Tuesday, 31 December 2013

End of year statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of 2013 round up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my husband

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 27 December 2013

Four best achievements from 2013

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

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

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

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

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

4. Completing a half ironman.

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

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A month's worth of catching up

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

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

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

Sunday, 10 November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Weekly catch up (two weeks in one go)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weekly catch-up

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Weekly catch up (confused and flat)

As the title say - confused and flat.  In the last 6 days my mood has plummeted, back to how it was at the start of the year.  I was supposed to be racing at Dorney Lake this morning, but my times were so slow earlier in the week that I just couldn't face it.  It also seemed like just too much effort to go over there and hang around waiting for the race to start and then to try and push it hard.  In the end, I waited for my friend Claire to wake up, and then we went over to the lake for (probably) her last swim of the season, and a bit of a pootle for me without a wetsuit.  About 15C but I didn't get the shakes, wearing a neoprene hat definitely helped keep me cosy (even if that's not within the definition of non wetsuit swimming).  I then headed off to the pool to do a 3k set.

Whilst I had anticipated feeling a bit down, and also physically tired, I didn't expect it to be this bad, or to last this long.  It's also difficult to determine what is my illness and what is related to the race.  I sought advice as ever from friends on facebook, and there were some interesting thoughts.  Jothelibrarian wondered if the fact that I wrote the list of things I wanted to do after the half ironman whilst I was still in training explained why I didn't really fancy any of the things on it for now.  And Mandy said that it was "post ironman fallout" and that a mental break was as essential as a physical break.  Not sure I'm any closer to solving the issue but I shall plod on.  I STILL have a lingering sore throat that comes back most afternoons/evenings which I'm sure isn't helping.

Anyway, onto the training, I've managed to swim 19k this week (partly due to being on leave on Monday and Tuesday), which isn't too shabby and probably the biggest swimming week I've managed for a while, obviously hoping to beat that this week coming!  Although my times were realy bad on Thursday, today they had picked up somewhat - still a way from where they should be but not quite so appalling.

(Monday - 3k, Tuesday - 3k, Wednesday - 2.5k, Thursday - 4k, Friday - 2k, Sunday - 1k, 3k)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Chillswim Coniston (DNF)

My first ever DNF...  Chillswim Coniston was the treat I was looking forward to after the half ironman.  A lovely, long distance swimming event, swimming the length of Coniston (5.25 miles or about 8.5k) which I knew that I was more than capable of, and a nice weekend away in the Lake District.

Of course, I had to complicate things.  If you've read this blog over the last few months, you'll know that I've been dabbling in swimming without a wetsuit recently.  I decided that I really wanted to give the swim a go without a wetsuit.  Unfortunately, because of the cold that I've had recently, plus the half ironman, time to accimilitise to the falling temperatures has been a bit limited.  We arrived in Coniston on Friday night and I had a quick swim, about 500m.  It was cold, colder than I'd swum in for a while, and I really didn't know quite what to do.

Mr Tuna and I talked it through.  We both knew that without question that I could swim the 8.5k without a wetsuit.   What we didn't know was if I could swim that distance in 15-16C water without a wetsuit.  So, we made a game plan, which was "to see how far I could get".  Obviously I wanted to get to the end, but I didn't know if it was possible.

It was a beautiful day, and the organisation of the event was excellent, as you would expect from something run by Colin Hill, who also has the Olympic Openwater Swimming events to his credentials.  However, the water was jolly cold for me.  I got in, and it was cold, and it eased off slightly, but by the first mile marker I was cold, and had stopped enjoying it.  I kept trying to sprint a bit to try to warm up, but it didn't make much difference.  Stopped at the 1.5 mile feed station and had a couple of jelly babies which gave me a bit of oomph, but was still really cold.  Kept going, hating every minute of it.  At the 2.5 mile station I asked if I should get out as I was really cold, but they said that I could keep going and that a kayaker would tow me to an exit point if I needed (I couldn't face the embarassment of that!).  I started chatting to a kayaker who realised I was struggling, but just before 3 miles I started shivering.  If there had been less left to swim, I might have persevered, but there was still around 3.5k which would have been over an hour of swimming (and I seemed to be swimming really slowly, around half an hour for each mile).  Mr Tuna had managed to get to a little bay to wave at me, and I knew that he had my warm clothes, so I said to the kayaker that I thought I should get out.  Mr Tuna dressed my shaking body, and we walked to the next feed station where 2 other people (one of whom wearing a wetsuit) had also come out, and were able to get a minibus back to the finish (Mr Tuna was on his bike!).  I shivered for a good half an hour.

I'm still undecided as to whether I made the right decision.  I feel like a big failure now, even though I did what Mr Tuna and I had agreed that I would do.  To only manage 3 miles in 16C water doesn't seem very impressive when my arms weren't tired and I wasn't even mentally or physically tired or drained (or at least, didn't feel like it - I acknowledge that I must be very run down from 20 weeks of training with a house move, a half ironman, and a world championships in the last 22 weeks), I was just hating it because of being so cold!  On the plus side, 3 miles/5 k is much further than I've ever swum in 16C water before, so that is an achievement.

2013 Aquathlon World Championships

On Wednesday, only 10 days after completing my first half ironman, I had the other big event of my year - my chance to go and represent Great Britain in the 25-29 Age Group at the Aquathlon World Championships.  Pretty cool.  This was never my A race, rather I viewed it as an exciting, one-off opportunity, and perhaps a lap of honour.  It couldn't be my A race because of the half ironman, but also because of the format - if it had been a 5k swim and then a 1k run then perhaps I might have done somewhat better at it.  But I felt very privileged to be there representing my country!

We got up at 5am, collected Claire (who took the brilliant photos illustrating this blog) and headed to London.  We'd booked parking near to Hyde Park so only had a short walk to the event site once we arrived, at 7am.  I hadn't been able to register the day before so I had to try to find the team manager who had registered for me - that was the most stressful bit.  We then went off to find some drinks, and Mr Tuna, who had a very bad cold had a waffle with ice cream to ease his sore throat.  It did seem to perk him up a bit.

Here's me setting up transition - unlike a triathlon not that much to do.  We'd been promised boxes to put our wetsuits in (with a penalty if we didn't...) but they never materialised.  Towels weren't allowed so it really was just a case of leaving my shoes, opened and ready to put on, and my sunglasses, and making sure I knew where my slot was.

Then there was a very long period of waiting around until it was time to put the wetsuit on and go.  We sat in the British Triathlon Tent, trying not to get too cold, and meeting up with another athlete from our club, and my oldest friend from school's Mum who was also racing!  It was especially nice to see her, as although she went on to take an impressive 7th in her age-group, she was just as laid back about it as me which was refreshing.  There was then time for a quick photo in front of the list of names in the British team - quite a number!
Then it was time to go and line up - there was 20 minutes of lining up with the 18-34 females for our start wave.  It was pretty chilly at this point and I got jolly cold waiting around, so much so that when we sat down on the pontoon and put our feet in the water, I actually started shivering.
We waited here for about 2 minutes (I had a nice pee into my wetsuit to warm it up), before we were told to get into the water.  There was no chance of any warm up in the water (I'd done a dryland one as part of trying to keep warm whilst waiting), but I did manage to dunk my head under a couple of times - it was very brown and about 15C so I wanted to try to eliminate any panic as it was quite a big mass start.Then
Then we were off.  I tried hard not to panic and reminded myself that always, always, the field spreads out and then there is more room to swim.  In fact, somehow I spent most of the swim swimming on my own, which is a bit weird, as there should have been plenty of good feet for me to hang onto.  But if I'm honest, I just felt sluggish for the first 750m, I was obviously still very tired from the half ironman.  However, by the time we rounded the last buoy, I was getting into the swim, overtaking people, and feeling really disappointed that it wasn't longer.  1k is such a short swim for me - I did get a pretty embarassingly slow time though of 16:49 - not good at all, that should have been at least a minute faster!T
It was then into transition where I disgraced myself further with the slowest transition in my age-group (just over two minutes) - I think I lost time putting socks on and struggling to get my cold feet into my trainers.  And then onto the run.  I have mentioned in the run up to the half ironman, the problems I was having with my hip.  The half ironman did not do anything to improve that, and even though I wanted to, I hadn't been able to run since that event :(  In fact, I couldn't actually run properly, and everyone said I was visibly limping around.  Unfortunately because I was so slow, I got a lot of sympathy cheering, which I didn't enjoy very much.   But I cheered on all of the GB women overtaking me and was especially excited when my pilates teacher overtook me and went on to a 5th place (she was in the wave behind...)
That said, the course was flat and I somehow managed to do 28 minutes for the run, which is ok for me!  Here I am on the last bit.

And then afterwards, with my medal. I thought that only "medallists" would get medals, so I was pretty pleased to get this as a memento of the day.  We went off and met up with my old friend Emily, and her Mum and heard about her race, and then Mr Tuna and I grabbed a quick lunch in Pret before coming home, as he had to work.  Quite an excellent day out, I'm not sure I'll ever get the opportunity to do it again, I was so proud to be in GB kit with my name on!

Weekly Catch Up 15th September

Just a brief weekly catch up this week, as I have two big posts which I also need to write about the races that I did on Wednesday and Saturday.  It's been a busy week.  Now we approach the end of the season with my last swim race on Sunday.  Distance for this race TBC - I'm entered for the shortest distance available, 3.8k, but am tempted to switch to 10k as it's wetsuit compulsory.

So, what did I get up to this week?
Monday: 2.5k swim
Tuesday: 2.5k swim
Wednesday: World Championships Aquathlon (post to follow)
Thursday: 2k swim
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Coniston swim (post to follow)
Sunday: OFF.

What's the plan for this week?
Monday: 3k swim
Tuesday: 3k swim
Wednesday: 2.5k swim, pilates
Thursday: 4k swim
Friday: 2.5k swim
Saturday: OFF
Sunday: Last swim race of the season!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Weekly catch up - one week post race (or where did my mojo go?)

Unsurprisingly, having done a race with a bad cold, the cold would only get worse in the following week.  I am bitterly disappointed that I didn't get to spend the rest of my holiday in the way that I had planned (swimming across Lake Zell, getting a pedalo with a slide out on the Lake, spending time in the hotel spa) - I just couldn't face doing anything wet - which is most unlike me.  Even when we got back (after an epically long road trip..) I still wasn't interested - I went to the pool, but just couldn't get going.  (It didn't help that my sinuses were so filled that every time I did a flip turn I had an excruciating pain in my face - and if you're not flip turning then it's soooo easy to stop at the end).  I've finally managed to get a bit of swimming done but not quite what I hoped.  My hip is still excruciating so no running even though my legs are twitching.

The other odd thing was today.  I went to the lake for a swim as we were having a photoshoot of club members in their GB kit.  We got there early enough for me to swim for over an hour, the photo was at 9 and then we came straight home.  So by 9.30, I was home, having trained.  That felt seriously weird after literally weeks of Sunday bike rides (with the only exception being when I wasn't at home on one weekend to do one).  I did lots of stuff, ate lunch, and I wasn't even tired and needing to go to bed!  Weird.

What did I get up to this week?
Monday - Weds: off, had bad cold
Thursday: 2k swim
Friday: 2.5k swim
Saturday: 3k swim
Sunday: 3.5k swim

Total: 11k swum - 3.5 hours of training

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: 2.5k swim
Tuesday: 2.5k swim
Wednesday: Aquathlon World Championships
Thursday: 2.5k swim
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Chillswim Coniston (8.5k)
Sunday: OFF

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Some of the official pictures from Sunday

In other news I am entirely full up with cold now which has made me pretty grumpy as I haven't been able to do the things I wanted to on the remainder of the trip and I've been feeling pretty awful.  I'm starting to get twitchy from the lack of swimming but just can't bear to get in the water!  Hopefully by the time I am home on Friday I'll be able to head to the pool for a good session :)

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ironman 70.3 Zell am See/Kaprun 2013 Race Report

Since I last blogged, I came down with a bad head and very sore throat on Friday evening.  This was worrying as I felt quite poorly on Friday night.  However, paracetemol dealt with the head, if not the throat, my pulse rate wasn't too high and I didn't have a fever so I was hopeful that things could still go ahead if they didn't deteriorate.  On the advice of various medic friends, the aim of the day was to rest as much as possible to give my immune system the chance to fight back.  I had planned to do the Iron Girl run in the afternoon but that was ditched in favour of rest.  So on the Saturday we just went to the race briefing (which was very informative) and then rested, and then took our bikes over to transition and dropped the transition bags off (a confusing process for a first-timer or maybe that was just because I wasn't feeling tip top).  We rested again before an early dinner in the hotel (who kindly offered to make whatever we wanted for dinner - although our requests did get a bit lost in translation) and then off to bed by 9.30.

Race morning
We were both awake before the 7am alarm, with the usual pre-race dodgy tummies.  The condemned girl managed to eat a hearty breakfast (cheese and rice cakes and peppermint tea - the planned peanut butter was just too nauseating), and we filled our drinks bottles, I filled my bike snack box with biscuits and crisps, and I did a last bit of facebooking.  It was raining hard at one point but had eased off as we walked the mile and a half over to transition at the end of the lake.  Transition closed at 9.30 so we had to get there in time to put drinks etc on bike, and for Mr Tuna to give me a neckwarmer to wear around my sore throat on the bike.  We left transition, and found a quietish spot to sit, until in a moment of crisis I realised I was still wearing my glasses and would need them on the bike!  Although it was after 9.30, transition still seemed to be open, so I ran back in and popped them into my bike bag.  Being blind for the remaining 55 minutes was preferable to spending the rest of the day blind [yes, I know I should try contacts but I just can't bear touching my eyeballs...urggghhh] [in the pre-race plan, I'd expected it to be sunny and I would have had my sunnies in the bike bag and just left my regular glasses behind].  I delayed as long as possible getting into my wetsuit and handing my streetclothes in as it wasn't that warm, but eventually it had to be done.

The race started at 10am with the pros setting off; we had a little bit of time to wait as there was another wave at 10.10 before Mr Tuna set off at 10.20 and I set off at 10.25

The swim
Getting into the cold (ish, it was about 18C, but please remember that I had a horrible sore throat) water was particularly grim, especially as it had started raining again and I knew I wouldn't be dry again until I had finished the race.  The one thing that I can't stand when I have a cold is getting wet, even in a warm bath, so this was particularly unpleasant.  Weirdly, there was only a 5 minute gap between our wave and the previous one so it was a bit of a struggle for everyone to get in on time (I'd wondered about this and had made sure to be near the front of the queue).  Unusually, the swim start area was nice and wide, so it was all spread out nicely for once, especially as some people were still getting into the water and a number of people were holding back.  I managed to get lined up with the first buoy (900m away).  There wasn't much warning, suddenly the cannon went off, and I was wondering "is this it" but everyone had started swimming so it was time to do so!  It was pretty grim immersing my sore throat in the water and my nose started running, but I knew if I could keep going it wouldn't take me long to get around.  Almost immediately, I was catching up with the slower swimmers from the previous wave, and for nearly 600m to the first buoy I had to fight through them.  Round the buoy and towards the next one was more of the same, until I then started to run into some swimmers from the wave before that.  Then towards the last buoy.  In my slightly muggy head-state, I'd forgotten to check where we were getting out, so I lost a little bit of time looking for where to aim for the exit (in the process overtaking 2 swimmers from the very first wave), but I was out, in under 33 minutes.  Not a bad time given that I'd had to swim through a lot of swimmers, but it was slow for me, but then I couldn't have expected to go much faster given that I had never really pushed it hard in the swim as I knew I had a long day out.

Swim: 32:39

Transition 1:
Out of the water and around the corner into transition.  Transition was really very big compared to other races that I've done and it seemed like I had a long way to go each time getting in and out of it.  Struggled to get out of the top of my wetsuit, grabbed my bag, and went to the changing tent.  Found a spot to perch, and tried to get my clothes on and a bit dried out, so that at least I was going to be comfortable (ha!).  Out to the bike - pink tyres make it easy to spot - and deliberately ran past where Mr Tuna's bike was to make sure that he'd got away (he was a bit worried about the swim, and although I knew he'd be fine, I would have waited if his bike hadn't gone).  Across a now fairly muddy field, and then a good 300m of carpet to push the bike along (not fun in cleats) to the mount-line.

Transition 1: 8:44

Secretly, in my head I wondered if I could get under 4 hours for the bike course.  My best ride previously for 56 miles was 4h 6 minutes, but that had been on a much hillier course.  However, it was wet and I was under the weather AND still had a half marathon to do.  I had planned to take some paracetemol at the start of the bike (it being 4 hours since I'd last had any) but I forgot, and decided to push on, having a stop at around halfway or before if I started to feel thirsty.  I suppose the good thing about the rain was that it meant that I didn't get dehydrated.  But with water sloshing around like mini swimming pools in my bike shoes by the third mile all I could think about was my rooky error in not having put another pair of socks in my T2 bag :(  There's not too much to say about the bike course except that I tried to cycle as fast as I could.  With our names and nationalities on our numbers on our backs, I got a few shouts from some other GBR people as they passed me, and I tried to shout also for other GBR people (interestingly it was only the men who really cheered me rather than the women, with the exception of someone who is a friend of a friend of mine from tri-club who recognised).  Of course I did not overtake anyone on the bike, but I thought smugly as people continued to overtake me well into the second lap, that I had had a much faster swim than them (since I had been in the last wave to leave).  I eventually stopped for some food and drink just after the first lap was done, about 29 miles in.   I was sure that I would fancy something savoury so had packed crisps, but unusually for me I didn't, but luckily I had my Sainsburys Free-from shortbread (very low fibre too!) so I had three of those and a good swig of orange squash (none of those gross gel things for me). (There were feed stations but as they were positioned on hills they were too awkward to stop at)  This was the only point at which I felt cold but I had to keep on going.  I wouldn't have minded stopping again, but I did want to get around in a decent time and I wasn't too keen on getting cold again so I just kept going.  With 9 miles to go, I went past the run course (I was up high, so I couldn't see the runners) and Mr Tuna spotted me and yelled at me.  I was able to tell him that there were 9 miles to go!  The nearer the finish got, the more relieved I was that I had not had a puncture or a mechanical fault as I had seen a few people stopped because of that sort of thing.  I was looking forward to getting back, not least because the course had been full of spectators on the first lap cheering people on, but they had rather disappeared by the second lap.  Finally, I was turning off back towards transition, it was about 2k from the main bike loop back and seemed to take forever!  But eventually I made it!

Bike: 3:48:52 - I actually averaged 14.6mph - my previous "solo" best was 13.9, and my previous group best 14.5!

Transition 2
I got off the bike and was faced with having to walk in my cleats back to my rack - another 300 m or so.  I wondered if I should start running, but behind me was another GBR athlete, Jamie, who said "Don't run Verity, we've still got a half marathon to go", so we had a bit of a chat as we pushed our bikes along - it was his first half as well.  We also worked out that we had enough time to walk the half marathon if necessary!  I racked my bike and grabbed my remaining shortbread and drink, and headed off to pick up my bag - easy to find as not many left.  I decided on an entire change so dived into the women's section of the tent and stripped off my wet shorts and soaked top and replaced with my Mind running vest and my favourite skorts.  A nice 11 year old Austrian girl put my stuff back into my bag whilst I struggled with my shoes and shoved the shortbread in, and gulped a bit more squash down.  And then I was off and running out of transition (another 200m or so)

Transition 2: 9:12

So, out on the run I went, no idea at all how I'd fare.  After I'd managed to conquer my fears about getting around a 56 mile bike ride in training, my thoughts had turned to how I'd manage to run after that.  I just thought I'd see how it went and be prepared to walk some of it.  Unfortunately my back was hurting from the run (usually I go for a nice lie down) and it wasn't too many km before the hip problem that I've been struggling with joined in.  The run was a 3 and a bit loops thing, with 4 loops through the town (where you picked up a wrist band each time you went through, except the last time when you turned left and went down the finish line), this was a bit undulating as the town is sort of built on a slope, and then 3 loops out towards the top of the lake and back.  There was a feed station at the top of the lake that you went past twice in the space of about 500m, and then one in town which you went past twice, which was nice, as there weren't any points when I felt I was desperate for one.  I suppose that the cool and slightly damp conditions did really help at this point, my run would have been a lot slower if I had been hot as well!

Throughout the run I just kept bargaining with myself.  Run to 5k (with walks through the feedstations) and then maybe have a walk, then at 5k, let's try to make it to 7 as that's 1/3 of the way around, then to 10k, because that would be a respectable distance to have run to, then to 11k because that's more than half way round, then to 14k because that's 2/3 of the way, then just after 15k I saw Mr Tuna who had finished which really perked me up!  Each time that I went over the timing mat, I remembered that loads of people at home were watching the splits and I hoped that they were working ok, it really helped me!  I got to 16k, ran a little bit further and then started walking.  My friend Monika had sponsored the 16th kilometre for me as she says that she always finds that one the hardest, so I gave myself permission to walk, and actually enjoyed seeing the mountains and not hurting.  I had 4 jelly babies and wished my training friends were there with bananas and flapjack!  After that it was pretty much run/walk all of the way back, although I was managing 9 minutes for a km walking, so it wasn't really too slow.  When I got back to town for the final time, Mr Tuna walked a little bit with me and then headed to the finish line.  Unfortunately now most of the crowds had dispersed but I started hi-fiving a few people as I got nearer to the finish.  Final tiny uphill and then left down to the finish line!  Amazing!  I had such a big smile on my face as I got through the finish arch.

Run: 2:14:02 - about 18 minutes slower than my standalone half marathon time.  Interestingly, Mr Tuna's was about the same amount slower.

TOTAL TIME: 6:53:29

The finish
I sat down at the finish line and was wrapped in a space blanket.  Unfortunately, the volunteers had started to lose interest at this point as I nearly didn't get a medal!  And there was no obvious explanation of where to go to get a drink/my t-shirt/pick my bag up - but luckily Mr Tuna had done it an hour and a half before (5:42:41 on very little training - insane!!) - and we did these things before I sat down outside the expo and started sending a few text messages to let everyone know that I had survived.  Which everyone knew already, as there was a huge party going on on facebook and twitter!!  Mr Tuna then went to retrieve the bikes (another 3 mile round trip to the bottom of the lake) and I went home to shower.  Or rather, check facebook!

Wow - whilst I was out on the course, the lovely Liz had followed the tracker and posted updates, and it seemed that a fair few people had had quite a tense afternoon watching me go around.  I was overwhelmed by it all!

When Mr Tuna got back, we eventually went for dinner, where I disgraced myself by crying a lot into my dinner.  Ooops.  We then lay on the bed, too tired to do anything at all, and eventually put the light out at 9.30.  My sore throat returned and it was a very very long night.

Today we're off for some sports massages shortly, and then I hope to head up the mountain (NB we intend to drive to the bottom of the cable car...)!  I haven't really made it out of bed yet, so I'm not quite sure how sore I am, but I suspect pretty sore.  Hopefully the massages will help a bit!

Thank yous
This has been such a very big challenge for me - 237 hours of training over 5 months, and a big commitment financially, emotionally, and in terms of time.  I think it has been worth it - to raise money for Mind, and to give myself a distraction from the depression-demons.
I have had a lot of support along the way for which I am very grateful and so I want to say a few thank you's now (in no particular order!!) - I really hope that I haven't left anyone out - I may well be editing this as I remember other people who have been so kind!

Mr Tuna - an obvious one perhaps, but as ever I could not have done my latest challenge without the support of my husband.  Which this time meant helping me to learn to ride a road bike and putting up with the most immense tantrums and tears as I struggled to do it.  Seeing you on the run course at 15k and your pleasure that I was on the last lap really cheered me up.
Liz and everyone on facebook/twitter yesterday - thanks to Liz for keeping everyone updated and leading the facebook cheer-squad and for everyone who cheered.  I thought of you all watching the tracker everytime I went over a timing mat!
Martin - for the two excellent tridynamic swim camps that I attended where I met triathletes, and quite possibly picked up the inspiration for doing this event.  But also for the fantastic support along the way, reminding me that cycling was more important than swimming, even if I didn't listen to you as much as maybe I should have done :)
Dan - for last minute swimming/wetsuit advice, but also for getting my swimming into such good shape last year that I started to contemplate doing other things!  I'll be back to just swimming very soon
Mandy - for encouragement on twitter and for loaning me a saddle which didn't hurt my bum so much - that made such a difference!
Vicky and Tarsh - for being such inspiring fellow triathlete friends in entirely different ways.  My journey is only small compared to your own ones but I gain so much inspiration from following what you are both up to.
Oxford-Triathlon "beginners" cyclists and anyone who has had to put up with waiting for me on one of those rides over the last 10 months.  I really appreciate the advice and encouragement given and that no-one laughed at me when I shared my goal.  I can't say I ever really enjoyed any of the rides, but they definitely helped me get around yesterday!
Claire and Monika - the two best training friends and encouragers that a wannabe-half-iron-lady could hope for.  It's still probably a no if you offer me a banana, but it would have been yes, yesterday, the one time when you don't offer me one!!  The humour and fun that we've had this season on bike rides and going to the lake and unpacking my house-move have made it all a lot easier and more entertaining.  I didn't know either of you when I entered the race a year ago, but so glad to have got some new friends along the way.
A shout out to other twitter and facebook friends who have been especially encouraging - "liking" my training related posts and responding to despondent tweets - there are far too many of you to mention by name as if I did, I'd be sure to forget someone!
 Everyone who has sponsored me - at the time of writing this post this is 67 of you!  I hope that the donations will continue to roll in as I'm just over £300 short of the target.  Link is:  www.virginmoneygiving.com/verityjdo  Mind is a charity very close to my heart, and I am extremely proud to be raising money for them for the 5th year running.

Everyone else - for understanding that I have not had so much time on weekends this year due to the dreaded long bike rides, and that I have often been tired from training.  This understanding has been hugely appreciated!

PS: Photos to follow - I really hope there'll be some official ones!!

Friday, 30 August 2013

Two days to go!

We made it to Austria fairly easily, although unusually I found it very difficult to get comfortable in the car to sleep.  We stopped over in Heidelberg on Tuesday night and had dinner with one of Mr Tuna's friends at an amazing vegetarian organic cafe, where everything was marked to show whether or not it contained gluten.

On Wednesday we proceeded to Austria and Zell am See.  The plan was to keep going until we got to Zell and then have a swim in the lake (Tuesday had been a rest day), but as we came through Ellmau, I remembered my favourite pool EVER!  The Kaiserbad!   The day was overcast and it was only about 18C so we were met with incredulity when we asked if the outdoor pool was open, but it was.  There is a very warm indoor pool, where you can swim through to an outdoor lazy river, and then you can hop out, down a slide into the lido.  The lido was pretty chilly, fine for me acclimitised, but a bit cool for Mr Tuna.  We had it to ourselves, so I swam a km (approx) before we went back into to ride on the flumes.  When we had warmed up a bit, we went back outside to the Bio-Pond for a bit of lake swimming, before some more flume rides.  It was absolutely AMAZING!

Yesterday, we took the bikes out for a brief spin - Mr Tuna's is sounding a bit wonky so hopefully we can get that fixed.  Cycling through Zell am See on the wrong side of the road surrounded by Austrian traffic was frankly terrifying.  It's been a while since I cried on the bike, but I did yesterday.  My knees were knocking when I got off.  On the plus side, the roads will at least be closed for the race on Sunday.  I had to go for a swim to calm down, but apparently the weather was too bad for the lakeside bathing place to be open.  I did what every self respecting swimmer in need of a swim does, and just hopped in off a jetty designed for motorboats.  Didn't swim for long but rather enjoyed it - the water was about 19C and perfectly pleasant.  After a shower, we drove as much of the bike course as we could (nearly all of it) - it's two loops, so about 28 miles each - and it seemed a very long way.  However, compared to the rides I've been doing in the UK, it seemed pretty flat.  There's only one hill, and a couple of long inclines and a few shorter ones.  Nothing like around the Cotswolds!

We then had a lovely afternoon/evening in Salzburg.  If I'm honest that was a bit too much after the morning exertions but it was lovely to walk through the Mirabell Gardens and go to see the Marionette Theatre production of the Sound of Music!  We also had a nice dinner before driving back to Zell.

This morning we were up early to go and see the swim course - the buoys were out already.  It was very casually arranged to my surprise, no safety cover, so I had to swim round with Mr Tuna.  The Austrians were all complaining about the water temperature (19C); I tried not to overheat in my wetsuit and told someone that we were swimming in 11C at the start of the season in England! I have decided on the advice of Dan Bullock to wear my wetsuit, because it will make me a bit faster.  Also, if there is a lot of hanging around at the start (and the weather forecast isn't that great...) then it will keep me warm.  It was so beautiful!

Mr Tuna has now gone off to cycle a bit of the bike course, I'm resting in bed but actually starting to feel pretty twitchy.  This afternoon we will go to the Expo, and to register, and then chill out in the hotel spa.  Tomorrow is the race briefing, I have the Irongirl race, and then we need to rack our bikes and drop off our transition bags.

In other news, it's been a while since I've mentioned my sponsorship page on here - I've now raised £1457 for Mind, which is nearly 3/4 of my target!  The address of the fundraising page is www.virginmoneygiving.com/verityjdo

Monday, 26 August 2013

Race resume

I saw an excellent post by Running for People who don't back at the end of April, which I saved up for now to copy.  It's a race resume to "total up your experience and keep you calm and focused when you panic that you have not done enough"

I've felt pretty tired again today, but after a tea-drinking session with one of my tri-friends, and as we start to pack up the car, I'm starting to feel jolly excited.  I've yet to have the taper-twitchies that I've heard about - I kind of hope they will arrive as then I definitely know I'll be ready for my race. So here's my go.

Finish my half ironman within the cut-offs, with a smile on my face, and having raised lots of money for Mind.

Beginner cycle rides with tri club
Tridynamic/Swim for Tri Swim Faster Training Camp (Feb 2013)
Lots of reading of 220 Triathlon/Triathlon Plus/blogs/books about triathlon especially blogs from other age-groupers which has given me an insight into what to expect.

Achievements (2013)
Cycled from London to Islip (April 2013)
First half marathon in under 2 hours (February 2013)
Top 3 female finishes in ALL my swim races this season (3 x 3.8k, 2 x 1500m)
2 Sprint Tris (April 2013, June 2013)
Olympic distance tri (July 2013)
Qualified for the Aquathlon world championships
236 hours of training since April 1st.

Personal attributes
Commitment/bloody mindedness/perseverence and discipline - I have missed very few of my scheduled training sessions despite having chronic depression throughout the past year

I really really really want to achieve this
It is the hardest thing I have ever attempted and therefore will be the biggest thing that I've achieved to date.
A lot of people have given me an incredible amount of support and believed in me
Zell am See is beautiful, and if it gets tough I could think back to getting married there and the boat trip we took on the lake on our wedding day 
I'm doing this in aid of Mind, the mental health charity, an excellent charity which support people with mental health problems and do a lot to promote mental health in the UK - without them I would certainly not have the courage to talk about my own mental health struggles (quick plug for the fundraising link here)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

20 weeks of training - some totals.

Since April 1st, I have:

Cycled: 1448km  (899 miles)

Run:  254km (157 miles)

Swum: 355.5km (220 miles)

I've put in 235 hours of training.

Big Dog Swim

On Thursday night I went over to Reading to take part in the Big Dog Swim.  Less than a week after moving house I really wasn't race-ready, but the two ladies who helped with our house move wanted to go, and so we were able to repay their kind help with a lift over. 

I decided to swim non-wetsuit - it was 21C for goodness sake!  However, I was almost the only one, with everyone else neoprened up.  So it was quite easy to be first non wetsuit person home.  I was slow, very slow, around 1h 9 for my 3.8k, of which I reckon I lost 4 minutes by not wearing a wetsuit and 4 minutes by being very tired (on Saturday my 100m reps in the pool were about 4 seconds off - if you add that up, it would be around 4 minutes).  Still, it was good enough to come home in around 10th and 3rd woman, maintaining my run of podium swim race finishes this season :)

I really enjoyed the swim.  The Tri2Open lake is beautiful and virtually weed free.  Despite a greyish day, the sun came out as we were waiting to go in, and we got to watch it set during the hour or so of the swim.  I felt like I was swimming strongly and well - the picture below shows an excellent body position.  There was a bit of bashing around the first couple of buoys but then it spread out, and I had a good race with another guy who was virtually my speed.  He led for nearly 2 laps (but I couldn't draft from him as he was not swimming very straight), and then as the faster 1500m swimmers who had started just after us came through at the end of the second lap, I managed to get on one of their feet for 20m or so, which put me in the lead by about 5 metres which I managed to hang onto until the end.  Great fun!

Yes - I look pretty tired, but it's more from the post-house-move exhaustion than anything else.  I was really surprised by how little this swim hurt me compared to how much they hurt me in the previous season so that is good!

Weekly catch up - D-day minus 1 week

This time next week I'll be just getting near to the end of the bike course (I hope!).  I can't believe it's come around.  I need to do another post with some pre-race thoughts, so for now this is a catch up on my last week.  As I said earlier in the week, it wasn't ideal.  I was exhausted from moving house and everything was just slow, but I did manage to complete all the workouts planned.  I was hoping to start feeling twitchy, but it hasn't really happened, I'm even doubting my ability to get around and meet the cut offs!  I'll be interested to know if the post-house move exhaustion wears off in the following week and if I do start to feel twitchy.  Otherwise, I just have to know that I have done a huge amount of base training, and hopefully this will get me around (statistics to follow!)

What did I get up to this week?
Monday: 2.5k swim am, 1.5k swim pm
Tuesday: 8k run
Wednesday: 2k swim, pilates (although I was really too tired for the pilates and spent much of the class just lying there...)
Thursday: 3.8k swim race (report to follow!)
Friday: off
Saturday: 2k swim (including 8 x 100m sprints)
Sunday: 44.5 mile bike ride

Swim: 12k
Run: 8k
Bike: 71k

Total: 8.5 hours of training

What's the plan for this week?
Monday: 2k swim, 5k run
Tuesday: OFF (travelling)
Wednesday: half hour swim in Lake Zell
Thursday: 13 mile bike ride round Lake Zell/race course recce
Friday: swim course recce (half hour)
Saturday: Irongirl run (4.2km, run very very slowly, I will be cross with myself if I am faster than half an hour!)
Sunday: Ironman 70.3 Zell am See...

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Not the kind of taper that I really planned

The overwhelming thing at the moment is exhaustion.  House move exhaustion predominantly, but perhaps there is a little of the yuckiness that I usually get on a rest day.  I want to be focussing on the race and planning for that, but there is so much admin to sort out with regards to the new house, finishing off at work, and making sure that I have everything I need for our trip that the mental stuff is being pushed to one side... It's not ideal, but I have to go with it.

I've at least managed to complete my workouts so far this week, and think am on track with that.  I'm really looking forward to resting whilst we travel to Austria on Tuesday but just wish there was a bit more time for everything.  Memo - don't move house 2 weeks before your big goal of the year.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Weekly catch up - 2 weeks to go

Eeek - two weeks to go!  Right now I should be exhausted from my final hard training week.  I'm not.  I'm exhausted, but exhausted from moving house.  This wasn't quite where I wanted to be at this point but I didn't have any other option.  It's frustrating because after last weekend's excellent cycle ride, my workouts until Friday were pretty damn good.  My body was twitching to start the 70.3!  Yesterday was a rest day so that I could hit the unpacking, I worked from 7am to 5pm with 20 minutes for lunch and about 8 people hours of help from two wonderful friends from my tri club.  The house is in reasonable shape and the majority of my stuff is actually unpacked now (apart from the last 7 boxes of books and my magazines which have inexplicably gone missing); Mr Tuna hasn't really done his yet as he's been doing other useful tasks like mowing the lawn/putting up curtain rails/etc, but his stuff is mainly confined to one room that's not too much of a problem.  I was anticipating doing a 44 mile ride today (should have been 56 but was prepared to compromise).  But I just couldn't get out of bed.  I eventually forced myself to go out, and was going well, until I got lost, and realised that I was about 15 miles from home, back into a headwind, and didn't really think I could manage that, so a lift home was summoned!  A mere 21.5 miles completed :-/  So this week I've ended up down 22 miles on the bike, a pilates workout and a 4km swim, not great, that's about 4 hours of missed training and I've only hit 8 hours for this week.  But it could have been worse I suppose!  Because I didn't manage to get up for the pool on Thursday, I did get in 29 miles on the bike as opposed to the 12.5 that I would have done if I'd gone to the pool...

My bike has now gone off to be given a service, I should get it back on Friday.  I do have plans for this week, which is taper week 1, but having been in bed all afternoon I'm seriously questioning how much I am going to get done.  It's really difficult not having done a half ironman before knowing how to take it so that I can get around :-/  I really hope that the sessions in the bag to date over the last 18 weeks are enough.  I suppose I just have to go with the planned 80% week as I don't want to overload my body before the race.  The thing that I find difficult is that the training plans and schedules you see online don't really allow for life events, they don't even seem to allow for you to get sick with a 24 hour bug or a minor cold.  I suppose it's the triathlete's equivalent of photoshopping models but it doesn't help when you overthink things.

What did I get up to this week?
Monday: am 3k pool swim, pm 2k pool swim (inc 30 mins 5 seconds for my 1.9k)
Tuesday: am 10k run, pm osteopath (still having problems with my hip)
Wednesday: am 2.5k pool swim (missed pilates)
Thursday: 29 mile bike ride (missed 4k pool swim)
Friday: 3k pool swim (this was an excellent swim, I was on fire!)
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 21.5 mile bike ride.

= 8 hours

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: am 2.5k pool swim, pm 2k pool swim
Tuesday: am 8-10k run, pm osteopath
Wednesday: am 2-2.5k pool swim, pm pilates
Thursday: pm: 3.8k (or 1.5k if I'm shattered) swim race
Friday: OFF/collect bike
Saturday: 3k pool swim (or 2.5k if tired)
Sunday: 44 mile bike ride.

= around 9 hours of training.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Weekly catch up THREE WEEKS TO GO

Three weeks, how is that possible?!  I am almost embarking on taper - it's a week earlier than I really should, but I am moving house and that puts a spanner in the works!

Several things to talk about today.

1. Moving house.  Stressful at the best of times, but when you've been messed around by bank, surveyors and your removal men, you end up feeling pretty wrecked.  Hopefully it will all go through now, and I just have to go through with it (as the monkey said, when his tail was caught in the mangle).
How am I going to make training work around this?  By being realistic.  I will get in what I can, and that will have to do.  I am likely to try to train on Friday morning if I can, so that I can take Saturday as my rest day and use it as unpacking.  Whilst I'd ideally have liked to have got in a final 56 mile + bike ride next Sunday, I am sure that 45 miles or so will suffice.  I've sorted out the kit that I need to take to Austria into a plastic trug, and will be putting that into my car, along with various other things that I really don't want to go missing (library books, reading material for Austria, precious china, and file of documentation), and I'll be able to operate out of that for my training requirements for my remaining workouts.

2. Injuries.  I've managed to make it this far without anything major, and that's still pretty much the case.  The shoulder has niggled and still niggles, but there was a bit of a panic this week as I thought I had injured my ITB.  A common, yet scary, injury.  Fortunately, a quick trip to the osteopath revealed that it was actually a small muscle that helps hold my glutes together.  Unfortunately, one trip hasn't entirely sorted it out, so I'll be back on Tuesday for another session, and she'll give my shoulder some treatment then too.

3. Did my final 56 mile bike ride today (see above), went out with Mr Tuna for some hills.  There was a lot of headwind, I had a headache, and it was definitely HARD and HURTY, but I averaged 13.9mph which is a PB for that distance without drafting (Mr Tuna got shouted at when he tried to drop in front of me to take off some of the wind at one point), and 56 miles were completed in 4h 4 minutes (just over 4h of "moving  time").  I wonder, I just wonder, if I could slip in under 4h on the race day.  Possibly not without entirely wrecking my body for the run.

4. What still has to be done before I go away?  Apart from move house obviously.  And get through what maybe a fairly stressful fortnight at work. I need to buy a hat or a visor to wear on the run (to keep the sun off my head if it's nice, and the rain out of my eyes if it isn't).  I need to take the bike in to be serviced.  I need to get a sports massage in the final week.  I need to buy a few more bits of food to make sure I've got enough verityfriendly food to last an 11 day trip into Europe.  I need to complete my final workouts.  Less triathlon related, I need to get my hair cut and pack.  Not sure how many of those things will get done in the coming week but hopefully some progress can be made in the one after...

So, finally:

What did I get up to this week?
Monday: 3k technique pool swim am, 1.9k time trial (exactly 30 minutes) in the pool pm, plus 100m warmdown.
Tuesday: 10k run am
Wednesday: 3.75k pool swim am, osteopath pm, 1h pilates class pm
Thursday: 3.75k pool swim am, 20k bike am
Friday: off
Saturday: 3k pool swim (was supposed to do a swim race, but having been off sick from work on Friday I just wasn't well enough to get up early and drive)
Sunday: 92k bike

What's the plan for this week? 
Monday: am pool swim, pm pool swim
Tuesday: am run, pm osteopath
Wednesday: am swim, pm short bike, pm pilates [afternoon off hopefully today instead of morning off on Thursday due to removal men coming to pack on Thursday...]
Thursday: am swim
Friday: am swim
Saturday: OFF
Sunday: 60k bike.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

And when it's over...

Even with 4 weeks to go, in fact probably back as far as 10 weeks to go, my mind has been straying to life after the half ironman.  Post race blues are a common phenomenon and it seems likely that I could be affected - the usual advice is to make sure that you have other things to look forward to.  To be honest, I feel like not having the training to do will be enough to look forward to as that will open up a bit more time and energy, but I do have a couple of other things planned.

Here's some specific things I am looking forward to after the half-ironman:
Aquathlon World Championships!
Swimming the length of Coniston (8.5k)
Oxford Half Marathon
Final 3.8k swim race of the season (22nd September)

Here's the more general things I'm looking forward to:
No more long weekend bike rides unless I suddenly get the urge
More time in the swimming pool
More swimming races in 2014 than there was time for in 2013!
Trying out mindfulness to see if that will help with my depression/anxiety - have booked Mr Tuna and myself on a taster day in early October
Trying out a zumba class
Sorting things out in my new home
Starting to make plans for my next big challenge.

Weekly catch-up FOUR WEEKS TO GO

Yes, just 28 days now remain between me and my first half ironman.  And, we'll be moving house as well within that time frame.  Only 15 more working days until my fortnight off, but they look like they will be busy and stressful.  It's so close, but there's still a long way to go. 

Not just metaphorically, but also in training distances...I calculated this week (to Thursday, the start of August) that since starting proper training in April, I had cycled 1164km (1033 miles), run 226km (140 miles), and swum 310km (192 miles).  And those distances will continue to increase.  One of my friends is sponsoring me 1p for every km (she's European...) so there is a big incentive to get them in!

What did I get up to this week?
Monday: am 3k pool swim, pm 2k pool swim (did a 1.9k time trial, except I forgot to look at my watch, doh!)
Tuesday: am 10k run
Wednesday: am 2.5k swim
Thursday: am 4.5k swim, 12.5 mile bike
Friday: off - went to the Peak District for our anniversary
Saturday: 3k swim (came back early from the Peak District to get some training in)
Sunday: 91k bike ride

Not quite as much training as I should have done, there should have been a pilates class, but I was just too wobbly, and there should have been some stretching, and another 5k run.  But, one of the things I've learnt about being depressed is that I just have to be realistic.

What's the plan for this week?
Monday: am pool swim, pm pool swim (just being realistic about things this week so I get home a bit earlier)
Tuesday: am 11k run
Wednesday: am swim, pm stretching
Thursday: am swim, am bike ride
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 1.5k swim race, 1.5k recovery swim
Sunday: 56 mile bike ride.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Planning for the last week before the race

The schedule for the race weekend is now online, and I’ve been working out in my head how .  It might seem a bit premature to mention it now, but I’m one of those people who likes to have things worked out, and, by committing them to paper, it means I can worry about them less because I’m not trying to hold all of the details in my head. 

I am intending to taper two weeks out from the race, my last big (56+ miles) bike ride will take place exactly 2 weeks before the race, and after that I’ll begin to cut down.  The general rule from what I’ve read seems to be cut down to 80% 2 weeks out, and then 50% (or even lighter) the last week, with a focus on race pace efforts (I’m not sure how appropriate that is given that I’m just trying to get round, but the emphasis seems to be on making sure the muscles are firing well).

Here’s what my last week will look like, both in terms of training efforts and other commitments.

Sunday 25th August
Am: Last longish bike ride, but taper distance – 40 miles [total 3 hours of training]
Pm: Rest

Monday 26th August:
Am: 5k run, 2k swim [total 1 hour of training]
Pm: Pack car

Tuesday 27th August:
All day: Travelling, no training

Wednesday 28th August
All day:  travelling
Shake out swim at lake when arrive [30 minutes recovery training]

Thursday 29th August:
Am 1: 13 mile bike ride around lake [1 hour of training]
Am 2:  car-recce of the bike course (both am)
Pm trip to Salzburg for the theatre and dinner out.

Friday 30th August:
Am: Official swim training session 8am-10am (25 minutes walk away from hotel at Schuttdorf) – swim round course loop – [30 minutes]
Pm: 2pm race registration opens (10 minutes walk from hotel at the Ferry Porsche Congress Centre).
After race registration, go on boat trip, and then relax in the spa at hotel.  Check bikes?

Saturday 31st August:
[Am: Official swim training 8-10am – I will give this a miss but Mr Tuna may wish to go]
Am: 10-11am Race Briefing (10 minutes walk from hotel at Ferry Porsche Congress Centre).  After race briefing register for Irongirl run.
12pm: Pack bags for transition and check bikes over.
3pm: Irongirl race (I’ve entered this as it’s only 4.2km, cost only 12E and you get a t-shirt.  I will not be running, just doing a little trot…
4pm: Mr Tuna to look after bikes and transition bags during Irongirl so that once finished, can cycle down to transition and check in.
5.30pm: Back at hotel, rest before early (6.30pm?) dinner.

Sunday 1st September:
10:10am – Mr Tuna’s wave starts
10.15am – My wave starts
18:15pm – my anticipated finish?