End The Season with a Swim Improving Holiday

Almost by accident I found a great way to bring the season to a close, take a holiday, and kick-start the off-season work on improving my swim, a limiter for most triathletes.

We went on holiday to Croatia with a company called SwimTrek.  

As the name implies, it's like a trekking company, except the days are filled with swimming rather than walking.

In the past at swim camps, our coach Dan Bullock has emphasised the improvement to be made by regularly swimming, saying  "If you can swim for seven days in a row, you will improve".

What better way to do this than on a swimming holiday?  Warm water; a main support boat with an experienced skipper; plus two inflatables manned by excellent swim guides who could keep the swimmers together in their different speed groups, provide drinks when needed (the Aegean is very salty), and look after safety.

Salty Aegean
Most of us are lucky if we manage to swim 2km three times a week.  Frankly, that's a lot of swimming for me.  Yet on this holiday, I'd accomplished that by half way through the second day.

I wore a wetsuit or thin swim
In five days I swam nine hours.  I decided not to take part in the sunrise swim on the final day because I wanted to shoot photographs.

Sunrise swim on last day
Many of the swimmers used wetsuits despite the temperature.  We were all roughly the same pace, around 20mins per kilometre, with the fastest swimmers being the ones who had competed since they were kids.  Despite being skins, they powered past me every time.

Liz swam mainly skins (she's better than me)
There was stroke video analysis after the first day and I have no doubt my technique improved. I seemed to travel further by slowing my stroke rate, which was something of a revelation.

Comfortable boat with good food
What's more, this felt like a real holiday.  There were good restaurants with good food, excellent lunches on the boat, lots of relaxation and a couple of mid-day hikes.

Hotel Maestral - very good, family run and friendly
While the Club la Santa swim camps are a great way to start the year, this proved a wonderful way to round it off and head into the off season.  I'm now going to seek some specific swim coaching to try to get rid of my need for a wetsuit.

Ironman 70.3 Pula. Not Great.

I'd like to say it was me, not them, but actually it was a mixture of both.

If you're thinking of doing this race, first read a few race reports from 2015-2017.

Perhaps there are some fundamental issues with this course, time of year and location?

Certainly I was disappointed to bring my Ironman racing time to an end at this event.

Firstly, the superb.  Can there be a better finish area than this?  The ancient Roman Colosseum in the centre of the Istrian city of Pula.  Wow.  The expo and registration is set up just outside the monument but you finish inside a spectacular piece of history.

My Last Ironman Event?

With one more 70.3 race scheduled for 2017 (Ironman 70.3 Pula, Croatia), I've been reflecting on the Ironman brand events I've done so far.  

I started these because I wanted to do an Ironman.  It was a genuine challenge and at the outset I didn't know whether I'd succeed.

Having completed Ironman Maastricht in 2016, 2017 year has been something of an anti-climax.

At the start of the year I decided that a second Ironman would suffer from the law of diminishing marginal returns - the first would always be the best.  So I focused on 70.3 half-Ironman events and tried to go faster.

Aberfeldy 70.3 Triathlon - Notes to Self

August 20th 2017 saw the 21st Aberfeldy Triathlon, but the 1st run by Durty Events, and the first on a brand new course.

Which doesn't go within six miles of Aberfeldy.  Is this the RyanAir approach to triathlon naming?

The over riding impression of this triathlon is of outstandingly beautiful countryside.

I say this as someone who lives amongst lochs and mountains in the Scottish Highlands, so it takes a lot to impress me.  This course did.  If you're from anywhere in England or Central-belt Scotland, this course will blow you away.  In a good way.

Review - Pearl Izumi Short Sleeve Triathlon Suit

Triathlon Plus magazine recently tested a range of male and female triathlon suits, narrowed them down to twelve, then reviewed these as the 'best of the best'.

I confess, I'm quietly delighted my Pearl Izumi triathlon suit did not make the top twelve, and that the sleeveless version was not one of the top picks.

In a race where every other person has a Huub, 2XU, Planet X or Zone 3 outfit, it's nice to wear something a little different.

For Pearl Izumi, it sucks.  For me, it's brilliant.  Because I love racing in this suit.

Running Injury - Elastic Laces and Why I Ditched Them

Greepers - way better than elastic
It took me a year to realise it but elastic laces were slowing me down in transition.  

That's exactly the opposite of they way it's meant to work!  

I'll explain why, explain the best solution I've found (Greepers.com that's them alongside) and the story of how I got that pair from one of the top British female triathletes.

When training in running in trail or road shoes I always used laces in shoes.  I wear orthotics to correct over pronation, so my foot is at risk of sliding around, and I felt laces held the shoes better on my feet.  

However, for races I switched into elastic laces so I could pull them on faster.  I trained a couple of times in the elastic-lace versions, but mainly saved them for races.

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh Race Report

Before the race I explained the four reasons why it would become a classic.

Now I'm sure of it.

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh will earn the reputation as one of the hardest 70.3 races.  That will be both an attraction for some and for others a definite reason not to attempt it.  Not hard per se, but hard compared to others of its kind.

I spoke to an fellow competitor afterwards, one who qualified for the world championships and has raced all the UK events including full Ironman, who told me, "that was harder than any of them".  Objectively, the half-iron event could not be harder than a full Ironman.  By any objective measure, the distances involved do NOT make this a hard event compared to others in Scotland such as Celtman or the Kindrochit Quadrathlon.  However, yesterday's conditions prompted a subjective response.