It has been a while since I last blogged. I am sorry for this, I'd love to say I have been hibernating in a training dungeon smashing out quality session after quality session, but the reality is that I have been slack with getting fingertip to keyboard.
Training and racing have gone well. I won the Ringwood triathlon for the second year running with a solid performance, and as last year it was great to see so many of my athletes doing it - some their first triathlon. I even managed a 1-2 with David Ardley who I coach and is showing some good form despite a hectic travel schedule.
Time has gone quickly since then and I have just got back from another amazing week in Riccione, Italy on the Trydnamic Training camp with Joe Friel. I was lucky enough to go last year as assistant coach, but to be asked back for the first ever repeat camp they run was a massive honour and I am grateful to Martin and Joe. I learned so much from them both during the week as did all the campers. It was great to see everyone improve so much despite a whole heap of fatigue in their body. It truly is a great experience and I recommend it to anyone who is looking to improve their triathlon skills, get some great riding in and pick the brains of a legend in the art of Triathlon Coaching (not quite me). Click Here for a review of the camp and pictures.
As well as making the most of the warm weather, a chance to tackle some impressive climbs, use the facilities (stunning pool, warm sea and running track) I was offering advice on all things triathlon. Now when it comes down to it I am a tri geek. That isn't a bad thing because I make a living out if it. The sport fascinates me and conversations always tend to have a two way flow to it. I do not believe to know everything - I coach quite a few athletes and as it comes to race season I am asking them questions, about kit, how their taper feels, how they like the sessions. This feedback means both parties are constantly learning and improving.
I learnt lots about training over the week in Italy. I was lucky enough to ride with an endurance animal called Stefano. This man is a phenomenon. He has won the Yukon ultra-marathon, beating second place by 6 hours! He is using the tough Challenge Rimini Half Ironman as a warm up to running the Gobi Desert marathon - a 250km self-supported race. Have a look at his website and judge for yourself. It is in Italian, but there are some pictures to help!!!
So having had a pretty big training week - running most days, riding hard and swimming in the sea 3 times and a track workout where I was running faster than ever (see if you can make sense of the data here) I found myself on the flight back to Heathrow trying to prepare mentally for The Primera Standard Distance Triathlon the next morning.
I eventually got to bed at 11 and was up at 3am to try to find my race kit.
I went in with no pressure to do well from myself. I am sure that some people would have expected an easy win but I am never complacent and always go through a well worked out routine and am more surprised than anyone to win (should that be the case).
Having racked my bike, got everything set up I went through the race and how I wanted it to pan out. A tidal swim is always fun and I knew I needed to be within touching distance of the leading swimmers to be in with a chance. A little bit of local knowledge always helps. The two lap bike was where I would hope to make up any time lost in the swim and the run was due to be my strongest discipline.
I have watched variations of this race over the years but have never actually raced it in its entirety. Relays and punctures have seen to that.
So there we are - standing on the shore all westuited and some booted. The most picturesque start in triathlon before our bleary eyes. 0645 on the watch as we enter the water. I wanted to be first in - mainly to give my body a chance to get warm in the cool water but also to get a psychological advantage over people who may be competitors.
The tide feels strong as we wait for people to enter the water and we have to swim back to the start marker. The hooter sounds and the turmoil starts. I love it. Survival of the fastest. Arms and legs everywhere. Jostling for position, adrenaline is flowing and testosterone spilling out. 50 strokes in and there is a line forming to my left. I contemplate changing my course to join them but a glance to my right shows I am on the more direct course and sitting on the hips of another swimmer. By the first turn buoy of a simple 2 lap out and back course and two people are a bit ahead, a glance behind shows I am leading a group of 5-8 people. This always seems to be the case for me - always the leader of the second group. One day I may be less competitive and follow someone around, but for the mean time I like to lead and be chased - at least I have no excuses then.
The second lap goes well, the tide is flowing nicely but my rhythm feels strong. I seem to be swallowing a bit too much water for my liking but I'm used to the sea water taste in my mouth.
I exit the water in third place, with second just ahead and first about a minute or so up the road. I decided to take my wetsuit off at the bottom of the hill and run up with it. Purely because it is easy to remove when wet, easier to run with over my shoulders and it gives me a chance to catch a few breaths. I felt a little bloated due to swallowing the water perhaps.
A quick transition, not putting any extra clothes on, and I was onto the road in second place. 2 minutes down according to a friendly marshal. I felt good on the bike. The usual disorientation was there, but I soon had the pedals spinning at a good pace and the speed was high. With quiet roads I was able to stay down on the aero bars for most of the first stretch. As I climbed out of Beaulieu village I got a glimpse of the leader and within 15 minutes of being on the bike I was in the lead. Without power and with a dodgy heart rate reading I was going on speed and cadence. Aiming for an average of 23mph with a cadence in the mid 80's I thought I would be going faster enough not to be caught. And this was the case. It was nice after the lonely first lap to ride past some of the sprint racers and offer encouragement to them. I remember back to when I started racing and how much I was in awe of the leaders. I believe that a few well-placed words of encouragement are not too much to ask for and I know that it lifts my spirits to hear it and see people smiling.
Heading back to transition I see my client/athlete/friend Su. Whose story is very well known so I won't dwell, but she was riding towards me, not the last person I was glad to see and so as I passed her I gave her a virtual High5. I was chuffed to bits to get to see her.
Another swift transition and then I saw Oscar. I hadn't seen him for over a week so I ran over to him and gave him a hug and a kiss. A few seconds wouldn't matter and off I went down the hill feeling pretty happy. The plan was to be running 3:20 minute km's. Which I knew I am capable of without too much bother. But this was tough. My legs weren't responding as they usually do. For the first time in a while I was running with my Garmin - more for the data after, but with my heart rate strap playing funny buggers I didn't really need it. I advise some (those with more experience) people not to run with them in shorter distance races and it is something I do myself. In a standard distance race you should run as hard as you can for the ten km. If you aren't running fast enough what can you do? More experienced athletes should go on perceived effort in my opinion.
So there I am. Staring at my watch wondering why I am running 3:40 min kms and not being able to do anything about it. I timed myself to second place and worked out I had about 2 minutes after half a lap. After one lap that time had dropped to 90 seconds. Time to dig deep and draw on some positive thoughts. Oscar at the finish line, friends and family cheering me on and the fact that I am still in the lead and they are chasing me - having to run faster than me.
It worked and the gap stayed at about 90 seconds after a lap and a half. About 3 km to go and it was over. As I ran up the last hill I could see Oscar waiting for me. I beckoned him to run with me towards the finish line and he did just that. I was so happy, not only at winning the race, but the fact that he was there to share it with me. That's what triathlon is about. Sharing our victories with loved ones and family. Getting the warmth from the smiling faces when we have been smashing ourselves silly. At the moment he doesn't fully understand what it is to do a triathlon - but he will. He's becoming a bit of a demon on the bike and his swimming is coming on very nicely. I am sure the Newbery legacy is in safe hands.

I am putting my slightly disappointing run down to the fact that I was tired. From training, travelling and working. It happens and I am glad to have showed enough strength and determination. It was a hard race and I am glad it was. Gone is any complacency and I know I have to come into the Dambuster World's qualifiers in tip top shape if I stand any chance on qualifying. As I said before the potential is there - I just need to deliver a consistent block of training between now and the end of June.

As always I must thank my supporters and sponsors -

Zone3 for all things Swim
Primera for all things Bike
Scott for all things Run
Compressport for all things Tight
H2Pro for all things Thirst Quency
Extreme Endurance for all things Free of Lactic

I promise the next post won't be nearly as long. In waiting time or reading time!