The Vitruvian Triathlon

If you haven’t read Norma’s previous blog, find it here.

The date for the Vitruvian half iron man arrived quickly.

I had been doing a structured 4 week training plan in the lead up to the event. This involved going to both ELT swim sessions during the week with a long Stubbers swim on a Saturday. Two turbo sessions during the week and a long ride at the weekend. Two runs during the week and a long run at the weekend. So the weekends were quite busy!

We traveled up to Rutland Waters on the Friday and registered on Friday evening as it was an early start the next day. I was in the first wave (6.25am) so we needed to get things set up in transition ahead of the race briefing at 6am.

The weather was good (quite cold but dry) and the sun started to come up just as we were starting the swim.

The swim went well – it was warmer in the water than waiting on the edge! The bike was something I had been focusing on in my training and I felt a lot better during the event. However, I was careful to save some energy for the run. The bike course was hillier than expected but through some very nice countryside. I felt strong doing the run which was my best discipline of the three. The good thing about the course is that runners are going past each other in different directions so there is plenty of opportunity to see other people from the club.

Overall I finished in under 6 hrs (5hr 55 mins) which I was really pleased with. But I still need to work on my transition times!

I didn’t know what to expect with it being my first middle distance race but overall I really enjoyed it. Especially as there were so many people from the club there either taking part individually or as part of a relay team or helping out at food stations. The support from familiar faces made everything a really good experience! Everyone from the club has been very helpful and supportive in giving advice and encouragement which I have really appreciated so it was good to be able to finish the race with so many members from the club there. Special thanks to Chris Tait for his advice in relation to training and to David Lawrence for lending me some fast wheels!

I’m not sure what my next event will be. My main events this year were the marathon in May and the half ironman in September. I have really enjoyed the training with the club and it is amazing to look back at how much I have improved over the last couple of years since joining. I have achieved things that I did not think would have been possible. 

Edinburgh Marathon

If you haven’t read part 3 of Norma’s blog, find it here.

The weekend of the marathon finally arrived. My longest training run was 35km. I tapered for the 2 weeks before with longest runs of 18km and 12km. The last few days before were all about resting and eating. We traveled up to Edinburgh on Friday by train. We booked into 2 nice Italian restaurants on Saturday for lunch and dinner with an afternoon nap in between – this is the kind of preparation I could get used to.

We were worried about the weather as it was looking unusually warm for Scotland. However, we shouldn’t have worried as when we woke up on the Sunday there was lots of clouds and the temperature was around 10 degrees. It was perfect!

I had prepared my marathon play list and applied my Vaseline and had all my gels / nutrition plan for the race. My biggest worry was the blisters I had on each big toe from the training over the last few weeks.

The start of the race was downhill and it was a good way to start. There was a good atmosphere with quite a few spectators, bagpipe players, and people running in fancy dress.


I got a shock at around 20km when the first blister on one of my toes exploded. Then a few minutes later the second one went – like a stab wound on the toes. Very, very painful! However, I managed to keep on running through the pain which faded after a while. During the run it was nice to see all the different causes that people were running for. I also thought about all the training I had done and how a few years ago I couldn’t run at all due to my knees and couldn’t even have dreamt of doing a marathon.

Towards the end there were quite a few people walking, vomiting, and having problems with cramp. So I just concentrated on keeping running as I knew that if I stopped I probably wouldn’t start again.

The last 5km was definitely the hardest. But I managed to get round in a time of 3hr 51 minutes which I was really happy with as it was under my 4 hr target. So all the weeks of long training runs paid off and it was a great feeling to cross the finish line.

I really enjoyed the experience and it was a great achievement for me to have done this. Maybe next time I can do it quicker! I will have a break from running now for a week or so to let my blisters recover and concentrate on the cycling and swimming which I have neglected over the last few weeks!

Just Keep Running

Here is the latest update on my training for the Edinburgh marathon and the Vitruvian half ironman in September. Part 2 can be found here.

In fact, this is more of an update on my marathon training as I have been doing loads of running! The last few weeks have been all about building the long runs. Going from 26km, to 30km, to 35km runs at the weekend with 3 shorter runs during the week. I had never run more than about 23km before this training. One of the challenging things has been planning running routes that get through the distance but are not all the same. So on a few weekends I have been getting the tube into central London and then running back home via the canal system and adding on various different routes. This has made the runs much more enjoyable and interesting and there have been some really beautiful scenery with springtime flowers and bluebells.

Physically I have felt good. I have had a few blisters on my toes, which have not been pretty, but I have managed to finish all my runs. I am still visiting the physiotherapist once a week and he keeps an eye on my injuries and gives me massages, plus I am doing my foam rolling and stretching. Also have been having ice cold baths after the long runs to help me recover quicker.

The 35km run was the longest run before the marathon itself (42km). So I am now tapering down (18km this weekend) and eating lots.

The marathon is on Sunday 27 May and we are travelling up to Edinburgh on the 25th. The course is supposed to be quite flat so it should be quite a good introduction to my first full marathon. As things stand I will be very pleased if I can do sub-4 hours. With the weather warming up it will soon be time to get back into the open water swimming and I will need to focus heavily on my cycling for the half ironman but all of that will probably have to wait until after the marathon!

An Interview with Ben

After running the hottest London Marathon ever we spoke with Ben about his objectives and goals for the year, enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m 38, and live in E17 with a rescued cat and six rescue chickens. Aside from ELT I race for the Les Stables team and I’m an ambassador for Jam Cycling. My wife works in animal welfare and we’re both Triathletes and vegans, which has been a massive boost for my racing.

I joined ELT a couple of years ago when the swim coach at Les Stables told me how good the swim sessions were, and the fact they’re 500m from my house. I was incredibly proud to be awarded the Athlete Of The Year last year. I think probably because I had a slightly crazy year, not only competing at Challenge Roth, but blogging about it for Tri247 and then a week later taking on the inaugural London Triathlon Weekend Warrior. I just missed out on the win after a huge bonk at the end of the first day left me on the floor at Excel eating pizza to recover. Here’s to 2018!

What motivated you to sign up for your first triathlon and how did it go?

I was injured from running so I swam and cycled a lot. Seemed like a good idea to do a triathlon. I forgot to take a spare pair of shoes and spent all day in my socks until the race. It went OK, but I was terrible in the swim. No change there.

What’s your favourite discipline (swim, bike, run) to train for and why? Least favourite?

I’m best at running, and I like getting there as there’s no more chance of a mechanical screw-up, but these days I love the swim. I’m a real fan of having a good race in a fast pack and trying to hold peoples feet.

How do you balance training and what tips do you have for others?

I set my alarm early. Most of my training is done on the way to or from work. A ride or run of the same distance every day can be easy, hard, intervals… Whatever you want. Weekends are for racing. Get involved and push yourself. It’s not just for fun, it really can be social too.

What is the best triathlon experience you have had?

2012 Escape from Alcatraz. It’s an epic race on every level. Jumping into the freezing bay at 7am, swimming past the Golden Gate bridge. Riding the hills of San Francisco, and then running back under the bridge alongside the fast-moving pro field. I’ve never been so broken by a race, but it was worth every moment of the pain.

What was your worst race and why?

The Thames Turbo Sprint in 2017. I turned up at 5:30am for a 6am briefing and I raced at 8:45am. I smashed the swim, then went the wrong way on the bike and ended up back at the start 8 minutes after I started the bike leg. I DNF’d at that point and went home. After 7 hours out of the house, I’d raced a grand total of 16 minutes.

What is the next big race you’re training for?

Challenge Roth. I broke my chain last year and that cost me a sub 10-hour race. I have a score to settle with this course!

What are your goals for the year?

Sub 10 hours at Roth. Or at least not to detonate on the run again.

What’s your favourite part of the triathlon lifestyle?

Swimmers think we’re odd. Cyclists think we can’t ride, and runners think we’re slow. None of us care.

What advice would you offer first-timers based on your experience?

Enjoy it. It’s inherently a mad, ludicrous sport, and everyone thinks you’re bonkers. It’s perhaps the only sport where very good admin skills will significantly improve your race performance. It’s not a sport if you value simplicity.

The Next Challenge

Hi, I’m Norma and I recently signed up to do my first marathon and first half Ironman this year, so I was asked by ELT to provide a few posts to give an update on training and how I am getting on – perhaps to inspire anyone else thinking of doing a longer distance event!

The marathon is in Edinburgh at the end of May and the half Ironman (1900m swim, 85km bike, 21km run) is the Vitruvian at Rutland Water in early September.

First a bit about my background: I was never very good at sports in school and always underweight as a child growing up in Mexico. My friends and family gave me the nickname “Flaka” which means “skin to the bone”, and that’s how they still call me these days. I used to swim when I was younger but hadn’t really done that for years. I also had problems running due to my knees and had never owned a road bike.

In 2015/2016 I started seeing a physio about my knees who gave me quite a few exercises (stretching / rolling / strengthening) which made them much better so I could run about 10km. In 2016 I joined ELT and started going to the swim training once or twice a week, usually a forest run at the weekend (10km or so), and I bought a road bike for the first time and started to go on club rides on a Sunday.

Out on the long ride

In 2016/2017 I did a few sprint triathlons and a couple of half marathons. In September 2017 I did my first Olympic distance triathlon. So having gradually increased my distances I decided to sign up for a marathon and a half Ironman in 2018. I originally tried to get into the London marathon via the ballot but was not successful so entered Edinburgh instead. I chose the Vitruvian as it is a popular half Ironman for the ELT club so there will be quite a few people doing it. I also signed up my husband for both events so he is training with me also!

Over the next few months, I will give you an insight into my journey and experiences into stepping up into the half Ironman. In my next post, I will explain a bit about the training I have been doing.



An Interview with James

This is the first of a series of interviews with our club members, this time it’s with James.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

Hi, I’m James, I’ve been part of the club for over 3 years, I’m married with 3 chickens and 2 dogs. I work in the city, and have always tried to stay active.


What motivated you to sign up for your first triathlon and how did it go?

When I moved to London, I got sucked into the city life, I wanted to join a sports club to keep active, but also meet likeminded people. I had swam, biked, and ran, as separate activities (ran to the office, cycled at the weekend etc). So triathlon seemed like sensible sport to get into to try and aim for something. I was also really bored of to the gym, and found the variety of training suited me well!

What’s your favourite discipline (swim, bike, run) to train for and why? Least favourite?

When I first started, my favourite disciplines were cycling and swimming. Although the swimming was very difficult, the club sessions were achievable, and much more interesting than going to the gym! Now (3 years on) I have found more love for running, and the club run on Saturday mornings really helped this. The Forest is a great place to run, and ELT put on different coached sessions every Saturday.

How do you balance training and what tips do you have for others?

When I first started, I just did the club swim sessions. I worked cycling and running around work. The club put on a number of sessions, but it is important you do what works for you. My tip would be try and do one swim session a week, and one other session, perhaps your least enjoyable discipline. Training in a group helps to make it more enjoyable!

What is the best triathlon experience you have had?

Every year the club enter the “Vitruvian” triathlon, which is a 1.9K swim, 85Km bike, and 21km run. This distance can be quite scary for some, so we organised relay teams where one person does one discipline. We had 7 relay teams enter the event, and many first timers. It was a fantastic way for people in the club to experience “part” of long distance race! We also camped over that weekend, so as well as the racing, there was a lot of beer flowing that evening!

What was your worst race and why?

I was lucky enough to represent Team GB as an age group competitor a couple of years ago, I competed in Challenge Walchsee which was a half iron distance race. The bike section was very hilly, and I misjudged my nutrition. I run out of energy on the bike, with 5 km to go and really struggled on the half marathon!

What is the next big race you’re training for?

This year I have decided to focus on the Olympic and Sprint distance races, The first big race this season is the Nottingham Sprint Qualifiers in May.

What are your goals for the year?

Try and keep up with the youngsters that keep joining the club!

What’s your favourite part of the triathlon lifestyle?

The people! We are all very social, we just like doing some kind of exercise first!

What advice would you offer first-timers based on your experience?

My advice would be to come down and get involved. We all started somewhere, and with the wrong equipment! It really is a complete mix of abilities and people, all brought together by some unique desire to do something active 

My First Duathlon – The Bedford Duathlon

Hi, my name is Isabelle and I joined ELT late Spring 2017. Each year the club creates a list of events that they wish to race called the Grand Prix. I dutifully entered the Bedford Duathlon, immediately forgetting what the distance was. Shock and horror, with about 4 weeks to go I realised I had not entered a sprint event but the standard distance event….

Race Briefing

I kept a brave face when people reminded me that it consisted of 10k run/40k cycle/5k run. I do like a challenge me!! Over the winter I ramped up the running to about 20k a week, I used my indoor cycling solution and took any opportunity to cycle when the roads were not frozen over!

Was I ready on the day? The answer was: to a point! Adding to the fact that work had been hectic with financial year end and we were losing an hour sleep with the clocks going forward… So my lovely partner, a friend, and I arrived suitably last minute in a state of dazed panic. What do you mean I don’t have the time to go to the loo?

Dazed look at my support team!

Before I knew it, the race had begun!

My aim was to go steady throughout and finish! A few days before the race, I had downloaded an app compatible with my Garmin watch, so I could keep an eye on my pace and the distance ran/cycled. I have to be honest, I very quickly felt lonely on the track. As one of the slowest competitors, soon the elderlies and the birds were my only companions. I was overtaken repeatedly by super-fast athletes but still, I stayed in my zone and finished the 10k pretty much at target pace.

This is me in transition to cycle, not hindered by the presence of anyone else!

The transition to the bike was quite shocking; I couldn’t find my shoes, my helmet had been moved to another bike and I ran in my socks to the start line and got my feet wet before being on the saddle, yay! Once on the bike I just carried on a 25k/h pace or more when I could.

In hindsight I should have put more clothes on for the bike leg. There were parts of the circuit exposed to a strong icy wind which was unpleasant and made my feet like blocks of ice on the transition to running.

My furry support team!

In short, I am proud of myself for taking part in this. My time was 3 hours and 8 minutes, not too bad for a first shot. The first person in my age group managed in 2h16! So I will aim to be closer to this next time.

Lessons learnt: it is better if you can compete alongside athletes of similar abilities and I need to be better prepared for transitions. I am going to be 50 in May… next event the ELT Dragon Slayer.


What will 2018 bring for you?

Christmas is long gone, the days of stuffing your face and sitting on the sofa are distant memories as we turn our attention to the year ahead. This time of year is the perfect time to start thinking about and planning your goals for the upcoming year.

What is your big race for the year? Will you do your first ever triathlon? Will you try to conquer a longer distance race or perhaps improve your time over the same distance? Do you want to get as much experience as possible and learn a few new skills? How about conquering a swim run, or a time trial, or something else altogether?

Once you know what you want to achieve for the year, write those goals down and break them into small steps. Make a plan and tell people about your goals; it will help you stick to them. My big goal for the year is to go below the 2 hour mark at the ETU Standard Distance Championships in Estonia.

As usual, the club will be putting on its Grand Prix of Races with the first race being a Duathlon in March followed by an Olympic Distance triathlon in May. Our first Sprint Triathlon is on May the 20th and will be held at Eton Dorney. Eton is a great venue, suitable for all abilities, with fantastic support and amazing flapjacks. Check out the Grand Prix page to see what other races we are racing as a club and let’s push for a big turn out from ELT!

Lastly, our training sessions cater to all levels and are designed by our experienced team of coaches. Come along and chat with the coaching team to discuss your plans and get some advice on how to smash your goals for the year. Our training schedule can be found here.

Here’s to another good year!

ELT Chairman