Sunday, 28 December 2008

goodbye christmas pud - hello 2009!

The year is inching to a close, and with it, my year of firsts!

2008 brought my first half marathon, first 10k and first sprint triathlon.

My primary goal for 2009 is the London Triathlon - and guess what? I've just entered!!!

That's right! I'm now officially locked into the 2009 London Triathlon! It's all very exciting - this will be my first (and possibly only) attempt at an Olympic Distance Triathlon - as the distances are going to be over double what I've already undertaken in the Sprint.

Looking at the figures, this is what we get;

Sprint Triathlon: 400m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
Olympic Triathlon: 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run

So we can see there are some pretty monumental differences there.

I've stepped up training since my last post and have been active almost every day. On boxing day I took to a very chilly morning and ran along one of my old routes when I was training for the half mara - it brought back memories of when running was actually exciting (OMG I can run 10 miles!!!!!)

In other news I'm heading off today to gather gear for the Mt Kili climb. I love gear shopping, and pretending to know what i'm talking about to all the gear geeks. They always see right through me. I can't even spell carabiner.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

twas the night before christmas (well, almost)

it's christmas time. i've spent the evening scouting for princess related items for a young relative which says princess for her, but is also influenced by my own secret agenda of style/quality/independence/strength/ambition to one day complete triathlon.

i know it's a familiar cry; but it's been a busy month, and has resulted in absolutely no training activity for EIGHT DAYS

shocking, i know. usually this delayed inactivity would have me scratching at the post but i've actually enjoyed the break.

for a few days, at least, and then rectified by two heavy gym days in quick succession. the gym program i worked on with the PT has just hit five weeks, and there's two positives to report:

one being that i can now complete 30 press ups, without inducing coronory.

second being that i can use that hardcore ab looking machine, without looking like a fool. not sure how to describe it, but it's the one you stand up, elbows supported, and then pull your knees to your chest. i've always thought it looks very difficult, and was quite proud when i managed multiple repititions. then a sixty plus year old woman got on it after me and did like forty in a row. damn those fit grannies.

it's only nine weeks until the Mt Kili climb. yikes! i feel starved of oxygen just thinking about it...

Thursday, 27 November 2008

climbing africas highest

okay so my once a week blogging tradition hasn't been terribly consistent of late... but it's tough out here in the blogging world. we have responsibilies beyond these pages, and with responsibilities comes winter, and with winter, comes inherent laziness.

well, not laziness as such, but who was i kidding? as if i can train NOW for something that's about 6 MONTHS away????

haven't been stationary of course, am still getting through at least one spinning class, a couple of swims, a run and strength training each week. but it's lacking in goals - and as such, not a great deal to report.

in other news - have just booked a trip for next feb to climb Africa's highest peak; Mt Kilmanjaro. it'll take six days to reach the summit, but there are glaciers there, yes, glaciers! i haven't crossed a glacier off my list yet, so am well pleased. and i'll have six days of going up up up to relish in the pleasure...

so blogging shall continue into 2009, albeit a little slower over the winter months, and will aim for every two weeks instead of the usual every week.

so stay tuned!!!

Monday, 10 November 2008

running in the dark

it's the end of the second week attempting to get back into running and things are a little less painful! horrah!

this week i managed:

25 minute run outside
20 minute treadmill run
2 hour cycle outside
2 x 45 minute gym routines
1 little swim doing speed drills

so my running is still only at twice a week, rather than three times as i've been aiming - but it's still an improvement so i'm happy with that. and therefore, it's time for a new challenge!!

i've decided a new aim for this week's running exercises! i'm going to time myself running to the end of my street, as fast as my little pegs will propell me. it's only 300 metres - a good little starting distance for me to get motivated with.

the aim is that over the next few months, i get faster, and then slowly start to increase the distance. so that within six months, i'm qualifying for London 2012 - hahahaha. okay, kidding, really.

but hopefully will get my pegs used to moving at a rate which is marginally quicker than a four year old toddler.

(btw: i'm not basing these
How To Run Faster techniques on anything remotely educational, just a bit of guess work... will see how she goes!)

Sunday, 2 November 2008

the art of making excuses

so with one sprint distance tri under my belt, the next major goal is the olympic distance triathlon. this one, i do believe, is going to hurt. we're looking at the following distances:

swim: 1500 metres
bike: 40 kms
run: 10 kms

other than this being a helluva distance, i'm also going to have to complete an open water swim in the thames, wearing a wetsuit... here's the map of the 2008 circuit for the London Triathlon:

last week i set some training objectives, which i didn't manage to achieve - big surprise! had a busy week, so will see how i get on in the forthcoming week. what did i get around to doing, then?

1 x 25 minute run outside
1 x 45 cycle outside
2 x strength training gym sessions
1 x 30 minute swim, at a good pace

on the plus, i did have a consult with the personal trainer and have developed a new gym routine based on the objectives of: running faster, strengthening knees and core, and toning upper body. have even incorporated such fun new toys as swiss ball and medicine ball. i'm so easily pleased. really.

on the negative, on friday i pulled a muscle/tendon/something in my foot from wearing inappropriate footwear - which now results in my foot grinding when i move my toes... hmmmm... perfect excuse to hold off on the running the rest of the week! yipppeeeee...

(note: must stop rejoicing in the No Running Excuse)

Sunday, 26 October 2008

finding the point to running

it's been three weeks since the triathlon, which almost makes me laugh... mostly because my 'whats-the-point' level for exercise has already reached familiar heights.

so, what have i been doing? for the last three weeks, i've been pretty consistent at going to the gym for strength training, doing classes (spinning, pump, step), swimming (albeit as a wind-down, on my way to the spa...) and a two day cycle!

one thing i haven't been doing.... is running.

in an attempt to find some focus/motivation/point to running and exercising -- i've just read this article,

here's a little extract which brings to attention exactly the opposite of what i wanted:

"For most people the ultimate question is: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Yet, for triathletes, the greatest dilemma is more along the lines of: ‘How can I achieve multiple personal bests next season, while crushing my rivals like ants?’

One popular approach is to swim, bike and run like a maniac all winter and then expect results across the board next year. But those treading this path usually learn that improving all three sports at once is like the Holy Grail quest, and leaves you with a broken body and spirit.

A more measured and long-term approach is to work selectively on one element of the sport until you master it. And why not your running? After all it’s often the most crucial discipline, the one on which most races are won and lost. Endless swimming can be boring. Lapping the pool every day may well make you more slippery in the water, but its mind-numbing properties and inevitable ‘eau de chlorine’ whiff won’t have a positive impact on your social life. What’s more, the relative time gains in the shortest triathlon discipline aren’t going to eat into your overall time that much. As for cycling in the British autumn and winter, the experience can be summed up in four words: wet, miserable, dark and dangerous. So running it is…"

i used to enjoy running, what happened? i got competitive, compared myself to others, felt like a blob, and the hate was seeded. but what if i could re-discover the delights...? i'm tentative even as i write that: crikey, not a good start.

so kids, it's not what i wanted to hear. but i'm going to try it; just for a month. the first step is 'slow and steady' - getting used to running 3 times a week - but in this weather, should i be aiming for treadmill (boring) or outside (slippery)? i've always found treadmill running a bit of a cop-out - but here's an interesting article comparing the two:

article outcome: 1% incline on the treadmill seems to level out the difference as much as possible. done!

not one to follow a punishment plan designed by others, here's my aim for the next month:

2 x week : 30 min run outside at my usual plodding pace

1 x week: 20 min run on the treadmill at slightly faster pace

1 x week: 50 min spinning class

1 x week: 45 min swim at a med-high pace

1 x week: strength training at the gym and/or pump class (mostly focussed on strengthening core)

this seems like a lot, but i'll be able to combine some of the activities on the same day (ie. running for 30 mins outside on my way up to the gym, to go for a swim or do a pump class). and anyways, i've just joined a fabulous new gym and need to get my monies worth! it was voted 2nd best gym in london, and is my treat for dealing with a lifetime of showering with hair caked to the bottom of my feet... hmmmmm.... tasty....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

on the road german style

two days. two bikes.

cycling from berlin to poland

germany is top notch for cycling. really. england could learn a few things. our ‘cycle’ map took us along a succession of purpose built cycle only paths – through beautiful forests, along rivers, through towns. Often the cycle path was in better condition than the actual road.

our trip didn’t start well, and we cycled in the wrong direction for 45 minutes. whoops. not one to turn around, we re-evaluated the route and continued.

unfortunately, I didn’t have my trusty speedy racer. unable to deal with the hassle of taking it on the plane, I borrowed my friend’s putt putt bike. I thought it would be okay, but every slight incline was painful. I felt like I was in an episode of antiques roadshow. the bike was old, heavy, three gears, small frame. I tried to grin and bear it – but it’s like going from first class back to economy. the next trip, I’m finding a way to get my racer on the bloody plane.

making it to poland was great – we didn’t take our passports and glided past the border without incident. coming back was a little trickier – as we were on the train – and there were some hairy moments as the police went through the carriage checking passports (but stopping short of us for some reason!!)

I’ve learnt a few things this trip.

1. do not return to the ye olde crappe bikey. ever.

2. cycling in autumn is brilliant!!

3. take passport when crossing borders

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

the aftermath

three days later and am starting to loose the buzz - already been having a look at the next event!

was surprisingly not sore after the race - which really proves how much more i could have pushed on the bike leg. the official event pictures have been posted online, and there's one of me on the bike- in the closer one you can even see the rain drops.

they do charge for the copies, but being a bit of digital geek - i just bring the pic up on my screen, hit the Print Screen button, and do a little cropping in photoshop. it does mean i am contending with a watermark, but it does the trick.

so - next event - london triathlon is in August 09 (and costs £70 to enter!!) so will definitely have to fit in another event before then to keep on top of things. not sure which one, maybe one for May or June?

i have two cycling trips planned this month, one in berlin and another in france - so that will keep me busy in the meantime.
also need to find a running club in north london to get my running up to speed. possibly enter a few early next season 5 and 10 kms too.

but this week - i'm not moving a muscle!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

the results are in!!

So it’s OVER (or just begun!) – my triathlete virginity has been lost, gone, never to be returned!

I’m going to give a blow-by-blow (no pun intended) description of the event, but I know you’re desperate for the final result so here she is:

(drumroll please!)

out of 140 fellow ladies competing, my placing for each leg was broken down into the follow:

25th for the swim (yipppeeeee!)

25th for the bike (who would have thought it???)

95th for the run (ahahha, like as if I was ever going to score well here peoples)

so, overall, I came 51st out of 140! Am well stoked with that result, pa
rticularly in doing well in the bike leg, which was unexpected. Actually finished the race smiling (with pictures to prove!) Let me say, the weather was absolutely miserable, rain and wind and freezing cold – but the triathlon was brilliant, and I had a ball!

Here’s a breakdown of each leg of the race, complete with official times:

SWIM: 400m in 7mins 54secs.

My theory of swimming with the slower swimmers in a bid to get out early kind of backfired in that I was overtaking a lot, and ended up in a four person backlog to get out of the pool (wasting 30 seconds!!) the good thing was that I was (apparently) the fastest person in the pool and as a result looked rat
her impressive (enough for a lady to comment to husband and pass on her admiration!) Husband was timing my swim on trusty iphone, as we can see from pic below:

T1: Transition was hectic due to the rain – all my stuff was sitting in a bag and I was struggling to remember what I needed for the cycle leg. Was also scared of being disqualified for things like touching bike before putting helmet on, and not mounting bike at correct place. Accidentally scowled at the lovely cheerers due to stressful transitioning business and apologise muchly!

BIKE: 23 kms in 54 mins

Started off on bike, ready for streams of people to start flying by me – and then started to realise they actually weren’t going to. Indeed, only a few people overtook me on the bike, which was brilliant for my morale and meant I really really enjoyed the ride. I didn’t push hard at all, kept in the same gear 90% of the time, spinning mostly, and found myself overtaking others on going uphill, and being overtaken on the hills on the way down! The roads were terribly wet (and it was still raining) – so I used my brakes all the way down the hill in fear of coming off. Sure I wasted time, but at least I didn’t come off! Was even singing to myself during the ride. LOVED IT. Could definitely have gone faster + harder, but felt I didn’t need to and am glad I didn’t.

T2: Transition 2 was super quick, as I didn’t have clip in bike shoes to change. Dropped my bike and helmet, grabbed my headband (to keep fringe off face, peoples, not for aesthetics!) and took off for the run.

RUN: 5kms in 31 mins

Was so frozen from the bike, did not feel legs – literally – for the first half of the run. My skin was red raw, can’t remember last time I experienced this. Track was super muddy for about ¼ of the stretch which helped because it meant I couldn’t run fast even if I wanted to.
Legs picked up pace a little later, but then the last 1km I got a really bad stitch. Felt like I had broken a rib (never done that, but could imagine?!) Not sure why this happened, as I didn’t drink a drop during the whole race – perhaps my body just knowing how tragic a runner I am and giving me an excuse to whinge. Bunch of people over taking me on this stretch, as was expected.

OVERALL: Had WAY too much fun for this type of business! Would love to compete in the London Triathlon next year, so will definitely keep training over winter. Will dedicate some real time to improving my running, now that I know my swimming and cycling are on an even level. At the end of the event, felt incredibly good (except for stitch) and know I could definitely manage an olympic distance triathlon.

sounds like there's a new countdown on the horizon....

Friday, 3 October 2008

the (almost) last supper

so it's the friday, before the saturday, before the sunday of the EVENT. i'm using capitals liberally now.

this week has been slow on the training front, winding down to preserve some energy for Sunday. what exactly happened?

TUES: did manage my first spin class in a year. was expecting to fall off stationary bike from the pain - but actually survived pretty well. wasn't even terribly sore the day after. am hoping this translates into a Not Too Bad Cycle Time...

WED: 20 minute run, didn't feel too bad running at my usual pace

and that's been it.

so, has it been enough, am i going to enjoy it, will i fall off my bike, will i come last, will i even finish??

all this and more, on the next installment; the RESULT!!

Monday, 29 September 2008

the last swim

one of my first posts on this blog was The First Swim, now, here we are, at the Last Swim (i'm so quasi dramatic)

it's six days until the triathlon and i've got one more run and one more bike up my sleeve, then that's it!

so, the final swim, how did she go? my time for 400m was 7 mins 36 seconds - very happy. if i can get under eight mins on sunday, i'll be stoked!

let's re-cap how my training has been for the last week:

monday: 1/2 hr cycle, 20 min run, 1/2 hour swim
tuesday: rest
wednes: 1/2 hour cycle followed by 6 min run
20 min cycle followed by 10 min run, 10 minute cycle followed by 5 min run, 1/2 hour swim
friday: rest (well, sick actually, but who's counting?)
saturda: 25 min swim, clocked time of 7 min 36.
sunday: 2 hour cycle, around london - so not fast

have managed to stick pretty well to my aim of training 5 days out of 7 - which actually was a lot easier than what i had imagined. because i've had shorter training sessions (usually max. 1 hour at a time) - i've been able to slot the training easily into my routine.

as a result - i don't believe i'm going to perform much faster than what i could have achieved nine weeks ago, but i do definately feel more prepared, physically, for the tole on my body. hell, i'm actually looking forward to it!

so time wise, i'm still expecting much the same as i did when i started this blog:

swim (400m): this one's a bit easier to anticipate thanks to trusty stopwatch! - 7 mins 40 secs
bike (23kms): no idea, probably about the same as everyone else - 56 mins?!
run (5kms): still expect to be hitting the 30 min mark, which will place me right at the back!

i've definately focused more on cycling and swimming these past nine weeks, as i knew my running would need more than nine weeks to get better (like try a decade) - but this is also a tester triathlon for me, and being the end of the tri season - it's also an indicator of whether i want to continue training over the winter and compete in next year's season.

in the meantime, six days remaining...!!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

al: trainer of mice triathletes

three announcements:

1. thought we had a mouse in the house, ended up being a false alarm. sorry, not tri related, but if i trained the mouse to run, swim and cycle - that would be a different story, right??

2. am starting to look forward to race. big news. not sure i've experienced this sensation yet, usually have thought about race with mixed feelings of dread and competitive spirit. now feeling like there isn't much more i can do to get faster/better so am now actually looking forward to it.

compare this feeling to not having studied very much for exam at school, the calm that washes over when you walk into the exam hall, knowing it's too late now.

3. am ready to love new bike, but alas, she is not ready to love me. my trip to richmond park on the weekend wasn't quite as effective for a multitude of reasons, one being her seemingly ineffective gears.

took it back to bike shop - he tells me there is nothing wrong with the gears. again. i'm just not convinced.

went for another ride this morning, to make sure it wasn't my sanity wavering - but the gears just aren't as good as my Ye Olde Ruste Mountain Bike - and how is that possible??

i want to change gears, for her to find that gear, straight away, no questions asked - but she doesn't respond like such, but rather hangs out, has a cup of tea, with a lot of clunking about, then slips into gear.

off to another bike shop today, hoping for some answers.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

week two: television vs. training

so - three new purchases, how did they fare?

1. the new bike: is so fast i have to brake on straight stretches of road. hills are an absolute push over. hoping that my fear of speed and being squashed will be over-ridden by my competitive nature on race day (only two weeks away).

2. the new tri suit: has been bike tested (uber comfy, has padding and everything) and run tested (holds everything in place, nice). have already managed to damage it a bit. brill.

3. the new bike helmet: is sitting in the same place i threw it when i got home from the shop.

i tried to manage a brick session on thursday but failed - i just couldn't manage 1 hour of intense cycling - not due to my lacking ability, but because of the surrounding roads. figure there's not a lot of point in bricking unless i get my cycling intensity up for long enough....?

anyway, my lame brick attempt involved cycling for an hour and a half, then coming home and watching an episode of Project Runway Australia (got to love it) - then heading out for a fast-ish 11 minute run.

my legs afterwards were pretty high on the sore scale - which goes to say what they're going to be like when i actually do it for real, without a reality show to break things up.

tomorrow am going to head out to richmond park - london's biggest green space - see pic above or-

brilliant cycle paths, so should be able to pick up some speed (without fear of being squashed by cars) and then can follow with a painful, joyless run.

i'm loving the painful joyless runs

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

the giant has arrived!

big news - the bike has arrived! what's the bike goss, you ask? here she is:

1. she is blue

2. she is a giant (not in size, but in label)

3. she visited the bike shop twice today for alterations

4. i have not fallen off (yet)

in other very exciting news, a visit to the tri shop this afternoon led to two terrific purchases. firstly - a tri suit! what the hell is that, perhaps you're asking - well here's a handy picture of the very one i did purchase (though i didn't opt for the pink colour....)

rest assured ladies, there leaves nothing to the imagination in one of these little numbers! but i'm hoping that by moving with speed, i'll be applying a motion blur to myself, and nobody will see anything but a few blurry pixels.

my second purchase at the tri shop was a bike helmet. firstly, i refused to buy into one of those alien ones - then the dude at the shop told me the one i was buying (an old school skating type helmet) wasn't good for tri's and i told him that, not being an alien, or wanting to look like an alien, i would not be investing in the alien helmet. so now i'll look very softcore at the race, but at least i won't look like i have a second head under my arm pit (typical alien feature)

haven't been training, too busy buying stuff. big bike ride tomorrow - and my first major 'brick' (a cycle followed by a run). here's to good times ahead!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

holy moses - three weeks to go!

as i have a mini freakout over the impending event - let's recap on training this week:

mon: 30 min swim
tues: 2 and ½ hr cycle (up to epping forest; lovely)
weds: 45 min swim

thurs: 40 min gym
fri: rest day
sat: 45 min run (along a coastal path; double lovely)

sun: rest day

there's a question I’m being asked more, which is “With all this exercise, are you feeling the benefits?” On a day to day level, getting up at 6.30am and moving about for an hour or so before work, I do find myself more content with my day. However – this is not always the case – and sometimes exercising can do quite the opposite – and put me in a bad mood.

this week featured some pretty terrific ups and downs, would be interested to hear on other folks experience of this. here is my down, followed by my up.


two and half hour cycle – feeling good on the way out, got to the forest, was nice and hilly and muddy. On the way back started getting hungry and tired and sore. Got home, checked my time verses distance on google maps and realised it was yet ANOTHER stupidly slow time. Felt rather miserable, still hungry but nothing to eat in the house and didn’t cheer up until well into the night after a very satisfying meal of sashimi. So, figure – exercise doesn’t always make you feel better, and eating well post exercise is a must must must.


wednesday swim I put myself to some speed training. the aim was to find a quick 100 metre pace which didn’t make me want to hurt small kittens. Up and back I went, and couldn’t get faster than 1 min 54 seconds. then my lane started getting a bit crowded, so off I popped into the slow lane for a bit of underwater swimming (got to love it!)

when I returned for another time test, I managed to do my 100 metres in 1 min 48 seconds! I was well chuffed, and put my fandangle new time down to my underwater swimming (and all that lung stretching which results)

I’m interested by the idea of exercising changing your mood; a friend suggests his mood is emphasised after exercising – so if he’s in a bad mood, he ends up in a really bad mood, and vice versa.

Hmmmm – I think my bad mood might just eventuate from realising how crapola I am!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Tri Preparation: Getting Down with Public Body Exposure

I’m writing this week’s blog-tastic entry from a train, traveling slowly across the spanish coast. This post might be a little longer than usual, but damn it’s pack full of exciting stuffs! Today marks the four week mark- one month remains! So what happened this week? Let’s re-cap on the training front:

1. no swimming! Bad bad bad, but did manage to spend an hour yesterday sea kayaking. Used my arms a lot, and fell into the water a few times while trying to launch myself into the kayak… hot.

2. ran twice – brilliant! even did a run along the beach – youch. If I’m a bad runner on land, throw sand into the mix and it’s all downhill. Stopwatch was nowhere to be seen, put it that way.

3. cycled a bit – still waiting for bike… hmfgh. Let’s not go there.

Now onto the exciting business: the issue of near naked-ness required for triathlon participation.

The Midriff

Four weeks to go: am really going to have to decide what to wear. Now, this may be fickle, but I recently learnt 92% of women perform better at sports when they feel good in what they’re wearing. so with statistics on my side, allow me to relay my experience Exposing the Midriff.

I’ve decided I’m going for a morning run on the beach, followed by a dip in the ocean. I’ve also decided not to go in my usual running garb (long pants, tank top). today – possibly enthused by the sangaria from the night before – I commit to testing the waters in Exposing the Midriff While Exercising.

If you’ve seen any of these sporty triathlon types, the midriff is out. However, I haven’t been involved in a Public Midriff Exposing Episode since the late eighties (when it was fashionable, for nine year olds). So it’s out, and I’m running. Fortunately nature is somewhat on my side, and I don’t have a particularly obscene midriff, so this is aiding my confidence. At first, I’m feeling a bit paranoid, then suddenly, as I pass the usual All Shapes and Sizes on the beach – I realise, it’s not so bad, and I’m running (so possibly a little bit blurry anyway) – and by the end of the run I’m Free Of All Midriff Insecurities.

So, that's great on one hand, but i still have NO IDEA what i'm going to wear. Invest in a tri suit for £80, possibly never to wear it again? Get over the VPL and wear my swimming costume running? Go naked, and win the event by all other competitors falling off their bike at the sight of me?

Maybe not.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

week six: training results

this week i put the stopwatch aside, and approached training from a new perspective: actually enjoying myself. crazy concept i know.

i'm still not following a training schedule, am more working around when it's time to wash my hair. so, what did i get up to this week:

sat: 45 minute run through park/along canal
sun: rest
mon: rest
tues: 2 x 50 minute cycle
wed: 45 minute strength training at gym
thurs: 15 minute run through park
fri: 30 minute swim

the big news of the week - is i've finally found a bike! it's a second hander, and it's being delivered in a week or so - can't wait.

the bad news; for those who know me; is that it's a racer.

i'm prone to falling off bicycles. let's say there's been a few tumbles. some alcohol induced, some not. the worst, without doubt, was The Great Fall of 2006 - during a three day cycle tour in southern france. whizzing down a hill, hitting some wet leaves in the gutter, going down, million miles an hour, cheek scraping along the gravel until coming to a rest at the bottom. i had to be scraped off the road like those cartoons when coyote gets squashed. when i rolled my trousers up, my skin rolled off too. i couldn't bend my knee for a coupe of weeks. still have a bump on my forehead, as a little reminder.

so GREAT the racer will make me go fast. but i have a feeling this is going to take some getting used to, as the sound of my cheek on gravel does tend to flashback when i pick up speed...

Friday, 22 August 2008

week seven: personal trainer laughs at me

some points regarding week seven

1. spent time at the bike shop. lots of time. buying nothing. did not notice hot bike man.

2. tried on a few tri-suits in the local tri store. they look HIDEOUS. i stopped wearing bike shorts in the early nineties. was hoping to keep it that way.

3. have resigned myself to a swim time of 8 minutes. this will not kill me, which i figure is a positive start to the race.

4. personal training session at gym tonight. personal trainer laughed at me. to be fair, i could not lift the gym equipments 'no weight' option on the knee exercises... i did have my knee reconstructed, so bit of an excuse, but that was eight years ago, so excuse is running a bit thin.

5. knees aside, body is taking shape after week 3 of training. still can't run, but will try to look as good as possible while trying.

6. need to buy new bike. this week. not from hot bike man (husband reads blog)

Saturday, 16 August 2008

saying goodbye?

am buying into this whole thing now. made three purchases this week:

1. laces for my shoes, to make the tieless (see pic above). will save time from not having to tie my laces during transition.

2. light blister free socks. apparently most people in the race will go sockless to save time - but that will make my run pretty painful - and it's already going to be damned painful

3. triathlon magazine. i felt like a bit of a knob buying it - but did actually have some handy tips on swimming stroke improvements and general stuff to make me feel scared (like running with your bike and jumping on mid jog -- surely this isn't necessary???)

training this week went well - 5 days on, 2 days off.

biggest session was yesterday, with a 30 min cycle, 15 min run and 20 min swim. i was absolutely spent after that.

am weighing up getting a new bike - not just for the race, but also to use thereafter. my little rusty mountain bike has been with me for years, and we've been through a lot together (and fell over a lot together). i've only recently put slicks on her too, so she's looking pretty good. but she's heavy, and slow, and a bit embarassing. maybe it's time to move on...?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

the point of no return

very busy end of last week/weekend - four whole days passed with not a gear, goggle or gallop in place

am making up for it now, swimming on monday (8.30 mins - slow slow slow) and tuesday was a 20 min high gear cycle (ouch) followed by a five minute run (so pathetic not worth mentioning, right?)

tomorrow am heading in for another cycle and run combo- this time will chain myself to the treadmill so i don't get off early. might try running first, then cycling, in an attempt to minimise the 10.3 million excuses i seem to invent with every stride

in positive news - have just registered online for the triathlon. no turning back now - especially not for £39

here's the link to the event, ironically titled 'fun2tri' -- the fun element has yet to be determined...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

swim: timing with quasi precision

yesterday morning i headed to the pool armed with my old mobile phone, tucked into a black sock, stuffed into a little plastic bag. this was not an attempt to make an underwater phone call, but rather an effort to time myself with a little more precision than the clocks at the pool.

so after a two hundred metre warm up, i waited for the minute to tick over, and swam 400 metres as fast as i could. which, to my grave disappointment, didn't feel terribly fast. exercising 5 days a week is starting to catch up on me.

however, upon reaching the final lap, pulling my little phone out of the sock, trying to hide what i was doing from the other swimmers, the quasi accurate results were in.

and they were in the 7 minute range! how many seconds, i can't be sure (as the phone didn't show seconds) - but my guess would be 7 minutes 30 seconds.

must admit, feeling a bit pleasantly surprised, so yesterday purchased a proper water resistant stopwatch to confirm said time.

ever the pessimist.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

the first cycle

today: first preparation cycle.

into central london, 50 mins each way. have just found out how far this is with mapmyride ( 13 kms. Oh dear.

apparently for the triathlon (according to last year's results) i'm supposed to do 23 kms in about 53 mins. even if i factor in things like stopping at lights, turning corners, almost being killed by taxi drivers - i'm still stupidly off target.

today, as always, fellow london cyclists were whizzing past me. the only cyclists i overtook were older than my mother, riding one of those little foldy bike things, and children so small i almost inhaled them.

i figure there's no way i'm going to be able to time myself properly before the triathlon, so i guess i'm just going to have to keep cycling into work every other day and work on building my cycling fitness.

unfortunately at London's Most Povo Fitness Facilities (ie. my gym) they don't do spinning classes. wish they did - because i really don't think i could manage using the bikes at the gym - if treadmills are a 9/10 on the boring scale, then bikes are not far behind. why wouldn't we want to be outside, it's called fresh air people - and taxi drivers who want us squashed!

am going to sneak another post in tonight - in response to a few comments on my last notation on the curse of the bad run...

question: why is every run a bad run?

Okay, so here’s the process of the Bad Run:

1. decide to run, feel positive, get my little outfit on, stretch this way, stretch that way, hit the road

2. feel good for about 200 metres, then my breath catches up and I feel lethargic, enter first thoughts of Hopelessness (this will be a reoccurring theme during the run)

3. try to find my pace, which is inevitably slow, in a bid to control breathing. Settle into pace – usually start feeling comfortable after about 10 mins

4. feel like I should be going faster, otherwise what’s the point? Might try a couple of speed bursts or try to quicken my pace. Again, can not breath, feel sluggish and this is when the Why Are You Doing This flashes in neon overhead and I think I may as well start walking to catch my breath, then feel like crap for having walked, and back to square one

So, possible theories as to cause of the Bad Run:

1. I’m running because I know I have to, rather than from actually wanting to do it
2. I like the idea of running more than the process itself
3. I’m comparing myself to too many other people, rather than trying to progress at my own pace
4. I just don’t enjoy running

The interesting thing was, the only time I’ve actually enjoyed running was when I was training for the half mara earlier this year, and I was so proud of myself every time I hit major mile markers – the impossible was becoming possible!

Now, however, it’s shorter distances, so it’s all about speed speed speed. I’d much rather run for 10 miles at my Plodding Pace, than do 3 miles flat out.

But I’ve signed up for this, so I need to change something; but what? way of training? way of thinking?

Bad Runs need to become Better Runs

Monday, 4 August 2008

week eight : bad start


bad run. again. why does running hate me?

beautiful evening, sun setting behind the park, lovely trail, not too hot, not too cold, new songs on my ipod, what more could i be asking for?

running ability perhaps?

Sunday, 3 August 2008

training results for week nine

1. results: thursday: first swim

thursday was the first preparation swim. got to love the english.

indoor pool: two lanes open. filled with 1. people going so slowly they were officially 'bobbing' and 2. people resting from their bobbing, hanging at the end of the lane, making turning impossible

outdoor pool: the deep section is in the middle of the pool, the shallow sections at either end. so they've corded off both ends of the pool. turning now impossible. determining actual length of pool now also impossible. big clock shows minutes only, so accurate timings also impossible.

so with widely inaccurate precision, i timed my 400 m swim at 8 minutes.

feeling quite positive about that time, being two years out of the pool. checked this against the results for last year's event, and looks like i should aim for about 7 minutes. sounds do-able??

lots to work on. my breathing was all over the shop, i have no pace, and my arms felt like they might drop off during the last stretch.

am concentrating on normal lengths, and also swimming arms only, to build strength. am happy doing this as it's my favourite way to swim anyway. i have no idea if this is what i should be doing, but i did read somewhere that i need to preserve my leg strength for the other legs (there's a lot of legs in that sentence).

2. results: saturday: runswimcycle in one day

was feeling really optimistic yesterday, regretting all optimism now.

woke at 7am and headed to pool/gym so i could use the indoor pool while they still had four lanes open. bee-lined for the treadmill with the aim of doing half hour, but jumped off at 15 minutes (had a million excuses for this: treadmills are boring, i was running a bit faster than usual, am early in my tri training, am about to go for swim anyway, might go for bike later, haven't had breakfast am feeling weaker, forgot to bring my water bottle, blah blah just get off the bloody treadmill already)

into pool - noting the fast lane was dotted with breast strokers (not the fast kind, at that). by the end of my swim noted all previous occupants had deserted the lane. did 400 metres, fast as possible, had to stop for a breather at 200 metres, and arms really felt like they were going to detatch themselves from my body. really need to work on arm strength.

also need to buy one of those little floaty things that go between the legs - so i can go arm only lengths. usually pools supply these (along with kickboards etc) but i am unfortunately attending possibly the most povo pool in london. the front desk is littered with posters reading DO NOT ABUSE OUR STAFF - which at first i felt was surely unnecessary, but now realise it is not. they are so rude, SO rude, i have vowed to change memberships to the (dreaded) Virgin gyms once this triathlon is over - but in the meantime, i need their long pools for the training. damn their long pool monopoly.

later in the day, cycled down to the art shop in Angel (about 25 mins) and was feeling good until the trip home. hadn't eaten lunch, started feeling weak, after a smoothie felt a little better and managed to get home - albeit slowly. even after eating was really tired the afternoon/evening.

so, end of week nine, what conclusions/thoughts/regrets/aims do we have?

* need to establish a training plan. possibly even stick to it.
* need to work out race outfit - am i going to run in my swimming costume, without sports bra?
ladies how is this managed?
* need to add arm strength training into the mix. like i need another thing to focus on.
* get that little floaty thing. must have a name?

and into week eight we go!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

nine weeks

it's the morning of my first swim. well, i'm not quite that virginised, i have swum before, but this is my first morning of "i've decided to enter the triathlon" swim.

this is also my first blog post, my first blog, it's a morning of firsts. how exciting.

so i need to describe where i'm at, as this blog is going to track my progress over the coming weeks, as an honest, mere mortal approach to fellow virgin triathletes. it stems from a (presumably) misconception that one needs to be The Fittest Person Ever to compete in these types of events. surely average fitness with a touch of enthusiasm and a dash of ignorance goes a long way?

it stems from running.

i was never a runner. at school, cross country, there i was, all legs and elbows, feigning asthma. i was a relatively sporty kid, always a bit better than average, but never going to be team captain. i could hit the ball in tennis, but it usually went over the net, so as long as my sport involved more power, less technique, i was in to win.

so, back to running.

about five years ago, i decided i wanted to get fit. i was swimming a lot back then, but out of the pool i was hopeless. i remember my first ever runs. i would go around the block, trying to run between the lamp posts. we're talking about 50 metres. i could barely make it. i persisted for a couple of months, before branding myself, yet again, a 'non-runner.'

fast forward three years, hello husband, hello very anti-excerise husband. what, i ask him, would make you exercise with me? he knew my weakness. running, he replied.

so, it began. again. the bloody lamp posts. husband, in all his non excersing glory, over took me time and time again. i was determined.

then i made the most fundamental realisation; running isn't about going full steam ahead, it's about pacing.

so, i started jogging, and as our morning runs continued, i found myself over taking husband - not from my speed, but from my consistency. it was a classic tortoise/hare situation, and i had finally found out why people enjoyed running. hell, i was even starting to like it.

eighteen months later, my first race, a half marathon. with a tragic time of 2 hrs 30 mins, it was a focus on finishing.

six months after that, my second race, a 10k, with a much more reasonable time of 1 hr 2 mins. still officially plodding, but getting closer.

but running is a little boring, i have to admit, and as it's not my strength, i'm never going to be very good at it. so, time to give something else a go.

enter; sprint triathlon. 400 metre swim, 23 km cycle, 5 km run.

okay, so nine weeks, but where am i at today?

5kms is definitely manageable, but at what time? at the moment i'd be hitting around 30 minutes, and that's when i'm fresh (not after a swim and a ride). Not good.

23kms on mostly flat ground will be fine, but again, at what time? a few weekends ago i did the London Bikeathon which was 23 miles, but I didn't time myself (stupidly). how am i going to time myself; i live in London?? will i deduct time from sitting at traffic lights? think not.

(possible strength?)
have always loved swimming, have never competed but i can hold my own in the fast lane (that's got to count for something?) however, i haven't been in the pool for a couple of years, as i've been concentrating on running - so this could potentially be a struggle. will i be one of those people who used to race as a kid and still thinks they're that good today? don't let me be one of those...

so lots of work to do. will keep posting my progress along the way - feel free to comment!