Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lisbon European Standard Triathlon Championships 2016

What a day it has been! A 5am start with a brilliant breakfast service laid on by Ibis hotels. Transition stocked, yoga with a German lady and a heron looking on by the Targus River. Had a chat with the lovely Louise Minchin from off of the TV before the start but I didn't realise at first who she was so we talked about wee. Dropped off the back of the swim but fought to stay with some feet all the way to around 1300m then powered through cold-hands to only be caught by the first of the MV40 wave behind with 50m to go. Unfortunately, he thought it a good idea to drag me under by the ankle! That wasn't going to take the shine off my 31:56 time (I thought 33 was realistic). Successfully onto the bike and over the speed humps though my saddle bag was dangling like a muppet but securely attached so I kept going. The hill on the bike course was brutal - like the Rivelin valley but 1500m and more exposed. The descent of the motorway the other side was to dream for so I set about pissing off guys by passing them back on the downhill. 2 laps of that at 18.2 mph average. Clearly the bike legs are behind! Then the run which hurt like hell but should have, given that my dream target was 7 miles an hour and I PB'd at 45:53 (8.3mph average) all confusion brought on by loss of satellite reception every time we went through the stadium making me push myself to achieve some theoretical line in the sand drawn last week. Thank you Portugal, Thank you Lisbon, Thank you medics, police, officials, marshals, water-giving-out people. Thank you team GB, Dawn and Nick and most of all Andrew Rodgers who ran around after me all week and the friends and family of complete strangers who kept me going through the toughest run I've done yet. All that with a cold!

Position - 176 / 224.women
23/29 FV40s

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm

Before Lisbon – Week16 / 17  – and everything coming together
If week 15 was one for drama then this week was filled with resolution. 

It started on Saturday with new running shoes and a massage with Pete which left me with a sore and bruised calf muscle but at this time, there’s no going to A&E.  It’s Lisbon or bust baby and if I don’t come home, I just don’t care.

I wanted to run in the shoes but I needed to swim and I needed to bike.

I missed out on outdoor swimming through a misunderstanding of the weekend’s plans so headed for the pool on Sunday morning.  I’d left it too late in the day, it was hot walking over there (in my new shoes) and bloody cold in the water.  They’d got it circulating on ice I think.  Within 20 laps I felt a pulled muscle under my arm.  I had a rest and went again.  The pain was still there.  I had another rest then called it at 35 lengths – 1300m.  It wasn’t going to go away with a massage and a rest and I was only going to make it worse.  I felt relieved that I hadn’t done it in the lake as I would’ve blamed my new wetsuit and that would have been a disaster.

I was strangely calm about things and just looked forwards to Tuesday when I could test my wetsuit.

After swimming I decided it would be more sensible to ride my bike than run (didn’t like the thought of swinging my arms for any length of time, or of doing a roadie run for that matter).  So I thought I’d allow myself a little 25 mile loop in the peak – nothing too strenuous.  As far as new shoes go, I  bought myself a pair of tri shoes for the bike too so a nice ride was a good excuse to try out the shoes and also make sure the cleats were in the correct position.

I did a lap of the Rivelin Valley as I realised I had no bike pump and, not feeling particularly lucky or wanting to climb the steepest of hills, I looped up to Rails Road then climbed back on myself through Crookes to pop back to the house and grab the pump and a top up on my tyres too.

It was a beautiful day and decisions had to be made about the route to take.  I thought a blast down the quiet roads of the Edale valley would be nice and that led to a lovely jaunt over to Barber Booth and, having established that I could climb hills without the armpit complaining, to Mam Nick hill climb, which I dispensed with in a calm and gentle manner – as much as possible – including a photo stop en route.

Down Winnats where I discovered that the brakes on an F-type Jag are better than my cyclo-cross discs and narrowly avoided running into the back of the car that so desperately sped past me at the top of the hill.

I was peckish by Castleton, had no food or a lock so made a beeline for the house, up surprise view and home through Crookes for the second time that day.

Tempting as it was to do a 10 km brick run to make my race distance again, I was restrained and saved the day out in shoes for another day.

It’s a good job I didn’t since Monday I was TIRED.  I slept in the spare room so I don’t catch TSK’s cold and I was woken by the sun streaming through the curtain at 5:30 am.  I had my breakfast and then went back to sleep.

Tuesday was dee day for the wetsuit and also the day the new car got its shit together.  I dropped the car off, spent a lovely morning riding to work, was late for my 8am meeting, had a second successful meeting later, returned to the garage at 1:30, bummed off a training course and then returned to the garage in a sprint against the traffic, redlights and ambulances to recover the car and wetsuit for Tuesday night swimming. 

I swam steady, did two laps (1600m approx.) in 34 minutes but, crucially, went on to do another loop.  2400m… I could have kept going.  Yes I would’ve been cold and knackered but, finally, I knew I could have done it.  I didn’t because I didn’t want to knacker myself for the rest of the week.  I skipped away from the lake, flopped on the sofa at home and declared myself done for the day.  Packing could wait for the morning. 

So here I am, sitting at the airport.  Reasonably confident that I have everything that I need – most of it in my hand luggage – MY helmet, MY trishoes, MY running shoes and MY lucky trackmitts.

Mentally, I have a laptop, a note book, a garmin with the street maps of Lisbon on it and a 9Bar, oh and 10 tonnes of confidence packed with an surprising quantity of calm and ease.  I’m not sure how I have managed it but I think I am ready.

My targets I will scribe on my arm on Sunday:
·         Race like an Osprey
·         Ride like you stole it
·         Run like you mean it
·         Try not to be last
·         Enjoy every moment

OF Course there’s some real ones:
·         33 min swim (3’ slower than bala)
·         1:10 bike (1:30 slower than bala, though in retrospect Bala is 3km short so that was a poor choice!)
·         50 min run (match bala)

Pipe dream:

·         Beat Bala – any which way I can – 2:36:33

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Clutching at straws

It's been a grossly self-indulgent day and I'm not proud of myself.  Not a spa kind of self-indulgent but a wallowing self-indulgence spurned by under-performance.

The sense of déjâ vu.

I only swam a mile.  I was so desperate to achieve 2 miles.  I even went to the Hallamshire but there's no A&E so I have to debate whether to go to the Northern General on Monday.  I will do what I know best and attempt a 16 mile run.  If I make it to work in a good state, I'll stay.  If not I'll go to hospital.  How's that?

I sat on the sofa for the rest of the day analysing stats.  It made me feel better.

The blip on the left is 2012 when TSK & I got married and did a half Ironman.  The next blip is 2013 when I completed my only Ironman - Forestman.  The big fucking mountain is 2014 which started off with a pretty scary 'cross season and spiralled into life threatening illness and a failure to complete Celtman.  This then rumbles on into a tough 'cross season ending January 2015, a vibrant 2015 Standard distance season (which is justified in being effort-intensive on account of FAST) and the gently sloping hill on the right... is 2016...I am working hard to convince myself that 2016's controlled expansion in effort is somehow living statistical proof of my chances of surviving another year of Ironman racing and my high likelihood of not only finishing but also beating my Forestman time.  I will tentatively admit that it might be working and at the moment, I'm just to knackked to appreciate it.

What I have to look out for, is 2016 turning into a mountain, and not the justifiable hillock it should be.

From November to race date & now
Swim - 2016 - 33.6miles 59hrs 42mins / 2014 - 53 miles 33hours 5mins /  2013 - 58 miles 29hours 55 mins
Bike - 2016 - 1497 miles 141hours 21 mins 19.6km vertical climb /  2014 - 1655 miles 151 hours 51 mins 23.5km climbing /  2013 - 1149 miles 157 hours, 24km vertical climb
Run - 2016 - 287.2 miles 104 hours 23 mins 4.6km vertical climb /  2014 -  365 miles 90hours 54 mins 11.9km vertical climb /  2013 - 218 miles in 62h 15min, 8.8km vertical climb.

If I do all remaining planned swimming I can hit 68 miles.
Not worried about the bike.
If I do all remaining planned running sessions I can hit 390 miles.

No mountains,... not mountains, fingers crossed.


The foot is much better on a Sunday.  The anticipated stiffness and pain has not materialised and at least my knee is aching so we know the strain is working its way out of my leg gradually.  Thank god.

I'm still not racing - within 9 minutes I will have officially missed my start time.

Positives of the day:

  • I needed that sleep - damn that was good!
  • For the first time all year I am starting Sunday with lunch in the fridge.
  • I might be excused in asking TSK to carry my bike back upstairs again (obviously my ankle is too weak and I don't want to fall over the bike again!)
  • I have rationalised my priorities - it's Kielder and Lisbon will just have to take what it gets.
  • I have a good opportunity to do my swim distance today - though not the run distance, it doesn't matter because running has become a strength (I know, how did *THAT* happen?)
  • I get to try out my new feet on shorter runs before a big one.
  • I might just do some sewing.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Evil week 15 and the attack of misplaced Friday 13ths

It's Saturday.  14th May.

I'm sitting on the sofa with my foot on a cushion and an ice pack on it.  I am pissed off and miserable.  An innocent rush for the door caused me to trip over a bike pedal with my bare foot and now I have a purplish lump and a very sore foot.  Let me reitterate - I am miserable.

The what ifs: mainly, if I hadn't been silly enough to attempt a hilly training session and had instead stuck to my 80 mile target.  I'd have been home later and gone out for my brick run.  Instead, I was in the house to rush for the door.  Still, at least I rode 62 hilly miles (1500m climbing).  I guess if I decide not to race tomorrow, I might be able to force my foot to endure a few laps of the pool (115 to be precise).

I wanted to race - so bad.  I qualified at Bala last year exactly two weeks after racing my heart out in the Triathlon Team Sprint races.  I wanted to sprint race two weeks before Lisbon.  I wanted to do First of the Summer Tri.  I just hope I can finish my tri season at this rate.

Thank god the person at the door was a friend and not a cold caller.

My week was moderately successful.  Sunday's run left me in the mood for more but I was restrained on Monday and took the time for a little recovery.  A vow to stick to the plan for a while.

It was a good decision. Tuesday saw me doing yoga in the morning (new resolution to keep this up), an unexpected run at lunchtime which I stretched out to 7 miles in 1:05 and swimming at Harthill in the evening.

Harthill left me swearing.  Only 1 mile swum when I know I've recently been capable of 3.5km in the pool.  I NEED to get more distance done in open water.  I didn't push myself but I didn't leave the water perfectly peachy either.  The water temperature was a balmy 16 degrees - warmer than Lisbon!  I stood in the hot shower for some time consoling myself and eventually convinced myself that too much water is getting in and flowing through my suit.  Incase there's any doubt of this, I am pretty much swimming in a constant cold stream of water and have all the hydrodynamics of a plastic bag.  I've not used anti-chaffe all season and haven't suffered any pain from friction burns AT ALL.

I slept well on Tuesday night what with all the exercise but once I had a rest day on Wednesday, enforced by a training course in Manchester and exacerbated by closure of the tri store in Wilmslow, I went to bed consumed with anxiety about poorly fitting wetsuits and that evening and into the night was spent researching wetsuits.  ]

On Thursday, I dropped my car in for service, cycled to work, ran at lunchtime and then... then... home via Accelerate to pick up some new feet and via all of two shops in Sheffield that are still selling (a choice of only two manufacturers of) wetsuits.

Unfortunately Thursday was the hottest day of the year so that was a workout and a half, riding between stores and trying to shimmy a sweaty body into tight rubber in confined changing rooms.  Still, Thursday I managed a run.

Well, I had to pick up that car Friday but I was so knackered, I walked there.  I'd not worked enough hours this week so Friday was a late one and I was glad of having a car to drive home in.  All hours worked, I headed home to attempt to recover.  The body was willing but the brain was not.  It wasn't to be and I had to get out of bed - around 10:30 to go into the loft and measure my bike to ensure it complied with ITU rules and then sit on the sofa to analyse the week.  More progress towards having faith in the programme and calming an uneasy mind.  Unfortunately it doesn't help with the sleep deprivation.

Today's ride blew the faith in the programme out of the window a little bit.  I acknowledge I was a little silly to expect an 80 mile ride that had that many hills in it.  After riding all the way up Winnats on my tt bike (Rosie Red) with a 28 gear, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  Unfortunately the descent of Rushup edge cooled my sweaty skin right down again.

Patchwork Quilted Moorland
I flipped over into Wash then on my way up Chunnal - a beast of a hill - at mile 29 I just had to stop.  I couldn't breathe, I had no motivation and my calves and groin were starting to twinge.  Panic set in.  Is it happening again?  I leant over and had a breathe over the handlebars.  90 seconds rest sorted me out.  Once in Glossop I stopped for lunch then headed over the snake.

Beautiful flowers in Glossop.
The rest of the ride proceeded without event although my shoulders started to ache and I spent most of the snake hill climb with my hands on my elbow pads, stretching my back as much as possible.  It's been a long time since I've ridden Rosie Red.

Feeling blessed to have this view on my way home.
At mile 40, instead of knowing I could do another loop, I knew it was time to go home.  I added an item to my shopping list - a new stem for Rosie to give me a little more space to spin my legs and ease the pain through my shoulder blades.  It should help me run faster in the long race though it can stay the way it is until after Lisbon.

So I set off for home to shop the internet.  I could swim in the afternoon.  I could do my run.


In fact I closed the door behind me and said, "Fuck that". I could have done any of those things but instead I had a shower, went shopping for food and then broke my foot.

Tomorrow is another day and I have no idea what it is going to look like.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Beautiful week14

So, week 13 ended on Monday with a 14 mile run.  Meaning a rest day on Tuesday - oh no!

I've decided that I've been missing out on yoga too frequently so this week I booked on to both Tuesday and Thursday sessions.  Tuesday is open water swimming day so that happened too.

Yoga was perfect - reminded me what I've been missing. When I am on my own, I can't do the relaxation, meditation or advancement that I get from a class.

I drove to work and then to swimming where the water temperature had warmed back up to a peachy 11.2 degrees.  I forgot my gloves so, pissed off, I plunged into the water.  Swam a first short lap for starters then picked it up to the big lap without gloves for a bit of a challenge.  It worked and I felt like I was about to pass out as I exited the water.  Just as I went to ask someone to keep an eye on me, I realised he was swimming in skins and I felt pathetic so I kept my mouth shut.  I still didn't fancy a run so got in the showers.

Wednesday was resolutely a rest day.

Thursday therefore felt easy with a starter of yoga followed by a bike ride to work and a brick run.  It was so lovely outside that I decided not to let work steal all of my day and kept going around my running loop - a 4.4 mile long brick run.  That will do nicely.

I rode home via an inspirational talk from Graeme Obree and we had a lovely chat about obsession.

On Friday morning I felt like riding to work but the job stole that idea with a meeting planned in Immingham.  Instead I went for a swim at the pool to try and inject some distance in to my week.  It was abysmal.  I managed 40 lengths before I got bored and then when I started to feel really sick I just finished my way to the half way mark of what I was supposed to be doing and got out at 1 mile.  I guess I need to rest.

The remainder of the day was at least pleasant and it put me in the mood for Saturday's ride with Norton Wheelers and more outdoor swimming... in this luxurious weather, who could argue?

Norton Wheelers gave me a basting as usual, resulting in a very tired hippo making my way up Froggatt edge.  Still, a scone and two cups of coffee seemed to give me enough steam to get home and head back to Harthill for more swimming.  It was so hot I could hardly get my wetsuit on.  The water seemed chilly at first but I did warm up for about 1lap before the last half lap started to make me cold.  My hands had gone to pot - splayed fingers etc.  I had been swimming with someone else and could pretty much point to the moment when hnads failed as that person swam away from me.  However, I wasn't shivering nearly as bad as I could have been and had a very relaxed shower before pottering home.

So far, a fairly restful week as far as distances go but a big effort from my Norton ride.  I have nothing more than a paltry 11 mile run tomorrow but given the state of my post-Norton legs, I'm not sure whether that will happen tomorrow or not.  Only time will tell... and lying on the sofa, lots of lying on the sofa.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Hilliest flat run ever

A target of 4.5 mph. I scoffed at it yesterday but it was clear when I left the house that this run was going to be no speedier than any of my other long runs in the Peak. I still had Stockton in my legs and a hilly 70 miles ride but this is Ironman training. What was I expecting?

It's been 2 weeks since Brighton when I supported the marathon runners by doing a half but then I spent a lot of the day sitting around waiting.

The last time I ran over 10 miles consistently was 3rd April so let's not feign surprise at my slowness.

Most running from my house starts up hill. It's the quietest route out of town.  No surprise that I was dragging my feet. I gave up watching the speed and just concentrated on keeping my heart rate in tempo or less. There was a lot of walking up the steps to the golf course and a lot of walking over the tree roots alongside the golf course. That bloody heart rate alarm... but if I was going to make it today (and I was VERY determined) I was going to have to pace myself like I did at Stockton... but even more strictly.  Slightly easier with no-one breathing down my neck.

I started to think I was overdressed as I flitted through the sun dappled trees in a thin merino top and 3/4 leggings. I scoffed at golfers in down coats. I made it all the way to Redmires car park before I put on a Gilet. Sheffield looked beautiful below and there were a lot of smiling dog walkers out.

I dropped down to Headstone. Alone again. Just me and my buddy. A poignant piece of rock. Probably for more people who care to admit. We spent a very brief moment together as I took some pics and sorted out thin gloves and a banana as headstone kept the wind off me. Whaddaguy.

On down to the valley bottom then and over hollow meadows where I could watch the rain making her way over from Manchester to make my day a little more intense.

From the top I had to walk down to the farm at my 7 mile point. I didn't want to scatter the nursing sheep and their lambs so I picked my way through them, only disturbing a few families from their dry patches of grass as the driving drizzle moved in.

Over a dry stone wall away from the sheep, I sprinted for the next bit of cover, a long descent through woodland which I knew would delay me wearing my sweaty coat just a little longer.

It's my favourite running path and today it felt particularly safe as a little haven. Sadly it wasn't long enough and I stopped for a second banana before putting my coat on and stepping out into the rain.

The route I had mapped said right into the rain again. I opted for left, down the hill, into the friendly Loxley valley. I took a short cut through a field to make up for the diversion and soon regretted it when it turned out to be on very wet grass and my well-protected dry feet were now sodden through. Still, only 6 miles to go.

Down the hill to Damflask reservoir where soggy families, oblivious children and dogs and petulant teenagers in hoodies traipsed willfully, or otherwise, around the lake.  I ran by on the flat - finally injecting some 6mph pace into my running - my speed increased with the temperature.  Down in the valley bottom it somehow stopped raining for a few moments and I took my coat off and luxuriated in being in a single layer again.  I checked my watch: 12.2 miles run of my planned 14.  I'd get the miles in - and some more.

The dry spell didn't last long and I was soon wearing my rain coat and rather than praising the trees for keeping my dry I was cursing their saturation which dropped dramatically onto my head every time a gust of wind blew.  The river kept me company, it's various states of gushing providing a constant backdrop to the swish swish of my rain coat in my ears.  I engaged with my rhythm but had to stop myself when I started trying to beat the rhythm because I was the rhythm so trying to beat it would have been silly.

I had to pick my way around the fishermen at the pond, convinced that no-one would be out on such an atrocious day, they spread their umbrellas and poles and boxes of worms all over the footpath but at least they were apologetic as I passed.

A man and his dog (both?) gave me one of those sad, grave Yorkshire nods which very simply says, "I'd say 'what a glorious day' but clearly I'd be lying".

As I ran through the disused industrial estate, long closed to the discovery of asbestos and too many floodings, I knew I had to reach my distance soon but walking home from 14 miles wasn't really an option I relished so I kept on running and didn't bother to dig out my watch from beneath its layers.

A rumbling tummy made me scrounge in my rucsac pocket for a torq bar.  Rhubarb and custard - my favourite.  It went down a treat, to the extent that I nearly cried when I almost dropped it in a puddle.  The 3 second rule applies when it's raining too right?

Finally, into the Rivelin Valley and the long run up the river to the street that I live on.  I couldn't face the path and opted instead for the busy road and all the drivers splashing.  I avoided the worst puddles - at one point running down the central reservation and raised islands to avoid the biggest puddles.  I really didn't care though, just wanted to climb the final hills without a freezing cold shower first.

Then I did walk.  I walked all the way up the bloody hill.  All of it. I took off my wet clothes, had a pee, made a recovery drink and sat in the chair.  Then I made lunch and sat in the chair.  Then I had a bath and went to bed.

All of that and even if I take out 1.37 miles of the slowest movement, I still only get 4.3 miles per hour.  So no great performance then except for one thing.  I did 3 times more climbing today than I will on race day.  That is my only saving grace. That, and I really fucking enjoyed myself.  It would be wrong to wish I hadn't because I was running faster but I do wish I'd been able to run faster.  It would've justified how I feel, justified the time off, justified the effort I put in weeks ago.  I know I'm tired, end of a big weekend, need a recover etc. etc. yada yada but I can't help feeling flat about today.
Maybees it's the weather.  Bring on next week.

Week 13 - Hoping this was hump week

Unlucky number 13? This week got stuck with a work commitment - a tender submission that was hard to dodge or delegate.

Hard to dodge because it was going to be my project going forward.  Hard to delegate because I have no people yet.  No project, no people.  That's how it goes.

Not so unlucky.  If racing on Sunday wasn't an excuse for a rest day or two, I don't know what was.

As usual, I spent the week bringing bags of training clothes to offices.

The week started with a drive to Guildford where I did at least manage to walk to work from my mum-in-laws on Tuesday morning for all day meetings, walk home and then it was driving home via Berkshire on Wednesday.

I forced myself to swim on Thursday with pleasing results.  9 days out of the water meant that I suddenly trounced through 3000m without batting an eyelid then went on to complete another 500m and check my race time for the Ironman.  1hr 25 mins to date (this is in a pool, mind you).  I got into work late and left early for a massage (about time I took my life back)

That was me knackered for Friday though and I did a 13 hour day but at least I got my project out of the way before the holiday weekend and woke up fresh(ish) on Saturday  morning.

Outdoor swimming was rescheduled to Sunday so on Saturday we cycled into blue skies and were tormented by snow and hail and howling freezing winds in the hills.  We nearly called it quits early but battled through and back into blue skies to complete a tough, hilly 70 mile ride 40 minutes faster than my Brighton ride (which involved a lot of map-checking).  When I went to bed I was as tight as a run out dishcloth so I got up again at 00:45 to do some stretching in the loft, mostly fell asleep under a blanket and don't remember going back to bed but I did.

Sunday's swim did absolutely nothing for my confidence.  9 degrees, the short loop only.  I completed two circuits and, although tempted by a third, I decided to quit whilst I was ahead and woosed out of the brick run afterwards due to that wind.  I bimbled home via PC world so that I could pick up a Micro SD card to save my music on so I can drown out the phone calls of a particularly annoying office colleague who insists on doing shouty-business on speakerphone.

Back to the house for an afternoon of tech and yoga to stretch out the legs from yesterday's bike yet again.  This time it worked much better and it looks like Monday might actually be a day for my long run to happen.  14 miles this time.

I looked through old stats to set myself a target pace.  This is tricky though.  All my long runs from years gone by (and I'm surprised how few there are) have slow speeds like 4.5 miles per hour.  I guess I rest a lot.  Even my Forestman "race".

So I guess I will go out for a plod, aim for Headstone and see what happens.  The bananas are packed we are go.