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/