Sunday, 25 October 2009

shimano vs. effective bricks

this week has been haphazard. i've been working insane hours and as important as training is to me, sometimes you've got to prioritise. here's how training looked this week:

sunday: 1 hour cycle (speed work)
monday: rest
tuesday: rest
weds: rest
thurs: 35 minute run
friday: 20 minute run, 40 minute spin class, 15 minute run
sat: rest
sunday: 30 minute cycle (speed work)

here's some random moments from the week:

1. during timed cycle laps of the park on sunday, i came whizzing up to an ill placed pedestrian crossing literally filled with old people crossing with canes. usually i would stop, i promise, but i was being timed and there was NO WAY i was going to render this lap useless just because of the oldies on the crossing. as i whizzed on through one of them raised their cane and screeched, "you're DANGEROUS." sure, it probably looked that way, but do i need to wear a little shirt saying "I'm getting timed on this so please please move outta my way??"

2. i've ordered my cycling shoes twice and twice i've had emails after the fact saying they're out of stock (despite the website saying otherwise!!) i've finally placed the order at and i've heard nothing yet, so fingers crossed. the shoes which i'm (trying to) get are: the Shimano TR51 Road Triathlon Cycling Shoes and they look like this:
3. i had a major running breakthrough during this weeks brick. more to come in later posts.

looking at my training, i'm still not getting enough bricks in. i really need to focus on this, but i find the logistics of bricks quite difficult. cycle hard for a while, then dump bike somewhere to run? where is my lock; on bike; on place to lock up to? where is a locale good for both running and cycling? so complicated, really.

the run/spin class/run theory is easy but i'm conflicted as to how successful it is, i feel like it doesn't truely replicate the experience of a true bike/run.

but as we're coming into winter, surely this will be the best (only) winter training?

how to others do bricks? i feel i need to be googling for some ideas.

so; it's two weeks until the 10k where i'm hoping to prove that all my ultra painful running work has paid dividends. i've been running pretty consistently but haven't run 10k yet. need to pull my finger out a little here. this week, i promise (!)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Evolution of Gear

when you first get started into triathlons, the concept of 'gear' is pretty remote. you go with what you've got, what you've been given, or what costs so little you feel like the people who spend an extra £100 for 'carbon' are a little foolish.

the more races you enter, the more you start caring. transitions used to be about pretending like you knew what you were doing, now you're noticing what type of bikes everyone has.

you pick up a triathlon magazine. start recognising brands.

you go for a ride. going pretty hard, feeling good. then a bike whizzes past your old clanker and its one of the brands you've been reading about, and you understand what you're paying £3K for.

slowly but surely, you get sucked into the world of carbon.

after all, you're spending all this time training, trying to shave off a minute here and there - but you're still riding a mountain bike? there comes a point when you just start caring.

so here i am, caring. it's time to go clipless. that means something to most of you, for others it sounds like i'm going to de-clamp something. so here's visual explanation. currently my feet are cycling in this type of (very basic) get up;

but i'm loosing power, effeciency, all that jazz. so it's time to step up to a proper cycling shoe where i'm actually attached to the bike, voila;

so yesterday i'm sitting in London's biggest tri shop. they've got the biggest range of tri specific cycling shoes; and the shop dude brings out the options. all two of them. rubbish, but it's end of season i guess. the first option is the wrong size, but luckily the other one fits like a glove. i love it.

then i notice the sole. it looks rather... plastic. i ask the question; how much are these? £70.

i know they're an entry level shoe, and i've got to a point where i figure it's a waste of money going entry level. the next model up is mid/high range but they don't have it in stock, so i size myself up in store and head home to order over the net (cheaper this way anyway).

so my quest to go clipless continues, until my carbon-ised shoes arrive and i get my pedals fitted. i've got the duathlon next month and am hoping i can get in enough practise before; otherwise i'll be falling off my bike in public, at a race, possibly taking other more experienced cyclists with me. could be very ugly.

in other news; here's how my week of training has looked;

saturday: 25 minute run
sunday: 35 min run
monday: rest
tuesday: 2 x 35 minute cycle
wednesday: 38 minute run
1 hour run
friday: rest
saturday: 1 hour cycle

and fingers crossed this time next week, i've gone clipless, and have fallen off my bike not too many times ;)

p.s. for those of you wondering what i might look like in that moment; here's a couple of tasters

and just a really funny video of how NOT to cross the finish line

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Where to go from here? I've got 70.3 ideas...

ok so two quick thoughts from the week;

1. i officially have a girl crush on chrissie wellington (move over cheryl). chrissie has just won Kona World Ironman Championships for the third time. her first triathlon was five years ago on a £300 third hand racer. incredible lady, on many accounts, and i now admit to occassionally stalking her. join the fun at

2. an incredibly oversized thanks to everyone for their congratulations from last week's efforts; really appreciate it! i know it only takes a few moments to appreciate someone's efforts but it makes a great difference in equalling out all the hard work; so thank you thank you!

so, ok; let's look forward!

the 'A' race for next year is monaco 70.3 --> which will be my first half ironman, held around september, in (wouldn't you know it?) monaco! part of me understands this will be a massive undertaking, however i'm not sure it's really sunk in yet. the distances are pretty monumental; it's nick-named a 70.3 because that's how many miles i've got to conquer; 1.9k swim, 90k cycle, 21.1k run. it's going to hurt.

so how am i going to get there? i've got some work to do, and some races to tuck under my belt. i've spent the weekend signing up, and here's the list:

nov: old deer richmond 10k run, chilly duathlon (2m run,10m bike,2m run)

feb: brighton half marathon (21.1k run)

mar/april: mid distance duathlon

may: stratford triathlon sprint (400m swim, 23k cycle, 5k run)

end may/june: 10k run or duathlon

june: windsor triathlon olympic (1.5k swim, 40k cycle, 10k run)

july: 10k run or duathlon

august: london triathlon olympic (1.5k swim, 40k cycle, 10k run)

september: monaco 70.3 (1.9k swim, 90k cycle, 21.1k run)

but what are races without goals, right? here's my 2010 wish list;

1. cross the finish line at the 70.3 (very doable with the right training!)
2. complete London Olympic in 2 hrs 35 mins (a massive undertaking but possible!)

to accomplish this, i've got two things to focus on.

my weaknesses; the run, and the transition from bike to run.

i'm going to work on this primarily over winter because there's no point lapping the pool when my swim times are seeing me through. so next month i'll be exploring the world of duathlons, which i'll be using as part of my training to train these stubborn legs (and hopefully convince them they really *do* enjoy running, *especailly* after biking).

and breaking news kids; i'll also be investing in clipless pedals next week, so am looking forward to a combination of falling off my bike in public and getting faster bike spilts (combined with slower transition times).

so it's going to be a killer year, with some big objectives, but nothing too crazy (right?)

Monday, 5 October 2009

i came first!!!!!

event: Warwickshire Triathlon

distance: Supersprint (200m,23k,2.5k)

time: 1.06

position overall: 1/84

allow me to preamble (and apologise for a long race report! i promise it's vaguely interesting!)

while my major race achievement this year was undertaking my first Olympic distance tri, the goal has always been to place at the Warwickshire tri. I knew that by doing the supersprint distance that I’d have a chance, not at first; but at second or third.

something went right, so here’s how the day panned out;

i arrived early, to watch the boy sprinters hit the pool. I was supporting two mates, Craig (who did a smashing job on first tri!!) and Will (who is officially to blame for getting me into this business). Admittingly i was slightly distracted by the visual onslaught of fit boy triathletes. Always a pleasant aside to the actual race itself.

not long after my training peeps arrived on the scene and we spent our usual ‘far too long’ faffing around with our gear and rubbishing each other with good natured overly competitive talk. here’s a picture of us looking friendly, but secretly planning overtakes and tri related ambushes (L to R, deniz, me, paul, lisa)

the swim (200m pool)

predicted time: 3.30

actual time: 3.40

previous time: 3.45

i wasn’t too worried about the swim. i knew that my generic time was going to be good enough for a place, and the key were in the legs to follow. so i hit the pool, and kept a pretty consistent speed without going totally nuts. i tried a new technique too! as it’s a pool swim we needed to change lanes, and previously at this event i’d hit the end of the pool, then duck under, then take off. but watching the boys in the morning had introduced a faster means of moving across; where you hit the end, then push off, changing lanes underwater. it looked rather impressive and a *lot* quicker, so of course i had to give it a go. it worked pretty well, except i spent a long time underwater, which i wasn’t used to, and my breathing did suffer. but i wasn’t worried about it, and ended up with a (husband timed swim) of 3.29 which is a good time for me. so, out of the pool, and into T1.


i have a new t1 top tip kids, and it worked a treat this time so allow me to divulge. once you’ve racked your bike, go and stand at the entry you’ll be arriving from the swim and look at your position from this angle; then find your marker to make you remember. i used to find my marker based on where my bike was actually racked; but this isn’t the perspective which will help you find your stuff because you’re already there (cough, cough). or maybe i was the only other person not doing this right (very possible).

so t1 was pretty smooth. no major issues, grabbed bike, HR not through the roof from swim, feeling good + off i went.

bike (23 kms and T1)

predicted time: 49 minutes

actual time: 48 minutes

last event time: 51 minutes

i knew the bike was important to getting a place, so my plan was to ride hard. my running is still rubbish enough to put me at the back of the field, but my cycling can (and does!) pull me back into contention. so needless to say there was no singing (or thought of song) for the duration!

the bad news was that nobody on the cycle overtook me, so i had no pace maker. this was what drove my time down last time i did the event, so i was a little concerned i wasn’t going to be able to push myself alone, just by overtaking others.

fortunately my lovely first time tri-ing friend Lisa had started six minutes before me; so i knew that if i managed to catch her then i was in good form. she was my benchmark. i had already told her of my plan, and had even revealed the sound effect i would make if i did pass her, and it went like PPPpppCHHHhhEEEeeWWWW *someone whizzing past*

Lisa was wearing black, this i knew. but this was all i knew. so every woman i approached wearing black became a potential Lisa. I’d get close, ready to make my little sound, then get close and realise, nope, no Lisa.

At one very terrible moment which i’d like to scratch from my memory but am strangely recording here; i came up behind a woman who i was convinced was Lisa. during the passing moment i turned my head and had half spoken my “PpppCCHHhhhEEEE--” when i discovered from the look of horror on her face, that it was not Lisa. Oh the shame. What must she have thought!!!

Finally, though, as we hit a hill on a dual carriage way, I found her. And this time, playing it safe from the previous tragedy, I held my tongue with the sound effects. After this, knowing I was up a good six minutes, I felt like the place was within my reach. Yipppeee!

So finally I hit the home stretch, changed gear and started spinning, trying to ready myself for the run ahead. I suspected with this cycle time, i wasn’t going to need to go nuts on the run to hit my ideal time, but i still wanted that PB.


another disaster! the only thing indicating my space was a little towel and it had blown away! eeek! So i racked my bike randomly and took off! (note: leave my bag next time)

Run (2.5k and T2)

estimated time: 13.30

actual time: 14.11

last event time: 14.30

i wish i could write good things. i wish i could say that all those hard runs i did paid off. the hills, the humidity, the sprints, the pushing myself through all that damn pain... nothing. well, 20 seconds... basically nothing.

i’ve made a realisation, with gritted teeth. i’ve worked so hard at running faster, and despite my stats i’m sure i’ve picked up a bit of speed. however, i’ve not practiced bricks. really, at all.

so, what’s happening? i cycle hard, get off my bike in pain, and end up running at my ye olde slow comfortable pace because i’m in pain, or fighting a calf seizure or something. sure i might be running faster independently, but that’s no use in this game. i need to combine the two! how i’ve managed to miss this from my training is quite ridiculous, but here i am, with a measly twenty second gain. rubbish.

but you know what, it didn’t matter! my cycle time was enough to carry me through the lame run (thank you cycle time!) I finished to a brilliant crowd support (thanks so much; Mum, Dad, Ant, Ray, Wendy, Richard, Will). I had a good feeling at this point because nobody had overtaken me throughout the whole race, and i’d hit my goal time; yipppeee!

Post Race

we made our into the ceremony space, where triathletes were gathered, hoping for good news. training peeps paul + deniz were also finger crossing for a place.

paul’s place was announced; he came second! massive congratulations!!

then the women were announced. third place went to... second place went to... i knew getting first wasn’t likely, but then second place had got 1.09 and i’m sure i was faster than that... and then, first place to mmmeeeeeeee!

i was soooo excited i did a little a dance. maybe i did two or three even! i was grinning so much i thought my cheeks might fall off. brilliant! super! yippppeee!

after all the training + hard work, it’s so brilliant to have an actual reward at the end. sure, it’s only a supersprint, but that wasn’t making me grin any less!

(and also a big shoutout to Lisa’s super first tri placing of 24th, and Deniz’s crazy good position of 8th; exceptional job and an excellent grounding to the forthcoming winter training)

ok, so a final thought of the day (jerry springer style). sometimes training can feel never ending, and a bit pointless. but now i’ve realised i can actually achieve the goals i’m placing for myself. and it doesn’t get much better than that :)

Friday, 2 October 2009

Last Triathlon of the Season

it's two days until warwickshire triathlon, and i'm feeling a little strange. not nervous in a 'what the hell do i do' kind of way, but more in a 'i really want to do well' kind of way. haven't felt like this before. strange.

recovery from last weekend's efforts have been good, a little tight in the hamstring but nothing to write home about. i do have some great looking stats from the race, though, which i'm pretty excited about.

ok so i was in the top 13% of all women. not bad!

that breaks down to;

top 8% in swimming
top 8% in cycling
and the bottom 51% of running

almost laughable, i know, my running stats are still quite funny really. however ridiculous they might be, it's actually my best percentage yet for running. usually i'm even further down the field! so there's some improvement, albeit slow.

so my aim this sunday of getting a place is going to be challenging. i'm going to have to cycle like the wind and run like i can actually run. but my fingers (and toes) are crossed.

last time i made it to 6th place, but there was a good jump time-wise up to 3rd. i've worked hard since May, will it be enough?

race reporting pending!