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Making progress - #RememberBen

timPby timPMar 2nd 2016
Looking out of the window as I'm writing this and I can actually see blue sky and the thought that British summer time starts in just a few weeks makes the world seem a better place and the racing season must be fast approaching. We have had a few busy weeks since the last blog with plenty of good training and the first race of the season completed.

First up towards the beginning of February I went to Bath University and undertook a VO2 max test in the human performance laboratory. This was the third time that I have done this (this one was an early birthday present from Debbie) and they don't get any easier! The good news is that I have seen a consistent improvement across the three tests (which span 6 years) and diligently following the recommended training zones does work even if they do seem a little easier than expected. So I haven't got any excuses now I know the training I have to do and the intensity to do work at, hopefully the science will be reflected in the results later in the season
Making progress - #RememberBen
All out effort!
A week later we flew out to Mallorca to join the second half of a training camp being run by our friends at The Triathlon Shop in Bristol. We had been really looking forward to this break, an opportunity to do some quality training in decent weather with like minded people.

What a wonderful time we had, plenty of cycling and running in almost perfect weather conditions. We chose not to take our own bikes as we were only going for part of a week but that wasn't a problem as Jon very kindly organised bike hire for us. The specification of the hire bikes was very impressive, certainly the equal of our own bikes, so I wouldn't hesitate to take this option again. The cycling itself was fantastic, the road surfaces so much better than the UK and I really couldn't believe how courteous the drivers were. I managed to get in some good climbs including Col de Soller and Puig Major and some really exhilarating descents including Sa Calobra. It really provided a kick start to my cycling for the year as most of my training to date has been indoors I just need to make sure I keep the momentum going.

It worked out even better for Debbie as she rode a bike for the first time in over 15 years. This will be great for her training as cycling offers a great alternative aerobic workout without the constant pounding on the joints.

We were also extremely well looked after whilst we were there, the accommodation was a luxury villa with pool and hot tub overlooking the sea and Jon, Chris and James worked really hard providing some cracking food.

If you have never considered going on a training camp I would highly recommend it, the opportunity to let go of normal life and just concentrate on good quality training is too good to miss.
Having heard some very good reports we both entered the Relish Running Two Tunnels 10k. It would be a good test of early season fitness and an opportunity to stretch our legs in race conditions. We were joined by four of our wonderful 2015 Thunder Run team and met up in Bath early on the last Sunday in February. One of the attractions of the race is that it passes through two old railway tunnels that have been reopened by Sustrans as part of a new cycle path. The tunnels are quite long, the first approximately 400m and the second 1.6km and as it is an out and back course you spend a total of 4km underground, a really interesting experience.

The field was about 500 strong and due to the restriction imposed by the width of the cycle path divided into 6 waves. It turned out that three of us started in wave 2 and the other three in wave 5, 30 minutes later. The race itself went very well, the start was in an open space just off of the cycle track so the first couple of hundred meters were across a field and then through a hole in a fence to join the track. There was a steady climb up through the first tunnel and to about the 3km point before descending to the turn round point. I enjoyed running through the tunnels although it was a bit of a surprise to hear classical music being piped through the longest one! Obviously the second half of the course was the reverse of the first with the exception of a vicious little hill 300m before the finish to get you back into the starting field. Results wise we both managed to get a personal best, me by just over a minute but Debbie by a whopping 4 minutes.
Making progress - #RememberBen
Finished with a shiny new PB
Looking forward the season proper kicks off in March, I seem to have foolishly booked two half marathons and a 5 mile road race all in the space of eight days! The first race is the Bath Half Marathon and this will be my ninth consecutive year and was also the first ever half marathon that I completed. Although to be honest it is a little pricy I enjoy the race, it is a fast course but most importantly the support from the residents of Bath is fantastic. Last year they introduced a battle of the bands competition with live music dotted around the course and it is going to be repeated this year as well. It is a nice idea and helps to break the distance down into smaller sectors.

After the March edition of the regular Weston prom race the weekend after Bath we are both heading to the Forest of Dean to run the spring trails half marathon. We did the event a few years ago and it was a very nice course so we decided to incorporate it into Debbie's Liverpool Marathon training plan.

Our plans are starting to come together for Challenge Almere later in the year. We now have three confirmed entries, Debbie and I doing the full distance relay and Jon and Marc both signed up for the individual half distance. There are a couple more possible entries for the main event and we are hoping to enter the family relay event the following day as well.
Okay I think that is all for now. As your own seasons start to kick off the very best of luck and remember:

Don't be s#*t
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