Sunday, 30 August 2009

running american style

hello america! this week has seen me running in miami and north florida, and as such; i’ve gathered some running reflections from the week.

lucky you! here she is;

1. stupidly fit attractive runners always catch me during the walk bit of my intervals. never during the sprint bits. damnit.

2. running in humidity is like trying to ride your bike through mud. while towing a car. full of rocks.

3. 100% of fellow runners this week have been very friendly, with 86% giving variations on ‘hello.’ remaining 14% have been dodgy leering men (counts?)

4. i’ve re-discovered one of the joys of running. when traveling, hitting the pavement allows you to use all your senses, and view your surrounds in a completely different light. it also gives you confidence to explore areas which perhaps, given the slow pace of walking, you would have talked yourself out of exploring. some of the most distinct memories of cities i’ve had were founded on a run.

5. i have a serious aversion to going backwards. 4km run yesterday turned into 9kms as a result of a wrong turn. turning around just is not an option, even when 9kms in 29 degrees isn’t either.

6. i like to overtake. i’d mapped out a lovely running route the other morning but when another runner passed me while i warmed up, i thought; she looks like she’s going my old pace. i couldn’t resist, and ended up running in the opposite direction for far too long, just to satisfy that moment of overtaking.

i’ve now officially overtaken 4 people when running.

8. if i’m being totally honest, one of those was stationary.

so what have i got up to this week? (have borrowed mon from last weeks totals, i screwed up the system)

mon> 20 min run, bike weights, 20 min swim drills (timed 400m: 7.53: slow!!!)

tues> rest

wed> 3.5k run (medium pace)

thur> 3k run (medium pace), 10 min swim

fri> rest

sat> 9k run speed intervals; easy run 1km, sprint/active recovery, then sprint/walk, then easy run 2km

sun> 3.5k run speed intervals; easy run 1km, fast high knees/active recovery, then sprint/active recovery

being on holidays, i’m pretty restricted to running for the next week as well; which is really quite a good thing. it’s my ongoing mantra; *running*needs*to*improve*

the sprint work is definitely more taxing on my body, and i still haven’t shaken the pain in my lower left hip which occurred during London Tri and reappears after about minute 10 of a run. but i’m not going to write about my injuries, as i’m trying to stay positive + look forward. that’s not to say i’m not trying to get it sorted, but as yet it’s not hindering my journey onwards, so until it does, i’m administering self silence!

next week’s totals will be running focused also. hopefully less leery men statistics this time around :)

Monday, 24 August 2009

bike related humour

firstly, a couple of things that have made me chuckle this week.

bike related humour, doesn't get better than this;

and then once you've dropped 5k on your bike, you might like to try this approach to keeping those thieves at bay;

and moving away from the chuckling, this is certainly one of the most inspiring stories i've heard on the circuit. a lot of people race for various personal reasons, this one takes the cake;

ok so back to training, this week has been a little hectic, and sore. my mid week running track experience has once again established the current trend of almost consistent muscular pain. rest days have been more recovery, trying to walk again type affairs.

monday > 30 mins weights (swim routine), 30 min swim, 1 hour 45 min cycle

tuesday > rest

wednesday > 30 min sprint runs

thursday > rest

friday > 45 min cycle, 30 min swim drills, 45 min cycle

saturday > 1 hour 30 min cycle speed focus

sunday > rest

monday > 20 minute run, swim/bike weights, 30 minute swim drills

i've got a new approach to weight training too. rather than just lifting weights which are easily manageable, i'm lifting what's actually challenging, where my maximum rep is around 10.

i've never done this before, and realised my approach has always been a bit lazy, and generally ineffective. it's also been conditioned by things like pump class - where i'd always pick a lower, more manageable weight for fear of not being able to complete the set (and face the wrath of the teacher for too much weight).

but doing weights myself, i'm in control, and i know my limits. i look around the gym and see other ladies who look strong, lifting little weights and wonder if they've had the same approach as me... are they really getting the most out of their routine?

or rather, do i spend too much time thinking about these things?!

the good news for this week is; I'm off on holidays! miami, florida, sunshine! the bad news; i'll be suffering from bike separation (it hurts to even write). so training focus for the next ten days will be run run run (with a little ocean swimming)

next week, training report from the sunny state

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Viva la Running Track

i can't remember the last time i ran on a running track. it must have been primary school. i have a vague memory of winning one (and only one) 100m race at a school athletics carnival because the dude shooting the gun didn't see my false start and i didn't enlighten him.

generally throughout schooling my strengths were much more field than track, and i did go onto district/state for high jump + discus. but running? that meant you actually needed to be able to RUN!

ok so there we were yesterday, me (scared), and three Personal Trainers (enthusiastic). it was agreed that we would be doing a pyramid, and i instantly thought of this kind of arrangement

thankfully, this was not what they were suggesting. but rather a decline/incline in distance around the track. so the drill was; 400m/300m/200m/100m/100m/200m/300m/400m. after each distance, a two minute recovery.

it was tough, really tough. i had no idea how to pace myself for a sprint longer than 100m, and after each leg found myself in the 'i'm going to be sick' category. i didn't even make the last 400m set. this was hard work.

of course, the three PTs left me for dust each time. by the time i came through on the finish line they were sipping margaritas and getting foot massages. it was super intimidating running with faster runners at first, but once i'd settled into seeing their backs fade into the distance, it was fine. a little ego draining, sure, but we all need a little bit of this occasionally.

i'm sure it's going to do wonders for increasing my speed, which really *cough* really needs to happen. the fun factor was pretty good too, running on a track was different + it was lovely to have an actual finish line instead of a random stationary object (how many times have i heard now, "Lets run to the bench!" "Let's go to the bin!" "We'll finish at that tree there, the fourth one, on the left!")

perhaps next time, to mix things up, i'll put a park bench next to the finish line

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Between the Race and a Hard Place

after London i felt quite lackluster from training. all that effort, and still 2 sprints until the end of season... training seemed never ending, and i couldn't feel motivated. this was coupled by an injury which re-occurred on each run. all over, was just feeling a bit lost.

it reached a head when i got into the pool to time myself over 200 metres. at the start of the year, i was hitting my usual 3 minutes 53 secs.

when i pressed stop on that stopwatch, i was expecting to see a good margin less than that. after all, i've spent the last six months clocking up km after km in the pool.

but i pressed stop, and when i looked at the time, i'll admit - i almost attempted a stopwatch drowning fatality (not possible on a waterproof stopwatch, but i was desperate)

3 minutes 56 secs!!

all the training, all the laps, all the kms, all the sessions, nothing! no change in speed!

and after i spent the evening wallowing in self pity, it made me realise that i've never actually tried to go faster at swimming. so what did i expect? sure i clocked up a hefty distance over this year, but i was just aiming for endurance. did i think speed would automatically improve? that endurance would be leaping ahead and speed would sneak in on the side? like, no, allison.

when running, i've learnt that running miles + miles at the same comfortable pace will not make you a faster runner -- yet i've never transformed this over to swimming. sounds simple, so simple i had to stop wallowing and get over myself.

fortunately this week, i managed to do just that, and as a result things have picked up. i've got two new programs to introduce into the training mix, which are individual weights programs aimed specifically at either bike or swim. having a new focus, makes the world of difference, and has given me a little boost to continue training for those sprints.

so, what did i get up to this week?

monday> 20 minute run
tuesday> 20 minute swim
weds > 45 minute weights routine (swim specific), 20 minute run, 20 minute swim
thurs > 20 minute run
friday > 55 minute cycle, 35 minute weights routine (swim specific)
sat > 20 minute weights routine (bike specific), 20 minute swim (speed/strength drills)
sun > rest!

there's six weeks until the first of the two sprints; Hever Triathlon (400m open water, 20k cycle, 4k run) and then the following weekend it's Warwickshire (200m pool swim, 23k cycle, 2.5k run)

i'm hoping to use Hever as experience, because it's Warwickshire i'd really like to do well in. finally, London is behind me, and it's time to focus on the sprints!

(before the HIM :) )

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

"It's a Long Way"

since i've started this triathlon business, i've been consistently intrigued by the various reactions of people when they learn of my quests.

the majority, are positive; "Wow! A Triathlon! That's Incredible!"

the majority, also, then proceed to internalise; "Oh I could *never* do that. My swimming/biking/running is terrible. I might be okay at the other two... but no, I could never- "

since i've committed (mentally) to the Half IronMan, there has been a distinct shift in the response of others. Positive exclamations have been few and far between. It seems the word 'ironman' - even with the 'half' tacked onto the front - provokes responses much more complicated in nature.

the majority, now, are doubters. "Ohhhh, no, really? That's *such* a long way, that's crazy, do you really want to do that, how long will that take?"

this is only the start of my journey, so it will be with great interest to reflect as the journey progresses. however i did find this incredible quote from

(it's smaller print, i know, but worth the squint effort!)

The Ironman will try and psyche you out and wear you down over the course of the year. If you know what to expect then each swing Ironman takes at you will have less effect. The way ironman can beat you is with self doubt. If your self doubt gets to a point where you decide not to take on the challenge then Ironman has beaten you. This is where it beats most people even before they even get close to the start line. The first self doubt weapon is in the form of other people. They will constantly either tell you or imply that “you can’t do it” when they have no idea if you can or not. They will tell you “it is a long way” which is not rocket science. They will tell you they had a friend who has done Ironman and make them out to be much better than you. If they have done it themselves and are really self absorbed they will even imply how much better they are than you. The other even more deadly weapon is Ironman intimidating you directly. This will be you telling yourself you cannot possibly do something like that. What where you thinking? Are you insane? Don’t tell anyone or they will laugh, your not good enough, etc. This is all ironman trickery and not true at all. Be ready for it and know that this is what prevents everyone else from taking on the challenge.

nicely said.

for me it touches on the core of why i can shrug to the concept of longer distances; because it's about seeing something seemingly impossible, and working towards that goal until it's very possible.

essentially; life's not tailored to sit on the sideline and tell yourself all the things you can't do


Friday, 7 August 2009

From Triathlete to Hobbler

last sunday, i was triathleting; swimming/biking/running my little heart out.

then i entered the week after sunday, and i was reduced to the kind of hobble displayed by people who have just had surgery in places they don't want to talk about.

wednesday was my first day of resuming the upright stance while walking, and that night even managed a gentle 20 minute run. the following morning, time trials with the trainer. and so we're back on; hello again!

(it does make me wonder, when do you get to the point of calling yourself a Triathlete? does one sprint qualify? only after an Olympic? reserved exclusively for the professionals?)

i promised something last post, and since the promise there have been whisperings. some discussions, probing, guesses at what possibly could be what has been dubbed;

'the next challenge'

but before all is revealed, i have my overall placings from the London Triathlon - so time to reveal!

there were 549 women undertaking the Olympic in total, so where was i in the mix? as expected, i started strong, and then it was a sliding scale of strength!

swim: 114/549 (pretty damn happy with this one!)

bike: 198/549 (almost as happy with this!)

run: 391/549 (and let's just not talk about this one thanks)

my rankings in transition were actually pretty funny! due to my cramping issues, my first transition saw me rank at a terrible 352/549. however my second transition saw a complete turnaround of events and i came in at an incredible 9/549!

Overall: out of 549 lovely ladies, i ranked 236 :)

ok so now my unique ability to transition quickly has been revealed, let's move onto the 'next challenge' business and see where we're heading...

for those in the circuit of knowing what the difference between T1 and T2 is; they've guessed. it's the next logical step.

i started with a couple of running races.

then i did a couple of sprints.

next onto the olympic.

now it's time to head towards a whole new world of pain... here she is kids;

the half ironman!

ironman means a lot to me, more than just another (impossible sounding) race. in australia, we love an ironman. we love our ironmen + women. we put their faces on our cereal, we name health foods after them, and most saturday mornings we fill our television programming with broadcasts from the beach. i used to watch those races, on saturday morning, always with a sense of amazement. rightly or wrongly, i put them up there with olympians.

so edging even somewhere close to the sense of achievement is going to mean a hell of a lot to me. i don't know if i'll ever be capable of undertaking a whole ironman, but right now the half ironman (HIM) is going to be an incredible feat. and one which i'm stupidly excited by.

so upwards + onwards! right now i've got to concentrate on two more sprint triathlons left until the end of season, after which it will be a winter of HIM training. and that sounds a little bit too appealing right now. maybe it's that level of insanity which qualifies the 'triathlete' badge...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

London Triathlon 2009; Race Report!

here she is kids, the race report for my very first Olympic distance Triathlon!

need facts fast? the overview:

total time: 2 hours 50 mins 16 seconds

position in age group: 65th out of 128
position on each leg: 36th on swim, 52nd on bike, 103rd on run

so the race report; complete with pics! here i am at the swim assembly, completely unaware my wetsuit is longer on one leg than the other. where was the stylist here?


one word; washing machine!

it was super chaotic, as somewhat expected, and i thought it would sort itself out in the first couple of hundred meters - but it didn’t, i believe because our wave was so big! i didn’t manage to develop any type of rhythm until after the first turn, at 750 meters, when finally i had some clear water.

the other bad news was i was on the verge of a calf cramp most of the swim. i was so petrified of the cramp that i didn’t use my legs for the last 750 meters. this continued into transition, where the cramp threatened to take complete hold.

> the low point: potential cramp + the number of people in my wave!! too many!! next time i’m swimming wider!

> the high point: over taking a woman in an Ironman wetsuit. that felt gooooood.

> estimated time: 29 minutes
> actual time: 30 minutes



i was so tired from using my arms only that i had no energy remaining to remove wetsuit. also, i was so scared of setting off the cramp that i ended up taking a looooong time to remove wetsuit.

here's me (the one at the front) in a world of pain.

couldn’t run through to my bike, had to walk out potential cramp, so felt really rubbish by the time i left T1. this changed as soon as i jumped onto my bike though - weeeeeeeee!

> estimated time: 4 minutes

> actual time: 6 minutes

here's me coming out of T1 with a very worrying look on my face! not sure what was happening here. damn those overly expressive facial expressions...


okay so for the record; i loooooove cycling!

as soon as i was on the bike my darkened mood lifted and i set off to gain as much time back as possible. this was made a little easier by the beautiful cycle through london, past Tower Bridge, Tower of London, London Eye, right down to Westminster. I smiled a lot + would have broken into song if the route wasn’t so busy!

similar to my swim, i find that if i push myself i’m able to overtake people, so i made an effort to do this as much as possible. particularly if someone overtook me, i’d make sure i work harder to return the favour.

i definitely felt like i was overtaking more people than were doing to me, but in comparison to last tri in how hard i actually pushed myself physically --> i felt as though i could have gone harder. my breathing wasn’t particularly laboured and my legs weren’t screaming. however i was enjoying myself, and still over taking a little, so i was very happy with that!

> the low point: getting someone’s gel wrapper caught in my brakes at the bottom of a big incline! had to stop, get off, de-tangle, and then get up the hill with no run up!

> the high point: everything. i love cycling. it makes me happy.

> estimated time: 1 hour 20 minutes

> actual time: 1 hour 18 minutes

here i am coming off the bike back into T2. feeling good at this point!


this is typically the most painful part of tri's but thankfully, not too painful today, and previously mentioned cramp had disappeared - good news! picked up headband, dropped off bike and off i went!

> estimated time: 2 minutes

> actual time: 1 minute 30 seconds


okay, for the record, i really don’t enjoy running. no surprises there.

the first few kms were tough, legs felt like solid brick weights. started getting into the swing of things in regards to everyone over taking me. it does *really* suck watching all the people who i’d worked to overtake on the bike - now whizzing past me on the run!

after the first lap, with 5km remaining, a lady ran beside me and asked if it was ok to run together; to which i said sure! i knew i didn’t have the breath to run + chat so i asked her to tell me her life story, so we can forget about the pain. running together was good for both of us, she was a little faster than i would have run and she said she would be walking if i wasn’t there - so that was brilliant.

at 9km i asked another lady for the time and we found out we were going to sub 3hrs - BEST feeling of the whole Triathlon! lots of high five slapping and general excitement!

the last 1km was super exciting and by the time i crossed the finish line i was literally jumping with joy --> to the point the commentator even marveled at my excitement! brilliant!

ended up with 54 minutes- which i really can NOT believe. 2 weeks ago I ran a PB of (almost) 58 minutes and after all that cycle/swim I then knocked off another four minutes.

my position in AG was absolute rubbish for the run, but still a very big feat for me personally. with swimming and cycling i'll compare myself to others, but running is still very much a personal battle. thus, am well pleased!

> low point: the whole thing. running doesn't make me happy. at all really.

> high point: finding out we were going to sub 3 hours during the last km! yipppppeeee! AND then doing 54 minutes - my lordy!

> estimated time: 58 minutes

> actual time: 54 minutes

okay so first Olympic Triathlon done + dusted, what have i learnt?

> if you’re going to swim open water, then you need to train open water.

> cycling is really fun. running is less fun.
> did i mention hill runs to help you run faster? hill runs are the *key*
> it’s possible! it’s longer than a sprint; yes; but totally do-able!

and finally, a big thanks to the Al support crew on the day! ant + paul who braved the very wee hours of the morn (before the sun even rose, much kudos!) and then supported through three hours of not-a-lot-happening:) also the finish line crew; steve, peter, maria, arun + lesley who screamed loud and didn't mind sweaty wet hugs. Thanks kids, really does make the world of difference when you're in a world of pain :)

So onto the next challenge! *coming soon*

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Night Before London Triathlon *insert scream here*

not sure if i'm really believing it's the night before my debut at the London Triathlon! there's one sound to describe how i'm feeling, and it's somewhere between a scream and joyful cry and a squeak.

someone asked me today how much i've trained (average 6 days a week) for how long (about 4 months). i was even impressing myself by the sounds of that.

so today i went down to check out the action (the tri runs over two days; tomorrow are the olympic distances/elites and today was the sprints). two mates were competing and firstly a *massive* *big* *fat* *congratulations* to both steve + will for competing in their first ever tri, both doing super well, with no mishaps, looking very cool/calm/collected with a bit of hardcore thrown in for good measure.

here's a couple of highlights!

the start of steve's wave. i couldn't find him but he's in there somewhere!

here's steve entering T2; he stopped and did a little fancy pose but my stupid camera was all blurry. sorry steve, wasted seconds for nothing! but i did get this one, with a little wave. hello!

as steve heads off to run, Will comes tearing through the finish line! and gets hungry enough to chew on some metal. hmmmmmm.... metal....

and not long after, steve comes roaring through; yippppeeee! both did super well and without incident + with smile. that's damn good going :)

during a post race beer, steve collected his bike from transition and i marvelled at his very simple, yet very effective approach to triathlons!

here's steve getting very excited over his rubber bands holding his pump + a tyre lever onto his bike

but Steve, i said, why do you have a bike pump + lever when you don't have any tubes? he cast me a knowing look, and gestured to the back of his bike. low and behold -->

loves it! and, to top it all off, who needs fancy water bottles when there's evian around?

after spending months dribbling excessively in Tri shops, it's nice to have a reminder that it doesn't take much at all to compete in these events. just a bike, some goggles, and the right attitude :)

SO tomorrow kids; this is it! race report will be delivered, hopefully with some good news! cross your fingers, then cross them again *insert scream here*