Friday, 27 November 2009

To be or not to be... ironwoman?

i feel as though i'm going to look back at this post and see it as the start of something. so here we are, not for the first time, starting something.

this time we're goal assessing. the delay in Monaco half ironman race entries opening has left me wondering what i'm looking to get out of next year. how am i going to feel after a HIM? after training hard for seven months, am i going to feel the Ahhhh of achievement? to be honest, i don't think so. but doing a full IM? now that's something i'd looooove to do!

so the IM i'm looking at is IM France, which gives me seven months to prepare. enough? who knows? i'm not too worried about the swim; 3.8km is totally achieveable. the bike, 180km, is hilly, so will be tough, but again, achieveable. the run, now that my friends, is a totally different story. crikey. one whole marathon. a whole 42km. ouch doesn't even begin to describe it. i've never run that far before. never even got close. and that's not after a 180km cycle. over mountains. in france. in summer.

massive decision to make; and i've pretty much decided but hesitiation is creeping in. that marathon is like a big red flag of CANYOUREALLYDOTHIS? i almost died after the half marathon; but then i'm a lot fitter now than i was back then... but a whole big whole massive long 42km of marathon...? eeeek!

in aid of my possible new training direction; i've changed my weekly totals. this time, instead of clocking my time, i'll be focused on distance. i'm still not sure how FAR i need to go each week for IM training, there's a whole lot to learn. but here's what i got up to this week;

sunday> 3.5km run, 16km cycle, 3.5km run
monday> 1.6km swim
tuesday> 1.5km run (hill session)
wednesday> 5.5km run, 45mins bike and swim weights
thursday> 35km cycle
friday> 5km run, 1km swim
saturday> rest

totals: this week i ran 19kms, swam 2.6km, cycled 41km

so it's public, it's on the table. i haven't booked yet, but my finger is itchy. i want an achievement, i'm a black and white kind of girl. HIM seems too grey. but IM is going to be the biggest thing i've ever done in my life. and that's a big button to push even with an itchy finger :)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Chilly Duathlon; my first du (note lingo use)

on the outskirts of Bristol, on a cold rainy english winter day, i entered the world of duathlon. the event comprised almost entirely of university folk, so the field was stupidly competitive.

overall 1hr 12 mins. i was 32/45 in my Category
so what happened? disaster! here's the story;

RUN (2 miles) - 16.47 mins (35/42)

i'd seen the results from last event, so i knew exactly where to place myself for the run; right at the back. so i did, and it was a good move. the run started fast Swoooosh and they were gone; i was still at the starting line (not really, but you know what i mean)

i'm trying a new technique of running out faster and trying to hold my own for as long as possible, and this worked a treat. my time for this came in at 16.47 - which was great for me, and what i was hoping for. from my dodgy maths, this equates to a 51min 10k - yipppeee! i felt like in my last 10k i went out hard and held my own for a few kms, but without a garmin (fancy gps watch which husband is buying for xmas; thanks babe - see how my life will change?!) i had no proof. NOW it seems like i could actually achieve a 51min 10k, if i could maintain my speed for longer than 3.2k! something to work on!

here's me running into T1; photo taken courtesy of my very first internet stalker (joy!) @
pushpiker is part of the tri (+du?) tweeting crew and saw me at the event. i even asked his wife for directions out of T2 without realising i was coming face to face with my stalker. brilliant, thanks for the pics guys!

(p.s. if you click on pic, it makes it bigger, note this is my first running pic where my feet aren't touching the ground! this is a moment of runners joy described frequently by steve stenzel;

BIKE (10 miles) 38.10 mins (28/42)

hideous hideous cycle. never in one thousand years did i ever think i would hate the cycle leg of a duathlon, but there i was. it all went horribly wrong, and here's why:

training a few days ago, i embark on a 80k cycle. 15ks in, i get a flat. hey, that's cool, i can change it. and i did. ten minutes later, however, down she went again (yes, i checked the inside of the tyre before replacing tube!) a trip to the bike shop later revealed i should also be investing in some new tyres anyway, so i induldge. sweet!

this morning, day of the race, i put the wheels back on my bike. i cycle approx 15 metres to check all is in order. this was my BIG mistake. 15 metres?! what was i THINKING?!?

fast forward to me starting the bike leg. i hear a noise. it's not a good noise. i look down and damnit, my sensor is rubbing against the spokes of my wheel - i hadn't checked this!! i jump off, a quick fix and i'm hoping she does the job, off i go again. then pring pring pring pring - what noooow???

i look down and the cable tie is now hitting my spokes. that's it, i jump off my bike, and declare my competitive spirit lost. when i finally fix it, i've lost my sensor, and now am cycling blind, without any data feeding up into my cycle computer. then i get half way around the circuit and hit the most horrible headwind i've ever encountered. that's IT, seriously, IT. i spend the rest of the cycle begging to get off my bike. for the first time in the history of my short life; i actually wanted to run. good lord.

i finish with a rubbishly average time of 38.10 mins. by the end my breathing wasn't strained in the slighest, and i didn't really care. i've learnt a lesson, now onto the run and get this thing wrapped up!

RUN (2 miles) 18.37 (33/42)

by the time i'm running my enthusiasm is at an all time low, but i think; how can i turn this around into a learning experience? so i figure, why not run these 2 miles as though i've got a whole marathon to undertake (more on this later), and find a comfy pace which settles my bad cycle mood. then something totally brilliant happens.

i notice in the distance there's a girl which i was cycle battling with for the last few laps. she and i overtook eachother for quite some time, and it was nice to see her running off into the distance as expected - or so i thought! suddenly i realise; she's actually getting closer... and closer... and closer... and for the second time in my racing experience of cycle battling with someone - i OVERTOOK her! i know, incredible, amazing, brilliant! she was the only person i did overtake on that run, but damn it felt good.

looking at my times/rank; interestingly i only lost 3 places by running at a slower speed in the second run, even though i was a whole 2 minutes slower. 3 places isn't that much for a whole lot of effort...

so i get the finish line, breathing not laboured, and wonder; am i ever going to do this again?


> taking my strength (swimming) out of a race really sucks. taking my second strength (cycling) out of the race because of my stupid inability to replace a wheel correctly really really sucks.

> training peeps paul + deniz came through well, with good times (11 min 2 miler!!) deniz started strong but unfortunately had a rubbish race in the end, as he accidentally cycled 6 laps instead of 5!

> at the end of the day, this is great brick practise. race pace bricks while tucking race experience under your belt; that's worth the effort :)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

the chick hit (and other cycling observations)

1. definition of 'chick hit': the moment of a female cyclist overtaking a male cyclist. female cyclist is chuffed, male cyclist is most certainly not.

2. please do not look angry at me for being on bicycle just because you are in a car and i exist.

3. don't give me sympathetic looks when it's raining. i WANT to be here (and my gear is waterproof and i'm actually pretty damn cozy)

4. don't grab your small children like i'm going to run them over, particularly if i'm making eye contact with you. on the other hand, please do grab your old folk, because i will run them over. (kidding. a bit)

5. my tyres are like an inch wide, so if i see something on the road, i'll probably avoid it. this change of direction means do NOT drive your car 30cms from me. and don't think i'm a shit cyclist because i've swerved a bit. be careful; inner cyclist demon exists and can be released.

6. stopping for pedestrians waiting to cross the road scores us Cyclist Brownie Points. we need these, because soon, those pedestrians will get into their cars, and we want to live.

7. back to the chick hit. as a female cyclist, this feels so damn good i can't begin to describe it without sounding a bit weird.

8. if i'm changing a flat, feel free to ask me if i require help. but do NOT precede this with, "Hey beautiful."

9. why does walking in cycling shoes make you look like a) a courier b) you have toilet problems

10. if you're on a shitty bike, or a brompton, don't try and race me at the traffic lights. get a life, and a race number, and let's do this properly.

tomorrow is my first duathlon. 2m run, 10m cycle, 2m run. the competition, unlike triathlons, looks much more intense, so i'll be super lucky to hit middle of the pack. more likely; last quarter. but this is experience for me, nothing else. oh, and another attempt at overtaking a few of the boys :) race report pending!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

the shocking results of this weeks training

it's been a long time coming. this week, i did something i should have done a while ago. maybe after the Oly. maybe after the back to back Sprints.

i rested.

six whole days. nothing. i worked my ass off (doing work stuff) but my training over six days peaked at a 8 minute cycle down the shops. hard workout.

a strange thing happened throughout these six days. i felt no guilt. no itching to get back in the saddle. nothing. work stuff was all consuming and there was no room for tri stuff (shocking!)

so what did i get up to this week?

monday: rest
tuesday: rest
wednesday: rest
thursday: rest
friday: rest
saturday: rest
sunday: 1 hr 20 min (32k) cycle drills (the old one legged!), 35 mins swim specific weights

this weekend i've got my first duathlon;
2m,10m, 2m. i'm not racing this for a race, just as training, to keep my bricks happening over the winter months. if it goes well, i'll continue in 2010 using them as training.

this week i'm going to run 2 miles everyday, which incidentally is the length of my fav. little run around town.

then it's duathlon time! and here's a duathlon related question;

how do you hold yourself back on the bike (saving yourself for second run) when running is your weakness? surely it's better to go hard on the bike, to make up for the time you'll loose when you hit the run?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

running a 10k like a speedy duck waddling

this is a story of progress. it doesn't have an end, but it does have a beginning. and that's where we will start.

me. a few years ago. unable to run 50 metres.

then (a lot of blisters later), a slightly ambitious half marathon. i run it for the better half, then walk. finish with a totally unrespectable time of around 2 hours 33 mins.

next; 10k run. unlike half mara, am determined not to walk. succeed. 1 hour 3 minutes.

fast forward to the next 10k run. need to check what time i'll get for the olympic triathlon and hope to sub an hour. succeed. cross the line around 58 mins.

then, today. hello 10k run. hoping that all this damn running training is paying off, hoping to get anything lower than last race, succeed.

cross the line at around 54 mins (official time pending).

so this story has no definitive ending because it's a journey, of how someone can progress from being a total non running waddler into someone who still waddles, but now waddles with speed. i'm sure you didn't think that was possible, but it is. a speedy waddler. oh yes. that's me. used to be a duck just hanging out, now i'm a duck about to take off. hot.

in one year, i've knocked nine minutes off my 10k time. i've improved by over 10% in twelve months. incredible!

and yes, i've got a long way to go to reach my goals. yes, i will almost certainly never get my running to a point it's even marginally competitive, but you know what; who cares. i'm getting better.

i've worked hard for every one of those minutes, and i guess my point here is that improvements happen.

train hard, no matter how much you waddle, and it's inevitable.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

going clipless

so this is it kids, i've done it. the transition has been long, but the results worthwhile; i've gone clipless.

it's a funny old thing, learning to ride a bike again. twice this week i've been in my new shoe/pedal outfit, cycling along with training peep Paul ready for the inevitable fall. fortunately my fall happened on dirt, and fortunately he was able to break it so i escaped with more bruised ego than knee.

the fall didn't just occur from my learning to use clipless, but from my rather adventurous decision to - on the same day - learn how to complete a single leg dismount. what was i thinking, i know, but why make life 10% harder when you can make it 15%, right?

ok, so what's a single leg dismount? in the short, it's what the cool kids do (them, and the elites). it's when you're cycling along, and rather than coming to a full stop and then getting off your bike; you swing your leg over while still in motion, then jump off your bike. it's speedy, saves time, looks hot.

though this picture explains the process, these peeps don't prove the hot theory.

by the end of the session, i hadn't mastered the technique. it was a lot to take in. single leg dismount WHILE clipping out. my brain wasn't coping, need to get back to this one. i did manage it once, but it was a pretty laboured affair. really should have attempted to master it before the clipless thing, but no turning back now.

so how much better is clipless? i'd planned to re-visit one on my timed circuits this weekend but london weather drove me indoors; so hopefully soon i'll have a definite answer. the science is on my side; i should be faster. i feeeel faster (and a bit more hardcore). i also repeat the mantra when coming to a stop "remember clip out remember clip out remember clip out." have yet to commute into central london (stop, start, stop, start) so that will be the real test.

in other news, my weather induced indoor brick session today was a smashing success (thanks for everyone's thoughts + experiences). three of us overtook the spinning room at the gym and cycled 10 minutes, then jumped on the treadmill for five, and repeated this four times at race pace. it was tough, particularly as my quads were screaming from my 10k run the day before, but felt effective. ideally these times should be longer, but these are some of our first dedicated brick sessions, so something to build over winter.

so what did i manage this week?

monday: rest
tuesday: rest
wednesday: yoga (1.5 hrs)
thursday: 45 minutes outdoor brick (cycle/run x 4)
friday: rest
saturday: 10k run (average pace, 59 mins)
sunday: 1 hour race pace indoor brick (10 min cycle/5 min run x 4)

next week i've got the "PLEASE LET ME PB" 10K race (i'm sure it has another name, who cares what that is). two weeks after, my first duathlon (what's the short name for a duathlon? a duo?)

time to start praying to the running gods.