Name: James Fricker (Jimmy F)
Occupation: Advertising executive
Sporting background: Rugby, football, London Marathon
Goal: To master the swim
Get involved on James's forum thread.
The race was great, although I had a drama in the build-up to it. On the Tuesday before, I did a light sprint session and then, when I was walking back to the shower, I stood on a sewing needle, which had to be surgically removed.
That stopped any activity up until the race, so I just took it easy and hobbled around. It was touch and go whether I would actually do the race. Swimming in the Thames with an open wound isn't the smartest thing in the world. They gave me some antibiotics and a tetanus jab, so I 'manned up' and went with it.
The race itself was really good. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I'm really glad I decided to do it. My mum was the only one who said I should definitely race because I'd done all the training. I listened to her advice for a change.
The swim was good - it was comfortable, as well, and I never thought I'd get to that point. I think I paced it really well - I should have pushed it a little bit harder but you learn about those kinds of things for the next time.
The first transition was fine; I went in fairly quickly, got the wetsuit off and then got out on the bike, which was just great; just over an hour riding around London, staring at the tourists as they went by, was brilliant.
I wasn't looking forward to the run and I was intrigued to find out how it was going to go. As soon as I set off I knew it was going to be uncomfortable but not impossible. Out of the whole race I think the run was the bit I enjoyed the most because it was when I felt strongest.
I had to be realistic about how I was going to perform on the run but I passed a few people and that gave me a huge confidence boost at that stage. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Nutrition was fine. I didn't really have a strategy at all. I just had a gel after the swim and another one on the bike route, and water, and that seemed to work fine for me.
I've got to do something else now. It's nice to finish, but the challenge was to get through the swim. Once I'd done that I knew I could get through the rest of the race, so I just started thinking about what I'm going to do next.
I've got a half-marathon booked in for October and then next year I'll focus on some of the longer stuff, maybe a half-Ironman and some ultra-runs.
I was reasonably pleased with my time. I was pleased to start the race. I'd have liked to have gone a bit quicker, but it gives me the benchmark for next time. I was just happy that I got through it and that my foot didn't fall off in the Thames.
I've been spending a lot of time in the open water this month. I had a hairy moment during one swim, when my goggles snapped, so I had to swim back 'blind'.
I also experienced my first puncture during a training ride. I should have fixed it myself but instead I headed straight to Halfords. I have my first race coming up, so I wanted to make sure it was fixed properly. It has helped me think about making sure my kit and equipment are in good working order. It's been a useful lesson that I've learned the hard way.
I'm feeling prepared for my race and I'm looking forward to it. This will be the fifth time I've been in open water and it's all good preparation for the big day in London.
Swimming is starting to feel a little easier now. I'm becoming used to the wetsuit and breathing patterns. I haven't learned any bad swimming habits because I haven't been swimming long enough. I'm now finding the open water easier than being in the pool.
I'm also enjoying cycling a lot more. I suppose the best way of putting it is that I feel a lot more in control of the bike. I took it to my local shop and had it properly fitted. I have no excuses now; I'm in the correct riding position so it's down to me.
I've settled into the training programme. I'm not doing weights at all now; I've immersed myself in the cardio. I feel quite a way ahead of the programme because I've been following it for longer. I'm just going to push myself harder and after my race I'm going on holiday for two weeks. I'm going to the US and doing a bit of a tour: San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas and Miami. I'll be doing light swims and some recovery work on my runs while I'm away.
I tried Bikram yoga. It's something that's always intrigued me because I'm not very flexible. My mum is a physiotherapist and she said my swimming and running would improve if I became a little more flexible around the shoulders, so I thought I'd give yoga a go. It was a good experience and I will go again. I can really recommend it. I felt really good the next day, all springy and bouncy.
The training sessions have not started to feel easy because I keep pushing myself. I'm starting to become used to the feeling of wobbly legs heading onto the run and the disorientation when I jump out of the lake. Fingers crossed, everything will come together for my race and then it's just about pushing on to the Olympic distance."
My training is going really well. My swimming has improved and I'm starting to enjoy it a lot more. I've focused on my technique a lot. In about eight weeks I've gone from being
able to swim literally two lengths to swimming the full 1500m. It's a huge improvement and I'm happy with that, although I do feel quite slow.
I think because that has gone well it's given me more confidence for swimming in open water. The open-water session was a very useful exercise. Your body reacts completely differently: breathing patterns and stroke styles have to change. All the work I've done in the pool has given me good base fitness for open water but the technique is completely different. I expected open-water swimming to be easier but it's just a case of getting in the water a few more times to adjust. It's something you definitely have to do before jumping into a race.
I'm enjoying the running, as always, but the bike has been more difficult than I realised. I'm getting used to new aches and pains. When I got off the bike from one ride my hands were hurting, my neck hurt from the lower seating position and my back hurt from being crunched over the handlebars. The next step with my coach will be to go through the bike setup. The routes where I live are hilly, too; not undulating, just hilly.
I anticipated that the brick sessions would be quite tough and they have been. It's been nice, though, to finish a session where, rather than just doing my usual 6-10-mile run, I've done something else as well. It's nice to know I've doubled up and it feels like a proper workout. The good weather has made me want to get outside as much as possible. I remember doing my marathon training in winter months: it was horrible having to get home and then go out for a long run. It's much better when the sun's out and everyone's smiling.
I now feel that I can eat what I like; I need carbs to get through the training sessions. My body is quite good at processing food efficiently and I don't really store fat - which is annoying because I'm sure it would help me stay afloat. I'll have to make sure after the race that my eating habits don't continue like this. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
I ran-walked the London marathon, in a time of 5:14. It didn't do much for me in terms of training other than putting in the miles but the atmosphere was great and it gave me the hunger for competition so I can't wait for the triathlon. I have a sprint-distance race in a few weeks that will ease me in nicely for the big day."
"I did a couple of triathlons back in school but they were small: a pool swim, 1500m round the track and the like. But I’ve got an inkling of what I’ve let myself in for.
When I did the marathon last year I thought things couldn’t get any tougher than that. Triathlon seemed the natural progression. My major concern is the swimming. I’ve done lots of running and I’m comfortable on the bike. But with swimming I feel out of my depth, pardon the pun.
I’m having swimming lessons: I can swim, just not very confidently. I don’t feel I have the stamina in the water that I have on the bike or run. Just being in the pool is a nightmare. But I’m good at getting on with the job. If I can master the swim I’ll have a good chance of doing well, but right now just getting into open water is something I’m nervous about.
The last bit of the London Marathon was the toughest bit of the race. I ran it in 3:30, which I’m quite happy with. But I didn’t get my nutrition spot-on and I conked out about 800m from the finish. I had to crawl over the finish line. I know that feeling now. Getting my nutrition right will be key.
I suppose my social life will go out of the window a bit. My training at the moment is heavily based around the gym so that will have to take a back seat. I’ll need to spend more time in the pool and swap one long run for a bike session.
I’ve broken my collarbone a couple of times and I was worried it might be a factor with the swim. It’s going OK and hopefully nothing will flare up. My hamstrings aren’t great and I struggled a little on the marathon because of that. I’m hoping it won’t be an issue this time.
I’ll be disappointed if I don’t finish the run in less than an hour. I’m not going to set myself a swim target until I have a feel for the open water. Swimming 1500m is going to be a big thing. The bike will also be a learning curve because it’s a road bike and I’ll be doing it after the swim so I’ll be fatigued. I don’t know how my legs will feel after 40K.
I have quite an aggressive training style and I can become hung up on missing sessions. Every session doesn’t need to be as hard as I make it. I feel if I can crack the swim then going onto something like an Ironman is a possibility but that’s a million miles away at the moment.”