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!!