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!