Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Advice to someone doing their first half ironman

There’s just a month to go now until the race, so although work-stress and house-moving-stress is playing heavily on my mind, so are some last minute details pertaining to the race.  I asked a few questions of my fellow tri-club members, including “what one piece of advice would you give to someone doing their first half ironman”.

Here’s a selection of the answers received which I’m recording because I might want to look back at them.

Pre-race decide a target pace and stick to it and likewise with nutrition and hydration whatever you decide to use plan how much and how often and stick to it come what may. And above all always have positive mental attitude, smiling like Harriet says really does help. If you really are struggling on the run engage with another competitor whos in same the boat and help each other along. And finally never stop moving forwards, if you have to walk for a bit then fine but never stop actually moving as once you have its twice as hard to get going again. Good luck, you've put so much into it you know you can do it and I look forward to hearing all about it afterwards

Wear a two-piece tri outfit as getting out of a one-piece is annoying if you need the loo! Enjoy the experience and give yourself the time soak in the atmosphere.”

“Relax and get into a steady rhythm , especially on the run .
Good luck !

“Think carefully about your nutrition plan and try it out in training. But I agree with [other club member], have a great time”

smile as you go round, and mentally congratulate yourself for accomplishing each part - including getting there safely, racking ok, remembering everything, finishing the swim, the first bike lap, following your nutrition plan, adapting to things you didnt expect, etc - by the time you race you will be ready for anything and everything the race throws at you, so be proud of all of it as you go along”

“Relax and enjoy it

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Weekly catch up (5 weeks to go)

There should probably be at EEK for the fact that it is 5 weeks left to go, but for the first weekend in weeks, tri hasn't been the focus.  This has caused a fair amount of doubt and anxiety (am I training enough?  Will I get around?), not least because it looks like our house move may have to be slotted in in the next 5 weeks which will kill another week for training, which with taper doesn't leave much time left..  But it has been eversonice to do something a bit different, even if I'm now exhausted from all of the socialising and fun (dinner out, two nights away from home (one in a bed that was way too short), a swim in a pool I spent most of my childhood summers visiting every day, coffee with a friend, lunch with a friend, a wedding, and a dip in the sea this morning (see above...).  Consequently I'm clocking in at a mere 7 hours training for the last week, mostly in the pool.  Oh well.  Back onto it this week!

What did I get up to last week?
Monday: am 3k pool swim, pm: 1k lake swim
Tuesday: am 2.5k pool swim [pm worked late]
Wednesday: am: 10k run (5:40 km pace), pm: stretching
Thursday: am: 2.5k pool swim [no morning off this week].  Had wanted to do pilates in the evening but was just too tired.
Friday: 28 mile bike (averaged 13.7 mph which wasn't too bad with the hills)
Saturday: 3k pool swim
Sunday: 20 minute sea swim

10k running
44.5k biking
12.25k swimming

Quite a lot less than usual!

What's the plan for this week?
I have another trip away to look forward to this weekend, but I'm determined to get in my full complement of training.
Monday: am pool swim, pm pool swim (Claire is away, and if I go to the pool for a second time I'll be able to get in more swimming AND get home earlier #win)
Tuesday: am run
Wednesday: am pool swim
Thursday: am pool swim, bike, pm: pilates
Friday: OFF
Saturday: pool swim (perhaps in a lido on the way back from our trip??)
Sunday: looooong bike ride.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Weekly catch up (6 weeks to go)

As usual, a quick "eeeeeek" at how close the race is getting.  EEEEEK.  6 weeks today, which means 4 more weeks of training and then 2 of taper...

This week has been a bit mixed, but there is 10.5 hours of training in the bag.  Next week I am away for the weekend, and it is the one weekend since April when I won't really be doing as much training.  It is my oldest friend's wedding party down in Devon so I will be fitting in a little bit of training Friday-Sunday but I will be missing my long bike ride.  [Someone please reassure me that that will be ok?!].  I haven't been away since February so really looking forward to it as I'll get to catch up with a number of friends, hopefully swim in the sea, and at an outdoor pool.

What have I done this week?
Monday: am 3k swim, pm 1k gentle lake swim
Tuesday: am 9k run (this was really good - I'd had ankle issues but it was fine for this run and I could have gone longer than 9k if I'd had the time)
Wednesday: am 2.5k swim, pm stretching
Thursday: am 3.5k swim, 12 mile bike (I had a little lie in hence the shorter swim than I sometimes do, but the lie in was worth it as I had a better 12 mile bike than the previous week!).
Friday: off
Saturday: 56 mile bike, 10 minutes faster than the previous week
Sunday: 3.5k swim (the plan had been to go to the lake as I'd cycled the previous day, but we were too tired when we woke up at 6.  I felt pretty off, hence only swimming 3.5k).

Swimming: 13.5k
Running: 9k
Cycling: 110k

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: am pool swim, pm lake swim
Tuesday: run
Wednesday: pool swim
Thursday: pool swim [no morning off this week]
Friday: not entirely sure what the plan is for this year.  It won't be a rest day as I have c. 4 hours before I need to leave for Devon, but I'm not sure whether to bike or use the time to get in a long run, I don't want to be overly tired with a 3 hour drive to do, but it's the only chance I have for a longish workout this week - will see.
Saturday: pool swim in Devon
Sunday: brief sea swim for fun!

Friday, 19 July 2013

25-29 Aquathlon World Championships Qualified!

So, you remember that race that I was so grumpy about that I didn't actually write its race report up?  I mentioned it in passing here and here.  As I said "I'm entering because the chance to qualify for the World Championships is so tempting", which was obviously why it was disappointing when I didn't.

Anyway, insert several cliches "good things come to those who wait", "blessed are they who expect nothing", and see the above email that landed in my inbox. 

Some hurried negotiating with my manager at work, and 3 days later I was able to pay my £99 and confirm my place.  Tasks for the weekend include ordering my Team GB tri-suit to wear (and obviously some Team GB casual wear since this is the only time I'm ever likely to have the opportunity to wear official kit...).

Obviously (I really hope this is obvious to the number of people who've said they'll come and cheer), I'm not going to be "racing" this.  It's in no sense an A race or even a B race for me.  I've spent the year training to go long and my 70.3 race is only 10 days before this event, which in turn is only 3 days before I attempt to swim the length of Coniston.

However, it is a huge honour to be chosen to represent Great Britain, and I will do my best to get around in a respectable time :)  I will be happy with a good swim and a 28 minute 5k run :)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Swim Super Series 1500m (or, the disadvantage of not wearing a wetsuit)

Having quite enjoyed the last Swim Super Series 1500m swim 4 weeks ago, as Mr Tuna was away again this weekend, I thought I would head over again, even if it did mean heading down the M40 twice in one day (I was attending Tuna Friend Fiona's wedding in the afternoon, held on the Thames!).

This time it was A LOT warmer, and with lake temperature of 22C, there was no way that I would be wearing a wetsuit.  I was fascinated by the difference that not wearing my wetsuit made in the race, both to my overall speed and to the position in the group of the swimmers - last time I was between the first pack and the second pack, this time I ended up at the back of the second pack.

Because I was further back in the field I struggled a lot in the race with positioning, it made it a lot harder to get around people at times, but I managed to get past someone at the end to beat her by 7 seconds into 3rd place.  A much slower time than last time: 26:26 (but someone else felt that the course was a touch long...).  I won another pair of goggles...

Not sure what the answer is.  I'm planning to only swim skins next year, but I don't want to lose out on the podiums that I've had this season :-/  I guess I will have to focus on BDLSA [British Long Distance Swimming Association - no wetsuits permitted] events, although I think those events can be pretty speedy!  Wetsuits obviously improve buoyancy, and probably streamlining as well so I could probably do with a proper racing swim suit.

Weekly catch up (7 weeks to go!)

7 weeks!  Eeek!  Not least because in 7 weeks it will be September and we'll be descending through Autumn back into Winter.  Which isn't great for my mood.  Oh well, we have beautiful weather at the moment in the UK, and even though it might be considered a bit too hot, I am doing my best to enjoy it rather than complain, even if it makes training a bit difficult.

This week was supposed to be an easy week after Stowe Triathlon, I'm not sure I entirely achieved that.  I didn't manage to get any running in as my right ankle was sore after the Tri - interestingly it twinged whilst on the bike today so I probably need to get it looked at.  Also, it was very hot and I just couldn't face it!  I will try to do better on the running front this week.  More positively, I went out on the bike on my own this morning (Mr Tuna is doing an epic 550k bike ride down to the South west and back) at 7am in the hope of missing some of the worst of the heat.  56 miles completed in 4h17 minutes at an average speed of 13mph, which I was pretty pleased with.

Thinking back to the original "plan", I'm not doing a great job of following it, but I am doing the best I can given the constraints of the weather, busy work, and my mood, and hopefully it will be enough on September 1st.

What did I get up to this week?
Monday: am - hammered it in the pool for 3k, to try and compensate for the disappointing swim at Stowe.  pm - 1.25 k lake swim with Claire, definitely a recovery swim messing around in the water and enjoying that it was 23C!
Tuesday: am - 2.5k pool swim
Wednesday: am - 2.5k pool swim, pm: 15 minutes stretching
Thursday: am - 3.75k pool swim (had to cut it short as was so tired); 12.5 mile bike ride (@13.1mph av.)
Friday: - off
Saturday: 1.5k swim race (report to follow), 1.5k stretch out pool swim
Sunday: 56 mile bike ride

16k swimming
68.5 miles cycling

Total training: 11 hours

What is the plan for this week?
Monday: am - pool swim, pm: lake swim
Tuesday: am - run [pm working late]
Wednesday: am - pool swim, pm: stretching/pilates/foam roller
Thursday: am - pool swim, pm bike
Friday: off
Saturday: swim?
Sunday: bike?  May change these around depending on weather and how I feel.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Stowe Olympic Distance Triathlon

So, today was my first attempt at an Olympic Distance tri.  I reasoned that if it's usual to attempt a half ironman 6-8 weeks out from an ironman to see how training is progressing, then I should do an Olympic Distance to check on my progress for the half ironman which is exactly 8 weeks today.

Let's start with the good bit.  I finished, and, although I haven't seen the splits, I think that they were probably on track.  (c.2 hours 10 minutes for the bike ride of 30 miles, which is going some by my standards), and a total time of about 3h45.  Yes, that's slow, but I'm not a speedy person, and my aim is really just to get around.

The bad bits.  It was always going to be a slightly odd race, not least due to the distances (1.5k swim, 800m run up to transition, 56k bike (which actually turned out to be about 53k), 8k run).  And I know this is the second time this week I've ranted about the poor organisation of races, but really, today was pretty poor.  It was announced that the water was 22C, but there was huge confusion about whether or not it would be wetsuit legal, optional or what.  At first it was announced that you couldn't wear a wetsuit if you wanted to go for a prize, but then they seemed to change their minds.  This confusion meant that they had to delay the start time by half an hour while people got organised - transition was 800m away from swim start and several people had to go back to get their wetsuits.  Still don't understand what was going on (Claire reported that the same happened before her wave an hour later, no idea why the communication was so poor).

Of course, my own organisation was a little poor too.  I know I could never swim in a wetsuit at 22C, but I had anticipated that the water would be about 18C which I could just about cope with.  So I'd planned to wear a wetsuit.  Of course, I didn't really have anything to wear without a wetsuit, so I ended up having to swim in my tri shorts (ok), and my running vest tucked in (rather not ok).  Next time I'll have a suitable swim top in my bag.

Then the lake.  I'd been to have a look at it with Claire the Crayfish beforehand, and noticed that there was quite a lot of scum on the surface.  It wasn't that big either, so I was suprised when about 400 people were walking down to our wave start.  We got into the water, and it wasn't even cold, but it was very very dirty.  The bottom of the lake is silt, and it had got all kicked up so the water literally went dark when you put your head in.  In fact, it wasn't really deep enough, as you could feel the silt even at the start line.  Yuk. 

I positioned myself in the usual place and we set off.  Unfortunately, I got hit on the head, so stopped to reorientate myself, during which time the other 400 swimmers started to surge past, and I went into a full blown panic attack due to the number of people around me.  Horrid.  I had to let everyone go past me in order to find some space to calm myself down.  Started swimming, but obviously I started to catch people up (my wave was the sub-30 minute 1500m swimmers, but I am more towards the pointy end of that usually), which led to another panic attack at the second buoy.  Horrid.  Luckily, it thinned out a little bit, although still the busyest swim I've ever done, and I managed to complete it, get out, get my shoes on and jog 800m up to transition, mostly in tears.  Bizarrely I came out in the middle of the pack at around 23 minutes 30ish.

So, I got up to transition and yelled at Mr Tuna what had happened - he had beaten me out of the swim but not by much and although I'd panicked seeing that his shoes had gone. I should have known that he wouldn't be that far ahead.  He was able to give me a hug and offered to cycle around with me (but was firmly told by the BTF official that that isn't allowed!).  I urged him to go on because only his T1 time would have been screwed up by me, so he left, and I went out on the bike. 

The bike was pretty grim because I was still in tears and it was very hot.  I had to stop about every 3 miles on the first lap in order to top myself up with fluid as I felt very thirsty, and after about 30 minutes, everyone from my wave had passed which led to a lonely hour and a half where I didn't see another cyclist.  A major disadvantage of having everyone seeded by swim time - good swimmers are not all good cyclists.  Although there were hills (I think 500m climbing total), it wasn't actually too bad, certainly not compared to some of the long bike rides that I've been on, and I did manage to go around fairly fast (for me).  I'll be interested to see what my actual split was but if I'm correct then I should be well on track for Zell am See.  Despite the tears.

During the bike I'd been hoping that Mr Tuna would have finished when I got back to transition and then I could get him to run the 8k with me, as I couldn't bear the thought of being the only runner on the course (the fast people from the wave an hour later hadn't actually caught me, and didn't actually catch me...).  Unfortunately he wasn't, and as I was in floods of tears again at this point, the run was not very fun.  I ran for 1k and then was crying so much that I had to switch to a grim route march.  Suddenly I saw Mr Tuna at the side of the road!  He'd not had a great race, and had fallen off after hitting a tractor and had decided to wait for me, he'd not been there that long apparently (not sure what his idea of that long is), marital ESP I reckon!  So I cried a whole lot more and we carried on grimly trudging around through the heat - I didn't mention the heat enough yet, but it was about 26C and under the midday sun with no clouds - we planned to DNF.  Then, I decided that it would be better for my psychologically if we did manage to complete it.  And we started running.  We managed to run about 2k to the drink station, where I poured loads of water over me, and my wet clothing cooled me down enough to run a little bit more.  At about the 6k mark we had to run/walk the remaining 2k; if it hadn't been so hot I could have run as there was more in my legs but it was just too hot.

We finished.  Unfortunately they'd given up on announcing finishers and were in transition announcing the people coming through from the next wave, so I didn't get my name called out.  There were no medals and I had to ask for a t-shirt.  Which is green, probably my least favourite colour.

So, what have I learnt today?
1. I have the grim determination to make it around things, but a bit of encouragement really really helps.
2. I think I am probably on track with my training for Zell am See, and after all I will be nicely tapered, not at the end of the biggest training week so far..
3. I really don't like heat, but pouring about a litre of water over my head makes all of my clothes wet (my Mind running vest worked nicely for both bike and run) and helps to keep me cool - I will utilise this more if Zell is hot.
4.  I need to have other options of outfits with me to race in.
5. Maybe I will find someone who knows about sports psychology to help me deal with the mental difficulties that I faced today.  Having a panic attack is scary, and it is such a shock for it to happen in what is usually the best bit of my event, but I think I allowed it to derail me a bit too much.

Oh, and it's too hot to put on my compression tights.  Tomorrow is going to be fun....

Friday, 5 July 2013

Weekly catch up (8 weeks (and 2 days) to go)

8 weeks - eek!  Actually, it's not quite 8 weeks but I'm doing my weekly catch up now as the training week is now completed - tomorrow is a rest day and then Sunday is Stowe triathlon.  11.5 hours in the bag already thanks to not being at work, and I assume Stowe will take in the region of 3.5-4 hours to complete.

What have I been up to?
Monday: lunchtime 3k swim, lots of tech work and paddles, evening 3k lake swim - very pleasantly warm and the furthest I've been in the lake non wetsuited.
Tuesday: 44 mile bike ride, quite slow as we were still tired from Sunday, and the last 20 miles were completed in pouring rain which meant that I didn't manage the run off the bike that I had planned.  Oh well, came home and got into bed under the duvet!
Wednesday: felt pretty rough most of the day so spent it resting, but in the evening I did my first 3.8k without wetsuit.  It wasn't a great race due to the shoddy course, but I felt strong in the water and could have gone much further than 3.8k at that temperature (17C).
Thursday: 20 mile bike followed by 5k run: the weather has been hotting up as the week has progressed and the run was particularly vile.  It was only about 20C so I think I'll be hoping for a cool day for my 70.3.  And I'll definitely be changing out of my tri shorts for the half marathon as they were uncomfortably insulatative.
Friday: 4k swim at Uxbridge lido.  Beautiful sunshine today so treated myself to a trip to this lovely pool.  Bizarrely it felt far colder than either of the lake swims I did this week.  Not cold enough to make me shiver or my hands claw up but definitely chilly.

So totals for this week are:
14k swimming
5k running
64 miles on the bike

(to which I'll be adding 1.5k swimming, 35 miles on the bike, 8k run with Stowe on Sunday.  It's going to be hot, so I guess I'm kind of glad that the run is now only 8k rather than 10k due to building work).

What is the plan for next week?
Following my meltdown the week after Blenheim, I'll be aiming to take it fairly easily, before I head into 3 solid weeks of training before I take 2 days off for my wedding anniversary at the start of August, which will precede a final solid 2 weeks before a 2 week taper.  As it's hot, I think I'll focus on swimming this week, and lots of stretching/foam rollering, with perhaps one run.

Monday: am swim (if not too tired), pm lake swim (if the weather is lovely, I'll just go along and enjoy it)
Tuesday: am swim, pm 5k run
Wednesday: am swim, pm off
Thursday: am swim, 1h bike
Friday: off
Saturday: 1.5k swim race?  + 2k in the pool?
Sunday: club bike ride.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Swimming without a wetsuit.

Whilst my focus should mainly be on the half ironman in September, it has to be said that I'm thinking about life after half ironman, when I hope to move back towards swimming challenges.  13 days after the half ironman, my post-race treat to myself is participating in the Chillswim Coniston swim, where I will swim the length of Consiton in the Lake District - 5.25 miles or 8.5k.  It's going to be tough, because I don't have the time in my schedule to do the long swims that I would usually do for a distance event like this (although I am putting in a 5k set most weeks, and I have at least got 3 10ks and 1 14k under my belt from the two previous seasons).  I'm going to make it tougher for myself by aiming to do it non-wetsuit, unless the weather is truly horrific.

Since my inadvertent non wetsuit swim in early May, all of my lake swims (bar races) have been done without a wetsuit (probably not helping my wetsuited times :-), and I've gradually built up from one lap, to two, and even three this last week (a lap is c1k).  Of course, the temperature can vary wildy (from 14C to 19C) and it also seems to make a big difference as to whether the sun is shining on my back.

With that in mind, when I had the opportunity this week to do a midweek 3.8k, unrested, I thought I would give it a go without a wetsuit.  I knew I wasn't going to be setting any PBs as I didn't want to push it too hard with a race coming up on Sunday, and more training to be got in this week.  So I thought doing it without a wetsuit would be a different dimension, whatever time I did would be a non wetsuit PB!  I think the water was somewhere between 17 and 18C but actually felt pleasant.   I felt like I was swimming strongly, which meant that it was a right pain that there were not the usual race buoys (large inflatables...) but just small water buoys, which coupled with a large lake, surrounded by trees made it very difficult to sight.  Oh, and the fact that they hadn't removed the buoys that weren't part of the course...  I got lost, and according to Mr Tuna, this accounted for at least 5 minutes of my swim.  Which is a shame as I was hoping for sub 1h10 on my first non wetsuit 3.8k (wetsuits tend to save quite a bit of time...), and I came in in 1h11.  On the plus side, I was second overall, first woman and first non wetsuit...

Of course, all of this has a purpose, little baby steps towards the plans that I am making, of which more in due course.  Right now, it's time to take advantage of being on leave for the week and go out for a short bike followed by a run...