Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The End of the Road! 8th September 2013

So – this is it – the end of the road. It’s been a long old road, a wet one at times too, with ups and downs, thrills and spills and some amazing support from friends, family and loved ones along the way.

This Sunday I finally managed to fulfill my ambition and complete the gruelling IRONMAN Wales on the 8th September, Tenby, Wales. Rumoured to be one of the toughest on the planet!

Here’s a little bit of the back story to how this idea all started:

This year I am hoping to tick off one of my big ‘To Do’s’ and enter the Wales IRONMAN in Tenby in September. It’s been on my list of things to do for a while, this year I turn 30 and its time to be good to my word and get on and do it!
For those of you who don’t know what IRONMAN is?
2.4mile swim (in the sea!) then a 112mile bike ride and a marathon to finish for good measure (26.2miles!) oh and all in one day! (17hours) 
I also figured that while I am putting in the time and training effort why not raise some money for a great charity, SCOPE, along the way.
Training has been intense, fun, tiring, testing, rewarding, boring, LONG and at times so brutal but I think overall I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. I have been able to take part in a range of ‘sprint triathlons’, ‘aquathons’ and ‘long course triathlons’ to help me to prepare for the physical and mental aspects of completing the mammoth distances in the 17 hours allowed.

Raising money for SCOPE has been a great motivation and the support and donations that have been generated have been PHENOMENAL – it has been a great honor to be able to push my body to the limit in the knowledge that you have all been giving your hard earned money to a great cause, giving other young people the chance to access specialist equipment so they can fulfill their dreams. Not completing has not been an option!
I have been up against it though – 2 jobs, a pregnant wife, a pretty active (nearly) 2 year old son and a badly broken AC shoulder joint back in January have all left me, at times, asking the all important questions and digging deep into my mental will power to keep me going.

How much has been raised for SCOPE:

I have huge amounts of thanks and praise to give out to all of you who have donated and supported me in reaching the current total, well in excess of:
£1,400 (which makes £1,690 – when you take into account the gift aid) 
PLUS – there is still about £150 of donations in cash still to come in!
£1000 was my target, £1250 buys a specialist bike for kids to use and enjoy the outdoors like I do so my total goes beyond all of those!!
In addition, I have to say a huge thanks to my friends and family for their time and patience during this process (especially Jo and Felix) and of course, the supporters and people of Tenby who made the 8th September one of the greatest days of my life so far!

So – how well did I do?

I managed to complete the whole course in: 12hours, 52mins and 05secs
This put me in 489th place overall (out of about 1600 competitors)
I completed the 2.4mile (3.8km) sea swim in: 1:13:56
I cycled the 112mile (180km) bike course in: 6:53:30 (PB) and
I ran the 4 lap 26.2mile (40km) Marathon in: 4:28:09 (another PB)
Full race details can be found here – www.ironman.com (type in results and bib No. 550)

Race day:

The day itself could not have gone better for me - great swim conditions and I felt ready after my 3 days of preparing in Tenby. The swim is always ‘hectic’ 1600 people fighting in the water for the first lap, then the second lap you can get into the rhythm and think ‘I don’t have to do this again for a while!’
Legging it through town to the T1 (swim to bike transition) was epic – people cheering, high fives off supporters and seeing both Jo, my Dad and Clare and TQ on route was ace.
Through transition and onto my weakest of sections – the bike – the £400 eBay bike did me so proud, given a good looking over by Lee a week or so before and fresh off a good clean and re-marking to match my race colors we flew past the £5k bikes and their punctures and troubles. The bike course went too well for my liking and I was so pleased to ride the best I have ever done. I was glad that I had been back on the course since the dreadful Long Course Weekend, during the hot July weather, when I struggled to make 8 ½ hours on that route. Catching a glimpse of my dad on lap 1 in New Hedges and knowing it would not be long before seeing the gang on lap 2 kept me going all the way to the run.

My aim with the Marathon was to keep going slow, no big walking stretches and keep injury free. I plodded at nice and comfortable pace throughout, smiling and waving to the family (mum, dad, Jo and Felix) on each lap and reveling in the amazing support through town. On lap 3 I called to my dad to send Jo and Mum down into the finish line as I was going to make the 8pm cut off I had now set myself to make.

My last lap was TOUGH, but all the cheering and with the 4 lap bands securely on my arm, I headed down the finishing straight. Cheers and screams from Jo meant I was either really close to making the 13hour mark or she was giving birth, luckily it wasn’t labour! 
Time for pizza, warm and dry clothes and a hug from the wife! Wow, what a day.

What Next?

I am over the moon with my times and achievements of the day and also the amount of money I have been able to raise in this process – just leaving me with one BIG question – WHAT NEXT?? Well I guess – baby number 2 will be here very soon then after that who knows? Ironman in under 12hours??
I started this process as a regular ‘gym go-er’ and a ‘fit-ish’ person – I can now say I am an IRONMAN athlete and I am so happy.
I have had 3 aims throughout all of this so I believe it’s a tick in all 3 for me:
  1. To complete Ironman Wales in the allocated time so all the amazing money raised and donated could be worth that much more
  2. My wife would not go into labour during the process and
  3. If at all possible – complete in under 13 hours safely
So, I would love to say, once again a massive thanks to:

Jo (aka Kempy!), Antony Morgan, The Parsleys, Rowenna, Rhydian and Amelie, Rachel, Jane Wellock, Christine Hutchinson, Shirley Irvine, Peartree Languages, Paul Chapman, John O, Elliot, Cat & Tobias, Helen Dasic, Lucy Parkinson, Cousin Kerry, Punch Maughan, Pete Lewis, Aunty Jean, Kath Durbin & Helen O'Sullivan, Richard Partridge, Susan and Kerry, Cliff Nelson, Huw & Cath, Michelle Bradbury-Evans, Ivor Thomas, Clive Stockdale, Charles Middleton, Katie Lloyd, Alan Irvine, Victoria Jones, Ellis Fearn, Steph and Janine, Dan Rhodes, Chris Rowe, Hayley Speicher, Lily Woolrich, Hayley Thomas, Andrew Walters, Clare & TQ, Lia and Kelvin, Sarah Hurley, Vicky Arnold, Abandoned Shoe, Dai and Lauren, Vikki Wakeford, Cath Williams, Babs Williams-Board, Richard O 
(Plus Lisa for the essential use of the Tenby Caravan and Lee for the Bike service/repairs!)

There are plenty of others who have chosen remain anonymous to me (and you will know who you are!) plus those who have promised to donate post event - i thank you all!
My donation page will be open until 8th October 2013 for anyone who still wants to support and please do pass this onto anyone you may know who would like to support:

all photos and videos have been put on my Facebook page:
And I have also been keeping a blog up to date with the journey:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Tuesday 16th July - Week 22 - Know Pain, Know Gain?

At this point in the process i should be pretty much ready to take on the bigger distances and challenges so what better test than the Long Course Weekend.

This is held in Tenby and just like Ironman covers the same distance but over 3 days:
2.4mile swim Friday pm, 112mile cycle Saturday and a Marathon on Sunday (just to finish off!)

All the advice pointed at attempting a Long Course as being a great idea, especially when the cycle and swim courses are the same as the Ironman course. In my head the event was a great idea but what none of the UK banked on was a week of absolutely scorching weather!

Having been most concerned about the swim distance i had been getting in some extra long sessions during the week running up to the event at Bristol and also down the Gower and was happy with my times and efforts so when the 1000 of us set off on Friday night for the 2 lap swim around the stunning Tenby North Beach i was feeling pretty confident. Apart from the first 10 mins when everyone swims over each other the swim was fine, even managed a good time (for me) of 1hour 7 mins. My best yet by a long way.

After a huge pizza and carb load it was time to get to the hostel for some rest in the sauna of a dorm room i had booked. Not the best night sleep but i woke feeling strong and ready for the bike course - having completed the Merlin 105mile in a good time i was hoping for a good day on the bike. I was fortunate to get some last minute advice on the route from some other riders in the car park who said the 2 40mile laps were brutal so save your energy on the first easy lap.

None of the laps were easy! but must admit the first lap around Fresh West and Angle were very spectacular. I had just invested in a fancy saddle and changed pedals etc to make me a bit better and comfier - bad move! Saddle was terrible and feet felt like they were bleeding from about mile 40 onwards meaning that even on the downhill i wasn't comfy! (apparently others felt this with their feet too, must have been the heat!)

The course was hilly, and steep with not many rest sections either, support was great though and the water stations provided a good rest and respite from the intense heat too. After cramming as many disgusting energy gells into me as possible i managed to just about climb the last few steep hills up wisemans bridge to Saundersfoot to cruise back to Tenby and over the finish line in: 8hrs and 6 mins.

It seamed like a good idea at the time to drive back home that night - my car is pretty small and at more than a few occasions my legs did complete cramp up into a mess and i had to pull over to stretch them out, but, once home - a hot bath and a stretch and re-pack ready for the Marathon.

Sunday arrived too quickly and with an early start we loaded up the car with me, wife and child in tow to get on the road and have a go at the 26.2 miles. Earlier in the week i had picked up a random shin injury from out of the blue and had struggled to shake it off so i was a little apprehensive about how it would feel - that and the heat and the fact that i have done way too little running training for that kind of distance too, especially when the running probably is the most body intensive and most likely to cause injury to your bits.

After helping set up the family spot on the beach i donned my running gear and race number and gathered in the sunny Tudor Square to set off - i felt fresh, ready and confident i could do this in 4 hours. I told Jo to come back to the finish in about 4 hours too.........

20km in (half way) i still felt ok but knew i didnt have too much more to give, if it had ended there id be in good shape and good time (about 2hours) but realised that i had another stretch like that to go i was a little concerned. From there things got worse, walking long stretched in the heat and trying to rest my swelling shin - i was struggling - mile by mile i tried to run short distances but the hills killed me every time, running up was ok but down was HARD! We passed an array of watering stations, some official and some just locals with hose pipes, all were guzzled at and all felt so good - but i had to push on. For this was the first time in my 'career' as an athlete that Jo and Felix had come to watch. I couldn't arrive back in a van or not finished, they were there to cheer me on down the finish line, still jogging at least.

I had to dig deep and get on with the task in hand, at least doing an ok 20km meant that as long as i kept up a good walking pace i would finish the LCW in the required 6 hours and not have to be DNF like over half of the field by now.

Tenby finally arrived back on the horizon and more and more were cheering me on, i had managed to get back to a 9km/h jog for the last 2km (ish) and the town was alive, i could see the sea and all i hoped that in my desperate attempt to make it under the 5hour mark Jo and Felix hadn't left the finish line to go to the beach or get a drink. There they were - on the railings looking at me like i was a zombie as i think i looked pretty ROUGH!

In the end - a time of 5hours and 10mins

Total time for the weekend - 14hours 25mins. Finishing in 106th Place. Over 240 people registered and only 122 made it the whole course - so i am happy to not only be a finisher but in that top half!

The next few days were tough, feeling like a bad hang over, shin is in bits and pretty de-motivated! BUT - onwards and upwards. Learnt a lot about the weekend, rode the actual Ironman bike route, ran a marathon and know what i need to work on too. Learnt that 3 days of energy gells is not great for you too!

Ill post some of the official pics when i get them through and please dont forget - in the these final stages running up to the event - if you wanna support, come along with me, train, donate, sponsor etc.etc. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO SO!

2 donations this week - Cath Williams and Barbara Williams-Board - thank you both and the total is coming along well now.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday 30th June - Week 20 - Pushed to the limit

So- things are getting close now for the Long Course Weekend in July when i get to try all the routes, rides and distances but over 3 days!

Still yet to test fully is the actual distance required for the event - in the pool i can do the distance but open water swimming is obviously different. The run - i thought would be ok but this week i did a 20km (half marathon) trial run, aiming for race pace, which i did but boy did i ache!

My time was good but i think new trainers are definitely in order when running these distances at my weight and on the roads.

A big test also left was can i actually ride 100+ miles on my trusty old bike? I have done big rides, and half distance rides etc. but could i deal with sitting for hours and hours on the saddle pounding mile after mile?? To test this i have just today, completed the 105 mile Merlin Sportive - based out of Carmarthen and taking in just under 8,000ft of ascent over some big and brutal hills in the west of the Black Mountain.

I was really pleased with my time - 6hrs : 25mins and an overall position of 57th (out of 189 who finished) but man, what a boring slog of a ride - i was concerned that the Ironman route for the ride section was a looped and lapped affair but now i am glad - at one point i was over an hour without seeing anyone, no riders, no supporters! Soul destroying at mile 70 odd!

The wind was harsh and the terrain hard work but i did it, and i have had a tough week of work too so i am pleased, actually feel like i could run too which is the thing to have in mind - not only do you ride a huge distance, you have to get off and run a marathon!

(riders getting ready at the start of the race)

So, the donations -

2 this week, but have made another huge difference, my total is now £900 with a few cash sponsor forms of over £100 to come in post event - meaning I AM AT TARGET 1! i CAN complete! A huge thank you to all who have supported so far - why stop here?

Excellent work both! Makes a huge difference!

To finish, here are my rather UN flattering pictures from last weeks Mumbles Triathlon! Keep up the support all, keep up the help and donations and its time to start getting even more serious about this so i can actually deliver a good time on the day and not just bimble over the finish line with minutes to spare!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday 23rd June - Week 19 - Beginners Luck?

2 events down - no more 'real' triathlons now until the big one in September. Actually managed to do a full triathlon this Saturday too at the Mumbles Long Sprint Triathlon.

A great event, windy, rainy but full of atmosphere and a huge crowd of hardcore triathletes and newbees (like me!)

After an unexpected good result last week at the Pendine Sprint Duo(Tri)athlon i wasn't holding my hopes for anything great as i really wanted to focus on the swim and the training element rather than the race - but you know how it is - im pretty competitive so i had to give it my best anyways.

The course was good - swim was choppy and crowded - Bike was WINDY and wet with a brutal hill thrown in too - the run was flat and hard going with wet, cold feet and a fairly boring flat bit of tarmac to pound. Results - well - a lot better than expected!

Overall 23rd! (out of 250 finishers!) in a time of 1:38mins - VERY HAPPY WITH THAT

So, not only has it been another good week of results its been another GREAT week of donations. Nearly at my target now of £1000 - so well done and THANKS to all

So - whats left? Lots of training still to do, next weekend is the Merlin Sportive (105miles) over some big hills in West Wales

Should be getting some good pics in from the Pendine and Mumbles Triathlons when they are published too!

Remember - if you want donate or know someone that can please pass on the details of the blog and the sponsor page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TomPartridge

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sunday 16th June - Week 18 - Happy Fathers Day!

I would like to start this weeks installment with a massive thanks for the last round of recent donors - they are really coming in thick and fast now and below is a summary of those donations and the running total - which is nearly at the target!!!

15.06.13 Good Luck Tom
14.06.13 Good luck, I wish I was younger! From Hennock
12.06.13 Best of luck.
07.06.13 What will you do for your 40th?
05.06.13 good luck tom, great event and great cause
04.06.13 Hope your commitment to training pays off and you hit your personal goals....maybe by the time you've finished training your thighs will be as big as mine!!! :p Good Luck Thomas!

Running total now: £825!

My target was £1000 so i am nearly there thanks to the great support from you all - but remember - no donation is too small or too big! and please leave your name so i can thank you too!! A few anonymous dontations the last week or so!

It would be great - if possible - to reach £1250 as this is what it costs to buy an adapted bicycle for someone with limited mobility so they too can enjoy the open road, fresh air and exercise that i thrive on training and competing in these events!!

So - what have i been up to? Lot of hard sessions, increasing the output, getting into race pace and learning more tricks of the trade! You can, as always, follow my Strava feed where i post all my training efforts on the bike and out running - even managed to log a few open water swims too.

Highlights have been a good 3km swim (in the pool) but in a good time (just over an hour) which is probably the longest i have ever swam continuously without break - so happy with that - and also a fun traning triathlon in porthcawl making the most of the sunny weather:

(Worked out About 750m swim - 35km ride - 6.5km Run)

Pendine Triathlon - 15th June 2013:

Also this week was the first of my sprint Triathlons in the build up to working on the transitions, ethos and general feel for the sport. The Pendine outdoor sprint was a 750m sea swim, 23km Cycle (2 lap course) and a 5km beach run.
I was all hyped and ready to go to find out that the sea, as expected  was too rough and the swim was dropped for safety reasons meaning what i competed in was a Duoathlon - 3km Run, 23km Ride and 5km Run.

Being honest - i was a little bummed out on the day as the swim was dropped but it was ROUGH! The run was hard as it was on the infamous Pendine sands - a huge FLAT and fairly boring beach! The wind was epic meaning that the out legs on the runs and rides were fast but coming back into the head wind was GRIM!
In the end - good old 'Wendy Ingraham' the £400 ebay bike did me proud and having a bit of extra weight to keep me on the road allowed me to get past quiet a few people on £2K plus bikes! 
Time: 1:17:57s Overall Position: 16 (out of 120) Category Position: 9th - Well happy with that for an amateur fat man!!
You can see the full race results here
(There should be some race pics to follow next week too)

Outcome for me: didn't really get to practice kit transition as apart from shoes there was no real test or trial as feet weren't wet, head wasn't cold etc.
lets hope next weeks Mumbles Tri goes ok as i am having a run of bad luck with the swims being cut or cancelled at events and this is what i am desperate to practice.......

Keep up the support - keep up the donations and spread the word!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunday 2nd June - Week 16 - Up the Volume

Well, as the clock ticks down i figured its time to start upping the volume- longer swims, longer rides, longer runs and trying to put them all together.

Addidiontally i have managed to get my first event under my belt and it would also appear that the dontations have started to increase again - the best news to my ears!

You can, as always, keep up to date with the goings on, day to day, on the facebook group - this is where i post my Strava results, but you can also see the details on my Strava page too:


Making the most of the sunny weahter and the change of secenry this weeken i managed to get a good 10km run in and a 70+ km ride over the Moors in Dartmoor - some brutal hills, rolling down hills and great veiws too!

Thursday the 30th June was the great - Bryn Bach Park Aquathon - a 400m (or so) swim followed by a 5km race around the lake. This was my first race combining swimming and running and it was a learning curve to say the least:

1) Pace yourself on the swim, this is clearly not my best event and when they reduced the distance cos of the water temp i thought - i can sprint this - wrong! Cold water = hard to breathe, i should know this!
2) I can run! but if i cock up the transistion i waste time - big time.3) Use these events to practice my long goal - race pace (ironman), transition, what to eat/drink, people ahead of me are probably training for 'sprint' events - which i am not4) I am not that bad - still came 33rd out of about 75-80! 5) I dont like swimming in the lake - yucky reeds and dark depths, plus i need to work on my tehcnicque when surrounded by others kicking you! Remember to stay focussed on your pace and swim in a straight line!

Saying that though - I still came 33rd out of 78 - pretty happy with that, 10mins behind the leader and over 20mins ahead of the back person - but Ironman is not a sprint and this is not what i am training for so all good! for the full results click here

Next event will be the Pendine Sprint Triathlon - so, ill see where i come there - must practice my transitions more i think! http://www.healthylifeactivities.co.uk/pendine-outdoor-sprint-triathlon
If anyone is about in the area on the 15th June? your support will be most appreciated!

Sponsorship Update:

Getting there now!

This week - 3 great donations from:

Alan Irvine (also making my biggest single donation to date!)
Ellis Fearn and
Victoria Jones

No donation is too small and none certainly too big! The difference this money will make to a young persons life is staggering and i am so proud to be giving someone else the chance to be participating even the simplest things i take for granted in life like - Swimming, running, cycling etc.

Aiming for £1000 minimum but £1250 buys a specially modified mobility bike for a kid to have a great time cruising the streets and cycling like any other child does - lets make a difference!

Plus - if any one wants good old sponsor forms to take to work, share with your friends etc. then you can email me: tompartridge@ymail.com for a form!

Finally - if anyone wants to support in other ways then that will be great too - currently spending about £50-100 a month on entering events, entry to training venues and specialist nutrition - not to mention the extra bits of kit i am going through - trainers, wheels, tubes, goggles - any additional funding, sponsorship, training partners, motivation etc. is always welcome! I am more than happy to promote your shop, business, company, idea etc. in return - plus - its all for a good cause!

As always, ill keep you updated and keep checking the facebook page and blog!

Thank you all for your support and donations so far!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sunday 19th May - Week 14 - Coached to Perfection

As the weeks go by and i get closer and closer to the first of my events in the warm up to the Ironman i am still left with the worry that my swimming will not be good enough!

This week has pushed up the millage in the cycle and run and i was lucky enough to get a place on the coached open water swim session over in Bristol at the Triathlon Training Centre.

The coaching was great to just sort out the specifics for open water and also just correct some of my swim skills, having never ever ever ever been coached swimming before!

So, this week, i cant remember what i have done! its been a lot, big bike rides, swims and runs - plus the all important swim session on Wednesday night.

You can keep updated through the Facebook page or on my Strava page too:

To finish off this week though i was able to get in the sea at Porthcawl and get in about a 1km swim in a decent time too! Fun in the Sun!

PLEASE - Keep the sponsorship coming in and the support up - i really need it more than ever now!