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

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?