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"!.