Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Last week needs a mention

Last week was the week I suddenly decided I should do something different with my life.  I needed to get out of the habit of working too late again and start training for Alpe d'Huez before I ran out of time.  Unfortunately someone invited me for an interview on Wednesday so I had to prepare for it, look like I was still doing my job and actually do it.  It meant I didn't get in my second swim of the week and I still didn't get to do a mid week long ride.

On the other hand, I did manage a 13km lunchtime run including new explorations into Rotherham and I added in a second short run just to stay on my toes the day after along with two morning yoga sessions.  One of those made me miss a planned meeting but I was only going to save face anyway.

So I had to make up for it at the weekend, except I was going to my nephew's 18th Birthday party and had to drive to Guildford.  We weren't organised on Friday and it took most of the evening to wait out bad traffic, do some shopping and oh have dinner whilst post-apocalyptic M1 accident traffic cleared. We drove down on Saturday and I frustratedly sat on the M25 for over 2 hours.  I took my wetsuit just in case but didn't manage to swim.

We arrived at my mum in laws at 12:30 and I dropped all protocol and floated the idea of a ride early.  Having explained that I needed to get a 65 mile ride in for training, I was asked to be home by 7pm for dinner.  Excellent, a target.  Not one I thought I would make but I decided to try my best.

After coffee, TSK turned from home, still suffering the after-effects of our illness.  I continued, feeling sprightly.  I did this ride before but the wrong way around so I expected to hit the hills early.  In fact, I hit them just before half way so no real gain.  Still, it was 28 degrees and I still felt good, although slightly worried about my hands as I'd come away without gloves and every time I moved my grip on the bars, the tape tore at my skin in a way that was going to lead to blisters.  Still, I knew there was a friendly bike shop at Liphook where I could buy some - especially since I didn't have my lock and I knew they love people to just walk in off the street with their bikes.  These guys saved my bacon last time I was here by selling me food when I really needed it and went out riding without a lock.

Sure as anything they were open and not only had gloves but good Giro ones in my size.  I enthusiastically bought a red pair to match my STC and GB kit and carried on with my last 35 miles, leaving a queue of people out the door.

I pretty much raced the last 35 miles, calculating that if I kept pace I'd rock in around 6:30 and expecting to slow down but I didn't.  If anything I sped up and, although I managed to stave off eating a gel or a bar, rolled a little bonked into my inlaws at 6:40 pm with enough time to have a shower, even after I had laid on my back inhaling water for 10 minutes, fighting off the urge to accept the proffered beer until I had rehydrated on something healthier.

I even slept well through a hot night in a tent until awoken by neighbouring partiers at 3am whereby we retreated into the dining room with all the doors open and I continued to sleep fitfully with a big ginger cat on my lap.

Sunday dawned just as sunny so we swiftly inhaled a small breakfast then set off for our run.  After only 18 minutes I was instructed to turn back for start of the birthday party.  Nooo! I was just getting going!  Oh well, I made up for it by running fast (I finally found my legs somewhere in the deep grass) all the way back to the house.  More lying around, stretching, waiting for TSK to shower then a cold shower to me whilst attempting to pour my pink body attractively into civilian clothes for the short ride over to my sister in law's.

Our boy looked suitably pleased with his NorthFace flexible windproof that we brought him for scouting purposes - even if it wasn't suitable for the current climate - and I'm sure it will serve him well as a winter coat when he goes to uni in Brighton (as he is bright and I am sure he will get the grades he wants).

It was finally time to calm down and we spent the day in the sunshine and shade, eating and talking and building lego.  After 6pm I headed home to mummy and daddy's and ate a menial dinner since we were so stuffed from earlier antics.

A good rest day of driving home after a meeting in Guildford on Monday put me in excellent form for a second attempt at my long run on Monday evening so 16kms were dispensed with.  Not easily for it was still hot and 10 miles is a long way without a drink - although there was paddling.  It hurt at the time but the next day I was recovered enough for more yoga and my distance swim last night.

It took me 55 minutes but after the week I have had I can hardly complain that it was slow.  I enjoyed it all - clear water, warm enough to not worry and no need for showering straight away.  I hardly needed to use the changing rooms but for a cloudy overcast sky and a slight breeze.

I feel back on track.  I feel like I can make this now.  I feel like priorities have aligned and then the solstice came and I sat awake until 3am, buzzing with the joys of summertime - literally, my heart has not dropped below 61 all night.  I took the opportunity to line up ducks and checked that my bike bag would be allowed on my Air Canada flight and invested in the light weight tent I have been promising myself for oh so long.  I simply home the excitement about getting it does not last as long as the 2 weeks it may take to arrive.  I can't cope with this much lack of sleep.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Chester Triathlon 2017

Prologue: if you're looking for Chester Race Report, scroll forwards to... "Anyway, I digress"

I really hate it when a good race gets spoiled by sickness afterwards.

I didn't have much to say about the Chester Tri.  It was exactly what I wanted after I crashed in it in 2015... it was uneventful.

I swum.  I got my clothes off in the right order this time.
I biked - without crashing.
I ran as fast as I could which turned out to be 2 minutes faster than 2015's best on this course.

My post-race analysis is cathartic.  Sometimes a way to put down the excitement of the day.  In this one, it's not so much inwardly gazing as analytical.  I thought I'd plateau'd in performance and training enthusiasm but my post-race analysis this time is helping me draw out learning experiences and identify the sources of my disappointment and is fuelling my lust for improvement.  It's going to be a challenge to execute a change before my next big race at the end of July and even greater a challenge to remember them for next season but I'm going to set myself the target to do that.

Unfortunately all the excitement came on Tuesday.  Having drunk a protein shake that had been a few days in the fridge, I threw up the entire week's food.

I took Wednesday off work and then, feeling better on Thursday, cycled to work and back, via the polling station.  I should have known something was wrong when I made it a third of the way through the car park before realising I was on my bike, not in the car and retraced my steps to the bike shed.

It was a struggle to get myself up the hill coming home so on Friday I drove to work and slouched in my chair all day, pretending I didn't exist before leaving at 4pm to go back to bed.  That's when the rest of the illness caught up with me and I drained everything else I had eaten in the rest of the week down the loo.

I have spent the remainder of the weekend recuperating, eating cream crackers and drinking herbal tea and mostly stewing in the fact that I should be out there preparing for the most expensive triathlon I have ever done yet.

The two iron man events I chose have been relatively cheap.  Lisbon Standard was the most expensive so far with a Euro's entry fee and last-minute flights and a cheap hotel in the business district.

Never mind the race fee for Alpe d'Huez (which I managed to buy when the pound was at it's weakest - I think that was a knee jerk reaction to Brexit), the ferry for Alpe d'Huez has cost me the equivalent of an Ironman race fee - and all so I can sleep through the 5-or so hours it would take me to drive to Dover-Calais Ferry (and back again).  Instead I sail from 'Ull to Zeebrugge and then drive to the Alp in almost the time it would take me to do the Dover run... and I get a pleasant overnight stop on the way in a bijoux french Ferme or luxury Restop campground (only fate can tell).

Penticton Duathlon World Champs may be more expensive - but that's a month later so it doesn't count.

Chester on the other hand, was an average price and accommodation was sourced via the Caravan and Camping Club website.  After last time's disappointing pitch at the Delamere forest site (not at all forested) alongside a straight B-road filled with midnight boy-racers screaming up and down the road, we found this little gem.

Anyway, I digress


In my following of Kelly D O'Mara on the interwebs I have learned that I really shouldn't have taken my goggles and hat off before trying to get my wetsuit off... as clearly demonstrated by this photo.

but look at the crowds of people spectating in the background

34 minutes for the swim.  My PB on this course is 28:29 in a year when I was trying especially hard to improve my swim.  It's a shame it has taken me 2 years to vindicate this approach to swimming so maybe, yes, I will spend a bit more time in a wetsuit.

Otherwise my transition was OK although I did bother to put on a jersey which I was glad of on the windier parts of the bike.  I laughed in the face of fate by not bothering with gloves again.  I jumped on to my bike across the mount line, just as someone else plopped to the floor in a writhing mess (he ran out of momentum with both feet clipped in).  I left a cheering TSK to help pick the other bloke up.


I failed to crash on cobble corner and then just settled in to my ride, with nothing more on my mind than where the hell were my sunglasses?  Oh well... squinting will have to do.

I was really glad I'd gone out the day before as I felt well settled in to my riding position.  I spent most of the ride balancing on the edge of, "Go faster / Can I keep this up till the end and still do a 10km run?".  I probably erred on the side of the latter.

With 10km to go it turned to, "Can I beat my pb of 1:19?" (in 2010).  I admit I only had a plan for that time, I didn't work out a pacing strategy to meet it and that is probably the source of the failure to do so.  It's hard to tell for sure as all the "climbs" are at the beginning of the course and the tail wind was at the end of the course but my time for the first 10 miles was 35 minutes; 29.5 minutes for the second 10 miles and just under 15 minutes for the last 4.5 miles.  It felt like a negative split and not just because of the inclines.

Last year I only did 1:26 because of the crash.  It was a good job I had that target to chase because I came in at 1:19:50 and if I hadn't have pushed it then I would have been really fed up with myself.  As it is, I'm still just mildly disappointed.

My bike's supposed to be the strong bit and I have abandoned it a bit.  I admit it.  There's nothing else to say but this race was a good arse kicking.  It was the B minus again.

I passed a few into transition in my race to hit that 1:19 and jumped off the bike as I hit the line then disgruntled someone having a nice walk with his bike as I called politely to pass on the right.  You can't please all of the people all of the time.

Remembered to take the helmet off (yes!).  Next bit of learning: after struggling to run without  socks at Bala, I opted for socks here but the tiny ones with no ankle.  Massive improvement! No blisters and without the time spent trying to feed my slightly damp, senseless toes down a long tube of tech fabric, still a fast transition.  Didn't bother doing the shoes up (didn't seem to matter, see above reference to numb feet).

I grabbed a few gels... Eugh! That one wasn't mine and it was open... and now all over my hand.  Dilligently under the eyes of the BT official, I returned it to its rightful place and resumed running.


Felt good joining the run.  I'm getting the hang of hitting high speeds coming out of transition.  It also helped that after 100m, you're joining faster racers who are already on their later laps so not only are they faster, they're also into their stride.

After a short period of exuberance I checked my speed and was hitting 7.8mph.

Well, that's not right hey, so I backed it off and took a drink of crisp fresh water.  I didn't want to be wasting bottles so I didn't take any more after the first one that I ditched 7/8ths full.  Time to check my competition.

My aim was set on beating a woman wearing a GB suit whose name was Priscilla (this would have been her surname).  In retrospect she may not have been competing for an Age Group place so she may not have been important.

She may not have been on my lap or in my age group (at the moment I am about to move up so it's difficult for me to race and remember what age group I'm in).

However, it also appears from the results that she didn't even exist and she was merely a figment of my imagination.  I don't mind her though because she made me run faster. At first I was satisfied that I was gaining on her (I clearly saw her twice), then I was satisfied I had left her behind - I didn't see her going the other way on the out and back.  Then I ran faster to put more time between us.  She truly was a great imaginary friend.

Bits of me hurt that shouldn't - hips that I've been having problems with for a while.  I loosened my muscles off and moved around more whilst I ran.  I think I've been holding too much tension whilst running and this seemed to work so more lessons learned.

Otherwise, there's nothing I could have done better on the run.  I went as fast as I could for as long as it took and as I ran to the line, I was going flat out.  Someone passed me - Gemma Collings - and there was absolutely nothing I could do to answer her but that's OK because she was 15 minutes ahead of me in a different start wave and a different age category.  She was a good test for me though.  Nope, nothing left.  I was glad it was done.

Swim: 34:23, 41/47, 212/257, 767/933  [104 men in cat.  676 men in total]
T1: 2:13 34/47, 184/257, 628/933
Bike: 1:19:58, 33/47, 157/257, 677/933
T2: 1:51, 38/47, 214/257, 760/933
Run: 49:31, 31/47, 129/257, 579/933

Overall: 2:47:57 35/47, 160/257, 659/933 (qualifier result - H-125%. I-122% - unconfirmed)

Target times to aim at - 2:41 (9 minutes) or 2:34 (14 minutes)

Swim - down by 3 to 5 minutes (29 to 30 minutes)
Bike - 3.5 to 5 minutes (1:15 to 1:16:30)
Run - 1.5 to 4 minutes (45:30 to 48 minutes)
Total - 2:33:30 to 2:38:30  

With the same transitions, this would put me Females: 85th to 116th instead of 160th.  Short of the obvious positives of a gorgeous day, not crashing, feeling comfortable on my bike for the first time in ages and it not raining, I did this on minimal training.  I have slacked off so hard recently.  I'm focused on Alpe d'Huez now for the next 6.5 weeks but with tight targets above to work to as well I have no choice but to get off my ass and stay out there until such time as it all comes around again.

(c) all photos thanks to the organiser that recognises a good set of free photies is more rewarding than a teeshirt bike cleaning rag.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Peak Practise

Every year there's a day or a weekend that comes along to remind you it's still spring, it's not summer yet, in fact, it's almost still winter. It will be different for other people who have managed to train through the darkest days that April can throw at you but for me it came today and I felt shite as the rain lashed sideways in to everything that matters to me. Here are the positives I take from my experience of this late May Bank holiday weekend.

It is entitled "Peak Practise" because this was part of a ride named, "The Peak 200" which I aim to complete at some point - potentially this year.  In the meantime (as this weekend demonstrated) I will need to practise a lot and I will do so on short sections of the ride until it all starts to make sense to the rest of my body.

Had a lie in and got the knitting out.

Went in the garden to do my Legsercises. Had to come inside when it started to pour down on me.

Went back outside and tried to continue yoga in between trying to catch either a cat or a frog to cease the annoying squeaking noises.

Walked over to Gertie's with TSK for lunch. V. Nice.

Loading our gear and bags on to bikes took the entire afternoon during which we lost and found TSK's gear harness and found my sunglasses that have been missing since March.

Tea at the Hawkins' new kitchen. Nom nom.

Both of us were too tired to ride into the sunset so we went to our own bed to leave it for tomorrow.

Out the door before 10am, finally leaving the road and traffic at Rod Moor.

My front wheel started making disturbed knocking noises from the dynamo hub but by the time we got to Ladybower I MESSED = I had righted it. Only once we were kind of committed, did I realise that in the confusion we had missed out the 10 or more miles of my planned route around the Derwent reservoir. Still, there were 90 others to choose from.

Ladybower was quieter anyway and we dealt with the pass over to Edale pretty well, arriving at the station cafe for lunch where the proprietor had taken to glibly advising tourists, 'we sell coffee, not parking tickets'. She was harassed three times by motorists seeking parking advice ("Will I get a ticket if I park in the bus lane") whilst I delivered my order. Poor woman.

Climbing out of the Edale Valley and clearing litter off Rushup Edge.

Finding new and beautiful lanes and through-routes we didn't even know existed, right here in our own back yard.

After the pub in Elton failed us, ad-libbing the route to include dinner in Youlegreave then taking a chance on a lane that wasn't marked as a right of way. It started life as a dead end lane, plummeted down to a tiny packhorse bridge over the river in the middle then thankfully ended as a woodland path on the other side.

TSK not knowing where I was heading and consequently neither of us knew what to expect next.

Long Dale - long, beautiful, trending down hill to tricky, bouldery rough stuff but still, undeniably special, when you have a national nature reserve to yourself on a bank holiday Sunday at 7pm when all the 'normals' have gone to the pub or are sitting on the sofa watching tv.

Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and, literally, pints of lemonade. Sitting at a table in the car park so you can watch your bike and to minimise the risk of drunken questions (and other conversations) about cycling.

Riding along bridlepaths through the Chatsworth estate and mistaking it for Switzerland.

The fading light

9pm.  Sitting outside the pub in shorts. The best, most fresh mint and lemon tea from the Devonshire Arms in Baslow and exactly what I wanted and needed.

Riding towards bed time, riding the fine grey line between fatigue, progress while things are good and not getting rained on.

Putting the finishing touches to the tent pitch as it starts raining. Brewing up inside while rain lashes outside.

Waking up with the skylarks at 4am.  Getting up to pee in grim, grey skies. The next 3 hours - the best sleep of the night.

Being disappointed that it's just as grey and foggy 3 hours later.

The joy of riding along new rights of way. The horror of the top of Froggatt on what turns out are legs a lot more tired than expected. Deciding to do the wise thing and bin off the plan for the sake of our happiness and sanity (it's been raining for the 7 hours since).

Weather so bad that you can stop for a pee in the long grass and listen to the traffic passing but no one would know you were there.

Working with my husband to come up with things to laugh about regardless of the weather and our atrocious condition. Building a plan for second breakfast and executing the plan.

Enjoyed the Lama café before the staff become over-run, they are still well stocked with change in the till and most sensible children are still at home with mummy and daddy eating their breakfast.

There was nothing good about the ride home from there. It was suffered.

Climbing into the shower to wash away the shit, clam, sweat and rain and to warm up then running away screaming as Sunday's sunburn stung.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Slateman Triathlon 2017

Well, that was probably more of a B(minus) than an E.

All time targets were met and exceeded except for the swim where I forgot to apply any toe-pointing or rotation so swam somewhat like a flat fish... and not the graceful stingray kind.

I left myself too many choices to make with transition clothing so transitions were rubbish and in a rush the essential things got forgotten, like taking my helmet off so I chose to retrace my steps through transition rather than risk a disqualification for discarding equipment in an inappropriate place.

2 hours on the bike was no bother.  None of the cramps from my previous 2 races although, despite dialling down my cleats position to "the perfect position" on Saturday, I set off on the bike after the swim feeling like both feet were completely odd.

I was most concerned about the run, given my dodgy hip and lack of hill climb training.  I have however, discovered that as long as I do Marcus's exercises, I can just about manage anything at the right pace.

I set myself a target to run all the way up the mountain.  In 2015 when I last did the event there was a time trial up the mountain, a total of elevation 185m.  Although I didn't race it (except for a cursory interest in how I did) I was most distressed to be passed by a woman racing for Norwich Tri Club.  It didn't look like there was a time trial this time but I timed myself anyway.  This year completing it 90 seconds faster than last year and passing others from the flatlands instead of being passed.

The descent and associated kicker uphills on the other side of the mountain seemed like they might fly by and then I got stomach cramp as I headed down the first slope.

I was desperate for some water but had to wait until the carpark at the top of the hill before I drank a large cup full.  I resigned myself to a half marathon pace run to work the cramp off but I was feeling well again in no time so took the brakes off and hop skipped the ups.

I regained all the female places I'd lost and claimed another 2 places in the finishing straights.  Mostly the target for this race was to be able to train through it, treating it like a fun race and not killing myself.  I declare it a success as I managed to ride to work on Monday morning.

Swim 24:50 669/949 Overall, 116th / 184F , 34/66 FV40
T1 - 5:53
Bike 1:53:24 558/949 overall,55th/184F, 18/66 FV40
T2 - 2:38
Run 1:14:18 500/949 overall, 51st/184F, 17/66 FV40

Friday, May 19, 2017

Serious shit going down here.

I'm having another day off.  It's Slateman this weekend.  I'm really excited about it.  First triathlon of the season, beautiful place, another excuse to go camping.

Unfortunately I'm in my usual pre-race state - slightly injured, exhausted from a difficult week at work and lacking any motivation to do anything.  The weather isn't really helping but it doesn't matter, today is a good rest day.  Tomorrow, we travel, register and chill.

My tt bike has been giving me considerable jip this year.  I haven't done a single race without getting leg cramps after 5 miles of riding.  I've tried to change the position of my cleats and my saddle but I've been too lazy this year to try anything else in between.  I do just need to start spending more time on it.

This morning, lacking a motivation for anything other than bikey tinkering I dug out the rollers, the offending bike and shoes and my camera and there's been a lot of this...

Some of this...

And quite a lot of this...

(note how the bike is still upright, it's just me that's the problem).

Ripley has been helping

This weekend's race isn't a really important one - it's a fun one and since I've done little training directly for it after recovering from my Stockton world championships qualifying performance 4 weeks ago, I'm not having a taper for this race, I'm just cruising through it like a "B" race, without beating myself up over it.  I have little doubt that I'll enjoy myself this weekend but right now I feel like I'm going to struggle to race so I'm having a think about the great things I've done since my last race in Stockton...
  • Swum nearly 6km outdoors... tick in the box for swimming
  • Cycled over 287 miles - not that impressive
  • Run less than 10 miles - still, no
  • Done 6 yoga sessions
  • Had a massage with Marcus to try to stop my ridiculous floppy hip. 

So that didn't work, I'm going to compare 2015 (last time I did this race) to 2017.  Now that's more like it! (2015 vs 2017)
Swim - 11km vs 21.5km
Bike - 805 mile vs 1087 miles
Run - 112 mile vs 132 mile
2015 was my first tri year back after being ill but still...

So setting time targets is tricky... given it's not important...

Swim - 20 minutes I'll be overjoyed
Bike - Sub 2 hours would be great.
Run - 1:15 (5.76 mph avg).  Sub 1 hour would be dreamland 

I went on to repair the puncture in my mountain bike and finish tidying the general chaos I had caused in the house.  I guess there's a tiny part of me that wants to start packing now.

This race feels like mock exams.  After it, I have Chester Tri and then it's Alpe d'Huez in July.  I have to start doing more miles of everything before then or else I will be in trouble.  So if Slateman is a mock exam then triathlon is definitely Chemistry.  I'm going to get an "E" this weekend but hopefully it's fine, I'll bottle down, do the work, learn the muscle memory and hopefully pass the Alpe with flying colours... just so long as my hip doesn't explode (that never happened in A'levels).

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Reclaiming the Loft

Nope, it’s gone.  I have nothing to give this weekend.  I’m slumping around the house like a glum thing.  

Yesterday was exercisely a write off and today I am pitched out in the loft.  Why?  Because Mr Rodgers doesn’t come up here and so whilst I’m away, it’s a good place to hide the Nutella.  The only thing stopping me from jabbing my finger into the jar (all the hobnobs are gone) is the moisturiser I just lathered onto my fingers to relieve myself from the untrained 150 miles of Braunton and all the associated shifting that came with it.  It’s taken 3 weeks for the skin to start peeling off my thumbs.

During those three weeks I have done a lot.  The Stockton Duathlon and the Norton Wheelers cycling weekend away which is always hard for me since I rarely ride my bike *that* much for triathlon training.  I held my own, though this time and had a good weekend, topped off on Monday with a walk with my husband and a paddle in the river Tyne.

I’ve also ridden my mountain bike this week.  In a week that should have been an opportunity to recover, I had to drive to Guildford and back (after just returning from Northumberland) and I did so through to midnight on the way down.  This combination gave me a rather unsightly unsettled tummy on Thursday night (or possibly, the chef at the Holiday Inn in Guildford doesn’t know how to incinerate black pudding correctly – I have my suspicions).

SO my resting heart rate is 20 above what it should be and, although I can now pass solid objects, I’m still feeling flaky, in some hollow between depression and exhaustion.  I made myself feel better with a shower and a plan to reclaim my yoga studio in the loft as it has become choked with bits removed from the kitchen.  By the time I’d gotten into the shower, I was already trembling for more sugar and then the loft was missing hobnobs and so Nutella from a camping spoon will need to do.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Stockton Duathlon 2017

2:37:17 PB

Run 1 - 52:04 (220,34,4)
T1 - 1:00
Bike - 1:13:15 (206, 27, 2nd)
T2 - 1:17
Run 2 - 25:03 (216,32,3rd)

196th Overall / 263
3/11 FV40
28th Female / 62

Thanks to the wonderful team at Trihard who offer their pics free of charge, this race can be shared in photos.

Enjoying being with a group on the first run
Coming over the Millenium bridge on the second lap of the first run. I hate riding without gloves so decided to save transition time by wearing them all the way through.

So many of my older trihard photos are of me being chased.  Instead, here's me being lapped by someone!

There's always one photo of me eating.
Frustrating.  I was trying so hard to run past the photographer with good form.  Also I think I am now one of the undead as I seem to have lost my shadow...  or am I blending in with the railings?  Perhaps I was just running so fast?
There's no finish like a successful sprint finish.  Unfortunately for this guy, the sun was behind us and - as he still has a shadow - I saw him make his move when he was quite a way behind.  If I have anything left in me, there's not much that can pass me when I put my long stride on #lankybeatch