Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The final Countdown Part 1

Today sees the start of week 13 of Forestman training. With the last three weeks being taper, that means the next 4 weeks are set to be (athletically) the hardest of my life.

Last week I was supposed to do a 10 mile run but I  substituted it for the 13 miler I missed last week.  Well, I attempted to last night but it felt like no matter how far I ran I remained a bit too far away from 13 miles to get it done befoer dinner and bed - one single time in the day at the moment.

It was painful getting running along the canal last night.  Not physically so but the brain just wanted to shut down and go to sleep until I finally stopped over-thinking it and just enjoyed the flowers and the sunset.

By the time I'd got into town I was in full stride so I popped in to Ponds Forge to pick up flapjack fuel and continued running.  At first home, to drop off my rucsac and fill up a Camelback and then out around the houses at the edge of the Rivelin valley where I walked the most precipitous hills - upwards to save my heart and downwards to save my feet.

I bust through the door still with only 16km on the clock instead of 20 but not bad for a Monday night.

4 days totalling 1 Marathon. I'm quite pleased with that.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

This Year's (first) Glossop Test Loop

It's been an awesome ride over to Glossop today.  Started with a loop down to Endcliffe Park to watch friends on a Re-Uni-On racing then progressed through Hallam & Fullwood to the A57 and over to the snake pass.

A lovely climb up the snake was completely ruined by face-on hailstones riding down the other side.  In 40 mph winds combined with my 43mph travelling speed, I had to stop, put my cap on, pull the visor over my eyes and spend the entire descent just trying to stay between the white lines.

Thankfully through Hayfield and Chinley, the sun came out and rewarmed the shot-blasted skin layers after the top layer had been swiftly removed by little balls of ice.

I turned off for my ride through Wash totally expecting to have to get off and walk the steep 1 in 3 hills. Instead I took a breather half way up the first hill before continuing to ride it.  I rode all the way up the second and on to Rushup edge which is a breeze after the Wash climbs.

Final climb up through Surprise View above Hathersage was painless.  I was more pained by the Cinelli / Rapha boys who'd obviously driven out to the Foxhouse only to come spinning past me at the top of the hill.  Fortunately the last one was really fat so I drafted him for a while before he dropped away from me like a stone on the descent.

I took a turn and wiggled my way through the lanes back to the Rivelin Road where I battled more headwind to get home.  I am pained, convinced that I'd had a headwind on my way out.  I mean I wasn't imagining the pain of hailstones in my face.

Momentarily I was tempted by the climb up Hagg Hill to bring me to my house through the nice flat-ish Bole Hill Lane instead of having to fight my way up Walkley Hill.  Presented with the reality that I'd need to push my bike, I headed through the allotments instead, choosing to run up the steps cyclo-cross style instead.  When I put my bike down I discovered by saddle was loose and opted to realign it a little.  Much better on the tri bars now.  Slightly less over-extension of the old ham strings.

60 miles, almost 2000m climbing and 5hours, 10 mins.  I'm happy with that for a hilly course as it would bring my less hilly IM time in at 8.5 hours.

They didn't really expect me to go straight back to work on a day like today?

On keeping an eye on the weather when you're running without any kit.

Bleaklow not looking so Bleak

Emley Moor from Bleaklow Moor

Secret tiny snow-bridges

'Icklest Teeniest Lamb

Impending sense of cold.
Getting a little worried but still sunny, so enjoying myself... right?
Last little hidey hole from the wind and I can see the car on the snake pass - phew!
Very glad to see this arrive only 3 minutes from the car - cue 3 minutes of epically frozen hands.

Iced up

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Damn it

Motivation gone and I feel like I could sleep for a week... and then, it's the weekend after tomorrow and time to start all over again.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sent to Try Us

I tentatively took the foot for a run last week.  A nice flat run in Clumber Park which could have been any length I wanted it to be.  As it is, at the end of 9 miles I was beginning to look for extra miles to add onto it.  This was promising news.

I counted my 9 mile run as last week's 13 mile run, so as to make last week look less shambolic.

This means I have "trained through" this week without any rest... except I broke down on Wednesday after a drive home from Norfolk, I really didn't feel like doing anything so that was a slack day and I've biked all week and not really done my pool miles either.  When I was last at Fairholmes, well that was the nail in the coffin, it really was.

When I only managed a mile in the pool on Friday night, I was pretty depressed but when I looked back at my week I'd substantially overdone it on the bike, travelled half way across the country and was still churning out a mile swim in a time simiilar to last year oh, and I raced at Fairholmes which, not a lot of people can say they did.

OK.  That'll do.

I was looking forwards to running today but I built up to it slowly, having an easy morning and leaving the house at 11am.  Great thing about running, you can do a lot in a short period of time leaving the rest of the day free to recover.

I did rush to leave before the effects of my breakfast wore off though so I quickly plotted myself a route which constituted the 13 miles I needed to run today.  I learned some of the road names in my head because I couldn't be bothered to do anything more and I promised myself I wouldn't be distracted by interesting-looking footpaths that usually end up in me going horribly out of my way and include some extent of falling-off cliffs, climbing over barbed wire fences or hacking through brambles.

Within 10 minutes I was immediately distracted by the Rivelin Valley instead of the intended Loxley Valley but I adjusted my footpath route and hacked my way through the houses on the edge of Stannington.  Finally I found my way onto a footpath that dropped me down to the river in Loxley and I followed it confidently as the dog-walkers were coming the other way.  At a decision point of choice between the path less trodden and river route or one which looked suspiciously like it went back to Stannington, I chose the path less trodden and cue obligatory slither up near-vertical muddy slope holding on to tree roots to prevent a plunge into the river 12 ft below.  I survived, needless to say.

Over the legitimate bridge and onto the Loxley valley path, I had the chance to snap some pics inside this old industrial building which is being demolished.

Finally out at Damflask reservoir I ran on the road following my designated route religiously and enjoying the view.  I stopped to take a picture of this wonderful scenery and the cows drinking from the very rustic trough.
 Except the cow was more intrigued by what I had in my rucsac and came over to pose.
At the first junction I came to there was no road name but I guessed and I winged it and things were going pretty well.  I seemed to be heading in the right direction.

By the next turning, things were going less well with a consistent lack of road name signs.  I plumped for "Sheffield" over two places I couldn't recall seeing on the map.  After a while I concluded I was heading back the way I'd come, a bit higher up and all this road would do was take me back to Damflask.  Time for some random footpaths.

Straight up the hill, across, up, across, up, across, up.  A pattern was forming.  At least it was dry!

Finally, I reached the top of the ridge and my ticket back into the Rivelin Valley.
View over the city.  This'll be the top then?
After this path, the run home was really special.  I found a whole host of paths that I never knew existed, through Rails, along the fields, down into the valley-bottom.  It was potentially the most successful unplanned footpaths run I have ever done and not one twinge of pain from the foot.

I have to say a massive Thank You to Colin Papworth from Holywell Health who warned me responsibly about running on the foot, recognised I would do anyway, gave me the confidence to continue my training safely and told me not to go too hard on it when I did.

I ran all the way to my front door without one stop to walk.  I actually could've kept going (but I want to swim tonight so I didn't).  I conclude that the cold, the sore foot, all little indicators of overload and all well timed little triggers to make me rest a little, sit back and then go out there and find out that, actually, I'm not doing too bad at this Ironman training at all.  Last week I was pretty fed up that I was a bit broken.  This week I feel energised and amazing.

I have only 9 weeks left which might seem like a long time but then, it seems only yesterday I started at week 1.  What I have to do now is think about which bike I want to spend my bonus on.  Now then...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Crisis Talks - With Myself

I had a melt down on Sunday.  No big pissy fit, just dead.  I was absolutely dead.  I was convinced I wasn't going to be able to run more than 5 km again and I couldn't even take anything good from a really nice long bike ride on Saturday because that fell 10 miles short of the intended distance. Targets shmargets.

Yesterday I asked Andrew to remind me.  Next time I have a melt down day like that, remind me that the next day is going to be absolutely frickin' awesome.

I got up early, I swam 2.7 km, I had a constructive morning at work, I went to see a house, I cycled back to work, I worked late and I cycled home fast.  I organised everything for my site visit and fixed my commuter bike and I stayed up with him then went to bed at midnight having ordered a few last-minute things for my bike.

Of course I was slightly cut down to size again by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon where two bombs exploded by the finish line of the race.  Aside from all the damage, destruction, death and injury, the sense of injustice that people who have committed themselves day in day out for months to strive towards this one event - for some, potentially, the zenith of their lives - can have it snatched from them by the insignificant and selfish act of another mean-minded individual (or organisation).  Indiscriminantly.  Unfairly.  It took me a while to process the news, to deal with it on my terms.  I feel for the people who are still dealing with it today.  Who are facing a life living with it.

I got up late this morning but then I had a relaxed breakfast.  Some days I need to take care of myself, I know this.  I set off for site, stopped on the way for a run and managed almost 15 km.  Fixed!  My foot is mostly fixed!

There is no words to describe my relief and joy!

Looking back it seems silly to have been in such a dark place on Sunday but if I've learned anything in the last few years of training for endurance events it's that sometimes Trep needs to embrace the dark side.

I guess this blog post is here to remind me that next time, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's approximately 24 hours (or 4 weeks of rested foot) away.  Meanwhile, I have to stop myself from over-training now that I am completely and utterly overjoyed with myself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Long Hard Slog

49 miles today.  I didn't even hit 50 miles, never mind my target 60 miles.  It's not surprising that the training and my job are starting to weigh heavy on my energy levels.  By the time we got to Ashford in the Water yesterday I had had enough.

We went to the Monsal Dale coffee shop for tea and cake which at least cheered me up enough to ride home.

Results when we got in showed that I spent only 12 of the 49 miles in my training zone.  The rest, apparently, was a recovery ride.

And today I am supposed to run... with my knackered foot... and I haven't even thought about the 2.7km swim.  I'm just not sure I'm going to make this ironman thing.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

2100m swimming felt easy & I have lost 6kg. I think vegan might be working for me

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Proverbial Tortoise & the Return of the Heel Strike.

Last night it got too much.  My running muscles were screaming at me, making uncomfortable fidgets, twinges and winces, all to let me know that they were dying and being shoved out of the way by growing bike muscles.

I couldn't put off going for a run any longer.  I've an appointment booked with Colin the foot magician tomorrow but I had to see how it went - just once.

I checked with TSK... "Going for a run - brave or stupid?!"
His answer: "Yes".

It's another reason to love him but you note, I phrased my question carefully, avoiding the question, "Wise?"

I wore my old insoles, the ones I had made in Canada as they offer my whole foot support, not just my heel. I also planned to do a heel-strike run to take all of the weight off my toes.  Even when I felt like there was no pain, I stuck to the heel strike rule as I knew a lack of pain was probably just my body pumping out endorphins.

I also stuck to the 150 bpm rule which even involved walking up hills but this was OK because running up hills was engaging my toes.

I ran through the Walkley allotments then along the rivelin valley high path before dropping down to the road and running back along the river.  It was intensely enjoyable since I worried about nothing but footfall and occasionally checked to make sure I wasn't blowing up my lungs.

I walked some of the downhills too to prevent the jolting on my feet.  The heel striking was going well.  It probably wasn't as fast but I've been running with heelstrike for many years and it was a bit like getting back on a bike.  Maybe I'll stick with it - I don't know. Call it another run style to add to my quivver.  Like having cross country and downhill skis.

I was tired today.  I made my legs work quite hard at their 2400m swim yesterday.  I only did 5km which is a bit disappointing as my foot did start to hurt so much that I was limping on it approaching the house but at least I have been out and run and enjoyed myself and I'm not in too much pain.  It was a useful pacing excercise and I'm looking forwards to doing something else later on today.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Interesting conclusion to week 9

Tried keeping my heart rate around 150 today as in theory this is where I should be pacing myself in ironman.

It was very weird.  Usually I go flat out on the bits I enjoy and then suffer the consequences of burn-out later.  It seemed like sound Ironman advice to do the whole ride at an effort level that you can maintain all the way to the end, meaning there's still something left for that end-of-the-day marathon.

I found myself climbing hills at 179 bpm and reigning myself in.  Then once I'd got the rate under control, I felt like I was going painfully slowly.  Or I'd drop the rate down to 135 and have to work like hell just to achieve 150 again.

I'd then top out at the end of the hill and hit the flat.  Far from needing to rocket up to speed to raise my heart rate, I found it was running away with itself, racing back up to 190 before crashing down to 135 again when I put in no effort whatsoever.

Gradually as the day went on I managed to learn the meaning of the phrase, "try hard on the easy bits and go easy on the hard bits"!  I had to spin my legs where the road was flat to make my heart work - and I rocketed away because of it.  On the climbs I had to make myself go really slow to keep the rate down but when I got to 44km into the workout, I knew I could get home and in a decent state to get up and do something else tomorrow.

I have to say, keeping to 150 was great for the cold.  I didn't feel like I stretched my lungs too much today although there were some very steep climbs where I could do nothing but ride up them at upto 190.  When I got back to Sheffield some very weird things began to happen.  As I sat back and freewheeled on the approach to lights, my HRM was hitting over 200bpm and I was doing nothing.  I was pretty tired.

It all worked rather well though in the end.  It's amazing the things you learn when you sit back and read for a day.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

March 2013 stats

Swim: 13.66km 2.6kph.  Compares to last month: 8.5km 2.4kph. Compares to 2010: 3.82 km, 2.3km/hr 
Bike: 202.5 mile, 11.7mph, 2651m el. . Compares to last month: 164.18 mile 11.9 mph, 2770 m.  Compares to 2010: 167mile, 10.6km/hr, 2363m el.
Run: 53.7 miles, 5.3 mph, 1283m el.  Compares to last month: 33.73 miles, 5.5 mph, 637m el.   Compares to 2010: 17mile, 6.1m/hr, 234m el 

Percentages complete: 75%
Week +1: 76%
Week +2: 81%
Week +3: 88%
Week +4: 55%

This is my highest completion rate to date.

I don't actually believe I have swum over 13km in a month.

Time in Aerobic zone: 2.5hrs of measured 13h 10 min (20%)

Thursday, April 04, 2013


Being off training with a cold, realising how exhausted I am,damaging the foot has forced me to sit back, have a read and learn something.

From now on I reduce the training heart rate to sub aerobic threshold at the weekends and spend more of the week with a relaxed resting mind set. Ironman panic has set in despite my best efforts and I have been reminded that I can't train for Ironman at 'cross race pace.

Actually if I trained for cross this much I'd probably actually be quite good at it.

Now there's something for another year.  

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Easter 2013 A wonderful Birthday Weekend & a sore foot

Last weekend did more damage than I imagined.

The ski-ing crushed my toes in my boot causing a scary crushing sensation between my middle toes on my left foot.

On Sunday my mountain bike saddle kept slipping into my frame and my hamstrings strained to keep pace. I had to hop off once or twice and re-set it but the damage might have been done.

I took it easy the rest of the week, only managing one run on Thursday. I kept that short at 45 minutes and swam a lot, thinking that would help - or at least not be so bad.

It helped that I was on site on Monday and then back on Tuesday - no time to train. Only sitting in the car on a long journey, changing clutch. Not good for the mind or the soul or, for that matter, the clutch foot.

Once back in the house I decided that Wednesday would be a work from home day leading into our Thursday off (finally). i loved the tweet that "a lot of us are limping into this bank holiday weekend so please be gentle with us". It certainly applied to our house.

I got a run in on Thursday morning to make sure it happened. Whilst the foot wasn't aggravated too much, I knew it was there.

We got loaded into the van by 2pm along with other stuff which set us in Edinburgh for dinner with a friend at 7. Thank god for her breaking up the journey. The foot was aggravated a bit more with a deffinite tendon strain feel through the foot but a nice cold stone floor in the house seemed to make it OK.

On Friday we continued to Aberdeen. We went shopping in the daytime and I strained the ligament good and proper by crouching down on the floor of Edinburgh Bike Co-op to look at a part. In the evening, I went swimming with Bex and the Aberdeen lifeguard team. I was careful of the foot and Very much appreciative of their patience. We got back to the house and as I demonstrated my toe-pointing technique on the living room carpet, the injured ligament suddenly failed all over again.

Saturday was a fun drive up the valley of the Dee to Ballater and onto the luxurious accommodation that was Gairnshiel Lodge. Complete with games room (pool, darts, space-invader machine and bar), industrial sized kitchen, 20-seater dining room and 10 bedrooms not to mention the river and surrounding mountains. It was lots of fun.

All we did Saturday was catering and I got my running training on the long trek between the kitchen and the dining room. Sadly I did this in flat "fashion" pumps which really screwed up my feet and made my toe hurt.

On Sunday it was excercise day. The foot felt OK. I knew the injury was still there but I didn't sustain it running and so far, running was not what made it bad. So I couldn't resist the warm mountain sunshine, gleaming off the snow and Becky and I set off for a run together with me turning back after 30 minutes and her continuing on to do a whopping 20 miler.

I was so impressed with Bex's running. I didn't have to slow down anymore to run with her and in fact in places I couldn't chat quite as fluenetly as I would have liked.

The run back was beautiful still but a little lonely so I looked forwards to going out with TSK after lunch.

First though, it was time for a paddle as I concluded the cold water might do my foot some good and the momentary exhilleration of icy water on flesh would do my soul a lot of good. Even Chris looked on in horror as I headed down the garden with my towel.

I found a secluded spot where I could stand on the bank on a patch of grass and lower myself onto a rock right next to the river to sit and dangle my feet in the water. Once I'd kicked most of the snow off the rock into the iced water, I put my towel on the rock to give my feel something comfortable to stand on and my ass osmething comfortable to sit on. Appart from the towel freezing to the rock, it kind of worked.

I put my feet in the water and held them there as long as possible. My blood gushed and I talked calmly to myself to persuade me to keep going. I stepped out as soon as it started to hurt. I dried off my feet as if to leave put it felt so good that I had another try at it and this time held on longer. It was a relief to be back in the water and this time I managed to stand on the river bed or a moment going in right up to my ancles! I stood as long as I could before it started to feel like the skin was actually burning. As a cryogenics specialist - I know this is the time to stop so I stepped out again and this time dried and dressed my feet once and for all.

After lunch, TSK and I hopped on the mountain bikes and set off to do the same cirular route that Becky was running but in the opposite direction. Actually we went to check out a trail which was on the other side of the river but it was too slushy to ride on competently with any efficiency so we gave up and resorted to the main road... the wrong one.

It was no-one's fault. I, for some reason mistook North for East, as did TSK. We worried about Becky a lot. It never once ocurred to us that she had gone a different way to the route we were on.

We climbed up and up then dropped down to the river Don before climbing up and up and up and reaching the Letcht ski hill. Neither of us had looked at that bit of the road map so we didn't realise where the Lecht was. We continued past and dropped down and down to Tomintouil. It was only when the computer clocked 25km that I thought something was wrong and only when we got to Tomintoul and recognised none of the turnings that we gradually deduced the error of our ways.

It was time to practice that great skill of mine. The one that's going to be really useful in Ironman... the ability to switch something from, "the worst possible eventuality and last thing on god's earth that I want to do" to, "that lovely ride home, back the way we came, that I am *so* looking forwards to!".

As a preference to getting a taxi or ringing friends in desperation, I plumped for getting the fuck on with it. It was a snap decision and one which started with me angrily doing pacemaking then enjoying a spot of bit-n-bit with TSK into the headwind. The fun ran out a bit as we climbed up the steep hill we'd just descended but it was good to watch the skiers for a while. Then it got really hard and I just concentrated on making it to the shed roof that I could see on the top of the slope. That was too far away so I reverted to counting pedal-strokes in 10s because each one of those was something I could get my head around achieving.

For a while I did it out loud so that TSK would know how much I was hurting. Then I carried on doing it out loud because forming the words in my mouth seemed to engage the pain, put its arm out and lend a hand. It didn't help to watch the thermometer on the garmin gradually drop from 1.2 degrees to 0.6 degrees.

Finally we topped out and began the long, flat roll out followed by the 20% descent down the other side. The snow drifts where the plough had been towered above TSK's head and we could've reached out and carved a pattern in the snow walls. Like the mountain-biker's perfect wave, in places we passed right underneath where the surface of snow had slightly melted and refrozen into a molten arc.

Back at the bottom we had some respite from the wind in the form of some forests. The temperature tentatively rose to 1.9 degrees where the sun shone. Then the wind came back.

This climb was less steep, so slightly more enjoyable. We looked out to try and figure out where the military road went and I occupied my mind with guessing the final elevation of the climb. I came within 2 m of the actual figure until I reached that point and realised that the road went up again.

At the top of that climb we knew that it was mostly downhill to the Lodge. We tried to freewheel the last slight kick-up on the route. Easy to do since we had full view of the "racing line" which I cut 12" tighter than TSK - then realised there was a pothole to avoid!

Our memory of the final straights to the Lodge were marred - we remembered the downhill coming straight out onto the hump-back bridge over the river and were disapointed to discover there were clearly 400m to go meaning we didn't get to freewheel all the way home. Still, we had made it alive and the time had come to persuade my frozed feet out of their shoes. I walked around for 20 minutes with my foot at a jaunty angle as the tendons seemed to refuse to hold it in a straightforwards position. Perhaps a few hours out on the MTB in the cold wasn't the best solution.