Monday, October 31, 2016

Good weekends follow a rubbish week

Saturday October 29th 13:55 - Road Bike ride 27.5miles in 2h:34m - 646m el.

Baby steps to success. Take my squash-broken body out for a very slow 2.5 hour ride in the rain. Get back to the house on dry roads. It wasn't a hard ride, it's just that my legs hurt all the way round. Didn't get out of breath, raise my heart rate or work up a sweat. Very efficient!

Off to the hair dressers to persuade them on some compromising image between professional engineer and badass mountain biker.

Sunday October 30th 19:36 Wakefield Cyclo-cross & 10k offroad run 1h:02min

Ace to see Ali Sea today and race together again. Shame I couldn't offer more encouragement, I got caught up in a battle with Nicky Hartle. So glad I have company to race with this year. I might be slower but she is MUCH faster. Keeps things interesting and gives me a great work-out. TSK enjoyed his race but lost a place due to an undiagnosed flat tyre in the last lap. I rediscovered my triathlete legs today and managed a cheeky 10k in the Rivelin Valley before collapsing in a heap in the shower.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A game of stats that I forgot to play

I forgot to play this game last year... logging my stats for progress throughout the year.  It's a good game that often makes me feel better about what I'm doing.  Last year I felt like I was over-reliant on it so I stopped but November is a good time to review the previous year.  It's the boundary where I get sick of being crap at short fast races and plod off to enter something endurance - Celtman, Kielder (December), Helvellyn, they've all been entered in the deep dark winter of the year before.  So I'm getting in early with Alpe d'Huez and playing, what was last year?

First of all, there's 2015's view (post-Celtman recovery from PE year):

This years 8 months of training for Olympic tri does not look too much different in some alarming ways to Celtman but has been much more fun:
Swim - 25.2 miles 34hours 8mins. (half!)Bike - 1748 miles 159 hours 11 mins 24.2km climbing. (almost identical!)Run - 224 miles 50hours 14 mins 8.3km vertical climb. (happy!)
or a total of 289 hours training

In 2014, I wrote this about my Celtman Training:

Training since November:Swim - 55.5 miles 35hours 57mins. Bike - 1782 miles 159 hours 41 mins 24.8km climbingRun - 388 miles 88hours 20 mins 14.2km vertical climb.  
or a total of 281 hours training

So what yield do I have from my Kielder Ironman year 2016? - still an Ironman year but without the life-threatening illness.

Swim - 63 miles 77hours 28mins. (what happened to the speed???!!!)
Bike - 2761 miles 295 hours 10 mins 55km climbing
Run - 431 miles 132hours 14 mins 12.4km vertical climb. 

or a total of 504 hrs training.

It's odd that I feel more proud of my Ironman now than I have been all year.  I still think, with all that extra training, that it should have gone better but it makes me extremely happy that I have entered a big race like AdH.  Whilst I swore I'd never do another Ironman, AdH is a nice balance between a short swim and my favourite bit - a big serious kick-ass bike ride.  With Torino Nice still sitting in my legs and enthusiasm for long, hilly rides on the mountain bike not actually subsiding, I feel a swell of confidence where yesterday there was a little bit of terror.

The last thing to say on this is I have compared the few cyclo-cross results from this year from previous lap times on the same courses and whilst I don't feel like I'm doing well (last year was incredible in the literal sense) I am actually lapping faster than in recent years.  Apparently I just have more awesome competition nowadays which I think is a great thing.


Finally.  Decision made.  2017 Tri target: Conquer the Alp
Alpe d'Huez
Three trips to the Alps this year then*.

*though possibly one in the Dolomites instead

Friday, October 28, 2016

A cluster **** of a week

Actually, I allowed myself a pretty sweet rest week, after Monday's "recovery" ride on the mountain bike on my new Jones Bars.  They're nice, but I feel like I'm riding a 1950's motorcycle now and not too sure they'll be any more comfortable than the old bars.  Only time will tell... a lot of time to see if they still make my hands hurt after 800 miles of up.

On Tuesday evening I sent an (apparently) controversial email stating a few facts in somewhat lighthearted way.  This led some people in senior management to think I was losing it and others to email me in a rage.  I largely shrugged it off, indicated that I wasn't sorry (apparently cages had been rattled and some people had had to do some work) and I remained convicted to the message I had sent.

In the middle of this day I had to ride over to the hospital to collect the great news that I don't have breast cancer although it had taken 2 biopsies (an apparently a massive meeting) for the doctors to reach this conclusion.  You know how it is, you're not to worry but you do and then you realise it's a massive fucking relief.

I'd like to say that I handled it incredibly well except I found myself on my easy ride home on Wednesday evening, crying my eyes out from all the hassle.

I expected to have a terrible night's sleep so I took some herbal sleep remedy and instead slept like a baby and woke at 5am steaming ready to go so I swam.  I managed 4 whole lengths of kick drills (improving) and swam in total for 30 minutes.  I'm not overdoing it and am improving on last year's swim record of ONE session in October.  I am intending to improve further on ZERO in November and FOUR in December.

I further washed down Wednesday's cruddy day with a game of squash - my first in 8 years - whereby I at least made an impression on the SHEQ manager at work so hey, that's always a new department that might have me!

Let's just say beating a small ball against a wall was great at easing the stress, less good for my body which is now in a broken heap on the sofa.  I gave it a wring out on the yoga mat this morning then let it do nothing else all day.

I feel like I've regained my composure now and spent most of the afternoon considering what to do with the cluster that is next tri season.

I have realised that the world tri champs is in September - a time when I'd much rather be repeating the Torino Nice Rally.  So I won't be qualifying for the world champs.  I have to admit I am mildly relieved since the prospect of racing flatly around Rotterdam at vast expense wasn't appealing.  So I need a new target.  I can't decide whether to make it a second Euro's qualifying race or a really hard half Ironman that I've had my eye on for a while.  £/fun, the half Ironman is much better value and I get to kick off my altitude training a month earlier!

I stumbled across this wonderful blogger who speaks her mind incredibly fluidly.  My favourite excerpt so far being: "I like triathlons and I've done a few but... it's just, I can't stand... Triathletes, 'Yeah I know!'".  So there I am, I am out of excuses.  It's time for me to enter one of the least triathloney triathlons there is that I think I can still do with my cold water incapabilities.  If it's in July - why am I entering it now?  Because I need some fucking focus and motivation and direction is why.  Because I need to be training for something next year, not for something in 2018.  Because I need to be tired all over again and have some reason not to get stuck in the office... every bleeding... day...

And as I start to plan a bunch of long hilly rides - on and off road - I'm only left with one question... on this winter - "Cyclo-cross, what *IS* that???"

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This week

This week has been hectic in a good way.  Lots of riding, running and one swim.  Lots of yoga.

I've been putting off taking any iron tablets as I want to show the doctor what my bloods are like without them but by Friday I felt so dreadful that I decided to take the few tablets I have left and see what happens.  If I suddenly feel massively better, I'll have to tell the doctor that.

I didn't feel  like training on Friday but I still took my swimming stuff anyway.

When I got to going home time I didn't feel like swimming but I did feel like a long ride so that's what I did - leaving my swim stuff at work (I can use it on Monday) and taking the long ride home.  I didn't get much time in daylight although I got to give my light a rest along the trail that runs alongside the M1, traffic free.  When I hit public roads again it was dark but clear.  A little chilly but lovely for riding.

I climbed I descended.  I didn't get cold, though I did get disco leg on the way down Jawbone hill and suffered some frightening wheel wobble for the first time... which just made the disco leg worse.  Over the hill to the estate before circling back to home to finish with a glorious ride up our hill!  All the way to the top.  Incredibly satisfying to be out.  I could've stayed out longer - if my stomach and legs would have let me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

5 - 12 Things

 I had this recommendation a few weeks ago. Actually, the day after the 3 Peaks. I haven't adhered to the rules as some of these actions are ideals rather than specific targets but at least I have finally found the time to sit down and write them out.

  1. Train consistently. 
  2. Swim kick improvement 
  3. STC coaching when I can manage 1 hr swimming
  4. Norton Saturdays every other week or equivalent, morphing into time trials nearer the season. 
  5. 2 yoga per week 
  6. In bed by 10:30 every day
  7. 1 weekday 20 mile ride
  8. 1 hill reps run session per week 
  9. 1 intervals run session per week 
  10. Develop quiet confidence 
  11. Stay hydrated 
  12. Monthly massages

Friday, October 14, 2016

Making it through

Running. Making hard work pass easier and  my last training session of the week. Ok. I didn't ride to them all. Late nights and tired got in the way.

I went. I got tired and I got faster and today a 5 mile 6.5 mph run felt easy. The off season is about remembering how much fun we have doing the things that we love. It's about stopping to take  photos and enjoying the wildlife.

It's about life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A beautiful point

A ballet teacher once said I had a "Beautiful point" (toes).  In theory, this should make me an excellent swimmer.  So I am focusing on pointing my toes when I kick.

The first four laps of kick practice today were tedious as last week but were around 15 seconds faster so yay for progress.  I did them earlier this time so that I could get another set in later.

They tired me out so much that I decided not to do too much more, maybe just two more lengths.

This time I set off at a right pelt!  It went really well but I burned out by the time I got to the middle of the length.  Perhaps this is the problem.  My kick is "ok" but just not sustainable.  It's pretty much the problem with my whole swimming at the moment.

So I did some froggy-legs and then kicked the rest of the length and did the same on the return trip.  This seemed to go much better for me and during the times I was actually kicking, I was less depressingly slow.

So it gives me something to look forwards to next time.

When I went back to regular swimming my legs were so knackered I didn't actually kick at all.  It didn't seem to have any detrimental effect whatsoever but I'm sure things will all come together in the long run.

Getting to work I can feel the muscles aching - new muscles - and they're good running muscles too so long runs and coming togethers are all on the cards.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday happy

After a  really mardy post on Sunday I have had a great start to the week. 

Without any mud to clean off the bike I got Lovely out of the basement and cleaned her instead in readiness for winter commuting.  With a plethora of evening training courses I need a bike I can carry all my stuff around on.

I rode to work on Monday and this morning have all my running gear wih me for track training. Where last week was a real effort to do 3 sessions, I feel like this week I might be able to ride to them all.

Derby National Trophy 2016

It really was a lovely day at Derby. I didn't do well in the race at all. It was so very fast, my bike was all at odds with different tyres on the front compared to the back.

I had to fight not to be last and was beaten by quite some margin by someone that has been behind me in the field for years. I am happy for her but of course upset at myself and worrying if anything is wrong with me.

Am I over tired? 
Am I ill?
Early season crapness?
Did I do too little training? 
The wrong kind of training? (probably).

After the race, lots of friends asked if I enjoyed it and if it went well and I tried to be polite and not mardy but how can you when the answer is, "No, I / it didn't"... and then you have to explain, and then I saw Crispin and he said the most perfect thing, "not your best day". Engineers. They really do know everything. 

But I had such fun this week. Starting my triathlon season early, working on the house for the first time in years. So I can't woŕry about cyclo cross this year. 

I will enjoy it like I always do and I will be there at all my local races but I think I will hit the national trophy on the head. I enjoy the support and encouragement from Yorkshire and a lot of old friends in the North West but I hate the over-zealous officialdom, the rudeness, the timescales, the road racing courses that turn into quagmires in the face of 8 races per day and the paparazzi of jetwash machines and pit bracelets, the miles of travelling and weekends away (that aren't in the Lake District).

See you at the National Championships British Cycling, I will be the one at the back of the grid.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Being Brave II - the very very short run

A day of doing DIY.  My first attempt at de-cluttering saw me dig out an old door that's been cluttering the spare room, waiting to go on the spare room door hinges.  Having 2 doors in a room is over the top.

I knew I had to cut 2 inches of the bottom but didn't expect to do an inch off each side too.  Ah well.

One re-crafted, sanded door ready to be re-hung the next time I get around to de-cluttering.

Andrew came in from a ride and we went for lunch then I dressed like I was going to go for a run to put me in the mood.  I had stomach cramps so was addressing that with drinking water.

I hoovered too then once I'd finally rehydrated, set off for my run.

After 1.29 miles my legs were wobbly and I was struggling to maintain any pace through a rumbling tummy.  My down hill running was atrocious.

I gave up any aspirations of a longer run onto the moors and instead settled for winding down to the valley floor and jogging home.  25 minutes for the first 2 miles then I arrived home after 37 minutes for 4 miles.  Diabolical.

Still, tha's what the off season is all about no?

Still, this week I have managed to ride my bike twice (3rd time tomorrow), swim once and run twice as well as 2 yoga sets.  I've learned there's no point going to STC swim training since I can't swim for an hour yet and I have survived.  Looking forwards to next week already.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Being Brave

It's pretty scary going back to basics.  It's pretty scary starting again.

I haven't swum since the seaside experience at Worthing (force 6 gales).  I was recently challenged to develop a positive attitude and write down 5 - 12 things to change this year.  I haven't done so yet but one of the things resolutely on the list is to improve my swimming.  It's a part of the time reduction plan and an area where I can make massive gains.  In theory, around 10 minutes but possibly only 6 would be required.

The worst aspect of my swimming, I believe, is my kick.  When I only kick, much of my propulsion is gone.  I find this surprising since I have strong legs but then much of the kick in swimming comes from the hips (and probably back / core) and I know these things to be weak in me.  I usually don't do kick drills because I am so bad at them it depresses me and I have, to date, seen little point in beating up something so inherently bad.

Still, my resolve is to improve this aspect of my race and since there's not much gain to be had in changing my stroke (and I find it incredibly difficult to turn over much faster or harder without losing finesse) I have to start looking at my kick.  All coaches have told me my stroke looks fine so there must be something not happening right.

Since my kick is so obviously ineffective, I figure we can make huge gains here.

So I resolved to do kick drills on a regular basis right through till next season.

I've been trying to swim all week so I ran out of time today and HAD to go swimming this morning.

I decided to only swim 30 minutes (not lap counting) because I forgot to put my lap counter on and I really forget to count, when left to my own devices.  There's far too much going on in my head.

I started swimming until I fatigued and looked at my watch, 7min 35s.  Perfect.  I can do 4 x 7:30s and make up 30 minutes.  I felt like I'd swum 10 - 14 laps.  So many that I couldn't have remembered to count them and not so many that I was swimming super-fast.  I did it again and the second time around stopped at 16:24 - improved endurance.  I swam again and clocked 26:00.  Brilliant. Getting better.

Time for kicks.

I grabbed a buoy and got in the slow lane.  Not even going to inconvenience the middle lane with this!

Off to a great start - assisted by the water jets from the shallow end.  Then slowed to nothing.  Old ladies swam by.

Only the gradual arrival of the steps persuaded me that I was actually making some progress then WHAM!  I was hit by the side-current from the opposite side of the pool and had to kick even harder just to swim in a straight line.  Still, I wobbled onwards and just about managed to steer myself in a semi-circle before doing some froggy-legs to manoeuvre myself in the opposite direction.

Off I went again, slowly waddling my way down the pool and fighting that side current again.  Once I reached the wall I had to put my feet down and walk to the edge.  There was no fighting those water jets.

I had to get my breath back before setting off again and repeating it all.  Pointy toes, wiggly legs, achey arms.

Back to the shallows and my watch was reading 31:46.  It took me 7 minutes to kick 4 lengths.



but my first baby steps to swimming improvement.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

New day. New season. New sessions. New normal.

Enough of the peaks and troughs, it's time to start making training a part of the new normal.

One day offline to recover from my first cyclo cross of the season and now it's back to yoga followed by a run session with STC tonight.

I am struggling to contain my excitement... which is not really how yoga should be.

Old fashioned PS. too much of an exciting day and completely unable to sleep. Perhaps I will get used to it.