Thursday, 27 May 2010

Happy Birthday Mum...

It's been a few weeks and as you can see Ellie has finally lost her wobbly tooth, that was refusing to fall out. Much to her amazement and joy her very own tooth fairy visited and left a shiny coin and a nice note....

18th May was my Mum's 60th Birthday. I hope I have inherited all her genes that keep her looking so young!!! My Dad had organised a surprise weekend for her, we just about managed to keep everything hidden and secret from her. We travelled to surprise her on Friday night, then Max and Rachael and Auntie Jan and Uncle Gary arrived on Saturday. Dad had worked so hard. We had a party tea (mainly for Ellie and Evie) and later in the evening he had arranged a meal and all the trimmings. On Sunday Sarah and Jan whisked my Mum off to Ikea. Sarah employed some great delay tactics, Ikea hotdogs, wrong turns, 36 point turns etc etc to keep Mum away until 2pm, mean while.....balloons and banners were organsied, tables appeared from hidden locations, drinks came out from the shed and Waitrose delivered the food. Dad had spread the word and Mum's work collegues and friends from the village started to arrive. Amazingly Mum didn't twig on to Sarah's strange behaviour and when she got home all was revealed.

It was a great afternoon, with particular highlights being Sarah playing jazz saxophone, and my cousin Nathan playing some chilled out tunes on his guitar. The guests were certainly impressed! Mum is off to a very nice hotel in the Cotswolds with her friend to enjoy a chilled out weekend of pampering, very well done Dad and Happy Birthday Mum xxx

This coming Saturday see's me race the Beaver Middle Distance Triathlon, first race of the season, really looking forward to it. If I am honest I think I was training harder 8 weeks ago and in better race shape, however I still think I am in a good place and am intrigued as to how well I will go. Not been swimming for a while but there's no change there. Belvoir Castle is the race venue, it looks like a great location for a race and should be very spectator friendly. We have got Ellie and Evie a pink pop up tent so that should keep them entertained as they wait for me to come through on the bike or on the run. There are plenty of guys from the club racing so it should be a good day.

Finally get a load of this. Tommorow is the start of the half term holidays, between now and 1st September I have 4 weeks of work and 9 weeks of holiday, something wrong there!!!!!

Finally, finally the new Head Teacher at our school is going to be a Head Mistress, she starts in January. Over the two days of interviews she seemed very nice and is currently Deputy Head at a very good school in Bury St Edmunds. I am quite excited, she will bring plenty of new things to our school, have very high standards and high expectations, and hopefully shake the place up a bit.

See you next week for a race report.

P.S Nearly forgot: Huge congratulations to Tom for another amazing Ironman performance at Lanzarote, 10:23:43 He might not have qualified for Kona but he gave it his absolute best during training and on race day, and one can not ask for anymore than that, great work Tom.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Quality not Quantity...

Another busy week has gone by and not much training in terms of volume has been achieved, if I was training for an Ironman I would be a little concerned, BUT I am not....The proof of fitness and performance is in the numbers and today the numbers look pretty damn good. I joined Tom for a session we did last year, multi laps round a very challenging 13.7 mile, 425m of climbing circuit taking in some big hills through Leathley, Pannel, Norwood and Farnley. In addition to the climbing it is usually pretty wind over the top, all in all a tough circuit. Last year I rode 5 laps, in about 48 to 51 mins per lap. I then ran off the bike covering 14 miles in an average of 8.39 min/mile. A perfect Ironman session.

This morning I rode 4 laps in 45.30, 45.37, 46.56 and 47.05. I rode hard, steady on the climbs (as much as is possible when it hits 16%) and then worked hard to ride a high cadence, but with power in the pedal strokes on the descents and drags. After 54 tough miles I spun back to the parked cars and got ready to run. The plan for the run was to go easy for a mile then hit it hard with 10 miles being my target distance. 8.07 for mile 1, followed by 7.39, 7.50, 7.31, 7.48, 7.57, 7.54, 7.45, 7.38. I stopped and took on water and some nutrition at the end of each mile, done at a very leisurely pace taking between 15 and 30 seconds. I went through 8.5 miles at 7.57 average but that was probably more like 7.35 I ran a lap with Tom at 7.25 and a lap with his mate Ben at 7.10. By far the fastest I have run in a brick session. I was working hard but no cramps occurred and after such a hard bike I felt great.

So is there a morale to today's post. A morale no, but I guess two things strike me. Number one; training for Ironman during 2007, 08 and 09 doing lots of long steady riding and running has built a big base of aerobic fitness. Number two; This year doing more quality sessions, faster running and time trial efforts during most rides has got me in a good place with regard to performing hard over 2 to 4 hours. So quality over quantity seems to be working just fine.

Beaver Middle Distance Triathlon is my first race of the season on 29th May, I am excited about it now having landed a great session today. A few more quality sessions, a bit more swimming and get a grip of my diet and I'll be flying round Belvoir Castle.

Sarah has played another Saturday night session on her Saxophone at Caesars Restaurant, once again it went down really well. I think they would have her play every weekend if they could, well done gorgeous, you are a super star.

My legs feel pretty smashed now so I think it's stretch time and bed. Have a great week, enjoy your training and have fun...

P.S Didn't have a photo from this week so here's me in Spain 6 weeks ago having finished a tasty climb...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Spring Explosion...

Well Spring is definitely here, everything is exploding into life yet I seem to be going in the opposite direction. I remember a spell like this in 2008 during April. I'd trained really well through the Winter and was super excited that Spring, and the warmer weather was on the way, then when it arrived I went into virtual hibernation. Currently I am pretty low on motivation, to train and if I am honest to do much really. I don't know why, but I really must snap out of it!!

My last 3 weeks of training have been rubbish, 6 1/2, 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 hrs what is that all about. However in amongst that I have ridden a great 3 x 8 mile TT session and had 2 of the best runs I have had for ages. A 10 mile off road run as 4 x 2.5 miles (out and back) increasing the pace, where my final 2.5 miles was run at 6.53min/mile. Yesterday I did a 12 mile (out and back) where I the first 6 were at 7.25min/mile and into the wind I returned at 7 min/mile, nor was I busting myself. So although I am not in a great place regarding my motivation and desire to train and do things, I seem to be performing pretty strongly.

Sarah has written her first post on her blog all about her music. We went to have a meal at Caesars Restaurant the other Sunday, and were entertained by a wonderful Jazz Saxophonist!!! I hear Sarah play all the time whilst she teaches, but seeing her on the stage, properly performing was a first. She is super talented, everybody loved her music. She is playing on Saturday, and it looks like a pretty full restaurant....

Evie is doing every bodies head in with her moods and constant answer to anything and everything "I want to", I guess she is only 2....

In 3 weeks time it is Ironman Lanzarote. This time last year I was gearing up to race it, I cannot believe a year has passed (I still have the tan lines on my back where I burnt) . I am enjoying not having to put in the really long training hours this year, but as Lanzarote and the European Ironman race season begins there is a big part of me that wishes I was doing one, hmmm next year????

Right that's enough from me, it's bath time for the girls and then I am going to take the Ceepo for a quick hour to clear my head and prove to myself that I can get out and train in the evening.

Enjoy the Spring time flowers, it really is a beautiful time of the year.....

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Circuit of the Dales

Another Easter break draws to a close, I do love my job, well at least the holidays that come with it. It's been an very enjoyable but hectic second week. On the training front I have followed up my 20 hour Malaga week with a nice 12 hours and have included some good honest sessions. I ran a 10 miler on Wednesday in 1.14.15 averaging 7.23min/mile pace. My running feels like it is in a good place, I just need to try to stick in at least a 10 miler each week now leading up to the middle distance triathlons I have planned for the end of May onwards.

Thursday saw another encounter with the A168, alas this time I was alone (missed you Tom) I had planned quite an ambitious session involving a 4 lap (60mile) ride followed by an 8 mile run, but.....With the 10mile run still in my legs and the Circuit of the Dales 50 mile time trial on Sunday I listened to my legs and in the end rode 3 laps, without a run. the A168 is a great road for doing quality work on. Riding between Walshford and the top roundabout you get a 15 mile loop of fairly undulating (although nothing you need to get out of the big ring for) road. The first 10 miles of every loop is the V212 10 mile time trial course where I have a 23.36 PB, this is added motivation at the start of every loop. Anyway, I rode consistent laps and finished with 45 miles at an average of 22.2mph for 156bpm heart rate average, a solid session. I intend to return soon for some more sessions.

Friday morning was so beautiful that I went out for a really easy run along the canal stopping after 15minutes for a stretch and to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. I really enjoy the places I ride and run, and always try to take in the surroundings, but sometimes it's good just to stop and watch.

That brings me to the Circuit of the Dales time trial. It is a 50 mile time trial starting in Ingleton, heading down and around to Sedburgh, on to Hawes and back on the B6255 past the Ribble Viaduct to finish at White Scar Caves. There is 3300ft of climbing and Gethin Butler (super fast time trialist from 90's) holds the course record in 1:57:51 set in 1998. This is a very tough course. I rode it last year and unlike most other time trials you are constantly between the big and small chain ring, and finding any sort of rhythm is practically impossible. On the fast sections you are conscious to get up to speed, and on the hills whilst staying in control you are trying to limit your losses. Today I had the added advantage, or disadvantage (I am not sure which way it went) that Tom was off number 10 and I was chasing him at number 11!!! What I do know is I nailed the first hour trying to catch him, I didn't succeed and think I might have gone a bit too hard early on. However given that I felt good through to the finish (really meaning I was able to maintain some sort of power and concentration to the end, never really felt good, it's a lung busting leg smashing outing on the bike!!!) an alternative thought is chasing Tom hard laid down the foundation for a good time?? Anyway I did 2.25.35, last year I did 2.26.59 over the shortened course (1.75 mile shorter at the start) I held onto 170bpm heart rate average which is really pleasing. I died a bit towards the end but over 50 miles (especially 50 hilly miles) if you have ridden it properly I don't think you should feel strong as you cross the line. The Ceepo Venom felt quick, I topped out at 45mph max speed, I am looking forward to plenty more races on it.

Tom kicked my butt, riding scared not wanting to get caught (I didn't get close!!) He did 2.21.03 which was a great PB for him and a real confidence boost prior to Lanzarote Ironman. He has now done 10 weeks of 16 hours biking a week!! He has been really focused and to maintain this riding is amazing testament to his determination and drive. With 160 hours in his legs it's probably no surprise, but he totally deserves to be going well. The 35-39 age group better watch out on 22nd May, he is going to have a great race.

Ove also raced, he rode 2.35.15 a great time in his first Circuit of the Dales, he is also in a great place with his fitness and should have a strong season.

Right that is enough about me, time for some words about my special wife. Sarah played her Saxophone again last night at Caesars restaurant. She has really immersed herself in her new project, writing chilled out jazz tunes and getting her set lists together. She played a lunchtime session a few weeks ago and then an evening session on Easter Monday, but last night was the first time any real marketing had been done prior to the evening. It was a packed restaurant all night and she went down a storm!!! She has had some amazing feedback from diners and the manager is over the moon at the effect she has had on his business. The local paper did a photo shoot on Saturday and she is lining up the last Sunday in every month for a Jazz Club afternoon. Sarah is super talented when it comes to music and she is loving this new chapter in her ever expanding portfolio. I will be taking Ellie and Evie in a few weeks for pizza and to watch and listen to Mummy play, I can't wait. I am really proud of her, and love the fact that she not only earning a living from her musical talents, but also that she is now playing for her own satisfaction and enjoyment. I think she might be in demand this summer as a number of customers have asked for her business cards for parties and events!!

Ellie and Evie are spending a week with Sarah's Mam and Dad in Newcastle (Ellie's not back to school this week) which will be great for everybody. Elieen and Bernie get to have a nice week with the girls and Sarah and I get a little break, we will make the most of it.

That is all from me, have a great week. It's back to work tomorrow, I might wear shorts! Just have to pack my school bag, cricket bat, tennis racket and athletics spikes that sounds about right.....

Monday, 5 April 2010

Idle Breaks Training Camp; Spain

A group of girls from my Triathlon Club (Leeds and Bradford) had booked up a week at Idle Breaks near Malaga in Spain. They were taking Frank and Alan, two coaches from our club along, but had a spare place. I spoke to Frank and although I was considerably more experienced and stronger than most of the girls he felt swimming and running would work fine and providing I was flexible the group cycling could be managed, so I was in. I had heard a lot of good reports about Andy's place, I can now confirm it totally lived up to it's reputation. Everything about the place is set up so you can live and behave like a professional athlete. Great food, van support on some of the best riding in Europe, sports massage, ice bath, 3 lane 25m pool, gym and core/stretching area, chill out area's and all beneath the Spanish sunshine surrounded by hills and olive groves. To say I was looking forward to a week away was an understatement!!

Sunday 28th March: The day started on not much sleep, courtesy of the clocks changing and a 4.30am taxi pick up. We soon arrived at Malaga and after a 40 minute drive we arrived at Andy's place. We assembled the bikes and then swam. Although the swimming pool is heated the weather was only just starting to change for the better and so on Andy's advice wetsuits were the order of the day (just) This was actually really good as it provided a great opportunity to practice swimming in a wetsuit, and the extra buoyancy a wetsuit provides allowed for a week of swimming really focusing on technique. We did a 45 minute session with the coaches observing and giving us plenty to work on.

Monday 29th March: My 35th Birthday!! A great way to spend my Birthday, doing all the things I like doing. Sarah and Ellie had organised a party lunch on Saturday with Pass the Parcel and cake so I guess this was Birthday number 2!! The day started with a 2hr steady ride with a special birthday climb just for me. The important thing when you plan to do an extended block of training is not to get carried away and nuke yourself in the first two days. I could have easily ridden a Birthday Century, but I wanted to feel good throughout the week, so settled for a steady start. We did a 15 minute run straight off the bikes. I ran with a girl called Jen. Jen finished 3rd in her age group 20 -24yrs at the World Sprint Triathlon Championships in Australia last year so I was hanging on as she cranked out a 6.30min/mile off the bike. We cruised the remaining mile back to the house. After lunch Frank had a running drills session and some 1k reps to find pace planned. We did 3 x 1k and I ran on 7min/mile pace. We ran back to the house set about on a 45 minute swim set focusing on technique. Total training Day one: 3 1/2hrs.

A really sensible start to the week and a great Birthday. The day finished off with an awesome Birthday cake and an Idle Breaks cycling jersey as a present from the group.

Tuesday 30th March: A longer ride was planned for today, including the Puerto del Sol 7km climb, which I intended to time trial up. A steady ride out to the bottom of the climb and away I went. A stiff headwind made for a tough ascent, but didn't stop me smacking it. I crossed the summit in 26:52 averaging 171bpm heart rate. I wasn't going to the top of the climb all time leader board but I felt strong, pleasing in the tough conditions. We rode home for a 3 3/4hr ride time. A swim session was planned for the afternoon, again focusing on technique. Frank wanted me to work on keeping a high elbow in the water allowing for a more efficient catch, and also a greater body roll. I finished the day with 4 1/4hrs training.

Wednesday 31st March: Frank and Alan had planned a steady day for the girls focusing on transitions. I decided to give this a miss and instead headed out on the bike with David and Anne. David is a triathlon coach who is working with Andy helping him lead rides and run Idle Breaks, he is also a strong cyclist and decent triathlete recently completing Clear Water 70.3 World Championships. I sort of know David through my best Buddy Ben. Anne is a Professional Ironman Athlete trained by David and now living in Spain also working with Andy. David had planned a 50 mile ultra hilly ride, the route didn't disappoint. I rode really strongly, riding tempo on the climbs and leaving David and Anne, one of those days when you feel great! The climbing was long and steady, the descents long, sweeping and fast and very little flat stuff between. We rode for 3 1/2hrs covered 50 miles and did 6400ft of climbing, a tough but great day in the saddle. After a very quick lunch, we headed down to the local lake for an open water swim. A couple of buoys were swam out and the we worked on our technique, drafting and sighting for 30 minutes. Another cracking day came to an end with a brilliant meal and a chat about training, a couple of beers and an early night.

Thursday 1st April: Today was scheduled to be the long ride. I led a group of 5 as we rode through some stunning scenery of Olive Groves and snaking roads, making our way over the hills to the top of the descent leading into Malaga. A real Alpine descent for 20 minutes brought us into Malaga, a quick energy gel, ditch some layers and turn around for a 10 mile climb back to the cafe at the top. I rode tempo for 56 minutes averaging 157bpm. What an amazing feeling to be climbing for that length of time. the gradients were comfortable but with 3 good days in my legs and no respite the back end of the climb was challenging. I was comfortable with a 39 x 26 gear set up, but if you wanted to relax more on the climbing, or were looking for longer days in the saddle a compact chainset would definatley be useful. At the top I turned round, span down until I reached some of our group coming up then turned and did another 3 miles of climbing, well it's not every day you get to play on an Alpine type Climb!!! The wind seemed to be plotting against us all week, and so it was on the return ride home. I finished with 72 miles in 5hrs. Food, ice bath, jacuzzi and chill was followed by a strong coffee and a 5 mile run up through the Olive groves. Total training for day four was 5 3/4 hrs.

Frank and Alan had planned a race situation for the final day. A beautiful morning down by the lake, we soon had an 800m open water swim race set up. There were some good swimmers amongst the girls. I worked hard to draft on some feet and came out just behind the lead swimmers, feeling good. A leisurely transition, in fact as the girls set off on the bike I went for a coffee with David and Andy, nice. I then had a steady 6km climb up from the lake and a further 16km of rolling roads to reach the vans and the run transition area. I absolutely nailed the bike, just to test the legs and see what was left in them. I rode 47 minutes. Predictably for the end of a long week I couldn't get my heart rate up to Time Trial levels but still rode as hard as I could. A steady transition and it was out onto the mile out and back run route. After an 8.47min/mile my running legs returned and I knocked out a further 5 miles in 7.39, 7.16, 7.14, 7.57 and 7.02. It was a joy to be running in my Asics DS Racers (like running in slippers) and just a pair of shorts, beneath the Spanish sun. My totals for the day were 1 3/4hrs. Most pleasing was after 4 solid training days I was able to stick in a high intensity session and run really well off a time trial type bike effort, happy days!!

The rest of day was spent in the ice bath, drinking a cheeky beer or two in the jacuzzi and then sleeping and bike packing.

The training camp wasn't Epic proportions in terms of training volume, (it didn't really need to be not training for an Ironman race this year). Instead the week contained plenty of intense climbing in between steady riding, 5 good swims focusing on technique and 4 good runs including some intensity. My totals for the 5 days; 5 rides, 15hrs, 215 miles, 4 runs, 2 1/2hrs and 4 swims 2 1/2hrs, plenty of stretching and a bit of core work for a total of 20hrs.
I had really great training week. The company was great, cheers Frank, Alan, Khara, Vicky, Lyndsey, Emma, Sarah, Jen, Sarah, Dena and Rachel, you guys put togther a great week of training. Andy Idle, his wife Tracy, David and Anne have a great set up at Idle Breaks, it is a perfect training location and the facilities are exactly what you need. I will definitely be returning for more of the same, and when the girls are a little older also for a family holiday, with a little riding and training! Finally sorry Ellie for not being here on my Birthday (she couldn't understand why I went away for it) and thank you Sarah for looking after the girls and letting me get away for a week to do what I like to do, love you darling.

Monday, 8 March 2010


The above photo is of Evie on the trampoline having generated some serious static following a bouncing session. The bright sunshine allowed for some fun in the garden and the static electricity that we got from bouncing made for some giggly girls and a fun afternoon.

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes. Although it is still bitterly cold in the morning to see the sun makes such a difference. It really does feel like spring is just around the corner. I'm giving my daffodils two more weeks before they burst into life. Sarah is not a big fan of the simple daf ,but for me the bright yellow heads at the end of my garden are a beautiful sight.

My training diary has got a big smile on its face also. I have had four really good weeks. Consistently making my long bike rides, swimming every week, weights and core work and although not as much as I'd like, running seems to be in a good place. In the last four weeks I have had just 2 days where I haven't done some exercise. Whilst most days I have 'trained', some days the term 'exercise' is probably more appropriate, with a steady ride to work or a short weights session being done, it all counts though.

I have been working hard on the bike trying to make riding more like swimming. What do I mean. Well in the pool most people plan a their session, warm-up, drills, main set with a specific focus. Out on the bike it is easy to just get out and ride. Worthwhile as this maybe, ride after ride after ride becomes just that, a ride. Usually steady state, bit of work on a few hills, or into the wind with the last part of the ride reflecting how good your nutrition and fluid has been as to whether you finished feeling ok or smoked. Riding the bike at steady state is perfect for Ironman Triathlon training, it's all about the miles, but this year with the focus on middle distance it is time to shake the bottle a bit and mix the flavours. Riding in the morning I have done a couple of 1 min hard, 1 min easy repeat sessions until I have travelled the 30 minutes to work. On my long Thurdsday afternoon rides I have warmed up and scheduled in some 5 min intervals at and around 160bpm (probably just below middle distance pace) This week I rode for 3 hours and in each hour I put in a 15 minute effort where I went hard but controlled. I am feeling strong on the bike and cannot wait for the warmer weather to arrive and for the time trial season to really get going.

I did race two Sunday's ago. A cold 10 mile tt on the A64 near Tadcaster. I had said to Sarah that a 24 min something time would be pleasing for this time of year. Prior to the race the same conversation with Tom he said a 23 something, I responded saying "if I ride a 23 I will do a few miles naked" I worked my socks off during the race, a 23 would have yielded a huge smile and a great photo for the blog....But 24:35 it was. First race of the season, bike felt good, legs felt strong, heart rate was a bit low but to be expected at this time of the year. I was happy and know if I get a few things sorted with my position and my training I will be on for some fast times this year. Tom surprised everybody (especially himself) with a 23:45 (I think that's right) After taking it easy on him in the Dales, holding back in our rides he showed his speed is still there. No more letting him sit in! the next show down is on 21st March, will he take a 2 - 0 lead? of course not, I will get him. It was great to meet Philip Graves, who rode a 20:10. What other sport can you line up and race the same race with a pro athlete, and then afterwards share a coffee as we share experiences and discuss race plans. He is racing Abu Dhabi Long course Triathlon on Sunday, everyone will be watching to see what he does over 200k on the bike!!!

Summarising my week I have put together 14 hours. One good swim. A couple of runs culminating in a strong hour yesterday where I ran out for 30 mins keeping my heart rate at 150 or less for approximately 8 min/ mile pace and then on the return working to the low 160's (or less) for approximately 7 min/ mile pace. I rode on 6 days and clocked up 10 hours of riding, including a couple of intervals sessions. One weights/ core session. Seven days of training for 14 hours. My last four weeks have been 10 hours, 16 hours, 10 hours and 14 hours.

I am trying to be good with my eating at the moment. I have pretty much cut out carbohydrates from the form of pasta, rice and bread from my lunch, having protein (chicken, tuna, fish, cheese, quiche) and then a nice large helping of salad, followed by fruit. The exception being school bread and butter pudding and rice pudding, be rude not to!!! (it's usually every couple of weeks) Sarah and I are now trying hard to eat before she starts work or if it's after her music teaching then it will be a smaller meal like chicken fajitas, roasted veg and Chicken Kiev. I am just trying not to reach for the bread and the toaster, (but I do love it) late in the evening.... I have been reading the literature on supplementing with fish oils and green tea extract to aid fat metabolism, (fish oils also to aid joint health, so am keen to see if my post run knee pain is helped). I must admit that although it's been less that two weeks I do feel and look leaner, so I will keep that going. Supplementing with fish oils was a method that Bradley Wiggins used during his change to his body composition in the 18 months leading up to the tour.

I am really proud of Sarah at the moment. Apart from her usual music teaching, she is planning on a come back to her own performing. She is planning to get a set of jazz and chilled out tunes played on her saxophone together for some lunch time and then hopefully evening sessions at our local Italian Restaurant who are keen to provide diners with some atmospheric live music. She has a meeting this week with the manager to run some ideas his way, exciting stuff.

Sarah and I are firmly into Season 4 of 24. We really enjoy the concept and although similar to previous seasons the plot is exciting and we like Keifer Sutherland.

Dad has blogged again so he is firmly in the blogasphere., check out the Ramblings of my Dad if you have a moment.

I have a busy week ahead with a couple of Rugby 7's tournaments culminating at the weekend with a weekend in Fylde with the 1st team.

Enjoy the sun, and enjoy your training....

Monday, 22 February 2010

Being out there....

There are many reasons why I love sport and namely triathlon, one of those reasons was reinforced this week on a two occasions.

On Wednesday I rode with my friends Tom and Ove. We set of at 8am from Tom’s house in Leeds and made our way along the busy Otley Road. It was foggy and cold, and along the Otley Road we were all wondering whether our planned 4 hours was sensible given the weather, road and traffic conditions. As we rode out of Otley onto quieter roads our mood lifted and then as we neared Burnsall it happened. The sun broke through, the fog lifted on Burnsall Village nestled in a beautiful valley in the Dales. The light conditions were incredible, the sun shinning on the hillside creating an amazing glow. In Burnsall (cheers Ove great photo) we stopped, got one of the ‘best flapjacks’ in the world. We then took a little time to enjoy the flapjack, the rest and the beautiful location, made even more special by the weather conditions.

On Sunday I woke, opened the curtains and revealed a fresh covering of snow, time for a run. It was still snowing and settling as I ran out through the village and onto the canal towpath. 8.30am on a Sunday morning pretty much guarantees solitude, 8.30 with falling snow definitely guarantees it. I have recently discovered the joys of running with my Ipod. I had chosen Calvin Harris ‘something for the weekend’for today’s run. The snow was getting heavier, the trees were covered, and latter that day Ellie described them as ‘having their wedding dresses on’ What a fabulous description of the landscape. The Swans had found a small section of the canal that wasn’t frozen, and a giant Hare nearly ran into me before seeing me and swerving into the field. An hour later I returned to my house, my foot prints had snowed over, and I had the endorphin high, enhanced by the amazing fresh conditions.

Being able to cycle or run (or even open water swim, not long now) in the surroundings I can is such a great thing. It is often easy to get immersed in the quest to increase one’s performance, to ride faster, to ride for longer, to do more hours, to race harder, that the surroundings we do this in are often taken for granted.

I have had a great week of training 16 ¾ hrs, nicely balanced between the bike, running, swimming and some strength work. I have done some sessions on my own and some with friends.

It has been an action packed half term. Here’s what I got up to. Mum and Dad’s for the weekend, 3hrs riding Ivinghoe, DVD ‘Taken’, Valentines Day, Movie ‘Avatar’, visit Sarah’s Aunt and Uncle in Wendover, 4hrs riding with Tom, Virgin Run Club with Tom and Helen, 4hrs riding with Tom and Ove, Tropical World, Run, Movie ‘Princess and the Frog’, Nando’s, Xcsape Sledging with Ellie, 25 x 100m swim, Run, DVD ‘Zodiac’, 3hr ride, Park with Evie, DVD 'X Men,' Snowy run, Make Snowmen, drawing, painting, sticking with Ellie and Evie, weights/ core session and sleep……..

See you next week when it will be March, is that the start of Spring???

PS Well done to my Dad who is up and posting.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The dog house...

There are many things that a man, a husband must never forget. One to say "I love your hair" immediately after your wife returns from the hair dresser's. Two, Birthday's, and three, Valentines Day... (I am sure there are plenty of ladies out there that can think of many more to add to my short list feel free to add in the comments box) guess which one I forgot? Well it wasn't really that I forgot, it was more of a case that at some stage I made a momentously wrong decision. I hadn't brought a card, On Saturday afternoon I wasn't able to get to a shop, and maybe, just maybe a card wasn't required because I would be spending the day with my wife and heading out for the evening for a drink and to the cinema. Oh how wrong could I be...

Valentines morning went downstairs made Sarah a cup of tea and returned to find a lovely card with a beautiful poem and a bag of Valentines Chocolates, thanks darling love you. Oh dear, I was in big, big trouble. Even Ellie had made me a card, bigger trouble I could not have been in. "It's just a card" didn't help matters (quite right to)

The trouble was it was just too late, the damage had been done. A late card wouldn't cut it, flowers would not be well received, chocolates wouldn't go down too well. What could I do? Well Diamonds were mentioned on a few occasions during the day, oh my ££££££££?

The reality of the situation was I had COCKED up BIG styleee, so there was very little I could do other than try to be nice, say lots of nice things and hopefully Sarah would accept my rather insufficient attempt at an apology.

We had a nice afternoon at Xscape (Milton Keynes) watched Avatar and had a couple of drinks, whilst my Mum and Dad were on Baby Sitting duties. I of course took the abuse I deserved all night long.

So to my gorgeous Sarah. Please accept my apologies for being a thoughtless husband, for not making the little bit of effort required to go out and get a card. If I could find a set of stocks I would sit in them, I should be publicly shamed. You know that I love you more than ever and that I cannot think of anybody else who I want to be with for the rest of my life. So darling let me say sorry on my blog for all my readers to see. I am sorry.

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry I am working on a way to redeem myself, love you 10 gorgeous xxxxxxx

Sunday, 7 February 2010


Poised, the dictionary definition say's "marked by balance or equilibrium and readiness for action" At the moment I feel poised, ready for some serious action. It's been a steady start to the Year, I have not set any all time training best's but have kept things ticking along nicely. I had the usual ambitious thoughts regarding training for the month of January, but like most years I soon realised January is not the most conducive month for long or hard training. However March certainly is.....

What about February? Well February doesn't last very long, and the last couple of weeks are an exciting time, let me explain my thinking. For the first two weeks of February just keep ticking over, when there's good training to be had, get out and have it, if it's not there then chillax (what a rubbish word, it seems appropriate though) and remind yourself "it's only February" Week three for me contains half term, yes sorry folks I am soon to be on Holiday again. This is where I will have a bit more training time, I can access some longer rides, I can run in the light and I can recover properly after training sessions. Then in the final week of February we are under starters orders, "on your marks, set".........

1st March, GO........It will be light in the morning at 6.45am, it will not be dark until 5.30, the early bulbs will be opening, they might get a little shock but give them few more weeks and all their friends will want some sunlight action. The birds will find their voices and the constantly damp roads will once again be dry by mid morning. Overshoes will be saved only for really crisp early starts, and one will be torn between full tights, 3/4 tights, knee warmers or shorts? Just think of that for a minute cycling in shorts!

As I stomp through March I am moving ever closer to the Easter holidays, that marks the end of the Football season and the start of the cricket term. Long sunny evenings, well not quite, but not that far away.

March will also see the proper start to the time trial season with a few 10's and some 'hilly' events, Oh yes the beloved Ceepo will be polished and polished and polished (it definitely goes faster if it's shiny) I can pack away my lights for my daily commute to work, and the additional miles on my way to work can begin with earnest.

This year I have the added incentive of a weeks training camp in Spain near Malaga with some of the Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Crew, can't wait.

On March 29th I celebrate my Birthday, (March 29th folks, that's March 29th) and then finally at the very end of March the clocks go forward, it just keeps getting better. That for me is the start of the count down to evening time trials and evening blasts on the country roads on two wheels, or steady runs along the canal listening to the birds, watching the wildlife and the setting sun.

So, if, as you pull on the 3rd undershirt and finally leave on your bike 15 minutes after starting to get changed you are wondering why you do this? the reason my friends is "you do this for March"

If you are in a good place with your training don't move too far away, if you are not quite there don't push it. Keep it ticking over, if you fancy stepping up a little do it, if you fancy a couple of days off, do it, if you can get a grip of your diet, do it, if you want chocolate and pizza, do it, get in a position where you are poised, slightly nervous, holding the position until the starter pulls that trigger. In 22 days time it is March 1st.....

Monday, 25 January 2010

Getting back to normal...

I’ve been a bit lost for what to write over the last few weeks, I think the mammoth effort for the decade review zapped what writing powers I had. Even this week I don’t really have a focussed topic to express my views on, so I think it will merely be a collection of some of my recent thoughts.

It has been a long time since I have seen so much snow that lasted for so long. Our school remained open so any thoughts of sledging or additional family time soon evaporated. Whilst in some cases school closures are sensible, if the heating fails or if the roads become dangerous, most schools seem to have stayed shut for much longer than was necessary, mainly I think because staff just didn’t travel to work. Anyway the start of the football season was delayed, instead replaced with some great running sessions usually finished off with an organised snowball fight, or paintball type invading game where your ammunition was the snowball, all good fun.

Ellie and I built a huge snowman, complete with left over Christmas sprouts for its eyes, nose and buttons. I also managed to build a proper igloo, something I was always unable to do as a kid. It was beauty, sitting inside drinking a coffee I thought about the Inuit people who live in them in their snow and ice covered landscape, could be quite cosy, but a way of life, guess you’d get used to it. We had a great BBQ and fire in the snow one afternoon with friends, an interesting experience.

My training has been affected by the weather, but more so by a knee injury. I have been getting some medial knee pain on the boney protrusion, only during running and usually as the run progresses. I have seen Ove the Physio and have established that 2 years of long training, recent running races, and a months emphasis on heavy leg weights has tightened my ITB, Hip Flexors, Glutes and Lower Back to a point of no return. Plenty of pain from Ove and Mark coupled with lots and lots of stretching seems to be doing the trick. I have run a few times for 30 minutes without pain and hope to have made some progress. The shame for me was being unable to ride my bike, I was really looking forward to some great off road running in the snow, unfortunately apart from a couple of runs I couldn’t venture out in the white stuff, I also had to bail out of the Brass Monkey Half Marathon. It is incredible how tight my lower back and hip area has become, mainly due to the commuting on my bike and a lack of decent stretching, it is now an area I have to focus on using some good stretches and the Trigger Point Roller and Ball, bloody painful process though….

I did dust off my mountain bike and rode that over the compacted snow to work, I think I got some pretty decent work outs from this ride, short but hard work. I am back to normal with my riding now and I am feeling pretty bike fit. I rode strongly for 50 miles on Saturday feeling good in the latter stages of the ride. I am looking forward to some longer rides with various training buddies, but know the real key to my cycling goals is to up the intensity in the form of intervals and race specific sessions. With no Ironman race this year, I don’t need to execute 4 or 5 hour rides, but if I want to be fast in the TT’s and Half Ironman races then my riding must be more painful!!!

We all went bowling this weekend. It proved to be a good family activity. At the moment the girls are not quite old enough to do too many things independently, that time will come when I become more of a taxi service taking them to sports, music, friends, etc, etc for now it is great to get out as a family. The trick is finding activities and places to visit that are of interest to Ellie and Evie and to Sarah and I. we have some great parks and forest areas that we like to visit when the weather is a little kinder, but winter becomes a bit more of a challenge. Evie is not quite old enough for a visit to the cinema, (and of course their needs to be an appropriate kids film to watch) The phenomena that is the ‘indoor play centre’ is used so regularly for kids parties that we tend to stay away on the weekend. I think we have found a nice alternative in Bowling. Both Ellie and Evie enjoyed themselves, and Sarah and I also had fun. We did have the gutter guards in place, but I bowled straight never needing them (unlike my wife) and scored 156; one of my highest ever bowling scores.

Evie appears to be becoming a bit more settled at night time. She is great at going to sleep, and touch wood is spending more full nights in her bed, sleeping straight through. If she does wake she comes through to our room and stands at my side of the bed. She is quickly dispatched back to her bedroom, but the damage has been done and both mine and Sarah’s sleep disrupted. Although she is still totally unpredictable, it make no difference if she has had lots of food or no food, an afternoon sleep or no sleep, medicine or no medicine, a late night or an early night, there is just no pattern, she does appear to be improving, the little monkey. She has nearly mastered the ‘Big Boy’s Toilet’ as she calls it, it is very funny when she announces that she needs a wee, or when she comes running back into the room pleased as punch that she has done a poo, daughter number two out of nappies…

After battling with Orange Broadband for the last few months we are now finally connected to O2. We have a much faster line speed, no longer having to leave the Itunes album download running through the night. The problem we now have is our pretty basic two year old laptop computer is misbehaving. I sense our patience is rapidly running out and that a visit to PC World is not that far away. We have a few more options to try…..

I have been following Epic Camp New Zealand with envy and admiration for the volume of training that the boys and girls did. I think some Short Epic Camps (is that possible) are on the agenda this season, could be a great way to get some solid blocks of training in with some training pals.

Sarah is working really hard at the moment. Her music tuition is going well, she is up to her capacity without working more evenings, and her students are as always having lots of success achieving their grades in the theory and practical exams, she is getting plenty of repair enquiries and is developing the Wind Instrument teaching at my school. All this in addition to taking Ellie backwards and forwards to school, Evie all over the place to various Nurseries and when Evie is at home dealing with a 2 ½ year old with energy in abundance. Sometimes I wish I had a job where a single income would allow us to live the lifestyle we have chosen, and allow Sarah time to look after Evie, keep on top of house stuff and enjoy her free time doing more of the things she likes to do. But I know she wouldn’t want it this way, and I have yet to see many examples where a single income family spends as much time together as we manage to do. We have various friends and family members where a single large income means very early morning commutes to work and late night returns, regular midweek over night stays and work issues to be considered on a weekend, plenty of money, no quality time to spend it is such a true statement. I do wish I could spend more time with Sarah, but at the stage of life we are in, with the family dynamics we have I think we are both doing pretty well. In order for fitness and performance to progress you have to work hard, relationships are just the same, we have some nice things planned for the weeks ahead, and the day to day living is good.

I have come up with a cunning plan for the next few weeks regarding my training, well it isn’t really cunning but thought that sounded good. Two weeks building with a big emphasis on the Bike volume and overall training consistency, a week where I will back off a little, then a big 10 days to coincide with my Half Term break. That should see me through to the 3rd week in Feb when it will be time to start upping the intensity and dipping my toe in the early season Cycling Time Trial waters.

Big shout out to my Dad who is gradually building his training up. In pretty miserable conditions last week he successfully completed his first 50 mile ride for 8 months following his inner ear problems, well done Dad, looking good.

Finally to my mate Tom who has now launched and released 2 editions of MarathonTalk, a weekly podcast that he and his friend Martin Yelling are producing. This is a really exciting venture for Tom, it is really good listening. If you like running then check them out on Itunes.

Have a great week, things are getting back to normal, but what is normal????

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Last Decade; Part 3

Ben had been completing Ironman Triathlons on and off since 2000, and I enjoyed following his training and races and took huge inspiration from his performances. The Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.5mile swim, 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run it was a race that he had mastered with a couple of performances at the World Championships in Hawaii, but I hadn’t even entertained it. Why I found myself in front of the computer early in the year entering Ironman UK set for mid August I am not sure, but it became a huge focus for the coming year. Training during April, May, June and July was really ramped up to consistently 50 plus hours each month and come August I had ridden in excess of 4000 miles, I was ready......but first.

On June 6th a couple of weeks late Sarah gave birth to Evie Mae Garrard (less than a day old in the photo). She was in a gruelling labour for 24 hours, but eventually Evie came out, she weighed 6lb 10oz. Once again my beautiful wife had given me another beautiful little girl. The next day I took Ellie to the hospital, and I remember some fantastic moments as Ellie watched over and cuddled her brand new little sister. I took all my girls home and although I was seriously outnumbered I was loving every minute of it.

Mum, Dad, Sarah, Ellie and 6 week old baby Evie all made the journey down to Sherbourne in Dorset for the race. We have rented some fabulous accommodation and after a couple of chilled out days race day arrived. I finished the race in 11:08:43 and was elated with my performance. Apart from a puncture in mile 1 of the bike the day went pretty much to plan. Many emotions went through my mind during the race, but the feelings as I ran down the finishing shoot to cross the line were a mix of relief, excitement and joy. It was an amazing experience and especially great that my Mum and Dad and family were there to share the day with me. I think my Dad was as emotionally drained as me as for the duration of the day he had followed me all over the course, he was number one supporter and I was an Ironman.

Just prior to IMUK I hooked up for a ride with Tom Williams. Tom was a member of the Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club and I happened to make contact with him. On the phone there was an instant ease of conversation, similarities in our lives, both having done Sports Science Degrees, and Tom now teaching as a lecturer at University Leeds and I knew we would get along great. I am pleased I phoned Tom, apart from sharing a great 75 mile ride we started what has turned out to be a strong friendship.

I was keen to retain my 10 mile TT title, unfortunately Tom took me down by 4 seconds, but we were both destroyed by a very strong, experienced cyclist who put 53 seconds into me, I took bronze.


We started the year celebrating my Dad’s 60th Birthday. A great weekend was had at Center Parcs with Dad's sister Jan and Uncle Gary, Mum and Dad and Max and Rachael. Dad and I went close to winning the Badminton Doubles Tournament, we walked, cycled and ran and had a nice relaxing time. Dad is a real inspiration to me especially when it comes to Sport. Later this year he was to do his first ever 12 hour time trial covering 206 miles. He still cycles, races, runs, lifts weights and coaches football, all in addition to coaching the sport at Swanbourne House Prep School.

I had decided I wanted some more Ironman action, so I entered Ironman Switzerland, based in Zurich in early July. I trained consistently through the first few months of the year and with 3850 cycle miles in my legs before July I felt pretty good. I had tried to be a little more consistent with my long 2 hour runs and felt good. During May Tom and I set ourselves a challenge to complete a total of 1000 miles in the pool, on foot or on the bike, I succeeded with 981 cycle miles and 104 running miles, so knew I was in good shape. On race day I was caught out by cold wet conditions, I shivered my way round the first lap of the bike and was relieved when the sun came out. I ran hard in the final couple of km’s to cross the line absolutely smashed in a time of 11:03:16. At first I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t been able to bike a little quicker and run a bit faster to get a 10 hour time, but with a very solid race and a new PB it didn’t take long before I was overjoyed.

We travelled to Interlaken for a couple of weeks camping on a Canvas Campsite. This was a really enjoyable holiday and the perfect way to relax after the race and spend some quality time as a family.

Inspired by Dad’s forthcoming 12 hour time trial, I set of to ride all day during the summer holidays. I covered 153.5 miles in 8hours 45 minutes; my longest ever ride in a day. I also got back the Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club 10 mile Time Trial Championships.

Another highlight of the year was going up to Scotland with Max and Dad. This was a Birthday present from me and Max to Dad. We travelled up on the train to Corrour Station and spent 5 days walking to Fort William, camping and trying to avoid the mosquito’s as we went. Once in Fort William we walked up Ben Nevis before getting the train home again. This was a really enjoyable trip and we hope to plan something similar in the future.

Evie Celebrated her 1st Birthday and Ellie celebrated her 4th, my girls were growing up. They were great fun to be around and Ellie was taking a real interest in drawing, writing, reading and of course playing with dolls.

Sarah continued to expand her ‘Musical Success’ business by learning how to repair and service Clarinets, Flutes and Saxophones. We set up a workshop for her in the loft and repairing and servicing instruments proved to be an excellent additional service to be able to offer.

Work for me was going very well, the sport at the school was in a good place, my GCSE and A Level Students were experiencing success and I was enjoying the daily job of teaching PE. Work has always been important to me but I would be lying if I didn’t place it third in my list of priorities firmly behind my family and my sporting interests. I feel I am committed to the job, I am good at what I do, yet I have always maintained a strong view that it would not become the primary focus for my week. I made a choice to teach partly because it allows me much more time throughout the year to spend with my family and to do all the things I love doing. At Read School I get 16 weeks holiday a year, I have never not had long holidays, as a kid at school, as a student at University and then as a teacher, I don’t know anything different and know I don’t want that to change.


Unfortunately the start to the year was filled with illness and medical problems. My Dad had experienced a severe case of Labyrinthitis.Evie spent a night in hospital with a particularly aggressive vomiting/ stomach bug. I picked up my first ever ear infection, which turned nasty and required three nights in hospital. I needed an operation to further perforate the ear drum so as to remove an infected area in the middle ear. I spent a total of 18 days (and required 2 weeks off work) unable to do any physical activity. I also missed out on a planned trip to Arizona to catch up with Ben for a week’s Triathlon Training on one of his camps, I was devastated. The arrival of Spring seemed to lift everybody’s health and we were all soon back to full fitness.

Lanzarote Ironman was the race for 2009, race day 23rd May, Tom and his wife Helen were also due to race so we pushed each other through the winter into a gruelling training session we like to do in the Spring. Located on the A168, there is a great 7.5 mile stretch of slightly undulating road between 2 roundabouts near Wetherby. The session consists of 7 laps followed this year by a 10 mile run. Tom and I took it in turns to ride on the front with the rider behind maintaining the 10m drafting distance (so not tucked in behind the wheel) I was riding super strongly, but staying in control, we went through 100 miles in 4:21:45 and finished with a great 10 mile run in 1hour 25 minutes. It was an awesome session and left me feeling confident going into the final weeks of training before Lanzarote.

Lanzarote Ironman is considered one of, if not the toughest Ironman race due to the heat, winds and tough bike course which has over 2000m of climbing. I crossed the finish line in 11 hours 53 minutes and 43 seconds hand in hand with Ellie. I was absolutely beaten up, the heat had taken its toll, I was severely sunburned and would struggle to walk normally for a couple of days. I had missed my target time of sub 11 hours by quite a bit but sometimes the outcome is less important than the process, and 23rd May was definitely one of those days. The process of the training, the build up to the race and the race itself, the highs, the lows and sharing the day with great friends and my fabulous family made the outcome unimportant. We spent the rest of a fabulous week in a lovely apartment enjoying the sun, chilling by the pool and visiting parts of the Island that the bike course had passed.

I enjoyed plenty more cycle races getting back into time trialling. I finished the summer riding well and maintained my grasp on the Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club 10 mile Time Trial title.
We had a nice two week summer holiday in Majorca, the girls had a brilliant time. Although the resort wasn’t mine or Sarah’s cup of tea we enjoyed 14 days of blue skies and temperatures in the high 20’s and loved seeing the girls excited faces from day to day.

In September Ellie started school. Looking sweet in her new school uniform she just couldn’t wait. A term has passed and she is loving it. She has played her recorder with her friend in front of her class, she loves writing, drawing and is getting a real grip for numbers, she was a beautiful Angel in the Wiggly Nativity Play and above all she goes to school each morning with a big smile on her face.

The year ended with a fabulous Christmas spent with my Mum and Dad and two very excited little girls. Evie is a bundle of energy, with a really bright, cheeky personality and Ellie is becoming a really caring, thoughtful little girl. As the year ends I couldn’t imagine a house without the noise, energy and vibrancy that Ellie, Evie and of course Sarah give it.

The Last Decade; Part 2


We had set a wedding date for July 2005, and made a decision to try for a baby during the first half of 2004. We were very fortunate to hit the jackpot almost immediately; Sarah was pregnant, expecting a baby in September.

We moved into our new house in May and I set about employing the skills of my Dad that summer to build the foundations and do the brick work for a conservatory. We left the fitting of the windows and glass roof to the experts, and I then finished off the flooring. This was to be Sarah’s place of work. She would continue to expand Musical Success and her private teaching of the Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone. It worked perfectly keeping her work separate from our home.

After a few years of very little racing I decided to enter the Aberfeldy ½ Ironman Triathlon with some of my friends. They had entered and I decided I was missing out so put in a late entry. I loved the race and that proved to be the start of my triathlon racing comeback.

My brother Max and Rachael got married in the summer; this was a really nice family occasion in a beautiful setting of Door near Sheffield.

Sarah, my Mum and Dad and I managed to squeeze a week’s holiday in a Log Cabin near Coed-y-Brennin in North Wales. I scared the crap out of my Dad as we cycled round the technical Redbull Mountain Bike trails in the nearby forest. Sarah was very, very pregnant, it was the Olympics and I remember watching Denise Lewis win her Gold medals on the track.

On September 18th after a gruelling afternoon and evening for Sarah, Ellie Elizabeth Garrard was born (out the sunroof via Cesarean section) two weeks early she weighed 5lb10oz. Sarah was amazing and tiny Ellie looked very happy with her Mum. I remember driving home from the hospital in York late at night, grinning all the way, it truly was an amazing time for us all. The following day my parents arrived to see their little Granddaughter, and as soon as I was allowed I was back across to the hospital. After a week in hospital Sarah and I took Ellie home, she was so little it was unreal, I could put her head in the palm of my hand and her feet didn’t reach my elbow.

Wedding plans seemed to play a big part for the first part of the year (at least for Sarah anyway) I kind of went with the flow, as all good prospective husbands should do.

After a year flying across the Atlantic my best friend Ben had finally decided to make his move to Seattle (USA) so that he could make his relationship with Cindy really work. I was gutted to lose such a close friend, but at the same time could see Cindy was the girl for Ben and that this was exactly the thing to do.

I celebrated my 30th Birthday in style. Sarah had organised a surprise party for me. A few friends came across and we went out for a bike ride, with the view of having a small party later in the day. When we returned soaked to the skin after a wet ride, I opened the living room door to find all my family and many more friends crammed into the room all firing off party poppers and singing Happy Birthday, it was a great day.

I had a really cool idea for a Stag Do, which my Best Man Ben pulled off with great success. Shying away from the popular ‘get pissed in a foreign country for a long weekend’ type affair, I decided, my Dad and my closest mates would like a weekend away at a Farm House in the Yorkshire Dales. We had a great day Mountain Biking in Dalby Forest followed by fish and chips and an evening in Scarborough drinking beer and dancing until the early hours. Sunday morning Cayton Bay was calling for some surf lessons. The waves were good and for those that made it into the water heads soon cleared. Sarah had a great Hen Night in York where the usual antics occurred; she was transformed into Kylie for the evening complete with Gold hot pants.

On 30th July we got married at Brayton Church followed by a fabulous reception at Monk Fryston Hall. It was another amazing day and there was not one thing that we would have changed. My musically talented cousin Nathan played acoustic guitar in the church and at the reception, he then put on his DJ hat playing some great tunes late into the evening. The following day Sarah and I welcomed everybody back to our garden for a BBQ and afternoon chilling in the sun. We had a wonderful weekend, spent with family and friends. A few days later leaving Ellie with my Mum and Dad we flew to Italy for a week’s relaxation on the shores of Lake Garda. On our return we headed north to Center Parcs with Ellie for a long weekend.

We celebrated Ellie’s 1st Birthday in September with a party in our garden.


This year marked a real move forward I got back into consistent training and racing. It was the first year since 2000 that I had kept a training diary and I was training hard for time trials and a season of Triathlons. Over the course of the year I did 22 races including 10, 25 and 50 mile time trials, Duathlons, and a couple of ½ Ironman Triathlons, namely Trentham Gardens and the excellent Big Cow event in Milton Keynes. I joined the Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club and took 1st place at their 10 mile time trial event. Over the year I rode 5760 miles on my bike and trained for a total of 450 hours. I am not sure what made me step up my game in terms of training and racing but a lot has to do with realising that these things made me tick and it was what I enjoyed doing.

An exciting start to the year saw us get a loft conversion. Neighbours had just had one and the transformation on their house was amazing. Being inquisitive I knocked on their door to see what they were doing and soon we were doing the same, and they (Paul and Nikki) soon become really good friends. Opening up the loft gained us an extra bedroom and a nice space at the top of the stairs; it really changed the look and feel of our house.

Ellie was really unfortunate when she got Chicken Pox. She had a really nasty reaction around her eyes, ears and on her face which saw her admitted to hospital for a week. Here she was on antibiotics and under close watch just to make sure it didn’t do any real damage. Luckily it cleared up fine just leaving her with a couple of Special Chicken Pox scars on the side of her head.
Ben had proposed to Cindy and in July I flew out to Seattle to be his Best Man. He had a great wedding aboard a boat in the waters off of Seattle followed by a fun evening in Seattle. I spent a week with Ben chilling out, riding our bikes, running and catching up before the wedding took place.

Sarah and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a short break to Italy, this time to Sorrento. Once again my Mum and Dad stepped in, they enjoyed a few days looking after Ellie, allowing us some time to ourselves.

Unbelievably, for it seemed just a short time ago she was being born, Ellie celebrated her 2nd Birthday. Not long after that Sarah found out she was pregnant again, we were really excited and the May due date didn’t seem too far away.

The Last Decade: Part 1...

My friend Paul gave me the idea of writing a review of the last 10 years. It was pretty amazing to look back on this period in my life, most years have been full of really exciting things, far too many to mention. What I have tried to do is capture some of the special, most significant moments......

I saw in the new Millennium with my best mate Ben Bigglestone at a party. After midnight, fuelled by mucho alcohol we decided to abort the party to go to another celebration at a friend’s house in Rawdon. 2000 started with a very drunk 5 mile run at 1am to Pauls, where the fun and games continued. If I remember correctly at one stage I was performing handstands against a wall dressed only in a cooking apron!!

I celebrated my 25th Birthday in Leeds with Ben. It was a great night as we celebrated not only my Birthday but my success earlier in the day getting a new job, Head of the PE Department at Read School.

Athletically I achieved some great things. I rode PB’s in various distance Time Trials. They are still my PB’s 10 years on. I rode 21.12 for 10 miles, 53.42 for 25 miles (the absolute perfect time trialling morning) 1.55.50 for 50 miles, and I did 37.50 for the Dewsbury 10k run. Will I ever ride the bike as quick? Well I think the 10 and 25 maybe out of reach, but I think I could get the 50.

I was still coaching Soccer for NOGA a company based on Long Island NY, USA, and spent 3 weeks during my summer holiday directing a couple of camps.

I qualified and completed in the World Duathlon Championships in Calais, over a distance of 10k run, 40k bike and 5k run. This was a fabulous event; I loved every minute of it. It was made even more special by the fact that Max (my brother) was also racing. The photo is with a good friend John Trevena, an awesome athlete!

The year finished in style. On 31st December I met a gorgeous girl called Sarah Cullen. We met at Manchester Airport, with a group of mutual friends ready to fly to Andorra for my first ever snowboarding holiday.


To this day we are not sure if the snowboarding holiday was a set up, but either way we had a brilliant New Year’s Eve, and weeks snowboarding (The photo was taken early in the morning on 1st January) I subsequently started 2001 with a new Girlfriend. Sarah got to know me in Andorra with a crazy, blond, curly, surfer hair style and a full goatie beard, When I arrived at her flat in the second week of January I looked like a teenager, clean shaven, with a short spiky hair cut (all the blond locks cut off) I think she was a little surprised, but she still liked me!

Work was going well at Read School, however the travelling from Leeds was proving to much of a journey so in April I took up the position of House Master in the schools Boarding House. This allowed me to save some money and roll out of bed down to breakfast and in to work.
The M62 became mine and Sarah’s road. We travelled it as often as we could between Leeds/ Selby and Didsbury. We took a holiday together in Morocco, enjoying each other’s company but hating the place. I have heard that Marrakech is the City least returned to in the World, it wasn’t our cup of tea!

I spent a few more weeks in the summer coaching Soccer on Long Island.

I decided to make Sarah a new TV table. Five patio slabs were required so we picked some up from B&Q and set to work on the very modern looking table, (straight out of ‘Living’ magazine). Three slabs would rest on their ends, with the two slabs resting on them to form the flat table top. The leg slabs were too tall so needed a trim. We went down to the hire shop for an angle grinder and grinding disks. We had a slight problem, Sarah’s flat was on the 3rd floor, and we didn’t have a long enough extension lead. I confidently said it won’t take long so let’s cut the slabs in your hallway. Well clearly my mind wasn’t working very well, as I made the first cut and brick dust fired out the back of the grinder all over the walls, Sarah freaked out hid in the kitchen drinking wine while I finished what I had started. I think Sarah was cleaning up slab dust for months, but miraculously I wasn’t dumped and guess what? Sarah had a really cool TV table, which we still have.

I represented Great Britain again at the World Duathlon Championships, this time in Rimini (Italy) Sarah, my Mum and Dad came with me. I wasn’t very well prepared, having a fairly low key sort of racing season, but I was there and ready to give it everything. Unfortunately in torrential rain I punctured on the first lap of the bike course so my race ended rather abruptly.


Sarah and I enjoyed a fabulous snowboarding holiday at Banff (Canada), it is definitely a place I hope to return to someday.

Come the Spring we had both decided we knew the M62 well enough by now. Sarah’s work situation had changed and we decided to rent a place together near my School. It was a pretty basic cottage in the middle of a farm....... a PIG farm. I loved it, however Sarah was not as impressed. Leaving her lovely brand new Didsbury flat for a dark, damp, spider infested, pig smelling rented cottage was not her idea of fun, but we had a great time buying stuff and enjoying each other’s company.

I finished off the school year in the Boarding house, giving up this part of the job so Sarah and I could spend more time together.

I did a couple more years in the States coaching Soccer, and Sarah and I flew out later in the summer for a holiday, staying with some of my friends at their holiday home in the Hamptons on Long Island. The Hamptons are a beautiful, beach fronted location at the end of the Island, multi-million dollar homes are the norm. We had a great week.


During the Spring Sarah and I brought our first house together. It was a really nice 3 bedroom semi-detached house in the village of Brayton, a well sought after village just a few miles outside Selby. We spent much of that year doing the DIY and decorating thing. The living room floor boards got a sanding, we knocked down the bathroom/ toilet walls to make one big bathroom and put in a new kitchen.

We hosted some great parties; the cocktail party was one of the best. We built a bar, had every cocktail or shot available and had a gambling gazebo with poker and Russian roulette. It was a great night.

I continued to snowboard, leading a holiday for the school to France and fitting in a New Years trip with Ben.

I changed my car this year. My trusty Fiat Punto was gone, replaced by a 4L Jeep Wrangler Sport. I loved it, with the top off and the roaring 4L it was pretty cool. Jeep Wranglers are common place cruising along the beach boulevards on Long Island and now I had my own. I just wished the British weather made having a soft top car more amenable.

At the end of our garden we had a wooden shed and an old brick built one. I drew up a grand plan to demolish both and build a 5m x 3m brick built one which would become my gym. Having cleared the site, dug and concreted the foundations, my Dad then joined me for a week to help with the brick work. We constructed it from breeze blocks, put on a lean to roof, with exposed beams inside, and put in a recycled barn door into a door frame I had constructed. I spent the following week rendering the brick work and finishing off the inside with wooden panels, a laminate floor and spot lights. Neither Dad nor I are builders, but I have inherited my Dad’s practical skills and enjoyment for this kind of work, we were both really proud of what we had achieved. When I moved my weights and training gear into it, it made a fabulous gym.

The summer finished with even more excitement when I proposed to Sarah. My Dad had just left to drive home, we were chilling in the lounge, I reached into my pocket pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me. She said Yes.

In the autumn we put down a deposit on a new build house that was being built in the field at the end of our Garden. It was due for completion in Spring 2004 and looked like a really nice 3 bedroom detached house. At the time we had planned to buy it as an investment to rent out. However as the build progressed we realised it was going to be a lovely house on a large corner plot, so we decided to put our house on the market and move into the new one.

Sarah made another career change and decided to work for herself teaching private music lessons. As a kid she played Flute, Clarinet and the Saxophone all to high levels and decided that a change of direction could result in a new career. Things took off instantly with the phone constantly ringing with local people wanting music lessons.