Friday, 29 January 2010

super exciting gear update

two posts in one week! woaha! and you thought your day couldn't get any better!

i've noticed a few people (myself included) tend to give gear reviews when they first buy gear. but what happens a few months down the track, when the novelty has worn off and the cracks are beginning to show? here's the g-o

1. cateye strada wireless cycle computer
pros: i have only good things to say about this cycle computer. it does everything you want (average speed, are you now cycling faster or slower than your average, distance, max speed, overall distance). it's borderline hard to pop out so no accidents on the road, and would be challenging to steal quickly (you need to know the trick)

cons: BUT now that i have my sweet little Garmin, did i really need the cycle computer? No. now my cycle computer is a bit redundant. so something to keep in mind if you're thinking of Garmin investing down the track.

conclusion: don't buy a cycle computer if you're thinking of getting a Garmin.

2. H20 waterproof ipod and headphones

pros: swimming for ages without noticing the time?! bliss! i'm not sure why these aren't more popular, because they really are brilliant. hands up if you get a bit bored swimming... well no longer! i looove listening to podcasts. super.

cons: the headphones are *rubbish.* one doesn't work at all and the other is so soft i have to wear a swimming cap to hold into my ear to be able to hear. and even then it works itself loose every 10 laps or so. they are also pretty expensive, so i need to get these back to the guys to see about a replacement. and, another con, you look like a total idiot.

conclusion: if you've got cash, i'd drop it on these babies. but keep the warranty close by.

3. knee length compression socks
pros: they keep you warm. they compress (duh). they turn your summer running/cycling gear into winter gear - big bonus. did i notice better recovery time? slightly, but perhaps that was mental.

cons: i bought my pair from the London Marathon Store and the dude who sold them to me said he doesn't use the ones with toes, his cut off at the ankle. i couldn't understand why you'd get those ones, so i got the ones like above, a full sock. BUT now i get it. the sock has a tight compressiony band across the middle of the foot and on long runs this was *really* uncomfortable. it felt like my foot was choking. the next day i could barely walk from the pain/tightness on the top of my foot where the band was.

conclusion: if i was going to invest in compression, i'd get the leg/calf only ones. you don't want to screw around with your feet. they're just too important.

4. Garmin 310 XT

it's been a month since my affair with the Garmin. so where are we at?

pros: the heart rate strap is uber comfy. soft fabric, lovely. i have mine on almost the tightest possible setting and there's ladies smaller than me out there - so something to check if you're little.

the ease of uploading my data. seriously easy. and love my maps at the end. here's this mornings run around the running track:

seriously; how great is that? (even if it does make me look like a rat in a cage)

and i love the calender function on the garmin connect website (which holds all your data). it has colours and everything. yeaha! does weekly totals and everything. love you calender.

cons: the watch hurts my wrist. it's a bit boney, and there's no cushioning on the *HUGE* watch face, so at the end of long stints i actually get little sore patches from all the rubbing. okay so it's not bringing tears to my eyes, but it does suck.

the satellite reception has been a little dodgy. on two runs it *never* got reception, but has picked up its game since then.

conclusion: it rocks my world. haven't looked back.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

5 reasons to be excited

1. i'm going to wales tomorrow. cottage on a farm, middle of nowhere, good friend, bike on the rack, hmmmmm.

2. the spinning instructor today asked me if i was training and i said yes and he said "i thought so." hell yeaha, i look like someone who is training.

3. my last swim was lovely. i was bilateral breathing and using my flippers and doing my drills and it felt sweet.

4. yesterday i took my running gear all the way to work for a lunchtime run and then when it got to lunch i thought Screw This. so i didn't run. and that felt so good it hurt a little.

5. i'm in a good mood today. yipppppeeeee!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

the results: first group cycle

today i delved into a world previously unknown; the group cycle. my local tri shop emailed me regarding a womens only cycle, 2 hours, drops and cleats required. i was pretty scared, for lots of reasons; but primarily;

1. i've never cycled in a group before. can i keep up and will i knock them all over like dominos when i struggle to clip in at lights?

2. i'm half deaf. will they try to talk to me and i won't be able to hear them? will they then think i am the *rudest* person ever like 47.8% people do when i first meet them.

3. what the hell are those hand gestures about and will i pick them up quickly, before i miss a crucial right turn? or will they expect me to use the gestures and will i look like a feckin' idiot?

we met at the shop at 8am and snuck looks at eachothers bike. i apologised for the amount of noise my bike, Jesus, was going to make and they asked what the problem was. i pointed, "that is rubbing" (extent of my bike knowledge) and the dude adjusted the gear cable and it was FIXED. damn that was fast. i was thinking of buying a new bike. Jesus has risen (again).

we set off and *immediently* i look like a fool. they crew ahead have jumped lights and crossed at the intersection, onto the footpath. i rarely do this, only in big emergencies when i know the road, so straight away i'm feeling panicked and the woman behind me, who organised it, was yelling instructions at me which of course i couldn't hear. ERG! so i look like a big spaz and did some dodge move across the intersections with cars and cyclists cursing me.

i make note to NEVER cycle outside my comfort zone, even if the group does these things.

we set off, and hit the hills, and then the countryside. for the first 10k i'm feeling a little cautious. i'm careful to keep pace with the leader, without treading on their toes (later i realise that's not the right approach, stupid me). the first time we stop they ask if i usually cycle on my own and i am shamed to admit i haven't group cycled before - and wonder secretly how they could tell. i decide to ask them about the hand signals and looks like they were communicating to me the whole way without me realising. whoops.

we did 35k in total, and by the end of it i was feeling much more relaxed, and would definitely do this again. i learnt a few things about my riding too, from watching the others;

1. i stick to the big chain and do not spin my legs EVER. i feel like i go faster in the big chain. watching the leader, they were spinning but still going faster than me. damnit.

2. i'm so uber cautious it's borderline embarassing. they were zipping here and there and were pretty fearless in traffic. and the hills - they were much faster/courageous. i hit 48kph down a slight decline and i would never normally do that.

3. i kept up. i'm okay.

training this week, like a lot of weeks past, has been hampered by other bits and bobs. however i've managed a 7km run, 2km run, weights, 4km run and now a 35km cycle. first cycle of the new year! time to get these peggies moving!

p.s. bike porn. i'm not quite at this stage with Jesus, but maybe if i had those hot wheels i would be

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

5 Top Reasons to Detect you're a Tri-Hard Triathlete

in the spirit of "50 Ways to Identify Triathlon Obsession" - here is a list based on being a "tri-hard triathlete." me and training peeps coined this term, and indeed it's the name we now race under. here's our rough and ready definition:

"Tri-Hard Triathlete: a person whose life is triathlon obsessed despite only having participated in a very small number of triathlons, possibly one or two."

it's an easy sport to get sucked into, we've all been there. hell, some of us are still here :)

5 Top Reasons to Detect you're a Tri-Hard Triathlete

5. You've bought triathlon shoe laces before you've registered for your first race.

4. After reading too many tri magazines, you've realised your bike isn't up to scratch. You're thinking about dropping a few thousand £ even though you've only ever raced a super sprint. once.

3. You dream about Kona. Even though you rank in the bottom half of your AG.

2. You've shaved your legs even though you didn't really need to, because it made you feel more like a triathlete.

1. You're completely kitted out in all the latest gear, all technologically enhanced, crazy expensive stuff you know you really need, and then you come across a guy who has done 6 ironmans and he's wearing shorts and a t-shirt and that's it.

and he's faster than you.

Friday, 8 January 2010

weekly totals

this week was tainted by new years celebrations; so i'm surprised i managed to do much at all. the fact i'm actually clocking a 1km run says everything. that was the new years day and was a hefty achievement (as was getting out of bed).

training totals for the week;

thurs; 40 mins weights, 15 minute swim
friday; 1km run
sat; 2km run
sun; 2.5km run, 1.5hours yoga
mon; 20 min swim (assessment)
tues; rest
weds; rest
thurs; bike-run-bike-weights (1 hour)

this week i timed my 100metre swim. i wanted to do this prior to the swim assessment, so i had a benchmark to compare. i did this at a 1.5km pace; and it came in at 1 min 58 secs.

So the london snow hasn't yet melted, which is going to play havoc with getting my long runs in next week. the half marathon is 44 days away and i still haven't managed to continuously run the distance; so there's work to be done.

p.s. i will NOT complain about snow/weather conditions in london while i note that north america has it far worse at the moment. check out steve's answer to snow running:

happy training!

Monday, 4 January 2010

underwater swim picture time!

Photo Time!

being the image geek i am, i've made some nifty little comparison shots so we can see the action from my swim assessment. firstly i must apologise for looking so ridiculously hideous. what can i say. i'm underwater in a tank.

1. hand entry

firstly let's start with my hand entry point. this wasn't actually discussed during the session but something i spotted while running through the video for blog readiness. so anyone feel free to correct me if i'm mistaken. but this is something that's been picked up before, and maybe i've got lazy over time. the left arm is extending out there (possibly overextending), and the right arm is dropping in too short. damn.

you can see this big time on the front view. you can also see that i'm crossing over too far on the left stroke (i've photoshopped a white line to show that. see how geeky i am. that's so football replay).

2. left side breathing (during extension drill)

this is where i need to work the most. here i am doing the extension drill. i did the drill twice, and you can see a massive difference just in doing it twice. my upper body isn't rotating enough on the first drill, which is causing me to flail my little arm in the background. dan then told me my shoulder should be out of the water and it was a light bulb moment. hence the better rotation on the second drill!

3. right side breathing (during extension drill)

so this one was a little better on the first drill, but you can still see my shoulders aren't rotated enough. also maybe my arm is a bit too high. big change again on the second drill, where i've streamlined myself a helluva lot. i'd say about three minutes over a 1.5km. not sure where that figure came from, possibly a place we don't discuss in polite company.

brilliant! am super excited to head to the pool now, armed with all my faults (no pun intended. actually, was that even a pun?) happy swimming!

my first underwater swim assessment!

2009 was a pretty frustrating swimming affair for me. despite hours and hours clocked in the pool, my swim time decreased ever so marginally. i assured myself that 2010 would not be a repeat performance!

this morning i had my first underwater swim assessment courtesy of the folks at Swim for Tri, Canary Wharf, London. Ray Gibbs was the man in the know.

i was a little nervous going in (read: dead scared). i knew i wasn't a total rubbish swimmer; but what would those cameras reveal? all talk no show??

SO the results!!! i have a DVD of pics but haven't managed to rip them yet. they'll come next post.

in the meantime- here's the top problems;

1. my left arm is incredibly lazy!! a bunch of coaches had told me before; "lift my left elbow" but i couldn't understand why. after watching far too much hideous underwater vision of my pathetic left arm, i finally understand why. like it's become my embarrassing second cousin who picks his nose at the school dance.

2. apparently my right arm is thankfully not so bad, but i've just watched back these videos and realised though most of it is looking good, my entry point is far to shallow. damnit.

3. lazy leftie is so pathetic i'm dragging the water back with my ELBOW. like seriously! what an idiot.

4. Dan thinks that as a result of my love for one sided breathing, the leftie dirty habit has evolved. in training i have to bilaterally breathe. in races i can do what i want. okay, i can work with this.

5. i've got drills to do, the Extension Drill is going to be my friend. when we practised this Dan froze the underwater playback and said that form was like an elite swimmer. i was like YIPPPEEE i looked like an elite for ONE FRAME. hey i'll take what i can.

i can't begin to describe how beneficial seeing myself underwater was; and would totally recommend this for other tri-ers at any level. the proof will be in the pudding, but i'm pretty excited (by the pudding, actually, please see previous post on my current Elimination Diet)

overall; i've got work to do - but i'm not scraping the bottom of the barrel here. if i can look elite-ish for one frame, even a couple, there's got to be hope at a proper 1.5km PB. here she goes.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Elimination Diet

i don't usually blog about diet/food stuff, but at the moment i'm trying something pretty new (to me) and thought some of you might be interested. if not, just squint your eyes and click away :)

there's a bit of talk around Australia apparently, about Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's publication regarding the Elimination Diet. In a nutshell, it's means of detecting intolerances to food chemicals.

i've heard about chemicals being added to foods, but hadn't thought about the ones that occurred naturally. kind of makes sense. after being recommended it by friends and spending some quality google time, it seems like this is a great way of discovering intolerances, and has great results in children previously diagnosed with ADD.

intolerant what?!!? i know, i know, everyone these days has some kind of allergy gluten wheat diary something which upsets them, doesn't sit well, blah blah blah. there's a bandwagon, and i'm sitting somewhere in the middle.

when i was sixteen i went from meat eater to vegan, and was vegan for the next nine years. being vegan really agreed with me, i still remember so many people saying to me "ohh you're missing out on this and that" but i never felt like i was missing anything. it just felt right.

then, about four years ago, it very suddenly felt wrong. i got really sick, like deathly sick, and i just thought, i don't want to be vegan anymore. so i wasn't.

unfortunately, nine years of veganism had taken its toll on my body, and since my conversion to being non vegan i've had skin that's not quite covergirl standard. dermatologists have failed repeatedly. occasionally i'll suggest maybe it's my diet. they scoff.

i've tried a bunch of stuff. tried cutting dairy. cutting meat. cutting both. but nothing.

so here i am, ready to give the Elimination Diet a whirl. basically it means i have to spend the next four weeks eating pretty bland food, then one by one do "challenges" where i'm re-introducing foods, in the hope of seeking the culprits.

unlike most of these kinds of things, it's not a No Wheat/Diary/Meat kind of thing. In fact, quite the opposite. it's targeting food chemicals, so it's a different approach. the only fruit i can eat during the elimination period, for example, is pear. i can eat potatoes, bread, fresh chicken/lamb/beef, soft cheeses, milk.

it's my second day, and it's been tough. i didn't realise how much i crave *adding* things to my meals. especially tomato sauce. i love that shit.

if you're interested in learning more, here is some official information and also here is the link of the book put onto the net (not their official book). the book i'm using is called Friendly Food and there's a pic above. i'll let you know how i get on.

Friday, 1 January 2010

the ironman decision

HAPPY NEW YEAR training peeps. we made it, another year, a new decade. whoop whoop.

i've made a decision. a big fat NY decision. but first; totals!

this week i got my totals back up, most notably on a 19km run on boxing day. i'd have more totals if my stupid iphone apps hadn't been wiped. not that i'm bitter.

i'm finding it hard to recover from the long runs. two days and i can walk properly again, but it takes three or four for me to actually want to start training again. it takes so much out of me, and i'm sure recovery shouldn't be this hard.

okay, so maybe i need to eat more protein straight after the run. maybe i should be wearing those compression thingos. maybe running 19km is just damned hard and my body needs some time to get over it. grrrr.

ok, so decision time. i've been umming and arrring over the ironman. is next summer the right time, is france the right place, do i have the time to do this properly?

in short; i've decided against an IM France 2010 debut.

i made the decision looking at the IM and HIM races in Australia. the scenery, the ocean, the familiarity, the training. i compared this to my last race in the UK where the weather was so miserable it was like beating my body against a brick wall. made of ice.

it made me realise i don't need to do this NOW. this can wait. i'm going to achieve it, that is without question, but i don't need to rush this. we'll be moving back to Australia in the coming years, and even if this takes a bit longer than i thought, i can always head home to race.

when revealing this all last night, husband did actually physically recoil and question what i had done with the real Al. i'm a pretty classic over-achiever. i want things NOW. waiting isn't an option.

but i'm feeling good about this decision. half of my IM training would have been in winter and i'm already tired of training in the cold. i've had enough of those ice brick walls.

SO time to refocus. i'm going to concentrate on the two Olys next year, and work hard at these distances while still keeping 2011 IM at the back of my mind, slowly building my longer rides and runs. it hasn't been an easy decision to make, but there's not much about this business that is easy. and that's half the appeal :)