Monday, 28 September 2009

Hever Triathlon; Race Report

overall time: 1hr 25 mins 5 seconds

overall place: 24th out of 184 women

swim (400m)

time: 11.15 (included T1)
overall position: 15th out of 184 women

the decision not to wear a wetsuit was playing on my mind from the moment we arrived. the water temp was 15 degrees and 98% of tri-ers were wetsuit clad. the compare man was reiterating that though the suit was optional, you’d be nuts not to be wearing one. i was like, “thanks. where is the microphone off button.” anyway, i’d comitted, no turning back and anyways, it was only 8 or so minutes of cold. surely i could manage.

we hit the water. the cold took my breath away as expected, but i tried to remain calm, and managed for a little bit.

i positioned myself front and relatively straight to the bouy line, and once the gun went i managed to hold my own for the first hundred metres. not too much contact, was actually feeling quite good.

then there was contact, and to be honest, i fell apart a little. there were people infront, to the sides, behind, and i had nowhere to go. every stroke was making contact with arms and legs and my breathing was shot. i wanted out. helicopter please.

finally the bouy arrived and it was time to head back. i realised at this point i could actually stand in the water, and my hands were making contact with the silt at the bottom far too often. but finally, with 100 metres to go, i found clear water and got my breathing and nerves under control. i was actually enjoying it for a little, hopeful i wasn’t at the back by this stage.

upon exiting the water, however, i had a quick look behind, and i didn’t see as many as i wanted. i honestly thought i’d rubbished the swim and my heart sank! looking at my placing, i can’t believe i was the fifteenth fastest woman, i really thought i’d bombed it. pleased in retrospect but at the time i wasn’t a happy chappy.


i arrived into T1 with Paul having overtaken me on the run in, and tried my best at moving through the motions while frozen. We were both so cold we could barely speak. we muttered a few words, then i got out quickly, and headed off.

cycle (20kms)

time: 47.58
position: 16th out of 184

ouch. i felt like we were defying gravity; was it possible to climb for 20kms without going down? there was hill after hill and then, oh, guess what, another hill!

the good thing about thinking i’d rubbished my swim is that it made me put my heel down for the cycle, and that’s exactly what i did. i was convinced i had time to make up, so off i went. i also knew that paul wasn’t far behind me, and wanted to hold my position for as long as possible. this i managed a whole two kilometres (which at the time felt like an eternity, but of course in reality is a little blip on the clock).

the cycle wasn’t easy (did i mention hills?) and not really enjoyable because i was pushing myself hard. my breathing was constantly laboured and a few times i did get to the “is it possible to vomit while cycling” point (side note: is that actually possible?)

fortunately the course worked in my favour, as i’m better at going up hills than going down. can’t believe i placed 16th! i managed to pass far more people than passed me, and overtaking men going up hills *never* got tiring! i’m sure they hated me secretly.

have i mentioned i LOVE cycling??

when i hit 17kms i started really enjoying myself. only one woman had overtaken me, i was feeling like i was pushing myself hard, and i could feel a good time coming on. i probably slowed a bit at this point, but who cares? i was excited and needed a little bit of joy!

best part of the cycle? i passed a guy i knew who started in the wave before me (10 minutes before!) - that was a massive bonus and there was lots of internal high fiving.


tragic. the aftermath of not wearing the wetsuit finally caught up with me.

i got off the bike, and realised i couldn’t feel my feet. i thought the feeling would come back after a few metres, but it didn’t, and i did get scared. i’ve never been able to not feel my feet like that before.

i ended up walking half of T2. it hurt in a weird frozen way. i knew what was coming (and it wasn’t the PB i’ve been praying for)

run (4kms)

time (with T2): 25.51
actual time: 94th out of 184

let’s start with the good news; the run was very pretty! it was around the grounds of the castle, on a trail, which suits me very well. i love running on trails as it reminds me of Australia, and my mood lifted despite what was happening with my body.

oh the feet. my poor old feet. they were frozen, possibly quite literally. that first 1km was horrid. i was shuffling, really shuffling. barely running. i looked like i had a problem, possibly several problems, it wasn’t pretty. thankfully no race photographers at that stage.

in all honesty, i was really worried. a little hypochroniatic at the best of times, i had images of gangrene. amputation. stupid in retrospect, but i couldn’t feeeeeel them. it was scary and i thought with every shuffle i was going to have to stop.

but i didn’t, thereby further proving my theory that no matter what happens in the run; keep running. the pains *will* subside!

so fortunately, as the run continued, my feet de-froze, and i was able to find my stride. brilliant! by the last km i felt great, but it was too late! my chance at a PB was well gone, but i didn’t care. my breathing was laboured, i was doing the best i could, so where the hell was that finish line?!

here's some post race re-capping/stretching. paul did an amazing job on his first tri; and came 32nd overall! i definitely feel a podium coming next weekend ;)

SO the best bits:

- overtaking on the cycle from the previous wave; brilliant!
- finding my stride after considering foot amputation. i’m one of a kind :)

and the worse bits:

- no wetsuit. NEVER again!
- letting body contact freak me out in open water. i need to practise this more.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

open water swimming results

what happened during the great open water swim challenge?!

ok so last weekend training peep paul + i headed down to the lake for a swim. while i’ve had quite a few attempts thus far at overcoming my fear of the open water, paul has not. saturday, was his first ow swim.

as our race next weekend is wetsuit optional, and we’re not optioning, we decided to head to the lake without the wetsuit. good idea at the time, but upon arrival, some regret was edging in.

we arrived just after 7am and the lake was bustling with fellow tri-ers. i couldn’t believe how many people were there, not only in numbers, but also the percentage of them wearing wetsuits! i’d be having a guess, but i’d say... maybe about one hundred percent. damnit.

now we were feeling like total newbies (hey, who are we kidding anyway?)

so we hit the lake. i headed out first, with paul behind, forgetting that he might have a ‘first ow swim panic.’ by the time i hit the 300m buoy he was nowhere to be found, and had turned back early. even after spelling it out the night before in my post, i’d forgotten just how hard that first swim is. even the second, and the third.

open water is difficult. hands down. and swimming in a pool doesn’t prepare you for it.

paul’s morale was shot. not being able to complete the 400m one week before his first tri next week - it hurt. there was talk of not doing it. then talk of going uber slowly and hitting upwards of ten minutes...

luckily soon after we hit the hot tub (yes, thank you hot tub) we’d met a fellow tri-er with coaching experience, who offered to return paul to the murky waters and build his confidence. this, she did, and it helped.

soon after, i headed back into the ice blocked lake for another 400m bash, and ended up with a PB!

my quickest time to date for a 400m is 7mins 25secs.

this time, i hit 7mins!

so i was pretty excited about this, and was feeling rather chuffed with a few ‘well done’s’ from the tub of tri-ers (god did i just write that?) unfortunately i later learned they’d moved one of the buoys so it is a bit short of 400m, but i’m still hanging on to the PB :)

(really wish these events/races/training grounds would sort out their distances. like how hard is it to get right??)

but most importantly, the swim felt good. the cold was cold, but bearable. the water was murky, but i didn’t freak out. i actually felt as though maybe, just maybe, i’m getting comfortable with ow.

okay enough back patting - so - it’s four days until Hever Triathlon. i’m feeling sooo uber relaxed about it, which is rather surprising but also quite welcoming! to be honest i do feel a little aimless, so i’m throwing a few on the proverbial table;

1. run faster! i want to sub 20 on that 4k. please please please. i’ve worked *hard* legs. please reward me!

2. swim a PB. i haven’t worked as hard as running, but i’ve worked. PB please.

3. cycle fast. i haven’t done any cycle speed work but i have to write this because i’ve done it for the other two. which makes me realise i need to work on cycle speed. (realisation: i may not cycle faster)

4. enjoy racing with my parents in the crowd! they’re visiting from australia, and this will be the first time they see me race. i’d like to enjoy it enough to show them why i’m up at 5am most mornings.

and quickly - my totals for last week!

monday> 45 minute hilly fartlek run
tuesday> rest
wednesday> 25 minute run, 400 metre open water swim (80%)
thursday> 400 metre open water swim (race pace)
friday> 3km run fartlek
saturday> 2 x 400 metre open water swim
sunday> 250 metre open water swim
monday> 30 mile cycle

and from last monday's 30 mile ride, here's a pic of my final destination; a beautiful castle in Devon!

(the next post will be the race report, fingers crossed!)

Friday, 18 September 2009

fear and loathing; open water

okay, so let’s be honest, i have a slight fish phobia.

i’ve been known to do cartoon-like leaps back into the boat when snorkeling. what can i say, they get a bit close sometimes... and there’s something about those fish, something a bit... evil.

as a result, my open water experience has been limited. i’m afraid of fish, i don’t like waves, and swimming face first into deep blue (indeed deep brown) isn’t overly attractive. no surprises there.

however i learnt something from doing London, my first open water swim race. unfortunately it was recorded on these pages and hence my failing memory can not deny...

if you’re going to race open water, you have to train open water

these past few weeks have seen me in sunny, oceanside locations. the perfect hunting ground for the open water (ow) seeker. i’ve even got an ow race next weekend; so you’d think i’d be the first one heading out into the clear blue waters.

or not.

to be honest, it hasn’t been until week three, this week, when i’ve managed to get into the ocean for a ‘proper’ swim (bobbing not included). and while i was rather proud of overcoming my fish/deep blue fears and getting three separate 400m swims in -> in all honesty it’s a rather pathetic blip of a training exercise.

in reflection, i realise that i wasn’t training for speed, or endurance, or technique -- i was really just overcoming my fears and getting comfortable staring at something other than a black line in the cocoon-like safety of the lane ropes.

i was, essentially, overcoming the mammoth task of extending myself physically under a mentally stressed state.

i’ve been pool lap swimming for about eight years, and i’ve never experienced a calf cramp. a few toes, sure, but that’s it. yet within 400 metres of ow swimming during London, my calf was borderline seizure.

i believe it was a combination of things;

-- stress (tensing the body unnecessarily)
-- cold (our wave was delayed, more time unmoving in water)
inexperience (kicking too much and a lack of cold water experience)

tomorrow i’m taking the plunge (apologies for lame pun attempt) and heading out to a tri specific ow lake. didn’t know such things existed?! neither did i! apparently it’s just a normal lake, but with dedicated distance markers. so no more guessing you’ve done 400m. they also offer things like wetsuit testing, which comes in handy when you’re dropping a few hundred quid and your wetsuit can make+break your times.

now that i’m feeling a little more comfortable in ow, i’m hoping to have a proper training session. warm ups, timed sprints, even warm downs! success pending, report coming.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

dodging bullets while running

i’m in santorini, one of the greek islands, and it’s stunning.

i awoke this morning pre-dawn, and waited for the sun to rise for a run. here’s my running shoes saying hello to the sunrise.

(and yes, that’s the view from our suite!)

as i was putting my shoes on, i could hear loud banging pops. sounded vaguely like gunfire, but this is paradise. more likely to be some old greek lady’s rustic wood fire oven backfiring.

so i headed out, destination; the lighthouse on the end of the island.

everything was going well, knee a little sore but hey, she’ll work her way out. as i continued, however, i noticed those bangs were getting louder. and louder.

then, to my right, i notice a guy wearing camouflage crouching by the side of the road, surrounded by vine leaves. and a dog. and a gun. a really big gun. which he then fires.

i’m feeling a little nervous by my proximity to the gunfire, but i can see him, he’s now seen me, and that’s okay.

so i continue to the lighthouse. i pass the chickens. i turn around, back towards breakfast.

then, as i’m passing the same spot where previous gunman was, i notice that on the other side of the road, there’s another one. and then i really start looking around into the surrounding hills and notice there’s a whole bunch of men with stupidly big guns. shooting them, with relative consistency.

i’m freaking out a little bit. okay, i’m freaking out enough to stop running. i figure my little head bobbing up along the road could resemble a deer (are they even shooting deer?) one of the hunters dogs starts running after me. i beeline towards a scalable wall and he calls him back. phew.

one of the hunters crosses the road and gets into a jeep in front of me, his shotgun slung over his shoulder. and i think, i’m a little vulnerable right now. so i keep walking, but no deer-like-running.

finally i pass all visible shooters, and off i go again. i get back, breakfast is being served, and i feel like i’m a long way from the serenity of the picture i took during sunrise. but i’m seconding a notion i’ve stated here previously; running when traveling really does give you a different view on things. even when it does involve shotguns :)

before i run off; here's my totals for this week;

monday; 1hr cycling timed sprints, 30 minute swim
tuesday; 20 minute swim
wedsneday; 2 x 18 minute cycles, 30 minute swim
thursday; 20 minute bike weights routine, 20 minute swim
friday; rest
saturday; 30 minute hilly run (sprint/walk)
sunday; 15 minute swim, incl. 350 metre open water swim

2 weeks until Hever Sprint Triathlon!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Inspirational Goodies + Hever time projections

two thoughts.

one. sometimes i buy a tri/running/cycling magazine and read it. some of the info i have already devoured from my slight addiction to tri websites + blogs. some of it is new. i've decided that every now + again i'm going to post the most interesting points from the magazine, to save you from buying it + thus share the goods, so to speak.

while in the states i picked up Runners World (august). they had a weird article on sarah palin, with some very posey pictures. here's one;

but beside sarah's faux stretching, here's the top tips from across the pond;

“if you’re... trying to get to the next level, surround yourself with people who keep you motivated and energized - people who inspire you to achieve your best every day. when you do this, you can’t lose.”

(anthony famiglietti, olympian)

“advice from the worlds best runners;

don’t obsess.

it’s inevitable that things will nag at you, but it’s pointless to obsess about minor pain. my philosophy; if i’m not limping, i don’t worry about it.”

(tim nelson, cross country u.s. champion)

“destination races give you a reason to travel; and months of motivation.

find someplace you’ve always wanted to go and see when they have a race you’re interested in. italy, france, timbuktu or cleveland. once you have that goal, every mile of training will take you just a little closer to it. every step shortens the distance between you and your dream.”

(john bingham)

two. less than three weeks until Hever Sprint Triathlon. it's time for those projections.


haven’t managed to drop my sprint times yet. something to work on.

distance; 400m open water

estimated time; 7 minutes 45 seconds

ideal time; sub 7 minutes 30 seconds


have just got my bike computer, so still coming to terms with my average times. but here’s a stab.

distance; 20kms

estimated time; 40 minutes?

ideal time; sub 38 minutes?


bit of a wild card. based on london tri i’ve got an estimated time but that pace was a pretty considerable PB. not sure if i can trump it again. feeling good, but who knows?

distance; 4kms

estimated time; 21 minutes

ideal time; sub 20 minutes

estimated total time, minus transitions; 1 hr 9 minutes

estimated total time, with transitions; 1 hr, 13 minutes

oh-my-god-can’t-believe-i-did-that-time, with transitions; 1 hr 8 minutes

and weirdly, i'm not feeling those pangs of nervous anticipation. before London i had 204 questions/concerns/anxieties but this time around, i'm just ready to get on with it. nice feeling, hello, please don't abandon me :)

Friday, 4 September 2009

top ten things to not hate about running!

i'm feeling the joy of the run this week. it's rare. let's embrace it.

dave letterman style, here's my top 10 favourite things about running;

10. putting new songs on my running playlist. makes me want to run immediately. when the song comes on during the run, i smile and nod my head like a little bit of a loser. when the song comes on during a non-running moment, i feel the need to tell the nearest person "this is on my running playlist." they don't care, ever, but i feel the need to share.

9. shopping for new running tops/pants/bras/socks. i even like getting into the tiny change room and practice running in the mirror to check everything works. the choice of pink over blue might just inspire me to run faster. that special nike fabric definitely will.

8. eating whatever for the rest of the day after a morning run and feeling good about whatever hits my belly. i deserved it all. i ran hard.

7. having a cold shower afterwards, and instead of using the time to relax, start stretching. always multi-tasking.

6. hobbling a little the next day and being a little bit satisfied when someone queries the hobble and gives me an excuse to gloat over the kms i've clocked. sometimes the 6.8km run turns into a 7km run. who understands points of kms anyways?

5. thinking in terms of 'can i run there' whenever sometime suggests a meeting spot. if it's too far, it turns into a 'can i bike there.' rarely does this turn into 'can i swim there.'

4. bringing forward the cooling down point during the run. no matter where it is, i'll always find a range of completely viable reasons to stop running sooner. i always feel good about this, like i've cheated that crazy running side of myself and won.

3. running for runnings sake. no time, no route, no plan. i need this to maintain running sanity.

2. hitting the pavement with only a pair of sneakers. you don't need any equipment, nothing, it's like your own little traveling gym.

1. and the number one favourite thing about running; is when i've been out on a hard run, and that moment, when i stop.

so what have i done this week? ha! can you guess?

monday > rest

tuesday > 4.5km run, 15 minute swim drills

wednesday > 9km cycle, 1 hr spinning, 30 min weights

thursday > rest

friday > 7km run - sprint/walk intervals
saturday > 3km run

i've got three weeks until the Hever sprint tri, and i'm really looking forward to it. it's the first year they've run it, and it's in a ye olde english castle. here's a pic of the open water swim locale (not sure who these people are, if this year is the first?)

they're really into their medieval stuff out there, and have a few too many pictures of jousting on the website. not quite tapping into the usual triathlon vibe with these kinds of images;

as long as i don't have to fight off any merry men i'll be able to cope with a little ye olde theme :) next week i'll get stuck into some time predictions. until then, back to the UK and see if all this humidity running training has worked wonders (miracles)!