Friday, December 31, 2010

December 2010 Stats

Swim: 4.85 km, 2.6km/hr - This is a bit inaccurate since I've got the swimovate.
Bike: 134.2km, 20.3km/hr, 1,142m el - Big drop off in distance but casual speed increased with less climbing.
Run: 45.35km, 7.9km/hr, 1008m el - drop of distance and climb but faster. Christmas holiday fest.
Other: Backcountry skiing 11.06km, walking 17km.
Strength: 1hour 45 mins

Thursday, December 30, 2010

20km run

An amazing day out around Derwent Reservoir. I followed the usual route but added on a loop from the top of the climb down to the woodland below the reservoir and a ruined building owned by the national trust. This included getting lost / going the wrong way along a path and re-tracing my steps so I added and extra distance as well as originally intended extra elevation.

The weather was in meltdown so although relatively warm (compared to the -18 of previous weeks) it was also icy on all the puddles and muddy everywhere else. A few people to talk to but otherwise a very quiet day out.

I enjoyed the shelter. I even enjoyed the climb up the side of the hill.

I enjoyed the views as Derwent and Ladybower were both shaddowed by a temperature inversion cloud. The edale valley was just masked with fog.

I ran all the way over the meadows and down to the bridge crossing the Dewent and up to the pub. In reward I allowed myself a little walk up the path alongside the pub and chatted to a lady returning to her car. At 4pm I was turning on my headtorch and we were both the last people back to our carparks.

A very successful run time of 2:47:05 for 19.66km & 703m elevation which is enough (elevation) to get me through ADIL.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 stats

365 days

411.86km of running
3249.34km of cycling
35.19km of swimming
19hrs 5minutes in the gym
47.59km of walking
135.2km backcountry skiing
51.57km downhill skiing
1hour of very tough surfing

Total 3982km

It's been a good year. Let's see what the next one brings

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dauntless I missed you


Despite the gears failing on the way to work, leaving me tugging at the cables to get a gear change, I did enjoy riding Dauntless during the end of the snows.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

119 Days to Go

Finally I am back in training. Nailed a 55minute run to work this morning, 2 minutes faster than my pre-3 Peaks (best) time in September. Quite pleased with that considering it's minus 9 outside.

The cold made me dizzy and I switched my brain off so that part way through I didn't actually know where I was.

Made it to work safely though.

This week is a test week and I have promised myself an 1800m swim in 43minutes. I need to figure out how to do this around Christmas closures. It doesn't occurr to me that knocking 2 minutes off my previous time is a problem.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Depressing December

So November was supposed to be a restful month but sadly, December has been blighted by ice, a cold and work. I feel silly for booking a ski holiday as i don't wish to see another flake of snow for a while and feel we probably should've cut our losses and headed to Tenerife for two weeks.

I've spent the last three weeks telling myself that training starts tomorrow, barring through the cold when I decided to cut my losses and rest. Or should I say, just limit my exertions to work. Great - restful!

At least all the overtime payments will help support the recovery from this year's investment in triathlon kit for the summer.

Cyclo-crosses continue to pass in a steady-state condition - which feels like an improvement on years gone by when I've been blighted by pulled muscles, back pain and sickness. I can still run - to some extent or another - though it's been a while. I am swimming good distances and improving my technique and my speed all the time.

These things are good and need to be remembered.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Weekend of snow

Three hours trying to get in to town to get my ski wax (I did swim 1800m)
Over an hour playing at making pistes and ski-ing in the garden with TSK
4 hours skiing in slushy spring snow and grit to make it worthwhile.

Still, it's better than being on a running machine.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Angsty

How cruel life can be.

One minute I'm roaring through training like the race is tomorrow and clocking most mileage and faster speeds and the next minute gallons of the white fluffy stuff arrives.

Now I'm a powder hound at heart so there's no surprises that as soon as there was more than an inch of the white-stuff in the back yard, I was on my skis to get to work. Sad thing is, I'd already run the day before and raced my bike the day before that. Sounding tuff? I wrecked my feet in my new boots and got blown to death trudging home through a blizzard so, there we are, exhausted. Three days to meet a deadline and they are the snowiest, fluffiest and today, sunniest days yet and I'm knackered, with sore feet and no ski wax and work to do.

I sneak a ski at lunchtime.

I might not sleep well tonight, my pent up excercise exhaustion is wearing thin. At least now, my work here is complete. I might take the cross bike to find some ski wax and sneak in a swim at Ponds forge tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A shocking commute.

I’ve been working 4 days a week in Gloucester for the last month in my tiresome day-job as an engineering manager. This weekend, with the impending threat of snow I headed up to Ilkley – not for the superb running opportunities but for a pre-arranged appointment for a ski touring boot fitting. The team at Backcountry UK did me a great service and I left with a pair of Dynafits that were needing testing. Needless to say I wasn’t prepared to get on a train to Gloucester this week when my skis, boots and all the snow was going to be at the opposite end of the country.

On Monday I ran to my normal place of work from Todwick to Whiston through a scattering of promising snow. 5 miles each way. As someone fairly new to running, this took it out of me a bit, particularly in the snow. I left switching my head torch on as long as possible but as I delved into the woodland footpath alongside the M1 junction 31, I needed the torchlight and revelled in just how much better it made me feel. Even more-so when an owl whirled its way through the branches right above my head. A crunch on a very frozen crunchy rice crispy cake just about got me through my front door at 6pm in time to see the next days snow start to fall.

Much to my glee it didn’t stop, although by now it wasn’t at the extent it would reach on Wednesday. Tuesday morning, as I attempted a sportsman’s rest (read lie-in) Andrew came and woke me up with the words, “It’s time to ski to work”. On the basis that last year I was just able to run 5km and just about able to ski that too, I concluded it was practical to ski-tour to work. I took me a substantial amount of time to set up my new boots in my skis, find a suitable pair of socks (which I failed to do), find all the outdoor gear I needed in the event of broken leg issues and put all the files I needed for work onto a data-stick instead of a “laptop” (read “knee-breaker”) computer so that I didn’t need to lug it up hill and down dale.

As I headed down the path with snow breaking over my feet, I realised that despite the lightweight articulated boots, my legs were still exhausted from running the day before. Still, a bit of rhythym and a whole bunch of enthusiasm got me 400m down the A57 and onto a much better bridlepath which was a little tricky to navigate where the farmer had “pisted” a run with his tractor tyres. I stuck to the central reservation where I was able to get a comfortable glide going. I was too excited about enjoying myself to worry about the niggling pain in my feet and hoped I'd adjust to the new boots. A few tweaks to the official path meant I skirted the edges of fields instead of un-snowed paths where the trees held most of the snow cover. In my silent schussing, a stoat carrying a vole for its breakfast didn’t notice me until we were only a metre apart then it scurried away in a flurry of paw-prints. Excitement subsided and starting to worry about the trip home, I delved into my rucsac to find some thicker socks but to no avail - I now remember leaving them on the stairs. Sadly, all of the downhill sections of my ski to work had insufficient cover for downhill skiing which involves cutting into the snow instead of smoothing over the top of it. Reluctantly, for fear of damaging my skis, I took them off and walked for 50m only to find the grade levelled out and my skis trundled along at a slow-enough pace to control the downhill into Ulley valley.

For 4 hours I stayed in work. One cautious eye on the briefly melting snow, the other on the cloudy skies and gradually, more falling flakes. I was the only person in the office encouraged by more snowfall. I was truly discouraged about the potential walk home, carrying my skis, looking – quite frankly – a bit of a prat on the edge of Rotherham with a pair of skis. By the time I’d walked across the molten car park and up Whiston Green, the snow was deep enough to ski on again and I traversed past the field of sledging kids, over the stationary M1 and across the Upper Whiston road from where I managed the two downhill turns of the day. By now the snow was up to 6 inches deep and well wind slabbed on the open fields.

The crossing at Ulley involved a chat with a girl who’d got her car stuck servicing her pony. She’d politely waited for me to ski out of her way in the morning so I owed her the courtesy of checking she was OK on my way home. After that, the headtorch came on again and I began to lose faith that my feet would not start to bleed from two great blisters that I could feel through the thicker (yet nylon) socks which one of my colleagues loaned me. A saner person would've asked for a lift home but me, I borrow socks. I concluded that adding a second pair of socks and putting the insoles back in the inner boots might not mean I had any blood flow to my feet but would stop any further rubbing and the consequential blood-loss. In the dark, I dug through my rucsac then removed one foot at a time from the boots, in agony in the snow, before forcing them back in – in further agony – and setting about a cereal bar to sate my hunger. Andrew got a very brief answer to the phone call question, “how are you doing” before he set off on his mamouth bike ride home from Sheffield city centre.

I munched on my cereal bar all the way along the tree-lined path now so thick with snow that it was perfectly skiable. Cutting across the farmer’s field at the motorway I only just made out my tracks from earlier in the day. The M1 was moving at around 5 miles an hour below me as I crossed the motorway bridge and reluctantly kicked off my skis where the diversion onto a footpath is the difference between a slithery staircase descent or a climb over a 9-foot tall gate where some possessive land owner can’t be bothered to grant walkers access to his precious lane. I was losing patience for the overly tight kissing gate that’s a real squeeze with a rucsac on whether you have boobs or not. Through the tussocky field where glide is out of thje question and back onto the lane where I discover I have no wax left on my skis. This makes them “snowball” – a phenomenon where the snow is just the right temperature to stick to ski bases and itself. It makes ski travel incredibly inefficient as the skis stop dead with every step and just turn into really heavy, cumbersome shoes. I curse under my breath as I realise not only is my wax not in my rucsac, it’s in town in a storage unit. Later I find out that this is also the temperature and consistency of snow that closes the A57.

I try clearing the skis of snow but it just builds up straight away so I walk through the farmyard where the snow is thin onto the path, hoping that the deeper snow is somehow less sticky as it’s less compressed. Not so. I push myself mentally and physically through the field with over a centimetre of snow stuck to the whole underside of my ski, knowing that at the house ahead is a Nissan hut I can use to remove my skis in comfort and add an extra layer as it’s now blizzard conditions. I can feel the wind tugging at the side of my rucsac and getting under the back panel to cool my spine. The only thing keeping me moving fast is the knowledge that the faster movement keeps my thinly gloved hands from freezing. If it weren’t for the hedge to my right, I could be lost - or at least need to get my compass out. Eventually I see the lights of the house and the A57 50m away. This is all that visibility is. I’m tempted to cut across the field to the back of my house half a mile away but don’t want to be caught – headtorch in the darkness, walking on my landlord’s crops – whatever is beneath the foot of snow. The Nissan hut feels like a warm, cosy living room by comparison to the exposure of the field. I calmly pull on another wool layer, thicker hat, second pair of thick gloves and arrange the headtorch on top of my hood so motorists can see the red light at the back. The skis come off, get de-snowed, hitched together in a comfortable carrying bundle and my new boots finally get to shine, their rubber hiking soles far superior to the solid plastic soles of downhill boots I’ve always been used to. I’m impressed no-one from the house comes to check what I’ve stolen from their garage. I suppose that if they noticed me through their cosy, orange glow dining room windows, they recognised my plight.

Up at the A57, motorists are beginning to queue which means there’s no spray from speeding lorries - hurray!. One driver winds down his window to ask if I’m alright, walking in a blizzard using my hand to protect my face – the one bit of safety kit I don’t have is snow goggles. I say I’m fine, that I only have half a mile to go. As he stops in the queue, I continue walking to my driveway where I pause to push some cars. I phone Andrew to let him know the state of the main road so he doesn’t get driven into by a slithering motorist. As we chat, he calls out to a passing driver, “no mate, I’m fine... just calling the girlfriend to let her know I’m still alive”. Later he’s offered a cup of tea. It’s taken him 2 hours to ride 10 miles. It’s taken me 2.5 hours to ski 5miles. Once indoors and stripped of snowy gear, boots wrenched with agony from feet and half a kilo of snow knocked from a bike we cook dinner using what’s in the cupboard and sit down to have a drink to still being alive at the end of an epic working day.

November 2010 stats

Running: 52.27km, 7.8km/hr, 1,217m el
Cycling: 295.85km, 17.2km/hr, 3,114m el
Swim: 6km 2.2km/hr avg.
Strength: 2h 56 min 46s
Walking & skiing: 24.59km + 17.47km

Progress in 2 disciplines. Not a surprising regression on the bike since most of my cyclo-crosses aren't recorded and the weather's a bit pooey for riding.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Epiphany

Watched the Utraswim challenge on Sunday morning last weekend. Fascinating to see the length of time the elite swimmers keep their face in the water then how they transition to breathing every other breath when they are sighting their route.

I decided to give this a go on Wednesday, swimming 1000km taking a breath every 5th stroke instead of every 3rd. With a bit of practice and slower, calmer swimming I managed to churn out the 40 lengths without taking a break.

Wondering how fast I could go on 5-stroke breaths I proceded to do 10 sprint laps on 5-stroke breaths. I had to stop and get my breath back on every other lap as the lactic acid was starting to build up in my arms towards the end of the second lap but it did occurr to me that this is how "they" do it. "They" being all those women who swim the mile in half the time I do it.

Motivated by a quest to train harder, faster, smarter and actually feel some of that pain they talk of, as per the inspirational articles I have been reading at dinner every day I'm working away from home, my training may well take a turn for the better as I start to try out this different approach.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Driven by waking up early, knowing that physicality is no limit, just my brain. I ran to the top of Birdlip hill before breakfast today on nothing but a cup of tea and a couple of oaty biscuits.

Plunging back into Gloucester above the twinkling lights and below the full moon, watching the fog rising off the distant Malverns. This is the why, the cold crisp morning.

50 lengths of the pool afterwards and I actually feel like triathlon training is starting to build up in a healthy and sustainable way instead of the permanent fatigue of years gone by.

I deserve a lie in tomorrow for sure

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dark Peak Fell Runners Champs

DPFR2010

Choosing my first race with the dark peak. Hardly wise to choose the club championships but hey, might as well show enthusiasm and willing. Besides, work location has meant the weekly warts runs have not been a goer for me.

The handicapped state of the race meant that I was one of the very early starters at 10:02 am with most of the field behind me including Lynn at 1010. I have to admit that I probably looked like a bit of a divvy at the startline with a rucsac on as everyone else was in the sunshine in minimal clothing and carrying a tiny bumbag. I was however aware of 2 things – I was going to be out longer than everyone else (potentially a lot longer if I hurt myself) and I was going to be running the Lake District Triathlons with all this kit so I might as well take it with me.

By the time the heather and bracken of the first slopes opened up ahead of me, the thretening fog that we’d driven through on the way to Glossop peeled back and I simply followed the lines of runners ahead of me at one minute intervals, relieved I could see that far.

Up on the moorland it felt a little uncomfortable following other people but the compass bearing felt about right. Someone was heading out to my right which did, in fact, look like a better route to the somewhat craggy one I had chosen. We walked / ran together for a bit then broke away from the path and the bog- hopping began. Usually when I am walking I hate bog hopping. Making my way around tussocky lumps of peaty mess. Puddles of mud that can suck in a person up to his waist and eat shoes whole or ruin a walking day by filling the boots with icy cold mud. Away from the bogs is tussocky heather which can twist an ankle or knee and somethimes the heather has more bog hiding under it.

I loved bog hopping in a fell race. Gauging depth of bog or the preference of bog over tussock became a game. Every so often I elevated myself out of a bog onto tussock to see where I was and finally the Wainstones of Bleaklow came into view. Everyone around me accellerated a little as the cloud cleared from around them.

Slightly worried about the people who’d lost their dog but seemed to know one of my team mates anyway, I started a descent to Wildboar Clough, Glossopside. The bog-hopping was really fun here as I used the slopes of the bog on my descent to turn and control my speed as if I were on skis. Finally the bog got me and stole my left shoe. Soon after I retied my laces, Lynn ran past – as did Kev and Tom apparently.

The runner I was with commented that others were now starting to pass us thick and fast. It was clear that despite starting 34 minutes behind me, most of the fast runenrs were going to catch me up.

Having descended as low as we could down Wildboar Clough, faced with nothing more than a fence and a steep drop-off / waterfall we climbed the fence only to find the marshall struggling to tie the lost dog to the fence. We informed him of the whereabouts of its owner and my temporary running partner stopped for a chat. I left the dog chewing through the marshall’s camera strap, its new temporary leash and struck out on my next compass bearing.

I found it astonishing that, given the group 100m to my right and the two runners 100m to my left, and the 10 acres of open moorland before me that one runners’ footprint in the bog fell in the line of my footfall on my bearing. I felt crowded yet strangely comforted.

We spilled over a styal and down to a fence. The only time I didn’t feel foolish for carrying a whole laminated map of the dark peak as I perched the front cover on the barbed wire and used the nap as a crotch-protector to scale something a little taller than my legs are long. Down a steep-sided corrie with runners tumbling by me.

With a bike race on Sunday, I took it easy. Next, striking out across the bog which oozed from the watery base of the corrie, a stream of runners led me out to the end of Long Gutter Edge, checkpoint 2 and the beginning of the most gruelling part of the day – a 200m scrabble down a steep, rocky heathery gully and 150m up the other near-vertical side. As my heart pounded in my mouth and my calf muscles screamed for mercy it occurred to me I’d been on less steep slopes in a harness and ropes before and it didn’t help that a rugby-ball sized rock, dislodged by one of the other runners, went skimming across the top of the heather beside me. I stood on a 4 ft tall boulder somewhere in the middle of the heather and watched the fast men go by – their wrists bleeding as they grabbed clumps of the spiny moorland undergrowth. I realised what the girls had been talking about when I over-heard, “You think you’ve cracked it and then it just goes up again”.

The terrain eased to one I could scramble across then it headed up vertically again and I regularly found myself taking 4ft high steops up to get out of a muddy pit or over a boulder.

Finally it was over and one last bit of heathery moorland led me across to checkpoint 4. Sadly this was the hardest bit of heathery moorland I had seen – partly, no mostly, down to my recent efforts on the 60 degree slope and partly due to it being on the later part of the race.

Although the outward appearance was more or less smooth, neatly sheared, common height of heathery blanket, beneath lay rocks, boulders, burms, boulders and bogs. Ankles were not safe and in my tired state I appeared to be drunk compared to everyone else with my arms flailing like windmill sails and my knees bolting left and right like masts of moored boats on a breezy day.

At the ruin I met my new club’s chairman who had re-injured his ankle and was up for limping home. My calfs were starting to cramp so I gave him some of my energy drink while I munched on an energy gel.

He was happy left to his own devices so I ran along watching most of the fast runners pass by. This became my demise when, approaching civilisation, I neglected to turn off a defined track between two wall down a hillside and over-shot the finish by about ¼ of a mile. Retracing my route was impractical so I looped around the roads near the finish and sneaked up on the timekeepers including TSK, asking, “Who ya waitin’ for?”

Lessons learned:

  • print off a section of the map rather than carrying the whole thing with me.
  • Buy a laminator
  • Do lots of research – write the compass bearings on the map and check google satellite for features

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Using Stuff

The things I buy need to be used more often. I need to get over this habit of hoarding clothings for the next big event. I enjoy my public transport nomadic lifestyle where I have to sleep in my Patagonia base layer because its all I have left with me that's warm and comfy, I take exception to the idea of hauling jammies around in my paniers when all I'm going to do is sleep in them.

And tomorrow I might wear the top in the office because it's respectable enough and I paid enough for it that it should be worn.

On this theme this morning I used my travelling towel at swimming. It's been in cupboards for 2 years waiting for camping trips and river swimming but to no avail. As the chance of open water swimming is long gone, I realised, nay resolved, that I will use it and when my greatest fear is realised and the chlorine gets to it and it wears out, I can and will, buy another.

28 laps in 17 minutes (limited by the pool closing and not my poor performance - for once).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Stats October 2010

Running: 36.03km, 7.3km/hr, 448m el
Cycling: 373.9km, 19.8km/hr, 4,066m el
Swim: 1.82km 2km/hr avg.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A nervous entry day.

The clocks went back on Saturday night. It didn’t’ bother me on Sunday but on Monday morning at 5am the heating was on and the light was starting to show through the curtains. I lay in bed for a while listening to the clunking of copper pipes and drifting in and out of sleep. Then I remembered it was race entry day and that was it, I couldn’t sleep. The thought of hundreds of people across the UK signing up for MY races got me out of bed and downstairs - first resetting the timer on the heating and then, booting up t’interweb.

I was still exhausted from Sunday’s run but drearily waited for Firefox to start, whilst, as per Sunday night, worrying about the work day ahead. Cancelling my tickets for the christmas party because my employers have suddenly pointed out that I get no sick pay for the first 6 months of employment. This summer has been particularly sickly so I am £700 out of pocket. Having to explain to the administration team that my £25 / day allowance for working in Manchester is to cover pacifying my parents who can’t really afford to feed me, never mind heat the house on my account.

I clicked the links and signed up for the half ironman - the first big race in the season for me. Since when did standard distance triathlons not become “big races”? I don’t know.

My confirmation email came back.

I clicked some more links for the Helvellyn Triathlon. This race is the only standard distance event to occurr in European Triathlon’s “top 10 hardest events in the world“. How can I resist that? I click the “online entry” tab. WHAT? NO? I check my clock. 5:40am. 5:40am!!! How can it be full at 5:40 am?

750 places. 721 entrants. This race is now closed to new entrants. Nooooo!!!! I get discruntled that the places must have gone to previous competitors or the organisers mates (this is very hypocritical of me).

I email the organiser on the off chance that I can squeeze into the last 30 places or take the place of someone who pulls out at the last minute. I eat my breakfast subdued and head to work.

I am cheered up by a man riding the other way wearing yellow and orange where I am dressed in orange and yellow and we cheer eachothers clashy style. I’m one of the first into the office at 8am - which rarely happens and I have the uncomfortable discussion about christmas parties with tears welling in my eyes. I think it might’ve been the cold - or just the frustration that a person who’s sick in the first 6 months should expect to take a pay cut or be in work to vomit on their colleagues and work on the toilet???. Still, bla bla.

To cheer myself up again I log in and check my emails on the off-chance. Amazingly (though thinking about it, not too much so), the website link for the Helvellyn Triathlon was broke, pointing at last years event and now, oh joy! there are only a measly 17 people that managed to get up this morning and beat me to it. I hand over my CC details and away we go. All excited about the next 10 months of hard training. I run around the office announcing my cheered-uppedness to all. Not feeling at all guilty about pulling out of the christmas do (£70) and forking out £55 for a triathlon and a teeshirt instead (yes, this is one tee I want to own).

Satisfied that my (triathlon) work is done for the day, I have a gentle ride home and spend the evening packing for the rest of the week - swimming kit, enough to keep me warm and of course, all loaded on the bike.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stanage Pole & Headstone run

I felt like doing this run yesterday but instead I made the wise choice to spend some time with TSK and ride to Clumber Park. As a result we enjoyed the full-on autumnal display of the trees and canal tow-path riding.

Today I chose to find my way to the Redmires Reservoir through the fog and run over to Stanage Pole, along Stanage Edge top and back along the bottom with diversions as necessary.

The path from Redmires and Stanage edge itself was eerily quiet as there was no view to be seen and the fog quietened the sound of what few people andcars were about. Every encounter was unexpected as visibility was around 50m. The mountainbikers checking the map, the miserable-looking scout group complete with full 70l backpacks.

The path along the top of Stanage hasn't changed. Hopping from rock to gritstoney worn rock, avoiding the bogs and trying not to scare the stupid sheep off the edge.

Somehow, on the descent I missed the lower path and ended up at the A57 which, weirdly, I didn't expect since I've only every got to Stanage from the Ringinglow Road. I made a poor navigational call with respect to avoiding wet feet (never sensible for a fell-runner) and turned left onto the A57 towards Manchester but then redeemed myself by deciding to take the strines Road, the footpath connecting me to the road above Rivelin Edge then return to Redmires Reservoir via the Headstone - one of Mr Loftus's favourite routes.

The run over to Rivelin Road was truly quiet and I saw no-one. Despite donning my new headtorch for the foggy road, I saw no cars. As I heard the Garmin beep 10km my hips started to ache from the period of tarmac pounding in my fell shoes. I walked a bit and managed to eat until I arrived at the muddy path taking me over to headstone and ultimately, the vanu.

5 minutes scrambling ensued as I did my best to avoid the hoof-trodden bog of the farmyard.

Even an easy passage across the A57 proved what a groggy day it was. At the end of the trudge across the next field and before dropping into the Rivelin Valley, I perched on a wall and photographed the atmospheric trees before resuming the final climb to headstone.
















I can't pass without a visit.









Another shot and an accidental self-portrait.

At the top of my next climb I meet a man on a hybrid bike who is following the water company culvert around the hillside. I decide to take the path over the fells for the last bit of up-down and up again passing ladies in wellies with dogs, cautiously crossing a wooden walkway. Wishing to limit the water ingress to my feet, I ajoin them, also hoping I don't end up on my backside after yesterday's fall.

The final descent to the carpark is a good one. I'm almost tempted to make a circuit of the reservoir just to get a few more miles in my legs but decide that in the conditions, quitting while ahead is a good thing. I have a stretch and climb into the van to get changed. It's a brilliant little space and I love it more when I'm soggy and muddy than I do at any other time.

I head into Sheffield to pick TSK up from the Student Union where he's been to a pedal car AGM and we pig out on the way home. There's Yorkshire parkin in my bag.

Still happy to be home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

238 Days to Go

Day in the Lakes Half Ironman is pending. When I said I was thinking of doing it, Mel corrected me, that I just said it like it was going to happen. She had a point.

Whether I am ready for it or not, 6 months from now, there's nothing I can do to stop myself from entering this Monday morning.

I fell off my bike on my arse today. A reminder of how slippery a metal bridge covering is to wet, 100psi tyres. Only my pride is dented so it's game-on.

I have been riding lovely and carrying heavy bags all week. Probably great for my strength. At least I hope that's why I felt so knackered today and only stayed in the pool long enough to avoid being sick on Friday.

This week I managed to:
  • swim 28 lengths in 25 minutes on Friday.
  • Today I rode 60 km in nearly 3 hours.
  • On Wednesday I ran 12 miles in 2hours 10 minutes.

In 238 days time I want to:

  • swim the equivalent of 64 lengths in 38 minutes in very cold water
  • Ride 56 miles (90 km) in 3hours 40 minutes including the Kirkstone Pass.
  • Run 13 miles (22 km) in 2 hours 20 minutes up some monster fells
All together now.

I don't want to miss out on endurance training so when I travel to Manchester for work three days in a week the kit has to come with me - swimming, towels, running shoes.

The thought of starting the day in the lakes Triathlon and not finishing fills me with dread. I'm trying not to worry about finding the time and dedication to do the training. It has to happen, that's simply it. At least at the moment my motivation is sky high but the dark nights are coming, hours of knocking out miles. An ongoing enthusiasm for long runs. Early mornings going to the pool. Cold open-water swims. A fluctuating workload. All these things could screw me up but my intention not to let them is high. That's me that - all good intentions.

This year I'm going to try not to let illness worry me too much. I can be an unbearable princess about catching colds. This time my aim is to be so strong that I can get through it without too much disruption. Not so precious. Not so fragile.

When I'm not actually physically training, it's the exciting challenge of keeping up with the laundry and the most important yet boring aspects of training - eating and (enjoyably) sleeping - one more hour of that tonight. Whee hee!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Still renewing

The most frustrating cyclo-crosses of the year. Where I feel strong but the muscles just don't have the enthusiasm to continue doing what I'm asking of them. It's supposed to wear off after 3 weeks (this week) but it's stll going. Soon normality will be restored.

I'm going to take them fell running tonight just in case.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Restart

I tried really hard to go out on the club run this Saturday but sheer disorganisation meant I did not make it. It's probably not a bad thing as I was riding really slowly. However, I managed 80km, the rain was falling at times and my feet got cold but I lasted for 3.5 hours and I can't say I was anywhere near exhausted at the end of it.

Roll on racing tomorrow.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This week was

Fairly lovely - riding to work, a swim, lots of hard work. No running as yet. A trip to the gym before driving to manchester.

The start of training is affected by work but not important at the moment. Having fun and maintaining momentum is important. Later it is going to get interesting.

Tommorrow it is a club run, race then, hopefully, fell running on Tuesday.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Hatching a plan

There is a plan in the making involving a half ironman and one of the hardest Standard distance triathlons in the world.

There's a lot of training and a few trips to the pool and the lake involved.

I don't need to commit until 1st November but that's still a long way from the race in June. Will I be ready?

I have demonstrated this year that I can more or less commit myself to training for the three peaks and if I don't have a house move to do (for once) I should be OK.

None of the elements bother me too much (which is worrying). I've swum the distance (but in the pool). I've definately biked the distance though it's a long time since that's included anything like the Kirkstone pass. I am not far off having run the distance (but not in a fell race). Putting all three together is the worry - as it always is with a first triathlon at any distance.

In all the standard distance races I have done I have always been tired at the end - less so towards the end of the season. With the longer distance I will need to do more transition training and more training whilst tired.

After 8 years of doing the three peaks I almost got the hang of the nutrition between events and eating on the move which is also something I can bring to the 1/2 ironman.

First, I have a bike to clean and a cold / sinus infection to get rid of. I wish I could say that training starts tomorrow but the only contribution I will be making is to go to Swindon house to pick up my running shoes which I think I left there. I hope I left there.

I'm going to hope, upon all hopes that I'm back to it on Monday.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Work Balance

Being 36. Starting a new job. Relearning new skills. Finding that I'm working on something completely alien to my envelope of knowledge and struggling to get motivated about it. The hope that soon we will win some work which is more familiar and interesting to me.

A real enthusiasm and passion for living here. Great new friends. The Peak District on my doorstep.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

September Stats

Running: 23.35km, 8.9km/hr, 473m el
Cycling: 410.65km, 17.6km/hr, 5367m el
Swim: Deprived

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross

Training since July. A complete avoidance of colds. Not so much healthy eating and only a couple of weeks on the wagon. A cessation of swimming pending the 2010 3 Peaks cyclo-cross.

There was a cold, icy wind blowing through the Yorkshire Dales on Sunday morning. Dad and I lined up 10 minutes before the start where I met up with Ruth Gamwell who had a baby in April.

The race start was the usual chaos of shouting and twitchy sprinting and braking. Thanks to my training efforts with the Norton Wheelers the first miles to the bottom of the climb of Ingleborough were not too stressful. I had to try hard to keep with the pack and keep out of the wind but I wasn't worried about the effort I was putting in because I now know I can keep it up for 3 hours or more.

We swept off the road and through the farm to the usual collection of riders who haven't ridden around these limestone areas before and have not yet realised that climbing on wet limestone is close to impossible. A multitude of people sliding sideways in front of me made for challenging riding, finding the grippy muddy patches in amongst the fallen riders.

The climb of Ingleborough (Simon Fell) made me smile. My new-found love for fell running was going to kick in here. It really wasn't easier because I chose to take a slightly more difficult line, forgoing the stairway by the wall full of people not used to hill walking, in favour of keeping to my own consistent rhythm on a steeper, grassier slope. At the top of the hill on the flat summit, paved with loose rocks, the run to the dibber point was easier thanks to fell running and I reached the summit 3 minutes earlier than last year in 1:15:21..

The descent of Ingleborough was fairly uneventful until I came across a fallen rider who had hurt his neck. Someone was stopped with him so I rode to the marshalls and reported the accident before getting a food-stash from Andrew. My only other observation was my tired arms and hands from the descent and I wished I'd spent more time riding my bikes off road and doing press-ups in the gym. This happens every year. This year I figured it out. Maybe next year I will do something about it.

Also the same as every year, for the last 7 years I forget how long the ride is between Ingleborough and Whernside. I hopped on the back of another rider to get a rest up to the end of the Cold Coates road. Then, remembering that wasn't the end of my road ride, I started grazing on energy bars and randomly joining other riders as they passed. I said hello to Ian Small, watching from a layby then blipped off the road at Chapel le Dale.

Stopping for a drink, Ruth Gamwell caught me up and we started the usual climb to the summit, as usual, together. Ruth was doing a remarkable ride for someone with a baby who hasn't touched the bike since April.

I had a bit of a run on the climb of Whernside and was very pleased to be doing a lot of hard riding on the sections of the ridge-path that was rideable. I was trying so hard, I only once remembered to look over the other side of the wall to the Howgills but I didn't think to look beyond to see if I could see the Lake District. The insides of my thighs did start to twitch with cramp so I resolved to enjoy the descent (as much as possible). A cheery greeting from Marshalls and the mountain rescue teams at the summit sent my on my happy way down the mountain after 1:38:14 since I left the top of Ingleborough. I wasn't feeling most confident and carefully lifted my bike over each of the drains - sharp edged with slippery limestone slabs and picked my way onto the grass and bogs where I could.

Ruth passed me on the rocky sections at the bottom of Whernside, just before joining the comfortable railway-side paths that lead down to the Ribblehead viaduct. I saw family friend, Po, and stopped to give her a hug as I rested my cramping legs. Soon after I was down at the Viaduct with Andrew, stocking up on masses of food. This is my new lessons-learned for this year. Dad's having a bad day today and I know Andrew won't get to the bottom of Pen-Y-Ghent before I do so I stock up on nutrition to get me to PYG and up it. I down an entire bottle of energy drink, chat to friend, Rachel from the East Anglia region, and stuff two energy bars into my pocket along with a wind-proof jacket to get me comfortably off PYG. I dib-in with the marshalls and head off on my way, narrowly avoiding a motorist that is ignoring the marshalls' instructions to stop.

As I scoff on the first of my energy bars en-route to PYG, I catch two lifts from other riders. First, an Army rider who drops me on the first climb and later a group of riders along with another lady who encourages me to hop on the back. They drop me at the last climb over to Horton in Ribblesdale so I take the opportunity to drink some fluids before the ascent of PenYGhent.

I was excited to be encouraged my numerous Norton Wheelers riders who I didn't know yet. All offering me drinks.

The climb of PYG was notable, not by any remarkable strength but by a notable absence of a lack of strength. There's too many double negatives there but I don't care. That's the only way I can describe it. Usually when I get to the steep climb on PYG I am talking to my legs, urging them not to cramp. This usually degrades into growling. This time I determinedly passed a number of riders on the climb including a man bemused by the fact that I passed him on every peak and he caught me back on every road section.

At the summit I donned my windproof coat for the descent. I was really happy to be warm and glad I'd carried it all the way up. I had to wrestle my go-bar off the mountain rescue team after I dropped it on the floor and they decided they fancied it.

I left the summit in the company of the winning father/daughter team, 18 year old Ella who left me for dead on the descent. I did realise my ever-present new friend wouldn't have chance to pass me on the road to finish, and he didn't.

The descent was much improved. Over the years a clear path has been worn around each of the drains on the descent track. On the drains which haven't a route around, most have the odd pebble or stone which helped stop a wheel dropping down so far between the sharp corners. There are viable lines through a number of the loose stone sections on Pen Y Ghent Lane.

Dropping into the main road off the pavement, there were legs left to get me to the finish line. I hardly sprinted but I went as fast as I could and crossed the line in 5hrs 19 minutes and 5 seconds. 5 minutes faster than last year on a day which was cold and windy.

Norton Wheelers posted the first ever womens' team with three of us finishing the race. In total, 10 riders finished which is an awesome result.

For next year - more upper body training for the descents and I can't do worse than more fell running for the ups... and the downs.

PS Further LL. 4 hour + race pace sessions and energy drink on the way to Whernside. Bring the turbo trainer so I can warm up whilst dad's gossiping

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Quelle semaine

It's been a manic week.

Wednesday in the gym,
Thursday Norton Wheelers chaingang
Friday back in the gym
Saturday NW club run
Sunday racing.

Two weeks of exhaustion left before a rest week then the big event of the year.

I want Andrew to come home and look after me now.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

August

Running: 40.51km, 6.8km/hr, 294m el
Cycling: 273.55km, 16.5km/hr, 3668m el
Swim: 0.4km, 40mins.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today was

Getting things right today.

Walking in on someone bitching about me (again).

Riding it out with strength training there and back.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Last few days

A new house
A new route to work
Running the new route to work
Watching bats from the conservatory
Chasing the cat back indoors
Being unsure which wind turbine project I am booking my time to.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First proper 3 Peaks Training Ride

What a flying start! This morning I set off for Sheffield with the intention of doing little more than hopping on the train to Doncaster to collect TSK after his 600km attempt yesterday.

As it was, I got to Sheffifeld to a call from TSK to say that he thought he was fit enough to drive home himself so I set off along Psalter Lane to get an early start on the Peak District.

Getting to Dore, just beyond the outskirts of Sheffield, I recognised the fact that I didn't have enough food / energy / breakfast in me / lock with me to make it on a long ride out of town and back so I resorted to doing a circular route around the extents of Sheffield and the Peak meaning I could retreat to the safety of hte city and home at a moment's notice. Good plan!

Not-town riding proved to be fun. I turned into a lane called "Long Line" - home to the village of "Long Line" where I have decided I wish to live with TSK once we can afford it. Long Line is a dead straight road 1.5km long. You can see the top from the bottom and it steadily rises at 8% with a little 12% kicker at the top for good measure. In retrospect, I shouldn't have given it everything at this point.

Not-town riding consists of navigating circumfrentially around the city. Every time you cross a radial main road, you have to figure out whether to go right first or left to pick up the next circumferential road that will keep you out of the city and on your path. In Sheffield this results in a lot of climbing since all the radial roads follow valleys or ridges into the city at the bottom of the valleys and those have to be summited and descended each time.

Further climbs (and descents) took me over Rivelin, Stannington, Loxley and Oughtibridge vales with climbs up to 13% over 2km and a matching ride down the other side with hairpins and drop offs that reminded me of something out of the Tour De France.

I finally arrived in Outibridge looking for food and a way of getting home without climbing the big 1 in 10 to my flat. A forray away from town took me towards Stannington and a lack of circumferential roads so I resorted to heading back to the city on the ring road, stopping for a mars bar and climbing the 10% climb home. Not even stopping to chat to some kids at the top of the hill who wanted to know what I was training for. I was going so slow we maintained a conversation while they walked.

Back at home, TSK is sleeping and I am off out to buy dinner for two very hungry people.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What was today

There's nothing more satisfying than teaching something to someone who doesn't think they can learn it.

Beck's front crawl has really come along.

TSK is off doing a 600km ride and I miss him. 600ks don't pass quickly enough for me to comprehend him finishing it.

Becks and i went out and churned through 40km going to Bolsover castle and finished it off with a ride up some bridlepaths.

The cat was out most of the night and by the time I got up this morning there work workmen and diggers in the garden next door so the cat stayed out until we got home from the pool at 11. He has even forgotten that he gets meat at 7pm.

What was yesterday?

Getting asked to take on team leadership at work at the end of a really boring and dull day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What was today?

Quiet, recovering from yesterday.

Looking forwards to delivering a matress to the next place I'm going to live.

Wishing I was going fell running instead.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Feature: What was today?

A really good cyclo-cross race around the Newsome school fields and woods in Huddersfield. Summer showers on the distant hills on a sunny evening. Drifting smoke from a nearby fire and a race that all came together for once. No punctures just a plan, executed and delivered.

And first-place woman on account of there being no others.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

July Stats

Swim: 3.1km, 2.8kph avg
Bike: 202.78km, 23.7kph, 2246 m elevation
Running: 50.46km, 8.1kph avg, 930m elevation
Time in the gym: 1:20

A little bit less than I expected but then July included a pre-race rest week - or two and a post race illness so, in the balance of things, quite a lot in only 3 weeks of actual training.

Monday, July 19, 2010

First day back on the bike

Well, as rest weeks go, diaoreah and sickness was a lousy way to spend it. I'm not sure it was long enough but it has had the desired effect and I actually made it out onto my bike today and sprinted up all the big hill with a very heavy bag in tow.

There was a plan in there to go to the gym but I was too late in the morning and got absolutely absorbed into a very interesting tender for the ITER particle accellerator in the South of France.

Make no underestimation, this is a project I have wanted to be involved with since I visited Trawsfyndd Power station in the 1980's with my parents and found out about nuclear fission. At the time, ITER was not invented but it is the new generation of CERN.

Regretably, I am not sure we have the experience to win this work. As smashing, jolly good engineers, we have all the tools and the potential but there have to be experts out there that are better than us. It's a dilema, and one I'm not paid enough money to worry about.

I was so engrossed, I had to sprint home to catch the tour de France on TV - and boy was it worth it.

I love it when I can't wait to get out of bed tomorrow. I'm betting it doesn't feel that way in the morning.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Canals!

It's been a long week of sickness and other nasties so yesterday we rode into Sheffield to change a bike then joined the canal at Victoria Quay (say what? Sheffield's all posh now) and cycled all the way to Rotherham along the canal bank.

Points of interest included the

bridging warehouse,

Tinsley Lockphoto courtesy of sheffield tinsley marina

and the open wasteland which used to be Tinsley cooling towers. In Rotherham we didn't quite fancy Jamie's diner because the bistro across the road smelt more attractive.

We rode home from Rotherham along my usual ride home from work. Ulley reservoir looks pretty, though still surrounded by contractor's fencing as it seems the contractor has not been given a pass to leave the site yet.

Descending the hill from Ulley to Augton we could see ominous rain clouds amassing in the distance and sure enough it started to rain heavily on us. TSK suggested we stop in a pub but foolishly I wanted to continue. By the time we reached Rother valley country park it was hailing on us.

We mashed back through Beighton covered in mud, sprinted up the hill to stay warm and then stood in our garden removing layers of clothes and hanging them on the line to get a rinse through in whatever rain was left before being dried to go in the wash basket.

What a grim end to a fantastic canal day though we both agreed that sometimes (just sometimes) it's nice to get completely soalked to remind yourself life doesn't end when it rains. I remembered how much fun non-training rides can be and this time we were reminded that sometimes, just sometimes, you can also get brain freezing hail in July.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Upton on Severn Tri

Swimming in the river Severn. In July. Mmm. The clearest river yet or possibly something to do with weeks of dry weather and the 30 degree sunshine glistening in the water. 58 women entered the water at 12:30. My new race plan - long slow strokes with a bit of input from my legs to achieve the planned 34 minute swim. By 750 m it was clear just how easy this was going to be. Half way and I was full of enthusiasm. Believing this meant I was going too slow, I put in some effort. Worryingly, this resulted in foot cramp with 50 m to go which was staved off by dropping the feet and continuing with the arms at accellerated pace. Instead of just one or two people behind me, there were apparently more than 5. TSK called out a time of 30 minutes to me making me very happy. Best as I could I skipped into transition. With a long and uncomfortable run alongside transition to the opposite end of the field I crossed the timing mat at 31:44.

Now, I thought this was an efficient transition but I seem to have fumbled with a bunch of food to sate the hunger which set it before the swim. 04:33 apparently.

Stuck behind two annoying fellas wearing their shoes on their pedals instead of their feet, I was slow getting onto the road. Lap average speeds of 29.2km/hr on the first and 31.6km/hr on the second lap. I really enjoyed the bike. Arms exhausted, climbing normally was an issue but the legs seemed unperturbed and continued to power me up hill like the bike was posessed. I passed people I didn’t expect to… a number of times as they passed me back. The only hint that things were going wrong was the echo of a cramp as I climbed the last long, slow climb.

I swept into the final turn in a flurry and hopped off the bike. I think I shrouded a yelp pretty well as my hamstrings cramped. Oops… and knees. Double oops. TSK shouted 2:03 at me which sounded a bit crap to be fair but on later inspection turned out to put me 8th placed bike out of 56 women in the race.

The 4 minute transition was down to me lying around on the ground getting shoes changed, finding more food. Heading out on to the run with a cramping belly through eating a banana and not drinking enough water. From the first water stop, things seemed to speed up - despite the fact that I felt dreadful - even compared to the end of the 15km trail run I did last month. Alas, no, things were not improving. 9.55 kph on the first lap, 8.14kph on the second lap. That’s 6:17min/km on the first and 7:22min/km on the second.

Short of catching around 4 people who were going slower than me, my only fun came from a little friendly banter with fellow competitors and jolly encouragement from spectators.

The last 100m were the only ones that were in the shade so a sudden acceleration came and I crossed the line with a modicum of decency though had to walk away from the timing-chip collectors as I didn’t dare stop fast enough for them to strip me of my timing chip.

All in all, a good race but summed up by shocking management of effort led to a poor finish. I’m pretty proud of myself though as I discovered 36 hours later that I was heading for a nasty bout of gastroentoritis on which I can blame my failure to beat any records.

Better luck for the next one I guess.

Result:
Swim: 31:44 (216) 1500m (this included a mamoth run between exit and the timing line)
T1: 4:33
Bike: 1:22:19 (121) 40km
T2: 3:09
Run: 1:09:24 (221) 10km
3:11:12

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What persuaded me to get out of bed this morning?

Not the conference but the realisation that tommorrow is 3 Peaks entry day. I have 3 months to go before the most important day of the year. I have NEVER been at this point in the year and able to run 10km, never mind hilly and in 1:02... and I have a 6 week period to plan for the training... and a conference in which to do it.

The last few wees have been productive for swimming and running. my new target swim race pace is a 34 second lap of the pool. Getting 2 laps done within the time was starting to frustrate me until I realised I was trying to achieve 1:04 not 1:08. Doesn't sound like much and I was needing to rest every 10 laps but, hey, that's where I was with just swimming three months ago!

The running has been helped by an article I read before the last Triathlon.

The article suggested that while elite runners tend to run in a particular, "perfect" way, that's probably why they are elite runners. It doesn't necessarily mean it's the way you and I should run.

It went on to explain that the fastest runners tend to run with a shorter, faster pace. However we all tend to run most *efficiently* when we're relaxed and not thinking about it. So the trick with running has been to practice the quickened step during training which will become second nature during the race and lead to me delivering faster times. I tried it out during the Chester Tri then continued with the runs I have done since. Sometimes it gives me a really fast time. Sometimes it gives my stomach ache but my running pace has moved from 7:26min/km to 6:15 min/km last week in Wootton Bassett. I'm hoping in Upton I will actually be able to race the run.

The final result of the running is at the ride on Sunday my legs were strong and I was able, almos,t to keep pace with Andrew all day. All of a sdden it seems, not only will I be able to keep pace with the lady runners, I might be able to keep up with some of those boys in the bike club.

I feel like I've been here before - and I have, in 1991. I also feel like I never want to be as weak as I was ever again. This is going to be a very interesting season.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

May 2010 & June 2010 Stats

May (complete)

Swim: 3.9km, 2.2kph avg
Bike: 399.93km, 20.2 kph avg, 4302 m elevation,
Run: 27.12km, 8.8 kph avg, 302m elevation

June
Swim: 3.75km, 2.1kph avg
Bike: 337.65km, 19.4kph, 4796 m elevation
Running: 67.03km, 7.4kph avg, 1198m elevation

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Happy in Sheffield



Lenny Makes Himself at Home in the New Garden

Sheffield has been remarkably kind to me. In spite of the usual friendly reception from Yorkshire folk, I have mostly nice neighbours who, even if they are a little loud, genuinely haven't thought that music at 10pm isn't "on".

My rides to work take me along the Trans-Penine Trail or around the edge of still lakes on bridle paths that seem miles from anywhere. From work I can go for a run through fields or even get to the gym and the pool.

At home I can go for a "walk on the wild side".

We went to the pub for dinner on Friday night and, instead of going to Cafe Rouge, we stumbled upon the Stag, with a conservatory, oak tables and a sense of rustic middle-class. We found ourselves sitting next to the Sheffield Tri club who were very encouraging and enthusiastic.

Last week when it was warm, we found the only down side to living where we do. Every pub beergarden (loose term) was filled with bald-headed, england shirt wearing, thick-set males complete wtih beer, fags and slappers while others preferred to sit on the wall outside tescos drinking cider and smoking fags with their kids (that was just the women).

We decided that on a nice day we want to live somewhere a bit nicer... somewhere we can walk to a nice pub, not needing to get in the car and drive.

So we went to Nether edge to do the laundry... just to make sure.


Guerilla Knitting in Nether Edge

Monday, June 07, 2010

Chester Tri

Following the drowning events of Ashton Keynes I was pretty paranoid about the 1.5k swim at Chester.

Despite some over-distance training culminating in a 1800m swim in the choppy Friday-evening waters of the Rotherham pool, I was still captivated by something Claire mentioned something about tri wetsuits so after much deliberation I committed to charging around the day before the chester tri, trying on wetsuits. On a hot day that is some feat as every one sticks to the flesh in the sweaty heat that builds up between neoprene and skin.

I gave up in Sheffield and headed over to Wilmslow because if there's going to be an expensive yet well-stocked tri shop anywhere, it's in Wilmslow.

6 suits and a very sweaty Trep later a suit that fits though I am still disapointed they failed to keep a stock of medium tall and had to settle for large to avoid being strangled. Still, with increasingly chunky legs and shoulders, I'm sure I'll grow into it.

Exhausted, we drove to Chester to register and drive around the bike course. Very glad of checking the scary climb. Mental note to save some legs.

Early arrival at Chester put me at an advantage of first in the portaloos and an unseasonably early arrival on the startline. This time though it wasn't a problem as I sat enjoying the sunshine with my feet dangling in the water.

Post-briefing, I got the new suit wet and was filled with glee to find my feet floated all on their own.

Although the swim started reasonably politely, I soon found myself (again) next to the really tall very stocky woman swimming breast stroke in my line.

Legs kicking under my belly, I pulled over, left her to it and try to stay calm. The target for Chester was to crawl the distance, staying with the group would've been a bonus.

As a solo swimmer it becomes difficult to navigate through the water. The side to side motion of the head needs to look up from time to time resulting (in a novice like me) in drunken swimming, zig zagging from side to side - from bank to buoys. After the first near-miss with overhanging trees, I got it undr control, though not enough to feel like I'd swum an extra 1/3 distane.

As the lead veteran men passed me (started 10 minutes behind) I realised I was starting to lose the feeling in my feet and calf muscles. Realising I'd probably saved my legs too much I put a bit of effort in (again) to the last 50 m just to wake things up and (again) avoid being last out of the water.

The new suit came off a little slower than the old - mostly on account of my frozen hands and feet. Less time in the water, yes please.

Scouse lady being shouted at by her husand put me off, the distraction of choas and disorganised nature of my neighbour inspired to get me going. I nipped through transition just before they began getting really grumpy about people wearing their number on the wrong side of their body & making competitors wear their clothes backward

Bike. Favourite bit. It's difficult to highlight the challenges of my bike. I spend a lot of the time just enjoying passing other competitors, riding with some of the men. My biggest challenge is to put myself into the wind when all of my bike racing insincts are to draft the person infront.

The big climb passed well with a big heave on the pedals and the usual heavy breathing on my part. The ensuing downhill which we partially missed out in the van the night before was a bit of a crowning glory. In my space at the back, most people are pootling through the bike ride, the same way I pootle through the swim and the run.

The tri bars, originally considered to be a bit of an indulgence have actually knocked minutes off my ride times.

Whether it is the improvement in drive power, the aerodynamics, me getting stronger or the fact that I feel like I look the part, they work. So Phoenix and I raced down the hill, permanently on the drive and on the aero bars until we ran out of twiddle then sailed out the tail-wind.

My thoughts on the ride usually start out with controlling my output to ensure that by the time I get to the end I have legs left for the run. This consideration is interleaved with the conflicting enthusiasm to do the ride of my life. As I tire, that enthusiasm wanes and I remain calm until such time as I realise I'm within the target of 1hr 20mins. At that point all the stops come out and I usually struggle out onto the run (see Ashton Keynes). Chester was no different as I rocked into transition in 1:19.

Dressed and back into the run I was desperate for a wee but thanks to the lovely parkland setting of the Chester tri I was soon able to resolve my issues with a detour into the park facilities.

The run was a real challenge. As ever with me, easy only because it was just a question of getting through it. At least I was not alone as the police teams and senior men continued to stream past me. Oxford Tri club gave me a "stop saving yourself Swindon" shout. He obviously thought I was Claire and wondered why I was dallying around.

TSK made the run as enjoyable as possible, appearing at the road crossings and timing my laps, proud that my second lap was even faster than my first... until I pointed out I had taken a comfort break on the first lap.

On the final approach I tried to focus on staying with the woman next to me. Despite my efforts she surged away from me then, to my relief, headed out on her second lap.

Final result 41:28 (69th) swim 1:19:22 (26th) bike 1:01:47 (60th) run. If I scale up Lymm, that's a ten minute improvement on the bike and the run. I'm very happy wth an equivalent swim considering it was an open water, mass start event.

In terms of position, I was 26th in the bike ride yet over 60th in both the swim and the run. I am aware I can go faster in the swim without drowning, in fact it will keep me warmer. If I wanted to come consistently 26th in every discipline (ie a total time of 2:40:30), it would involve a lot of work. Ironically, since most people have only two good disciplines, this performance would put me 20th overall. Much easier, I decided to aim for half way down the field. So 35th overall. The 35th competitor completed in 2:50:07. Each 35th place discipline would be 32:36 in the swim, 1:21:50 in the bike (nailed already) and 51:59 in the run. It would involve a 10 minute cut in time in running and swimming.

So, there I am, targets set for the next event. They are tough and it's going to take concerted effort to get me there. Good news is, those times together will give me a total of 2:45:45 and would have put me 32nd overall so I have leeway.

Result summary

Swim: 41:28 (69th)

Bike: 1:19:22 (26th)

Run: 1:01:47 (60th)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Offline

I've been out of action for some time - internet wise.  I've been doing lots of training, lots of moving and quite a bit of racing and I don't really know where to start going back over it all.

Stats, stats are good...

March

Swim: 3.82km, 2.3kph avg
Bike: 267.64km, 17 (!)kph avg, 2363 m elevation, aveHR 144  
Run: 28.1km, 9.8 kph avg, HRavg 167bpm, 234m elevation

April

Swim: 0.88km, 1.8kph avg
Bike: 187.62km, 16.6 kph avg, 2798 m elevation 
Run: 30.74km, 8.9 kph avg, HRZ 168 bpm

May (and it's not even over yet)

Swim: 3.9km, 2.2kph avg
Bike: 369.05km, 19.3 kph avg, 3907 m elevation, 
Run: 22.8km, 8.9 kph avg, 214m elevation

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Ashton Keynes

A sense of fear, panic and drowding. I have been there before. Last time in Penticton. I put my face back in the water to try again. The world before me is dark green and a stream of blue bubbes coarse around my vision. There is a muted throng of splashing sounds echoing in my ears, totally lacking any rhythm. This is what I imagine drowning sounds like.

It's no good. Every stroke needs a breath so I lift my face and as I breathe, green duck-pooey water floods my lungs and someone kicks my arm. I hope an official doesn't hear me swear as I panic and look for the boats.

Last resort, back stroke but my breathing is only controlled enough to permit me to continue in breast stroke. I try unzipping my wetsuit in case it's throttling me but it's the cold that's stollen my puff and only when I get 50m from the finish do I manage a short crawl with my face out of the water in order to avoid being last on to the bank.

I peel down the last of the zip and withdraw frozen, senseless fingers from the neoprene sleeves. The chilly May breeze is warmer than the water and I feel calmer already. I'm glad of Garnier's summer skin moisturiser. It gives me a healthy glow and makes my wetsuit really easy to get off as I srand on the legs and pull my feet out.

Always the cyclist, my shorts give a warm layer, long sleeve top for the breeze, socks, shoes, lid on, gloves. Running in cleats - not so bad on grass. A triumphant leap into the saddle. Time to catch some people - around 30. I eventually drop one persistent hanger-on from Bath. Everyone else seems slow. I am fuelled by this being half of the Lymm distance and TSK cheering me on at Loves Lane.

I look at my time as I enter the closing straight and refuse to do over 35 minutes for a 20km ride so I sprint pointlessly for the line and run, gasping into transition. This sprint lark is HARD!!!

Easy bit. I allow myself to sit for this bit. Shoe change, gloves off. Drink. The helmet is keeping my head warm so I have to go and put that back. On the way out the gates I have to stop to tighten my speedy spoingy laces and inhale some more water from the volunteers.

By now a steady stream of strong runners are catching me up and passing me. Despite reminding myself it's a sprint and will all be over before I know it, the legs won't go any faster. Sadly, the breathing does and I find myself snatching air with every footfall, just as I was 1 hour ago during the swim.

I know I can be a painful hypercondriac at times but not usually during racing. Yet I was wondering how fast they'd get to me if I had a corinary on the far side of the lake. When the marshal pulled alongside on his motorbike in the car park I actually feared he was going to pull me out for my own safety. Still, I managed to continue and, having faught -off the urge to walk I finally get my breath under control for the finish area and start of my second lap.

I actually manage a chat with someone starting her first lap and that's enough to spurr me on. The real racing men are starting to squeeze through and I make room for them, happy enough just to be finishing soon.

Closer still to the finish and I'm ramping-up, looking for someone to race with - perhaps even myself. A few extra seconds, a slightly bette pace, even if it's a man on his first lap that I never ever stand a hope of beating.

There's not really anyone around but I manage a bit of extra pace until a lady making victory gestures to her mates is foolish enough to get close enough and loud enough for a sprint finish. Perhaps that was just in my head. Anyway, you snooze you lose.

Swim: 11:35.07 400m
T1: 4:06.9
Bike: 37:15.6 20km
T2:26:58.4
Run: 26:58.4 5km
Total: 1:21.23.1

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Lymm Triathlon Memories - before they fade

The Lymm Triathlon was my second thriathlon ever and 4 years since my first triathlon in Penticton in 2005. In between there have been cyclo-cross races, cyclng tours in Canada, France, Tenerife and of course the UK, 5 changes of address and a lot of courage.

The night before we drove to Lymm to find the venue and to drive the route. Traffic on the M6 and a lacking knowledge of Lymm's nether regions all made it difficult and we had to call to delay dinner. I hoped it would be better signed on the day. My lack of experience ranked very slow so I was one of the first competitors to arrive. Great for parking.

I registered, racked my bike. A shock to the system that Andrew was not allowed into transition with me.

It all seems reasonable now, you can't have random non-athletes wandering around with all that expensive kit, but that dy it flet very lonely preparing my transition whilst he looked on from the other side of a metal fence.

In retrospect, racking and setting up transition should be a quiet time without the distraction of conversation. I took my time to layout my box, make sure it was packed in the righ torder and fine-tune the clothing for the day and the food packed into each pocket. I visualised the process of changing and sighted my position in the transition area by a lamp-post. I placed the bike and balanced the helmet on the saddle. Someone else was being scalded by an official for using a mobile phone in transition I thought it was a bit much for a race which isn't even olympic distance, doesn't involved open water and relies on teenage school children to act as marshalls. Especially as there was an hour to go before anyone started racing.

Terribly early, we did a lap of transition to walk through the ins (swim and bike) and outs (bike and run) and the finish line.

We went inside to look at the pool but it was difficult to see how things would start and where we would go. I could, however, figure out that it involved a very chilly run through the car park. Thankfully carpet and finally the emeergency evacuation fire doors at the end of hte pool were thrown open.

I don't remember anything up until sitting on a bench wiht some equally nervous women and a couple of men who didn't look like the swim 1000m in 30 minutes - more like 5 - they were ripped. Apparently you get special treatment if you tell the organiser you've got to "get away early". It also apparently helps if you're going to win as the man from Manchester Tri club did.

Another woman was complaining that she wanated to put her hat on as it's "part of her routine" but sadly, the thing we were waiting for was the hats so that the team of not so enthusiastic teenagers could count our laps and stick a blue buoy into the water when we had two to go.

I started at the side of the pool and ploughed easily through the laps. I'd sum 1.5 times the distance before so I went quite quickly despite the fact that I'd only just mastered three breath swimming again. My aim was not to drink too much water. I was aware of being lapped by a red hat in my lane and, below the water, of lapping at least one person in the lane next to me.

I'm glad the teenagers were counting if, indeed they really were because I certainly wasn't. I had to watch on and forgot to ask Andrew to time me so I had no idea what my time was.

I had to pause to toss my hat back to the teenagers then set off to do the freezing cold, uncomfortable run through the car park.

At transition I treated myself to a townling-down to stop my teeth chattering but still struggled to put my cycling jersey on. To my surprise, the two women i had lapped entered transition just behind me complaining that they'd left early because their teenagers miscounted. Given that I'd lapped them, I think their teenagers might've been right. They left transition just ahead of me.

To my joy, I remembered to helmet-up before setting off and not get onto my bike before I was allowed to. At the first junction I passed my "cheated" female companions, gave them a cheer then never saw them again.

I don't remember much of the Lymm bike. Men passed me as only the stronger competitors were behind me in the gridding system. No woman passed me by the time I was on the bike. There's a pub advertising a beer festival which is tempting but as I pass a man racin in trainers, I get the bit between my teeth. He stays with me for a while but then I don't see him after the first climb. Around Lymm this is nothing more than a motorway bridge.

As usual approaching transition, I realise I'm on for some sort of sub-time band finish - in this case a 36km ride in 1hr:20min. I sprinted for the line and turned in in 1:18. Believing it was a 40km ride, I was well chuffed.

In T2 I stuffed another banana in my pcket and again failed to retain it further than 100m. This time when I stopped to retrieve it, I dropped my sunglasses. No worries as the man in trainers returned them to me as he passed me. I didn't see him again until the other side of the finishing line.

My legs were tired. The run was mostly on grassy fields with some road. My first, very comfortable rell race I suppose.

The banana went down surprising well as did the water from the volunteers. Th winning man from Manchester Tri club came past me on his second lap (confusing when I was so tired as I wondered why I'd been beating him up until this point). As I came through the finish area, I powerd up the last hill and was proud to indicate I was going on to a second lap for the full length "proper" race.

On the second lap through the parkland I was getting tired and slow but enjoyed joking with dog walkers and eventually resorted to anticipating the last corner leading me to the open field up to the finish area. Men were passing me left, right and centre by now, most of them heading off on their second lap. My calf muscles were complaining. At the sight of TSK I accellerated a little wanting to cross the line with some sort of dignity. I was glad I made an effort as my dad appeared, having just arrived on his bike. I was given a finishing medal by a little boy - the best volunteer of hte day and despite having a bunch of faster competitors who started behind me, I earned the acolade of being the first woman to cross the finishing line.

I headed straight off to the masage tent and sent Andrew to get money to pay the lovely lady. I piled onto a bench next to my friend in trainers.

Final result:
Swim: 900m 26:36
Bike: 36km 1:17:56
Run: 8km 58:12

Saturday, May 01, 2010

April Stats

Running: 30.74km, 8.9km/hr, 287m el
Cycling: 145.19km, 6.4km/hr, 2,437m el
Swim: 0.88km 1.8km/hr avg.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going home

lt has been great fun coming back to Sheffield. The day started late and badly with a flat as bad as the attitude of the agent that showed me around.
He redeemed himself a small ammount at the next flat - once I finally persuaded him to go. It was lovely but no parking and at the end of the high-street so not even worth me asking the cat question.
Now... the cat flat... that ruled. No concerns except
· How to efficiently get a washing machine down 12 steep concrete steps?
· Can I cope with the lovely view?
· Did I just like it because I was hungry & wanted my lunch?
· Can I persuade them to accept lower rent?
· Can I face looking anymore?
I went for a curry to ponder these and other questions then I walked into town and experienced the delight of discovering a John Lewis, a new fountain / shiny hotels / sculpture area, a wooden hippo, the Nero and a skate park. I walked down Mappin Street and sat on the steps outside the department for a long time thinking about what engineering means to me.
I could find nothing but excitement, pride, anticipation and just a little bit of fear as the sun set behind the arts tower in its refurbishment cloak.
I finished off with a drive around Broomhill, Fulwood & Eccleshall Road to remind myself why I'm here & where I want to be in the end. I stopped myself short of a drive into the peaks - because that would've been indulgent - instead, heading back to a quiet hostel & discussing the day's findings with Andrew.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

March 2010 Stats

Running: 28.10km, 9.8km/hr, 234m el
Cycling: 267.65km, 17.0km/hr, 2,363m el
Swim: 3.82km 2.3km/hr avg.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Marathon Miss

Inspired by Eddie Izzard's Marathon Man on Wednesday, I managed swimming yesterday morning and a 5.8km run today.

It was difficult getting out for the run - don't get me wrong. Despite my best intentions and a gut feeling of wanting to run, I was tired in my upper-body from the swimming, mentally fatigued and knew it would result in me needing to drive to work instead of riding.

However, I finally (after a snooze on the sofa) left the house at 7:30. I let rip on the downhills, not bothering to control my speed but instead, impacting to aoid the other resultant pain of muscle strain. I powered up the up-hills - just cos I felt like it really.

It was, in the end, deserving of the status of a good run.

I can't wait to go out for a ride with TSK tomorrow.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Just about back

I'm never good after ski-ing.  No matter how good I thought I was when I left it always takes me a few weeks to get over it.

I forget this every time and have been sulking at myself for weeks for being unmotivated, unmoved and rubbish.  Let's see, since my trip to Sheffield I have managed a pathetic Sunday bimble to recalibrate the tri-bars position and one pathetic swim where I failed to get out of bed in time and got thrown out after 25 minutes and 42 lengths.  So much for the swim-test I had planned.  To be fair, there was also a sick walk to the Farm and chronic dancing at Keeran's wedding.

Yesterday I was just "done" with being useless and promised myself a trip to the gym - despite the swollen glands and the cough.  The hacking chestie that attacks me every morning.

So today I have achieved and ridden to work too... and gotten to the doctors on time to get anti-bios for the swollen glands.

Again again!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Stats

Swim: 4.92km, 2.2kph avg
Bike: 205.24km, 21.6 kph avg, 2170 m elevation, HRZ 0.9. 3h25min stationary bike HRZ 1.6
Run: 9.77km, 5.8 kph avg, HRZ 1.6

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trep Homecoming

There are a few true homes to my life - Altrincham & Sheffield. Naramata and The Orchard have been but transient homes and Cambridge and Peterborough were never really anything but a house.

On Friday I went for an interview in a little town just outside Sheffield. It went well and I left feeling happy and somewhat confident. For the drive back to Altrincham, I chose to leave the M1 early before the Woodhead turn and head for Sheffield - and potentially the notorious Snake Pass A57. Not thinking I needed a map, I navigated my way through the Sheffield suburbs and arterial roads part by intuition and part by gut and familiarity.

Turn after turn I found myself guessing but by that point, with Sheffield on the left, Manchester is pretty much always to the right and the only true decision I had to make was wether to turn into Grenoside or away from it. Turning away from it, I passed over the brow of the hill and promptly burst into tears of joy and laughter. With the spills of the peak district ahead of me, covered in snow, dark trees in contrast, the dusky post-sunset-glow and the light of the city where I was at univeristy glistening in my tears, I cied becuase I was home. Home being a random hillside in the middle of nowhere. I plunged down the hillside, pulled myself together and continued in my quest to get back to Altrincham home.

I completed the rest of the journey, the tufty grass verge of Woodhead with snow just beyond, the wiggly descent past reservoirs reflecting the dark blue night sky, past God's crag car park where I've taken special friends to go climbing and into Tameside with the vintage car garage. The slow climb that used to be a 60 limit to Hyde where my dad once chased a boy who thretened to beat us with a stick as we cycled past. On through Stockport and the M60 to mum and dadd's where I looked at my watch and pronounced I still have it - Sheffield to Manchester in 1 hour 22 minutes by Gut-nav. Eat my dirt garmin.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Restraint

Avoided doing anything this morning so that spinning would be completely beneficial.

Result.

Even found myself competing with Claire though I expect she was pushing more power than me.

Continued the effort for the full hour but there were some tracks where I put so much effort in, I really needed to give myself a break.  How is it one track can end up with 3 >zone 5 peaks.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Hat fail

Forgot my swim hat and goggles.  Brain confused by potential options - work out in the gym without any shoes, spend money at reception on kit I don't use, do a half hour without - swimming breast stroke.

Finally, I settled for the last option after walking for the door about three times.

It was dull.  Just going through the motions really. 

It was really busy - choppy, splashy and scratchy.  

I had energy left for a fast ride to work - a sprint for 27 minutes to the gate and climbing Brimble Hill in second gear.  I am on Red.

Rolled home full of the joys of resting.  More tomorrow