Monday, October 24, 2016

Ironman Vichy Race Report

Take 2: App crashed and take 1 was lost - this will probably benefit the reader mind you; less waffle I reckon 2nd time around!

Having arrived in Vichy the Wednesday evening before race day it was quite apparent that, well, it was bloody hot. It then came as only a little suprise to hear this would be a non-wetsuit swim... That despite me reading somewhere in recent weeks that Vichy has always been with wetsuit as whilst it's a dammed lake, it has flow.... So I was actually a bit put out, along with about 4000 other athletes participating in weekends events (70.3 on Saturday and IM on Sunday). Still it was what it was a lucky I'd packed a swim costume.

So despite the prospect of extreme heat and no wetsuit I felt kind of good come race day. Excited. I had a plan, I had my own personal sponges for cooling on the run, I had my lower back and shoulder taped up. I was ready (as ready as I'd ever be).. If we were lucky the weather looked like it may break at some point during the run.


So my aim was to take it easy to steady given the non-wetsuit... Having discussed it with my roomies we all decided to seed ourselves in our original swim time, my thought was this would be somewhere between 1:07 - 1:10 swim with wetsuit so that's where I went to queue up. With 2 people jumping in every few seconds the rolling start was underway. Jumping in I sank a lot more then I expected (remembering "oh yeah I won't float up without a wetsuit".. Well, despite this being a rolling start to less busy... The first quarter up river felt like I was in a washing machine; I got pulled, hit (accidentally) and scratched.. It was a bloody nightmare and probably when I consumed the most water!! Going back down river felt better, more space at least but by now I was swimming wide. The swim is split into 2 out and backs, so apparently at half way I clambered out, stopped to tighten my timing chip which was loose and jumped back in, this time hitting my legs on the bottom of the ramp which caused the first small bout of toe cramping (more to come on that).... I'd seen my watch at 42mins but it felt long and Garmin said 2.4k so wasn't worried about time.. But did think a bit of wtf, and thought lap2 must be shorter... Ha ha ha... Off set for lap 2.... Not so much bumping but was definitely swimming wide again, not sure when the really bad leg cramp, from knee to toe,  started but remember on the way back up right leg went completely and I thought if the other goes I'm done for!!! And for a moment imagined how pissed off I'd be if I had to be rescued and not even finish the swim.. Lol.... So I carried on with anchor leg and it finally swam itself out. Concentrated on good catch and felt easy.... Turned top buoy for home then got poked by someone and so left leg cramped up so that was shit, "swam" with another anchor for a while before it eased and I staggered up right, took me a while to get my balance before shuffling ... Was rather dismayed at the time 1:29:something but tired positive thinking and figured it was what it was and hadn't died and figured it was probably long and same for everyone... And anyway regardless it was my longest swim ever time wise and I had drank that much I figured I was at least starting hydrated!! Lol...

Took time in T2 out of swim costume into bike gear, applied sun cream grabbed shoes and trotted off.... Wasn't fast but wasn't pressured... Time to ride.... 


Straight out on the bike trying to put the swim behind me, it didn't take long to realise that I really REALLY needed to pee... Being on the Aeros can do that to you ... Having not yet learnt how to pee on the bike and having learnt from the race in Exmoor then better to go sooner then later, I gratefully found the special needs feed station just being set up a few km out from transition. Phew. Long wee 1 done... Back on my bike and into the swing of things, the usual then happened with streams of people coming past... given the volume maybe my swim wasn't as bad as it had felt... Happily on my bars with my wattage and HR zones written on some tape on the top stem, I concentrated on NOT pushing it and really enjoying the countryside. The first 50-60k went pretty quickly, for some time during this I had the person known as "orange socks" (because they were wearing long bright orange socks) ahead of me - for some time actually... They overtook, pulled ahead but then the distance remained the same about 300-400m up the road... And then I started gaining (this never happens on the bike)... During the orange sock distraction, club mate Jamie Rossiter arrived at my shoulder, which was great to see.... I think he started after me on the timing mat and we lamented about the swim. I consider Jamie and I to be similar swimmers (I may be off with that but think so) and so when he said he'd taken about 1.5hrs as well it I guess helped reaffirmed the positive for me (I had still been fighting the demons). Off he whizzed as I carried on my stalking of orange socks. MUCH to my surprise before aid station 2 or 3 (probably the 3rd one), I overtook orange socks - as I said much to my surprise. My joy was short lived however as I needed to pee again so stopped at the aid station for a welcome emptying of the bladder... lol... I really did drink a lot of the lake water!! Orange socks sailed by and I never saw them again! Back on the bike everything was going smoothly.. And then I got GRUMPY... really grumpy.. This was probably at the aid station just before the only real hill on the course, and as I was grumpily going up the hill that's when 349a Team mate Jules cycled to my shoulder. Apparently I wasn't happy (he told me after), apparently I was having a horrible time... I know this was in my grumpy zone and during training this was always an indicator to stop with solid foods and move only to gels. That decision was easy, gels only from now on it was and pedal on we go! The rest of the loop was entertaining, a bit more rolling and pockets of very supportive villagers. The drop down into the village were the course split into 2nd loop or return to T2 was very exciting and loud... HOWEVER with no signage and hence no knowledge of the split being so imminent it suddenly became a confusion of cones and whistle blowing Gendarme. Without a clue which way to go and not understanding anything I was being shouted at by the gendarme (partly because I couldn't hear him and partly because my poor brain coudn't cope trying to steer the bike avoid the cones, break the bike, stop the bike, AHHHH don't fall off get foot out just in time... And listen to him and translate what he was saying... ).. Effectively I headed for the middle just avoided crashing into cones and gendarme and falling before realising I need to GO RIGHT. A sign would have been useful I lamented. Bursting with adrenaline I clicked back in and started off again, thanked by my fellow racers who had been sufficiently behind me in the chaos to work it out based on what I was doing - so they whizzed by and my adrenaline fueled body decided with all that excitement.. Yes... I needed another wee,... Sigh... Stopping again at the special needs station (this time a kind volunteer held my bike), I was sufficiently calm enough to decide to take a painkiller for my now aching lower back and shoulders (injury 4 weeks out before race) and set off for lap 2. 

The second lap was so totally enjoyable I can only remember smiling :) Not sure if that was the painkillers or from the adrenaline or what. But I loved it. I was zipping through the countryside, HR and power completely in control. I was even catching and overtaking people, as well as people still coming past me, although by now the field was most certainly more ahead of me then behind. The drizzle which had happened on the first lap, about 2/3rds around the course had turned into a proper shower by the time I got back to the same area. The crowds were thus less, and the roads thus more slippy (I certainly had one rear wheel slippage moment going around a corner which was exciting). I had a bit of a sing song (as you, well I, do) and just took in the scenery - it was lovely. Coming back into the split area or course I knew which way to go and was excited to be nearing T2. No stops in lap 2 meant a negative split for the bike (not that I knew that at the time), and I eventually came in to T2 around 6hrs 20 - which was actually about 15-45mins faster then I thought I would. Really happy - just the little prospect of a marathon to go. Arriving back to Vichy it did indeed feel like someone had left the oven door open.... into the heat we went...


Honestly when you get to this, with all the training done it's not worth thinking "Can I?" But more like "I CAN!" ... my mental approach was to do lap one as a city sightseeing tour of Vichy in preparation for a half marathon (I can do a half, no problem, and this was flat compared to exmoor)... so once that was done, it was just a 10.2k run... no problem. Cough. No point dwelling, well apart from in transition to get changed and make sure my blistered feet (no new blisters just old ones) had some tape on to hopefully prevent deterioration and off I go. My plan (well my coach's plan!) was to go very easy, HR firmly under z3 (i.e. Up to not over 131) and only in z2 throughout. Instructions to eat if it started peaking, or in this case as it was like an oven, to try and cool down. So that somewhat dictated the pace and to be honest I had had some very happy very slow off road runs at home so put myself in the countryside at home mode and trundled off. For whatever reason I stopped at the portaloos at the first aid station after about 2k. I didn't actually need to go but was paranoid a little from my bladder issues in Exmoor and the experience I had had in Barcelona.... so I guess I thought better safe then sorry as I didn't know when the next loo was... needn't have worried whatsoever... so left there and started to trundle again and what was this DISASTER... my Garmin had stopped!!! Actually surprisingly I wasn't that bothered and figured I'd know my pacing was too hard if I started "mouth breathing" .... so let my Garmin have its own meltdown and settled in.... it did actually come back to life so a couple of k later I restarted and then got my cadence and HR back. Happily trotting along at about 6:30-6:45k pace with walk breaks through EVERY aid station... I wasn't really taking much aid in these but these were an appropriate place to get water on my head and cool down  ... much appreciated showers!!! Approaching the bridge and aid station at about 8k I had a HR spike and figured it was probably about time for some extra salt... weather it was the chewable from saltstick or the gel or the cooling water I don't know... but HR came immediately down and back in control.  Lap 1 was good and steady with this run/ walk strategy working well. Saw Alison which was fab to be told Anita and Jules had been seen and looked in good shape.... fully expecting Anita to lap me i was happy to see her as I completed lap 1, she was burning up the turf and on her way to second in our age group and a spot at Kona (awesome)... for a short while we had a natter .. she stopped under a shower but soon came back past me again. Super stuff from the Jones! I honestly have little memory of my half marathon, all a bit of a blur... basically heading aid station to aid station with the boast of pacing through the finish semi circle of joy each lap. I was consistent with nurtition, water, walk breaks and cooling. I had had a truly awful metric ironman 26k run in training and felt somewhat elated to have passed that point with no real bother!! With little idea of my actual time on my penultimate time through the finish arena I looked at the main timing clock and figured I was amazingly still inside my refurbed ultimate goal of sub 13:30 (i.e. Under my Barcelona time, days before I thought was out of the window and certainly after the swim).... Joyously I picked up band 3 (you get a different coloured band for each lap), so full of the joy of the rainbow on my wrist I headed out... the sun was beginning to get low but there was an outside chance I'd make it back before it was dark which was another unspoken aim. So off... only 10.2k to go. Now honestly I don't quite know what happened in lap 4. I kind of let myself off a bit. In Barcelona I had little choice but to walk all of the final lap. I could barely shuffle by that stage and I was in much better shape... except my feet. My feet hurt. Not terribly but enough.... and for WHATEVER reason (there was no reason not even wind!) I stopped in the portaloos at three different aid station. I have no idea what that was about. As Richard the wise said, it was probably because I knew I'd get to the finish inside my time... that and bad tummy issues before so paranoid was all it needed. So I did walk at times outside of the aid station on lap 4 which is why it was much slower. The crowds around Vichy were thinning but there was a group of English girls (think they'd done the 70.3 the day before) who were still by the riverside and adding to the atmosphere .... one of them even decided I should be running so got me jogging along again whilst she jogged with me carrying her pint - without spilling a drop! It was impressive stuff!! As I got slower the people around me also seemed to be turning into mush as I still passed people who had blown themselves up earlier in the day and were simple down to a shuffle of a walk... but still heading in the right direction. Coming to the last 4K I found myself walking for a short while with a couple of chaps, both English. So we chatted for a bit and one by one they left me... so there I was walking alone when someone came running past me. They only had 1 band, they had 2 and a bit laps to go. They weren't go fast but they were going... so bugger the blisters I thought, if they can I can. So jog started again and I started taking people again. Met the two chaps at the penultimate aid station as we walked up the slope to the bridge I asked if they were going to join me as I was going to jog the last k in..... Fin (I got to know his name later) duly said yes and so we jogged in the last k together, he disappointed with his day, 5th ironman and a worst for him... me extremely happy with my day (after what I still regard as an awful start!)... we entered the arena with another guy who whilst going much slower well we didn't pass as that just felt rude. So the three of us finished in diamond formation... with the guy then Fin and I together crossing the line at the same time. Unfortunately this completely confused the clock so my name never popped up! BT huge smiles, no idea what my time was but the sun was setting behind me. I counted it as daylight even though it was most certainly more like the gloaming! 

For once I felt utterly ok at the end, no wobbles! I grabbed my medal, had some pictures taken... took my tshirt and headed to the athlete area where my after bag had wet wipes, change of clothes, protein shake and most importantly my phone so I could text the best most supportive Sherpa in the world, Alison and arrange a rendezvous. Unlike my previous foray into this distance I also felt immediately hungry and filled my face with melon and pretzels. Met up with both a Jules and Anita and eventually got us all out there to meet up with the now long suffering best Sherpa in the world. To drop bike off with the "shipmytribike" guys as well as my bag of smelly kit and back to out B&B for pizza!!!

13:13:08 Ironman Vichy done.

Post Race thoughts:

I entered this ironman as a year ago, faced with major surgery (which I ended up thankfully not needing), I had a chat with myself which went along the lines of if I could never do an ironman again would I regret having only done one... the answer was yes... and so the desire to do another was formed. You always need a reason and I'm pleased and proud to have achieved IM number 2.... that should be enough...

I said about 4 weeks out before the race, when I was at my most tired ebb that I never ever want to do one of these again. I asked Alison to shoot me if I ever suggested it. I even said this during one of the laps "this is so stupid" and certainly at the end in texts "NEVER no NEVER again"... of course then comes the day after and I go... well maybe one more... maybe Roth should still be on my bucket list. But not yet, maybe never but f I were going to say yes to one more that would be it.

Second thought is this was the first triathlon I think I've done where I had what I'd like to call an inverse experience... typically I come out ahead on the swim get overtaken by hundreds (it fills like) on the bike, then by anyone who hasn't already got me on the bike, gets me on the run. This one was the complete opposite. Which was actually quite a nice experience. Whilst I still dropped in my age group during the event I did start taking people on the bike (a first!) and seemed to be taking people on the run (whilst also being overtaken myself) ... so this was a really positive experience!

Third thought.... practice practice practice your nutrition. Certainly a major difference between racing in Barcelona and Vichy is my nutrition strategy (incl water and salt not just fuel) was much more nailed down. This was done through trying a lot in training and getting to something that worked really well for me

Fourth; running slowly is fun and amazing... I really enjoyed my long runs and rambles in the countryside during my training. Somehow the experience transferred itself mentally on race day. Weird but helpful all the same.

It really was an epic day.... but it isn't just about the day but the journey of the months of training beforehand. Having the support of your family is a must, the Pope has had to put up with a lot these last months (ok years), she is amazing. My patient (and oh so wise ) coach who sets my plans only for to never have a green week.... sorry rich... one day!

Next year: not sure yet. My "A" race though is actually a holiday in a Greek island, date tbd.... my races will revolve around that :)

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Pain Misery Agony or Honor Glory Victory?

Actually a bit of both....

From this Saturday 6th I shall be participating with up to 3500+ (I think!) other individuals on the annual Tour of the mythical land of Sufferlandria (ToS)

This is a not so mythical tour (because it most certainly is a physical one) around the mythical land of Sufferland where Grunty von Agony (GvA) shall be whipping us on our way.

“Give me your tired, your oxygen deprived,
Your huddled minions yearning for the end of the interval,
The shelled remnants of your teeming peloton.
Send these, the quad-blasted, grovelling wretched to me,
And they will wish they played it safe and stayed outside.”
(From the Poem, “Suffer, Little Minions” by Grunter von Agony)
Over 9 days I will be attempting to complete numerous indoor turbo workouts; some days multiple workouts back to back... and then there is the day of double revolver - I can't articulate my fear of this - every time I think of doing this workout, twice, brings me out in a cold sweat (or maybe that is just the lack of central heating at the moment)
A fellow Sufferlandrian has done a good graphic of what the tour entails:
It will be epic... and I hope I make it through to the end... I've done over 3 hours on a turbo before now so the length of time on any one day is not the issue; but the repeated efforts days in a row will be new to me. It's definitely going to be a test, especially the last 2 days.... assuming of course I survive the first Sunday (double.. gulp... revolver... wth!)
Well yes it's going excellent training - but there's more to it then that. Anyone can participate in this event from anywhere in the world which is great and creates a fantastic online community for support... but there's more then that.... the event is sponsored by several companies creating a pool of goodies, then the riders who can afford to (min is $10) "enter" the Prize Tour by donating to The Davis Phinney Foundation... which makes them eligible for a virtual ticket in the prize draw. Here's something about the Davis Phinney Foundation them;
"The Davis Phinney Foundation was founded in 2004 by Olympic medalist and cycling great, Davis Phinney, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000 at the age of 40. Today, Davis is both a role model in the cycling community and an inspiration to the estimated 1.5 million Americans and estimated 10 million worldwide who are currently living with the disease."
Their missions is simply put "to help people living with Parkinson’s to live well today "
So there is more to this event that myself and many are doing; there will certainly be Pain Misery and Agony on the way but we, as a community (both those whom can afford to donate to this cause and those that can not, we are in it together), shall embrace the event and do our best to finish. We ride together, virtually speaking, as a community of cyclists supporting one another for a great cause close to the hearts of many in the cycling fraternity. 
Many sufferlandrians having "entered" are asking for sponsorship either for the Davis Phinney foundation or other causes close to their hearts which is a great thing. I could at this stage ask for further sponsorship - but that isn't the intent if this post - I'm fortunate that having donated my company has also matched the donation.  I will be doing a lot of endurance events this year and will at some point make a post about what I may wish for from you.... as I said, right now I just wanted to tell you what this lunacy is about over the coming week!

                 HONOR! GLORY! VICTORY


Sunday, January 31, 2016

January training

Time for review of January.... This year I'm aiming to be an epic one having entered my second ever ironman, some 6 years after my last and enough time to have forgotten all the training involved. One of the things I enjoyed doing last time around (when I was a far more consistent blogger), was to reflect on the month gone and think about some short term, next month goals... Keeping some short term aims helps the journey to the bigger picture. 

So with that said below is a summary from sports tracks of most of my training ... Differences between mileage/ sped on for biking on strava is mostly my indoor rides I sync Zwift to strava (which shows more km the Garmin records)... Some strength sessions also missing below... But think it will provide a starting point at least!

Summary of January:

On the surface nearly 27 hours of training in the month feels like it's heading in the right direction, however scratch at the surface and we see a bit of a start/ stop/ start/ stop month. Start of the month at work (start of the half/ end of the last) always presents known time constraints... Which is fine and once I'd have felt some sort of training guilt with that but now accept it is what it is. I then had a good consistent block of about 10 days... Then 5 days ago I got this sore throat thing doing the rounds so have missed the last 5 days which is less the ideal....

Well I'm happy with having done a couple of swims over 3k. I'm happy that at the start of the month (after a few swim weeks off over Xmas) that my form went from feeling like jelly to fell like it was coming back together a bit. I know 2 swims a week make a big difference and know I will get stronger with consistency.

Still having some ear issues but combating that with trying different ear plugs, the olive and tea tree oil ear drops also seem to help clear the water out (when I remember to put it in before). Anyway I'm enjoying my swim at the moment and a little frustrated with only one swim last week (shortened by issues with too many people in the pool!)

My aim for February is to gain some consistency; I'm hoping to be over the bug to participate in the Tour of Sufferlandria but will hopefully squeeze in some recovery swims in that time as well as the tour rides. I want to continue getting a better feel for the water and stronger.

Whilst I biked quite a bit in the virtual world in January (largely zwifting) I did, err... No rides in the real world... And to be honest I'm a bit disappointed with myself with that! Once I swapped for bad weather which is fine but once really just disorganised so ended up doing a tempo indoor session rather then long easy outdoor session. Strangely strava has me over 300kms ... 
Overall I'm happy with the time on the bike during January (despite lack of any biking in the last week), I'm enjoying the mixture of sessions the coach has been setting this month and really the only complaint with myself I could have is to get out more. Ironically then I won't be going outside from 6-14 Feb as I'll be suffering indoors with my fellow sufferlandrians... As we are away the last weekend of February I'll say now a wish for good weather the weekend of 20/21st and pledge for a ride outside!

Well I'm surprised to say that I'm quite enjoying my run at the moment and I've finally found a pair of trainers which don't give me a blood blister for starters which is probably helping matters! I've probably been most consistent with running over the last 4 weeks and have even done an "easy" 16k which whilst wasn't easy actually wasn't absurdly horrible either. Should have been doing another 16+k run today but throaty thing has stopped that. I'm still slow and don't expect that to change but the consistency has certainly got me faster (for me in my mid 40s!).
I expect my running for Feb to be slightly less overall as the ToS will likely have an impact. Looking forward though to a race at the end of Feb, although originally supposed to be half marathon looks like we are relocating our weekend so will be 15k.. So will have to race harder then to make up!!!

On top of the above there has been a couple of entertaining strength sessions, although I confess these are the more likely sessions I miss. I think next month I should also post some stats on missed sessions... More red the green in Training Peaks is never a good thing! 

First and most important thing for February though is to shift this bug properly and then get into the swing!.... Vichy VIchy VIChy......

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Giving 10%

Whilst we were lucky enough to be heading off on our last holiday - a fantastic time in Italy - the news continued to report on the increasing numbers of displaced people, refugees, trying to enter Europe by various means largely to escape war in their home land.

It shocks me every time I hear cynical people effectively stating "not on my door" and "they should stay or return home"..... Without considering how utterly desperate people must be to leave and attempt to travel thousands of miles to a place they believe will be a better place to raise their family.

Who would not want that basic need to have security and safety?.... Did countries close their borders during WW 1 and during/ after WW2 ?... Did thousands of people not seek "a better life" only centuries ago as they left on boats to new lands, be that America, Australia or New Zealand...(read from the header "Departure from Liverpool", the second paragraph is as pertinent today as it was then)......   Sadly, particular now it seems, there are always the unscrupulous who will look to profit from this.

My partner wrote a very balanced and much more articulate post on the matter.

Whilst watching this  news we appreciated the safety and opportunity which we live in. We are fortunate to be able to afford holidays - and appreciate not everyone who has this safety and security can do that. We decided that whilst considering spending on holiday or sports gear or clothing we should also consider those less fortunate then us... and with that have pledged to not spend until we've saved and donate 10% of the cost to charity.

We're not set on any specific charity but do want to give to a persons charitable fundraising,  local, national and international charities. If we can afford stuff we can afford this. We are grateful for what we have and the opportunity life presents us - whilst I don't think I can do one big thing for the homeless, for those fighting cancer, for those fighting poverty or crime, those so desperate to leave their home for safety elsewhere;  We can do many small things by donating when we can afford it. If we can afford a holiday we can afford a bit more - we may just need to delay the joy of that holiday, which is no bad thing when you think of the instant gratification Amazon can give... - so I'm grateful for the opportunity to be more thoughtful and do something little in the scheme of things.

More tracking of resting HR

Got struck with an under the weather feeling again in the household, you know temperature, raging headache and chest ache... so some annoying virus or other... I've taken a look at what my resting HR was doing ... now I began to feel crap on Sunday but thought I was just tired from a good night out. My run on Monday felt harder then it should for easy and again I thought I was just fatigued from training... when I got on the bike on Tuesday and felt really nasty I began to suspect something more was up ... itchy throat by Tuesday evening, raging heavy head on Weds and Weds night disturbed sleep, sickness and temperature... 

and the resting HR picture... jumped up to 54 then 57 on wednesday, stayed there thursday.... 

I've rested up totally from Wednesday to today and you can see my average resting HR (according to fitbit) has come back down to 52... compare this to the period just before I went on holiday when I felt a similar virus attack..... going from RHR around 50 up to 58

So this seems to validate that for me (in my sample of two times) that if I get an increase of 6-8 beats in my RHR (fitbit takes it as an average over the course of a day excluding periods of activity) then I probably had hit the vitamin c quickly.... indeed tri 220 magazine recently said as much...  although actually by the time that happens it's probably too late anyway as the lurgy is lurgying! .. ... but I could use it as a motivation for training - ie if my RHR is still within normal tolerance (which I would say is between 52-54 BPM) then if I feel tired I probably am just tired not necessarily unwell and so training can be done and not use a feeling of general malaise as a reason for not bothering.