Sunday, November 30, 2014

NT5 Milton Keynes spoiler

I so wish I had blogged about the cyclo cross world cup before British Cycling made me angry at the National Trophy. It was a brilliant day yesterday and today I am filled with frustration. When people support you and will you on then you have to disappoint them because of some official with a clip board and a one off decision by someone so removed from British Cycling.


I have learned one thing today. B C can't be trusted. There's no point entering the trophy series. I think I'll stick to entering one by one and take my money back when they change the rules. If you can run 6 under-16s races I don't understand why you can't run 2 women's races.

I am really looking forward to the triathlon season now. I can race everyone in the same event.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bitter Sweet Symphony

I left site today and went fell running in my lunch break. I ran Whin Rigg above Wastwater with the screes below me then I ran back along the road.  I forgot how outstanding the scenery is, how much I love running and climbing hills and how much it hurts coming downhill.

I loved every moment and was so lucky to have clear tops and warm weather this time of year.

I nearly chickened out of my route and was glad I didn't. I could see the river from the tops and estimated an 8 miler but it was 10 and I didn't mind. I will enjoy the recovery.

Chaffinches in a tree on the road beat their wings like a fleet of tiny bobbing hovercraft and I realised I have rarely been on the Wasdale road with so few cars. Today is likely to screw me over for Milton Keynes National Trophy but I don't truly care.


It's no secret that my boss and I have had our differences but we are getting on ok now.  We are away for a meeting today.  We both drove here separately as we go our separate ways after.

As usual I have my bike in case I feel like it and my fell running kit. I have my bike rollers incase I have to rush to turbo on Thursday or in case the room and hotel are suitable for training.

For some reason,  when I arrive,  I decide to bring the turbo inside. I decide that no one will ask me about it if I just walk right in. It's only when I have checked in and squirrelled my turbo away that I realise I have not brought the bag to sneak my bike in. I will have to parade through the hotel with it before any of my colleagues arrive.  I don't want to have to explain to my boss why I have my bike,  never mind what I plan to do with it.

Unfortunately as I head back downstairs I find he has arrived and is expecting to meet me in the bar.  I can see my plan to do something tonight fading fast.

Perhaps a run but I only have 30 minutes before dinner so I lay out my stuff and go to retrieve my kit bag.  They are all at the bar and I resign myself to my destiny. Steak, red wine and not a bad dinner conversation with two others present.

I finally get to my room too bloated for any  training of any kind. I can't sleep because of the buzz of the power station out the window and it's too stuffy with the windows shut.  I fall asleep briefly only to be woken by a sick feeling.  Partly the steak,  partly the fear of having to explain myself in the morning trying to smuggle the turbo back into the car.  It's really playing on my mind. I also have no settlers tablets.  It's been a long time since I have gorged myself whilst out on a meal.

After some sizeable time spent on the loo and some next to it adjusting the size of my stomach... not actually sick but close, I decide there's nothing like fresh air.

I do briefly consider going for a ride now but decide a walk in the car park will suffice,  during which I can return my rollers to the car and never have to explain to anyone why they were in my room.

Thankfully I am right.  I write this (hopefully) cleared of my sick feeling and without guilt. Whether I wake tomorrow for my bike ride or not the secrets of what I get up to while I am away remains between us.

All I have to do now is hope the military police next door haven't cottoned on to the woman wandering around in the hotel car park carrying strange objects and wearing pyjamas.

It is an exciting life I lead.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

First bad race

I felt like I was doing OK in the week. There were the early starts, the gym session where I felt quite strong. My build up to this weekend's cyclo cross was not good though. I missed my Thursday night turbo which I have so far refused to believe was one of my key training sessions in cyclo cross success. I had a tough swim on Friday when I usually recover and I did nothing aerobic on Saturday which left me feeling sluggish.

Last year, the Whitley Woods cyclo cross was my last good race before I got I'll. This year it turned out to be my first bad race.

We rode out. Spent too much time getting  cold and I had only just thawed my feet out by the time we started. I made a bad move on the claggiest part of the course and completely filled my bike clearances with mud and leaves. I ran to the pits, picked up my spare bike and jumped on. Nothing happened. Turns out the chain wasn't on.

5 places later and I got going.  The philosophy was simple. I switched to red for the claggy section then back to Phoenix the rest of the lap except one where TSK was busy helping someone else.

Nothing else went badly but I didn't have the strength in the conditions to chase down someone I have beaten before. I had a dig but really settled for my place in life.

I was glad I took dry warm clothes to ride home in and glad of a scout hut to get changed in. The hills on the way home were tougher than ever and my left calf muscle started to mutiny but we made it and I even managed to clean both bikes... except I missed a bit.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Can Do Better but not a Write-off

A walk into town. A solid productive day of bike cleaning, maintenance and DIY with a side salad of shopping, drinking tea and looking after TSK when he got in from eccy audax.

I think I might finally be getting well again.

Yesterday was the most exciting training day of the week so far.

We have a kitten issue at the moment.  Andrew and I usually wake up at 6 to 6:30 am and make our way down to breakfast.  I often lie in until gone 7 as I still haven't recovered from whatever I was doing the day before.  Lately, our kitten has decided that against all odds, she would like to get up for breakfast at 5:30am and attempts to burrow under the bedroom door at said time.

As the week has progressed, it has been feeling more and more intrusive to my sleep pattern, despite the last two years of ironman training where I regularly got out of bed at 5am to go swimming for an hour on my way to work.  In retrospect, the greatest indicator of my illness this spring is that somewhere along the way, I lost that ability to be up and about early in the morning.

Yesterday though, when the kitten alarm went off at 5am, I let Andrew deal with it initially and then just got up anyway since I was pretty damn hungry.  Despite my intentions to eat something then go back to bed, I went on to make coffee, pack my swim kit and get out the door.

After substantial levels of hunting for various bits of office and swim equipment, I still didn't make it out until 9am, making a 10am arrival at the office innevitable but I did buckle straight down to work and keep going at full speed ahead right up until hometime at 6pm.  What's more I even had the energy for a swim.

It was a relaxed swim including rests - some of which left me quite cool - but it was a mile swim (actually a little bit more) and a 50 m length swim so I should have been exhausted.  I used every ounce of energy in my body and stood in the shower shivering, trying to reheat before getting out to fetch my shampoo to have a proper wash.

Refuelled by protein shake I had a pretty stable and strong ride home up the hill where I wandered around the house chatting excitedly to TSK before eating my dinner.  Small measures but when the cat alarm went off this morning at 4:30 (today it was TSK going out audaxing) my body got me up again for food and rather than being exhausted.

That makes for exciting times.  So excited I might just go back to bed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

so tiredd

I am so tired that I cannot see. No trainings, just really busy working

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Faced with a long day out of the office

The prospect of a long drive to Clitheroe, I sated by taking the pretty way. It took me 20 minutes too long but might've taken that much longer on the motorway anyway.

I took running gear to satisfy my exercise urge on Pendal hill but, y'know me, I ignored the sparkling hill bathed in autumnal sunshine and opted for Crowden Reservoir armed with a headtorch.

It was an unsuccessful run of out and back with some diversions to the edge of cliffs. That's what happens when you follow paths that are essentially climbers' tracks. The running was satisfying from an outdoorsy perspective, getting me away from driving and up to good elevation but disappointing because it was short and I returned to the car out of hunger.

I had the Garmin with me as my map so I even feel embarrassed to call it a fell run but I enjoyed it. It made for a good spin.

Interesting to note that the groin pain has gone after some rigorous stretching which made it crack like lightening.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Discovering the joy of pushing through your comfort zone.

I just read that phrase at a time when I was sitting on the sofa half asleep following my first fast multi sport race in some time. With the dinner still to make and the laundry still to do (complete with washing the mud and sand out of all my clothes) I was in a dark place.

Such hard work going swimming this morning after strength training. Got a niggling groin still but otherwise good tired. Only 40 lengths. Washed down with a film mocking Jay tonight.

Mock me

Such hard work going swimming this morning after strength training yesterday. Got a niggling groin pain still but otherwise a good kind of tired.

Only 40 lengths at the pool. Washed down with a film Mocking Jay tonight.  Brilliant date.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Good Intentions Etc.

A run to work turned into a ride to work with a gym session turned into a weights and yoga set at home. Clearly I was most comfortable there as I properly overcooked it and am going to bed hoping I haven't damaged myself. I can't be doing with a few days off right now. I need training before I let the growth begin.

Tomorrow evening though my lovely husband takes me out to watch Jenifer Laurence be gorgeous. What more could I ask for?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

National Trophy Part 3 - Durham

It didn't feel like a good day today. After what amounted to 2 days off, I didn't feel like a coiled spring at all so my head and my nerves got a break. Unfortunately no-one told my body so that continued to punish me up until the start.

I got 3 warm up laps at good pace and a tow off the start line from Marie Jackson. The course massively suited me with plenty of tricky sections to get my teeth into. I could have done with more power on the climb but there's a reason to get back to the gym if ever I had one.

I dropped the riders who were with me but despite trying, I wasn't going to catch Lynn today.  It was,however, just the kind of day I was looking for, one that persuades me that despite all potential distractions,  I do quite like the national trophy races.

I dropped a lap so I was ready for a warm down run. Of course that all changed by the time I got home (2hours sat in the car).

Tomorrow it's going to be honking it down in the morning yet I am determined to run to work. Got the gear, too excited.

Glad of my two days rest if it helps me rebound like this.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

quick update

My trip to the isle of Wight flew past so quick I almost forgot how infuriating my job can be. I then spent 6 hours on the motorway driving home. Friday I was exhausted and had a much deserved REST day if you call 9.5 hours work and an AGM a rest day.

Saturday, to my shame was in much the same shape. A fixed wheel bearing, a few chores done and dinner bought in. I miss Andrew when he is out for the day.

Tomorrow I trophy race.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A tough run

It was flat but it was long.  8 miles.  The farthest I've run for quite some time.  I meant to do 6 miles but accidentally extended it.

At first I was in the orchards in the dark.  Then I was on the roads accompanied only by the bin men for a while.

I finally left them behind when I turned on to a bridlepath and enjoyed the company of sheep and the Sheppey bridge beyond, my destination for later in the day.

The bridlepath took me around the edge of a marina where rigging whipped in the wind and a number of barges gave the impression they had been embedded in the mud for some time.
It started to rain shortly after and I pulled my coat back on.  I found myself on the map but rather than dreading the last 2 miles along a congested main road, I realised I could take the back road all the way to the driveway of my hotel.  It was bliss.  Pure, painful bliss.
I went to my site visit which was all very successful.  I bought lunch then drove the car onto a nature reserve where I sat and watched curlews and pewits going about their business of eating, next sitting and spiralling around in the sky.  I watched the traffic moving over the bridge so close to where I was sitting and yet so far away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Garden of England.

I am working away from home tomorrow and have spent all day getting here.  For an hour before it went dark I managed to ride my tt bike into the sunset, turn around and ride back to the hotel.  No moisture is falling from the sky.  I had too many layers on.  Once I had pumped the tyres up properly I was flying along, down country lanes, breathing in the fresh air and trying to time it perfectly so I didn't have to ride too far without the back light that I had forgotten.

It's so satisfying to be able to do it before settling down to do a last little bit of work before tomorrow.  Make up for a few hours spent faffing, riding then sitting behind the wheel all day in the name of the man!  Tomorrow I will go and talk engineering and pipes and buildings then I will sit behind the wheel some more on my way to my next site visit.

I did get to cross a bridge today and will get to cross another tomorrow which almost makes me feel like I have passed into another country.  Alas it is only Kent.  On Thursday I get to take a delightful ferry but on account of the proximity of the site to the port I doubt I will feel like I have strayed far from anywhere.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Following a day of rest, there's nothing more satisfying than a recovery ride.   With muscles still aching in the background, a good old pootle does the power of good.  I have also discovered that woosing out and taking the direct route home with all the traffic can save me (or cause me the loss of) 20 minutes (training) to get home.  No matter how pootlish I feel.

Sunday, November 09, 2014


A recovery Sunday filled with lie ins and dinner and shopping at b and q.

I cleaned my mtb.

I am ready for a week now.

Evil Sheriff National Cross Duathlon Champs

So today I ran the fastest 5km run ever, rode the fastest mountain bike race I have ever done (with my Garmin on) and did my 4th fastest ever finishing runs in a multisport event. It is no wonder I am exhausted.

I found myself a place way down the main field in the first run, even though I was puffing to get there, I was still well back.  My heart rate alarm sang out on my wrist, initially to tell me I was going too slow but soon to tell me I was going too fast.  I tried to let it moderate on the flat sections but given a hill – up or down – I couldn’t resist but let rip.  Powering up hills and flying down them is my only competitive advantage amongst the runners and I was determined to make it count.  Saving myself for later wasn't worth losing the few places on the first run and having to weave past those extra people on the bike.

The chap in front of me pointed through the woods to something and, on inspection, I was pleased to see the finishing funnel.  We overshot it a little then turned back into it.  I couldn’t help think that must’ve been fast but didn’t dare check my watch.  I wanted to make transition count. 

I envy the pro’s who make transition look so easy.  For me, time seems to slow down – I can’t get my feet out of or into my shoes.  My helmet goes on wrong.  Little things.  As I ran away I was happy to hear the commentator call that we were 26 minutes in which must mean my run was less than the “I’ll be very happy with that” 25 minutes that I was going for. 

I start the Garmin on the bike and we are away.  A flying mount and quite a few moments of sluggishness on the downhill before my legs have to engage with something solid to ride on.  I am so relieved to have lock-out on my suspension as it makes the forest trails go by so much easier.

However, It’s not long before we get into some fairly gnarly riding and I am impressed by this course.  It’s properly single track in places although there is a bit of space to the sides to weave around people and those that I am passing are good runners but worse bike handlers so they generally let me through.  I am out to make as much time back as possible and I know I have over an hour to do it in.

I reach a short sharp climb off the forest track.  People are already on foot so I join them, happy that I decided to put on my slightly smaller, less comfortable cyclo-cross shoes with mud spikes in the toes. I am faced with a woman lying on the floor still clipped into her bike and two men trying to slither past her.  I follow them to the top of the hill then run past everyone and jump on my bike, pedalling away whilst they sort themselves out.  I don’t see them again.

We’ve been warned of a big lip at the bottom of a long drop and when I find it I approach it cautiously and take a line through a puddle to the side.  I spoing out without any difficulty and set about weaving my way past someone whose chain has ridden over bottom gear and into the wheel. 

It’s the next descent that scares me more and I curse myself for not bringing glasses with me to keep the mud out of my eyes as I go down the thing completely blind.

I try to remember I have to do this loop twice and moderate myself.  I’m cramping in my feet which is either tight shoes or running low on energy foods having decided to wear my rain coat instead of my nutrition-stuffed cycling jersey to stay warm and dry throughout the bike.  I try to consume as much energy drink from my bottle as possible, spitting the mud and grime out.  I supplement this with water from my camelback hoping that at least I’ll not get cramp from dehydration.

We descend a long, straight fire track where a brave marshal waves for us to turn right.  This is the place I discover I don’t have much material left on my brakes and I nearly bowl him over and hit the turn in completely the wrong gear but we make it, still moving, still pedalling and press on past people who have stopped riding or had a mechanical.  We drop out of the woods and back onto the fire road where the first lap concludes with a massive soaking through a huge puddle the width of the course.  It seems to put the foot cramp to sleep.

The second loop seems to go by slower (although it doesn't) as there are less people for me to catch and my legs are used to riding the bike so the effort feels less.  I have to work a bit harder to stay focused although my heart rate alarm has not gone off once – neither too low nor too high.

The water splash is not as smooth this time – I exit it sideways but somehow EmVee keeps my momentum going in roughly the right direction and we stay upright through the climb on the other side (it’s mostly her and nothing to do with me!).  I find a few more people to catch but sadly, these are the ones who are going to pass me back within 10 of the next 15 minutes run to the finish line.

I don’t mind putting my wet shoes back on because my socks are already sodden.  I leave the coat behind because, despite it chucking it down, the run is only 15 minutes and I’m already hot.  I grab a last drink of water at a brief walk so I can actually get some of the cold (actually clean) fluid down my neck then leg it down the forest trail.  

The run hurts.  My legs won’t even respond to a command to go faster when someone passes me so I freewheel as much as I can (the feet are still going around but in no particular controlled way). I don't have the mental capacity to follow my progress through the simple square-shaped run, I am solely focused on my run technique and trying to make the damn thing as fast as possible.  All I am worried about is more people passing me so I am out to run this run as fast as I can. 

If people pass me it’s because they’re superior runners, not because I didn’t pace it right.  Most people pass me on the flat sections and I claw a little back with the uphill and down hill runs but there aren’t nearly enough slopes for me to gain an advantage.   In the end I think two women and two men pass me.  Neither of the women are in my age group. 

To cheer me up and take my mind off the pain, I high fived a few ladies travelling out on their run.  They look happy and relieved to be on the last stage.  I am just hurting and wanting it to be over.  The last 50 m are cruel now as the course has turned into a soggy sodden mush of grass, sapping the energy from every sprint step.  I had no idea what my time was or what barrier I was trying to beat but I wanted to do my best so I opened up with everything I had.  I still merely jogged over the line as I left my last powerful step in one of those puddles.

Final scores on the Garmin: 
Run 1: 5k in 24:40
Mountain bike: 20k in 1:14:00
Run 2: 3.75k in 18:43

Unofficial results posted: 235/328
F: 20/61
F40-44: 5/17

Run 1: 232, 33, 6
Bike: 233, 20, 5
Run 2: 214, 26, 7

Friday, November 07, 2014

Turbo Tedium

8 minute strength sets are not interesting. You can talk through them or stare at the floor. There's little to say about it except I did them in a 14.50 gear. Still it was nice to see everyone.

Friday was a recovery ride to work where I enjoyed riding past Friday MeadowHell traffic and hauling my stuff to work without the car.

I pondered switching my hr alarms to real zones so I can make sure I recover instead of the feisty traffic-induced forays into aerobic training. I enjoy recovery more now I am well. It works and doesn't tire me out because I can do an easy hill.

Still need to check my pace notes for tomorrow.

I find it difficult to think of mtb as a race. Grizedale and Whinlatter were about surviving.  Tomorrow will be shorter and have nowhere near as much climbing so faster. Bring it on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Moments of Patience

I had a wonderful run yesterday. It was a head torch run after a long day at work. The lichen on the wooden steps in the Rivelin Valley luminescence in the light and moths occasionally bounced off my nose. I saw other head torch runners and bonked on my way home. I felt alive and vulnerable and mostly wobbly then I added a layer and ate food and got home OK.

I slept incredibly well.

Today I mountain biked and rode home the long way. When I managed to escape the roads I watched fire works. It was very special. I will sleep well again tonight. I wish I always felt this calm.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

2014 Wakefield Tri club Cyclo-Cross

Well that went well. Obviously better than expected, because I wasn't expecting much. An early start to meet Addam, my Sheffield Triathlon club protege, for his novice race seemed to pay off.

I rode 3 trial laps with him before watching them race then had plenty of time to prep for my own event. The carefully purchased food I left in the fridge at home was replaced with a porridge which went down well and was just enough.  I spent a sizeable time looking for my dad whilst warming up but didn't actually find him until the start line.

I did one more circuit before our race, just to find out how slitherey the course had now become. I got a rocking start, up with Lynn Bland and Kev Saville and managed to lose that placing more gradually than usual. Thanks to a slight over-balance by me, bumping into people as usual, I crossed the timing mat at the end of lap one ahead of Lynn for the first time ever.

I tried to catch the next woman left ahead of me, Sinead, but she made a short distance on me then stayed there, no matter how hard I tried. As I started to tire I kept one eye on the riders behind to make sure I wasn't losing ground then tried a bit harder. I was speeding up past an enthusiastic TSK and Addam was cheering for Trep which made me smile every lap (mostly internally).

I did an excellent job of demonstrating the art of riding sideways right before my new friend, almost - but not quite - losing it on the penultimate lap and the greasiest corner of the race.

I did no better than I did the week before - only comparing to the placings of others but as TSK says, if that was a bad day, I can't complain.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

From bad colds, great opportunities rise

Today is the first time I have had a scab on my knee wound. It's tiny. I can now start to believe it might actually heal. I took that good news and spent the morning preparing the bike for tomorrow's race. I couldn't find the source of the squealing noise that accompanied me over the line at Skipton and all feels well. I have even fixed a stiff brake cable, finding a short section of gear outer somewhat restricting flows. Oops, zero engineer points. After my 5am scrap blogging fest fuelled by early onset hangover and nibblings, I got up late and lunched late and got the car ready for carrying bikes again. My only regret was not eating more park in at last night's party. Cue purring with pride at my achievements yet positively in fear of what may come tomorrow. Pain, poor performance and disappointment or strength, efficiency and speed. I really don't know and it's worse than not knowing because I have over-trained. At least then I have failed well. They say improvements require 2 weeks to manifest so by that scale, tomorrow should reap the benefits of 2 days racing at Rapha. We will see and I will try and learn from it. It's a long time since I have been as fit as I was 2 weeks ago. I find out tomorrow how to make the most of it or how to lose it. Serious lesson learning territory.

day 2 of recovery. one way or t'other

A lie in, dental forms, van to garage. Counterproductivity compared to yesterday and a night out to let my hair down or rather, keep it tied up in plaits but there was beer and cake and great company. I am looking forward to a weekend. I lay in bed for a few hours not really enjoying much good sleep then got up to eat fruit. Wondering why I feel most prone to write when I am least capable and have little to say.