Friday, 31 May 2013

May round up

I’m pretty pleased with my month of May.  I may have only been on two long bike rides, compared with April when I clocked up 6, and this has hugely affected the kilometres covered, but they were both solid rides.  I’ve also managed to fit in at least 1 turbo per week.  The thing that pleases me most is the consistency of my running – I’ve done 2 runs every week of May, one shorter 5k run and one increasingly long run, going from 8k in the first two weeks to 10k this week.  This is definitely something that I look forward to building on.

I won my first race!  And did some skins swimming [swimming with a wetsuit] for the first time.  So things have improved greatly from that rather rubbish aquathlon at the start of the month.

65.25 k swum across 21 swimming sessions (some of them only 1k due to openwater swimming in chilly water!)
68.18 k run across 10 runs
150k bike across 2 rides
2h 10 minutes on the turbo training
3h 45 minutes of pilates.
=44 hours of training logged in May.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Some random thoughts

Here are some random half-formed thoughts that aren't quite sufficient to warrant blog posts on their own but which are worth writing down.

1. What I love most about tri today?  I can race hard yesterday, and still train hard today by doing a different activity - 10k run before work, which is the furthest I've run since the half marathon in February.  My shoulders were sore, and now my legs are too.  Looking forward to a gentle lake dip tonight.

2. What I love most about tri today part 2? My fitness must be improving as I didn't feel as tired as I used to after racing 3.8k!

3. What I love least about tri at the moment?  The constant showering and resultant hair drying.  I can't get away with arriving at work with wet hair, and don't like going to bed with wet hair, so I spend at least 15-20 minutes a day with the hair dryer in hand.  I had 2.5 inches cut off at the weekend with the hope of cutting this time down.  It makes it easier to maintain, but I don't like how I look with shorter hair.  On the plus side, none of my colleagues or the friends that I've seen since I had it cut have noticed, so I hope it isn't too bad.  I am also not a great fan of  the enormous amounts of washing we're doing at the moment.

4.  I can't remember whether I have written about it on this blog yet but I have been interviewed for Triathlon Plus magazine.  This is being followed up with a photoshoot to accompany it, taking place this Saturday.  I'm really quite anxious about it - both the fact that it may take 4 or 5 hours to get the shots that we need - and the fact that someone will be taking photos of me to be published in a national magazine (see 5 below).  So I've been buying a couple of new items of kit to make me feel better - a new running skort from Sweaty Betty - and some new Speedo trishorts.  I'm definitely planning on wearing separates for my 70.3 race (easier to go to the loo!) so these ones with pink flashes should do the job nicely, although come race day .  I always feel self conscious running and currently wear a Nike skort, but this new skort gives me a second option if I'm not up to date with the washing (see 3 above).

5. I seem to be developing a really weird body shape from tri.  My friend took a picture of me yesterday in my swimsuit after the race and I looked like a swimmer - huge, huge shoulders.  However, I also have really tiny slim calves and tree trunk like legs.  Seriously strange.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Big fish swim (3.8k)

This morning was my first (and practically only) swim race of the season.  Another chance for me to attempt the elusive sub 1 hour 3.8k.  Bit frustrated by the dropping lake temperatures over the last fortnight due to the horrible weather; at least it wasn't the 11C that I had to deal with yesterday, but a far cry from the 19C water that I swam 10k in at Dorney lake the same weekend last year, or the 17C of the year before.

Getting in was cold, but not that bad, and I made sure that I had got my head acclimitised.  There wasn't much time before we set off either which was good.  Unlike the last time I swam a race at this venue, they sensibly set off the 3.8k swimmers 5 minutes before the 1500m-ers.  I tried to set off nice and relaxed whilst keeping my pace good.  The first lap often feels best, but mentally it's hard as you know you've got a lot more to do - in this case, 4 more laps.  Because the sun was quite bright and because there were other people swimming in the lake casually, it was difficult to see where other people were in the race.  Unfortunately, as I finished the first lap, I already knew that I was going to slowly to go sub 1h.  My morale diminished significantly over the second lap especially as I was so cold and I contemplated getting out.  Not sure what stopped me to be honest.  Kept going as best as I could, again nearly losing it at the start of the 4th lap where I inexplicably started retching, but tried to swim as hard as I could into the finish.

As I finished, I knew that it was (to me) a sh*t time, but out of interest, I asked where I'd come.  "2nd" the finisher said, "first woman".  Gosh!  I had a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds last year, but not a first, and not been nearly so high up overall before.  In fact, Ken said that I'd been in the first 3 right from the start and had started lapping people on my second lap!  In addition to my medal, I was presented with a winner's plaque!  Exciting!

I later asked Dan Bullock if there was any scientific evidence that one swims slower in the cold; whilst he didn't point me to anything but did say that he has never swum fast early in the season as finds it harder to relax and breathe in the cold water, so I'm blaming the temperature for not PB-ing.

I'm not really sure what could have gone better with this race to get the time that I wanted, apart from perhaps a bit more time in the water generally (I'm swimming up to 15k a week this year as opposed to over 20k a week last year).  The goggles I was using were comfortable and didn't fog up and seemed to help me sight better than the ones I was using for racing last year.  I sighted well and swam straight.  I felt like I was swimming hard and strong  and I didn't feel like I was losing my technique on the last lap.  So, all positives.

In other news, Claire the Crayfish did the 1500m "Small Fry" swim, which was her first openwater swim race, and a chance to practice ahead of her first openwater triathlon in June; whilst she didn't enjoy the cold, she did get round and finish it.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Weekly round up (14 weeks - and a day - to go)

Given that I started training properly at the start of April, 7 weeks ago, I guess I am now a third of the way into my training.  Which is a little scary.  Still, I've come on a long way, especially on the bike,

Today I'm feeling really shattered.  Achy, miserable and tired.  I came back from the beginner's session (where I didn't exactly exert myself, just had to deal with 11C water...more about that in a minute) and slept.  Which feels a bit odd given that I had a rest day yesterday.  I'm taking the rest of today as more rest because I have a race tomorrow morning but I'm expecting myself to be feeling a bit more vigorous by now.  On the one hand it's not unexpected as it is about 3 or 4 weeks since I've been able to stay in bed past 8am (and 14 more days until I can next do so) but on the other, I always expect myself to be superwoman.  It's very difficult for me to separate out what is depression and what is expected tiredness from the amount of training I'm doing, so just got to keep plodding onward.

We had the third beginner's openwater swim session today.  I thought as May progressed, the water was supposed to be getting warmer.  Last week was the coldest I've ever swum, at 12.7C, this week it was even colder at 11.1C.  Horrid.  The beginners manned up though, and it felt like it was only me struggling to keep going!  I worked with an ex-head-coach of the club today which was superb as he introduced some excellent drills to help the swimmers learn to cope with having to swim close to other swimmers.  He also praised what I was doing with the group.  We also had another cake sale to raise money for Mind and managed to raise £95 towards my fundraising total which is slowly starting to get a bit higher.

What did I get up to this week?
Monday am: 2.5k swim (felt super fast in the water); pm 1.2k lake swim (1k wetsuit, 200m without)
Tuesday am: 9k run (superfast but frustratingly my GPS didn't activate so can't tell quite what my speeds were); pm: 20 minute turbo.
Wednesday: 2.5k swim; 45 minute pilates class.  Unfortunately the new pilates class was rubbish so I'm hoping that I can scrape together some pennies to have some individual sessions with the teacher of the class that has stopped to tide me over until September.  Have also ordered a pilates DVD...
Thursday: 4.5k swim (a rather successful one where I did 3 x 750m intervals.  The first one I beat my pool 750m pb by 2 seconds, the second, where I beat the new pb by 10 seconds.  The third one I was too hot to try again but still beat my previous pb).
Friday: rest
Saturday: 1kish swim with the beginners' session.
Sunday: race - I still have a race to do this weekend.

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: am: run - distance depending on how feel post race - pm: lake swim (easy 1k)
Tuesday: am: 2.5k swim, pm: bike of some description
Wednesday: am: run - 8 or 9k pm: pilates (even if I have to do a DVD at home)
Thursday: am: 5k swim, turbo 35 minutes.
Friday: off
Saturday: am help beginners swim session.  Pm, depends on how long my magazine photoshoot takes (watch this space for more on this..)
Sunday: bike ride.

I'm still not quite there with adhering to my training plan but I'm doing a bit better...!  I at least managed to fit a bit of biking in amongst a week geared towards swimming and running.  Will try harder this week - I think it's swimming's turn to suffer a little from what I'd like to achieve.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Weekly round up (15 weeks to go) (including a breakthrough bike ride)

Before I write this week's round up, I want to mention today's bike ride which was definitely a breakthrough one for me.  Out with the club today, lovely warm sunny ride.  Annoyed early on by the suggestion that we split into a faster and slower beginner's group, I was determined to keep up when I argued for us keeping the group together.  Without further ado, here's the vital statistics:
I cycled 50.9 miles in 4h02; I hit the 50 mile point in 4 hours.  3h 30 was moving time, which gave me an average speed of an amazing 14.5mph (previously I've been lucky to hit 13mph).  I even hit a maximum speed of 25mph on one downhill bit.  At one point, I was leading off the front of the group at 18mph!  I obviously had legs of steel today, although I came home, ate, and collapsed.  Subsequently have revived enough to plant some vegetables in the garden.

What did I get up to this week?
A solid 11.5 hours of training, excellent bike ride, 15k of swimming and an ok 13k of running AND a pilates class.  WIN.  (Although, I was supposed to bike on Tuesday and it was pouring with rain so I didn't...)
Monday: 2.5k swim, 5k run
Tuesday: 2.5k swim
Wednesday: 8k run, pilates
Thursday: 5.5k swim (!), 20 minute turbo
Friday: OFF
Saturday: c. 1k swum helping beginners; 3.5k pool swim
Sunday: 80k bike.

What is the plan for this week?
Sadly, insufficient people are coming to pilates to keep it running over the summer; I am very sad about this as I love the class.  I'm going to try a class at the local leisure centre meanwhile, it will be quite a tight turnaround from work, and I suspect it won't be quite as hardcore, but it's better than nothing.  Also, with pilates, it can be as hard as you want it to be right?!  This week is mainly a swim focussed week, finishing with a swim race on Sunday, so, having rocked today's ride, I'm going to allow myself a little bit of leeway with cycling this week.  It'll only be a total of about 6 hours of training this week so hopefully then I'll be ready for another hard week following and going back to the 70.3 plan.

Monday: am 2.5k swim, pm 1k outdoor swim (sans wetsuit???)
Tuesday: am 9k run (determined to go a bit further this time!), pm short bike/turbo or OFF.
Wednesday: am 2.5k swim, pm pilates
Thursday: am 5k swim, 5k run
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Help with the beginner's OW session.
Sunday: RACE.  (3.8k)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Weekly roundup (16 weeks to go)

eeek!  16 weeks to go until I toe the start line of my first 70.3!  Time to start proper training this week, according to The Plan, although it's my modified adaption of it.  This makes me a little anxious as actually I've only got 12 slots for long bike rides available to me left, and what happens if the weather misbehaves?!  Today's bike ride was pretty good, I pushed myself hard to keep up with the pace for the first half and did a pretty good job.  Unfortunately, the last ten miles were a bit of a struggle and I wasn't able to keep up.  But I enjoyed the first bit of being out and the sun that we had here this morning.

What did I get up to this week?
A good week for swimming (15.75k), an ok week for running (13k) and a bike ride.  No pilates.  But 3 wetsuit swims:
Monday: 3.5k swim am, 1k openwater swim pm.
Tuesday: 8k run am
Wednesday: 2.5k swim am
Thursday: 5k swim am, 5k run am
Friday: OFF (but not v restful as hectic day at work)
Saturday: 750m openwater swim am, 3k wetsuit pool swim pm.
Sunday: 70k bike

(Total = 10.5 hours training)

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: 2.5k swim am, 6k run pm
Tuesday: 2.5k swim am, hopefully a bit of bike pm
Wednesday: 8 or 9k run am, pilates pm
Thursday: 4.5k swim am, 40 mins turbo (with 4 x 30 second sprints, scattered)
Friday: OFF
Saturday: help with beginners openwater swim am, second swim am or run.
Sunday: Bike ride (at least 20 miles)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

In which I go swimming.

I've been meaning to post all week, but just not managed to get around to it.  But the title will cover all of the things I wanted to write about, four swims especially in the last 6 days.

1. Aquathlon last Sunday.  I still feel a bit grumpy about that, hence not giving it its own blog post.  You'd think that by removed my most tricky discipline from a tri, I might do rather better.   I didn't.  The 5k run hurt, and what I thought was a good 750m swim time was marred by two people I knew telling me that they thought it was quite a bit short of 750m.  Added to that, it was an uncomfortable swim and I just didn't feel very happy about the event.  The final thing I struggled with more than usual was how good all of the other women's bodies looked compared to mine; I don't usually feel like this, and it took a lot of saying to myself "you buy small calf size fitting boots online because you can't get any on the high st to fit" and "you are still a size 8" to try to get over it.  Tricky.  Not something that really fits into this blog, but body image definitely plays a part in why I'm here doing all of this stuff.

2. Openwater swimming on Monday night.  This was a much more positive experience and I felt ever so good after it!  It was a beautiful evening, and although I'd been at work all of the beautiful bank holiday day, going for a swim with Mr Tuna and Claire the Crayfish (as Cycling Claire will henceforth be known) entirely made up for it.  I was determined, although didn't say, that I'd get Claire around the 1000m loop this time and I felt that the lovely evening was very auspicious.  So auspicious that when I opened the car boot, I realised that I had forgotten my wetsuit!  Fortunately, this lake allows you to swim skins (ie wetsuitless) and as it was a warm day, I thought I'd risk it in my cozzie.  I briefed Mr Tuna on my plans re Claire since I wasn't sure that I'd get beyond the second buoy and then got in.  It wasn't actually too bad - must have been about 16C in the water and 20C out of the water, and brilliant sunshine.  So I was able to do my breastroke around with Claire, and yes, we got around the 1000m loop, which felt like a big achievement for me too, sans wetsuit.  I didn't let her complain about the cold this time since she was encased in neoprene, but actually she said that she was feeling hot.  So big boost to confidence there.

3. Openwater swimming on a cold Saturday morning.  Our tri club provides "Pre-Blenheim Swims" for people new to triathlon at this time every year - Blenheim is a major triathlon nearby that attracts a lot of first-timers.  These organised sessions rely on club members turning up and informally coaching the huge numbers of people that signed up.  I wanted to get in a double swim Saturday and this was a free way of getting in the water a second time to my later plans (see below), I also felt that I wanted to give something back to the club having had people be patient with me on the bike rides, and finally I would love to train so that I am able to coach openwater swimming at some point.  Also, Claire the Crayfish was in need of a lift, so we picked her up en route, not that any of us were really feeling sociable at 7.30am on a Saturday.  We split off into coaching pairs (I went with Mr Tuna) and I purposefully chose to help the "not confident in water" swimmers so that Claire could swim with us if she wanted to.  We had 6 people in our group  who managed the swimming pretty well, although everyone was complaining about the cold (water temperature was only 13C today, and air temp 8.5C), but most of us managed around 30-40 minutes in the water.  It was good fun passing on the knowledge that I have accumulated by swimming myself and reading lots of tri magazines.

4. I then went over to Uxbridge lido where I put in a lot of km last season training for my 10k and 14k swims.  I was meeting up with my friend Emily the eel, who kindly swam with me last year there.  Unfortunately she was coming down with a cold, but fortunately there is a nice heated indoor pool there too and she said she'd swim in that for a bit.  It was also my chance to test out my new wetsuit (finally!) but tests were a little inconclusive as a) it was very cold in the water and b) inexplicably, the pool was about 6 inches short of water, which made it impossible turn at the shallow end.  But early estimates suggested that it might be faster (although, difficult to tell as I have worked a lot on my technique and pilates too).  It was pretty comfortable and I felt sleek in the water in it.  The water was freezing.  Ok for lengths 3-29, then getting very cold, and then really cold for the final 500m.  It was nice to swim in an empty 50m pool though!

5.  I'm finally reading an interesting book called Fearless Swimming for Triathletes, which I hope to get through in the next week or so to see if there are any tips that I can pass on next Saturday.  If there's anything I find especially interesting, I'll try to put a blog post up.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Weekly roundup (17 weeks to go)

This week was intended to be a fairly light week - I have a short race tomorrow - and I was tired at the end of last week.  In fact, I packed an awful lot of training into the first 5 days.  Consequently, I decided on having a rest today (instead doing some clearing out and tidying up at home, which always feels productive!).

What did I do?
Monday: 2.5k swim am, 15 minute openwater swim pm
Tuesday: 4.5k swim am, osteopath visit pm
Wednesday: 8k run am, pilates pm
Thursday: 4.5k swim am, 30 minutes turbo am.
Friday: 2.5k swim am
Saturday: rest
Sunday: aquathlon (750m swim, 5k run).

13k run
15k swim
7.5 hours of training

I'm not sure how I feel about the race tomorrow.  It really doesn't align with my season's goals (sub hour for 3.8k, finish my 70.3), and I'm a little bit gutted that if I'd been doing the race I originally intended to do at Bedford today, I would have won the 1500m or come second in the 3.8k.  Why is it that sometimes racing is just about who's entered rather than how well you do on the day?!  I'm entering because the chance to qualify for the World Championships is so tempting, even if in reality my swim time will cut it, but my run just won't.  It should be a good fun event though, and I'm promising myself that if I do well in the swim, then I might just enter another couple of swim races this season as I've identified a couple of possibilities (only if I'm prepared then to go out on a run when I get home!!!).

What's lined up for this week?
Bit of a strange week this week one way and another what with the Bank Holiday and a couple of appointments that change the usual patterns.
Monday: 4k swim am (start late due to the Bank Hol!); openwater swim pm
Tuesday: run am (have appointment near home first thing so not time to go to the pool!); working late pm
Wednesday: 2.5k swim am, no pilates so hopefully 1h bike?
Thursday am: 4k swim am, then run (if not bike on Weds then turbo then)
Friday: OFF
Saturday: run, 3k swim at Uxbridge lido
Sunday: long bike
Not quite sure how the week will work out with totals

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

April roundup

What a good month April ended up being.  I’ve just totalled up my training and I’m really pleased.  Helped along by a week off work at the start and two very long bike rides, my totals are pretty good.  I had my second highest running month this year (second to February), with 31.2k run.  I had my third highest swimming month with 61.4k swum (after January and February, where I was training for swim camp and where weather precluded other training options); not bad given that I wasn’t able to swim as much as I would have liked on my week off due to shoulder issues.  And I had my highest ever cycling month (doubling any amount ever cycled in a month before) of 425k!!  Obviously, the Quattro Sportive and Westminster to Islip bike ride boosted the figures, but I did also do a couple of bike rides on my own on my week off, and two club rides.

It also saw my first triathlon of the season, at Thames Turbo, a 7 minute Swimathon PB, and my first openwater swim of theseason.

What a good month.