Tuesday, 30 April 2013

First UK openwater swim of the season

Last night was my first opportunity to hit the UK openwater this season.  Along with all of the other triathletes, I’ve been waiting impatiently for the lakes to warm up, which has been a lot slower this year.  There seems to be quite a disparity in the temperatures of lakes around the country.

This year I wanted to investigate the lake next door to the lake that my tri club uses, partly because I can’t easily make the tri club sessions (Thurs night clashes with a late night work shift, and Sat am, at 8 o clock?  No way…), and partly because I don’t like that lake very much.  I needed to get into the openwater this week ahead of my first openwater race of the season on Sunday (an Aquathlon), but I had also promised to take along Cycling Claire (I need to give her a better name as she swims and runs just as much as she cycles) to get her ready for her first proper tri at the end of June.  I’ve suggested that it might be a good idea to do a standalone openwater swim race first to build her confidence up a bit without having to worry about the bike and run, and as we’ve identified one at the end of May, we needed to get going.

It was an absolutely beautiful evening, and putting my feet in the water it didn’t feel cold at all.  I’d been told that the lake was between 12C and 14C but in my opinion it was definitely nearer 14C than 12.  It had been fairly sunny all evening so obviously had a bit of a chance to warm up.  It was pretty busy, and there must have been around 20-30 people in the water (maybe more, I didn’t have my glasses on) and a nice lady signed us in.  Claire was a little bit nervous so we stayed fairly near the edge and practiced swimming and sighting between the shore and the first buoy, with a little bit of breastroke to begin with.  I am very lucky to have always felt confident in the water (as long as it’s not a swimming pool with huge drains) so I hope I was able to pass a little bit of that confidence on.  Claire asked to do another trip out to the buoy when I suggested getting out, so I think that is a fairly good sign, and we've planned our next trip to the lake.

What I took from the session was that the water is not that cold and I will be absolutely fine for my race on Sunday as long as I am nice and warm to begin with.  And I’ll be fine hanging around for the deep water start, but if I can keep moving, that will help.  And I took away an excitement for the coming season of openwater swim racing (amid a little bit of sadness that I only have 3 standalone openwater swim races in my calendar L)

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Weekly catch up - 18 weeks to go

Last week's catch up post was full of optimism and excitement after a good training week.  This week, it's hard to feel that.  I've been absolutely shattered for most of it and quality sessions just haven't happened.  It's difficult to know where to draw the line and maybe take more than one rest day.  After yesterday's rest day, I still found myself struggling on the bike today, came home and cried for an hour and then slept for two.  But, it's important not to let the tiredness cloud two good things that I've achieved this week.  Firstly, the excellent PB on the swimathon.  And secondly, learning to use clipless pedals.  Yes, after yesterday's experiment, I managed to last the 41 miles of the group ride in them without falling off, and only a minimal amount of faffing trying to get my right foot clipped in.  So that's a win.

So what did I get up to?
Monday: 2.5k swim
Tuesday: 2.5k swim
Wednesday: 8k run (ditched the swim I had planned as shoulder was a little sore and wanted to rest before my longer swim Thursday and swimathon Friday, and also I'd not managed to get a run in after work).   Pilates in the pm.  Was so tired that I did the bare minimum of exercises.
Thursday: 4k swim (2k drills, 2k continous).  30 minutes on the turbo trainer practising clipping in and out
Friday: 5k swimathon
Saturday: half hour spent practising clipping in and out on bike, not on turbo
Sunday: 41 mile bike ride *using clipless pedals*.  Not the best of rides.  Both myself and Cycling Claire were pretty tired (CC had done the Swimathon 5k on Saturday).  There was quite a large group and everyone else was in a faster frame of mind, so eventually we split off into two groups, "the fast and furious group" : "that's not us?" said Claire "did you need to ask?" I said.  Our route was a little shorter than the other group and once the wind was behind us we got up to quite a pace.  Once we were back to where we knew, the coach with us went back to find the other group.  We cycled on half a mile and then I begged for a little rest.  I had some water and a little stretch and Claire finished her banana.  To our mortification, the rest of the group then came past.  We averaged 12.7mph which isn't bad as the route started and ended through town with a lot of stop starting.
Total of 10.5 hours training for the week.  Not bad, but not as good as last week.

Plans for this week
Monday: am 2.5k swim; pm first openwater dip of 2013 (I'm discounting the OW I did in Tenerife in February).  I doubt we'll be in long but it's my only chance to practice before the race on Sunday.
Tuesday: am 4k swim [on a course, so should get a bit longer in the water!].  Hoping to get an osteopath appointment in the pm.
Wednesday: am run, pm pilates
Thursday: am 4.5k swim, run or turbo
Friday: am 2.5k swim (may be ditched for rest)
Saturday: 30 mile bike (may be ditched for rest if Fri am swim happened)
Sunday: Bedford Aquathlon (750m swim, 5k run) [oh how I wish that it was the other way around, 5k swim, 750m run would be so much more fun].

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Rest day/clip in pedals

This week has been a bit of a struggle after my awesome week of training that preceded it; more about that tomorrow in the weekly wrap up post.  Thus, I promised myself that if I went sub 1:25 for the Swimathon, I would take a whole rest day today.  Much as I love the sense of achievement that comes from getting training in, there is definitely also a time to listen to the body, and let it have a rest, ready to get some more training in. 

I woke up feeling unrefreshed and achy.  Lay in bed until 11am, when I got up and did some errands.   I then decided to give the clip in pedals a go - this wasn't real training, more a bit of skills practice and to let myself get a bit of sunshine whilst it was out.  I'd spent half an hour practising on the turbo on Thursday am and felt fairly confident, but knew it would be much harder.  Mr Tuna took me out onto our very small and badly surfaced drive and I had a go.  It WAS hard.  There were tears, but no tantrums (perhaps surprisingly, given how tired I was), but eventually I felt confident enough to head off around the block and practice stopping and clipping in and out.  No accidents, but did find it hard sometimes to get the second foot in.

Consequently, I've decided that it's a bit too risky to go out for the club ride tomorrow with them, so we'll be changing my pedals back to the toe-clip ones tonight.  Next week I can't make the club ride, so I'll try to go out on my own at the weekend for a proper ride and see if I get on ok.  I'm pretty confident with getting out, it's just the getting into them.

The rest of today?  Preparing for the training this week, with the first openwater swim of the season coming up I needed to get my kit out.  Reading.  And having a couple of friends around for some cake. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Swimming machine (aka the Swimathon 2013)

Alarm at 5.15am this morning, but luckily it is now lightish at that time, so it wasn't too bad getting up, especially as I saw some bunny rabbits whilst cycling to the pool.  Gathered in reception where I was pleased to be issued with a pink swimming hat for my Swimathon swim before heading into the pool.  There were maybe about 8 people doing it so I was lucky enough to have a lane to myself, hurrah, and it was my usual swimming lane too.  Warmed up on the side, then 6.20 and we started.

To be honest, there's not much to say about the swim itself.  It was pretty tedious.  200 lengths of a 25m pool.  Up and down and round and round.  Tumble turns at the deep end but not at the shallow end as it's too shallow.  Backwards and forwards.  Counting fractions of the 200 lengths.  Timing each kilometre. 

Splits were as follows:

km1: 16:31
km2: 16:34
km3: 16:40
<took a 30s break for 2 swigs of water, to shake shoulders out and check that the lifeguard counting my lengths had the same number as me>
km4: 17:01

So a total of 1:23:20, which I was really happy about.  Last year, I was 1:30:30, so that's over 7 minutes off.  I was hoping for sub 1:25 so that really really pleases me.  Especially as I still have a dodgy shoulder, and it was hurting pretty much all the way from length 90, and I knew that I wasn't able to pull as well with that arm.

It was tedious, but it was a nice atmosphere, with 2 of the other early morning regulars and one of the lifeguards also swimming.  My favourite manager was on and the nice marketing lady was there too, and they played loud music whilst we swam!

A twitter friend said to me that with a time like that the maths just doesn't add up that I have not yet swum sub 1h for a 3.8k.  I really hope it's on its way this season.  In some ways, I think I was just unlucky last season - my first 3.8k attempt coincided with high winds, and a lake that resembled the sea.  My second involved an obstacle course of bouys, and I was only 17 seconds over, if it had been a better course, I'm sure I would have made it then.  My third, I was absolutely shattered from too much racing already in the previous week or so, and I was only 2 minutes over. My fourth, I probably shouldn't have done as I'd had a bad cold that week.  So fingers crossed for May 26th!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Weekly catch up - 19 weeks to go

And what a GOOD week it's been!  My mood is on the up - fingers crossed for sustained improvement - and despite a few wobbles, I've mostly been full of the joys of spring.  And that's made training easier.  I'm checking in for the week with 12 good hours of training and plenty of ks and miles in the bag.

So what did I get up to?

Monday: Swim 2.5k.  My bottom was very sore from the ride on Sunday and I was pretty tired so I canned the run that was planned.
Tuesday: Swim 4k.  I was on a course which meant I didn't need to be in until 9.30 so I took advantage of a little lie in and then a bit longer in the pool.  I was so hungry that I found myself eating my lunch outside afterwards, before 9am.  I then had to have crisps for lunch as the only non meat, gluten free option.  Oh well.  I was still really tired so didn't do the run from Monday
Wednesday: Swim 2.5k.  Pilates in the evening.  Possibly the most brutal workout ever.  OW.  Worked abs so much, and it turned out the intercostal muscles.  Unlike pain from a run or a bike, when the following day you can barely walk, pilates pain kicks in a lot later, and I suddenly seized up on the sofa.  As I said.  Ow.
Thursday: Swim 4k (with my 2 x 1k time trials).  30 minutes on the turbo.
Friday:  Rest morning!  But I still needed to fit in that run, so I forced myself to go out when I got back from work.  Not too bad, little 5k plod.
Saturday:  Off to the Rosenblatt pool to meet cycling Claire for a swimathon training session.  5k in the pool for me, with a mainset of 5x600m off 10 minutes.  Hard going.  Need to keep practising that as a basis for my 3.8k swims, taking it up to 6x600m off 10 minutes.  If I can do that in a pool, then I might be on track for a sub1h in a wetsuit if my sighting is sufficiently good.  Also did some drills and wore my new swimming costume and the shoulder behaved reasonably.  Went for a short 3k run when I got back as it was such a nice day and wanted to be outside.  Nice restful afternoon seeing my Dad and reading Jessica Ennis' autobiography.
Sunday: Out with the beginner's group from the triclub.  Cycling Claire was taking out her brand new bike, less than 24 hours old.  I would have been envious if it had been pink but it wasn't, so that was alright.  Found it much easier to keep up than the last time I went out with the group, and even the coach that made me cry back in November was heard to say that I'd improved.  I think knowing that I can cycle from the City of London to Oxon gives me confidence in my abilities.  In fact, not only did I not leave the ride when it went past the turning for my house, 4 miles from the end, I was heard to complain that we'd only done 41 miles, and went home the long way around to gain another 8 miles and take in one of the hills again.  I was so happy to do 49 miles in an average speed of 12.9mph as getting really quite close to minimum target speed for the 70.3 now which means I can start to get a little excited that I might manage to complete it.  However, I have spent the afternoon napping and then feeling grumpy that I was so tired that I wasted an afternoon I could have at least spent reading, so there is still progress to be made there.

18k swim
8k run
79k bike (+ turbo)

And what's in store this week
Mon am: 2.5k swim (appointment after work so no run)
Tues am: 2.5k swim (working late so no run)
Weds am: 2.5k swim; Weds pm: pilates
Thurs am: 4k swim; 35 minutes on turbo
Fri am: SWIMATHON! (5k swim)
Sat am: Run - 7k?
Sun am: Club bike ride

[for those of you who haven't come across it, Swimathon is an annual fundraising challenge which you can read about here.  I'll be doing the 5k challenge at the ungodly hour of 6.15am (but it means that I should be done in time for work...).  Last year I think my lengths were miscounted and I did 2 extra, so I am really hoping that I will make it under 1h30 this time without extra lengths.  Hoping that my shoulder holds up]

[I may well skip either Tues am or Weds am swim if I am tired!]

Friday, 19 April 2013

Swimming progress

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that recently I’ve had a lot of shoulder problems.  It’s been frustrating because swimming is my favourite and as we get nearer to race season I want to put in harder workouts.  On the plus side, it seems that it may have been beneficial.  I spent a lot more time on the bike which has helped.  And when I’ve been in the pool, I’ve spent a lot of time doing drills. 

On Tuesday this week, I found myself with 75 minutes of swimming time as opposed to the normal 45, and after 2k of drills, decided to do a 1k time trial.  I felt quite surprised to come in at 16:10 and wondered if I’d  miscounted my lengths and lost 50m somewhere.  I must have been swimming flat out as I wasn’t able to swim another 1k freestyle after as planned, and had to do an extended 1.25k warm down of a medley of strokes.  On Thursday, I again had 75 minutes in the pool (this is normal for a Thursday), so I decided to repeat the exercise.  To my surprise I came in at 15:47.  After 60s rest, I decided to do another k.  Initially it wasn’t going to be a time trial, but then I changed my mind.  And I came in at 15:57.  Which suggests that Tuesday’s time was indeed correct.  These are definitely my fastest pool times ever; I tend to swim faster in a wetsuit and I tend to swim faster in open water where there is no need to turn around.  But these are a good 45 seconds faster than the times put in last year.

Explanations?  Probably a combination of things.  Another year of swimming and endurance under my belt.  Another year of practising drills and another swim camp done.  Cross training on the bike and run.  And taking up Fitness Pilates in January this year.

As a reward I found myself ordering a new swimming costume.  Which provoked a discussion with various friends.  What is an acceptable number of swimming costumes?  I only have about 9, of which 2 are tankinis, and 3 rub quite badly under the arm so don’t get much wear.   When many of them don’t last for more than 2 months if you wear them every day then it’s good to buy multiples of favourites I reckon.  Maybe I’ll do a post about my swimming costumes sometime soon.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Westminster to Islip...by bike

Another 65 miles in the bag yesterday.  Two words to sum up the "Big Bike Ride" from Westminster Abbey, City of London, to Islip, Oxon: Awesome and Sore Bottom (actually, that's three, but never mind).

Having dropped our bikes off to be transported up to London the previous afternoon, I picked up Cycling Claire and we drove the four miles to Islip to board the minibus to London.  The ninety minute journey passed fairly swiftly with plenty of chat about triathlons and our respective employment and we were soon at Westminster Abbey, collecting our bikes, and trying to work out how to put on all of the equipment, food and clothing onto our bikes.  We were definitely overladen, especially with clothes.  In some ways, it was fantastic that it was the warmest day of the year so far, in others, not so good, as we had not cycled without multiple layers since last September (or possibly even August) - the first 10 miles would see us shedding lots of layers and eventually abandoning some of them with one of the marshalls!

There were around 150 riders I think and we congregated outside the Abbey, amid a number of worshippers arriving for service.  A few words from the Dean of the Abbey, and a blessing, appropriately, the Irish blessing "may the wind be always at your back"...and we were off.  Well, nearly.  The fastest riders were starting first and the slower/medium riders second.  We were in the last but one wave!

I absolutely loved the first part of the journey.  It was awesome cycling down the Mall and past Horseguards' Parade and Buckingham Palace.  We went through Hyde Park and past the Serpentine, where I wished for a dip a la the openwater swimming of the Olympics.  We stopped briefly at traffic lights in front of Marble Arch.  And then it was out through the outskirts of London, going along the Grand Union Canal for four miles, looking at industrial landscapes and seeing ducks and swans.  After that it was on and up into "Metroland" as John Betjeman would have described it, going through Harrow, which certainly earns its name of Harrow on the Hill (sorry again Claire that I didn't quite comprehend the hillyness of the ride).  I decided that I like cycling through urban landscapes so much more than the countryside because there is just so much more to see, and it was awesome seeing places whose names I know from tubemaps (like Rayners Lane).

After leaving London, we made our way out through the borough of Hillingdon, through Harefield and then out into the countryside.  We crossed the M40 and then made our way down through Chesham (with a steep descent that I managed to stay on the bike for, rather than doing my usual getting off and walking - I may have been clinging to the brakes, but at least I was sitting on it!), and then Great Missenden which was the main stop where we sat and ate sandwiches and hot cross bun respectively, before using the facilities.  There was a lovely teddy bear sitting in the porch.

The last 28 miles I found harder, although Claire said she had struggled more with the first half.  My back was hurting as usual and, unusually, my bottom was starting to hurt.  (I did wonder (and this may be slightly TMI) if it was because I wasn't wearing pants with my padded cycling bottoms, which Mr Tuna has been trying to convince me for ages, but I am assured by a female  friend that however unladylike this may feel it is The Correct Way).  We carried on towards Thames, and really enjoyed cycling down the Phoenix Trail, which had a nice surface (unlike most of the roads we travelled on), and being a trail, means no traffic, so we could cycle 2 abreast and have a chat.  Thame was the final rest stop, and then it was on to Stanton St John (more hills, sorry!), and back into Islip, where we were able to claim our commemorative mugs.

It wasn't the fastest ride - there was a lot of stopping and starting in London, as well as trying to sort out clothes, and eating enough to make sure we got back, but it was hugely enjoyable.  Apart from the sore bottom, which is difficult to sit down on today.  Claire seems to have escaped unscathed, so I am quite envious, and obviously need to find out what sort of saddle she has.  I wish I had more pictures of the route, I really am going to have to learn to get my hands off the bars!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Weekly catch-up 20 weeks to go

It's been a good week training-wise.  My shoulder is starting to mend I think with judicious application of ibyprofen gel, and careful stretching and not over-swimming.  However, I have managed to ramp the volume back up this week (to 15.5k!) and done some harder swimming too.  The emphasis on technical work whilst I recover is really helping too; my swim on Thursday consisted of 2k of drills and then 2 x 1k of swimming and I felt SO strong on the 1ks.  A run and a turbo have been in the mix too, albeit short ones, and I've clocked up 6.75 hours of training.

The week isn't over.  Tomorrow is AN EPIC AND EXCITING CHALLENGE.  Last week, I cycled 63 miles in a Sportive which was all about getting round as quickly as possible.  This week I am cycling 64 miles in an iconic journey from Westminster Abbey in London to Islip in Oxfordshire.  Rather than going with Mr Tuna (and his pannier carrying all of my spare stuff), who I can shout at when I am fed up, I am going with Cycling Claire, who is of similar standard to me, and we will do our best to get up and down some rather large hills, cycle over some apparently interesting road surfaces, past some famous London landmarks and through swathes of countryside that we wouldn't usually cycle in.  The last 15 miles is a familiar one to me, and long-time readers will remember the enormous meltdown I had on it.  I'm kind of confident about the distance after last weekend, especially if I manage to wake up feeling not quite as shocking as I did last Sunday, although I know I am going to find the hills traumatic (going down as much as going up).  Anyway, the food is packed, Cycling Claire tells me that I will probably laugh at the amount she is taking, and the alarm is set for 5.45.  We leave Islip on buses and will leave Westminster at 9am.

In other news, I have just joined an additional swimming pool.  I am very happy with the council pool where I swim as it is en route to work, brightly lit and with pleasant lifeguards, but it can be very busy, and weekends in particular are difficult.  I found out this week that I can join the University pool at a discounted rate as a member of staff, and it is only £11.50 per month, which is probably less than what I pay on parking at the council pool at weekends.  It's another 10 minutes in the car, but the parking is free.  And best of all, it is lane swimming all of the time, you are allowed to tumble turn at both ends, I'll probably be allowed to use my paddles, and it is about 2C cooler.  You immediately get in and swim fast!  I just had a little test swim today because I wanted to see what the showers/hair dryers etc were like (I may investigate swimming there before work too but that would mean 15 minutes less in bed...), and I had to force myself to get out after 1500m as it was so congenial to swimming.

Looking ahead to the coming week, I will be starting to try to get myself into the pattern of training that I will need to do from mid-May.  Of course, Monday depends a little on how my body feels after tomorrow, I have to say that the 9 mile round trip to work and back last Monday was really not what I wanted to do so soon after 63 miles!  This is the plan:

Monday: am swim (recovery, drills 2-2.5k), pm run (5k)
Tuesday: am swim (4k)(on a training course so have a bit of extra time!)
Wednesday: am swim (2.5k), pm pilates
Thursday: am swim (4-4.5k), am 2 turbo trainer (30 minutes)
Friday: am swim
Saturday: swim/run
Sunday: bike with tri club

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


With just over 20 weeks to go until I attempt my half ironman, it’s time to get serious about planning.  As an organised librarian type person, I love planning things almost more than doing them.  I identified the training schedule that Iwanted to use a little while ago:  I wanted to find something that was very simple and didn’t involve too much on training zones etc.  It was also important for me that the long run and bike workouts were specified in distance rather than time; I know I am going to be slow around the course, but I want to get around, so it is important that I have trained over the distances.  However, looking at it now, I will be modifying it as follows.

The basic shape of the week will differ slightly for me.  I will continue to prioritise swimming, trying to fit in 5 swims a week, because I have swimming races coming up, and because that is part of my daily life.  Secondly, I will take my rest day on a Friday, because I am always shattered at the end of the busy work week.  I may schedule slightly easier work outs on a Monday to recover from weekend training.  Thirdly, running is the one where I’m most concerned about getting injured: as my priorities for the race are to complete it, to get a good swim time, and to get around the bike before the cut-off, I think that running training is the lowest priority for me.  So, I will just be doing 2 runs a week, a short one and a longer one, and replacing the third run with a pilates class.  I may also not run the full distances specified towards the end of the plan, as I’m really not sure I need to be running 14 miles twice before the event as I think that will take me too long to recover from, compromising further training.  Fourthly, in the early stages of the plan, I’m likely to do longer Sunday rides, I’ll ride with the club where I can, I’m already up to comfortable 40 milesish so I might as well stick with that!  I need all of the bike practice that I can.

So this is the plan:

Monday: Swim am, run pm.
Tuesday: Swim am, bike (ideally outside) pm
Wednesday: Swim am, pilates pm
Thursday: Swim am, turbo am [I work 12-7 on a Thursday]
Friday: off
Saturday: Long run, swim
Sunday: Long bike (with occasional transition run)

Over the next few weeks I’m going to start adding a few sessions into the schedule where I can so that I start to get used to this pattern.  At the moment it’s a bit tricky, because I am still attending counselling appointments, visiting the GP fairly regularly, and am still very wiped out by my depression, so I will just have to do what I can.  There will also be changes as I have events in the calendar like tri’s and swim races (well, only a few) which may necessitate changes on a weekly basis.  I’m going to start trying to post my workout plans on a Sunday again to get me into a routine.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Longest bike ride EVER (aka The Quattro Sportive)

I tend to find events more motivating than regular training - you turn up, people tell you what to do, they give you water, and occasionally snacks along the way, and then you often get something nice at the end like a t-shirt or a medal.  I think I would have found it hard to motivate myself to run 13.1 miles back in February, so entering a half marathon had that sorted.  So, thus, for trying to get myself up to being able to ride 56 miles in 4.5 hours, or at least knowing that I could conquer the distance, I decided last year to enter a sportive, where I would be forced to do it.

Today, we went over to Cogenhoe (apparently pronounced "Cucknoe") in Northamptonshire to take part in The Quattro, a sportive with a choice of 3 different distances.  50 miles, 62 miles or 80 miles.  I decided that doing the 62 mile distance would help me feel confident about the 56 miles I will need to do in the half ironman.  An early start, and general nausea (nerves or stomach, not sure), did not do much for my mood first thing, but we got there and we set off, knowing that we could bail out at 50 miles if necessary (or even, Mr Tuna promised, cut it shorter than that if we needed).  The first 10-12 miles were pretty hard.  I felt awful.  The route was all up and down (I've mainly been cycling on the flat of late), and due to the way that cyclists were being sent off in waves, I had the humiliation of being overtaken about every 90 seconds by 10 or so cyclists.  It was also very cold, and the route started with 2 miles of descent during which time my fingers painfully froze.  But I soon warmed up, and dare I say, actually started to enjoy the thing.  My back, as ever, was quite sore by 20 miles, but we managed to get to the 28 mile food stop without stopping.  Because I was feeling sick, I didn't fancy any of the sweet things that we'd packed (an important lesson for next time), and because I'm gluten free, I was a bit restricted in my choices, but luckily there were ready salted crisps which did the job and cheered me up a bit.  I continued to enjoy the ride and seeing the Northants countryside, and tried to work out when I wanted to take breaks.  I planned to take one at 42 to stretch out, have some water, and use the facilities (i.e. behind a hedge), and then again at 52 or 53 which I felt would have broken things up nicely.  Unfortunately, by 52, I was really really feeling it.  Not so much that my legs were tired, more that *I* was tired, and my back, was, it felt like, killing me.  So I decided that with 10 miles to go, I'd break it in half, but try to do more than half in the first go.  Too bad, that when I stopped with what I thought was 2.5 miles to go, Mr Tuna looked at the route map and found out that the 62 mile ride was actually 63.7 miles.  There may have been some rude words.  There may have been more rude words when as I climbed the final hill back to the finish, there was a photographer positioned to catch every grimace.  So I put on a "sprint" finish to get to the end.  Where almost everyone else had left having finished hours ago.  According to Strava [I hope that link works], our moving time was 5h08, with about 5h30 for the total, and an average speed of 12.4mph which isn't too shabby, as my furthest ride to date last year, of 52 miles, ended up with an average of less than 10mph!

Overall, it was a good experience.  We were spared the usual tears.  An extra food stop would have been a bonus, and next time I need to pack some crisps.  It has given me confidence for the 70.3, although I know that I still need to increase my speed and endurance (but there's still 5 months for that), and most importantly for the epic and exciting (and terrifying) challenge that I and my friend Cycling Claire are undertaking next Sunday.  We will be cycling from Westminster Abbey to a small village in Oxon.  It's been a while since we cycled together so no idea how our abilities compare but hopefully we shall be evenly matched and able to spur each other on over what are some very big inclines and descents (the sort that may see me walking down).

Saturday, 6 April 2013

End of week round up - 21 weeks to go

I've decided to start counting down the weeks until the half ironman.  There aren't actually that many left.  I'm still in a position where I'm not feeling confident about the bike leg, and I've got tendonitis in my right shoulder/arm which means that swimming is strictly being rationed at the moment, which makes me sad as I have my first attempt at 3.8k in 2013 in 7 weeks time :(

So, I had this week off work with the hope of getting in a fair amount of training.  I was hoping for swimming, but actually it's been a reasonable amount of cycling.  The week's work isn't quite done as we're hopefully attempting a sportive on Sunday (which if completed will merit its own post).  Today I was supposed to be at a Tri theory day run by our club, but I am overtired after my first successful day out in months (damn depression) and have had to stay at home in bed :(

The week included:
1 x sprint triathlon
2 x runs (1 x 5k, 1 x 6.5k)
2 x cycle rides (1 x 25k, 1 x 48k)
2 x swims (1 x 3k, 1 x 3.5k) (eek - just 6.5k swimming seems really little and sad :( )

No pilates as my teacher had flu :( But a respectable 8h 15m of training thus far (Sunday ride excluded)

Oh, and the picture at the top?  It's my very own replica Austrialian Olympic swimming costume and Swim for Tri swimming bag!  This lovely surprise arrived in the post from the lovely Dan and Vicky at Swim for Tri as a birthday surprise.  I was very touched and super excited (not least because my swimming bag of 10 years + has finally died).  Definitely one of the highlights of the week.  I also hada new cycling dress from Mr Tuna to wear should the weather ever warm up, and some money which will go towards buying me some super cosy boots to wear after openwater swimming this summer!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Thames Turbo Tri April 2013

Photo by Dan Bullock

Since my tri last weekend was cancelled, I decided to enter another pool sprint for some early season practice (because my first openwater sprint is not until June).  This race was within about an hour's drive and actually involved an outside swim, albeit in a heated swimming pool.  Hampton Pool one of my favourites as it's open all year around.  One of my tri friends who won several races in the series was also racing and said that it was a good race to do.  The final incentive was that I have ordered a new wetsuit (more on that soon) and I was able to pick it up from the race because my coach from swim camp was going to be there too.

It involved a VERY early start (4am!), almost like going to the airport, except that when you go to the airport you don't really need to exert yourself much more than carrying your suitcase to checkin.  Coupled with the clock change the previous night my body is entirely confused as to what time it now is.  It also meant that I had to set up my transition...in the dark at 6am.  Should have borrowed the head torch that I gave Mr Tuna for Christmas....

It was also very cold.  It was 0.5C when we left our house and only 2C when we got to the pool.  I have never laid out so many clothes.  Rather than cancel the race due to the conditions, the organisers decided to give us a "dead zone" of 5 minutes for T1 to make sure that everyone dried off and covered up; we were all instructed to cover at least our arms and chests.  I laid out underarmour long sleeved shirt, fleece, windproof jacket, shorts (decided to swim in bikini bottoms so not to have so much wet next to my skin), leg warmers and a hat and gloves!

We waited around for a while for the race briefing but after that I was lucky to be able to go almost straight away.  When entering, we had to predict our overall time and then give an accurate 400m swim time.  We were then seeded into 5 waves, and then the fastest swimmers in each wave went first.  I was in the slowest wave but seeded number 4.  Stripping off my clothes quickly, I was suddenly very cold, but luckily I waited only about a minute before I could get in and go.  Not the best swim for me, I should have gone a lot faster than 7m20s for 426m, but somehow satisfying as I could hear several people cheering me on (thanks Vicky!), AND, I managed to catch up and overtake the people seeded numbers 1-3 and made it first out of the pool.  That was good.

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my watch, so I overshot the 5 minutes I had for getting dressed by nearly a minute, but then I was out on the bike.  21.5k to do.  Pedalled as hard as I could but as usual loads of people overtook me which is always a bit dispiriting.  I wasn't too cold, until towards the end when my wet bottom really started to feel really clammy.  My back also started to hurt.  The final bit of the bike course is a 7 minutes dead zone to take account of a big junction, traffic lights and having to cross over a pedestrian crossing.  This means you don't compete and risk compromising safety.

Back into T2, bit slow as wanted to change to a running hat and get rid of my windproof jacket (which my number belt was around the outside), and then out onto the 5k run.  It was through a delightful park which I'd not been into before, with 2 loops, and without a watch it felt pretty long.  I didn't get a spectacular time on the run, but 27:20 is fine for me, I'm happy with anything under 30 minutes for 5k really

Overall I was 241st out of 261 finishers.  Not very impressive.  But more so when you consider that yesterday I was barely able to get out of bed, and that my swim was probably in the top 40-50.  I bet I had the slowest bike ride, even though I felt like I was really pushing it!  On the plus side, I wrote on facebook about how this is a stepping stone towards the half ironman in September which I'm doing to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity, and 4 people sponsored me today which was great!  I was proud to be wearing my Mind swimming hat.

The marshalling was fantastic, with the lovely Natarsha cheering with lots of enthusiasm at the exit from T1 and T2, and all of the marshalls having been provided with a list to match numbers to names which led to a lot of "Go on Verity" from people who I didn't even know.  That was fun!

Overall my time was 1h34 (that didn't include the 5 minutes of deadtime for the T1 but did include my extra 52s, nor the 7 minutes deadtime going back to T2)

After I got back, I went and put on some warm clothes and then went out to cheer on my friend Vicky as she went through T2 to finish with a stunning run to win again.  It's definitely an advantage of a pool triathlon that you get to cheer on the other competitors!  Vicky got an awesome time of about 1h5m but I am pleased that I beat her on the swim by a few seconds ;-)

By the time we got home, it was only 11am.  Maybe I should always get up that early?!  I have had a nap and some food and now I'm ready for another swim.  Hope I still feel like that tomorrow.