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


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.

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

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

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