Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 36 Wet Day 37 Wobbly

I can't explain what pleasure I get from walking to the pool.

Further pleasure awaited me afterwards.  My Christmas sales shopping.  No work to go to, just shopping.

50m swimming.  No real attitudes to deal with.

1600m.  I have re-verified Day in the Lakes results and I am now swimming as fast as I was in June last year.

This bodes very well.

Day 37 and Payback.  A very slow run.  Granted I was going "straight up" but a day of sitting on the sofa without eating much took its toll.  Stupid Hippo.  Stomach cramp, lots of walking and a 42 minute 3.5 mile run.  I suppose I should take my 8.5 mile walk on Boxing day as my long run for the week... even if we did churn out a 35 minute mile.  Sad face.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My 2012 in Pictures


Half Ironman Training - gets off to a roaring Start despite icy weather in January 


North West Passage - the most confusing Audax ever and mostly completed below 4 degrees C. We narrowly escape with our lives after riding down the M65 sliproad at 9pm and retreat to the pub to eat cheese and onion pie with beans.


The Best Day at Work Ever - A safety stand-down day and 62km of bike riding over Emley Moor and Stannington 


Hell on the Hills Duathlon - my first (and possibly only) multisport event win 


A brilliant day out mountain biking in Wales with an old school friend. It was even more fun when I found all my gears. 


The Olympics

A very wet "Day in the Lakes"


The Wedding Season Kicks off in Style - with a very busty affair in Sussex. I am reunited with family I haven't seen in 15 years and we get to swim in the sea & go mountain biking as part of the package.
A very memorable Hen Night involving Zorbing, drinking, feeling very ill, much tea and a mountain bike ride with Silver Lining propping me up.


Married Mr R & celebrated with a picnic on Burbage Moor, a paddle and an insane Celidh 


Our Honeymoon - and a trip to the beach goes down well with Trepid Explorer 
A Honeymoon filled with colour
My Dad gets an "Old Git" award at the 50th 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross 


TSK completes the Monsal Hill Climb and I have a very proud day out.
I tell one person about my ambitions for 2013. 


The Concept of Ironman in 2013 Starts to Brew 


The North of England 'cross Champs goes well and I commit myself to 6 months of ironman training by telling some people 
Christmas dinner with friends.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

You can't please all of the people all of the time & today is not your day... Or, "Time to Start Saying No"

Day 33 I cycled to work.  I couldn't sleep on Sunday night - which is weird after venting my spleen to the internet, which usually helps.  I meant to get up early and go for a swim but instead, I slept in and failed to swim on the basis that they shut at 1pm on Christmas eve.

I did a fair old training ride with some efforts thrown in for good measure and a jot of hill climbing... but no running, no swimming, just a ride.

Day 34 was Christmas day and rather than doing the proverbial turkey we went out for a lovely ride with some friends into the peak district on the mountain bikes then had a restrained, though very tasty meal at home.  I would've felt quite smug except for the large volumes of alcohol consumed (for me)... but then still no swim or run.

Day 35 I had my arm twisted to go out for a walk with the folks.  They're not as sprightly as they used to be so definitely no run or swim today - though I probably could've swam faster around Ladybower reservoir... even today.  It's left me tired, soalked and achey and whilst I keep telling myself I've the rest of the week to catch up with some training that I've missed

So if you invite me anywhere over the next few weeks, do bear in mind that I might say no and don't be offended... and if I do happen to say yes just know that I might sod off for a run for a few hours or ask you to point me in the direction of the nearest pool.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

All Gone Downhill - Day 20 - 32 The Edited Version of Demons Inside

Saturday 8th December said that I was looking forwards to the North of England Cross champs the day after and indeed it was good.

Day 20 - A race which started with me feeling sluggish left me feeling like I'd put the "E" in endurance when I started riding up the steepest of climbs on the penultimate lap and ended the race riding up it.  I put a sizeable gap and two other riders between me and the girl I'm usually doing battle with.

Still, it's amazing how much a small set back can rock the boat.

On 10th something went wrong at work.  There's a host of stuff going on in my life but I don't take criticism well and I heard a lot of "nobody loves you" and felt a bit same old same old.

I was so angry I told my boss about my depression and anxiety, that the only way I cope sometimes is to go swimming at 5:30 am so the reason I sometimes get in late is that I've already been swimming and, Oh! that breakfast I'm eating... yeah, that's the second one of they day and BTW I eat it whilst I work.

Nothing seems to have come back on it.  So that was Day 21.  I racked up some impressive hours on Monday but after that I worked to rule a bit.  If I have to be in at 9, that's me, out of there at 5.  It was refreshing.  Actually declaring the day done and over with.  Actually doing a day's work and leaving on time?  I should do this more often.

So for a week the depression loomed large on the radar.  I lost all will to live for a while but in true Trepid style, instead of contemplating suicide, I just took some incredible risks.  I cycled to work in the ice (Tuesday - Day 22).  On Wednesday after another icy ride to work and back in the evening I managed to swim 1km (Day 23) and on Thursday (Day 24) I ran the 8 mile to work, getting a lift back to the city.

On the day we had freezing fog, when I stepped out the front door and fell on my ass, I drove to work (Day 25).  Some people decided they couldn't get to work!

On Day 26 I did a 200 km ride from Stockport out to Malpas, Market Drayton and back.  I hadn't done more than 40 miles since Monsal Hill climb so 126 miles was an achievement.  My legs were fine but my neck felt it.  I didn't really care if I finished the ride or got run over by a bus but I met some lovely people whilst we were out there.  The pouring rain from Goostrey (nothing good happens there) back to Stockport and the potholed roads gradually disappeared in the company of strangers, the communal joy of Christmas lights and the love shared in pointing out Jodrel Bank to people who otherwise wouldn't have known where to look for it. (it's where LBHN used to work).

At least living life on the edge (even if it was for the wrong reasons) was making me feel better.  Little bits of self-treats - no matter how insane - were turning my mood around.

Facing the final full week of work in the office was too much so on Day 27 and my birthday I went to do a site visit and then worked from home in the afternoon.

Day 28, Tuesday 18th I travelled to Wolverhampton in the car to look at an installation so I didn't do any training until 19th when I travelled to East Anglia on the train with a very heavy bike and managed another run in my shoes along the beach and the cliff tops.

Thankfully my depressive thoughts evaporated with the sea air and the only thing drawing me to the top of the cliffs was the beam of my head torch.  I resisted and ran up until the time when it looked like three potato harvesters were coming to kill me.  Fearing the confrontation of angry farmers more than the death throes of a potato harvester, I decided I'd run far enough and headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Day 29 saw me on site again in Bacton.  This time a productive day followed by a few hours of working on the train again.  The exercise for the day was the 10 mile ride to site into a roaring headwind with 20kg in my panniers at least.  Exactly 40 minutes - perfect cyclo-cross strength training for the nationals in Bradford in a month's time.

The day didn't end too soon though.  Once the computer battery ran out on the train (with 3 hours of journey time remaining) I finished off some paperwork.  Having promised the client his drawings on Friday, I worked on them till 3:30 am once I'd got home. Bless TSK for making me dinner and putting up with me coming to bed at 3:30.

Not surprisingly, Day 30, I drove to work - 4 hours later.  Ready to slam anyone that accused me of being late - I only had to work 1 hour to make up my 40 for the week but I stayed till 5 pm.  Got my work done, avoided the Christmas shoppers - all that jazz.  I had to face up to the grim fact that Friday was D-Day for selling my house at Woot Bass before Christmas.  I had to accept defeat first thing in the morning when I discovered that £8000 was still outstanding on the cash payment by my pathetic buyer and that the £8000 could only be paid by cheque.

Incredibly I wasn't phased.  I wasn't really surprised.

By 16:30, my house was sold.  I had the weekend to look forwards to looking forwards.

By this point, I felt like my training was truly shot, though reading back on this, it isn't really.  I managed to squeeze quite a lot into a very stressful time.

It was a crabby day on day 31.  I could've gone swimming - indoors or outdoors to be fair but I had to make a Christmassy effort with the house.  In the afternoon I went out with my friends and it's always good to go out with friends.  I have some really good ones and I had a great meal with the Norton Wheelers.  I *will* ride with you again boys and girls.

Day 32 today.  I've done no training for three days.  Today was a nice day and I could've done the chip butty ride with Sheff Tri but no, I got some important finance stuff done and made my house look vaguely like a home - for us and for our Christmas day friends and anyone else who happens to come by.

With Woot Bass gone and the new house to do nothing with but look forwards, I suddenly feel incredibly light and happy.  I watched Strictly tonight.  Lewis enthused me about getting a bit more value out of my gym membership.

Only next week will tell whether this rest has been as good as a change.  I've been sensible.  I've listened to my body and I have regenerated.  I've done what The Counsel would have advised and it seems to have worked.

Anyway, I have all of Christmas week to train whilst TSK is at work.  I have survived the last week and in a difficult financial climate, I have sold a house.  All in all I feel like quite a clever and lucky person right now.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Days 17, 18 & 19

A mix up with housekeys locked in a car at the garage
An angry day of exhaustion
A trip to the pool which was closed.

Not brilliant enforced rest days.

North of England champs on Sunday but should be good.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Day 16. Beach Comber

Difficult to get up today. Five goes at the snooze button and I was suffering whiplash from yesterday's crash but looking out of the window to see what the weather was doing woke me up enough to get the enthusiasm for Marine Parade in Great Yarmouth.

Not that the weather was that good and Marine Parade was dull once I'd passed the all-closed-up pleasure beach so I went in search of the real beach. Once I'd remembered that wet sand is firmer than dry I got running again. I tried to take a picture of the sunrise but it was a mere sliver of crimson beneath very big grey skies. So I photographed my trial shoes under different conditions.

Running next to the ocean is so catatonic. It reminded me of the best of my time in Folkstone and without even getting wet the waves washed over me. I put a foot on the breakwater then ran back to the pier near my hotel. I checked the Garmin to see if I had run the necessary distance but sadly I'd forgotten to zero de pooter so I had no clue. The knee started to hurt so I clocked my lap (4 miles - woo hoo). I'm hardly surprised though, my sore neck is the same side as my painful knee and I'd been running on a sloped beach in a sloppy fashion so as not to scare my Achilles. After 37 minutes I headed back to the pier, sat in the wet sand, took my shoes off and wandered into the sea.

That I managed not to scream is amazing. I think I've been in colder water in spring in Scotland but I was trying to figure it out. I stood for a moment feeling the sand running out from underneath my toes and the water sploshing around my ankles bubbling and tickling and the seeping pain of cold purging through my legs and it was overwhelmingly exhilarating.

I stepped out and walked over to my shoes and instantly thought "I need to do that again". I felt like I'd missed out on that happy place where your body momentarily adapts to the cold and feels warm before you actually realise you've just gone numb. I walked back in, full of determination and enthusiasm to make the most of a mad morning. Like a child running towards a favourite slide at the park, screaming 'again' I paddled away, my brain silently squealing in delight. I felt alive! Then I felt painfully cold in the feet. An entire stage of cold water swimming skipped, I ran away for the last time, sat by my shoes, lay back in the sand, lifted my legs into the air and arms outstretched I wiggled my feet at the cold December sky.

Enough toy time. Back to the hotel for a shower, breakfast in cycling clothes and a ride to the client's site along the dockside. Sometimes enjoying this job is about making the most of its most rubbish bits.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Days 14 & 15 - Turning points

Day 14 was treated as the programmed rest day, despite doing nothing on Sunday.

This is fine because I am still working on looking after my brain and not letting myself become over-tired too often.

A 5:30 am start to get down to the pool, swim and get to my meeting on time.  I slept really well last night which is a good job.  I woke in the “middle of the night” feeling hungry so drank some Yoghurt drink and went back to bed.  There was the usual kerfuffle (who knew there's a "real" spelling for that) that ensued – TSK going to the loo, Lenny coming in for cuddles, TSK getting up to let Lenny out, putting my earplugs in because I’m now too well rested to sleep through TSK’s satisfied, heavy breaths.  It’s a noise I find incredibly soothing when I’m tired and only midly irritating when I’m in the zone of half-sleep, half-ready to get up.

No sooner had I gone back to sleep than it felt like the alarm had gone off so I got up and resumed my breakfast along with the let-back-in cat and headed out to the pool.

I churned out 1200m with 6 x 25m sprints which hurt less than usual.  I say churned out because I really was indifferent about getting out after 1200m but I don't want to overdo things so out I got.  My Achilles tendon was starting to hurt a bit from the pushing-off.  It was a bit stressed about my rediscovered mid-foot running style at the weekend.

I had my 4 x 25 s sprints on the bike on the way to work (let's ignore the 25kgs of stuff I had on my bike for the trip to East Anglia).

I crashed on a canal bridge but that's OK because I was going slow and the impact was absorbed by aforementioned stuff.

By 10:30 in my meeting I was falling asleep.  By 10:45, fuelled by coffee and a spot of stretching I was back with the programme.

The meeting finished at 12 and I jumped back on the bike and headed for the station.  5 hours later I arrived in Great Yarmouth for tomorrow's meeting.  I won't say fresh... but not nearly as knackered as last time I was down here (and hopefully without food poisoning this time).

It's 9:15pm and I'm about to do my teeth and sleep so that tomorrow I can be on the beach before the sun rises with my headtorch and my new (borrowed) feet ready to put them through their paces in sand and also probably along Marine Parade when I get fed up of the hard work.

On the day Chrissie Wellie announces her retirement, I'm doing, well, nothing significant other than what is significantly starting to become a bit normal and a bit second nature.  Smiles!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Day 13

Planning fail.  'cross race was yesterday.

Great excuse for a rest day since I am tired, grumpy and uncoordinated today.

I have been planning, which is positive and have figured out a way to score my weekly training complete with a spreadsheet - which is always good for an engineer.

Feeling ordered allows me to be free to train.

Now where's that turbo?

End of week 2 - 88% complete.

Day 12 Epic running again


Leaving at 2pm.
Finding a new path up Wyming Brook.
Realising I didn't have any batteries in my headtorch but carrying on regardless
Running up the hillside with every step shattering into broken ice and expecting the entire landscape to smash and crumble into the lake taking me with it.
Venturing onto the moor in the setting sun and getting back down to the A57 in time to take the paths home instead of the main road.
Startling a curlew as I ran past in the twilight.
Scrambling along (and down) the clifftops above Rivelin rocks
Exhausted but 8.5 miles in the bag AND NO PAIN.
My city

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Shoes and Stats - November 2012, Month 1 and Day 11

So, after an 800m swim with 8 x 25m sprints thrown in and a ride to work the new shoes got their first outing on Day 10.  I ran in my usual shoes on Thursday at lunchtime and specifically noticed that my knee started to hurt after just 2.2 miles.

On Friday in the new shoes I did exactly that distance without any hint of pain whatsoever.  It was 30 seconds slower but not on the same route and I could've quite easily spent that trying to avoid the freezing cold puddles down the footpath at the back of the industrial estate.  I'd had a cold cycle to work and my feet were nice and toasty in these shoes.  I wasn't going to change that by running through puddles.

I tried out the new running position that the boys at the running shop so kindly decided to share with me and made it stick through most of the 2km.  It felt weird and freaky and made my thighs work more but it didn't feel completely wrong and obviously isn't any slower than my normal clumpy running style.

I wore them to the pub in the evening.  Not as a fashion statement but because it was the Sheffield Tri AGM and I figured most people would be in trainers.  I got a recommendation for a good training race in the new year and signed myself up as club secretary so it was a good evening, a nice walk into town and back so the shoes live to fight another run and my triathlon addiction lives to fight another year.

The month has been good and I have enjoyed my training this week.  Far from being exhausted I'm looking forwards to getting out this afternoon for a run or a ride - I just can't decide.

The new stats look good.  Bring on another month of the simple plan.

Swim: 7.65km 2.3kph.  Compares to last month: 4.95km, 2.6 kph
Bike: 188.65 miles 10.5 mph, 
2363 m. Compares to last month: 356.62 km (223 miles), 12.7 kph (7.9 mph),  2767 m.
Run: 25.78 miles, 5.2 mph, 824m el.  Compares to last month: 49.5 km (30.9mile), 8kph (5mph) avg, 667m

Detailed: Phase - Prep - Targets not yet calculated for the simple programme

Swim - Speed 6.35% Endurance 94%
Bike - Speed 24.5% strength 6.5% Endurance 69%
Run - Speed 3.75% Offroad 16% Hills 2% Endurance 78.1%

Time in the zone: 2hrs 16min

Friday, November 30, 2012


Spent a very constructive evening with the team at Accelerate running shop in Sheffield. I have a new pair of fell running shoes that I went in for and a pair of Saucony proguide 5 road shoes to trial for the weird-footed amongst us. Also got some excellent free coaching from Stu andTom Saville whilst playing on the running machine. I feel flooded with support on many levels.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 10 - Canal sunshine

A very
3 3/4 mile run
along the canal.

Got to get out more in the daylight.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 9

Back in the pool.

An enjoyable 1000m with 4 x 25m sprints thrown in.  I could feel the hard work from last week in my arms though and conceded that Monday might've been brought on by the effects over overdoing it.  So I left it at 1000m and went to work instead.

I was bolstered by 4 x 25s sprints on the bike on the way to work.

I'm definitely justified a rest this evening though I think I might try and keep up with the running.

Who knows?

Days 7 & 8

The worst rest day I have experienced in my life.  A hard day at work, harrassed by the client and dumped with a £200 bill for my tenant's water.

Spent the night trying to forget I was alive.  Really really low.

So no training on Tuesday although I did find myself cycling through the river on my way to work which cheered me up and made it easier to deal with a tired day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 5 & 6 and the end of Week 1

Wipeout. Saturday. Rain. No desire to do anything at all except normal town gutter stuff. Our biggest achievement was walking it both ways twice which, with all the hills in Sheffield, I consider to be a reasonable contribution to the 7 mile run I should have done. We went to look at the new house one more time and we went to watch a great film together.

On Sunday rather than the big ride I have in my calendar I have been & done cyclo cross for the first time in weeks. I enjoyed it, I don't intend to miss it again and of all the endurance disciplines I think I can delay working on the endurance bike until after the cross season. If this really is about getting me ready for the bits I'm no good at, I might as well enjoy the cross season and get a half-arsed result out of the nationals.

If the weather gets bad then it's on to the knoblies for a bit. No excuses.

Talking of excuses, it's time to cut down the calories. When I found myself eating two roast dinners on Wednesday I realised I'm getting podgy.  Some athleticism might come in handy in the coming months.

Training plan percent complete stands at 65%.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 4

Well that went well.

1000m of swimmin with 4 x 100 m sprints...

I was only supposed to do 3 sprints to get into the spirit of swimming twice a week.

Enjoyed the ride to work.  Enjoyed the ride home.  Hit a kind of "on top of everything" euphoria about lunchtime which didn't really go away until I chilled out at bedtime and slept soundly all night.  How satisfying.

It's going to get cold from now on.  Studded mtb tyres at the ready.

Inspired by photos of Ironman Mexico this morning.  Good luck Ruthy.

I just need to find it in myself this weekend to go for a 20 minute run, a 40km ride, another 7 mile run and actually complete my 'cross race on Sunday and I wil have successfully completed week 1.

Piece of piss?  Since my left knee screams in pain every time I kneel on it - perhaps not (still remnants from crashing onto it in Bradfield less than two weeks ago). Triathlon isn't about kneeling down though is it?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 3 over

Well, the running happened but the swimming didn't.  Still one session down but then this phase is all about building up so I can actually do the training when I get there.

Work was done and mistakes found which make for more work.

Swimming and riding makes more sense than running then swimming.

Day 2

So here I am on Day 3.

Day 2 was a washout both literally and mentally.  Exhausted yesterday from a poor night's sleep (3:27am when I gave up trying to sleep through house anxiety and went for a walk around the house to reset my brain).  Not sure how it can be so hard to sleep after a hard work day and double training sesh but apparently it is.

When you come down stairs that knackered and hear rain hammering the porch roof it's not easy to go for a run and anyway, by that time, it was too late to do anything before my training course.

I cycled to work as I can't bring myself to take the car when it's raining in case I end up sat in traffic waiting to get through a flood I could just cycle through on my bike.  I suppose that counts as endurance training but it wasn't my programmed 5km run.  The rain hammered but I didn't care.  At least when it's wet in winter, it usually means it's warmish.

At lunchtime, I ate and rested prior to the second assault on the afternoon of work and being mithered by the most "Involved" client I have ever worked for.

It went on till late.  The running shoes didn't come out of the bag and by the time I got home at 7:30 I was wasted and ready for nothing more than a glass of wine and TV.

So here's to day 3.  7:08am.  Catching up to do.  Coffee in paws and strength in the bag at least.

Best of all, it's not raining.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 1 of Many

Last week I ditched my own triathlon training plan for this year in favour of someone else's because I trust someone else with some experience and not myself particularly much - having only done half ironman distance and not very successfully at that.  I didn't switch my plan for any old one but a published one on t'internet written by a bloke who does a magazine that I have read and who has lots of comments from people saying "thanks for this plan it really worked for me".

So now I have a plan.

As I wrote my plan in my diary last week I got to week 12 and really started to have the thought, "These days with two training sessions... that has to be an either / or session... really?  Doesn't it?"  No, it doesn't actually - it's both.  Deep down I knew it but I'm not sure I wanted to believe it.  I know now why Smithy only does these every other year.

It's a 20 week plan so that leaves me 6 weeks t'other side of new year to fill before I start the official plan.  "SO", thinks I, "I can spend the next 11 weeks getting myself up to speed so that when I actually start the 20 week plan, I can manage the volumes of training".

So this week is week -11 of my 20 week plan and as Monday is a rest day, it's day 1 today  (technically I started with a 8.5 mile run on Saturday just to make sure it was worth me resting on Monday).

This morning I got up nice and early to go swimming but as I pottered down the stairs in my fluffy dressing gown and slippers and heard the rain on the porch roof I concluded that I really didn't feel like swimming today.  Still, I took a lead from Ali C and decided to determine just when I am able to swim at Ponds Forge in a 50 m pool - so much more valid and enjoyable than the 25 m option.   Result - Tuesdays evenings - giving me the perfect excuse to swim in the evening, not in the morning.

I did my bike to work which I am starting off at 30 minutes (conveniently this is how long it takes me to get to work) with 4 x 25 s sprints in it.  Proper sprinting on a touring bike laden with swim kit but we did it and were suitably charged up for the day by the time I got to work.  First result, first tick in the box, first training session in the bag - what a feeling of being on the road to success.

The training course of today came and went and alarmingly I got to the end of the day feeling relatively full of energy and ready to go.  Even the ride to Ponds Forge left me feeling only mildly hungry which I washed down with a bottle of gooey sugar drink.

Few people were swimming - or it might've just been that they were spread out over a longer length but I only got passed once and had to pass twice.  The lengths scrolled by.

One downside of a 50 m length is when the watch misses a lap (odds suddenly become evens), I think to myself, "I'll just do 2 extra to make sure I've made up for it".  Two extra laps is 100m!  SO I've done a 1700m swim tonight and I will claim sitting on a fast man's feet for 4 lengths as my 4 x 25m sprints prize.  A second tick in the box.

I'm not saying that this Ironman training lark is going to be a piece of piss but I have managed day 1 and I have survived.  Not only that, I am looking forwards to day 2 which is shaped like a 3 mile run before work.

I don't exactly feel sprightly now but I know I'm going to sleep and I hope if I sleep I wake up happy and ready to go out.

It's going well and I don't think I can wish for better than that at this point.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday run

Feel dreadful for neglecting Norton Wheelers today but Thursday, Friday and Saturday were just so exhausting, there was not a chance I was getting out of bed early this morning and needed to do something for myself for once.  So I am still trying to get the Windows 8 machine to feel comfortable and I went for a lovely run up the Loxley valley this time for a change.

Brilliant mix of river valley, industrial history, clifftops, cowfield mush, horseys, a vertical scramble up a landslide (eek!) and a comfortable byway back to Malin Bridge. Wasn't supposed to be so exciting but the miles just flew by.

No photos because I left my phone at home.  The landslide left me clutching at branches and scrambling over brambles hoping  my feet wouldn't disapear from underneath me.  There was a pony that refused to move from a styal leaving me to clamber over the gate.  There was a lot of cow mud and a lot of gawping at disused factories. 

The left knee niggled all day.  The right heel blister persisted though I mostly kept it at bay with the early application of a blister plaster.  I have to find a permanent solution to this though and it might involve me taking a knife to my shoes before I make another trip to the running shop (to Stuart's horror).

I may also try my old canadian insoles in those particular shoes just to see if I can get a break.

Although it's a rest day tomorrow, it's time to get back on the bike for a warmdown and then pick up the momentum again.  The strength-style lifting hill sets I've been doing up and down stairs over the last few days doesn't seem to have done me one hell of a lot of good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My offer has been accepted... may the chaos commence.

Got up early this morning not really wanting to go swimming. I decided when I was there to just swim and enjoy myself.  At 7:40 I promised myself I’d swim till 8 then at five to- when I realised I’d had 29 minutes swimming, another 5 minutes seemed fair.

Still only 54 laps.  A little disheartening since my elbows were starting to ache but then, there was a time I would’ve been over the moon with a mile in 40 minutes. 

I was tired afterall.

I love the feeling I get at 8am when I’ve already done my hard training for the day and I can just bimble to work on my bike, do my job and come home on time but tired in the evening.  Tonight I have the joy of tidying the loft to look forwards to.  But I am looking forwards to it because I am preparing for Wootton Bassett stuff to come home to Sheffield.  Back to me.  There’s not a lot of stuff there but it’s stuff I haven’t seen for months and it’s my stuff. 

As I swam I thought about my new house.  It has been a continuous niggle to me that we aren’t “moving up” with this house.  We are – we’re acquiring an extra bedroom and the basement is more convenient as a store than Wootton Bassett’s loft.  We’re gaining a city location and a bigger garden (contradiction?) but we’re losing the country-village feel and the parking space at the front of the house.  Then I am reminded that Walkley has that village feel to it and that there seem to be some unwritten rules around parking on the new road where everyone has a spot in front of their house and there are some pokey little parking areas in spaces where, historically, there might’ve been a house.

Just down the road there’s the Walkley community garden where volunteers do gardeny stuff.  Last week that seemed to have included a bonfire but even that didn’t phase me.  It’s a space to sit and watch the world go by or take my friends when the arrive at my house, dogs busting for a pee.

We went to the Hawkins lovely and massive new house last night and I wondered if, given a bit more expense every month and a little more commitment at work we should actually stretch ourselves to the house size and shape we desire – and possibly look at that valley up there and then I think that out of the last 5 years we have scrimped and saved our way to ski holidays – if at all – and otherwise only been away in the UK.  We sacrificed last years’ summer holiday to Atkins and so I think I deserve some life back!

When I told TSK about my thoughts on stretching ourselves to make the size and shape of house that we really really want he reminded me about our lifestyle.  That we aspire to have more excitement and adventure in our lives than the average house hold.  An engineer and an administrator are never going to afford the farmhouse or the city centre detached with the massive driveway – at least not for a while.  Do I want to clean it? No.  Do I want to do its garden? No.  So I am happy with my 3 bed terrace, it’s lawns and shed and its potential offshoot kitchen and spare bedroom extension… or having none of that and going skiing this year instead.

I lifted myself out of the pool pretty tired.  I don't want to go back to the fixer upper house and strip wallpaper.  It's too hard.  Thank goodness fate stepped in on that one.  Doing the Race this year is going to be hard enough.  I don't need a home renovation to screw it all up.  If us gals are fitter in our late thirties than any other time in our lives, I intend to get the most out of this last year and I'm not talking about decorating.

I showered, packed up my bike, said hello to Chris and wobbled to work where the estate agent called me.

My offer has been accepted.

Let the chaos commence.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

2012 October Stats

So after 1 month of the Long Training, how'd I do?  At least I am only in a prep phase so it doesn't exactly matter that I have had a slow week this week does it?

Ha ha... who am I trying to kid?  I went out for a ride today and got knackered going over to Hathersage and back.  That's, like, pitiful.  Anyway, I've mostly been trying to raise my swimming and running game and doing short punchy 'cross races.  Here we go anyway...

I have been looking forwards to this for a couple of weeks.

Swim: 4.95km, 2.6 kph
Bike: 356.62km, 12.7 kph avg, 2767m
Run: 49.5km, 8kph avg, 667m

Detailed: Phase - Prep - Endurance 75%, Force 16.67%, Speed skills 8.33%
swim: 100% end - Target 2hrs, achieved 1:52:13
bike: Endurance 71%, strength 14.15%, Speed 15.19%, (stationary 3.29%, 9.1% 'cross - split between speed & strength) - Target 25:20, achieved 29:07:53
run: Endurance 64.66%, hills 4%, offroad 31.3% - Target 4:30, achieved 6:13

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A busy week

A busy week this week:

Epic at work

My first 1 mile swim, though I was only supposed to do 1km.

My first run to work.  I wasn't still fell short of the 7 mile target (at 6.875) and I had to walk the last bit as my knee started to hurt.  That said, I wasn't at all sore the next day.

I started the house hunt yesterday on the bike which is always good for a laugh with all the hills in Sheffield.  I refused to ride up one hill which, essentially, means we don't really want to live up there anyway.

In other news, I apparently won a club award for our local duathlon last night.  Shame the tickets were too expensive for me to actually be there.  Still, that's triathlon for ya.

The commuter bike has been cleaned, its wheels straightened for use in the 'cross bike through the winter.  I have mudguards and a new helmet.  I even have snow tyres for when it gets slippery though I still need to invest in some YakTrax.

I have spent the rest of the week trying to get software working to put me in my training zones over time and transferring over all the info from the month of October.

Time to see if the training and "loosening" ride yesterday help towards today's 'cross race.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good day

Still tired but for good reason today.

Got my mile swim in.  Fast ride to work.  Fast ride 3/4 of the way home.

Now that I've done a mile though, it's a bit scary on where to go next.

On top of this, I made steps forward at work.  Committed money to a project.  Elements coming together.  It's going to be a trouble project but I didn't make it so.  I just get to fix it.

Love life.

sometimes it goes by too quickly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Small, Personal Victories

I was beaten yesterday by someone who is fitter than me but who I usually beat on the basis of technical bike skills or mechanical failure.  I was beaten by someone older than me and someone else got in there as well.

In my head I had a good training week last week but in actual fact I managed a little swim, a bit too long of a run and one measly loaded ride to work - not exactly speed training.  The rest of the time I spent working, driving or planning my year.

So despite feeling like I was going well all race - getting out of the saddle to accelerate out of the corners -and I felt good afterwards, I was annoyed.  When I got home, still feeling good, I brought all the stuff in the house, washed my bike then went out for a run of about 3.7km to blow away the cobwebs.

I walked the last km with stitch as I hadn't eaten enough post-race but up until that point I was running well.  The legs were turning.

I've clearly made some minor endurance gains as I have never done a post-race run.  Perhaps I am going to be better at this endurance stuff than the "going fast" bits after all.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


New mudguards so I can ride the cross bike on the road through the winter.

Snow tyres for the mountain bike.

A Norton colours helmet

This is the kind of spending that goes with a big race.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Morning swim

Ponds Forge closed.  Hillsborough swim which makes me feel sick but made it to 1km. (woo hoo)

Over the hill to work.

Biggest result of the week: Discovering the canteen does porridge in the mornings.

Monday, October 15, 2012

So much for the recovery ride.

Newsome School Huddersfield

Second place.  A right rum battle & an unlucky de-chaining for the woman in third.

I didn't feel like it to start with and I didn't feel like I was going particularly fast but I was pretty happy with my performance.

Time for a rest day.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cheeky Run

It was one of those days where I'm supposed to want to go out. Impeccable sunshine, clear air.

I did a bit more planning for The Race training, packed my bag for running and ticked one item off my to do list - digging out wheels from the basement for my first attempt at building a wheel - the golden standard for bike mechanics.

By that time I had to get to mum's for lunch so I reluctantly drove over the hill non-stop.

On the way home through Glossop I made a split second decision to go running at Crowden reservoir because that's the way the sun was shining.

I parked up, tried to figure out what time the car park gets locked - if at all.  I didn't have a bag other than my shoe bag so I packed phone, garmin, car key, a nut selection and a fleece.  No waterproof, no compass, no map.

After 2 minutes I had to put the fleece on it was so lovely and crisp. My hands seared in the cold but my skin bristled with excitement.

I was out on my own. It was a little bit reckless but the sky was beautiful and the quarry looked spectacular in the twilight sky. I ran and ran until my lungs hurt then run-walked until I started to get near my turn-around & go back time, 15 minutes in.

Just-on-time some trees appeared and I resolved to take a peek & look for a obvious path down to the trail on the other side of the valley. It was clear that there was a route down and in the spirit of everything outdoorsy, I turned right at the dead sheep.

The path was steep and tiny and very deep streams crossed it in all directions, luring me like the proverbial rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland to break my leg and fall, lonely into that scary and trippy place that is hyperthermia.

I hissed in a breath as I ran through the inevitable almost freezing marsh but I emerged the otherside unscathed, though wetter.  The grasses before me were sodden from earlier rain but I held out my hands as I ran and enjoyed them whipping against my hands and soalking my leggings.

Now I was on the track down I could relax.  Bouncing down the hillside my mind turned to the carpark closing and the headlights just arriving.  I have to get home to feed TSK who was 3/4 through a 200km AUDAX.

So absorbed was I that I ended up at the Youth hostel & not the car park. There was a Mountain Rescue team seminar in progress & as I ran past the window I became acutely aware. a) that their dinner smelled amazing b) that I was out fell running without a map,compass, whistle, waterproof or friend.

I started nonchalantly running up the path behind the hostel, JUST so I didn't have to run past their window again.  I then realised that was silly. I was heading back to my original path just because of a bit of pride. So, I made like a cat and pretended I'd gone up there to take a picture of the building from above before going back past their window.

Investigating another "shortcut" down I found myself on private property & my bail-out path took me through a patch of sludgy black muck which did a great impression of solid ground but actually sucked me in beyond my socks & threatened to rip my shoes off.  At least by this point I had done everything I could to avoid the mountain rescue team passing one more time and I ran off in the opposite direction to join the path to the campsite & ultimately the car park.

Arriving at the car I realised just how dark it had become.  I took this picture of my steaming feet to show just how cold the air was & how dirty I was.  4 degrees according to Maurice. We headed back to Sheffield to pre race dinner & tsk and feeling smug & a little bit lucky.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First swim of the year

I rode to work this morning. I wanted to do an early swim but someone wanted an 8.30 meeting so I had a lie-in till 6.15 instead.

Andrew wanted to do Sheffield Friday night ride. TBH so did I but I wanted to swim more. A long strength session to work hauling a large gear and swim kit, laptop & lock then a full day of panic.

That feeling that when the day is over, doing one more thing will save you getting into trouble because you wont forget it Monday morning. Well, I had three things. All done I wobbled to the pool hungry and churned our nothing more than 30 lengths on a bottle of dubiously weak protein drink from a machine. Still, I felt like a fish, swam at a decent pace and really really enjoyed myself. 6.30pm on a Friday night would be THE TIME to go for a swim for me. With everyone else going down the pub. Perfect.

I was brave about the ride home. Went straight up through town and up to Walkey. No mincing about in the Hillbsborough valley. Even with the laptop and now soggy swimwear on the back.

This is one Friday night out I might be repeating.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A race

There’s a race.  I want to do it.
It’s a big race, it’s a long race, it’s a hard race.  It’s one of those “…est in the country” kind of races.  I want to do it.

It breaks all preconceptions of what I feel I am able to do and yet it has got under my skin and so I think am going to do it.*

There are rules to me writing about this race.  I'm not discussing it with anyone.  I've told only certain people that I am thinking about doing this race.  Those are the only people I want to talk about it with.  No one else knows about this race or if they do (because they've read about it here) they don’t need to talk about it with me.  They can ask how fit I am or what I'm doing on Friday, or Saturday, or Wednesday, but not how my preparations for the race are going.

I could start a new blog so that no one knows about the race but then it wouldn’t be Trepid Explorer and me and this blog are so intertwined now there’s no leaving this race out of this blog or leaving this blog out of the race.

I don’t want to fail.  I don’t want to have to tell anyone I’ve failed.  That said, I won’t fail just because I’ve told no one that I’m doing it.  I will fail through pure failure, if I fail.

If I don’t fail… I might just tell everyone that it was a success.

*  One of my friends at work who I respect a lot said that if you think about a race then you have to do it and that is the law.  I am tempted to believe her.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Castle Eden Run

A quick 8km run in the middle of the day.
"Every leaf on every tree says live each day as if it were your last" - just as I was starting to feel guilty about taking my lunch at 11am and using it to go running.

They really love their Yew Trees at Castle Eden

Great graffiti art

The hard-to-find Castle Eden Castle

Monday, October 08, 2012

A Plan is Forming

But first here's some stats

September Bike - 352.21km, 14.2kph, 3436m
September Run - 14.3km, 8.1kmph, 183m
September Hill walk - 34.16km, 3.6kph, 2092m
September strength - 45 minutes

August Bike - 138.3km, 15kph, 1932m
August Run - 6.3km, 8.2kph, 159m

July Bike - 312.6km, 12.6kph, 2771m
July Run - 7.87km, 9kph, 63m

June Swim - 5.9km,
June Bike - 374.64km, 20.2kph, 4357m
June Run - 31.7km, 7.9kph, 787m

May Swim - 5.47km
May Bike - 438.5km, 11.9km, 5381m
May Run - 53.84km, 7.8kph, 1017m

April Bike - 349.6km, 15kph, 5736m
April Run - 44.97km, 8.3kmph, 1237m

Dear Cold,

You have been here for over 2 weeks now.  Have you not heard of "overstaying your welcome"?

Get lost.

Regards, Trep.

Monday, October 01, 2012

3 Peaks Cyclo-cross

Sunny morning
You can hear it
Siren's warning
There is weather on both sides
And I know it's coming
Just like before
There's a black dog
That scratches my door
He's been growling my name saying
You better get to running
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got no one
Who will bring me a
Big umbrella
So I'm watching the weather channel
And waiting for the storm
Sheryl Crow, Weather Channel

Over and over going through my head all day long.

We left Helwith Bridge in a great big group and quickly settled down into scraggly  clumps of people.  I resolved this year to avoid the mele and ride at a simple pace to catch dad up somewhere outside Horton village.  The plan worked and we climbed the last few steep roady hills together before the turn off to farm tracks.

From there I said my "see ya laters" and headed off into the rain.

There were no flocks of sheep frolicking in the fields this year.  They were mostly huddling from the rain.  It was soon obvious that it was going to be a difficult day when I found myself walking across bogs that I'd normally ride over.

I caught up with my friend Anna at the bottom of Simon Fell, amusingly disgruntled that I was passing her.  Quite frankly I was merely surprised.  I took the fell runners route up Simon Fell, choosing to slough across the grassy wall instead of hauling up the stone wall.   Joined, as usual by an army rider, we zigzagged slowly up.  It went by quicker than usual - not that it hurt any less - I think I'm still relatively hill-fit after Scotland.

Reaching the styal over the wall, the wind hit.  No blustering, simply consistently around 50-60mph, the rain flying sideways across the moor, passing in a blur like a ghostly high-speed train.  I started riding my bike but  was soon blown sideways towards the wall at high speed.  Trying again, I went to ride to my left so at least I had 3 ft before hitting the wall but I was constantly blown into sharp and lumpy rocks and risking flying off the bike.  The bogs arrived and so we all reverted to walking again.

Keeping dry feet had at least gone by half an hour earlier so bog-stomping ensued.  Someone tried to zip my waterproof pocket up for me but we really didn't want to stop long enough and his fingers couldn't release the zip in the cold.

A final ascent through the rocks to the summit.  A gentleman asked what our challenge was.  "The three peaks" I said.

"Are you nearly finished?" he asked.

"Nope, this is the first one!".

The summit plateau was more difficult than usual.  It's never rideable - despite it being so flat - because of the chossy rocks which bounce out from under wheels as I try to ride it.  In these conditions it was hardly walkable.  Carrying the bike wasn't an option.  The wind would blow so hard, its pressure on the bike would accelerate me to a speed where my feet could not land on anything fixed and I floundered to put a foot on a solid rock.  I put the bike down and tried to lean into the wind.  That meant the bike was upright and my wheels were getting blown up in the air. I resorted to pushing my bike at 60 degrees to the ground, leaning into it to put some weight on the wheels.

We battled back to the edge, to the drop off and started the run down.

Once it eventually became rideable the descent off the mountain went by quickly.  Dropping out of the cloud to see the bottom 100m of the valley was a relief.  The view was finally back in colour.  I continued to ricochet of the side of the footpath but finally it was controllable.

"It shouldn't be that difficult to get this far" was my overriding thought.

Near the base, TSK was shouting directions at me from the other side of the bog.  I think I resorted getting off and running over to meet him for my food stash and drink, dodging the crash site to the side of me.  I left saying that Anna Cipullo was behind me and dad wasn't sounding healthy.  He'd been wheezing a bit on the hillclimbs.

As I departed I asked for a change of shorts, a wool top and another pair of socks at the next control.  I'd been thinking about them all the way down the mountain and not asking for them seemed silly, so I asked.

The marshal called out to me, "you'll have to do the ride of your life now!" which I took to mean, I had to rush to get to the next checkpoint before cut off time.

He was right but the road section to Chapel le Dale was heavenly and panic subsided.  The roaring wind which had plagued us was now on my tail and I ripped along the road, all the way stuffing food and drink down my neck as it's the best place to consume.  A turn onto the steep hill leading to the turn off for Whernside made no impact on my legs and I knew that I'd be in good shape to finish as I'm normally struggling by this point.

I passed a man heaving himself up the hill in a massive gear and thought, "what a tosser" but then realised that he'd snapped his derailleur on Ingleborough and had done his best to shorten his chain and drag himself along fixie style in the middle of his block.  We had a brief laugh about the turn of events before I headed onto Whernside.

The marshal at the bottom said, "You're over the cut off time so you can stop now if you want to but I'll let you through".  Thank god.  There was no stopping me for I had found my legs and still had a lot of places to make up from waiting for dad.  A small man in a red coat with a little beard?  Get thee behind me Satan, I am going up this 'ill.  It was 12:03.  We had started at 9:30.  The only saving grace was the warmth of the weather.  Any colder and the windchill could've been deadly but the mountain rescue team are clever about exposure and they were content for us to continue.

I had a snicker with a man sporting a white beard about how we'd sneaked through by a whisper, though they continued to let people through for some time after.  I didn't know it but dad got through at 12:09.  At the water station I said hello to Eric Taylor, rivalling my dad at 39 events.

On the trudge up Whernside I passed on as many tips as I could to people carrying their bikes like a big kite or paraglider instead of putting it to their backs like a sail and using the wind to help with the climb.

I was alone on the climb, passing everyone I could, yet not catching anyone in front. I thought of Andy Smith face-planting on the descent last year and of the lady who broke her ankle and of the man who crashed on the way down Ingleborough two years ago and over strained his neck and I looked at the rain flying sideways across the hillside and I realised that there'd be no helicopters today.  I concluded that if I died on that hill that day I'd die happy.  I grinned and kept going.

On the summit ridge a Mancunican lass and I talked of the North and epic weather.  On the descent I ran past her teetering on the limestones slabs as I skipped by in the bog - feet already wet but happy to stay warm by running.

I caught up with an old friend - Ruth Gamwell on the bottom of Whernside in more ways than one - physically and verbally - our annual exchange of news.  I passed her and two people with her, jumping on my bike to finally find a rideable section.  We passed another man having a stretch with an agonising wrangled face of pain protruding from his helmet.  That was me a few years ago - completely unprepared for the task at hand.  I'd sworn my way all the way up PYG that year.  This year I felt good and bounced my way across bridges, stepping stones and river crossings - all over 12 inches deep in bubbling peaty water.

I saw Po at the signal box along the railway line and reported that I didn't know whether dad was coming or not.  I passed the same message on to Andrew.  Because I was still warm, I didn't take on the dry clothes or the warm top but carried on as I was and it wasn't a problem for me at all.

The ride to PYG was frustrating - back into a headwind.  I just got on with it though.  Phil Thackary passed, offering up energy gels from his car.  I declined but others sat in his slipstream which pissed me off quite a bit.  To be honest though, I wasn't bothered about trying to catch a wheel as I didn't want to use excess energy pushing myself on the road.  Ruth stuffed a sarnie in her mouth as she sat on my wheel and I got a lift back off her for a while but once I started taking on food, I couldn't be bothered with racing.

Arriving at PYG I caught up the Mancunian lady again and we both sighed with relief that we only had to do this howling wind one more time.  This year it wasn't about the mountain climbs.  The crowd at the bottom of PYG seemed louder than ever and most had assembled around a large puddle part way up the road.  A voice shouted, "it's rideable on the centre left" so I rode as fast as I could at the spot where I remember the land rover tracks used to be.  Water sloshed around my hands and thighs and soaked through my shoes but I pedalled and pedalled and popped out the other side to rapturous applause.  On I rode around the corner, up the side of the corners until finally, my strength ran out at the 90 degree bend.  I pushed for a while and me and Manc lass rested on our laurels for a moment for there were no more deadlines.

Eventually we got back to riding.  It seemed just recompense for the weather that they (I assume the parks authority) had resurfaced parts of the climb on PYG making it mostly rideable up until the first passing through the gate.  All of the steep rocky sections have been filled in with shaley gravel saving the legs both coming up and down.

Just as I started wallking, Lynn Bland flew by warning me that she couldn't squeeze the brakes and then I noticed through the corner of my eye the shaddow of the main that was Crispin Doyle and his broken collar bone, walking off the mountain - carrying his bike in a sulky fashion (who can blame him?)  There was too much noise in the wind for me to hear what had happened to him.

I took some water off the ever-present helper on PYG which was very welcome to wash down the last of the energy bars that I had guzzled on the road.  Jo Jebb sprang past me on the summit climb with Owen Henrickson close by and Andy Smith updated me on Crispin's status when I saw him walking the opposite way down the mountain as I was on my way up.  They were a welcome relief from holding up my hand to protect my face from the searing stinging rain blowing straight at me at 60 miles per hour.  When I went to put my bike down, a large puddle had built up inside my waterproof coat in the crook of my elbow and it sploshed down my arm and through my already sodden glove.

The top of PYG is where I usually put on my waterproof to give me warmth on the long descent.  This time I was a little worried about what I'd feel like without another layer.  I ran away as quickly as possible, bog hopping to avoid the rocky path then dropping steeply away wherever possible.  It didn't take long to get to a point where I could get on my bike but as I did my hips slid forward, the bike started to move but my fingers didn't.  No matter how much I wriggled by elbows to get the brakes to pull on,  my fingers would not respond.  I simply reverted to dropping the bike and running away before it took over on its own.

A second, flatter attempt to get on was more successful.  The drains flew by in a blur and I was back out of that wind before I knew it, though still shifting my gears with the opposite hand to make it feasible to manipulate the lever.

Only now did Queen take over in my head, "Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball".  The man behind me said, "just don't fall off infront of me".

The puddle on the descent was about 6 inches deeper and slippier.  I went to take my previous route but sadly my pedals released and I reverted to getting off the bike to push out.  A disappointment for me for riding it would've been so satisfying.

I was dismayed to see dad's bike on the back of the Vanu when I returned to the road and at the same time relieved that he had come down off Whernside and that Andrew wasn't stood around still waiting for him.  I also knew that it meant the vanu would be waiting for me at the finish so I wasn't going to have to go and camp out in the Norton Wheelers camping park until Andrew and Dad returned to the finish.

Four of us hit the road together.  Me and Steve Loades both agreed to ride together nice and steady on the basis that we both get leg cramp on that final hill to the finish line.  The Manc Lass and Karl Brown rode off ahead (obviously not been trying hard enough).  To combat the cramp I reached into my tool bag and recovered the 3 inch slab of Kendal Mint Cake that had been lurking there in a plastic bag.  As the Vanu rolled past I was ripping into it with my teeth and after I'd eaten a chunk I shared it with Steve.  We both made it over the hill top and freewheeled into the finish line together.

It's a relief to get to the end of every Three Peaks but this one was especially satisfying.  I didn't do a great time but I didn't bomb out either.  I enjoyed every moment of it and didn't do too badly considering I'd had 2 months off training to get married.  I hope there will be more 3 Peaks and I hope that one day there will be another one just like that.  For me it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  Harder than ADIL this summer because of the wind and the terrain.  It's given me a yearning for another event and an urge to go further and be fitter.

This years 3 Peaks has sent my head somewhere special & I think I'm probably quite looking forwards to getting there.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This years three peaks & life after weddings.

I have no idea how this years three peaks is going to go. Back in May I was pretty fit then in June I felt I hadn't done all the training I needed to do for A Day in the Lakes. Still, I finished and in a time that showed I was a lot fitter than the year before. Despite that, my recovery period rolled into pre-wedding chaos with only a couple of weeks in between where I actually did some hill training.

At least from that point I had a solid base to take away on honeymoon, not to mention to return to in September when I got back to work.

We did a lot of endurance style training in Scotland which has pretty much convinced me that I will be able to finish the peaks, even if I don't do a good time. 2 munroes in 5 hours and 22km with heavy rucsacs counts doesn't it.

Knowing I wasn't going to have enough time to do a good job of the 3 Peaks, I decided the best way to get back to training through the winter was to set myself targets for the middle of winter, ie. The 'cross nationals which I haven't done for a couple of years, given my own lack of fitness and the risk of being pulled out after 20 minutes. This plan also gave me the opportunity to re implement the bike training I did when I dabbled in road racing without having to worry about too much running and swimming training at the same time.

I've been doing spinning and strength training for two weeks now and I have really enjoyed it. Despite it being short duration training, I discovered last weekend that it is having the desired effect and increasing my training endurance and my cyclo-cross at the weekend flew by in no time. Just as I was trying to decide whether to take a rest week or not, I have been hit by a massive, shitty cold exasserbated by the aspiration of a fly during the race on Sunday which has enforced the rest issue. Sadly it's coincided with a really important yet boring training course which I both really wanted to do but am finding very hard going.

Thursday Friday I intend to rest good and proper.

So with the culmination of good training, bad training and my head being in a pretty good place, it's difficult to know what might happen on Sunday.

I guess this like most other years will be a suck it and see hope I get around kind of event. I really hope there's another one next year.

In other news I have accepted an offer on my house in Wootton Bassett.  It is not what I wanted but from my reaction to the news I can deduce that not having a house in Wootton Bassett is what I want.  It's a lovely little house which I will miss but I don't use it anymore.

I accepted the offer reluctantly but now I am looking forwards to buying a house in Sheffield.  For some reason it feels like the grown up thing to do... despite the fact that the grown up thing to do is to hold onto it until the market comes around.

If I look at it this way:

"I will be the one living in the more expensive house - not Maureen"
Then it all feels OK.

It feels like a forwards step.  It feels like getting the HSBC off my back.  It feels like I won't have to fear that the under-cover rental operation will land me in trouble.  

C'mon Sheffield, come to Trep.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Historic Moments

A British yellow jersey leading out a British stage winner on the Champs Elysee.

Well done Cav and Wiggo.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Day in the Lakes 1/2IM OR Middle Distance on Minimal Training

12 months on from this little disaster we ended up camped back at Park Foot campsite in Pooley Bridge  to finish what I started.  This time I brought my favourite weapon, my fiance, for much needed support.

For the record, it's been pissing it down for weeks and in North Yorkshire on Friday, rivers were bursting their banks and flooding villages, the Bob Graham fell run had been cancelled and the Great North Swim delayed 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday.  We weren't even sure if the race was going to go ahead but the organisers posted on facebook that they were on their way over to the Lakes, so we packed up the vanu, drove through thick fog and lashing rain to get to the Lakes and set up camp, in the rain of course.

A quick trip to the pub after dinner set me even more on edge for raceday as the river was gushing through the village at about 1m/s and the wind had picked up again and was throwing the lake into a choppy swell.  I didn't really want to do ADIL again without the full swim and I definately didn't want to face up to the prospect of doing one really HARD duathlon.

Sleep was as intermittent as it usually is on a campsite. Having to decide whether you *actually* need a pee in the middle of the night and weighing up the pros and cons of waiting for it to stop raining before you go.  I went and peace was restored with the help of earplugs to drown out the sound of the rain on the roof of the vanu.

Mercifully, raceday dawned dry (I hasten to add, not clear) but also the howling wind had dropped and the lake was pan-flat.  The only panics were some last minute toolbag packing and making sure the air pressure on my tyres was correct.  I considered using the track pump but decided that whatever pressure drop had occurred since Scisset would probably benefit my grip on a wet day so settled for a well-practiced squeeze of the tyres which seemed 'hard enough'.

Matt Hartley wanted to know my thoughts for the day to which I responded, "finishing".  Aparently he wanted a prediction on the weather which was basically, it will rain eventually.

As we got into the water it became apparent that the water temperature was not, as announced, 13 degrees C.  I think they might've meant Farenheit - or possibly Kelvin.  I knew I would have to get around fast to avoid the cold setting in and slowing me down even further.  As my swimming is still quite weak, I decided to use my legs on the swim too, hoping that the extra body-heat I held onto would make me faster in transition and on the bike.

The green hats started first and without further ado (to give us the best chance of not dropping out) the orange hats were started as soon as we had assembled.

The excellent call on behalf of the organisers was to move the course of the swim.  If we had followed the usual route across the lake and back we would have been crossing that surge of water exiting the lake into the river.  Instead they directed us directly South - against the current close to the edge of the lake where the current is lightest.  Then returning North further offshore with a little bit of a tail-current on the way back.  Spotting the buoy was tricky as we were on more-or-less an out and back course so the buoy was approximately 750m away but there were sailing boats in between which I used for sighting.  It was nice to see lots of people on the campsite, lining the banks to cheer us on - something you don't get on the usual course.

It was hard-going because everyone spread out quite a lot.  I kept trying to jump on feet or get in a group but I would lose people quickly and suddenly find myself alone in between two groups so I just did the best I could.  I checked my watch at the buoy - 15 minutes.  Pleased with that but knew that I needed to keep going fast .  At the second buoy there was quite a cluster of people so I felt quite happy that I wasn't dangling out the back on my own.  We'd even caught up a green hat who turned out to be quite a good swimmer but rubbish at sighting so probably swam about 2.4km to everyone elses' 1.9.

The last straight was hard.  At first my fingers started to claw and it seemed to take forever to get to the boats again.  Once we did, the left calf twitched with cramp once or twice which is my signal to start easing-off but I just didn't want to.  I tried my best to really focus on my technique but it felt totally futile as I combed at the water with my useless hands.  I tried a bit of breast stroke but that was tediously slow so I sprinted for the shore after the final (starting) buoy.  When I stood up to the very enthusiastic onlookers, I just said, "oh my god" and walked up the hill to transition.

39 minutes on my watch.  40:40 by the time I'd walked over the timing mat! 288/334

I took time to dry off.  Although I knew I was going to get wet on the bike, it seemed like a good idea to at least hit the road damp instead of soalked and make the most of the first bit of the day.  I put my arm warmers on as I figured I'd need to warm up and even had the nouse to turn one inside out when I realise I'd put it on upside down and wasn't going to get the wrist over my elbow.  I am pleased with this.  Sorry if you don't understand what I'm on about but I am proud of myself for this - what with the frozen brain and all that.

All of my food fell out of my jersey pockets so I stuffed what I could find back in - the home-made bag of mixed fruit and nuts that I like to refer to as my nose-bag and an energy bar.  I grabbed my helmet.  I didn't realise my knee-warmers had also fallen out of my pocket.

I got out of transition with a smile on my face and decided to take the first part of the course easy as a warm up.

The route alongside Ullswater is beautiful and quite flat at first.  Some of the tarmac is lovely and smooth and it was very happy-making to just roll along it, quite unfussed.  I saw TSK on a street corner (sheesh) looking suitably enthusiastic in his marshall's jacket.

I took the time to sort out my nose-bag and started to eat from it, passing other riders and coping with motorists that overtake without planning.  Forget the no-drafting rules, in places it was like a road race with groups of 5 or 6 riders trundling along together although given the state of everyone's body temperature, it was more like a sunday club run and there really wasn't much benefit to be had from group riding.  None of it was organised drafting by any stretch of the imagination.

The road gradually gets lumpier and little streams spill out across the road meaning my feet had had dry socks on for about 15 minutes before a driver coming the other way soalked me and everyone I was with form the knees down.  So much for dry feet but then no point in crying over spilt rain on a day like today.  I was just glad of all the soggy Fairholmes rides I've done as a warm up!

Eventually we hit the bottom of the Kirkstone pass climb.  Time to stop eating, drop into the small ring and churn out pedal revs.  I got a few twitches from the left calf to let me know I needed to be careful with it so I sat down as much as I could on the climb.

When push came to shove as it does near the top of the K pass, it seemed I could do anything with this calf muscle except spin it really quickly so I reasoned to keep in a big-ish gear for the rest of the day.

I caught people up, riders passed me back and got through the last section of the climb watching the legs on the bloke in front.  He didn't have particularly nice legs but it took the pain away when I watched his Ironman tattoo on his calf expand and contract with each pedal stroke.

Over the top I stopped to don my coat just before a number of parked cars and riders.  They were warning us of the inevitable accident on the descent and the crowds of slow descenders started to form.  Me and one other rider dived into the abyss of fog and increasingly heavy rain with our eyes open and our brains switched on just in time to see someone being loaded into the back of an ambulance on a body-board, a pair of white dainty cycling shoes carefully placed by the side of the road.  I understand there were no major injuries reported.

Once we'd passed them I noticed just how bad the bloody rain was, moving from an incessent hissing drizzle to a constant pattering shower.

My friend and I weaved our way down the country lanes without seeing another person until we reached the flat valley bottom avoiding major towns like Windermere and Ambleside.  I resumed eating, my figs, now turned to jam, which enveloped each tasty pecan that I pulled from my pocket.  I yearned for the frame-top food bag we'd been contemplating earlier in the day.

The day in the lakes ride takes you through some really lovely little villages and country lanes and I wish I could recall them all to you but it did kind of blur.  The rain did little to dampen my spirits to be honest because I felt reasonably warm most of the time and the flowers in people's gardens, the sheep grazing on a freshly mowed field, kestrels hunting in open ground, distracted me from the drizzle and the fact that the usual glorious scenery was slightly hidden behind the low cloud.

Finally I was at Shap climb.  The temporary road works that halted us on the feed-in downhill were gone so this year I hit the bottom of the climb at a rolling 40kph.

Shap isn't steep, it's just long and I was well into my smallest gear very soon, still suffering from the after-effects of the swim.  I had a brief chat with a woman with blonde hair about how our races were going so far.  I said I'd left it all in the lake and was slowing down but my only target was to get onto the run and finish the damn thing.  "Once past the aid station, there's nothing anyone can do to stop me finishing" I said.

A bloke with a posh accent asked me if this was Shap and "are we at the end of all the major climbs".  "Yes", I said, "you can let rip now".

As things started to level out, I caught blonde lady up again.  The fruit and nut mix had just kicked in (finally) and mojo reappeared.  Unlike last year's fiasco of lost energy drinks at the aid station, I soared by, happy in the knowledge that I had all the fluids and energy I needed and I could get to the end of the bike.

Blondie and I flew off down the hill together, me finally passing her as my downhill stance proved ever so slightly more effective at cutting through the wind - though my max speed on the descent was 3kph slower than last year at 59.

I got a bit chilly on the descent so I flattened out on the tri bars and bashed out the next few kms along the A6 and then back onto minor lanes as far as Askham.  Through Lowther Castle I was stopped to a halt on the beautiful park lanes by gamboling lambs.  Honest to god I could've 'ad 'em for dinner wee barstards.

I also got cattle-grid fear after a near miss at Fairholmes 2 years ago and several people caught me up.

22km further didn't seem like much when I looked at my Garmin but then I realised it was another hour at this pace so felt a little more reticent.  When it got to 10 miles to go I started timetrialling.  I wasn't going particularly fast but fast enough to stay warm and focussed enough to stop the boredom setting in, to prevent my brain shutting down muscles.  It helped as I caught up Ironman-leg again.

Just to spur me on, with 10km to go, it started absolutely pelting it down.  Marshalls were giving warnings about going too quickly around corners and they meant it.  On the straights I just enjoyed myself.  It was like cyclo-cross - but smoother.  I didn't have to worry about getting wet feet on the run - they were already absolutely soalked and were only going to get wet again on the hillside.

Despite this philosophy, by the time I reached transition it had stopped raining and I had already planned which bits of kit in the box I was going to change into and dry clothes and knee warmers were high on the list of priorities.

Expecting to see TSK at the dismount line and waiting with a comedy pun in my mind about his "dismount here" placcard and pizza restaurant adverts, I had to zip my lip when I realised it was actually the organiser holding the placcard.

Bike time: 3:57:05 257/334

I didn't bother to change my socks but the soggy tri top and jersey came off and dry baselayer and run vest went on.  My wet waterproof went in a pack pocket and as I reached for the knee-warmers I realised I also had full-length leggings in the box.  Those went on to protect my calf muscles from further damage.  Joy oh joy! My running shoes had been cooking inside the box in what little sunshine had fallen on the field and they were WARM!

Consolidated by warm feet and dry clothes I threw my emergency pack on my back (stored with the back-side down so it would stay dry in the rain) and ran up the field.  Yeah baby RAN!

I managed to run all the way along the flat bit then walked up the hill.  Not all the way - but most of the way.  I ran an 'ickle tiny bit.  Once at the top of the first climb it's a long, flatish stretch across the fell with great views over the lake and it's a nice surface to run on.

I put my coat on because not only was it raining again but the wind started to whisk across the top of the hillside and it was a bit chilly.  A couple of other runners did the same and were probably thankful of the organiser's insistence on an emergency kit for this event.  As I met a marshall indicating the turn onto the descent, it was raining so hard I asked her to do her best to make sure it didn't quite turn to hail.  She agreed to do her best.

The most fun part about this years run was knowing (at least most of) the course.  Last year I tried to keep my feet dry at first because I usually try to keep them dry if I can.  This year I knew that eventually you have to get wet feet so I didn't bother trying which meant no bog-hopping, no jumping over streams, just chugging on - only checking to make sure you're not going to turn an ankle or end up in up to your knees.

Last year I found it very difficult to contemplate a half marathon after everything that goes before.  I still do but it is quite amazing that once you're in a rhythm, it feels like you've just set out.  The pain of the bike ride is gone from the legs and you can just get back to running.

The blonde lady caught me up again and we ran together all the way down the descent talking of where we live and what we do for fun and which events we're into.  I think she made me run a bit faster for a while and whether that was good for my race or bad (I was properly spent well before the end), I certainly enjoyed it more fer her company.

I stopped to put my coat away and dig some energy beans out of my bag and away she ran into the bog and was lost to me.  To my relief the aid station arrived quite quickly and I got to wave to Matt Hartley on his way down to the finish line.  He gave me good notice of the boggy sections across the top of the fell ahead which I was glad of as it meant I didn't need to look for the easy way around - just get on with it.  I smiled and said that it was what I was into!

The run (walk) up Fusedale was lovely - a quiet hidden valley that can't be seen from Ullswater.  It's green and has a river running down the middle.  The fells sweep up to the sides and the steep climb out of it proffers a wonderful view of the surrounding peaks.  It had actually stopped raining so all was good with the world.  I stopped and sat on a rock to remove a large boulder from my shoe.  I walked most of the way around Fusedale head chatting to a Mancunian from Flixton which was a desperate shame since I actually wanted to slink off behind a rock for a pee.  We pondered together how much further this run could keep going up and checked the Garmin for confirmation that it couldn't be much further.

Onto a big open pasture and the boggy bits that Matt had warned me of.  I enjoyed this bit, striding out away from the Manc lad and running the downhills.  I caught up the scotsman and some others before we rounded the best corner of the day.  Exiting fusedale you're suddenly on the otherside of the fell which made up one valley-side of Fusedale.  On this other side it sweeps downwards at 60 degrees to Ullswater, around 500m below.  The path takes a daring slant down this hillside over rocky outcrops and slippery slopes, ferny fields and torrential rivulets.  Me and the Scotsman bounced down it and he whooped, saying, "They call this a run!?" as I sunk onto my hands to launch myself off a miniature crag.   As I fumbled down a grassy slope I reaffirmed my love for my fell shoes as I looked around me at the litter of slither-marks made by flat soled trainers.  I stopped laughing when we hit the very vertical final descent to a marshal with a dog who, up until yesterday, should've been TSK.

A few hundred metres back down the road and the course veers up again on another fell track.  I'm still scouting for somewhere to relieve my poor bladder but the walls are unsuitable and the ruin turns out to be someone's house.  I can't get onto the road with my bladder this full.  Eventually, a suitable rock outcrop presents itself and I descend into the grass to momentarily flash my bits to the other runners and the Ullswater steamer trundling up the lake 200m below me.  I really hope no-one on that boat had their binoculars focused on the race!  I'm welcomed back to the race by a stream of people checking I'm OK and I have a big smile on my face.  Definitely "better".

Around the hillside and it's back to the aid station.  Unlike last year, they have a few car loads of water bottles left over and they seem more concerned with that than offering me water or telling me which way to go but that's OK because I can do this bit.  I practiced it last year.

Actually the cattle grid is still scary.

Running.  On the road.  Not my fave thing.  The church is nice.  There's a grassy bit.  Then you're on the lake shore.  The captain of the steamer is wading up the path to the launch in his wellies (yes that's right, he's wading up the path) and gives me a smile and tells me I'm doing well.  It ocurrs to me just now that he's seen my bum earlier but I will let that lie.

I'm doing OK, I'm still running along the road.  Running running running, hurty hurty hurty.  Ow.  No.  Can't do that.  Ow.  It's not that my legs hurt, it's that my hips are refusing to hold up the rest of my body.  Perhaps its muscular.  I'll take a look in my rucsac and see if I've put any ibuprofen in there.  






2 down.  Wash down with water.  Bit of running. Bit of walking.  The pain is easing.

The little muscles at the top of my thighs that make my legs move forwards don't work anymore so I am using my hips to kind of throw my legs forwards, walking like someone with a mild degenerative disease.  The paid is easing.  Some people pass me saying they've had energy gels.  Perhaps I will just have one (they make me violently ill if I use too many).  Should I take one with the drugs?  I do.  I think it speeds the uptake of the drugs and the pain eases some more.  I wonder how far I have to go?  I am concious of not just meeting the cut-off time but being well inside it.  I have too much self respect.  I have put too much into this to be close to the cut off time.

Garmin says...
you have 5km to go and if you can do it inside 30 minutes you will have done a 3hr 22km run at the end of everything else.  BLOODY GARMIN!

Running.  Crap.

I catch someone up who says, "don't catch me up, then I'll have to start running".  I say, "you really don't have to.  I'm running because it's personal."  Nevertheless, off he ran.

Someone else caught me up, a small lady just jogging past.  No walking just running.  All the way, bloody running.  I've stopped running on the up hills.  Just walk the up hills, and the down hills.  Running on the flat bits.  We can do that.  I've run out of up hills and downhills so I have to keep running.  I can see campers but I can also see boats so that means it's not my campsite.  A car comes past with the window down and the passengers shout encouragement.  I see another campsite, still not mine.  Garmin says 3km to go.  

Finally I can see the green army tents on my campsite and I have a sneaky walk as my legs really can't do it anymore but I know they will have to because as soon as I round this corner... yes, there they are.  Three kids, all dressed in waterproofs and they're clapping.  I focus on red coat and for every clap of her hands there is a a foot fall.  Slap slap slap my flat and crappy feet on the tarmac.  The pain is gone, all eyes are on me and I am there, I am doing it, I am finally going to kick this course on the ass and go home!.

The marshal on the gate has an entry list in her hands so shouts me, "well done Andrea!" as I round the corner.  Sprinting through the field, Matt is there shouting, "Go on Trep, Tick in the box" and I say it's more like a cross in the "never-again" box.  Splodge splodge down the muddy track, over the dismount mat and up to the finishing line where I make boo-hoo faces at the camera and grab TSK for a big hug and a lovely photo.

Vest on backwards - what a pro.

Runtime 3:09:20.  292/334
Overall 8:00:43 289/334.