Rat Race Coast to Coast 2016

I sit here almost a week after the event and am struggling to put into words an accurate representation of the race but, I must try so here goes….

All the training was done, months of preparing our bodies and almost as long spent getting the logistics of packing the car with the mountains of kit that would be required (my fiancé doesn’t exactly travel light)! (joking). After she had finished work, me, her, my mum and dad piled into the car and made our way north from Cheshire. Our first stop was in Dollar, Central Scotland on Thursday night where our family friends Judith and Alistair had kindly agreed to let us stop over. After a hearty breakfast on the Friday morning we continued our trip and, as last year, the enormity of our task began to dawn on us as the hills only got bigger (I knew I should have done more hill training). A quick pit stop at Bothy Bikes in Avimore to replace a forgotten helmet for my dad and we headed for Nairn. We arrived in good time and joined the small but growing que to register. Unlike last year the Rat Race crew opened registration early as the line started to grow which was a great help and made the process much quicker and easier. After picking up our race info we headed to Cawdor Castle to rack the bikes and get set up. A growing number of people arrived and we all helped each other with little jobs to get the bikes race ready. After locking my bike up for the night we headed for the hotel in Inverness and after a short 2km run with dad we rested up for the rest of the evening.

I slept unusually well for a pre-race night and the alarm sounded at 5:30am, the nerves grew as I forced down some porridge and we headed back to Nairn to begin the race. After the obligatory picture of the hands in the water I ate a bagel and made final preparations. Once again my nerves grew almost as fast as the que of people waiting for the toilets! At around 7:25 we started to make our way into the starting pen with the first wave and after a short race brief, handshake off my dad and good luck hug from Katie we were off! The morning was cool but dry and the run along the river to Cawdor was brilliant, as I entered T1 nearly 5 minutes faster than last year I was on top of the world but thought this was surely too good to be true… transition was very relaxed as people got set for the first bike leg, taking on fuel and sorting clothes/ helmets out. I set off on the bike and for the first kilometre or so I was happy with how things were going and then I went around the corner and the wind hit me like a brick! The rest of the ride was a slow, tough ride into a brutal headwind, at least on my cyclocross bike I could keep up a slightly better pace and my heart truly went out to the guys on mountain bikes who had to deal with the wind as well as bigger tyres. After about 15km of lone riding a group of 3 lads passed me and told me to hang on! 15-20km followed of small group riding, taking it in turns on the front to get some rest bite from the wind, mercifully it wasn’t raining but the progress was tough and slow. A long hill was followed by a cracking decent into Fort Augustus and T2 was a welcome sight. A short run was followed by a nice kayak on Loch Ness where I was partnered with Terry, originally from Yorkshire but now living down south, another short run back to transition and my first day was done. I waited for my dad to come into transition with a group supporting a lady called Steph and somehow managed to miss him! Luckily I spotted him on his way back out and ran with him to the kayak and watched as he powered around on his own! All through the day, as with the rest of the race other competitors were absolutely brilliant, encouraging each other along and checking to make sure all was well if they saw people at the side of the road. After my dad finished for the day we headed back to the car and then onto a café for dinner followed by our overnight accommodation at Invergarry. It was great and very relaxing to have Katie along this year, your support crew are very important and it was great to go for a short walk to see some of the scenery. After an evening meal in the bar we got an early night ready for day two.

Another good sleep was followed by a 5:30 alarm and after some porridge we headed back to Fort Augustus to begin the next leg. As we got into the pen and got on our bikes, we had a mandatory kit check, incredibly important however some were frustrated as this took longer than anticipated, not a major issue though, we were also told that due to the weather forecast the final kayak was cancelled, I wasn’t looking forward to what mother nature had in store for us further up the road. I didn’t feel very fresh at all and was struggling to be my normal chipper self however, as we went through the timing gate we were off along the lock/ canal towards the forest. The off-road section wasn’t any easier than last year and was very technical in bits, at one point it looked like the heavens would open again but thankfully it was only a few spots. Somehow I was able to make it through that 20-mile section with no mechanical issues (my luck will certainly run out next year) and the weather improved as we smashed out the 13-mile blast to Fort William. Day 2 T1 was at the FW shinty club and was again relaxed as people prepared themselves for what was about to come. RR did a brilliant job here of providing nutrition, plenty of cliff bars etc. were on offer and I stocked up ready for the run/ trek over to Glencoe. I took advantage of the time out for 10 mins or so and gathered myself before setting off on the run. A short flat start filled me with more confidence (too much as I was going far too fast for the first couple of Km’s). as we hit the first mountain I tried my tactic of run for 800m, walk for 200m, once again this didn’t last long and I decided to walk the ups and run the downs. As before, the team spirit was great as everybody I passed or that passed me always had words of encouragement. We made our way down the glen and, instead of heading over the second mountain from last year we headed further down the west highland way. It stayed dry but at times the wind picked up and began to bite. Eventually we made it towards the end and another technical decent with excellent views was followed by a short run to the finish line at an outdoor centre. A short wait and I was able to see my dad coming down the road and cheer him into the finish line, this was an incredibly proud and emotional moment. A short wait and we were bused back to Glencoe to collect our medals and have finishing pictures taken.

All through the race the scenery was once again absolutely spectacular and I would go as far as to say that this is now one of my favourite places in the world. When the weather is kind the scenery is unbelievably beautiful and I continue to be in awe of nature. The weather on Sunday was as close to perfection as you could hope for and provided simply stunning views all along the route. For me this is one of the elements which makes this event so special, another is the fantastic team of marshals who always greet you with a smile and encouragement, I cannot tell you how much this helps when the wind has been smashing you in the face for 50km and you just want to stop, cry and have your own private pity party. The final element which makes this event so special are of course the other competitors, the banter, support and camaraderie en route is by far the best on any event or race I have ever done. Riding/ walking/ running alongside people you can take the time to get to know them a bit, people came from all over the place and it really was great to see. The group of people supporting Steph that I stood with on the Saturday waiting for my dad were a brilliant bunch, whenever I saw them they would give me an update on when they had seen my dad coming in/ out of transition and how he was getting on and at the end, they were about to leave the carpark when my dad came down the road, they all dived out of the van and cheered him in with me this again was a special moment and my thanks goes to them and I hope to see them again next year.

In summary, this was again the toughest but best race I have ever taken part in, the Saturday was the most brutally tough day due to the unrelenting wind but Sunday more than made up for it. If you are considering taking part next year all I can say is please please please DO IT, you will not regret it! There were times for me, as last year when I thought to myself ‘who’s idea was this’? and there were even times where I was unsure if I wanted to carry on but I am so glad I did carry on. Remember that by even getting to the start line you have done what many others haven’t and if you can start and finish with a smile on your face that is the main thing and a great achievement.  

One final note before the thank you’s, my dad, at age 63 and racing for the first time not only completed the race, he WON his category, how cool is that?!

Finally then the thank you’s, there are way too many to mention here however a select few are as follows: thank you to Judith and Alistair for putting us up for the night on Thursday, thank you to Rat Race for another top event, thank you to my fellow rat racers and their support crews for all the words of encouragement, thank you to my friends, family and everyone else for their constant support and thank you to everyone who donated to my charity efforts for Genetic Disorders UK. Finally, thank you to my Mum Judith and fiancé Katie for being an absolutely outstanding support crew, putting up with me as I got stressed and following us across Scotland in the name of adventure, without your support I really wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

Well, that just about covers it. Thank you for reading, as always, if you have any questions just give me a shout, see you next year!   


The hills getting bigger as we head north

And bigger


Registration done!

Nairn beach, nearly go time!


Ready for day two, still smiling


Excellent views on the day two descent


Finished!


2016 Rat Race Coast to Coast finishers!

September 2016 – pre race

Morning all,

 

 I hope you are well? Short and sweet today as I have things to do! Well, the time is nearly here! Just some last minute packing to do and then heading north later today when my better half has finished work.

 My plan over the last month was to have two full weeks of training followed by a two week taper. All was going swimmingly…. For the first week and then disaster struck, food poisoning! A dodgy bit of chicken utterly defeated me, I didn’t move out of bed for two days, didn’t eat at all for three and didn’t eat properly for nearly a week. I lost a stone in two days and still haven’t put the weight back on.

As a result of this I didn’t train for well over a week as I gave my body time to recover and, with just two weeks to go I had to get my mind right as much as my body. I didn’t start my full taper until 10 days pre race as I needed to get a long run in to prep mentally as much as physically. After that I have done lots of stretching and massage, a couple of short runs and a short bike session, fingers crossed this will be enough! I feel like I am nowhere near as prepared as I was this time last year and my longest run has been 15km.

People asked last time about my nutrition so I will try to give you an idea of what I eat on a typical day:

Breakfast, 2 pieces of wholemeal toast, 3 eggs (normally scrambled) and a handful of spinach

Mid morning: small snack, usually fruit

Lunch: Normally sandwiches or rice/ pasta with some form of protein (if the chef at work will make me an omelette that is my preferred option)

5/6pm: small snack, usually a cereal bar

7:30pm: tea, small carbs plus protein and veg

 

I know there are plenty of personal trainers at the moment advocating a high fat, med protein, low carb diet, this is fine if you want to go down that road however I tried it and it didn’t sit well, I struggled with sessions of 40 mins or more, so pretty much every session. I will load with carbs today and tomorrow pre race and then on the race I will take on gels and bars to keep my energy up. Again, I know some trainers will crucify me for this approach but hey, I don’t care, its my body and works for me. My biggest advice for nutrition is find something that works for you, that you can fit around your schedule and finances and training needs. DO NOT experiment on race day, that is what the months of training rides and runs are for, it doesn’t matter if you need to dive into a bush on those, its not a great look on race day. That said, I will be packing a toilet roll just in case.

People have also asked me a lot about target times and placing. On a normal triathlon I would target specific times or places based on the race and who else is in it however I have no such targets for this race for the following reasons: For me this race is all about enjoying it and finishing, if I limp over the line 2 seconds before cut off that will be ok. The weather is so changeable and so many things can happen that targeting specific times is daft. ENJOYMENT IS KEY!

So to conclude, my prep hasn’t been ideal, I am stone lighter than last years race which may help or hinder me, we are about to find out its too late to change anything now! Let me finish by saying if you are racing Rat Race this weekend have a safe journey and see you in Nairn. If you see me come and have a chat, if you see me on the course give me a shout and if you see me at Glencoe join me for half a coke. You have prepped for a long time, you aren’t going to get any fitter between now and Saturday, don’t stress, don’t over think it and just ENJOY IT and remember, just by making the start line you are awesome!

P.S the weather forecast is grim for Sunday so don’t forget your waterproofs!

 See you there,

 Alex

Looking ik for saturday, fingers crossed


Different story sunday😦


Last long run before race day… Still smilingg

August 2016 – 1 month until race day!

Well… where to begin?! Im sitting here in rainy Cheshire watching the Olympics (rugby 7’) and it has dawned on me that in exactly one-month time I will, fingers crossed, be half way through my Rat Race Coast to Coast adventure, Scary thought eh! In my previous blog I said that I would go into slightly more detail this time on what kind of prep I am doing for the race so here goes:

I think I have previously mentioned that this year I am officially on a rest year from racing as my body felt completely broken, what this has ultimately meant is that I have still entered the coast to coast as its my favourite race and been a little bit less disciplined in my training from January – July. Admittedly, this wasn’t the best way to go about it. I was still training but very much just going through the motions. As a result, over the past month I have tried to bring a bit more structure to my training and this is how I have done it. Actually, before I start I need to provide some context, my working day is 9:45-18:15, 5 to 6 days per week, fairly standard stuff however as I’m in a management position (fancy title) that actually means I am out of the house from 8:00- 19:30 every day and am thinking about work and fielding phone calls when I am not there, don’t feel sorry for me, I chose to do the job. I also have a fiancé and two dogs to keep happy so this also eats into my training time, just like everyone else who isn’t a pro, we have things that get in the way, we can’t let these get us down we just have to adjust and work around them. Now that we have the context I will go into a bit more detail:

Due to my physical circumstances (28 years old, 6ft 4 and 15 stone with a tight back and knees/ ankles that aren’t impressed with the years of punishment they have taken) I have had to really manage my body, this is a battle I know many people fight so don’t think you are alone and my dad assures me that this battle will only get more one sided as I get older… can’t wait. As a result of this I have structured my training as follows:

1 long run,

1 long bike

1 short run

1 short bike

1 kayak session per week and then mixed in a swim session and plenty of foam rollering and stretching to aid recovery. The fact that I can foam roll and stretch in front of the telly means that I am not technically training and so doesn’t count against my training time as far as my fiancé is concerned (life hack right there), she just watches with the dogs as I bring myself to tears trying to loosen off my ITB’s (she occasionally snapchats these sessions so her followers can share the experience).

Doing one long run per week has helped to ease the pressure on my joints and the short sharp run means that I haven’t lost too much pace for when I go back to tri next year. My short bike session has normally been completed on a turbo trainer early in the morning, this isn’t ideal but is necessary due to work and time commitments. The long rides have been my favourite part of training and I have loved getting out on the bike whenever I can. Due to the race involving kayaking I have been doing one session per week just to keep my eye in and minimise the risk of me drowning in a Scottish Loch. Finally, the swims have been a real blessing, normally in a lake, they have brought a different element to training and really taken the pressure off.

Going into a bit more detail on the bike and run training, a major factor that I got wrong last year was the fact I didn’t do anywhere near enough hill work (pretty stupid when you consider the race is in the highlands)! So this year I have really tried to incorporate more of this into my training, this has resulted in me finding the biggest hills I can in Cheshire (not very big) and riding or running up them. It’s not ideal prep but is better than nothing. I have also been doing a lot more running around Delamere forest and up old pale which offers some stunning views of the shire and I would highly recommend going up there, either running or walking to simply take it all in.

One thing I need to mention is that whilst I had this plan in place it hasn’t always gone swimmingly well. There have been times where I have gotten in from work or woken up in the morning and been so physically and mentally drained that I have sacked the session off. For me, this has been massively tough to do, in years gone by I have been so obsessive about my training that I would have forced myself to get out and do the session however this year, I really have had to listen to my body more and accept when I need rest. Please don’t think this was easy, a couple of weeks ago I had planned an 80km bike ride on a Sunday however the Saturday was one of the busiest days at work I have had and I woke up at 7:30 on Sunday morning very very tired. I spent 30 mins trying to talk myself into going out however I ultimately gave in and went back to bed. The result was a cracking Sunday off and going back to training on the Monday slightly more refreshed and having a better week of training and work as a result. When asked about this by other people my advice would be this: listen to your body, don’t drag yourself through sessions as you gain nothing but more fatigue however… baring an injury, illness or a race day on the Sunday never, ever miss a Monday, even if you do a 20 minute HIIT session or 3 km run it sets the tone for the week and you will feel better for it.

Next month I will do two blogs, one pre-race with info on my last few weeks of training and some kit review and then a second post-race, hopefully celebrating a successful weekend!

As always, if you have any questions give me a shout in the comments section!

I want to finish this post with a tribute…. This week tragedy struck our close knit family with the passing of my auntie Lizzie. She was an amazing woman who lit up the room and left a lasting impression on everyone she met. She will be sorely missed by everybody who knew her. R.I.P Lizzie xxx.


A decent ride into the East Cheshire hills


This is my best attempt at my ‘im not tired at all’ face… 


Im pretty lucky to live and train in an area like this

Trying not to drown

July 2016 post, 9 weeks to race weekend!

Evening all,

 

 I hope you are well? Apologies for the long break between blog posts, life has unfortunately gotten in the way. When I started this blog I intended to make it a weekly thing, 18 months and 4 posts later I think monthly is more appropriate!

To update you on the life that has gotten in the way: In October 2015 I left my role in sports development to go into leisure management (slightly better money and slightly more secure), I spent 7 fun filled months as part of the management team at the largest leisure facility in the north west. Then, in April I left there to join a play centres company as Operations Manager (Fancy title eh)! As with my previous jobs I am loving what I do, no two days are the same and I am once again back out on the road as I look after three sites, I enjoy this aspect as I don’t like being in the same place every day. In terms of my personal life, I am still engaged to and madly in love with my fiancé. We still live in a small village in Cheshire with our dogs (Shitzu Rosie and Jack Russell Minnie). I am still loving fitness training however at the start if this year I made the decision to take a year off from competing as my body felt completely broken and in need of repair after 4+ years of nearly constant training. That said, I am going to be taking part in Rat Race Coast to Coast in September, I cant wait to get back to the land of my forbears and run swim and kayak across it! As with last year, the focus will be on getting across without too much emphasis on the time taken to do so (As long as I make the cut offs I will be happy). Time for a shameless plug here, I have also started an online coaching and PT business so if you want any help with that just give me a shout! I have started playing a bit of football again as a way to have the banter with my top mates (I find its also not a bad intervals session if you run around like a headless chicken as I do, due mainly to the fact that I wasn’t blessed with a decent right foot, or left foot, or heading prowess, or any footballing ability of any kind, this results in my having to chase players that ive just given the ball away to)!

As I mentioned earlier I am hoping to make this a monthly blog and it will focus on my training and how I attempt to shoehorn sessions into gaps between work, dog walks and terrible TV! We are now just over 9 weeks from race day so its time to get serious! Over the last month I have been managing my body a little bit, a year off competing doesn’t mean a year off training so I have still been running and cycling but I have now re-introduced some swimming to aid recovery. I’ve also recently taken a de load week where I dropped to 4 easy sessions and plenty of stretching and foam rollering so hopefully that will help in the highlands. I have started to stop in at Delamere forest for a run on the way home from work, its infinitely better than running in the streets and Ive really been enjoying it. Last year I struggled with the hills on the C2C so this year I have tried to bring more into my training, old pale has helped solve that little problem. Im experiencing some knee pain aswell at the moment so again, ive had to manage that, 20+ years of sport may be finally catching up with me. I have also been stepping up my distances on the bike as I try to get race fit, today I went for nearly 80km and it felt brilliant! I still need to up my distance on the runs but my pace is finally starting to come back down to somewhere near acceptable.

I made light of it earlier but one thing I have really struggled with is finding time to train, my new job has meant longer hours and more responsibility (don’t feel sorry for me, it was my choice to go for it), understandably my partner has, on occasion taken exception to the fact that I roll in at 8pm and then say I’m off for a run or bike session. I haven’t found a concrete solution yet but will keep you posted if I do, equally, if anybody has any tips on this please give me a shout! That being said, getting up early or stopping on the way home from work for a session has marginally improved things! Next month I will give a more in depth look at my training schedule and may also discuss my nutrition habits! If anybody wants me to look at anything in particular just get in touch.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for a Friday evening, if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to give me a shout! See you next month!

 

 TTFN

 

   Alex

Rat Race Coast to Coast 2015

This weekend I completed the 2015 Rat Race Coast to Coast challenge in Scotland. Several people have asked me ‘how was it’? This is where I come unstuck as I simply don’t think I can put into words what it was like, but I will give it a go!

It was by far the toughest event/ race I have ever done but it was by far the best I have ever done!

We set off from Cheshire at 11am on Thursday and, after an overnight stop in Dumblane (Thank you auntie Elaine and uncle Mike) we headed for Nairn. As we got into the highlands it dawned on me that the ‘hills’ I had trained on were no where near what I would face over the weekend. After registration at 2pm we racked the bike in Transition at Cawdor and headed for the hotel in Inverness. A short 2km run was followed by the biggest bowl of pasta and chicken I had ever seen at Little Italy in Inverness (I would highly recommend the restaurant). Then it was back to the hotel to try and get some sleep!

Saturday morning arrived and after forcing down some porridge in my hotel room we arrived at Nairn for 6:45am, just in time to see the experts set off. After struggling to eat half a bagel I went down to the beach to get a shot of me with my hand in the water. As it neared the 7:30am start time the nerves grew and so did the queue for the toilet! We entered the starting pen and had our race brief and after what seemed like the longest 10 minutes of my life the starter pistol went and we were off! Running along the river and through the woods we got a first glimpse of the scenery we could expect, we were pretty much single file for the whole run which felt slow at just over an hour for 11km (i didnt want to peak too soon). As we got to the transition in Cawdor it was the most relaxed transition area I had ever seen, we gathered our thoughts and I took on some food and water before heading out onto the first bike stage. I felt fast on the road and was immediately glad I had chosen to buy a cyclocross bike as this made it much easier than a mountain bike would have been.

The scenery was excellent as we made our way along to Fort Augustus and I was feeling strong until I got to what would turn out to be the most brutal climb I had ever come across. the wind picked up and it became a case of getting the bike in the lowest gear I could, gritting my teeth and trying to power through. At the top of the climb several of us had to stop, partly for a well earned breather, but also as the wind literally blew a couple of people off their bikes. The descent into Fort Augustus was steep and fast and the time that was lost on the climb was more than made up for. After racking my bike in transition I ran to the loch to complete the kayak, myself and ‘Mike from Rochdale’ were paired up and set about the 1km out and back before heading back to transition to end the days racing. I joked that day 1 was probably a mere warm up for day 2, I didnt know how right I was.

After pitching the tent, a massage and shower I invested in the best sausage stew I had ever eaten and we followed this up with lunch at a cafe near by. Thankfully my mum and dad were with me and I was able to have a sleep at their hotel followed by a cracking evening meal. After they dropped me back at the campsite I was able to get a good night sleep in my tent and woke on Sunday feeling surprisingly optimistic (I would say I camped under the stars, but it was cloudy). I had some porridge and a bagel for breakfast before collecting my gear and heading to the starting pen with my bike.

Day two started on the bike, a short blast along the canal was followed by 1 hour of tough offroad, at this point I would have given anything for a mountain bike. Soul destroyingly, we came out of the woods 150m up the road from where we went in! I looked at my Garmin and we had covered around 12km in that hour. The next 15km took another hour along some tracks, the scenery along which was stunning. We followed this with a quick blast of just over an hour to Fort William where we were given a ‘time out’ to collect ourselves before the final push to the Isles of Glencoe.

I started the ‘run’ over the first mountain by trying to run for 800m and walk for 200m, this went out the window roughly 5km in when the mountain didnt seem to stop and so I resolved to walk the up bits and run the down bits.

The weather started to turn an hour or so in and Im glad I put my waterproof on when I did! I had heard rumours of a ‘big hill’ coming up and as we ran down into the valley I was feeling relatively comfortable. At the 15km mark we met a surprisingly jolly marshall who pointed to the ‘big hill’ (proper mountain) and wished us luck. As we trudged up the mountain which seemed to keep growing the rain and wind kept coming and I wondered what I was doing. As we got near the top I turned around and looked back down the glen from where I had come and was simply in awe of nature. That view was topped a little while later when I reached the top of the hill and looked down on the loch, town and across to the other mountains. the view took my breath away and I had to stop for a couple of minutes as I realised just how insignificant we really are when compared to nature. An attempt at running down the mountain was curtailed when I realised how steep it was and we had to walk down (my knees were in pieces by the bottom). A 2km hobble/ run along the road lead to the final kayak stage across the loch. We were again given a time out to allow us to get kit together for the paddle.

I was paired with a chap from Glasgow who was doing the race for the 2nd time and we set off for the finish. On the loch I got my first experience of kayaking over waves and I have to say I panicked abit! As we got towards the shore we raised our paddles and received a cheer from the waiting crowd in return. As we came to the end of the kayak I could see the finish gantry and had visions of sprinting across thew finish line… these thoughts evaporated when both sets of quadriceps cramped as I stepped out of the kayak. After taking a few seconds to compose myself I jogged down the finish straight and received my medal, water and mars bar!

After the race I had soup and a roll followed by a massage, shower and change of clothes. We then headed back to Dumblane for the night and on to Cheshire on Monday.

As I noted earlier, this was the toughest event I have ever completed but it was by far and away the best. The camaraderie was excellent, everybody encouraged and helped where they could. The marshals were always brilliant even when the weather wasn’t! And the scenery, I cannot put into words how amazing it was. My dad has had several calenders with scenes from the highlands and I feel that every time I looked around it was like looking at those calenders. It reminded me of how small I am but also of what the body can achieve if we push ourselves.

I cannot wait to take part again in next years event!

I have a couple of thank you’s I need to say, firstly a huge thank you to Elite Health in Knutsford for providing me with two brand new tri suits. Secondly, a big thank you to 305 Sport for the print job on those suits, thirdly a big thank you to EB Leisure and their continued support through the APA programme. forthly thank you to the Rat Race crew for organising a stunning event. Fifthly, I would like to thank the Northwich Guardian for writing a great article and raising awareness of my chosen charity. Finally and most importantly I need to thank my parents and family for the support before, during and after the event, without you I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

2014, what a year!

As I sit here on New Years Eve 2014 I have been thinking about what has happened in my life this year and what I am looking forward to next year, here goes!

2014 has been a year of ups and downs to say the least, in my private/ family, sporting and professional lives. Professionally this has been a great year for me, in September I completed my masters degree in Exercise and Sport at Manchester Metropolitan University, this rounded off an academic year in which I made some great friends, had some tough moments and some great moments. At work I joined a young charitable trust in the sports development team, my initial role with the organisation was as Volunteer coordinator, helping to oversee an award winning programme, it was a great summer in which I met some truly inspirational people and had some experiences which will stay with me forever. As I moved into the autumn months I applied for and got a new role as Inclusion coordinator and community coach within the same development team. In this role I have continued to work with and meet some great people and characters.

In my personal and private life there has been brilliant highs and brutal lows, this isn’t the place for some of the lows but I am happy to share the highs! In November me and my fiancée moved into out first house together, I am immensely happy, although the thought of paying my mortgage for the next 35 years depresses me! There are numerous advantages to being a home owner, one of them I have discovered in the past 24 hours, you can set up your rollers and ride your bike in the dining room doorway and nobody can tell you off, WINNER!

My sporting year wasn’t as good, a terrible winter 2013-14 injury wise carried on into the summer and killed my 2014 season half way through, it started with a stress fracture in my foot in December/ January, a strained Achilles in February, a tweaked cartilage in my knee in April/ May and culminated in a tendonopathy in my knee in August. I battled through the first half of the season before pulling out of all my races post august on the advice of my phisio. After 3 months of no running at all and with help from a superb team of phisios and fitness staff I seem to be back on track in my 2014/15 winter. I am hugely grateful to my sponsors at the Everybody Sport and Recreation APA programme for keeping the faith and helping me back to fitness. I’m still not back to pre injury fitness or form but the ground work I have already put in this winter will hopefully stand me in good stead for 2015.

In 2015 I hope to continue the progress I have already made professionally, I am excited about what the future holds as the charitable trust I work for enters an exciting future. I cant wait to see what life holds for me and my fiancée as we continue our epic adventure together. Sporting wise , I already have my 2 ‘A’ races lined up and I will be stepping up to half ironman distance , this will be tough but I am willing and determined to do what it takes to succeed. I am also looking forward to September as me and my brother will return to the land of our forebears (Scotland) to take part in the rat race coast to coast challenge, it will be a tough but great weekend. I also cant wait to see the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015, it will be a great advert for the sport and I hope it is a trigger to generate great interest and an increase in people playing the sport every week.

All that is left for me to say is 2014 you were great, I cant wait to see 2015! Happy New Year to all.

Hello!

With this being my first post I thought I would give you all a but of background on me and an idea on what I will be writing about.

My name is Alex, I live in a small village in Cheshire, England and I am 26 years old. Since I can remember I have always loved sport, both playing and watching, it all started I suppose with football (soccer) and I would spend hours playing either alone or with friends. At the age of 6 or 7 I started playing for the mighty Moulton Youth FC! We weren’t very good but we had fun and during my time there I grew to love the game and sport in general. I think it is a testament to the coaches and parents there that most of the lads I played alongside are still playing some form of sport on a regular basis. (I should point out at this stage that due to my dyslexia I am pretty unorganised and get distracted easily so if I go off at a tangent I will have to ask for your forgiveness). As I went through school I was very lucky to have some very good, knowledgeable and enthusiastic PE teachers and coaches, without them I don’t think I would be where I am today! I didn’t stick with football as, when I got to high school I put a bit of weight on and instead started a love affair with a sport that still consumes me to this day… RUGBY! Being a rather portly 11 year old with ginger hair I found that running around chasing an egg shaped ball with my mates and rolling round in the mud was a great laugh.

Over the next few years my mum and dad ferried me around and followed me all over the country as I played at school and club level, they also took me to the hospital on several occasions when things went wrong. they have continued to follow me all over the country and continent during my 2nd sporting career as a triathlete (more on that later). After I left college and went off to university I decided against playing for uni as I wanted to play for my club unfortunately, injuries meant that I spent more time on the phisio bench than the pitch (my 20+ stone frame probably didn’t help).

On December 15th 2011 I made the best decision of my life, after stepping on to the scales and seeing my weight had reached 22 stone something had to be done. So I pulled on some tracksuit bottoms and a hoody and laced up an old pair of trainers and went for a run. 2.5k of walking, running and weazing took me some 25 minutes but I had made the first step!

My brothers were both into triathlon and I decided to enter a race so I had something to aim for, over the next 12 months I lost 7 1/2 stone and completed a sprint triathlon and duathlon and my word, I was hooked! I also got back on the rugby pitch playing for the mighty Knutsford RUFC and played for them for a season however after some more injuries I decided to focus on tri. More races followed in 2012 and I improved, so much so that in 2013 I achieved selection for the GB Age Group team at the European Duathlon Championships in Holland. This remains my greatest sporting achievement and the friendships I made there remain with me to this day, I am also proud to admit that as I crossed the line (in 173rd place overall) I got a little bit chocked up. 2014 turned into an injury nightmare, more on that in my next post!

So that’s my sporting background, in order to pay for my triathlon habit I work in sports development as a project coordinator and community coach, this involves running a programme for people with disabilities whilst also delivering some sessions each week. I went to uni for many years and hold a degree, PGCE and masters, I have also worked in shops, sales and as a full time coach. I still play rugby on occasion but do more coaching these days, trying to promote the game to the next generation.

If you are kind enough to read my blogs in the future I will mainly be writing about my training habits, sport, coaching and generally what goes on in my life.

Thanks for reading team!