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Race Report and Blog from Gerry Frewin – July 2016

Coach Musty is an old friend. We first met in 2002 shortly after my first triathlon.  My brother had been involved in an ultimately fatal motorbike accident and following his initial accident I joined a local gym as a release valve.  I subsequently completed the London Marathon in 2001 in 3 hrs and 56 minutes, with no real competitive running background and then embarked upon training for my first triathlon in 2002 after a friend completed one and said I should give it a go as it was ‘my kinda thing’. So I competed in the London Triathlon as a fund raiser for my brothers nursing home and raised approx £6,000 completing it in a time of 3.01 but having taken my time, toweled, talked and changed clothes in each transition and I knew I had a faster time in me.  The following year I bumped into the now ‘Coach’ Musty and started to train alongside him at the same club.  The following year I took 30 mins off my time (same race) and was hooked.  I have always admired Coach Musty’s temperament and cool calm approach to life from way back when we first met and I jumped at the chance when he offered his services in his new guise as a fully qualified Triathlon Coach.  I’m a busy guy with a family and love the structure that the training programme Coach provides.

 

Race Days

I have now completed more than 50 triathlons and am in my second fully coached training year with Coach Musty. I have already achieved three PB’s this year.  A 3.00.54 London Marathon having been off running for 6 weeks until just 4 weeks prior to race day.  A PB 2.17 Olympic Distance time (finishing 12th) in a 300+ strong field at the inaugural Leeds Triathlon and a 1.11 sprint finish (not a PB) my highest ever finishing position 6th in a 10-year Age Category field again out of approximately 300 in category at the JLL Triathlon at Eton Dorney.

The latter race has great memories, racing with my good friend from the Squad Michael.  We are extremely like-minded and he has the strength of an ox and a heart of gold. I arrived at the venue extremely early as a friend, who lived locally and was also competing but in a much earlier wave, had offered me a lift.  I truly experienced the benefits of arriving at a race early.  My bike was racked first in line and I had plenty of time to relax, familiarise myself with the course and warm up.  I followed my race plan to the letter and got my wetsuit on early and headed to the swim start.  Last year I encountered severe breathing difficulties during the swim, mainly down to going off way to hard and almost drowning in a combination of lake water and my own adrenaline!! I now count strokes on one arm until I’ve completed what would be approx. 4 lengths, 100m, and then ease off and find some feet to swim behind.  I emerged somewhere in the top 10 in my wave and set off to find my bike.  I was a little apprehensive as was attempting my first flying transition with my shoes already cleated in and with careful use of elastic bands – just like on You Tube!! Unfortunately, just after the mount line I slightly underestimated my saddle height, somewhat distracting my focus and attention on how my foot was to land on the pedal.  The bands broke and the right hand pedal and shoe kind of ‘ran over itself’ veering me off to the right and towards a fellow competitor whom was not impressed and shouted an expletive.  I soon ‘righted’ myself and set off with gusto off up the windy cycle circuit slowly building pace and power.  On the second lap I experienced my only overtake by a fellow competitor – Michael!!! he flew past shouting cheekily ‘nice ass’ and headed off into the distance…. I was gob smacked as I thought I’d have been slightly more competitive than Michael on the cycle leg.  Fortunately, it was his final lap sprint (adding to his desire for the cheeky overtake) and I caught him just before he headed into transition. (Phew!!! I’m so competitive!!).  Fortunately, my dismount was considerably less eventful and I was delighted with a seamless changeover to the run.

A I left transition and headed off on the run course I noticed a familiar face shouting words of encouragement in my direction, my dad! ‘Come on Gerry!!!’

‘I’ve got cramp’ I replied hobbling up the course.

‘Run it off!!!’he retorted laughing.

As blood flow returned to my legs I soon did and I started to set my sights on runners in front as target over-takes regardless as to whether or not I thought they were in my AC. I always pretend they are.  Shortly after the turn around point (a 1 lap run) I noticed a familiar face, a chap I knew from my industry whom had beaten me by approximately 3 minutes the year before, but he was a good 300m behind me.  ‘I’m coming for you Frewin’ he shouted.  I turned on the after-burners upped my heart rate to slightly above threshold as I thought there’s no way he can catch me if I’m on the edge of requiring medical attention! He didn’t. Suddenly it dawned on me that I was running at my best, fast and hard but at a sustainable pace and it was an incredible feeling.

As I crossed the line the leader board stated I was 4th overall and it gave me goosebumps all over.  Later concluded with a 6th.

Coach has maintained my belief in the widely publicised and often doubted cliché that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.  He has taken away the frustration of under-achieving in a sport I wanted to love and now do and in an environment with the best friends and like-minded people you could imagine meeting and made me want to improve further.

Coach Musty is a very clever guy.

SarahBRace Rep

Triathlon Saved my Life!

Starting out

“Have you ever thought about combining the three? Seen as you like swimming, running and cycling” says Musty. I laugh, “no way! Are you crazy!?”.  That was a year ago now. Since that conversation, once a week I go to Musty’s triathlon class at the gym, have joined his triathlon squad; Strive 4 Fitness, completed a 10k run, two triathlons and one cycle sportive. This is now part of my normal daily routine; checking into Training Peaks to see what painful training sessions await me for the coming week. Waiting for the message from Musty “why haven’t you done your training today?” when my TP session comes up red.  In the beginning I would argue that it was too much for me, opting to go the pub after work instead.

The main challenge for me has been prioritising my training and that concept of ‘training’ has been something I have never really associated with myself.  Musty would say to me “you’re not working out anymore Sarah, you’re training”.  And I have noticed a change in me, I even went running (training) whilst on holiday.  Something I have never done before!! I have enjoyed the structure and variety of a training programme, as well as seeing your progress when you do the dreaded fitness tests and finally when you race.

Another challenge I faced when training was that I was never fully aware of where I need to be fitness wise. Something quite abstract. I had been training for about eight months before I did my first race and it wasn’t until I was halfway through the triathlon that I thought “this is what all the training has been all about”.  The main aim for me this year has been to complete a triathlon without giving up and to not drown in the open water swim.

Race day

The only thing I can compare my feelings to the night before a race is when I booked an impulse trip to Africa on my own. Thoughts of “what the hell have I done!” with a mix of nausea and excitement. My first race was a sprint triathlon at Crystal Palace with a pool swim. I had a lot of support from my friends with their kids waving banners and shouting at me as I went round. It was so much fun! So much so that I had to keep reminding myself I was actually racing. Because I was enjoying it so much, it didn’t really feel as hard as I had expected. In fact I was pretty nervous about the run at the end as I had been recovering from a running injury. I thought the run would kill me, but I was pleasantly surprised finding it much easier than I have run in a long time. I even made a PB for the 5k run!

My second triathlon was with the squad in the Hertfordshire championship. Again this was a sprint distance and my first open water swim. I felt so sick the night before with the outdoor swim being my main concern. I knew I could swim the distance and had practiced outdoors, but I wasn’t prepared for swimming in a group of people. When I arrived for the race I realised this was a different vibe to the Crystal Palace triathlon. There was more of a competitive air with some squad rivalry, but everyone in the S4F gang were supportive. Even though some of them had just arrived from an Alps cycling trip the night before and were putting their bikes back together in the car park!

I decided to hang at the back of the group as we entered the lake for the swim. It was a good idea for my first time, especially when people knocked you it could be quite disorientating. It didn’t help having goggles that fogged up immediately as I had no idea where I was going. Someone also swam over me, but I wasn’t submerged and nearly drowned like Michael did to Cameron in training! As I exited the lake and ran up to the transition area I was not only shocked that I completed the swim, but also at my jelly legs and my zigzagging drunken run to the bike.

I have no words for the cycle section of the triathlon. It was hard, that’s all I have to say. But once again expecting the run to kill me, I found this surprisingly easier than when I run in training or when doing a pure running race. I managed to beat my 5k run time again! So I can only assume that the swim and the cycle warm your muscles up before you run. Or you are so physically knackered after the swim and cycle that you are numb and can no longer feel your body.

I managed to beat my swim and run time compared to Crystal Palace, but my cycle time was ten minutes slower. So overall my time was exactly the same to the minute a Crystal Palace, so at least there is some consistency there.

Looking ahead

I’ve felt proud of what I have achieved this year. Far more than I ever expected when I was laughing last year saying “no way am I doing a triathlon”. I had planned to do two more triathlons this year, one with an open water swim in Lake Windermere and the other being my first Olympic distance with the squad again. Unfortunately I have since been stopped in my tracks. I sustained a minor injury in the Hertfordshire championship triathlon which led to shocking diagnosis of breast cancer. The doctor said the triathlon had saved my life!  So this is my new temporary challenge and at least I am pretty fit to face the treatment that lies ahead.  Musty has given me such great encouragement, I have met a bunch of inspirational people in the squad and made some great friends.

So bring on 2017!  I’m ready for some more!

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Michael’s Race Report: Marlow Half Iron (aka The Fugitive)

The lead up to the race started the week before following Coach Musty’s plan of mini triathlons in the gym and a general taper. I also carb (beer) loaded at Day 1 of England v Pakistan and followed Precision Hydration’s plan with 1500 preload the day before the race.

To register you had to drive down to Marlow to pick up your pack and race numbers. A good idea I thought as it gave some time to check the layout and how choppy the River Thames would be for the 1.9km swim.

Race morning and after a big breakfast in transition at 6am with a real bunch of friendly guys also racing the half. Not the usual sombre mood, just good spirits and lots of adrenaline/pooping yourself!

At the last minute the swim was changed to 2x1000m laps as opposed to one larger lap. The swim start was ferocious, 250+ swimmers going off at the same time, the first 500m was the most violent I have been in. Because of the lap issue I managed to punch two people squarely in the face when they were coming the opposite way! Despite the turbulent waters I was out of the swim in 43.58, my fastest ever and was on the bike loop in 46 minutes.

With 2 x 1000 Precision (750) bottles on board and some serious eating to do I was under way to the first of three bike loops.

The hills started slow and then grew and grew to 12-14%. The first time was a bit of a shock, but once I had a bit of recovery on the downhill, I settled in whilst the temperature started to soar. The excellent Hi 5 nutrition support swapped old bottles for new and I kept drinking and eating throughout.

I was back into transition at 4h 1m and set off for the run.

It was awful, the running surface alongside the Thames was lumpy, bumpy, full of walkers and really hard on the feet. I struggled on lap 1 and 3. By lap 4 I was on auto pilot; just trying to keep running. I crossed the line at 6 hours 25 mins. My fastest half to date. Special thanks to my family, Coach Musty and the S4F Tri squad support.

 

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Alice Travers Race Report- Cowman 03/07/16 (4th Lady & far right in picture above)

IMG_0078It’s safe to say that in the weeks leading up to the Cowman I was putting a decent amount of pressure on myself around the race. The stress of wanting to do well alongside the personal changes that were going on in my life at times made me feel like nothing I could do would make me prepared enough. Looking back, the lead up could have been much worse…I didn’t get injured, I didn’t get ill and I rarely missed a session. I think there’s something in me that’s a bit OCD about having a ‘red’ session mark in Training Peaks that probably helped too. As it happened, a few extra days rest and some good advice from Coach and other squad members on the last few days leading up to the race helped bring things in to perspective. For me, I’ve got plans to go long course in the coming years, so I should not worry too much about whether this race goes perfectly or not. It’s really a test and a learning experience that will lead me to bigger (even longer) things in the future. This perspective really helped take the pressure off and in the end I did have almost the ‘perfect’ race. That’s not to say that there’s not lots of room for improvement still, but nothing went drastically wrong (as we all fret it will when we’re lying in bed the night before) and I exceeded even my own expectations.

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Cowman Half Ironman – 03/07/16

A fantastic days racing at the Cowman (Milton Keynes) Half Ironman and a brilliant result for S4F squad athlete Ali Travers coming in as 4th overall female in her second ever Half Ironman. She paced it perfectly just as we had planned finishing very strongly on the run to move up a few places. Really excited to see how far she can go – I think we have only just scratched the surface of her potential.

As ever a massive thanks to our fantastic Squad Sponsors who help make results like this possible:

MPGQS and HKR ARCHITECTS.

Here’s a few pictures from the race:

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Doing What’s Needed

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Before I jump into this latest blog I would first of all like to thank our 2 fantastic squad sponsors:

MPGQS and HKR ARCHITECTS.

Their support is integral to the success of my amazing squad.

One thing I have learned from coaching all sorts of different athletes to perform at their best is that there isn’t one way that works for every individual and there’s a lot more “grey” than black and white to guide us in the right direction. If coaching and athletic performance was a precise science, then it would be easy to give each athlete a road map and let them get on with it. In reality that path is littered with an infinite number of decisions that have to be made quite often with little more than experience and a gut feel to guide us. It’s the accumulation of all those small decisions that add up to determine if we continue upwards towards our best or instead plateau or even decline.

One area that I know many coaches and athletes struggle with is having to compromise between training that is fun and enjoyable and training that is the most effective.

“Champions do what they need to do rather than what they want to do”

Although training has to be enjoyed in an overall sense to make sure an athlete is engaged and motivated, it stands to reason that the training needed to get us to our best has to include sessions that we don’t necessarily see as fun or enjoyable. After all, if we could reach our best just by doing things we enjoyed everyone would make that journey with little effort whereas we know that getting to your best takes a great deal of sacrifice, focus and dedication.

The approach I take in this area is to periodise this as much as I periodise the physiological aspects of training. So during the base period which is a long way off from key races it makes sense to allow athletes to try different sessions that are more varied and usually a bit more fun.  As we get closer to key races then it makes sense to start shifting the focus onto key sessions that will have the most impact on race day performance and quite often these may not be as much fun. An example of this is taking part in social and group rides during the base period but as we get closer to key races switching these for tough Time Trial simulations on our own. These are challenging and less fun but necessary to prepare us for race day.

Does this approach mean that an athlete misses out on enjoyment and has to lead a lonely monk like existence? I would say of course not because balance has to be present in the plan with key sessions balanced with a few fun sessions and getting that balance right is one of the key benefits of working with a coach. More importantly when an athlete gets close to their athletic potential that feeling itself provides a sense of fun and enjoyment way beyond anything else – why not commit and give it a try I know you won’t regret it.