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