Saturday, May 28, 2011

Du then Swim

Fairholmes the second and a reduced course due to the usual course being under water in places. Just two women turned up and I pranced off at a pace to make sure I set a lead. My chaser managed to maintain her distance after the first turnaround which gave me a bit of a scare, as did the sideways action crossing the cattle grid on the way back to transition.

Thoughts on Chrissie Wellington's shoe laces not confirmed yet. I'd have to do a long run in them to make sure.

That was Thursday evening. A rest on Friday and Saturday morning saw me on the banks of Rother Valley Country Park waiting to plunge into the murky depths with everyone else on the main swim. I managed 23 minutes in the water. It felt a lot longer. It was very cold. Still spitting up snot hours later I intend to sit back and recover big time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Half Marathon Distance

Coming out of the open water swimming I recognised my cold would probably need to rest so I spent the rest of Saturday knitting and doing very little. Sunday, TSK was still on his rest week so he accompanied me on my epic half-marathon distance attempt.

After a swift lunch he dropped me off at Yorkshire Bridge and I ran around the ladybower reservoir - lovely and flat, up to the top of the ridge on Bamford side before dropping back down to the A57, the Hagg Farm centre and back up onto the torrs above Derwent. I ran through a few rainstorms but in the shelter of the trees I wasn't too exposed.

Up at the very head of the valley, the footpath crossed the river and I paused to enjoy the sunshine before continuing down the valley.

I passed a few mountain biker groups hiding under the trees from the heaviest rain and no sooner had I started to enjoy the sun, the tree cover dropped away and the wind whipped up and the rain started to fall horizontally. At 18.5km the knees began to freeze and the legs started to cramp. Eventually, as I limped along I decided I'd be best off putting on my waterproofs if nothing else, to keep the wind off my body.

I reached the gate at the head of the reservoir and two women acompanied me on the rest of my journey. The sun came out again and the reservoir looked like a beach.

They chatted me through the last 4km of the run. By the time I reached the dam I skipped across the 22.5km boundary without even knowing it and jogged with my hands in the air when I checked my watch at 22.7km.

Relieved I had achieved something, I had time to enjoy nature and attempt to capture this photo of the pheasant chick wandering through the grass with his mommy. It didn't work.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Open Water Swimming at Rother Valley - the beginings

Open water swimming was great, it really was. I've been so looking forwards to it for many weeks. For me it's not just about training, it's about the freedom of swimming outdoors, even if I am wrapped up in a very expensive, highly technical wetsuit.

I arrived first at Rother Valley country park and kept warm knitting in the vanu until they let us through the gate. All registered and signed-in I took to the novices group to learn some extra techniques. Any knowledge will help.

The first lap was frightening. Usual frozen forehead, sharp breaths. Looking down over the weeds lurking in the depths below I had my usual panic attack but then concentrated and got the hell on with it. I realised it was good to see the weeds meaning the water was so much clearer than many of the lakes and rivers in the UK I have swum in through last years tri season.

The useful technique I learned was turning around the buoy. Very useful, really and I wouldn't have learned it if I hadn't done the novice session but I also learned not to do the novice session again. I stuck around incase I learned anything else and it was good to practice mass starts and draughting amongst friends.

The standing around started to get to me after a while and my hands began to claw. I lasted it out as long as possible, thinking, "I'll just do one more, one more". Finally one more was too many. My technique was going downhill. I called it quits and headed for the changing rooms. Two people declared me genius for bringing the remnants of my morning coffee pot with me in a flask. Seemed like an obvious idea to me.

Satisfied with a good training session which, although not great in terms of distance, great for toughness training and a great deal of fun. Looking forwards to next week.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pre-race Resting

Resting is bliss when there's no excuses. I have less than 1 week to go before the day in the lakes half ironman. Yesterday I spent all day fixing up my bike (I still have to ride it to make sure it's ok) today I jogged around the trunce. I wasn't going to do it at all but the weather was so lovely and I felt inclined to encourage my young colleague to keep going along.

I literally jogged up the hills, even walked down some with the more timid folks nearer to the back than I'm used to.

I walked the last climb as much as I could but my legs were crying out for some short sharp steps so I darted round the side and ran past a few who passed me back as I jogged down the last descent to the finish.

I wasn't going to damage my legs on any frivolous downhill sprints tonight oh no. As instructed, my understudy, Robin, jogged with me to the car, from where we dashed off to the station so I could catch the 20.23 to Cheltenham for 2 days of meetings starting tomorrow.

Life is too short at this speed. Resting is fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

City School Cross


Swept off my bike by a big guy from pedalsport. Every muscle in my body aches and I've a lovely pedal gash on my shin.

I hope I'm repaired for open water on Saturday morning. Nursing the cold back to health too.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stratford Tri

A tiring start to the Stratford Tri for me. Not used to having children around, a flit between getting Bex ready for the big day and enjoying / managing the children's enthusiasm for my visit.

We finally settled down to bike tinker at 10:00pm, once we'd put children to bed and done our nails.

On the morning of the race my usual aura of professional calm was disturbed by continuous bumping into people Becky knew in only the way Becky can. Eventually I gave up trying to herd cats. I got her into transition and set up then set off myself 15 minutes later to organise my life.

Bike racked I realised I had neigther swim hat, goggles or bike helmet. A walk over to the van. I was so focused on getting Becky ready, I'd completely forgotten myself and I'd completely forgotten that my swim time was 15 minutes later so I felt unneccessarily rushed.

Finally once everything in my life was together I wandered through to see my support crew and watch Becky start then walked down to my own start.

The swim could only be described as a fist fight with people passing three abreast and swimming head on into eachother. I went to pass people on the third section and found I was trapped on the left side of a line of 4-5 people meaning I had to swim over a lady to change lanes. She got angry and sat on my feet for a lap. I went so fast my feet started to cramp. I stood up once or twice and swam the last lap breast stroke.

Climbing out of the pool to masses of cheers from the boys and girls above. Outside in transition went well. I ran straight to my post and towelled down. Everything went on except the race number - woops.

The ride passed with little comment. Encouraging those around me. Passing the last of the men. Calling to a fellow competitor who'd taken a wrong turn.

Race number on in the second transition and shoes tied. Possibly the last time as I promise myself new easy-fit shoe laces. I race out of transition remarkably well and continue the fast stride wondering if I can keep it up. Remarkably, again, I can. I keep the stride going and stick with a few people. No one passes me.

I high five Becky coming the other way and call encouragement to team GB as she passes on lap 1.

Around the corner into the finish and I am breathless and exhausted and struggle to find the energy for hugs and congratulations.

Results in and I realise I've missed two laps on the swim. A genuine mistake.

Swim (uprated to full distance) : 8:16 - v. satisfied - 50th woman of 200. 267/643.
Bike: 48:20 - 30.3kph - 8th woman. 187/643.
Run: 27:15 - 5:21min/km or 11.2kph - 52nd. 341/643.

Overall 1:23:36 - 17/172 woman 240/643 overall.

In summary, this event was a shambles for the swim and a rip off - £50 and no timing chips. I did enjoy it. I enjoyed the enthusiastic support team of Dan, Zoe, Torin and Adam. I got a good result but I won't be doing it again. Shame.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Second Half Marathon Distance

More proud than my tri, I am happy with my second half marathon distance. Less hilly but much more enjoyable, I was half way around this one before I noticed and didn't really know how far I'd gone until I'd made the distance. I could walk after it and cycled to work the next day and I think it would've been even more successful had I not needed to sprint half way through because I realised I'd dropped my garmin and my £ 100 phone... Too near to Worksop for that kind of thing. 

With just under 2 weeks to go to the event, this morning I have done my swim distance in a pool one last time... With perhaps, maybe a go go the lake on Saturday. Everything else I do before then will be a spinning bimble. I am looking forwards to it

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Swimmin Notes

Straight pull through for the above-water hand. Remember, doing up the zip. It makes the whole thing a lot faster.

The first 60 lengths were quite difficult today and then I got into it.

94 done.

Get me.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Racing Ace

I'm having an amazing time at the moment.

Last week I finally got to experience the Sheffield tri club race / training sessions. It was the most amazing evening for it. Hills stacked on top of hills as far as the eye could see as I drove through the peak district. At Fairholmes we registered and I started getting to know some of my new team mates. Lots of fit and not so fit women and an almost equal proportion of men. Bob gave us a pre race briefing which mostly included which way to go and where to get on and off the bike.

We left our shoes and bikes under the watchful gaze of a team mate and headed off, women 5 minutes ahead, down the lane, across the bottom of the dam busters dam and up the other side. At the top near the gateway the 180 turn around and hardest downhill sprint back to transition with the kicker of an uphill at the end.

On to the bike with the usual flourish but straight into a hard climb which sorted out those of us who've been on a bike a lot and those who haven't. The bike course was wonderful. 15km of the most interesting climbs, descents and hairpin bends I've ever known. This is how I dream of time trials. Geese by the reservoir and a road I'd never driven on because it's closed except for access and busses, nor would ever dream of walking up... Because it's a road yeah? At the roundabout at the head of the reservoir, a 180 and back the way you came. Passing a few and still battling with that one lady who won't go away and eventually comes back past me.

On the last few climbs I make last ditch attempts to catch people by descending like a nutter but there's no one here on a shopping bike or their dad's hybrid.

I try my usual flying dismount but the downhill to the dismount area is so steep I nearly lose the back end.

Shoes changed again and this time the legs are really done for. I prance across the transition line but only because my legs are still pedalling. I just can't get a rhythm going and flit between bounds and sprints. I revert to looking up and cheering the men going the other way then those catching me up.

How nice that everyone stands by to cheer others back in before heading back to their car. I take a jog with Elliot and Pam, chat to Allison and promise to meet Sally at the pub which I break as I am desperate to eat and not spend money doing it.

On Wednesday it was the Tiger's Todger fell race. Tiger because it leaves from the Sheffield Tigers rugby ground. Todger, apparently, because it is a cock of a race.

A vicious downhill on the road, uphill through a park and woodland I didn't know existed. The saving grace, the dry conditions and the unexpected 340 degree view from the moor when we reached it. Briefly enjoyed that and the gritstone boulders before heading back down to civilisation. 6 miles and 248m of climbing made me realise how poor my distance running has become though I had done a full working day and managed to carry all my energy up until about mile 5.5. By the last slog along Long Line (named after the Long Line of people in front of me) I had stopped feeling like I'd eaten too much at work and started feeling hungry.

I managed the turn into the field with team mates giving me a woop when pointed out I was one of them.

Once the race was over It was straight over to Vicki's to collect my new team top which means I won't have to draw peoples attention to my club allegiance anymore. And everyone will know what my name is.

(Pictures to follow)

The rest of last week lost out to dental surgery on Tuesday meaning that I was very well rested on Friday. I was requested to run in the Calderdale Way relay race at the weekend with the Dark Peak Fell runners womens' team. How could I resist?

Sadly, I was feeling far to keen on Saturday so I went out and did an 85km ride in the Peak District up hill and down dale - literally.

The Calderdale relay was really fun - lots of driving from village to village up precipitous lanes to be delivered to race from Wainstalls to Shelf with Lesley who was a really lovely, patient lady that nursed me and my tired legs through the race, making sure we finished and opening gates for me, checking I was OK and genuinely, jogging alongisde me.

We had quite the chat about knitting.

Today it's the trunce. While my ride on Sunday was over-distance for my triathlon (I need that training with June not so far away), the Calderdale relay was only half of the run distance so, the second 2/3s today.

The finishing squad

Thursday, May 05, 2011

When Shit Comes up with a Really Nice Thing

24 months ago I asked a friend if I could get some poo from her horse - to put on my plants in the Mead.

She said she couldn't guarantee it would be from her horse - the rather royally named William - but probably from a mixture of fine Wiltshire ponies.

The result was one of the most enjoyable after-work evenings of my adult life culminating in a bare back ride on William which left me happy as a 5 year old for days and a bag of steaming shit carried home in a bag in the back of the vanu which didn't even spill or leak, much to my relief.

Sadly William is no longer with us but on Sunday we decided to pay him the homage of using some of his poo on the newly laid lawn and some of the plants we'd planted in the garden including TSK's plum tree that's about to bear its first fruit and could do with a nutritional boost.

TSK peered into the bag first and summoned me quietly. There were baby mice in the bag. Tiny, blinky baby mice.

I rushed carefully through the pile of brambles to look but they were long gone, hidden in the now-perfect flaky manure but as I held the edge of the bag, a sweet, dun brown mammy mouse with wide, staring chestnut eyes stood on the edge of the bag. Her tiny claws held the edge of the bag like the hands of a tree frog cling to a stem. She thrust her soft gossamer whiskers forward in the summer breeze to investigate our presence and observed us like she'd never seen a human before.

We stared back at her like we'd never been so close to nature in all our lives.

We were in her house (not the other way around for once) so we left her to her shit and declared that William's poo would get another year to rot down and quite likely go up for sale with the house and the rest of the garden.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

April 2011 Stats

Swim: 4.98km, 2.4km/hr - Maintaining the speed. Increased distance

Bike: 303.80km, 23.8km/hr, 2983m el, 152bpm avg - Shorter, much faster, higher.

Run: 46.81km, 8.5km/hr, 974m el, 135bpm avg- Not so far, as fast, higher.

Other: 11.96km walking 123m elevation.

This month has included races again which means I need more time to recover. However, I've seemed to keep the distances up so I'm quite pleased with this.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

May Bank Holiday

Spent with Silver Lining on Avebury and in Woot Bass. So amazing to enjoy the South as a weekend away and nothing more and really enjoyed walking with dogs and kids.