Tuesday, 31 December 2013

End of year statistics

I LOVE end of the year statistics, it's fascinating to look through and see what happened and compare it to previous years!

Overall for 2013:
839.7k swimming
469.9k running
2194k cycling (not including cycle commutes)

That represents a decrease in swimming of 40k, from last year's 880k, but an increase in running from 138k and an increase in cycling from 909.2k - so, to add 331k of running and 1285k of cycling and only lose 40k of swimming is pretty good really (I've been hammering the pool quite hard over the last 3 months to narrow that deficit, finishing December with 95k swum, my biggest swimming month since May 2012, when I got 99k swum).

My biggest swimming month was December.  My biggest running month was May (68.2k) (not quite sure why that was).  My biggest cycling month was June (458k).

I swam in 12 different swimming pools (two at Tenerife Top Training, Ferry Pool Oxford, Rosenblatt Oxford, Temple Cowley Oxford, Uxbridge Lido, Uxbridge indoor pool, St Neots Leisure Centre, Leighton Buzzard Leisure Centre, Hampton Pool, Plymouth Life Centre, Kaiserbad Ellmau).  Bit of a poor year for pool tourism for me, especially with regards to the lidos.  Only 3 visited!

I swam in 10 different lakes (Queenford Lake, Dorchester Lake, Datchet Lake, Box End Lake, Blenheim Lake, Stowe Lake, The Serpentine, Bray Lake, Zell am See, Coniston).  That was quite a good selection for me, although Dorney was notable by its exception this year.

End of 2013 round up

Here's a great meme that I did at the end of last year, and which I hope to repeat ad inifinitum as it's a good way of looking back over the last twelve months.  You can see my last answers here.  It's a more informal complement to the facts and figures I'll be posting in due course.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Ran a half marathon.  Did an Aquathlon.  Completed a half ironman.  Was featured in a National Magazine and had a photo shoot for it.  Qualified as an Assistant Triathlon coach.  Swam without a wetsuit in coldish water (13-16C).  Represented Great Britain at the Age Group Aquathlon World Championships.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
"I have New Year's Goals which will focus some of my efforts for 2013, notably completing a 3.8k swim in under an hour (came so close in 2012!), and finishing an Ironman 70.3/half ironman."  I did the latter but not the former.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Seemingly almost everyone.  I exaggerate, but 2013 was the year of the baby.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My husband's Gran died in October.

5. What countries did you visit?
Austria and Spain (Tenerife).

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Better health and a bit more zen.  The same answer applies again this year! AND, again in 2013.  And a better mood.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
1st September - completing my first half ironman.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Training for and completing a half ironman and taking the total money I've raised for Mind to over £11,000.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Being in the same place mood-wise as I was at this point in 2012.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Ongoing shoulder niggles, and then in August/September, a weird running related injury that affected my hip.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new house!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Mine, I think :)

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Recently, the attitude of many MPs at the governmental debate on foodbanks.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage and food and petrol to races.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Not having to ride a road bike anymore once my half ironman was completed! I got increasingly excited about this as the half ironman got closer.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Not sure this year - most of the pre-race motivational music seemed to be the same as in 2012.  But anything from "Now that's what I call running" will take me back to the running that I did in 2012.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
bit sadder
b) thinner or fatter?
bit more toned
c) richer or poorer?
probably poorer...

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Swimming - kind of resented the amount of time (and energy) I lost to the bike this year

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
See above!

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my husband

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Carried on being in love.

22. How many one-night stands?
Absolutely none.

23. What was your favourite TV program?
I didn't really find the time to watch TV this year :(

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
I read very little for me this year - in the early part of the year I was too busy or too tired with the training, as the year drew to a close, my concentration was too poor :(  I didn't manage to get back into the habit of recording what I read which is sad so I can't even look back over what I read.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Not really a discovery, but I listened to more of Einaudi's newer stuff this year (and LOVED seeing him live in November)

27. What did you want and not get?
Pretty much got everything that I wanted this year - a half ironman finisher's medal, a detached house.  I haven't yet got a cure for my depression, but maybe next year.

28. What did you want and get?
As I said above, I was pretty lucky this year :)

29. What was your favourite film of this year?
As last year, haven't seen very many. I did make it to the cinema to see Saving Mr Banks which was ok, and we recently watched Enchanted.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 29 and we spent it in Kidlington.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Swimming 3.8k a bit faster.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
What can I wear to work that covers up my compression socks and what can I wear to work that will enable me to go training straight after?

33. What kept you sane? 
Swimming.  And my husband (when he wasn't compromising my sanity! [joke!])

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Poverty in the UK.

35. Whom did you miss?
As ever, missed my beautiful friend Emily.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Met Claire at the end of 2012, but we became better friends this year :)  Cycling from Westminster Abbey to Islip in Oxfordshire together was one of my biggest achievements in 2013.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
"Not to take good mental health for granted, nor to expect everyone to understand mental health issues.  You'd think I might have learnt these lessons previously, but it turns out that I hadn't.  Hopefully they will stay with me a bit longer this time."
- yet again, something I wrote last year is just as true this time around (sorry to the people who read this post at the end of 2012, should have suggested that you didn't need to bother!)

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I've spent 3 days thinking about this and failing dismally to improve on last year's Chumbawumba "I get knocked down...I get up again...you're never gonna keep me down"

39. So in as few words as possible, how would you sum up your year?
Half ironwoman!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Four best achievements from 2013

As the end of the year approaches and I start to do some posts looking back (end of year statistics and end of year questionaire following in the next two days!), I wanted to highlight the fivethings that I was most proud of achieving this year, that I did not expect to achieve at the start of 2013, although one of them I hoped to achieved.

I could write more about all of these experiences, but I'll just link to the relevant posts.  As my mood is particularly low at present, it's good to remember that I can surpass my own expectations and achieve some pretty awesome things - by both my standards and other people's.

1.  Completing a half marathon and doing so in under 2 hours AND negatively splitting it.

2. My first ever first place in a race (even if I was disappointed with my time) and trophy!

3. Being featured in a National magazine talking about mental health and triathlonHere is a link to the article which I have found online.

4. Completing a half ironman.

5. Racing for Team GB at the Age Group World Aquathlon Championships (and consequently becoming the 45th best 25-29 year old IN THE WORLD at Aquathlon).

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A month's worth of catching up

It seems that it has been a month since I last blogged.  Apologies.  There has been lots going on, both good and bad, both relevant to this blog and not.  I feel I should catch up on some of the things, or at least list them, because it's always interesting to look back and see what I was up to.

The good
1.  After the run I wrote about the last time I blogged, I managed to keep my legs ticking over, and a fortnight later I managed to get around the Eynsham 10k again.  It's the third time I have run this race, clocking in at 1h03 in 2011, only two months after I'd started Couch to 5k.  In 2012, I aimed to go under the hour and surprised myself by coming in at 54:13.  Since I had not run very much since September - in fact, I think there were only 5 runs between my half ironman and the race, I did not have lofty ambitions, I would have been happy to come in under an hour.  In the end, I managed a pb of over a minute, taking me to over 10 minutes faster than my first attempt, finishing at 53:09.  I was very happy!  It was a hard run, I definitely set off too hard, and was retching by the 4th km, and then again at the 9th one, where I had to walk briefly (but that felt too weird), but I did manage to keep going.  I'm nothing if not stubborn!
2. Swimming volume has been good.  I clocked out at the end of November with a slight increase on October with 84km swum.  I'm definitely (unless I get hit by a bus before the end of next week) going to hit 800km swum for 2013, and should hopefully be around the 820-830 mark by the end of the year, which isn't too far short of the 880 I swam in 2012, and is pretty impressive given the cycling and running that I've also done this year :)  I'm also slowly improving my backstroke, which is something that I use in warm up and warm down to give my shoulders a bit of a break.  I've never been that great at it, but I'm trying to apply the same principles that I might to my front crawl - e.g. brushing toes together when kicking to make sure that the legs aren't scissoring, tightening the core and the glutes, and trying to keep my head still.  I'll get my backstroke filmed when I'm in Tenerife in February to see how bad it is!
3. I heard at the weekend that I had passed my Level 1 Triathlon Coaching Qualification, which means I am a qualified Assistant Coach now, able to deliver stuff which has been signed off by a Level 2 coach as long as the risk assessments have been done!  There was a lot of risk assessing.  I passed the practical assessment with flying colours - mainly because it happened to be a swimming one :)  The exam was quite tough for me (8 marks for labelling 16 marks of a bike?!), but it seems I managed to scrape through.  I've made a start on Level 2 which is considerably more onerous - 5 days of training courses, a much larger portfolio, sessions that need to be written and delivered outside of the training course, and presumably a much harder exam....

The less good
1. I am quite poorly again with quite a big relapse of my depression.  I think this is the worst that I have felt since 2003.  Hence blogging being one of the things that has somewhat vanished from my life, it's almost impossible to keep up with everything I want to at the moment.
2. Related to 1, although the swimming volume has good, I am not managing any speedwork at all.  It is as much as I can do to get in the pool and swim up and down, let alone push myself to swim as fast as I can.  I'm telling myself that at least I'm maintaining my feel for the water and doing a bit of technique work and getting some volume in, so that has to be better than nothing?  Keeping to my usual routine is helpful when trying to weather this episode anyway.
3. I'm feeling a bit too anxious at the moment to get involved with some swim coaching now that I am a qualified coach. I hope that I will manage to do this in the New Year.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

It's been a while since I blogged so here is a quick scamper through what I've been up to.

It's been a few weeks of swimming through treacle basically.  I somewhat gave up on timing myself because I was just too tired by work/low mood/change of season and just didn't want to see my times dropping off again.  It's been a tricky few weeks, my mood always dips at this time of year, and because I never recovered from the awful depression of last year, I'm slipping back more easily in that direction.

What IS going well seems to be getting in some decent kilometre-age in the pool, which should stand me in good stead for the summer.  I managed just over 84k in October, which was my biggest swimming month since June 2012 (but didn't even come close to my biggest swimming month of all time, April 2011, the only time I've broken 100k in a month).  I'm aiming for about the same this month and a little more in December with the hope of getting as close to 800k swum as possible for 2013.  That will be quite a bit down on 2012 and 2011 but obviously I did train for a half ironman this year :)

What also went well yesterday was a run.  It was entirely unplanned but I got back 4 hours earlier than anticipated from my coaching course assessment day, and felt quite ready to do Something.  We'd been in the pool earlier, but in 75 minutes of people doing coaching assessments, I'd barely swum a km!  I thought I'd go out for an easy 5k, but it all seemed really easy and I just kept going.  I only stopped at 8.5k because Mr Tuna was ringing me.  Anyway, I feel confident that I can get around the 10k race I've entered at the end of the month, and whilst I might not beat last year's time, I should do it in under an hour which is perfectly respectable when you've run as little as I have!  I may even be tempted to have another crack at the Wokingham Half Marathon in February again.

There will be more on the coaching course in due course - I passed the assessed coaching session with flying colours yesterday but the exam was somewhat impenetrable so I may not have passed, so I will talk about it when I find out.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Weekly catch up (two weeks in one go)

I didn't get the chance to blog last weekend - I spent Saturday out doing the first day of my triathlon coaching level 1 course (I hope I'll blog about that in due course, maybe once I've got to the end of the 3 day schools and hopefully passed...), and Sunday at a mindfulness course (which was excellent although I fell fast asleep in the body scan exercise as I was just exhausted - the dates for the triathlon course had changed otherwise I would never have attempted doing both at once).  The week leading up to last weekend was pretty stressful, but I somehow managed to swim 15km (but yet again did not get to pilates), and this week so far (with Sunday still to go) I've already clocked 16km.

The good news is that my times continue to drop - down to 6:12 for a 400m, and 2:59 (to my delight) for 200m on Thursday.  I'm really trying hard to do hard, timed swims as part of a swim set at least twice a week.  Today I went back to the Masters Club and loved doing 4 x 200m off 3:15 (not much rest for me!), followed by 6x50m easy backstroke, followed by 2 x 400m off 6:45, followed by 8x50m easy backstroke, followed by 4x200m off 3:15.  Loved it!

Tomorrow I hope to do my last lake swim of the year, sans neoprene, but the forecast is atrocious so I'm not sure if I will go.  I hope to do another 4k tomorrow to take this week's total to 20k.  I hope to exceed that next week because I will have a double-swim Monday, and I have an extra morning off next week which means extra k's :-)

What's the plan for this week?
Monday: am: 3k technique focused swim, pm: timed swims with Claire (see planned set below)
Tuesday: am: 2.5k endurance swim - 3(300s)
Wednesday: am: 2.5k swim (TBD)
Thursday: am 4.5k swim (TBD)
Friday: am ?? swim
Saturday: masters swimming club
Sunday: ??? swom

Swim set for Claire 14/10/13
Warm up:
75m FC, 25m backstroke
75m FC, 25m breastroke
50m FC, 50m pull
50m FC, 50m kick with float
100m FC

Drills subset:
4 x (1/3 length superman into full front crawl)
4 x (1/4 length torpedo rotation into full front crawl)
50m FC

Main set: timed swims - 400m, rest, 200m, rest, 100m, rest, 50m rest, 100m, rest as fast as possible.  [This is so we can get some lines drawn in the sand].

Warm down: 50m "best" front crawl, 100m head up breastroke.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weekly catch-up

A mixed week - very tired (due to work), and quite low in mood (due to being tired) for much of the week, but I did complete my biggest swimming week since February (20.9km), which included 2 visits to the lake and 4k swum there without a wetsuit, and a trial at the local masters swimming club!  In addition, my times which were So. Slow. last week, are finally getting around to where they probably should be - I did a 3:03 for 200m this morning, and 6:15 for 400m.  Very definitely not as good as they could be (I once swam 5:57 for 400m) but going in the right direction, and I'm looking forward to trying to get them down a bit more over the forthcoming months and weeks!

Yesterday I went to a trial at the local Masters swimming club.  I was a bit scared once it became described as a trial (even though I know someone MUCH slower than me belongs to the club).  I was also a bit scared as I hadn't been to the pool before (which proved very difficult to find), and I didn't know what it would be like [twenty year irrational fear of swimming pool drains].  However, the pool was lovely, if very hot, and I had a good time.  The coach wasn't there - in fact there weren't many swimmers - Saturday ams are apparently the quietest session - but we followed a sheet and I swam with two other ladies.  I was the slowest swimmer there during the warm-up (not least because I had to swim breastroke and backstroke (which are normally my warm down strokes ) and even attempt butterfly.  We did an aerobic main set which we didn't get all the way through but which was great because it involved swimming hard for short intervals which I struggle to motivate myself to do on my own.  My times got faster as we got through the 16 x 100m!  I am pretty sure I will go back, but I would like to try a session when the coach is there to meet him.  I also need to work out whether I can physically/mentally cope without my Saturday morning lie in, as I usually get an extra hour or so of sleep that day, and lack of sleep is a big trigger for low mood for me.

So what did I get up to this week?
Monday: 3k pool swim, 2k lake swim
Tuesday: 2.5k pool swim
Wednesday: 2.25k pool swim
Thursday: 4.25k pool swim
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 3.3k masters swimming session
Sunday: 2k lake swim, 1.6k pool swim.

what's the plan for this week?
To swim as as possible Mon-Fri as I am on the first day of my triathlon coaching course on Saturday, and on a mindfulness taster course on the Sunday - out 7.30am - 7pm both days running so no time for swimming!  That said, I am going to try to be kind to myself this week and next as they are both due to be very busy at work, and as I am out for the entire weekend there will be little time to rest, so a swim may have to be sacrificed for some sleep!