Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recovering from flu...

Well that should read "recovered" if I'm honest.... I say flu.... I think it was that or some other virus ...yes I had a fever, yes I did barf, yes I did ache and no there was little to no snot.. And i ended up with a nasty dry chesty type cough... Suffice to say I did not have a simple cold.....

I knew whilst I was throwing up at 2am that the standard "having a cold" protocol whilst training (ie ok to train easy Z1 when you have symptoms above the throat and no fever), was out the window... And I knew whilst sweating later that night I was looking at complete rest for at least a week.... I was quite accepting of this as I knew it was what it was, and better to recover properly.

My temperature went with 48hours and my appetite came back in 72, but that was way too late for me to be able to do the cycle Sportive I had entered, not that I had any energy for that anyway.... So a week after the worst bit I went out for a nervous jog, just to see how I reacted.... 15 mins in z1 left me wheezing and frankly knackered.... So I knew then that I was still in the midst of the lurgy, the fact I sounded like I smoked 40 a day and spoke several octaves lower then normal should have given it away.

My coach had already said to me not to panic, my "A" race after all it is not until November, and I know from my own scary experience that if you get a virus you have to rest and recover properly before embarking on full training, as the risks of not doing so are far greater then the rewards of getting back on it 5 days too soon.

Still.... It is frustrating....

With a flutter of energy I resumed some effort of training last week, two weeks after it all started.... I did an easy 45min last Monday and happily told my coach I was back..... Ahhh but he is WISE! I woke up to my weekly programme and thought it looked quite light, then I stood up and felt washed out! Wisely my coach had given me a recovery kind of week which was just what the doctor (ok Doris) ordered. So I did a 30min easy swim on Tuesday, which felt ok but tired after. Same for the gym (row and XT) session on Wednesday, with the power of stato I could see my HR was marginally up compared to the same efforts several weeks before... Telling me I was still recovering... A 40min run Thursday and then a 1.5th turbo with intervals Friday, some massage school at the weekend and an easy, building to effort hot run for 35 mins Sunday saw the end of the week... And me fairly knackered from it but HR zones more or less back to normal, even if perceived exertion was up!

I rested up yesterday to check for my reactions and FINALLY fully 3 weeks after I began to feel ill I think I am better! And about time too....

Now I know my race is weeks, no months away (although there is the small matter of a half marathon in 2.5 weeks!), but this has put me back, not just by the 3 weeks of full training I've missed but back probably the same number of weeks before I was ill (in terms of training load and fitness etc)... So realistically i'm back at the beginning of May in terms of fitness!

I'm fortunate though that this hit me now, so early in my training cycle. And I'm fortunate i'm not doing IM Austria this coming weekend unlike my good friend Jules (so excited about going to watch him lose his IM cherry.... So to speak )

Focus for the next few weeks is consistency. Would like to start building my swim times up, rebuild my bike and run. I entered Little Woody (half ironman distance) which is at the end of August, which is far enough away to be ready for but near enough to get excited about ... Hurrah!

Footnote: my coach is telepathic.... Next few weeks programme has arrived with guess what... Endurance swims!! Ha ha .... Yippppeeeee!

... You can call me Dory...

... On that note I'd better get on with some exercise!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Etape Caledonia Event Report!

Yes this did happen over a month ago - who said I was fast at getting my reports in... not me ;)

The first question of the day concerned was how on earth do you get about 5,000 cyclists to start an event in an orderly fashion?! Well I have to say the start of this was incredibly well organised. Essentially the road was cordoned off and into two lanes (also with barriers), and there were start times every minute per wave... with alternate sides of the road going off... so with I guess over 300 people per wave and a wave start pen of about 100m this lead to a busy start area! Jules and I having stumbled out of the hotel on the start line could see people and bikes for as far as the eye could see! We shuffled down the road to find an entry barrier about 200m down the road which we could get in... timings worked well and we entered exactly when our Wave letter was being called and fortunately found ourselves pretty much at the very front (give or take 6 people), which given the slight incline and need to clip in p.d.q. was quite a relief :)

We headed to towards the starting gate and didn't have to wait long before the horn went and the tape went up (well sideways to be honest) to release us.... as you can imagine this was HIGHLY exciting... and this was reflected in my HR which my garmin was telling me was 206... WTF... like yes - that was wrong or I was dead already... ha ha .... we set off at a nice excitable pace and soon caught up with the rear markers of the previous group. It quickly became obvious to me that (a) I had had breakfast far too late (my porridge was threatening to erupt out of my tummy) and (b) that Jules really was race fit and I really was not.... I clung on to his wheel for a bit but soon dropped off on the first incline.... he looking svelt like and me feeling more like a giant sea lion... bloated, full and a bit big to be flapping my flippers on a bike... STILL... I caught up with him and was having fun... then there was another hill and I was dropped again... and so the pattern began!! 

The weather wasn't helping my cause too much, although it wasn't actually raining it was blowing a complete hooley .. in to my face (ok and everyone elses but I had bigger thighs so reckon was catching more then the majority).... I got to admit after the first mile of enjoyment I settled in to a sensation of utter DOOM... what the hell was I thinking doing exactly 3 training rides for an 81 inclement ride in the highlands... oh how I laughed (mwah ha ha ha).... my spirits were briefly lifted about an hour in to the ride, cycling up through a woodland suddenly the ghostly sound of a piper could be heard in the wind... it was somewhat magical and took away the feeling of porridge heave for a brief moment.... on reaching the brow of the hill the pipers came into view and have to admit I shed a tear ... not sure what it is about Pipers but often the sound will make me cry (no it's not just the noise of them).... must be genetic or something I am a bit Scottish after all.... ahem...
.. moving on...

My watch alarm was going off every 30mins, which I had set up from the Ironman last year as a reminder to eat.. by the time in went off for the 2nd time, I really was ready to rip it off my wrist..... like I was going to eat anything when my belly was fighting to digest my breakfast (still) and my HR had been showing over 180 for the first hour (WRONG - don't know what is going on with my Garmin at the moment).... and settling in to 150 (err right... I was huffing and puffing a lot).... still I knew I had to get something in me so opted for small regular drinks from my water bottle, had one with carbs and one with electrolytes and swamped between the two - this helped I think.

After about an hour and quarter we exited a woodland area and found ourselves at the bottom end of what on a normal day would be a very picturesque loch... Loch Rannoch... but on this day I couldn't think anything but "sod me that wind is evil and WTF I've got to cycle around this monster.... woe is me".... We literally almost halted the wind felt that strong trying to blow us back... There were white tipped waves of at least several inches... it was around this point that I said to Jules that I was dieing and that, given this was supposed to be a training ride for him that we ought to split up... he hesitated and chivalrously said no as this was to be a social ride together... I quickly told him I could blow up any minute at this pace and he was hardly even getting a workout (given he was having to sit up in the saddle for me to catch up every few minutes)... so semi-reluctantly but with a secret smile of a dog off the leash he pinned his ears back and went off. To some relief to me and my heart rate!! I spent the next few miles trying to stick to any peleton coming past for brief few seconds of relief from the wind, whilst allowing my HR to lower and my porridge to go down.... about 30mins later we turned the head of the loch and 30miles done... everything then quickly got better, faster and easier as I literally got blown back down the other side of the loch - did I mention that it was a windy day!?

Before I knew it I was approaching the 40mile marker and my spirits were feeling much better - "already" half way and finally feeling in control and not about to barf or anything - I'd even go so far as saying I was now fully enjoying it !!.. There was a pit-stop at 42miles which I decided to utilise... Quick stop in the porta-loo... I grapped a banana (I had my own gels and bars but figured how full and sick my tummy had been feeling a banana sounded good)... stuffed the banana down and then decided to eat a lovely looking morsel of flapjack .... as reward for not feeling sick anymore and being half way you understand. Now Jules and I had had this conversation earlier about the "hill".... King of the Mountain section... he thought this came at 40miles and I thought 60miles.... now as the feed stop was at 42 I thought he must have got it wrong... imagine my surprise then having stuffed my banana face with a morsel of flapjack too when I crossed a timing mat about .5 mile after the feed station... UH OH ......

Sure enough ahead of me was a 10minute climb.... ohhh how I laughed again... the challenge here was not going to be the climb but keeping my banana down!!! ha ha ha.... The climb wasn't too bad, several rises with slightly flatter bits for relief... I managed to overtake quite a lot of people - I'm not a particularly fast climber so not sure why, surprisingly too I managed to come 5th in my age group on this section (must be the power of banana yes?!)... Surprisingly got to the top without losing my stomach contents and despite the chilling wind was dripping with sweat down through my helmet! Nice work Karen!.... Tempted at this stage to remove my outer showerproof jacket I soon decided not too having unzipped my layers a bit and heading down hill only to freeze!

Having "summitted" the hill the ride became a fast largely down hill or flat affair... for me some descents were scary fast, I am still nervous about downhills for some reason since coming off my bike last year, although by the end of this event I have to say I was more confident and not riding the brakes as much. I saw one rather nasty looking accident, the guy just being loaded into an ambulance in a neck brace - later this was reported as a serious (although non fatal) accident . It did freak me as I cycled past though as I had to check it wasn't Jules... relief that it wasn't but the guy didn't look too good at the time. I got into a relatively good tempo and managed to hook on to several packs on the way back (this is not hard given the number of people on the course)..... We were skipping along at a pretty descent lick - partly because of the wind coming in from behind and partly from the fact we were group riding - by now it became a rather enjoyable affair and I was in fact overtaking quite a lot of people and feeling rather comfortable (by now I was even eating on the required 30mins intervals :)...) .. I knew from my coach and from Jules that  somewhere around the 70mile marker there was a left turn with a short but sharp 1:4 climb... paranoid that I'd be caught out by this I elected to stay in my compact gear at the front with a nice gear on the rear - I was literally spinning down the hill ... I caught a guy and got into conversation with him about the turn ahead - he said it was about 3-5miles away!! ha ha ha... so I changed up to the big ring and had a great time on the fast straight and ever so slightly downhill road from Aberfeldy.

As it happened the dreaded sharp left turn was pretty obvious... having spotted it I quickly shifted to small rings and turned the corner - yes it was steep ... quickly up and out of the saddle I hoofed it up the only danger coming from the guys in front who hadn't been as prepared and were 4 abreast almost stalling up the hill... A little encouragement from me in the form of "come on fellas"... (I usually find a girl shouting at men to hurry up a hill makes them find an extra gear)...  ensured I didn't crash into their stalling rear wheel as they found enough puff to get up and out of my way.... I stupidly thought this would be the last significant hill of the day and proceeded to put the pedal to the metal as I knew I was now in the last 10miles.... HOWEVER there were a few little cheeky climbs waiting which became real thigh burners!!

The final ride in to Pitlochry was brilliant, I cruised up the hill with nothing to prove. I had hoped to do this event in around 5hrs 30 which I thought was optimistic given lack of training... I did however manage to come in in 4hrs 52 (including the 4mins at the pit stop)... which I was somewhat chuffed and amazed at..... to be fair I do think the drafting involved in the mini peletons which formed helped a lot!.... My coach said I would have a lot of endurance this season off the back of the IM last year - I hadn't believed him but as I crossed the line I did... although I don't want to fall into a false sense of security and think I can get away with this event distance again without the proper preparation!!

Having crossed the line some nice person removed the timing chip from my wheel and someone else gave me a bottle of water and hung a deserved medal over my neck.... I dismounted and somewhat staggered up the road towards the hotel to find Jules just finishing his run, having done a brick session after finishing in a staggeringly awesome 4hrs 28mins and that having been hindered by my slow arse for the first 1 and quarter hours!!

Reckon we both deserved our medals!!

All in all I rate this event as first class - excellent logistics, excellent support  on the route (mechanical, marshalls, food stops and supporters), good road conditions (being closed roads was brilliant), atmosphere was great and the medal nice and chunky!!

10/10 on all fronts :)

Some interesting graphs;

Heart rate - I tried to flatten out the abnormal readings at the start so not sure if this is a true reflection or just dodgey readings.... you can see where the king of the mountain section was about mile 43!

And you can distinctly see my speed go up around mile 30 when we turned the head of the loch and got a tail wind!...

You can also click here for the official event route

Pleased to see I came 31st from 110 in my age group and somehow 5th from 110 in my age group on the KOM section! ha ha ha ... Even more pleasing was that I took people in the 2nd half of the course (overall I was 2218 from 4200 competitors but placed 2012 for the course section after KOM) proving my endurance was indeed better then I anticipated!

Participant Summary

Cat Pos

Time of Day
Elapsed Time

Monday, June 13, 2011

Etape Caledonia Preamble

So sometime last summer my good tri-buddy Jules had this great idea that we have an outing on the only closed road cycle Sportive in the UK mainland... Namely Etape Caledonia... So with little training in recent months and hopeful that indeed my late season ironman would have left me with a little endurance still I set off last Friday 13th on another little 'road trip'. This time to the land of my grandparents on my Mothers side, Scotland... Edinburgh, Stirling and then to their homeland itself Perthshire.

The journey started off with a flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh, I did look at doing the Eco right thing and catching the train but frankly the phaffery involved with booking a bike on to three different (at least) train operators and getting these bookings to coincide with the the ticket purchase was well, just completely pathetically involved .... Which I'm sure would be a good topic for a full on 'why is this so hard in the modern era' type of rant on another day.... Anyway.. So I started my journey with a journey to LHR, a flight on friday the 13th no less (clearly no room for superstition) and got picked up by Jules at Edinburgh... who had announced that open water swimming was due to start that very day so we'd take a dip once the bike was unpacked. I think his perverse idea was to use this as some sort of acclimatisation ritual or something. We headed to the Loch for the session leader to announce it was fairly cold temperature (so that would not be the 18 degrees I had enjoyed the day before at home then), and so we were limited to a 10min swim on health and safety grounds!!...humm...

Having not had the weight allowance to squeeze in my wetsuit to either my hand luggage or bike box, I found myself squeezing in to Jules old one, that would be the one with a couple of little holes on both armpits then. Nice. I tiptoed across the pebble beach (note Jules sauntered over in his beach shoes, not that I was jealous... Much) and dipped my feet in... Frankly the stones and rocks were that uncomfortable I didn't feel the intense cold and was actually rather hoping that the cold would numb my feet sooner rather then later.... Having staggered a whole two paces I decided that a better way in was just to get on all fours (safer as less chance of slippage and also a way of acclimatising my hands to the ice bath like temperature of the water) ... So with not a lot of grace I must confess, I plundered in on all fours and took a wave right up the nose and gasped as I really did feel the cold blast of water seep into those holes in the armpits....

Looks pretty.... Pretty darn cold that's what...
Buoys had been put out about 50-100m apart and after a slight splash of something akin to breast stroke in the fashion of a black labrador I decided to put my head in and have done with it and get on with some crawl.

Thankfully the waters were crystal clear and actually rather tasty (I managed to inhale some off a breaker) .... Having competed several laps I decided as I was beginning to feel comfortable that clearly I suitably acclimatised to the cold of our northern lands.... Getting out though was slightly problematic... Having tried to stand on my feet and realising I couldn't feel them, which was good because the stones no longer hurt, but bad because I lost my balance... The best thing to do was beach myself... In true black wetsuit, queen seal fashion.... I landed on my tum, turned onto my bum, flipped back round on to all fours and staggered rather ungracefully out.... I was just beginning to gingerly attain vertical and make my way up the pebble beach to my much required woolly hat and warming towel when Jules shouted nicely at me if I could possible throw him his shoes (so he didn't have to hurt his delicate feet on the sharpe pebbles, he is an ironman in training I guess and I am not...).... Now despite my parents bringing me up to be a thoughtful kind person I did have two rather mean thoughts... First I thought "ha I'll put them on" and the second was "or I could throw them at him but just out of reach so they fall in the water" .... But I did neither... No.. I gingerly fought my way across the shingle to them and threw them in to his welcome hands. A mark of true friendship I think you'll find (Jules feel free to agree at this point)

We got home to the welcome warmth at Fionna's pad who kindly laid on some lush pasta and sausages ... Just what was needed... That and a glass of wine.

Saturday was a day for me to test how well I had put my bike together and Jules to take his sparkling not so new but somewhat unused TT bike out for a spin...... It turned out that Jules' and his bike flew, whilst I grunted and groaned and not able to stay in his draft... then with the slipping of the seat to a really rather too steep a downward angle at least I had found a good excuse for not just being dropped in the space of 2 metres but completly blown and spat out with clear disdain. With some cooing from me about how good Jules was looking and some tinkering with my seat clamps I took a well earned rest (we had been going all of about 20mins) before heading back - somewhat relieved we had a tail wind I managed to stay with Jules a bit longer as we hit a top speed of 25mph on the flat (it was a very big tail wind!)... with that done I was already feeling my legs from my earlier in the week training run for the event and was beginning to feel a little bit (more) worried of the prospect of 81miles the next day in what was forecast to be changeable and blustery conditions.

Still.... got back, found my bike measurements (would have been more useful in the morning when I had rebuilt my bike), tinkered some more with the saddle height and stuff and we packed the bikes into the car (a borrowed/rented car which is too long a story to go into!)... and set off ...

Jules ready at the wheel with the stead's in the back!
... and despite it being a one and a half hour drive in a straight direction we managed to go the wrong way at Perth and take a bit longer.... whilst waiting at a roundabout I did however manage to snap a picture of the local wild life;

Not sure exactly where the hotel was we parked at the event parking (clearly signposted as you got into the race HQ town of Pitlochry) and wandered back up for packet pick up. There was a hive of activity and we bumped into some friends of Jules and managed to somehow not hook up with some friends of ours we had met on a tri camp some years ago (well other then me seeing Susan in a car and diving over for a quick "hi" and hug!)... 

We found our hotel with ease which was situated just off the high street and even managed to bag a parking spot in their car park (which had about 8 car parking spaces)!... all that was to be done was eat and get a good nights sleep.

Pitlochry High Street 

.... sleep we did, early we woke, breakfast we ate (a little late and not the prescribed 3 hours before race start), dress in as many layers as I had with me I did (no thanks to Jules omitting to tell me he was still wearing thermals in May on the bike!), stumble out the door with bikes we went... right on to the start line more or less (excellent positioning of the hotel) to see the first wave start!

Event start line.....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What the...

OK so I hadn't actually appreciated it's been over a month since my last blog.... LIKE WHOOPS!

But I have no excuse today as I'm supposed to be doing a lovely cycle sportive I did last year but am a DNS due to a vicious bout of the dreaded lurgy, over the worst but currently sound like I smoke 80 a day and so exercise is probably off the agenda for another couple of days yet - probably as well as I should be getting on with some study!!

However - that is not the topic of this brief post... NO... I thought given the last post I did was monthly stats then I may as well do some monthly stats again (as it's been that long!!)... and yes Jules, before you say.. I do owe the race report for Etape Caledonia (I did say I'd take a month yes?!)

So here goes... drum roll please..... (assuming these graphs come out this time...which actually they didn't.. so no pretty pictures just numbers....)

Run - 8 - 27.2 mi - 5.4 hrs
Swim - 6 - 5.4 mi - 3.7 hrs
Bike - 7 - 264.7 mi - 16.4 hrs
Cross - 12 - 0.0 mi - 8.2 hrs
Total - 33 - 297.3 mi - 33.6 hrs

Swim: Surprised to see that I did increase my swim mileage and feel quite pleased for that. Clearly I'm not setting any records but swimming more is a plus. What I ought to be heading for now is at least two swim sessions a week, I would say that would have been my aim for June but given I'm completely under the weather then this is not going to happen. However I shall make it a target for July.

Bike: An increase in bike mileage is good to see but done over less sessions, whilst this means I'm cycling further per session I am not getting consistency with only 7 bike sessions in the month. Again I should be having 2 if not 3 bikes in a week. July this will be my target.

Run: OK so I'm quite happy that the running is picking up again.... ok small increase from last month but the runs are getting longer and feeling ok (not GREAT but definitely on the better side of ok)

Cross: I did achieve a couple of body balance sessions during the month as well as some core, flexibility and hip/ hamstring stabilisation/ strengthening gym sessions. Also contains both receiving and giving some sports massage (which all counts in my book). So whilst this may not by a tri event as such I think I should be benefiting from this.

My aim for June now is to recover from this virus properly and get back into regular sessions, 5 days without training already feels too much and I doubt I'll be up to much for the next 3-5 days other then maybe some low level core/ flexibility work. Patience is a virtue and all that. I also need to concentrate on completing my Open University courses too as these are due fairly soon!! .... and to get about 4 sports massages in a week... so anyone want a free one of those just drop me a line!!

... oh and as for the nutrition bit - humm well I'm writing this with one hand in a pack of Minstrels... enough said ;)