Friday, December 30, 2011

ITU Long Course World Champs - Race Report

Having arranged a "take out" breakfast from the kind and helpful staff at the Hilton the day before, I awoke at 4am and got up about 4:15 to stuff my face with bread and jam, apply copious amounts of anti-chaffing cream (being careful not to accidently swap the jam for the anti-chaff pot)... and hoped in a fellow team-mate's car (Chris who was racing and Sarah his support crew) for a lift to the start, leaving at 5am promptly as we had some pick-ups to do on the way.

The race was due to start at 7am (pro wave) and my wave was off at 0720.... with Jules starting in a wave 10mins before me I had but one chance of trying to get ahead of him during the race (my aim was to get him in transition as we know he is the master phaffer).... So with a belly full of food and a crouch full of lube we arrived to Lake Las Vegas... now when I say it was chilly let me tell you that the car was telling us it was a mere 2 degrees C (36 F)... which was COLD especially given 6 days before it was over 80 at 5pm at night. Now lucky for me the weather had been deteriortating during the week temperature wise (which suited me for the run)... however we weren't expecting rain on the Friday and then temperatures plummeting overnight.

What did this all add up to?...

Well we got to the race venue and walked towards transition, as we went I mentally noted that they had moved the bike mount mat about 30metres from inside the parking area to on to the main road. I thought at the time what a strange thing to do so late on but dismissed it as immediately as I had seen it. Then we got stopped by a marshall... "Have you guys been told about the change this morning?".... Bleary eyed we replied "no...".... "Oh... Well there is no swim. It's a timetrial start at 5sec intervals wait for further instructions. The start will be delayed"....

I beg your pardon?

The poor marhsall must have seen the same blearly eyed gawp from many people as the words slowly computed the competitors brains.... "Yeah, the swim has been cancelled due to the conditions. Go wait in the change tent it should be warmer in there".

And so that was that. All those 4k swims (ok I did about 4), but long swims sets... my dreams of getting ahead of Jules even for a milisecond... ruined.... ha ha ha... oh... so off we plodded with something like amazement and disbelief to the change tent to sit and wait. Of course your nutrition and hydration plan doesn't counter for such things. I soon ran out of water to drink and sitting just made the bread inside me bloat a bit. So we waited to hear the start would be delayed to 7:45 and they eventually decided to then race off in number order (this order was changed several times), given I was number eight hundred and something this meant I wouldn't be getting on my bike for some time! So we huddled in the change tent, putting on every layer available... at this stage I for one was happy with my 25% body fat, those 10%ers were suffering I tell you ;)... bizarelly whilst wrapped up some of us then decided to strip off and get some sun lotion on (this would have been planned for T1 and despite the temperature only planned to be 16/61 the sun is strong and I am fair skinned so lotion was a good idea). Finally our number range was called forward. By now there were rows of empty racks - all the boys having gone off... the woman now starting in age group order - young to old.... So the good thing about this was at least not so many people a usual would overtake me on the bike - not only was I not ahead on the swim but also there were fewer people behind me... probably only about 60.

As we were starting in number order this meant the GB ladies in my age group (of which there were 3) were off together, with team USA first (as hosts), and I think most other countries before us it did mean we were at the rear of our Age Group BUT it did mean I was to be 5 seconds ahead of Anita at the start (Yesssssssss)....... as her surname starts with a J and mine a G!....

As it was still cold I opted for arm warmers, club bike top and gillet for the start, figuring I could strip and hand over the gillet and top if necessary at an aid station.

We were orderly marched/ carouled up the T1 exit ramp (at least we were dry)... and shivered as we waited in the shade to get to the front timing mat. Given I have never done a time trial before this was going to be an interesting start. I moved forward, we weren't be held static but had to have a foot in a pedal and one on the floor. My count down began..... 3, 2, 1 .. GO!

I pushed off with my left foot and down with my right, missed the cleat with my left which span around ridiculously (never done that before) and pretty much stalled the bike... HA HA HA.... within 6 seconds Anita came past me...It had taken her a whole second to make up the 5 second gap!!.. Oh how we laughed..... and we really did :)

Now the bike course was always going to be dramatic. Dramatically pretty and dramatically hilly! Dramtically fast and at times dramatically s-l-o-w.... Actually if I'm honest it was pretty awesome, although there were times I felt far from awesome.

The highs - without a doubt descending from the top of Lake Mead Parkway and into the National Park. I'm not a confident speed monster on the down hill, but with little to no side winds and with a spectacular vista ahead there was nothing but tears of joy (and you know your eyes do leak when you hit 40mph, in cold wind even with glasses on)..... pretty amazing. Here was little old me with Team GB emblazoned on my bum at a world championships in a spectacular place.

The happiness soon descended in to a huff of huffiness as "what am I doing here" at around the 20mile mark, about 1hr and half or so into the race. I was in a bit of a miserable place, after some navel gazing I realised I needed to get logical about it and then soon worked out one major thing... with no swim and a stack load of jam and bread in me, plus my standard 30min nutrition and carb drink I was over carbed... this always makes me grumbly and miserable on the bike.... So I decided to miss my next food intake... my mood soon lifted (YEAH) and by mile 30 I was smiling again :)  I also took off my gillet in case I was overheating a bit (didn't feel like it but I didn't get cold afterwards either...  A few miles more and this marked the end of the south shore road, happy days!

Next onto the North shore - whilst the South shore was undulating the North shore was pretty much a swift sharp descent followed by a 4 or so miles of gradual climb, nothing too steep or even noticable in places - but up up up it went. At Mile 40 on the way up a sudden sharp pain happened in my right knee (just on the side of my knee cap)... I initially dismissed it... but as I carried on cycling everytime I put some power through the bottom of the pedal stroke it hurt. This was not a good place to be with 35miles still to go, and knowing the last 20 were pretty much up hill including those damn sisters.... hummm.... So I peddaled on with putting as little power through my right leg as possible ... I thought about quitting and thought of my family who had travelled a long way to support me and how I would feel if I quit and for no reason...... So I wasn't going to quit... not unless I physically couldn't carry on.... I got to the turn point and coasted back down to an aid station and got off my bike for a moment. Asked if there was anyone who knew about knees... despite there being a paramedic there there clearly wasn't anyone. It soon dawned on me (I was being a little slow this day I feel)... that given I had only recently been studying anatomy and physiology and had just sat my sports and remedial massage diploma exams that I ought to be able to help myself out!! Given when I wasn't peddaling hard I had no pain, and walking off the bike was fine I decided that actually I was ok and I had probably just twanged a muscle somewhere, which meant my knee cap was pulling slightly and that was causing the ouchiness of the knee. So nothing serious... and so take a couple of the stashed painkillers and carry on. I decided to get to the three sisters, see how I felt before and after... if all ok I'd start the run and see what happened. If it was the knee it would not work for the run, if it was a small something else then I would probably get away with it.

So onwards I went.... whizzing down the hill at high speed only being scared by the large American campavan things which always seemed to be towing an abnormally sized people carrier......

Mile 55 and the three sisters were upon me. The support at the rise of all hills was great - especially the third which by now necessitated a moment of out of the saddle cycling... I was more then happy, what with the knee thing and tiredness, of my gear choice - thank you granny ring! Whilst the sisters themselves only last for about 7mins, there was still another 30-45mins of gradual climbing to be done.... a descent and then ... you guessed it... more climbing.... so another hour of racing.

Arriving back from the foothills into civilsation though was great. It was at this point can you truly say the organisation of this race was second to none. There were marshals and police at every road junction, lanes were coned off and competitors had right of way through every junction. The local Police did a great job of managing the traffic it has to be said.

With little left in the bike legs and with my sense of humour failing over yet another sodding hill... we climbed up the final rise towards transtition..... A mixture of relief and excitement mixed with concern as to what my legs (particular the right) would do on the run. But at least it wasn't scorching hot :)

Happy to be off the bike I completely forgot to take my feet out of my shoes, so I dismounted slow style and handed my bike to a helper and clip-clopped my way to the aid tent.

I decided there was no point in hurrying but took my time to get my socks on, shoes on and nutrition stuffed in my trisuit. Left T2 and decided I needed a loo break - proceeded to almost lose my entire nutrition store down the toilet as I undid and took down the tri suit!!... Luckily I managed to avoid that disaster, did my thing and carried on... Popey was right by the tent/ transition exit fencing which was ace..... I staggered out wondering about whole knee thing, up a small dirt track and then a left on to the course. Looked at my watch and realised I was going down hill and too fast as it was registering 5:15km pace.... I concentrated on slowing down, getting into a rhythm and getting my cadence up to the right range. As I hit the turn and passed the aid station I was in a comfotable place, both legs and pace seemed to be ok.... The transition from bike to run done, now all I need to do was run for a few hours.... Oh how we laughed... especially as I saw the gradient of what I was supposed to run back up (no wonder my pace had been 5:15).... I got back up to the main thorough fare which I had joined out of T1 and saw the rest of the clan gathered... Mum, Dad, my cousin Sarah (who had flown in from New York the day before - amazing to see her), Enid and Popey... all wrapped up and with GB flags to wave... The support through this main bit was great, the GB and Kiwi supporters certainly giving the most cheers. Through there and on to the "long drag" ... This wa a big wide road, a lane of which was for the race, up one side and we came back down the other. Now whilst I had done quite a bit of hill running in my training I need a coping strategy for this beast.... so decided the best bet was to run to the aid station, walk fast through it and run again to the top of the road... where we turned left and went slightly down hill for about 50-100m... before turning back... the turn back was another walk break for me before running back down the hill... and so the war of attrition started... there were 4 laps to do in total...... Lap 1 done in something like 46mins ... this was to be the peak pace wise !!

As is the norm I think on these long races I now only see myself enjoying the run, but I'm pretty sure whilst on it I was a miserable sod until lap 3 or 4!!  The dodgey leg seemed to be less dodgey and holding up well... bottom half of the course I tended to run down and tended to have more walk then run stages on the way back up (it seemed considerably steeper)... the top half of the course - the long drag - certainly seemed to get easier as the race went on... The feed stations were well manned and well placed, all the volunteers were extremely enthusiastic and helpful with a good selection of food and drink options... my favourite ended up being chicken boullion... ummmm... I loved that stuff.... it was served particularly warm at the long drag feed station as I recal. On the final run down the long drag towards the finish shute I my right leg almost decided enough was enough with my quad going into a crampy spasm.... but really I wasn't having any of that and it wasn't like I was going to finish walking now was it... as I turned towards the finish shute I saw a GB supporter who had a couple of little flags... so I asked if I could grab one and headed in to the finish.... There weren't many people left supporting out there by the time I finished, it was all a bit of a blur.. but I was happy as could be waving my flag with some glee... I trimuphantly crossed the finish line with my arms held high... had my picture taken and was grateful to receive my space blanket from a rather cheery chap... Popey was over at the fence so I reached over for a big hug and promptly burst into tears... saying "if I ever say I'm thinking of doing one of these things again you may shoot me and stop me at all costs"... to which she replied "yeah which is like a drunk saying they will never drink again when they have a big hangover. You'll soon forget and want to get back on it".... HA HA HA... OH!

All in all - despite the highs and lows..... I did have a good race (from a results point of view). The best time I expected to do for the bike, given the several thousand feet of climbing was 5hrs and I came in on 4hrs 46mins (the lack of swim probably helped that slightly).... For the run I somehow managed to ekk out a 3hr15min for the 30k which in itself had over 900feet of climb.... which I'm actually very pleased with. This time beats anything I've done over that distance before (ok I've only ever done one 30k race which was this one... but marathon wise I did 4:45 on a straight marathon and 5:30 on an ironman marathon, and his pace is far ahead of where I was on both races... ).... Also whilst I did walk during the run I did this much more tactically so then I've managed on long run events before.

I came 32nd in my age group from 37 starters... so also completed my aim of not coming totally last!

I couldn't have achieved all this without the support of my family and friends leading up to the race and the support on the day was immense.

There were some inspiring people at this race... the elites who finished several hours before me are simply amazing..... but more amazing still were the athletes of all ages taking part and the parathletes are all the above and then some.

Race photo's can be found here

ITU World Champs - Preamble

As in all things this year this race report is long overdue, some would say late......
So here it is ... The preamble.....

Anyway..... So myself and the support clan arrived a whole week before race day (mainly to help with the jet lag but also take in some sights and sounds of Las Vegas). The journey from the airport was fairly straightforward (not too many u turns) and we got to our nice little hotel, the Hilton Garden Inns at Henderson. Unlike most hotels in Vegas this had no slot machines anywhere in sight (thank fully), but if we needed one desperately enough we were pretty much located in the parking lot of SunSet station so all was not lost if we fancied a little gamble!

The jetlag barely happened (which was a good thing), on Sunday late afternoon I went for a little run in the surrounding area (basically I ran up a fairly long hill and back). It was still over 80 at 5pm. I hadn't really settled on my expected race pace for the 30k run, but the weeks before I was knocking out 10ks in an easy 5:50/ k... but with the hills of the race course I expected this to drift to 6:00 and then with the race fatigue probably nearer 6:15s..... however when faced with the prospect of 80 degree heat I thought I simply wouldn't worry about it and see what happened!

The days preceding the race I got my bike set up and headed down to what was the main talking point of the 120k bike course - namely the "3 Sisters". These are basic 3 rather nasty lumps one after the other which we would hit at about the 85k point of the course.... and when I say nasty I mean it, I believe the final lump had a 20% ramp in it. However having read all about this and finding some youtube footage I had geared myself (literally) for it, having had something like a 13-29 put on my bike - this would have been good enough to see me up a alpine mountain - and indeed probably saw me overgeared for these little beauties - however I was thankful of gear 28 on race day!! So - I bimbled out a couple of times to the three sisters and got less scared of them pretty quickly.

The other days before the race we spent doing some sight seeing:
  • Hoover Dam in truly awesome and an inspiration ... Amazing to see what past generations have achieved with little in the way of what we know as modern technology. If you are ever near it you really should go and find out about it.

  • Red Rock canyon - whilst geared up for tourism this seems to have been done so without any real invasion to the area which is an achievement in itself. Taking the 12mile scenic drive after a stop at the tourist information centre is well worth the short trip north of the strip. Spectacular scenary for sure - I would love to have had the time to walk and maybe camp around that area.

  • The Strip - well a trip to Vegas simply wouldn't be complete without a journey along the strip (at least the section from the Luxor down to the Belagio and on to the Venetician). Doing this the day after the flight in may not have been the greatest idea (as we were all tired and grumbly bears by about 6pm), but still an interesting if somewhat completely different spectacle from the above two.

I also did the usual thing (dragging the support crew around) of race reccie - taking a look at Lake Las Vegas (the swim), and driving the south and north shores of Lake Mead (the bike). Wasn't so worried about the run, I knew it would be hilly so why make it worse for myself by actually looking at it beforehand?!

Venue for the 4k Swim. Nice!
  Prior to race day I had seen many svelt like athletes around the expo .... and I mean the fat free type. Feeling a little bit out of my league (like what was I doing here type thing), I decided my best coping strategy come race day was to pretend I was the equivalent of a lottery winner at Kona. ie love the experience, be amazed you are there and don't worry about all the people coming past you, they are allowed (afteral they clearly didn't enjoy life as they don't have any body fat ergo do not dring beer and indulge in chocolate....)... now I'm sure this isn't the case, the fact is they train hard and are talented - but it helped me mentally speaking to think this!!

Anita looking in pain but actually this was excellent treatment!

The day before race day the inevitable phaffing took place when it came to bike racking - and without going into too much detail by this time the usual tri race buddies of Jules and Anita had arrived, although staying at another local hotel and yours truly had agreed to give Anita a lift down to the race start (it was a 12mile split transition) for bike racking. Significant amount of PHAFFING nearly led to me blowing a casket and I ended up taking Jules and Anita (incl all three bikes) and the every so calming Popey (sherpa) in our rental "car" (said losely as it was a substantial vehicle - to fit 4 adults and 3 bikes in with only taking off one front wheel (of a bike!!) you can see what I mean. We got to the lake and I had to phaff quite a bit (although not entirely my fault as my racking block didn't allow my back wheel in to rack my bike)... we finally said goodbye to bikes and got back to our respective hotels for some rest before the inevitable 4am wake up on race day.

Anita, Myself and Jules - race briefing D -2. READY NOW!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Never Enough

So I'm three weeks away from race day.... well actually I'm 2 weeks and 6 days to be precise and I'm having that moment when I consider what I've done and panic about what I haven't done.

I could have, should have but didn't do more training. Although I've not been working and I didn't want to become simply obsessed and my life ruled (ruined?) with just training I seem to have put in less hours per week of training then last year - but then last year I was training for an ironman and this year I am not.

For the ironman I averaged something like 9 hours a week of training. This year I'm guessing I'm around 8. ... and let's not forget in this training cycle I missed almost a month of training due to the flu/ virus during June. At least that was nearer the start of the training plan rather then middle of worse still now (crosses fingers and touches wood that I stay bug free for the next 3 weeks!).

So although I'm stressing I know I needn't or more rightly shouldn't. What is done is in the bank, what hasn't been done shall not be deposited in the bank and that is that. I think I should finish before the cut off - dependant on how long it takes me to get up that darn hill at the end section of the bike ( ... and then there's always the hills on the 30k run course which I won't mention either.


I have done what I can. I don't think you ever feel you've done enough. So I just need to have faith that what is in the bank is enough for me to withdraw come race day to see me to the finish line.

One more week of some good quality sessions then on to taper... and travel. Vegas awaits :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

September Stats

Ok so what happened in September... well I guess the biggest feature was a holiday to Lanzarote... I say holiday although clearly I took my bike!! Think I got the balance on the trip right - some good training and some good down time by the pool. Alcohol was on the menu as was ice cream - so not the diet of champions but I did have a lovely time. Thanks go to Jules for the invite and the Pope for sharing a lovely time... and the rest of the gang of 9 ... we all had a lovely time :)

Anyway..... So stats for September;

  • Run - 16 - 64.0 mi - 10.1 hrs
  • Swim - 7 - 9.9 mi - 5.1 hrs
  • Bike - 14 - 254.4 mi - 17.1 hrs
  • Cross - 5 - 0.6 mi - 2.4 hrs
  • Total - 42 - 328.9 mi - 34.7 hrs

Swim: Thanks to one long swim and several shorter ones in Lanzarote my swim meters are still holding good. My focus for October is getting at least weekly 3.3k+ swims in.... The race distance is 4k, but last year for Challenge Barcelona I didn't got over 3.2 and found the almost 4k I swam there ok. 

Bike: I had a couple of good rides in Lanzarote and certainly felt the strongest I've ever felt on the hills over there (this is relatively speaking - usually I am worse then weak, I still would not say I'm strong on the bike). My mileage was down for the month but I'm ok with that given the run time went up which is my biggest concern really.

Run: So my hours/ mileage was back up after my calf strain in August. I feel like I've lost some of the speed (not that I am fast) that I was finding earlier in the year before the injury. My main concern is how I am going to somehow get by body around 30k of running for the race. I did a horrendous run at the end of September, barely managing 1hr 20 (8miles) ... but it was at the end of a high volume run week, straight after a 1.5hr easy ride and also in perhaps the hottest day of the year (I am not joking, it was over 80!).

I have about another week or two of "panic training" before taper. Nervous for the big one for sure but at least I have casino's to drown my sorry arse in and family will be there to weep on after ;)

It's been a month.....

Aha... so I have just written this blog utilising bloggers new interface and it didn't save and lost the lot. Rubbish. Although I have no excuse for not blogging recently! I am not back to the trusted previous interface and have successfully "saved" this so far... so I shall continue!!!

Have you ever had one of those training sessions which just weren't meant to be? I think sometimes you can take "signs" to mean something like "stop" or "forget this and try something different".

Yesterday was a prime example... honest...

I had planned a 2.5 - 3 hr bike (with some hills for fun) and then a 20-30min run off the bike. The weather forecast was for grey skies and bright spells and the remote possibility of occasional light showers.

So I looked outside whilst getting my bike stuff together to note there were grey skies and wet roads but no rain. Still I took precautions and put on my shower proof light bike jacket just in case. I stepped outside and it promptly started to rain. SIGN 1.

I took my usual route out of Finchampstead, through Arborfield Garrison and up on to the A327 which can be busy but usually not too bad. Just going up a slight incline a lorry decided that this would be a good place to overtake me. Given there was a white van parked on our side  of the road towards the crest of the hilll which we were approaching fast, I wasn't so sure. To compound this a 4x4 appeared from over the hill and thus left little room for either a lorry or me, and certainly not both. The lorry driver thankfully realised that squashing me wasn't such a good thing and backed off until the crest of the hill (and white van) and overtook - I'm glad he could see more of the road ahead then me as I didn't have a clue what was coming. Still sort of close but not really but enough for SIGN 2.

Just after the lorry went past I felt a gradual squishyness of my rear tyre, luckily there was a shop with some parking spaces up ahead so I glided into the car park and indeed my rear was flat. So I calmly set about replacing in the inner tube. It was still raining (ie this was no quick "shower")... SIGN 3

Having reinflated my inner tube (quite successfully using a gas cannister which is a first for this year), I discovered a rather deep and long gash in the tyre. This was the sort of thing you can't ride on without a puncture happening. I guess I must have rode over some glass or something. Despite the face that I still had another spare inner tube (I usually ride with 2), I decided that this was the final sign to head back home. Having ridden for a whole 11mins!

Rather then riding straight back the way I had come I decided to "risk it" and take a rather circulative ride back and managed to get in 30mins. I then headed out for a quick leg stretch around the local "new" park/ woodland for a nice 3.4k 17min run... and then for good measure got out the turbo for a rather boring 30mins.

So my 2.5 - 3hr ride + 20-30min brick turned into a 1hr ride with a 17min brick. Oh well.

Less then a month to Vegas so still time for  some more panic training :)

Friday, September 09, 2011

August Stats

Yes - I owe the Little Woody DNF race report... but first as it is quicker ;) .. August Stats!!

This reads pretty good, despite the calf injury and subsequent days off...

  • Run - 11 - 38.7 mi - 6.7 hrs
  • Swim - 9 - 12.3 mi - 5.0 hrs
  • Bike - 10 - 340.7 mi - 23.3 hrs
  • Cross - 3 - 0.7 mi - 0.2 hrs
  • Total - 33 - 392.4 mi - 35.2 hrs

My main concern coming in to August was the distinct lack of swimming which had plagued my training, either through laziness or illness or fear of getting ill from catching something in the water... So I wanted for August to get back in the water and get some consistency. I am having some issues with my Garmin in Open Water mode since the last software update (it defaults back to "other" not swimming each time I turn it on and thus doesn't use the algorithm to calc the distance properly as I forget to set it up... so the distance is probably more like 10+mile rather then 12).. but still ....5 hours of swimming was 3 hours more then July so progress, the distance probably more like 10miles then 12. Anyway, I'm happy with the swimming still conscious I should now be swimming longer as I have yet to do anywhere near to the race distance (4k) in training.

I'm happy also with the consistency I achieved on the bike. With the most monthly time spent in the saddle this year. My focus for September is to maintain this consistency whilst introducing some more speed work and also some continued work on the hills. The course in Vegas still daunts me with the stats of climbing, they are saying 7000ft in the 73ish miles.... although every map I see that people have tried to recreate in mapping tools shows less then that. Still it is going to be hilly so hills are the order of the training, going to Lanzarote for a week should help with that :)

On the run side, clearly with the calf strain the stats are down, which is fine. The calf is on the mend and I managed a long run of just under 10miles yesterday with no strapping, no gimp calf guards and with no reaction today. So I just need to carry on with the program of tempo, brick and long slow with intervals. The one thing I must do though is to restart my core & stability routine. I neglected this somewhat through July into August and I think the weakness in the stabilisers may have contributed to the problem with the calf (that and wearing new trainers on a 10k tempo session.. ha ha ha)

I'm expecting my stats for Sept to be flat with August, maybe slightly down as a results of the week of complete rest I took off after Little Woody.

The way I see it is I have 6 weeks of focus before 2-3 weeks of gradual taper now leading to the race .... Long Course is nearly here... GULP!

Run Time by month
Run Distance by month
Bike Time by month
Bike Distance by month
Swim Time by month
Swim Distance by month

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blenheim Palace Sportive

So Sunday dawned and I was pretty much already up-n-atum... The reason... Well us band of three TVTers (my local tri club) were off to Blenheim Palace to ride the 60mile Sportive, entry fees largely going to Breast Cancer Care.... So at the unearthly (for a Sunday) hour of 7am Alistair turned up, we loaded my bike and headed off to pick up Paul... The three Amigos were formed and we headed off to deepest darkest Oxfordshire.... With the promise of sunshine it proceeded to plop with rain a couple of times as we went through Oxford although thankfully this soon dissipated.

We arrived to a hive of activity, there was quite a good expo, and several bike things going on... From the Sportive, TimeTrial and Pink Ribbon Ride to the much acclaimed "Brompton World Championships" .... As we parked up we soon realised (given the number of cars already parked) thatbwe were perhaps a tad late. A quick unload of bikes and into kit, Alistair kindly offered me a handful of cream from his chamois pot (I thankfully had already done my own at home!!!)... And we hussled over to pick up our timing chips we scappered through the expo (quick portaloo stop!) and got to the starting pens to see they were all indeed empty! The pink ribbon ride looked like it was getting (or had got underway) .... So we went tot the start line a little apologetically... The marshals were very welcoming and said no bother and the three of us got on our way with the sun shining behind us.

The initial mile was through the grounds of the palace and was rather epic, lush lawns, fields and a view ahead of the wonderful lush countyside.

Having negotiated the cattle grids (I hate those) and a splash of cobble stones on the exit gate we headed out to the open road.... Any cyclist ahead being incentive for us to push on, we would rather find other riders (not that the three of us mind each others company), but a good carrot. After about 10mins I realised I hadn't switched on the timer of my gamin, *shock* promptly corrected thus ensuring I could pour over the stats later.... Just 2 mins after that we were hussling down a hill, Paul leading out pointed out a pot hole to avoid so I did the obvious and went straight for it, tried to jump it but succeeded in merely splatting my rear into it which immediately hissed at me... Hurrumph a flat. We pulled up (Alistair and Paul were consummate gentleman not only waiting but also helping with the repair) .... 10mins and dirty hands later we were just putting on the rear wheel when a support car turned up.....apparently there had been up to 10people in one go having puncture repairs at the same spot (damn that pot hole)... Anyway... They offered a track pump, which I quickly said yes too to get the pressure back up. Not that I think Paul's efforts were wimpy but you simply can't get the same pressure in a tyre with a hand pump compared to a track. So rear on, pressure up and we were quickly on our way again.

We were soon passing through some old old Oxfordshire villages and passing into Gloucestershire.... Mostly the roads were off the beaten track so with little traffic. We started to catch and pass some riders meaning it felt like we were in an event and even managed to "pick up" one girl from Bray (i think that is what here bike club top said), Alistair and I took the front with Paul chatting her up behind ;) ....

We soon reached the feed station at about the 24mile mark, greeted by the smell of frying bacon and stopped for a short break (largely for me to refill my water bottle which had emptied itself when I had punctured!).... We declined the bacon butties (I just can't imagine scoffing one of those and cycling another 36miles)... But did partake in some rather nice flapjack.

Off we went again, back down to the three amigos as the lady who had been cycling with us had caught up with her crew at the feed station. The rolling hills came and went, we passed through some villages i vaguely remember my Mum and Dad taking us to when my brother and I were very young... Then on one memorable climb we lost Paul slightly. But Alistair said never fear he'll be back with us in a short while.... And sure enough on a long straight I looked back to see he had burst from the group behind and was tucked in on his tri bars bearing down on us.... Alas a road junction ahead saw Alistair and I cross and Paul not as he got held up by traffic. We were then in to a long and fast descent (with another hill on the horizon)... Alistair and I cruised on and we were suddenly at the second feed station, no bacon butties here but some more lushous flapjack, which I gladly took an extra large slab of to stow in my bento box. Paul wasn't much behind and we set off again, immediately on to a hill.... And then another long fast descent where tragedy happened as my bento lid came unstuck and the morsel of flapjack I had stashed flew out... Sob...

The last 5-7 miles became a bit of a smack down, with Alistair (mainly) and me (not as often) hitting the front and dragging each other forward, we picked up some guy on the way who was grateful for the tow and apologised for not being able to lead!! We passed back through the cobblestone gate and onto the long drag back to the palace. It was awesome and Alistair did the gentlemanly thing and let me lead us home.... We literally hammered it down the path, me slightly crapping my pants at hitting the cattle grids at such a pace! The hills weren't quite done with us though and at about the point where lactate threshold was being passed we had a cheeky steep short climb, at which point we got caught up behind a pram!!! Bahhhhhhhhhhhh.... All momentum was lost and a quick shift to the granniest of granny rings and a great deal of huffing, puffing and "aaahhhhhing" saw us up and the finish line in sight. Alistair grabbed my hand and we crossed the line with great big grins! Paul came through soon behind us and so it was to the table for a cup of tea, a juicy peach, banana and of course flapjack!!

Last 5 mile average speed was around 19mph (I didn't know I could go that fast!)
Clock time was 4:02:30 for 60miles which included feed stops and rear flat repair

My scores out of 10...
Feed stations ... 10/10
Organisation .... 10/10
Mechanic support 10/10 (it felt like we saw a support vehicle every 15-20mins)
Race hq Venue .... 10/10
Marshalls.... 10/10 .... All very friendly and helpful
Road condition .... 6.5/10 .... There were some really rather badly cut up roads... Not the organisations fault and pretty much the norm for this area at the moment it seems. If the local councils had been looking to repair the roads at least the pot holes would have been marked.

I'd definitely do this event again.

Next stop... little woody tomorrow... It has been raining for days and the forecast for tomorrow is pretty awful.... I may well be wearing a rain jacket for the race!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Take a day off...

WHAT! A day off.... but I feel so energised?!....

But yes this is what I am to do today.... energised because the weekends training didn't go exactly according to plan when I gave myself a slight strain to the right calf so haven't done as much as normal....( it feels almost like I'm on taper!! ).... this calf thing seems to be catching .....

I have to take a fair degree of responsibility for this I must admit.... as you may or may not be aware I decided earlier this year to take a self look at my running style (or lack there of)... and with the help of Brain training to Runners (a book in case you wondered) and Core Endurance , I set about ditching my orthotics and working on my core and stabilising muscles and little by little move my foot strike from out in front to more under my body in a pose-esk style, whilst upping my cadence..... I have done this gradually and have found that my Asics Cumulus shoes which I have used for years now feel, well too cushioned. I have gradually introduced an old love, Mizunho Wave Riders (I think) which are a bit flatter and slightly less cushioned (at least that's how they feel).

Things have been going really well and my running seems to be feeling stronger too .... no doubt mostly related to my increased mileage but up until now I haven't found a niggle which is a relief after last year.... BUT THEN...

Well because I'm fully into the swing of my training hours I have neglected the core/ stabilising work for about a month.... THIS IS BAD.... but not entirely the problem


Last week I received a nice LOVELY pair of K-Swiss K-ona shoes.... Ummmm..... now I had done some research and loved the look of these when I got them, after all they went with my recently purchased K-Swiss tri gear... ha ha ha ha ... obviously the main reason to buy them yes? ..... Anyway, I figured these would be a good race shoe (slightly lighter with the air holes and drainage holes looked ideal for tri).... soon as they were on my foot I could feel the difference, they felt firm and yes with less cushioning but comfortable.

So with the excitement of a kid in a candy shop I promptly used them for a tempo run. 15mins easy, 2*15mins tempo and 15mins easy home. I have to say I loved running in them but did feel the difference in the cushioning and wondered to the wisdom of shoving these on my feet for an hour straight away. But still. The run was GREAT!

Got home and as I expected my calf muscles tightened, the K-Swiss shoes are definitely good race shoe material for 5-10k.... but I really ought to have transitioned to them a bit more gradually.

Not to be outdone I got Jezza, my sports massage guys to sort out the stiffness the day after so the day after that a 4 hr ride and 10min run was no problem... but I knew the calfs were tight.... So cliff top runs were probably not the order of the day for the weekend... but boy the runs and walks we had down in Dorset were brilliant.

A cold seaswim on Sunday and straight transition to a run was a struggle... However after 10mins I warmed up and had really got into a good steady stride and then that "Oh" what was that sensation.... followed on the next step with "uh oh" ..... and abrupt stop.

The GOOD news to this though is a I did not sharply pull up and I didn't try to run on (which I did a few years ago when I had something similar which really was a stupid idea but if you don't know what a calf strain feels like then this act isn't so stupid, kind of).... and I have managed to rest, I have compressed (to the thanks of some compression socks and stuff), I have managed to contrast treat (ice and heat) and bearing in mind I am a trainee sports massage ninja I have treated with some different techniques which should help with the repair work!! So 4 days on, I'm confident if I manage this ok then I should be fine to run at Little Woody in 9 days (this is a middle distance event, the run is just short of a half marathon although it is mainly off road...).. 

So I'm taking today as another rest day (I rested Tuesday).... but will continue the rehab work.

Things to note:
1. Still do your core/ stabilising work, even if this feels like a "nothing" work out it really isn't
2. Introduce new shoes slowly (DUHHH !!)
3. Be patient in recovery (if I hadn't been told to rest today I would have gone out on my bike or sort out the x-trainer)...... 

On other news - I have already swum 2.5miles more then last month.... so at least I've managed to swim more as planned :)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

July stats!

Well at last! Despite a sinus sniffle at the beginning of the month I have finally put together a month of training.... hurrah for that.... had enough of bugs and lurgies so fingers crossed and touching wood I've finally kicked them in to touch :)

Here's the highlights...

Most biking miles put in since July last year :)
Most running miles since August last year :)

The lowlight was definitely in the swim with a paltry 3 visits to the pool/ lake (I seem to be missing one off my log below but I couldn't have miscounted... could I?!?).... and I can feel it both in my arms (weak) and see it in my times (slow)... I can see some irony in this given the swim on my 'A' race will be the longest I've ever done at 4k... hummmm .... so I have some ear plugs (keep the bugs out of my ear at least)... and aim this week to go and swim three times... which will mean then that by the end of Saturday I will have swum as many times as the whole of July!.... oh...hummmm...  this time last year I was swimming between 10-14 miles a month so I shall give myself a target of say 12 miles and see where I can get to this month.

So here's the totals.....

July 2011
  • Run - 10 - 58.2 mi - 10.0 hrs
  • Swim - 2 - 3.7 mi - 2.0 hrs
  • Bike - 10 - 308.8 mi - 21.1 hrs
  • Cross - 6 - 4.6 mi - 1.6 hrs
  • Total - 28 - 375.3 mi - 34.7 hrs

So for August my aim is to maintain the consistency... and attain some consistency in swim!! I have a middle distance (1.9k, 100k, 20k) race at the end of the month (Little Woody), which I won't be tapering for.... so that will be interesting!

Run Time by month
Run Distance by month
Bike Time by month
Bike Distance by month
Swim Time by month
Swim Distance by month

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Race Reports, Caffeine and other stuff

Ha ha ... like a sprinter I've just dipped before the line to ensure that it's not quite a whole month since I last posted ... phew!

I'm going to keep this short.. yeah like you've heard that before... but I am... because I have rubbish in the garden which needs to go to the tip (green waste for the green waste recycling pile.... I also have wood and a rather large box of empty wine bottles I may be going to the tip but I actually only have one bag of true rubbish the rest is for recycling.... but I digress)...

Soooooo.... since my horrid bout of flu it sort of went like this...

Got over flu, felt good for 4 days
Got up to fly to Klagenfurt for Ironman Austria (sherpa duties mind not a sneaky race) and felt bleah with a sinus/ throat "thing".. Felt bleah for about 5 days and did little training (miffed)

Nearly throw my toys out of the prame for feeling bleah for so long and not able to train... but luckily my body did me a favour and I got over myself so got better and thus enjoyed an outing down to the New Forest for the New Forest 10.

Feeling good again, I'm pleased to say normal training has resumed (phew, I was beginning to really annoy people through being a miserable non-training triathlete... which is never a good thing... you can call me Hedgehog if you like.. I was prickly..)... anyway... threw in a rather hilly half marathon (it was a "race" but as I wasn't race fit it was a training run...).... and have had some lovely rides....

.... and the worst of it all.... well since I got the lurgies I seem to have developed a reaction to coffee!! Seriously. People this is bad bad news... I was a particularly prickly hedgehog when I withdrew I can tell you.... since the lurgy whenever I have coffee I get a spotty rash on the back of my throat... I am hoping this is a temporary thing because my defences are low... There should be support groups for this sort of thing... for my friends and family if nothing else. I WANT MY ESPRESSO!!.... GIVE ME A CAPPUCCINO... uggghhhh .... currently drinking some herbal "cleanse" tea if you are interested..... 

Anyway.... So basically I owe you all the following race reports;
Ironman Austria - experienced as a sherpa
New Forest 10
High Wycombe Half
and probably a wrap up of July training somewhere too....

this could be a busy blogging week ..... of given my current blogging prowess... month/ year... ha ha ha ...

Righteo... must go ... I have bags to load and a man at the rubbish tip to go see!