Saturday, 30 May 2009

9 weeks to go!

It's been a busy (sweaty) week. I've been working hard, giving the new training plan a run for its money, and have been feeling great. Here's what I've been up to:

> run speed session (25 minutes, 40 seconds on, 60 seconds recovery. top speed 13.1)

> bike speed session (45 minutes, 1 minute on, 1 minute recovery. top speed 35 kph)

> gym routine (speed run, pushups, pullups, squats)

> gym routine (speed run, pushups, pullups, lower back strength, squats)

> strength run outside (10 minutes, hilly)

> endurance bike (1.5 hours, outside)

so it's been pretty run focused, and also goal orientated. i'm making notes of each session and am trying to improve on some level every time - even if it's just squeezing in an extra push up. can't believe how much more enjoyable this makes training - that book has done wonders!

and on a very massive side note - i can't believe i hit 13.1 on the run machine! i've *never* gone this fast, and never thought i would ever go this fast. i don't think my legs thought it either, and they did feel like they might run off, leaving me a torso mess.

PT has established i need to maintain 11.1 on the run machine to aim for a 54 minute 10k. there's no way i could manage this at the moment, but i think with a good nine weeks of work then there's a chance. i am going to shed a little tear if i can sub 60 mins on that bloody run!

next week i'm going to maintain bike/run focus, working on speed and strength. we've got some lovely weather forecast in london so am really looking forward to getting into the sunshine!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

10 weeks until the London Triathlon; hello training schedule!

don't be alarmed, it's not my latest profile pic :) i was looking for some blog friendly images and stumbled across this lovely lady. hmmmmmm.

SO ladies + gents we have officially 10 weeks until the London Triathlon.

I'm a sucker for a goal, so have spent the morning lazing about with biscuits putting together a training plan. I've been using a book borrowed from a fellow tri-er, Richard, which has been incredibly helpful in making sense of what i'm doing, why, and how to move forward. Let's face it, i'm the most novice person under the tri-sun; but it's difficult mentally to keep working hard in three discplines when you're only point of focus is GO FASTER. like hello, if only it was that easy...

With the help of Joe's book, here's my plan, and a little pic of the book i'm using:

the training sessions are seperated into six goals. one for each day of the week, with a rest day. the only day i'm going to prescribe myself is Sunday, which will be Endurance day. the other days will be worked around other important factors like; Have I just washed my hair, Will I have time before going out/work etc, did I remember to wash my running clothes?

(delays fatigue)
> one long run starting with 7kms, working up to 10kms. or one long bike starting at 1 hour and working up to 2 hours.

(muscle strength + economy)
> bike hills seated or run hill course for 30 mins

(arm/leg turnover)
> 12 x 30 secs for bike, 8 x 20 secs for run, with 90 seconds recovery

(strength endurance, lactose intolarance)
> 4 x 6 mins for bike with 2 min recovery, 20 min run

elevate cardio limit, sustain high effort, lactose intolarance)
> 5 x 5 mins for bike with 2:1 recovery, 5 x 400 metres for run with 400m recovery

(muscular power and fast starts)
> 6 x 30 secs hill for bike with 60 secs recovery, 4 x 150 metres run with 250 metres recovery

It sounds all very complicated at this stage, but I figure a couple of weeks into the program it'll feel a bit easier to digest. You may have noticed that swimming is off the list, and that's because I've decided to focus on bike/run for the next 3 weeks, and will pick up swimming thereafter (giving me 7 weeks prep swim time!)

In other news, my wetsuit has arrived! I ended up hiring one from and haven't tried it on yet, but will do so over the next week.

My last PT session went well, and I may have picked up another training partner in the midst! Always up for training buddies, though PT runs veeerry fast so not sure how this will eventuate.

And the final news of the week is that during birthday celebrations (happy birthday me) I received a waterproof ipod kit so i can listen to music/podcasts while swimming! am super excited about this, and will gear report once it's been tested.

I'm starting a 10 week countdown now, this is it kids. My previous two tri's were only one hour/one hour and a half long, but this next addition is going to take me about 3+ hours - so it's a pretty intense leap. I feel a bit sick. Someone remind me why I'm doing this?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cycling Paris to Champagne

Five days after the triathlon I headed over to France with a friend for a four day cycle trip in the Champagne district. Over the years I've done a few cycling trips, and this one was particularly plesant for a couple of reasons:

1. I took my own bike - BRILLIANT

2. We prioritised Champagne testing equally as we did the cycling, which made for a lovely compromise

I've been a little hesitant about taking my own bike cycling as the plane/train hassle factor seems quite joy-less. Why they haven't mastered an easier transition is completely beyond me, and despite even recent improvements the process is still littered with flaws.

We took the Eurostar from London to Paris, and opted to spend an extra £20 each way to store our bikes on the train. These spaces are like little golden nuggets, and thus very rare and precious, and have only recently been introduced (previously, you had to either dismantle your bike into a bike box or book your bike on a different train and wait for it at the other end).

We also needed an onward train from Paris over to Champagne - however the precious golden bike tickets were long gone (the TGV has only 4 bike spots per train!!). We also couldn't book the bike spots from UK over the net, so had to book through a call centre thingo. Then they need to post the tickets, which requires a signatiure and without going into a very long complicated story - the bottom line is this:

Taking Your Bike On Trains Reveals A Very Archaic Flawed System

(even in France!)

We were lucky, and our bikes weren't damaged in transit - but when leaving Paris yesterday we found a very upset woman who had just collected her bike from the Eurostar and the handlebar was bent right out of shape. The Eurostar man just bended it back into position and said 'Voila.' The woman's french was as good as their English and she couldn't communicate to them she needed an insurance form and what followed was ten minutes of very rude, very patronising exchange between the 'staff' and the woman, who just wanted a form!

Unlike the previous cycle trip to Germany, our French experience wasn't quite as cycle friendly (no dedicated bike paths!) but the car folk kept a good distance and the people in the countryside were thrilled (Australians?! On Bikes?????!)

Wineries recieved us without the same level of enthusiasm reserved for those in cars - but that's to be expected, and we did manage a couple of tastings, and purchases!

This was the first test of my bike as a touring bike, and unfortunately - it didn't pass the test! Before leaving I looked into attaching a rack on the back for my paniers, and the bad news was that my bike doesn't have the necessary bits and bobs to support a rack. Erg.

Instead I had to invest in a rack which comes straight out from under your saddle, with no lower support. The downside to these racks is that it can only hold 10 kilos, you've got no protection from your paniers hitting into your wheel, and they do have a tendancy to twist as you're going uphill (resulting in a panier in the wheel).

I pushed my 10 kilo limit a little (as you can see below!) and didn't have too many problems with my paniers getting in the way. A couple of little scrapes but nothing major - fortunately my cycling buddy didn't have the same weight restriction so she was able to take the heavier items like the tent. A convenient excuse!

Overall it was a brilliant trip, and a lovely change from cycling in the UK. Our longest day saw us in the saddle for eight hours - just enough to get those muscles complaining a little :)

In other news, it's now about 10 weeks until the London Triathlon - so time to get moving and shaking! I'm back with Paul the Personal Trainer dude tomorrow, and looking forward to some plans to improve my run time (again).

Monday, 11 May 2009

the super brilliant post triathlon race report!


i came 6th!!!!!!!!!!!

that's 6th out of 83 participants. individual rankings were:

8th on the swim leg
3rd on the bike leg
38th on the run

> registration:

We arrived an hour before my start time, and headed to registration to get marked up; big fat numbers scribbled on my arm and leg. When she highlighted my name on the list, i noticed i was about the tenth last person. erg! They have a horrid system of putting all the slow swimmers out first, then
the fast ones. So having the tenth fastest swim time meant I would be entering the race right at the end. Had immediate fear of marshals packing up the race around me.

Twenty minutes before my start time i was able to rack my bike in the transition area. It's difficult to know where you can rack - because a lot of the spaces were free but had some towels etc. around them - which meant people could have just been out on the cycle route. I managed to find a spot which i felt confident was free, and laid out my towel on the ground, with all other bits and pieces. Did this for a few good minutes to make sure i was happy and familiar with the layout.

> swim:

aim for swim time (200m) : 4 minutes
actual swim time: 3 mins 43 seconds

it was a pool swim, so we were lined up waiting to get into the pool, having a chat, sharing our concerns for being the last ones out on the circuit! The girl in front of me, let's call her 1338 (her number) asked me what cycle time i was hoping for - I told her I'd done 54 mins last year but was aiming for 52 this time. She said she'd done this tri quite a bit, and her last time was 54 too. She then commented that I might end up being her pace maker- which ended up being very much the case!!

So in i went, and off i went! i hadn't trained my swimming so within two laps i was feeling the lung pressure - but luckily it was only a six lap effort so it was all over very quickly. Husband timed swim with trusty iphone again - and my time for 200 metres was 3 mins 36 seconds - much better than I'd hit in the three training sessions I'd done previously!

> transition 1:

they'd changed the pool exit from last time, so we had to run around the entire back of the leisure centre - no doubt adding to my overall swim time (seeing as they don't actually time your transitions!)

I ran quickly and didn't fuss in the transition. Dropped my goggles/swim cap - stepped onto towel, socks on, shoes on, helmet and race number on, grabbed my bike and was off! Was much quicker than last year because i was more confident and less scared of getting things wrong. This was confirmed by the fact that 1338 was still ahead of me during the swim - but ended up coming up
behind me on the cycle - confirming my transition was much quicker!

> cycle:

aim for cycle time (23kms): 52 minutes
actual cycle time: 51 minutes 2 seconds

I knew the cycle was key to bringing down my overall time, and getting in the elusive top twenty. I went a lot harder than last year - when at one point i was actually singing to myself. This time around, no singing!

Within ten minutes 1338 had come up behind me and sat in front - as she passed she said "I know you'll overtake me in a bit" and she was right. For a bit!

What followed was 23 kms of us cycling together, overtaking each other inter
mittingly, and having a briliant race. At one point a girl came up from behind and overtook us both, and she stuck in and yelled "we can't have this" and off we went.

Having my own personal pace maker was absolutely brilliant, and she really pushed me to go harder because with my competitive spirit, there was no way I was loosing sight of her.

The route itself is undulating, with about three longish climbs. From last year i was aware that these climbs are my srengths, and this race proved the same point. 1338 might have held strong on the straights, but as soon as we climbed i was able to create a considerable gap between us.

Unfortunately though - this all came crashing down when we got to the other side and it was time to zoom downhill! Even not braking as much as i usually do - my damn grandma tendancies overtook and within minutes 1338 (who clearly doesn't have a fear of speed) whizzed past.
All my hard work uphill was pointless! Note to self; must get more downhill bike confidence!

By the end of the cycle stretch though, 1338 and I were back within close sights, with another girl who had joined our pace, and we all finished strong. Without a doubt, I couldn't have done anything more, I really did give it everything I had, and as a result could barely walk post race. I found muscles i didn't even know existed. Overall I knocked a whole 3 minutes off last year's time - so am really pleased!

>transition two:
super quick! ran in, dropped bike and helmet, picked up headband, ran out!


ok peoples. here we go.

aim for run time (2.5kms): 14 minutes 30 seconds
actual run time: 14 minutes 34 seconds (!!)

overall am super stoked with my run time - AMAZED i got below 15 minutes! here's the process:

I immediately recognised my pace was slower than i'd been practicing - but my calves were on *fire* after that cycle and i had nothing more. 1338 was ahead of me, but within sights, and i felt confident that if i kept her right there then i'd be doing okay.

My breathing, however, was completely shot. They were short, sharp, breaths, and i knew i was developing the bad breathing pattern which would soon render me useless. I concentrated on breathing deeply despite the wheezing sound, and for some time it felt like i was wasting my time - and then suddenly - everything fell into place! Wheezing stopped, deep breaths returned - bingo! It actually worked! Yay for breathing from the belly when running!!!

And then something very, very strange happened.

1338 was getting closer. And closer. And - by george - it was time to over take her!

I have to say this was one of the most pleasant running experiences ever, to think we had spent the last hour or so battling it out on our bikes - and to then get to my weakest discipline, and have the honor of actually overtaking ANYBODY - let alone 1338 - I passed her trying to conceal a little smile, but feeling joyous.
After this, i picked up my pace just a little.

The pain in my calves had gone and my breathing felt strong - and only two or three people overtook me (in comparison to last year when about 40 people overtook me

Right at the very end, i felt someone coming up beind me in sprint finish style - and i prayed and prayed it wasn't 1338 - and thankfully - it wasn't!! it was actually the girl infront of her, 1337, who i had overtaken easily in the bike. I felt quite disappointed about this at the end, but just couldn't have sprinted that end stretch even if 1338 had been oferring me a few quid reward, and the opportunity to pass her.

Overall i know i didn't run as fast as training, but that's not realistic anyway after a 51 minute cycle(!) Being able to overtake people was a very new thing for me, and it all stems down to being able to control my breathing and the pushing of Paul the personal trainer dude.
He still thinks I can sub 50 minutes for the 10k - and I'm starting to think that just maybe it's all possible...

best parts of the race:

1. i aimed for top 20, hoped for top 10 - and came 6th!!

2. going hard on the uphill

3. overtaking 1338 during the run

4. finishing to husband holding treats!

things i learnt:

1. find a pace maker! it made the race ten times more enjoyable having someone to benchmark from, and was the result of a little chat before the swim.

2. use the downhills to your advantage - don't use them as rest time

3. breathe from your belly when running

4. recognise that when you start the run EVERYTHING is going to be hurting and screaming at you to stop - but keep going and these screams will die down. The worst thing you can do is start walking - just dig really deep and keep at it. the pain *does* subside.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

me? obssessed?

so i'm developing a mild obsession, trying to estimate my running time for this weekend. ever the pessimist, i'm not content with the treadmill readings, especially knowing that they are quite kind to the runner. so this morning i hit the streets armed with every time reading device in the house.

looks like mister treadmill was wrong - i'm not going to hit the 13.8 minute mark, but according to - i'm going to be looking at 14.6.

so perspective - that's STILL subbing 15 minutes, which is a *major* milestone for me. but i'm greedy, and when i see a little improvement on the horizon, i want more.

but you know what, it's too late! (probably a good thing at this stage)

The triathlon is this Sunday, only four days away. yesterday i cycled for a couple of hours and it hurt, and it made me realise my cycling has taken a little nose dive over the last couple of weeks as my running obsession took hold, along with a few illness stints.

so nothing left to do now, but rest and stretch, and cross my little fingers that the work pays off. will pre-trip post before the ellusive post race report - coming soon!!

Friday, 1 May 2009

take a seat; it's hard to believe!

i must apologise. this blog, and readers of this blog, have been subjected to a consistent drone of whinge regarding my inability to run faster than a eighty three year old on valium.

but - take a chair - we have finally, finally seen improvement on the running front! As I raise a proverbial glass, allow me to break down the enormity of this achievement.

2.5km has always taken me around 16 minutes to complete.

Last week, I made it to 15 minutes.

This week, I made it to 14.1 minutes.

Today, I hit 13.8 minutes!!

Really, honestly, not something i thought i would ever see in my lifetime (a little hyperbolic, but hey, when have i cowered from an opportunity to exaggerate?)

SO how have i done it? Well, to be honest, most of lies within the insistence of my PT Paul that i could actually run faster. not something i believed. at all. but he runs 10kms in 38 minutes and is paid to be enthusiastic, so he tapped into my competitive spirit and told me if i wanted to sub 15 minutes, i just had to do it. simple as that. so he watched me meander over to the treadmill and moved away to give me some distance, then came over half way through to check i was running fast enough (like YES), then headed off once again. there was no chance i wasn't going to make it, not with that kind of behavior.

and alas, when he returned 14.1 minutes later, i was so sweaty and red that i looked like i would quite seriously explode in a tomato like fashion, but i had done it. never would have thought!

this morning, i thought, hell with it, and ran a couple of notches faster - and subbed 14 minutes!!!! and was marginally less red/sweaty/tomato like.

so it's incredible, really, but perhaps about friggin' time too. i've been running for far too long at the snail pace - and while my times still aren't nearly competitive with those running types, they're good for my standard. and that, peoples, is good enough for me.