waters for my 8.26am start time was just another hurdle after a few days of little shut eye.

But despite the partying in Spain, I quietly surprised myself in Lincoln.

A potential problem with the pool led to the swimming leg being abandoned so it was turned into a duathlon.

A 2.5k run, 24k on the bike and a 5k run to finish (Feeling the pain in Lincoln, see top right and middle).

And in glorious spring sunshine, I completed it in 1 hour, 22 minutes. And without being sick, even more of a bonus.

Maybe the partying in Spain in the sun helped my preparation - it got me used to the heat we experienced on Sunday morning.

But while my split times for the run were up there with some of the top 30 finishers, it is my bike time of 53 plus minutes that hindered me.

My town and trail bike is not like the road racing bikes used by most (bottom right). So that hinders me a little.

But with the bike making 40k up of the London race, I plan to get out on the road in the next few months and get some serious miles under my belt.

That will help. But I am sure during the early, steep hill in Lincoln that almost brought me to a standstill, I would have been better off had I not drank beer last week and had plenty of water and some early nights instead.

It is easy to blame the bike!!

So come the week before London, anybody who sees me with a beer in my hand has my permission to take it off me and drink it themselves.

But while I surprised myself and blew off some cobwebs in Lincoln, I am sure I could have gone a little quicker.

Like I said it is all in the preparation - and a 48-hour drink bender in Spain, no matter how enjoyable, is hardly the perfect build up to a big race.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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/

Monday, 20 April 2009

Bike training goes a bit flat

My training schedule went a bit flat on Sunday - quite literally.

With the sun shining, I planned out a 16-mile bike ride to Matlock Bath.

Hit it hard, meet my wife Danielle there in the car and put the bike in the boot after a couple of hours of walking round in the spring sunshine.

But as I got the bike out of the garage, the front tyre was as flat as a pancake.

Stuck in it was a three-inch thorn that had gone unnoticed during the week it had been locked up.

Now, it should not pose such a problem.

A quick trip to Halfords saw me return with a puncture repair kit, tyre levers and a new inner tube for good measure.

But I have never been the most practical of people and what to some would be a simple procedure was like rocket science to me.

Getting the inner tube out was more puzzling than I envisaged, fighting to get the tight tyre off the rim.

Putting it back in, well, don’t ask.

But with it all together, finally patched up and on the bike, I got out the cheap plastic foot pump I purchased when I got the bike.

With one push down, it broke from its base and that was that, it was done for.
By this time, I was getting frustrated. I would have been in Matlock had it not been for this damn puncture.

So I took an executive decision as I did not want to waste anymore of the day with the weather so nice.

I put the bike back in the garage, we got in the car and drove to Matlock Bath.

A nice stroll, fish and chips and then a few beers to finish it off.

I should have just done that in the first place.

But with the Lincoln Sprint Triathlon to participate in this Sunday, I need to get back on the bike tonight and get some miles under by belt.

Otherwise I’ll be down and out - just like the tyre.


To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here


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/

Monday, 6 April 2009

On course for London - barring no slip ups!

There I was, donning just a pair of cycling shorts, kissing the morning dew on the grass in the transition zone.

Welcome to the world of Triathlons, I thought.

But no sooner had I slipped on exiting the pool, I was on my bike and pedalling my way round the 14.5k stretch of the Mansfield Sprint Triathlon.

By the time I was felled in the transition zone, the nerves that had built up had been blown away after I had completed the 400m swim.

From that moment, I was intent on enjoying myself on a lovely sunny day but relaxing, I slipped bare footed during that first change over.

Luckily I jumped back up, managed to laugh at myself and I was away - uninjured (Seconds before the slip, middle right)

The hardest part had to the run (bottom right), after getting off my bike the legs felt like dead weights, hardly able to drag them off the floor.

And as I encountered a hill, I was wheezing as I tried to breath.

Knowing I was on the last 1k stretch, I dug in and completed it in one hour, four minutes and 48 seconds thanks to a few cheers from spectators around the start/finish who helped to keep everybody going.

I was delighted with that time for a first attempt.

And in completing the course, I realised there were only three minor things I had to improve on to get ready for the big one in London. Swimming, cycling and running!

I had trained up enough for this event but the swim in London will be 1,500m so I have some serious pool time to get in. And I need to cycle a further 25k and run another 5k.

But, Mansfield proved to me it is not impossible.

Already I am weighing up another sprint triathlon on Sunday May 10 - Woodhall Spa or Grendon Lakes near Northampton?

I’ve got the bug, I’m stepping it up for London.

I just hope next time I can avoid any embarrassment and stay on my own two feet.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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, 3 April 2009

Watch out for 75...if I find the right track

Number 75. Lane Three. 8.40am. This Sunday.

After all the training, my first taste of Triathlon action is just around the corner.
Now the start times have been announced, it has all become a bit more real.

Suddenly my biggest concern is not getting round the course for the Mansfield Sprint Triathlon but knowing what to do when I get there.

So many rules and regulations, numbers must be displayed in certain areas, laws regarding the transition area.

I know where Meden Vale Sports Centre is but that is about it. I am sure it will become clear.

And what about my squeaky chain?

I took the bike out for a short spin yesterday and it sounded like it was dragging one of the Krankies along.

I have purchased a few lubricants to try and do the job so the only thing squeaking on Sunday will probably be my aching joints afterwards.

I am sure there will be plenty of pumped up competitors there, desperate to meet big targets and be competitive animals.

Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to sport I am as competitive as they come.

But Sunday will not be one of those days, I am a novice. This is about learning the ropes to see where I am on the road to London Triathlon on August 2.

If I am out on the bike and all alone, it will not be because I have raced into a lead. It will be because I have gone the wrong way.

I am almost ready, I have blown off the holiday cobwebs. To a degree.

Now all I have to do is sort out that squeaky chain.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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, 31 March 2009

Holiday sun wipes out all will power

Like a true dedicated athlete, I set off for the sun of Egypt last week with all my gym gear packed in my case.

After 11 weeks training for the London Triathlon, I was ready for a week lying on a sunbed, chilling out.

But I also knew I needed to keep myself ticking over and with a gym in the hotel, I was ready to do just that.

I remember Rebecca Adlington’s mum speaking about about how, on family holidays, her daughter would still be up every morning at 6am. No matter what the shape of the resort pool, she would do as many lengths as possible, finding a way around pools hardly designed for training.

Total dedication. Hence two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics a few years later.

As I dropped down on my sunbed on the first day in the heat of Sharm El Sheikh, I still had every intention of hitting the gym.

But, with my all inclusive band firmly wrapped round my wrist, the will power drained away. In double quick time.

A midday beer started the ball rolling and before long I had resigned myself to giving the gym a miss.

After all, I was on holiday. Why on earth would I want to be pounding the treadmill or on the bike?

I could always go tomorrow. But tomorrow came, the same happened and I soon convinced myself that a week off was just what the body needed.

Now I am ready for another two or three months of intense training. And I need it to shed some of that booze and food from the holiday.

Problem is, I have signed up for this Sunday’s sprint triathlon in Mansfield. My first.
Adlington’s complete dedication was the reason behind her gold.

As for me, I have a week to blow off the cobwebs to make sure I simply get round the course.
Come the starting point on Sunday, my lack of dedication on holiday might just be my biggest regret.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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, 19 March 2009

All set for my triathlon debut

MANSFIELD watch out, Roden is ready for the big debut.

August’s London Triathlon still might be a while yet but after all this training, I am itching to get going.

So much so I have entered the Mansfield sprint triathlon on Sunday April 5.

It is no way near as long as what I will face in London as this will be a 400m swim, 14.5k bike ride and 5k run.

But for a novice like me, it is still a massive challenge.

I am sure there will be seasoned sprint triathletes in action, battling it out to be crowned number one.

I’ll leave it to them. I am not setting no targets, no times to meet.

But the practice of transitions and what it will be like on race day will be invaluable come the main event in London.

And I am looking forward to it. Not that it will be much fun until it is over, it will be sheer pain.
Only last weekend I did 40 lengths in the pool followed by a 45-minute spinning class and then straight out for a 3.5m run.

The result - a tired Roden.

I had been warned to get used to these “brick” sessions, doing two disciplines back-to-back so create what it will like on race day.

But after a punishing spinning class, my legs felt like they belonged to somebody else on the run.
I could not feel them, they were dead weights. I was almost dragging them round and struggling to pick my feet up.

But at least it will not come as a surprise when I take to the start line on the first Sunday in April.

And I have a few more pencilled in between now and London which might involve a few targets to meet.

But after weeks of training, I’ll find out where I am in my preparations after this first race out in Mansfield.

I am just keeping my fingers crossed that I prove I am somewhere on the right track and not totally out of my depth!

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

For the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click hereVisit 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

Monday, 16 March 2009

Training? A day at the races proves a safer bet

I hit a brick wall last week.

My whole body ached, I felt like a dead weight and could not muster the energy to get on the bike, in the pool or out running on the road.

After nine weeks of hard training, I felt it was my body telling me it was time for a break.
Rest up, relax. A bit of R&R would do me no harm.

Or maybe it was my subconscious working away because it was Cheltenham week. The best four-days of horse racing of the year.

I enjoy a bet on the horses now and again. Not big bucks, just a little flutter.

And when the Cheltenham Festival (top right) arrives, I get a little excited. So there was no better time to take a break.
But, maybe I abused it. A Chinese takeaway on Monday, fish and chips on Tuesday. Oh and on Wednesday I headed to Cheltenham for a day of gambling and booze. Did I mention the cooked breakfast on the way down and curry (with starter) at night?
To be honest, a day at the races was the best workout I could have had. And I lost a few pounds.

The heart was pumping faster than it ever does in training as one of my charges was head-to-head going to the final fences.

As usually happens with my bets, Carruthers decided to try and walk through a fence rather than jump it and the wind went out of its sails.
But the nervous energy from the day was a great workout in itself.
It was a refreshing change from the training and recharged, I got back into it on Friday before doing my own mini-triathlon on Saturday morning.
Unlike Carruthers, I don’t want to be faltering at the final fence so no more breaks from training are on the horizon.
But when that next brick wall hits me, will I be able to smash through it without a break for a flutter, curry and some booze?
I wouldn’t bet on it. After all it worked this time.
See Tuesday's Evening Post or visit www.thisisnottingham.co.uk for the story of arthritis sufferer Jacob Rickett's remarkable marathon challenge.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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, 5 March 2009

Rocky Roden out to prove he's no Fraudley



A famous name in the world of boxing has just started following my progress on Twitter.

You ask is it Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Oscar De La Hoya?

No, a much bigger man than that. Well, in body anyway. It is Audley 'A-Force' Harrison.

Now I am sure it is just some Fraudley fan posing as the former Olympic champion.

And don’t get me wrong, the more Twitter followers the better.

But when it comes to boxers I would look up to in my hour of desperate need during triathlon training, Audley is hardly the one.

Champion in Sydney in 2000, it all appeared to go to his head and in recent years it has been one failed comeback after another.

The latest to Irish cab driver Martin Rogan, one to all but end his career.

Despite his under achievements, I take my hat off to anybody prepared to step between the ropes and take a brutal beating.

But as I look for inspiration, it is other boxers I call upon.

Sad, I know, but I even have the Rocky (top right) theme tune on the Ipod for when I am pounding the streets. Always a great track to get me to the end.

Although I still haven’t found anything akin to those famous Philadelphia Museum of Art steps for that last darting run as the finale to a punishing workout.

It comes to something when you would rather turn to a fictional slugger than Audley (below right) for your inspiration.

However, watching the 24/7 shows charting the build up to the likes of Hatton/Mayweather, it is jaw-dropping to see how much effort goes into those 12-week or so training camps.

Despite all the trainers, conditioning coaches and nutritionists it is still sheer blood, sweat and tears that gets them ready and in peak condition for when that first bell rings on fight night.

That is how I look at it. I have longer to train but when August 2 comes I want to be in tip-top shape so there can be no excuses if I fail to complete the London Triathlon.

For me, Audley always strikes me as a man who could have achieved so much more had he shown the application of the likes of Hatton or, dare I say it, the legend Rocky himself!

I do not want to be in a position to under achieve.

As for charting my progress, I hope I can impress the A-Force with my punishing training regime.

If not, I’ll just be another Fraudley.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here

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, 27 February 2009

Lapland provides inspiration for my Triathlon bid

EIGHT weeks of training have almost come to an end. The body has hurt, ached and needed a good soak or two in the bath along the way.

So I take a look at the calendar and, oh no, the London Triathlon is still five months away. At least another 20 weeks of this punishing regime to go. And it will only get more intense.


But whenever that feeling arrives, that one where you might just skip a session, might not put in the required effort, I stop to think why I am doing it.
Not just as a personal goal for myself of swimming 1.5k, cycling 40k and then running 10k around the capital.

But for the Nottingham-based charity When You Wish Upon A Star, one that helps realise the dreams of sick and terminally ill children.
Their main trip each year is to Lapland to meet Santa Claus.
And I was privileged enough to be invited along before Christmas in 2002 to report on their adventure.

Now, I was as excited as the kids at the time. Lapland, the home of Father Christmas himself.
A near four-hour flight there to Finland, the same back and all in one action-packed day. I was shattered by the end of it, never mind the kids.

But to be among those poorly children and see the zest for life they had and the smiles on their faces throughout the day will never leave me.

Some had lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy and I remember helping one mother carry the oxygen tank off the bus into the forest for her child who was no older than five or six.

Husky rides in the forest, sledging in the candlelit woods, Santa Claus and his real reindeer walking down to meet the kids (see right).

It was magical for them and when we landed back at East Midlands, almost 24 hours later, the kids were tired.
But despite serious illnesses, they were still beaming at what they saw as the trip of a lifetime.

The sad reality is for some of those kids and ones that will benefit from the charity in the future, it is a lifetime cruelly cut short.

But When You Wish Upon A Star ensure they make dreams come true and I have seen proof of that first hand.

So the next time I hit the pain barrier, feel sorry for myself when the training gets tough, I will think back to that trip.
I will remember why I am doing it and how privileged I am.

Suddenly, you realise training for and completing a triathlon is a drop in the ocean compared to what those children and their families are going through.
To see full story behind Stevie taking up the Triathlon challenge, click here
To sponsor Stevie visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden
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/

Monday, 23 February 2009

Triathlon swim deaths have put me in a spin

Remind me not to read those triathlon magazines again.

I came across an alarming article the other day, talking about a spate of triathlon deaths.

About three happened in America in the space of a couple of weeks last year and it pointed out 23 finely-tuned athletes had died over the years.

But more worrying, 18 of those had all died during the first section - the swim.

I am still to swim in open water which will be the task in the docks outside the ExCel Arena come August 2, covering 1.5k.

And swimming is my weakest of the three abilities. Oh dear, I better up the lengths in the pool - quickly.

So I read further down, surely there was a few bits of advice to help reassure this delicate first-time triathlete.

American Russ Evenhuis was on hand for some words of wisdom.

“Nothing can prepare a newbie for the start,” he stated.

Gulp.

“It can be like jumping into a washing machine. You will get swum over, kicked, hit and banged into.”

New underwear please.

Then triathlete and coach Neil Cook chipped in about no matter how much you do in the pool, the swim will still daunt you.

“There is no wall 25 yards away, you can’t see the bottom,” he explained. “Oh, and you are wearing this wetsuit that’s tighter than a girdle.”

Raise your heart rate and blood pressure under those conditions, he said, and "any weakness you have will become apparent.”

Heartbeat rising under those conditions?

It’s beating like a drum just thinking about it.

What can I take from that as I look to prepare in the best possible way.

Scrap the swimming pool and jump in the washing machine for a hour every night?

Maybe even head to the local laundrette. Well, there is more room in those industrial-sized beauties.

I am in a spin already. Maybe I’ll invest in a pair of armbands.

Surely that is better than chancing meeting my maker in the cold and murky waters of the Royal Victoria Dock.


To see full story behind Stevie taking up the Triathlon challenge, click here

To sponsor Stevie visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden

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/

Monday, 16 February 2009

Surprise cream could prove spot on for triathlon

I am an Evening Post sports reporter and set to compete in the London Triathlon - a 1.5k swim, 40k cycle, 10k run - this August, and I will be sharing my experiences in the newspaper and in a weekly, online blog.

I am taking up the challenge to prove something to myself after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis back in 2004, just after my 24th birthday. And I am also doing it to raise money for Nottingham-based charity, When You Wish Upon A Star.

I always worry when a suspect package lands on my desk at work.

Odd shape, as well. I wasn’t expecting anything when I rolled into EP HQ this morning.

Who had I upset?

On the back it had the address of the sender.

Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The Natural Skincare Factory.

Now I know I am hardly the most fresh faced of men and those triathlon pictures in last week’s newspaper did expose a few spots.

But somebody seeing that and sending in some acne products, were they taking the .....?

Finally plucking up the courage to open the intriguing package, I came across a jar - and a nice letter.

The power of the world wide web had taken my story to the far reaches of Scotland and this family-run business had seen it, and thought they might be of help.

They explained they were not promising any ‘miracle cure’ or ‘wonder product’ for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

But their Arthirache Cream for sore joints, aches and pains had received plenty of positive feedback.

A nice touch and given the challenge ahead, every little helps.

Before my next run, I’ll try and convince the missus to massage it into a few of the suspect joints. Convincing her might be a tougher challenge than the triathlon itself.

So suspect package turned into a nice little surprise, first thing on a Monday morning.

But maybe if I am honest, a pot of cream to help clear up a few spots would not have been a bad shout either.

To see full story behind Stevie taking up the Triathlon challenge, click here

To sponsor Stevie visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden

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 www.underarmour.com

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Beer we go on way to London


I am an Evening Post sports reporter and set to compete in the London Triathlon - a 1.5k swim, 40k cycle, 10k run - this August, and I will be sharing my experiences in the newspaper and in a weekly, online blog.

I am taking up the challenge to prove something to myself after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis back in 2004, just after my 24th birthday. And I am also doing it to raise money for Nottingham-based charity, When You Wish Upon A Star.


All this training is zapping the old energy levels, I really need to be replenishing the body with more than the average calorie intake.

So I did last night, I put plenty back into the system.

A good friend of mine popped round for a few beers to watch the England versus Spain match.
And boy did I enjoy them. More than the football.

It was the first time in six weeks I had succumbed to a few lagers during the actual week (weekends I have a little exception) but after all that exercise, I deserved a treat.

I was off work yesterday so I hit the gym for a couple of hours and then the local swimming pool. A good excuse to get out of doing any jobs the wife might have thought of leaving me to do.

But on the serious issue of body fuel, by trawling the internet, I am now starting to develop a proper diet plan to go hand in hand with the fitness regime I have got stuck into. Although beer is not officially part of it.

But after the best part of two weeks with the weather, it has virtually driven me to drink.
Snow, snow, more snow. And out in the Ashfield area where I live, it hasn’t shifted like in the city.

My road is still almost covered, snow turning to ice and the pavements are still treacherous courtesy of the freezing conditions.

So all plans to hit the streets on the bike or complete my road running went out of the window.
It was gym, gym and more gym. And there is only so long you can run on a treadmill. It is a lonely, boring place.

I have given myself a pat on the back for persevering in the gym, not using the weather as an excuse so early on in my fitness plan.

The conditions have not broken me as I bid to reach the London Triathlon in peak condition on Sunday August 2.

With the snow now showing signs of clearing, I can hit the great outdoors again.
There is no let up, I am back out pounding the streets tomorrow, get last night’s alcohol out of the system.

I’ll drink to that.
To sponsor Stevie visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden
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
www.underarmour.com
To see full story behind Stevie taking up the Triathlon challenge, click here You can also follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, visit www.twitter.com/StevieRoden