Monday, 31 December 2012

End of 2012 roundup

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 on my previous blog here.  It's a more informal complement to the facts and figures that I posted earlier!

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Did a triathlon (actually, I did 3..).  Rode a road bike.  Carried the Olympic Torch.  Was on radio AND TV (for auctioning my Olympic Torch for Mind).  Submitted my first Professional Revalidation qualification.  Went abroad by myself.  Went to Tenerife.  Went to first swimming camp.  Went to the Paralympics.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I resolved to do a bit better with fruit and vegetables, which I think I have.  Getting a weekly veg box delivery helped.  But I still think there is much room for improvement here!
I also resolved to balance out my life a bit better, I'm not sure that has really been achieved, or indeed if I can achieve it...
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.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My Gran died in July.

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

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Better health and a bit more zen.  The same answer applies again this year!  I'd also like to have an Ironman 70.3 Finishers Medal - ha!

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
9th July - Olympic Torch carrying day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Carrying the Olympic Torch, and raising over £5000 for Mind, the mental health charity.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Succumbing to depression for the fifth time in December.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not as bad as 2011 fortunately!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My swimming camp trip to Tenerife.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The amazing British Olympians, especially Rebecca Adlington, Keri-Anne Payne, Sarah Storey, Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Continued gun offenders in the US.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage and triathlon equipment.  And food bills.  Eat so much these days!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to the Paralympics.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Take that - Greatest day of our lives - playing on the bus before I carried the Olympic Torch.  APT.

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

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying.  Same answer applies as last year!

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Skiing in Austria.

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?
Great British Bake Off

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

25. What was the best book you read?
For the first time in about 10 years, I failed to record the books that I read this year.  Which is a big regret.  So it's difficult to remember exactly what I enjoyed reading.  Unusually I've read quite a lot of sport manuals/sports biographies this year, and would highlight those by Chrissie Wellington and Ian Thorpe as particularly worth reading if you share my interests.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The album "Now that's what I call running" - definitely helped me with my running this year!

27. What did you want and not get?
I've been pretty lucky and got lots of the things that I wanted this year; I'd still like one of those super duper Speedo Super elite wetsuits though please?

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?
Again, I haven't seen many.  Don't think I've seen any since The Artist, back in February.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 28 and we were in Cornwall again.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Getting the last 17 seconds off my 3.8k swim time to come in under the hour.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Compression-chic.  Or wetsuit-woman

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?
NHS threats.

35. Whom did you miss?
As ever, I missed the wonderful Emily, especially on torch-bearing day as that wouldn't have happened without her.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My lovely friends from the Tenerife Swimming Camp, and my new online friend Carrie from Fitness and Frozen Grapes.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
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.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
 Struggling a bit with this one this time around, but I'm going to go with something that will be a mantra for the coming days and months, which I love - from Tubthumping by Chumbawumba - "I get knocked down, I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down...I get knocked down, I get up again..."

39. So in as few words as possible, how would you sum up your year?
Tuna to tri!

Some 2012 facts and figures

I love recording my training on Log Your Run because I love seeing the totals stacking up as the year proceeds.  The swimming is of most interest to me because I have data for 2011 too, to compare it with, but it's good to have some fledgling bike and run data in there too!

In total, in 2012, I swam 873km, which is over 100km more than in 2011.

My best swimming month was May, unsurprisingly, as it concluded with a 10k swim race, which I was putting in long training swims for - I swam 99.2km.

My worst swimming month was September, probably because we spent 10 days on holiday and whilst we did fit in a couple of swims, it was mainly cycling - I swam 45.5km.  This was closely followed by December, where I had my longest break from the pool all year, of 9 days, and only managed to swim 51k.

The amount of swimming did drop off during the year, which was because I took up tri in June!  The arrival of my road bike in July, and an attempt to learn to ride it, saw me doing a lot of extra bike k's in addition to my daily round-trip commute of 15k (which I don't record as it's more of an A to B exercise than training...), and I totalled 910km on the bike.

Running-wise, I barely ran at all in the first 6 months of the year, due to a combination of first an ankle injury, then iron-deficiency anaemia.  I nonethless managed to increase the k's run in 2012 on 2011, running 138k compared with 113k.  I know that's a small amount and it'll definitely have to increase in 2013 with the looming 70.3!

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with these figures.  I've mainly been consistent and have got a good volume of swim training under my belt, which I think helped to account for the good results I had in the main in my 2012 openwater swim season.  I think it's likely that I'll be swimming slightly less in 2013, partly because I won't be entering a 10k swim race, but also because I'll need to concentrate a bit more on the bike and run!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Brushing the last two weeks under the carpet and moving onwards!

Let's brush over the last 2 weeks.  Clinical depression, side effects of starting drugs to treat it (cue much, much nausea and a 1kg weight loss), and a ski-trip that I probably wasn't really well enough to go on (big thanks to Mr Tuna for looking after  me and taking me out skiing when I really wasn't feeling very confident).  And away from home Christmas home-sickness.

Anyway, we got back last night, the drugs are starting to help, as did the break from home (I read 18 books in the 8 days we were away), and it's time to start to get back into the routine and try to do the things that I know will help me.

So, 12 hours after arriving home, I was en route to the swimming pool.  I didn't have very high hopes for the session, which is good as they were well founded, but I was amazed by how much I enjoyed being back in the pool.  It just feels so good!  The skiing seems to have done my legs good as I was kicking well, arms less so, and not done much cardio for a bit so that will take a little while to build back up again.

Mr Tuna is back at work tomorrow, so I hope for a swim and gym session to pass the time, before we cycle over to Stowe on NYD (40 mile round trip, weather dependent), and then back to work on Wednesday.

Tomorrow, I have an end of year round up and I've got more exciting things to post in the coming days and weeks!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Last week/this week

I'm glad that I acknowledged that last week was full of pressures that were likely to affect my training, because I've ended up feeling pleased with the reasonable amount that I have got done.  Mood-wise things have really dropped this week and exercise seems to have had little or no effect in improving it, so I'll be off to the GP for some medication tomorrow which will hopefully help longterm, although may have side effects short term.  Consequently, I'm not setting goals for next week at all (see my 5th tip here [be nice to yourself]), and shall treat whatever I manage to get done as a big achievement.

In the end, I managed to get in 7 workouts, with one day off, which comprised 5 swims, totally 14.5k, one run (7k!), and the Tri club Festive Bike and Run Time Trial.

Yes, it's time for a couple of festive cheesy pictures on the blog.  I signed up for the time trial because a) it's somewhat shorter than the summer 1 b) it involved fancy dress and c) a couple of my beginner ride friends had signed up (nothing like a bit of peer pressure).  I didn't feel great on the morning, and would rather have stayed in bed, but we had 3 pre-teen nieces to occupy for the morning so it seemed like the best option.

Great costumes, but everyone apart from me and my friend dressed as a Christmas Tree and my friend decked out in tinsel looked as if they were going to take it semi/seriously.  We'd only come along because it was fancy dress!  As we didn't even have a clue what the route was, we decided to stick together, which was very kind of the other two as I was having a very nervy day on the bike (and even managed to get my shoelace caught up in my toe clips).  I genuinely didn't think I could get round and kept saying "I think I can only do one [rather than two] laps of the bike/run".  However, with the peer pressure and encouragement of the other two, we did eventually make it (although we may have cheated slightly on the run..). Last place, but never mind, probably the best costumes.

Here's me dressed as an Olympic angel (I just knew that torchbearer uniform would come in handy one day, and look how well I coordinate with my bike?), and our starting group (with a santa and a someone who was basically just in their tri club kit!)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Over on the Mind blog today

Today I've got a blog post online over at Mind, the mental health charity's blog. Mind do amazing work to raise the profile of mental health in the United Kingdom as well as providing support to those facing mental health difficulties. Having suffered from depression 5 times and lost a dear friend to suicide, I am extremely grateful for their work, and will be raising money for them through my half ironman next year.

Back in July, I wrote a blog for them about the role of exercise in staying mentally healthy. Having hit a low patch this Autumn, I offered to write about how to try to maintain this when your mood drops, particularly with the arrival of winter.

The post seems to have had a great response, especially on the Mind Facebook page with a huge number if people sharing it, and you can read it here:

Sunday, 9 December 2012


As is becoming traditional, on Sunday's I join in with Carrie from Fitness and Frozen Grapes to plan my workouts for the week.  This week is a definite "pinch point" in the month, because as well as work, I have other things to fit in (Dr's appointment, a cake for a children's centre party, hair cut, and date night with Mr Tuna, and then our nieces staying for next weekend), but I'll do my best on the workout plan for this week is:

Monday - am: swim 45 minutes (2 x (3 x 300 with middle 300 pull), pm: Dr's appointment, cake making, 5k run.
Tuesday - am: swim 45 minutes (broken 1.5k if pool fairly empty?), pm: working late
Wednesday - am: swim 45 minutes (breathing pattern 1500m set), pm: hair cut
Thursday - am: swim 45 minutes [no morning off, so shorter swim than usual]; pm: out with Mr Tuna
Friday - [day off work!] - run 7k; swim 45 minutes.
Saturday - rest day or up early to swim 1 hour...
Sunday - run 5k, swim 45 minutes.

As for last week, I mentioned that there had been some seasonal disruption.  In the end, I was only down 1 run, and swam a total of 15k, with a 4 hour/45 mile bike ride today.  It was pretty windy but I managed to keep up with the tri club ride most of the time, thanks to a very kind lady who helped me out a lot, getting me back on the pack and giving advice and encouragement.  I very nearly bonked and after 2 minutes of pedalling at 8mph, I grabbed some sweets and was instantly back to 14mph.  That's probably the last long ride for this year to be honest, next weekend is busy and then we're away. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Seasonal disruption

That would be "leaves on the line" if it was the Autumn, but its the combination of the weather and the busyness of Christmastide that is compromising things here.

It started off with the peeling of a butternut squash, that saw my thumb sliced open on Sunday afternoon.  Not really sufficient to impact on training until Mr W replastered it too tightly on Monday night as we went to bed  which meant I woke up with it throbbing, and bleeding again.  Swimming on Tuesday morning was not a possibility :-(

On Wednesday, I was supposed to run home.  But I was feeling overwhelmed by Christmas tasks, still sore of thumb, and knew that the tasks I had to do on Thursday wouldn't leave me with enough time to take the bus so that had to be cancelled.

Then on Friday morning, cycling to the pool at 6.30, I got out of the house, and our drive was icy.  It has been the last couple of days, so I wheeled my bike carefully out onto the road which looked ok.  However, as I turned left at the top of the road, I hit an enormous patch of ice.  In slow motion, I watched myself fall to the ground.  Braking obviously does nothing on ice, and probably makes the skid worse as I discovered.  I was extremely lucky not to be more badly hurt, coming off slightly shaken and with a bruised left ankle and inside knee.  It was lucky I was tired and going slowly.  I never thought it'd be my trusty Raleigh Hybrid that I'd be coming off!  I wheeled the bike over to the main road where I discovered that my chain had come off.  I had to call Mr Tuna in tears to get him to come to fix it as there was no way that I was facing that patch of ice again to get 500m back to home.

On the plus side, I did swim Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, and with the exception of Monday, they were good strong swims. Thursday is worth mentioning - I only had time for 5 of my 6 x 600m, but I did them off 10 minutes, rather than the 10 minutes, 15 seconds planned, and they mostly came in at 9.30-9.35 (with the first one being 9.25).  I'd like to get doing these intervals down to being off 9.45 (i.e. I swim them, and whatever is left out of 9 minutes 45 seconds is rest), because that should be the correct pace for a sub 1-hour 3.8k swim.  Which I'm determined to achieve in the early part of next year's outdoor swimming season and which I'm hopeful is a likelihood!

Tomorrow I'm off to Hampton Pool with Tuna Friend Fiona to use my new toys - pink fins! - and play our drafting game "catch the tuna".  Can't wait!  Will try to get a picture of the beautifully steaming outdoor pool if I can.  Hope to swim 3k to take my total to 15k for the week.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Last week/this week (WIDDIUP)

Last week wasn't terribly successful in terms of meeting the schedule I'd set myself, and consequently I only clocked around 5 hours of training (what a difference to the time put in missing the long bike ride makes!).  On the plus side, I did listen to my body and make sensible decisions re biking when it was icy.   All of the swimming sessions were completed.  I missed the run home from work as I wasn't sure that my legs had 100% recovered.  The plan for today was a 2-3 hour bike with the tri club, but when I woke up and saw that most of the slower people had dropped out, I wasn't too keen.  Also, it was icy, and another cycling club had cancelled their rides which made me feel dubious about whether or not it was sensible to go out.  I also woke up feeling a bit tired, so probably should have taken a rest day, but I swam anyway.  Which I kind of regretted as it certainly wasn't the best swim.  And then I came out with legs that wanted to go cycling.  Oh well.  Hopefully the twitchy feeling will translate to a good run tomorrow night!

Once again, I'm joining with Carrie from Fitness and Frozen Grapes and putting down on paper my plans for this week in "WIDDIU" - Write it down, do it up.  Planning is definitely going to be key to make sure I get some training done during December which is going to be a busy month.  Here's the plan for my week:

Monday - am: 45 min swim (main set of 2(3x300) with the middle 300 each time pull only); pm: 3.5 or 5k run after work.

Tuesday - am: 45 min swim (main set of breathing pattern work).

Wednesday - am: 45 min swim (recovery/easy swimming); pm: run home from work (7k)

Thursday - am: 75-90 min swim (1k drills, 6x600 off 10:15, warm down)

Friday - am: 45 min swim (drills/endurance)

Saturday - am: 3.5k or 5k run; lunchtime: 2.5k-3k swim with Tuna Friend Fiona

Sunday - am: bike.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

November wrap up

Feeling quite pleased looking back at November.  It was a good month.  Low mood hit the first part of the month pretty hard, but it's levelled out a bit now and I feel I've achieved a lot.  The Winter Swim Workshop made a big difference to my motivation and to my speed.  I perservered with cycling despite a miserable ride.  And I got a 9 minute PB on my 10k run.

Totals for the month?
Swim: 65.55k
Bike: 150k
Run: 33k

As for the first day of December, it was pretty chilly outside, but it turned out that the worst bit of the run was thinking about it beforehand.  Not the running itself, that didn't worry me, just the cold.  First time running since Sunday so took it fairly easily.  Felt really happy that I can just bang out 5k without even thinking about it now. 

After that, I went for a swim to make my 7th swim in 7th days.  Felt really good in the water and can feel that I've definitely improved since the start of November.  Almost ready for racing; how can there still be another 5.5 months til the first openwater swimming races?!

Finally, before purchasing our Christmas tree this afternoon, Mr Tuna and I went to Fit to Run to get new running shoes for both of us.  I had a 15% discount code from the race last Sunday so it was a no brainer to go and buy new shoes since we will both need them in the next few months.  Mr Tuna doesn't think that his will make the 1/2 marathon in February; mine probably will but not the half ironman in September.  Also bought me a pink running beanie hat as this morning I had to run in my cycling cap which just felt silly.  LOVE the new running hat.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Pool progress

...including 7 swims in 7 days and feedback from filming.

(How's that for an alliterative subheading?).

This week I feel I've made real progress in the pool.  I've worked hard on my technique over the last 6-8 weeks with the Tridynamic Winterworkshop swim camp afternoon giving it a real boost.  Coach Dan Bullock writes about 7 swims in 7 days (see here), and how this is key to delivering big improvements, and I think he's right.  Since my legs haven't been up to running again post-race, I've decided to go for 7 swims in 7 days (haven't quite managed the pattern of the 7 sessions that he suggests, but I've certainly mixed it out a bit doing drills as well as longer swims) and today completed the 6th of the 7.  It's nice to have a good run of training - it feels like life was back in April before I entered too many swim races and then took up Tri - I can really feel the influence on my swimming.

My swims have been partly influenced by getting my DVD feedback from the swim training a fortnight ago which has voice over the video that I shared on my blog.  I felt pleased that Dan was complimentary about quite a lot of my stroke, particularly the body position because that is something key to get right, and no point really working on some of the more peripheral things until that is right.  There are two key areas for improvement:
1. As I mentioned before, there is an issue with my right arm not coming close enough to my body, particularly when I breathe.
2. I need to try to develop an earlier catch so that my forearm is vertical for longer, thus enabling me to pull myself through the water better and be most efficient.

It's been easyish to focus on number 1, although I need to try to develop the strength in my right arm a bit (watch out for a blog on stretch cords, once I've managed to find somewhere in the house to use them...); number 2 is a bit more difficult.  Dan today recommended to me a couple of drills for improving this (thumb catch and catch) which I shall give a go, as I'm definitely convincing myself of the crucial importance of drills to training.

This morning I swam 1k, and then decided to swim 400/500m time trials.  I was swimming up to 500m for completeness, but was really mainly interested in the 400m time.  I didn't rest much between the three 400/500ms that I did, just to let the other swimmers get to a position in the lane where they weren't going to get in my way, so I was pleased to hit 6:18, 6:08, 6:08 for the three swims (with the first one definitely being slowed by getting stuck behind a swimmer on the last 2 lengths).  I'm pleased with both the times (the last times I've measured, I've swum in the range of 6:15-6:30) and the consistency.

There's a long way to go still, and I'd love to hit 6 minutes in the pool for 400m; I know that I can do it outside because otherwise I wouldn't be able to get the times that I do for 1500m!  Not sure if tumble turns would speed me up or slow me down right now, but with practice they should speed me up, and I still need to get my stroke improved because I did feel that it was sloppy towards the end of each 400m this morning, and especially in the last 400m,.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Musings on planning ahead

After my assertion at the beginning of the week that I needed to plan at least the next 12 weeks of training, I sat down last night to try to do it.  How hard it is to plan that far in advance.  The chief difficulty is the unpredictable weather at this time of the year; up until March I know we could be hit by snow that might disrupt my training for a week or more.  Ice is a problem even if we don't get snow, affecting runs and bikes.  So there's going to have to be a fair amount of flexibility.  I think flexibility is important in training anyway to avoid injury - if you haven't recovered there's really no point forcing yourself to do a session because in the best case, it will just go badly, in the worst case, you'll get injured.  Hence me deciding not to run home tonight as my legs aren't fully recovered from Sunday's run.

I have a basic pattern in my mind that I hope to implement eventually, along the lines of:
Monday - am: swim, pm: short run
Tuesday - am: swim, pm: turbo/bike for an hour
Wednesday - am: swim, pm: run home (extend as year progresses?)
Thursday - am: long swim
Friday - am: recovery swim/rest day
Saturday and Sunday: combination of long run and short swim or long swim and short run with bike or long swim with run off bike.  Depending on weather, and what rides are available and other weekend commitments.

Obviously, extra rest days will need to be introduced before the events I have in the diary (I like to rest the day before I race ideally), and post-race I am likely to just do a recovery swim rather than whatever other sessions are in the diary.  Unless the race was on a Saturday, in which case I'll have to force myself to get out on the bike or tackle whichever discipline wasn't race!

I think realistically, to improve my chances of getting around the half marathon on the 10th February, and to make the most of my time in Tenerife, I need to prioritise my running and swimming, and cut down cycling to a decent ride every other week with some turbo in between.  In practice, the running should be prioritised and swimming used to plug  the gaps where it isn't possible due to the weather.  But I love swimming and I want to make sure that I'm in good shape for the training camp.

So, it's still all a work in progress.  I have a vague plan from now until the end of the year, which is limited by various pre-Christmas committments, which I shall reveal/update on a week by week basis; I think I'll need to take stock again at the start of 2013 to work out how I want to play out the next 5/6 weeks.  A 12 week planning period just seems a bit long at this stage.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Week ahead/WIDDIU

Today, I am unsurprisingly, a little bit uncomfortable after yesterday's run.  It turned out that my chip time was 54:13, which is closer to 54 minutes than 55, so a really good effort (even if I only came 416 out of 520 participants..). I utilised my compression calf sleeves and my calves are not actually too bad this morning, but my hamstrings are killing.  They weren't too bad yesterday so I didn't stretch them out as much as I probably should have done, and I probably need to get full length compression tights..

On the plus side, my arms were beautifully fresh in the pool today, even if I couldn't do any drills because my legs weren't up to much kicking! 

Whilst I showered, I decided that I really need to do more planning of my training, especially with the half marathon 11 weeks away and swim camp 12 weeks away, and only 9 months til the 1/2 ironman.  I do need to sit down and make an actual plan, at least as far as the swim camp, which I aim to do this week, but for now here's this week's details.  And if you're wondering about the acronym in the heading, it stands for "Write it down, do it up", which is a weekly meme started by my internet tri friend Carrie at Fitness and Frozen Grapes.  Here's her explanation:

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday evening, I’ll post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

I'm a day late, but here goes (and hopefully once I've formulated my plan, I can do this every week!).

Monday: 45 minute swim am (recovery), rest pm
Tuesday: 45 minute swim (including 1500m breathing pattern mainset), rest pm (Tuesday will be turbo night in due course but Mr Tuna is still setting it up)
Wednesday: 45 minute swim (drills and technique), run home if legs have recovered (7k)
Thursday: 75-90 minute swim (1k of drills, and then 6 x 600m, then cool down).
Friday: 45 minute swim (easy)
Saturday: 5k run, 1 hour swim (hard drills session)
Sunday: long bike with the tri club (will force myself to go out with the club as it is the nice guy taking the group out and I'll see if I can find out the route so I can work out a get out clause if necessary.)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

10k PB

Today was my first running event of the year (well, pure running event as opposed to triathlon), and goodness me, how far I have come since I took up Couch 2 5k 14 months ago.  I did the Eynsham 10k in 2011 after running for about 2.5 months, and finished in 1:03:52.  Today, with about the same total of running this year (I have not really been running much all year until the Autumn), but with greater fitness from swimming and of course from cycling, I finished in around 54:30 (the exact chip times aren't up yet, this is based on my watch and what the gun time said.  I was aiming for sub 1hour so to go sub 55 minutes, I am BEYOND pleased with.

A run event is a bit strange for me.  I lacked safety pins so I utilised my triathlon race belt (which is pink!) and only saw one other person doing the same.  Unlike a tri or swim start, I positioned myself at the back not to get trampled on.  It was pretty chilly waiting to start but at least it wasn't raining and the wind had finally died down.

I thought that I set off a bit too fast for the first 2k.  I did have my iphone with me as my Log Your Run app tells you your realtime pace whilst running but in the end, I didn't look at it until the last k.  Instead, I looked at my watch and the k signs, calculating my speed using those.  I knew that I needed to run less than 6 minutes for each k to make it around in under an hour.  It seems that my overall pace was 5:27.  After 2k I settled down, and we were running along the main road in single file; I felt that I was stuck behind a few people which was annoying but that probably helped to maintain my pace.  By 5k I was really into it and felt that I could go on forever, despite the slight gastric discomfort from a gulp of water at the water station.  I did the first 5k in 25 minutesish, so I was confident that unless something bad happened I could get in under the hour.  I was a little nervous as had done the first half so fast and had not run more than 6.5k in 2012, but I tried to keep pacing myself.  By 6.5k my legs were getting heavy, and by 8.5k I was having to work quite hard to keep pushing on, so much so that I did retch briefly and slowed down temporarily.  Kept going, saw the water station again which is 500m from the end, and started wondering if I might make it under 55 minutes (I'd been thinking 56.5 or 57 from about 8k), saw the 400m sign, 200m sign and started to fly towards the finish and then came in, as I said at around 54.30.  No retching on the finish line this time! 

Collected my t-shirt and 25th anniversary of the race commemorative shoe bag and time to walk back to the car park.   Last year I famously LOST my car and it took me 45 minutes to find the carpark in the  town that I don't know very well.  This year, did better due to my iphone...  So back to the car, and off for a brief swim.  Breastroke really seems to help stretch the legs out.  My calves are quite sore, especially after sitting down for a while, but I've got my compression sleeves on them, and I know that tomorrow and Tuesday will be painful but hopefully it will wear off fairly soon.


Last week

It's going to be a two-post day today as I meant to post yesterday, but forgot.  Here's the first one - a catch up on the last week.

So last week was a bit of an odd one, training-wise.  I had Monday and Tuesday off work for "study-leave".  I have a professional qualification which has given me Chartered Membership of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, which all good librarians should revalidate every 3 years by producing a portfolio.  It's not compulsory, and I'm about 6 months over my 3 year period, but I have done a lot of CPD over the last 3 years so this is a good way to record and formalise it.  My employer grants two days of study leave.  I intended to get in some training around the self-study, but this had mixed success.  Although I got a run in first thing on Monday morning, I don't really like swimming at lunchtime as it is busy and I am always too hungry, so my swim on Monday was only 2.75k.  Intended to do a longer swim on Tuesday am but slept badly so it had to be lunchtime lengths again and only managed slightly longer 2.8k.

Wednesday was back to work and the routine so that was fine, getting in my commute on the bike as well as an early morning swim even though it was pouring with rain.  Thursday was my first day off in about 12 days.  I had an interview for a job which I didn't get, which was a shame as the new job had the potential to fit rather well with training.  So I was annoyed that I had missed my longer swim session for a fruitless interview (hmm, priorities), and am now working on ways that I can maximise training around my current work.  Friday was back to the pool and quite a good session.

Saturday I was originally going to go out with the local cycling club beginner's taster ride.  Unfortunately the friend who was taking me wasn't able to make it and I didn't want to go on my own.  I then thought I'd do a long swim and save my legs for my 10k run on Sunday, but then a lady from the tri club asked if I wanted to go out for a short ride before it started raining.  So, we met up for a ride which was nice.   I've finally met someone who is slower than me which really boosted my confidence!  We did a rather slow 23 miles and did get wet.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to go out with her often as I need to be challenged over speed and distance; I know I am going to have to brave the tri club ride again next week.

So, totals for last week:

15k running (inc 10k running race)
37k bike (1 single ride)
13.6k swimming (across 6 sessions...)

There's only 4 weeks now until Christmas holidays, so hopefully some time to get in some more good swimming and good running, it's only 11 weeks until I attempt a half marathon and only 12 weeks until I hit Tenerife for swim camp.  Bring on that sunshine!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cycle speedo

So, my new toy for my bike is cheap little speedometer.  We picked it up from Halfords yesterday, and Mr Tuna set it up on the bike for our trip out today.

[As an aside, I was supposed to be getting a remedial ride with one of the coaches from the tri club today, but he was too busy.  Until I get that, I don't think I am exactly encouraged to go out with the "beginners" ride, so I had to persuade Mr Tuna to take me out.  Actually, he offered.  I feel guilty about needing him to take me out, but I'm just not confident enough on my own.  On the plus side, I didn't get as irritable as I sometimes do so he said that he really enjoyed today.  And on the double plus side, because I have plans for Sat and Sunday next week he could do TWO rides on his own next weekend if he wants].

Anyway, it was fascinating to see my pace, and a good incentive to try and keep pedalling hard to hit the numbers.  Mostly, going along, my pace seemed to be 13-14mph.  I slowed down quite a lot to go up hills (down to about 8-9mph, but I was still moving, and I guess that's faster than walking!), but I speeded up sufficiently fast going down the hills and up the other sides to hit over 20mph a few times.  My average pace was 12.9mph; I had pushed it very hard though, and I need to be able to maintain that pace for twice the distance that I covered on Sunday (29 miles...).

I can definitely improve my average pace too as I noticed a big drop off in pace for going round corners and approaching junctions (probably don't need to brake quite so much so soon) and I still brake going down hills.  Although less.  I need to get to first the stage where I don't brake going down hills and then to the stage where I pedal as wel!

A good week's work!

This week has been a departure from the previous weeks where I have struggled to complete the sessions that I wanted to.  I've done all of the sessions that I wanted to and completed a total of over 9 hours of training across 9 sessions.  My mood has definitely been better this week, and completing all of the sessions helped with that!

This breaks down as:

5 1/4 hours swimming (5x45 minute sessions, 1 x 90 minute session)
1 1/4 hours running (1 x 30 minute run; 1 x 45 minute run)
2 1/2 hours cycling (post to follow on that!)
1/2 hour poolside conditioning (6 x 5 mins)

In addition, I have done 8 x 4.5 mile rides to work (c.27-30 minutes), which I'm not counting, because I don't really push myself hard, and walked around for at least half an hour every lunchtime.

This week ahead is a slightly weird one.  I have two days off Monday and Tuesday as study leave to give me a chance to work on revalidating my professional qualification.  I hope to fit in a swims both days.  However, I have a commitment on my Thursday morning off which means that I won't get my usual long Thursday am swim in.  Also, on Saturday, I will be out with the local cycling club's taster ride, and on Sunday, I will be doing a 10k running race, so no swimming then either.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I ran home!

The title says it all really!  I ran home.  Well, not quite home.  I met up with Mr Tuna about half a mile from my workplace; he was in town for a blood test follow up and thus was conveniently able to take home my work clothes, my swim kit from this am (kick-ass swim session this am too!), and the dinner (including a large pineapple) which I purchased at lunchtime.  Oh and my bike so I can get back into work tomorrow.  Would have been a bit tricky to run with those things.

Right up until meeting Mr Tuna I hadn't decided whether to run or not.  It had seemed like a good idea when he suggested it last night, but I woke up with a badly upset stomach, felt okish during the day but hit a flat spot around 3.30pm when I felt sick.  Nonetheless I got changed in the loos at work into my shorts and t-shirt (a swimming t-shirt, just because I felt the need to assert myself as a swimmer still, despite running), much to the astonishment of the team of blokes that I manage, who have only ever seen me in my librarian version of business casual with minimal skin on display.  However, the evening was quite warm, and if I hadn't run home, then I'd either have had to run later or tomorrow night.  So I plugged in "Now that's what I call running" into my ears and set off.

It took me a little while to settle down, but after about five minutes I was going ok.  I purposefully didn't look at my run app until I'd got over halfway but was pleased when I did look to see that I was running about 6 mins for a k which is about what I'm aiming to do.  It got a bit harder after that as there is a downhill followed by an uphill.  I was keen to maintain my pace but probably should have eased off a bit up the hill as found myself retching 5 times at the top and had to walk for the only time on the trip home.  I did contemplate stopping and walking the rest but managed to get going again, and by the time I hit the top of our road about 1.25k later, I could have kept going.  Total distance 6.5k (would have been 7.5 I think from work...) in just under 39 minutes.

When I got home Mr Tuna had just arrived; I'd apparently passed him earlyish on because of the traffic up to the ring road, and then he passed me again just before the retching episode. I thought he was well on his way home otherwise I'd have looked out for him.  I could have done with a water station and he could have passed out a cup of water on a stick.

I'm trying to think about ways that I can do this again.  Being without my bike is a bit of an issue thought.  I need the bike to get to the pool in the morning as buses are few and far between at 6.30am and then very busy at 8.15ish when I'd need to get another to get to work.  Running in isn't an option as we don't have showers at work.  I guess I can take advantage of my Thursday morning late start, and perhaps get the bus in then, as I usually drive to the pool for my Thurs am swim.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Tridynamic Winter Workshop with Swim for Tri

On Saturday, I went over to Hampton Outdoor Pool in West London for a workshop run by Tridynamic with Dan Bullock from Swim For Tri.  I went to Tenerife in February for a week's swim camp earlier this year and gained an enormous amount (as well as having a wonderful time with lovely people), and since I know that my stroke has dropped off recently, I was keen to get a little top up that will tide me over until Swim Camp 2013 and to see where I am currently going wrong.

The purpose of the workshop was two-fold.  Firstly to practice some key drills which can really improve FC (if done correctly).  Secondly to be filmed from three angles to identify things that can be improved.  And I suppose thirdly to have a good afternoon!

Firstly the drills.  We were encouraged to use central snorkels and fins.  This is pretty new to me because my pool doesn't let you use "toys" for health and safety reasons which is annoying as one particular drill that I've been struggling with since last February was so much easier with them!  We practiced the torpedo drill, extension drill, and then built into advanced single arm drill (the one I've been struggling with).  I think there may have been some other drills along the way but you can hardly take notes whilst in the pool.  As there were 12 of us, in 2 lanes of a 36.5m pool, we were able to swim along the black line, which really helps with thinking about body position.

Secondly, the filming.  I was a little bit disappointed with how I looked (despite being told by the other Martin who had come along to shadow Dan that he thought my stroke looked good).  My head remains a bit too high (which is something I was aware of).  My kick is rather bigger than I thought it was although not as bad as it used to be.  So, two things to try to work on there.  What was also interesting was with my arms.  They look ok at the start but go very wide as they get to the hips.  More of an issue on my right side, which may explain why I've been having right-sided shoulder pain again.

Anyway, so you can judge for yourself, Dan has kindly uploaded my video to YouTube!  (Everyone on the workshop was going to get a CD of footage with voice commentary sent to them afterwards as with a group of 12, there wasn't really time to look at everyone in detail).  I'm not quite sure how to embed a video, but you can have a look here.

I certainly had a good afternoon.  It was lovely to see Martin and Dan again, and nice to turn up to a workshop where you know both the coach and the organiser as you feel less awkward and they are both excellent examples of delivering good customer service as well as being really nice.  It was fantastic swimming outdoors in November.  I'd been worried that the pool was going to be chilly, especially when I arrived and saw the clouds of steam rising off it.  The water was a warm 28C and absolutely fine when moving around, although one of the ladies who was far more toned than me looked quite chilly (oh well, body fat has its uses!) as did the gentlemen on the side!  The sun even came out for about 5 minutes and one could almost imagine being in Tenerife.  The second swim at 5pm was actually in the dark.  The pool was closed by this time and it was an amazing experience swimming in the dark with just floodlights.  Being alphabetically last, I got to spend time swimming underwater and looking at the sky and watching some nearby fireworks!  Perfect, and just the mood enhancer that I needed.  Admittedly I was a bit grumpy when I got home because I was tired from the swimming, the drive and being hungry, but I cheered up after some dinner and then slept really well.  15 weeks to Tenerife.

Photo credits: Martin Boddie.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

More catching up

In some ways I'd prefer to forget about most of the last 10 days from a Tuna To Tri perspective.  Last weekend, I just couldn't get out of bed and for only the third weekend this year, I went without any sport at all.  In fairness, Sunday was truly horrible weather-wise with torrential rain, so I shouldn't feel too bad for staying home (the tri club ride was cancelled, but I could have gone for a swim).   I also missed two days from swimming this week because of just feeling dreadful.

Things picked up yesterday when I went for my Tridynamic/Swim for Tri winter workshop which I'll blog about soon (when hopefully I may have some photos to share with you).  I'd been out for a run in the morning which had been painful, but actually not too far off my usual pace, and although they were somewhat delayed I got some endorphins, which were further boosted in the afternoon. 

Sadly, the tuna was well out of super-tuna-ess today.  I didn't feel tired this morning when I got up, and my mood was reasonable, so I thought I was all set for an ok bike ride.  Mr Tuna decided to stay home so I set off and got to the meeting point in plenty of time and although cold it was beautifully sunny.  Unfortunately it all went down from there.  We set out to go across the city, and had to take a slightly odd route due to the Remembrance Sunday activities which meant lots of junctions, lots of traffic lights, and meant that I got left behind quite a few times because of trying to clip in.  We then stopped so that one rider could get some oil; I carried on because I knew there was a long hill ahead and I wanted to get a headstart.  I made it up!  And the group caught up with me just as I got to the top.  We stopped briefly, and then there was another junction.  The group got away and for 3 or 4 miles I cycled behind, struggling to catch up with them (and failing)...they weren't getting further away really but I just couldn't bridge the gap.  At this point I was ready to call it a day as I was obviously holding everyone up, and the ride leader seemed keen for me to do so too and started talking to one of the others to ask him to take me back (from where we were, I could have got back on my own).  One of the ladies asked me if I was ok, and I shook my head and burst into tears because I'd found it so miserable struggling to catch up.  The ride leader insisted that I had been fine on the first ride so why was I struggling now?  (Because they were going a small but significant 1 mph faster...).  After bursting into tears, the ladies were keen to include me and keep going, so for another 10 miles or so, I had company, but was forced to go faster than I felt comofrtable cycling for the distance, which meant that after that, my legs were tired and spent.  I just couldn't keep up.  Having another club member shout things like "close the gap" and "use your gears", really didn't help.  No idea how he thought I could close the gap or what I was expected to do with my gears.  The group got further and further ahead, and the more experienced riders who were sort of acting as sweepers were engrossed in conversation leaving me and one lady behind.  Eventually I had to say that I needed a stop.  She said that she didn't mind cycling slowly, but I felt so bad that I was holding her, and everyone else up so I said to her to go and catch the group up and I would make my own way home, especially as I knew there was a long downhill stretch ahead.  I had a little sit down for a couple of minutes and then rang Mr Tuna to ask him to start cycling to where I was so that we could meet halfwayish and I'll have some company for the last 2-3 miles.  Plodded onwards and eventually saw Mr Tuna.  Had another good cry at the side of the road and then we got home.  I did later discover that

I'm not quite sure where I go from here. I certainly don't have the confidence to go out with the group again now.   I posted about this on facebook just for some support from my friends and a former band friend has invited me to go out with his cycling club's "taster" ride on the 24th, so that is something.   I don't feel confident enough to go on my own as nervous in traffic, feel that there is solidarity in numbers, and just can't change a tyre yet,  and can't always ask Mr Tuna to take me out as he needs to do his own thing too.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Catching up

It's been a little while since I last posted.  I didn't feel like I wanted to write about last weekend's bike ride as it was a tough one.  Mr Tuna and I went out with the aim of conquering 56 miles before the weather gets too bad; unfortunately the weather was quite bad.  The sunshine was beautiful but the wind was very gusty; I suppose the good thing about that was that I got to practice my bike handling skills.  We had done almost exactly 40 miles before lunch (in around 3h45), with 14 miles to go home that would take us in a little under the target distance.  Unfortunately I wasn't feeling very well and didn't manage to really eat anything in the cafe.  This had predictable consequences for the last 14 miles which consisted of lots of getting off, lots of tears, and lots of pleas with Mr Tuna to leave me by the side of the road and come back in the car.  Oh well.  In the end, he went off to get the car with about 6 miles to go.  I carried on cycling as it was cold, missed a turning, and then things got a little interesting as before he left, I'd put on Mr Tuna's jacket, which of course contained his mobile phone.  To cut a long story short, I did end up back at home, having a warm shower.  Doing 52 miles didn't really help to convince me that I'd make the distance next September as it had taken 7.5 hours, but I reason that even if I wait until March to get going, I'll still have a good 5 months of weekend rides to build up the distance and speed.  Hopefully I'll fit in a few rides anyway if there are nice days, and Mr Tuna is talking about getting a second turbo trainer so that we can turbo together.  Delightful.

So, we'll brush that under the carpet and try to focus onwards.  This week I have been trying to pay attention to my swimming.  Tiredness and general low mood has prevented me in the last few weeks from swimming as much as I would have liked; back in January-February I was swimming 20k a week, recent weeks have seen around 13k swum.  I'm on track to do 18km this week if all goes well.  I had an excellent 4k session this morning, consisting of 1k of warm up and drills followed by my favourite 6x600s main set (actually, I only did 5 of the 600s) where you get to do something slightly different for each of the 600s.  I've adapted it from a Swim for Tri session I recieved in April.  So fingers crossed for the energy to get the last 6.5k done tomorrow before work and on Saturday lunchtime.

Beginners ride lined up for Sunday - several of us were clamouring in our facebook group for one earlier in the week.  Managed to convince another new lady to come out with us - she was again determined that she was too slow, but reassured her that she could not POSSIBLY be as slow as me.  Weather looks ok, so will wrap up and hopefully have a good one.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Training for 70.3 - it's official, I've got the t-shirt

I wouldn't say I've been there, done it, got the t-shirt, particularly not on the back of this rubbishy week training (and other-) wise.

But I did get home to a package from Austria! When I opened it a tshirt fell out. Apparently I was one of the first 150 entrants to Zell am See 70.3 and thus won a t-shirt. I love that though it looks generic, it has event specific detail on the back. Sadly no package for Mr W who must have been entrant 151 as he entered 5 minutes later...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Group ride #3

I have to say it took quite a lot of courage to go out for the group ride today, after last week.  I've not had the best of weeks with very low mood, culminating in spending the afternoon in bed yesterday, and I did wonder about just staying in bed this morning.  But I'd woken up at 11 minutes past 7, in a panic that it was actually Monday (it wasn't) and it was difficult to drop off again after that.  Originally, the plan was that Mr Tuna would come along for some moral support, but then our outhouse roof fell in, so he decided to stay at home to carry on fixing it.  So I set off on my own, leaving barely enough time to pootle 4.5 miles to the ride start (I always go much slower on my own), particularly given that my shoe lace got entangled with my toe clip and I had to stop and disentangle myself.

It was a small group today, including one lady who'd only come along because she thought that she'd be slower than me (following my apologies in the Tri Club's facebook group last weekend).  She wasn't but she was very nice.  Everyone else I'd met before and they did their absolute best to make me feel comfortable on the ride and was super supportive.  (Fr'instance, the ride leader would occasionally ask if the group was ok, and then ask me if I was ok!).  This time everyone made sure that I didn't get left at the back; apart from a couple of downhills where everyone overtook, I wasn't at the back at all which made me feel a lot better, especially as there were only 6 of us and I barely took a turn at the front at all.  Additionally the first 1/5 route was the same as the last two weeks, and then the next 1/3 was a route that Mr Tuna and I have done before, and then a new bit, before a final 4 miles along roads which I am familiar with.  I do enjoy seeing the countryside as well as having the chance to chat to people.  I felt a bit more comfortable with the toe clips this time, although there were a couple of awkward moments, and I don't think it'll be too long before I want to give my clipless pedals a go (although I will definitely need overshoes at this time of year!).  By the time I got home my bottom was sore (unusually, this hasn't happened before) and my back was stiff (as ever), but I'd cycled 40 miles in 3.5 hours at an average speed of 12.8mph apparently.  Although I'd not sure how much I trust my Strava app as it claimed my top speed was 34.5mph.  Not a chance!!

No beginner's ride next week; dependent on the weather, Mr Tuna and I may try to crack 56 miles.  Not in one go - it'll be a round trip with a stop at our favourite cafe before the last 14 miles home.  Should be do-able, so please cross fingers and toes for a dry day, as I'll feel a lot more confident about next year's 70.3 if I have that distance in the bag (even if I don't have it in the bag in a 4.5 hour time!).

Friday, 19 October 2012

Plans for the off season

So my off season began a little earlier than expected as for various reasons Tuna Friend Fiona and I decided to duck out of our last race of the season on the 14th October.  Anyway, it is now the off season, and for me this is going to run until 30th December.  My plans involve increasing endurance in cycling and running and improving technical skills on the bike and in my swimming and trying to maintain about 8 hours of training a week.  The off-season will end with Mr Tuna and I going skiing for Christmas which will provide a natural break from tri sports as well as enabling ourselves to get some cross training in.  We may even try cross country skiing this year, as I have read that it is particularly good for cross training!  Once we get back, I'll be starting to train more seriously, focusing on building up swim volume so that I get the most out of my swim training camp in Tenerife in February, and focusing on building up run distance for my half marathon attempt the week before I go away.  Icy roads are likely to make me avoid the bike to some extent so I may have to learn to love the turbo and try to fit in a session on that each week.  But I'll be thinking more about 2013 a bit nearer the time!

So what are my goals from now until then?

1. Increase running training again with the hope of running 10k in less than an hour at the Eynsham 10k at the end of November.  Last year my time was about 1h03, and although I've not been running so much this year yet, I did get a good time for my 5k at the end of my last sprint tri, so I'm hopeful!  This will hopefully build a fairly solid base for my half marathon.

2. Increase cycling distance ability.  45 miles is the furthest I've been; I'd love to get to 56 miles, the distance that I'll need to cycle in the half ironman, before Christmas!  Of course this depends on weather and group rides as obviously I want to support the latter, and the former could equal 56 miles of misery!

3. Improve cycle handling and technical abilities.  Now that I'm in toe-clips, I need to get to the stage where I can do hand signals and grab a drink.  I will have to see if Mr Tuna can spend an hour practising with me one weekend!  Once this is achieved and I feel properly comfortable with the toe clips, it'll be time to give my cycling shoes and cleats a go (although at this time of year I'm a bit worried about cold toes!)

4. Improve my swimming technique.  Mr Tuna says that my technique has dropped off over the summer from where it was at the start as I have got further and further away from the swim coaching that I had in February.  If I'm honest, I've not been doing drills at all over the last couple of months, although I am starting to bring them back in again (and I can already start to feel the difference!).  I've got a place booked on Tridynamic's Winter Swim Workshop in early November with the coach Dan Bullock.  It's only half a day, but I hope it'll give me enough pointers to work on so that I can improve things a little bit in the couple of months before I head off to Tenerife for some serious work with the same coach and company!

I think that's enough for now, my main concerns are finding enough time for running and for doing the cycle handling, hopefully work will calm down somewhat and I'll have sufficient energy and motivation to get some running in in the evenings.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Building blocks

Before I write about my plans for the "off-season", I thought I'd write down the building blocks which I'm putting in place which I hope will take me to the successful completion of my 70.3 in Austria next year.  By building blocks, I mean carefully chosen races which I hope will help me prepare for the big one in September.

Firstly, running.  I'm going to take advantage of the off season to do a half marathon.  It seems to me if I know I can do the individual bits then I will feel more confident about putting them together.  The swim is a no brainer but the furthest I've run is 10k.  So, I've entered the same 10k again this year, the Eynsham 10k, at the end of November, with the hope of getting my time under an hour.  I then want to build on this to do a half marathon on 10th February, The Wokingham half.  I've entered both of these races now.

Secondly, triathlons increasing in length.  I'm starting with a local pool sprint at the end of April (Bicester), followed by my second appearance at Blenheim tri openwater sprint in early June where I hope to take at least 15 minutes off last year's time.  Early July will see Mr Tuna and I at the Stowe Triathlon where I will do my first Olympic distance race.  This will actually be really helpful for the 70.3 as the cycle is 50k rather than the usual 40k and much more hilly so if I get it right, it could be a good confidence booster before the last 8 weeks of training for the 70.3.

I think practising races is crucial.  The more you do, the less nervous you get.  And particularly with tri, practising the transitions is really beneficial.

I'm on the look out for some appropriate length sportives/cycle rides to perhaps fit in, but somehow it's easier to go out for a 56 mile cycle with Mr Tuna than it is to run a half marathon without some motivation!

Finally, swimming.  I was initially gutted to find that the 10k swim which I have participated in for the last two years will this year be held on a Bank Holiday Monday in May, which is one of the two days each year that I am obliged to work with no chance of leave.  When I thought about it a bit more, it is probably a good thing.  I'd been keen to enter it and hopefully chip more minutes off my time, but that would mean a very hard swim.  Last year it took me over a month to properly recover from it and I can't afford that when I've got a big goal at the end of the season.  So swimming races will be fitted into the calendar, but not enough have been announced yet for me to make my choices.  Although the 70.3 only involves a 1.9k swim, swimming is important to me and I shall race up to 3.8k next year, not least because I'm still keen to get under that hour!

I've also seen a half iron aquathlon advertised which strikes me as pretty good training - 1.9k swim and half marathon (i.e. 70.3 without the bike), but as that would be a quite hard outing it depends entirely on the date as to whether I can fit it in or not.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

More group riding

Another exhausting week but Sunday dawned as a beautiful day, and having seen an email about another "beginners'" ride with the tri club, I couldn't possibly not go out.  In retrospect, I should probably have gone for a gentle potter with Mr Tuna...

The ride didn't get off to the best start when I wheeled my bike out and remembered that Mr Tuna had fitted toe clips onto it.  If I hadn't had such a stressful week, I might not have forgotten and found half an hour to practice with them.  Cue considerable wobbliness that nearly made us late for the ride.  We got there just in time to set off, which meant that I couldn't nip behind a tree to get rid of my large mug of peppermint tea, nor get rid of an extra layer.  Whilst it was cold enough for our cars to frost up, the sun actually made it quite a lot warmer and I was too hot with an extra light jacket.  Finally, the ride leader said in a jolly manner "I hope you're not going to hold us up on the downhills this week".  Whilst it was kindly meant, in the low mood that I had, it immediately dented my confidence and I was glad for wearing sunglasses to disguise the fact that I spent at least the first fifteen minutes in tears.  Things didn't get much better as we set off, as trying to get my feet into the clips meant that I was immediately left behind and didn't get the chance to catch up for those fifteen minutes of tears.  The ride seemed a lot harder than the week before, it was more "lumpy" (i.e. more up and down), and I seemed perpetually to be dropping out of the back due to the toe clips and the hills.  The worst bit was right at the end, when I tired, and the group had disappeared into the distance after a hill.  On the last ride, I never got left alone, but this time even Mr Tuna had gone too, and I was left riding along a busy road by myself which made me feel really vulnerable.  Eventually, a rider came back to look for me and that enabled me to speed up and get to the point where Mr Tuna and I were to leave the group.  I cried and cried afterwards as I felt that I had held everyone up and was just failing dismally on the bike.

But of course there are some positives, even if I feel I have lost my confidence with going out with a group.  As I said, it was beautifully sunny, and I do love the chance to explore the lovely Oxford countryside in a way that you just can't do in the car.  The route that we went on is one that I'd like to do again with Mr Tuna sometime.  In the few sections where I was in the middle of the group, I managed to keep up ok.  My new legwarmers which are long enough to go from sock line right up to my shorts kept me cosy.  And, by the end I was getting better at the toe clips.  According to my new cycling app (Strava), I averaged 11.8mph, including the various stops, with a top speed of 24.8mph, and we had hit exactly 30mph when we got home.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Catching up and first group bike ride

I had a pretty reasonable week of training last week despite it being the busiest week of the year at work.  Monday-Friday went well with swims before work, and I fitted in an extra cycle ride (on which I got soaked!) on Wednesay evening, which was pretty good considering that I worked late three evenings!  On Thursday morning when I start work late, I managed a 4k structured pool swim.  I haven't swum over 3k in a pool for two months so this was a good achievement and it was nice to make the most of a session plan that I'd enjoyed back in April.

By Saturday I was shattered after the week and a distressing (for complicated reasons!) Friday evening.  I'd hoped for another 3.5k or 4k swim whilst Mr Tuna was out picking up a new bicycle, but it just didn't happen.  On the plus side, it meant that I was refreshed for a bike ride on Sunday.

Earlier in the week I had recieved an email from the Tri Club to which we belong announcing a beginners ride of around 30 miles "at the pace of the slowest riders".  I'd intended on going out with Mr Tuna, but it's important for him to get his own training in too so this seemed ideal - we could go out together but apart!

I duly turned up on Sunday morning at 9.30am.  The weather was colder than on any of my previous recent rides, but not quite cold enough for my new thermal tights.  Mr Tuna kindly lent me a pair of knee warmers which did the trick [and I've since ordered my own pair, and need to get some warmer gloves!].  I figured that as the ride was 30 miles,  I could manage to cycle to the meeting point (4.5 miles) and back, as that'd still be less than the longest ride I've done.

10 riders turned up, of whom 5 were beginners (although none quite as beginnery as me) and 5 experienced, which was good as we all had our own experienced rider to help.  I am new to group riding so was introduced to the etiquette of riding close and two abreast as well as given tips on my own technique.

The ride was good, but hard.  I didn't like not having a sense of where we were going/how much further there was.  As I still can't drink whilst riding, I struggled with the lack of stops (although we did stop 3 or 4 times) and was too embarassed to ask.  I nearly ran out of steam 1.5 hours in, but I ate some jelly babies which cheered me up.  I constantly lost the group when we went down hills and it was difficult sometimes to catch up.  On the plus side, it's easier to cycle in the  group, especially if you're too slow to take a turn on the front.  Everyone was mostly very encouraging and it was nice to do something different.  The original plan was for these rides to take place once a month, but another club member has offered to take us out in a fortnight, so I will definitely go (lose it if you don't use it!), and maybe Mr Tuna will come along to "help out"!.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Unexpected result

I knew if I was even only 80% better from my cold today, I would be racing at Dorney Lake this afternoon.  I think I woke up about 87% better, although with nerves, it's always difficult to tell.  The water was forecast to be 15C which is still pretty reasonable, and although there was quite a wind, it wasn't raining and there was even a little bit of sun.

I know the drill now for racing.  I know if it's cold to keep my jacket on until the last minute over my wetsuit.  I know to splash my face with water before putting my head under.  I know to get my head under before the race starts, and to get water into my wetsuit (usually I achieve this by turning a forward roll, cumbersome in a wetsuit but effective).  I know that I like to start at the front.  And I know that I like to know my time in the race, but that it's best to start my watch 5 seconds before the race begins so I am not fiddling around at a crucial moment.  So all that went well, and I set off and it felt ok.

I hadn't swum since Wednesday, and I've not done enough training over the last month.  But Dorney Lake can be a very fast course since for much of it, you can get away without sighting.  Dorney Lake is the Olympic rowing venue and consequently full of buoys which are all attached to an underwater rope which you can follow like you would the line on the bottom of the pool.  I think this made up for my lack of fitness and recent speed work, and who knows what time I could achieve on the course if I was in top form.  I wasn't.  After the first lap I considered getting out as I had had enough, I wasn't sure I could be bothered to keep swimming to get 1h6ish.  I considered the same at the end of the second lap, which despite a sighting error (onto the wrong string of buoys), was actually faster than the first lap and took the 20 minutes that I would have needed to achieve on each lap to hit the hour.  The third lap was hard, but I was pleased that I had stuck with it.  The second half of the third lap was even harder.  I kept going, but made a navigational error as hadn't looked beforehand to see properly where the swim finish was.  OOPS.  But I got out and I stopped my watch at 1:02:42; as is often the case there was then a 50m run to the final timing mat, so my finish time came in at 1:02:49.

I was actually pretty pleased with that given the circumstances of the previous week.  More importantly, I have knocked off over 22 minutes since I first attempted this distance at the same venue in 2010 (when I got so cold that I had to be defrosted in the St John's Ambulance afterwards).  It's the second fastest 3.8k that I've done this year, and whilst it's 2:30 slower than my pb, I reckon that the navigational errors must have cost me at least 30 seconds.  It was my goal to break the hour for 3.8k in 2012, and that won't happen now, but I think I am getting much, much closer.  If all else fails, I'll have to buy one of those £600 wetsuits that can cut off a minute per km!  I also think that I might have broken the hour if I hadn't taken up tri halfway through the year and lost some swimming time and energy to cycling.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some!  On this occasion however it seems I won some; I should have stayed around for the prize giving as it looks like I was 3rd lady in.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Bit frustrated

So, Mr W reported a niggling throat on Friday, woke up with a full blown cold on Saturday, struggled through a long day playing with a band, and then spent all of Sunday in bed.  At this stage, ministering to the invalid, I thought I'd escaped.  Ha, no.  Tuesday I had a throat, Wednesday a full blown cold, and Thursday I spent my precious morning off work in bed.

Why am I frustrated?  Last big race of the season, it's my last chance to get under the hour for 3.8k in 2012.  Firstly I don't know if I'm going to be well enough to race, secondly, I know that I won't be 100% firing on all cylinders even if I am, as I've missed my training this week (on top of less than ideal training in the run up).  Just don't know what I want to do.  Do I want to race even if I'm not better just to get 1:04ish?  Will it give me a relapse of my cold which I really don't want for the busiest work week of the year?

To end on a positive note, I ended up buying one of the pictures from my tri at the Festival of Sport.  I just love this picture (even if I am clutching at the brakes!).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Weekend catch up

Various things to catch up on on this rainy Sunday afternoon!

First solo bike ride
Yesterday was a swimming day and I planned to fit in a swim whilst I took a family member to hospital.  The NHS obviously runs more to time at the weekend as no sooner than I had my cozzie
on, I got a message to say that he was going in for his procedure, which meant I only had time for a fast km.  I didn't really mind too much.
When I got home though, I felt I should do something else - Mr Tuna was out all day and it was beautiful weather so I decided to take Beryl (my road bike has finally been named for Beryl Burton) out for a spin.  I took a route that I've cycled several times on my old bike that is a nice loop to Woodstock and back.  I've cycled it mostly before because the Woodstock Outdoor Pool is a convenient halfway point!  It's not a great time trial route as there are 4 sets of traffic lights, a busy road and a busy roundabout to cross, but it's pleasant enough and I am going to try to fit it in as an evening loop in these last few weeks before the light gets too bad.
It took me just over 46 minutes which will be the time that I aim to improve on (a short loop that I can do easily should be a good mark of progress), and turned out to be 15k (I thought it  was 20k so was a little disappointed by the time!).

New cycling clothes

My ride yesterday was definitely improved by some new cycling clothes.  I initially bought some bright pink cycling shorts (what was I thinking?  They don't go with any of my other clothes, but they are so bright that I guess they are good for road safety), and then I saw a cycling skirt!  MUCH more flattering and in a sensible shade of black.  At the same time I bought a pink short sleeved flowery jersey to wear with it.  So thanks to Velovixen , a company specialising in rather nice cycling clothes for ladies, for coming up with something nice to wear!  Too bad that we're nearly at the end of the season where a jersey can be worn without a jacket now.

Subscribe by email
Some of you have been reporting that you're not getting email updates when I post, sorry, it seems there's some sort of Google/feedburner issue.  In the meantime, I suggest that you add me to Google Reader (or something similar) or just check back periodically!  Hopefully it'll get resolved...

Training round-up
Not a great week in terms of training, but then I was recovering from the Festival of Sport.
Swimming: 13.5k
Cycling: 15k road bike, 50k commuting
Running: 0

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Back to work and routine

After 18 days out of the office (including weekends) it's back to work today.  Whilst I am dreading a return to my workload, I have to say that a little bit of me relishes the return to routine.  Over the last 4 weeks my usual 20k-a-week swimming routine has been disrupted by endless races and quite a bit of cycling and I can feel that my swimming has suffered a bit.  I'm looking forward to early morning swimming again and preparing myself for my last two swimming races of the season.

My next race is my last attempt at 3.8k this season, doing the VOTWO end of season Long Swim at Dorney Lake.  Obviously I would like to break the hour, having come within 18 seconds of doing so earlier on in the season, but I'm not sure that the recent training will be sufficient.  I'll have to see what I can do with rest and training in the next 10 days. This is on 30th September.  Regardless of my time however, I know I will be proud with whatever result I get; I did my first 3.8k swim here exactly two years ago and my time was nearly 90 minutes, so I know that I have made a huge improvement since then.

On 14th October, which is the latest I've ever swum, I will be heading over to the V Cars Open Water Swim Race which has the odd distance of 2.6k and a brief run between each lap!  I'll be doing this with Tuna Friend Fiona.

Once these two events are out of the way, I will be starting to think about short term plans and goals to take me towards my long term goal of a 70.3 next year (and the ongoing goal of getting sub-1hour for a 3.8k lake swim if I haven't succeeded!).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Festival of Sport: Sprint Triathlon

So the Festival of Sport was supposed to be my debut Olympic distance triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run), but having driven round the bike course I decided to opt for the Sprint tri.  Not that the bike course on this was much easier, but at least there was only 20k of it rather than 40k.  I probably *could* have got round it, but at risk of breaking myself for the two remaining swim races.  Doing the shorter one also gave me the chance to try to race, and it also meant that I had time to get myself sorted out before going out on the run course to cheer Mr Tuna on.

The swim if I'm honest wasn't great.  Partly this was because the women were held back to start 2 minutes after the men, so I had to swim through all of the men, and partly because it was an out and back swim, and there were a lot of weaker swimmers who had decided to have a rest at the buoy and were holding onto the support kayaks, getting in the way.  It definitely wasn't a fast swim, swimming just doesn't agree with me, but I think I was the third woman out of my wave.

The swim was then followed (and I think this was included in the split) by a 400m run along the beach which meant that my heart was pounding by the time that I hit transition.  I'd had to set up on the sand, so I needed to rinse my feet off before I could put my shoes on. 

Because we'd cycled the bike course two days before, I was able to ride it strategically.  There was a very big hill near the start with a steeper mid section.  I decided that I would walk some of the steeper bit, thus enabling myself to get on where it flattened out (but was still uphill).  This seemed to save my legs a little and I felt smug when I then overtook a few people (who had overtaken me) nearer the top.  In fact, that was the only uphill that I needed to walk, and I walked down one sharp downhill.  Like my last tri, my confidence on the road bike increased by the second half and I was positively flying along by the end.  Too bad most of the bikes were back in transition when I got there!

Quick swig of water and then off on the run.  Lots of people were watching and giving encouragement which was nice.  I knew that the run was basically 2.5k uphill and 2.5k downhill (another out and back route).  I didn't know how I'd find that as I've only really run on the flat before.  Running uphill was quite hard and made my back hurt, but I knew there was a feed station at the top so I told myself that if I could keep going until then, I would walk through and drink a whole cup of water.  Managed that and then was able to run down to the end!  I have to say that as with the bike, it really helped knowing the route (it was along the road we were staying on); it is good to know where you are in relation to the finish!  The only sad thing about the experience which felt really good due to the positive experience on the bike was crossing the finish line and not having Mr Tuna there to say well done (although obviously he did later).  I went immediately to sort out my stuff and get back to have a shower so that I could get out to cheer his half marathon on at the  end of his first half ironman.

Unfortunately, they hadn't managed to transfer my entry properly across so I ended up in the Olympic Distance results (with a very fast time - ha!).  I asked for this to be changed, but in the process lost my splits (and still had half an hour on my time because the Olympic Distance started half an hour earlier...).  I'm still waiting on the official splits, but I do know that the bike was 1h03ish and that my run was 24:57 which is a personal best.  I'm super pleased about the run, it obviously suits me running half uphill and half downhill.  This time last year I had only just started Couch to 5k, and my previous PB (from the Ox Tri Sprint a month ago) was 27 minutes.

I think it was a sensible decision overall to change distances - I had a rest day yesterday while we travelled back, and then a much longer (2.5k with lots of drills) recovery swim that I might have managed otherwise.  Am tempted out on my bike but it's raining :-(

Monday, 17 September 2012

Festival of Sport: 3k swim

If I'm honest, this isn't a race that I am really interested in writing up,  but I will do for the sake of completeness.  I'm glad that 3k is a distance I've not ever raced before (and am unlikely to race again) as it means I don't have to beat myself up for it.

We were down at the Festival of Sport at the weekend to take part in two events each (because by doing two you got two free t-shirts - I'm a sucker for a free t-shirt!).  On Saturday morning Mr W set off early for a 100k sportive whilst I cooked him a birthday cake, and at lunchtime I waited anxiously for him to hit the finishing mat so that I could make sure he ate and more importantly so I could get changed and give him my swim bag.

Unfortunately the swim didn't seem very well organised.  The 10k swimmers were supposed to go off half an hour before, and the 1.5k swimmers half an hour later, but the 1.5kers had already been told they'd have to wait til 5pm and the 10kers didn't go off when they were supposed to.  The race got a bit confusing really as I wasn't sure what was happening, but eventually we were wading out along the causeway to St Michael's Mount (which was slowly being covered over).  I was nearish the back of the line and could see some swimmers already in the water when suddenly I heard the countdown and the race was about to start.  I semi-dived into the hip deep water, got my goggles on, and was just about swimming when the race started, but I was quite a few metres behind the pack, not where I like to be at the start.

It then got a bit worse.  The course had changed slightly and was difficult to envisage in reality compred to the diagram I'd seen previously.  Without my glasses, with the swell on the water, the very far apart buoys were almost impossible to spot.  I have to say that I kind of lost interest; I'd lost the time at the start, I kept having to stop and breastroke to work out if the swimmers I was following were going the right way, and I remembered that I *hate* swimming in the sea.  Hate not being able to streamline and hate the salty taste.  So eventually I got back, and I was pretty cross and grumpy, especially at my time of 52:09.  I wasn't expecting a fast time in the sea, but it could have been a lot faster if the race issues had been ironed out.

Fortunately I had a much better experience on the tri (although not with the swimming!) and I'll blog about that soon!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Catching up

Again, I am somewhat belatedly catching up with myself.  I've just had two weeks off work (and still two more working days to come) and I'd planned lots of training and blogging about it but somehow other things got in the way.  Mainly I was very tired after a busy few weeks which meant that when I stopped I didn't have the energy to do the things that I wanted to (like a solid week of training!). 

I still managed a few good sessions in my first week off which was spent at home.  I did an awesome 5k run in the sun one day which made me feel brilliant when I realised that this time last year I hadn't even started Couch to 5k (and then made me feel a little anxious as by this time next year I'll have run a half marathon!).  I also headed over to Richmond outdoor pool (about 80 minutes drive away) to meet up with my Tuna Friend Fiona for a swim.  We met via twitter when we were both doing the inaugural Eton 10k last year and have kept in touch since.  We enjoyed swimming in the sun and doing some drafting/sprinting drills in the virtually empty pool.

Then Mr Tuna and myself were off on our summer holiday in Cornwall.  We've come down to the Festival of Sport in Marazion which is this weekend.  We were excited to visit an area of Cornwall new to us and also have the chance to recce bike/run routes etc.

Unfortunately this didn't quite work out as planned either.  Owing to the hills.  Now Oxfordshire isn't exactly flat, and there were hills on my recent 40 mile sportive, but they weren't anything like these hills.  On our first day we joined in with a 20 mile sportive and it took as long as the recent 40 miles owing to a huge amount of stopping and starting and walking down hills.  On the second day we recced the bike route for our tri's this weekend - one lap for my Olympic Distance and two for Mr Tuna's half ironman.  I was nearly in tears and we were only driving around!  It was constantly up and down and the roads were quite narrow.  After a lot of agonising, I decided that with two swim races to go after this weekend, I didn't want to beat myself up and need a fortnight's recovery from the 40k bike ride and that even though 750m swim make a sprint tri seem a little pointless to me (hardly worth putting the wetsuit on) I would switch to that distance.

On the plus side, the increasing discomfort of my bike as revealed by the hills led to drastic action in the form of a trip to Cornwall Cycles for new handlebars.  The very helpful guy in the shop couldn't believe that there were such wide bars on a woman's bike!  He kindly fitted me with new bars, a short stem and wonderful pink handle bar tape whilst we had a cup of coffee.  I can't say that it really improves my ability to get up the hills but I feel so much more comfortable and natural and it's easier to do hand signals so I may even manage to take a drink sometime soon!

Some good swimming has been done.  On the way down we stopped at Bude Sea Pool and I had a lovely paddle around for an hour.  Mr Tuna found it a bit chilly without his wetsuit which he'd left in the car, and I certainly got brain freeze when I put my single-hatted-head into the water.  But it was a beautiful location, and I managed 5 minutes in without my wetsuit at the end!

We also visited Penzance Leisure Centre which had an unexpectedly nice pool with very well trained lane users who let faster people past without question!  Always a bonus.

Today is the first day of the Festival of Sport.  Mr Tuna set off on his 100k sportive at 9am whilst I remain at the holiday cottage making his birthday cake (which with its sporting theme will no doubt merit a mention on here).  I've got a 3k swim race round St Michael's Mount at 2pm.

Sorry for the long update!  Hopefully tomorrow whilst I'm watching Mr Tuna do his first half ironman after my sprint tri I'll have time to write about today's swim and tomorrow's tri.  Til then!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Belated pictures from Bridge to Bridge

Finally here are some pictures of the Bridge to Bridge Swim which I did two and a half weeks ago.  It gives you a great sense of the journey which is why I'm sharing so many!  There don't seem to be any from the last gruelling stretch, I think the path may have departed from following the river at that point.  I hope you enjoy them!