Sunday, 28 December 2008

Terrible training week

Last weekends over doing it hit me harder than I wold have liked as I have been ill for all of the past week. I tried to go out for a gentle spin on the bike on Tuesday just to see how I felt and that confirmed that I felt pretty average! I've therefore continued to rest up and try and get rid of the illness before getting back into it. A bit frustrating but there is nothing that i can do about it and I know that trying to train through it is not the best idea.

I've had a couple of good nights sleep in the last 2 days so am feeling a lot better today, may go out for a short bike ride or run again just to see how my body feels, and then hopefully get back into it next week.

I don't think all the eating over Christmas and no training has helped my physical condition but looking at the 6 months I have planned in the run up to Austria don't think that will be a major concern!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Finding my limits!

Didn't have the best week of training last week, had to miss a couple of sessions due to being busy at work and us taking Monday to do all of our Christmas shopping. Was all ready to go for a big weekend though and with the weather forecast to be an unseasonally mild 12 degrees I was quite looking forward to both my long ride and long run.

The general philosophy that I've been trying to follow with my training is that you push your body pretty hard and then give it time to recover, hopefully it builds itself back stronger than it started. The problem with this is that there is a bit of a balancing act between not tearing yourself to bits. So far I've been pretty good, this weekend however I failed miserably!!

I think I pushed just a bit beyond my boundaries and that resulted in me feeling absolutely terrible on Sunday night and this morning. I knew I was struggling when I was reduced to a real shuffle at the end of my long run and had to come home and eat most of a box of cadbury heroes that Erika had whilst collapsed on the stairs, I needed some sugar!

I'll try and put this one down to experience, hopefully I can learn to recognise the signs that it is all coming undone a bit sooner next time! Am having a complete rest day today and hopefully with a bit more sleep I should feel ok again tomorrow.

I'm now off work for 3 weeks over Christmas, am hoping that I do not suffer any longer term effects from this weekend.

I have a massage booked for this afternoon and I have a feeling that my legs could be a bit sore, although hopefully that will help to remove some of the waste in my muscles.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Annoying cold

I've not felt too great for the last couple of days, I ran home from work on Thursday which was ok but I could tell that I was not quite right. Did a short weights session in the gym before work on Friday followed by a swim but didn't feel any better for the rest of the day.

Same story on Saturday morning so with the forecast set for heavy rain for the day and only 6 degrees, I didn't think that spending 5.5 hours out on the bike was the most sensible idea. I did contemplate doing a long session on the indoor trainer but decided that my body could probably benefit from the rest. I'll see how I feel tomorrow before deciding on whether to do my run or not.

Tried to be productive today and put some Christmas lights up, its amazing how much time you have on your hands when you don't spend 6 hours training on a Saturday.

As if I'm not doing enough training, I found something on-line that Erika and I are having a go at, check out both Erika and I are up to Week 3 day 3 this evening. I did 3 more than her on the initial test but she seems to be doing better at the training programs doing more than me on the last set each time. I'm hoping that this is a function of not being well, but I think in reality it is a function of my weedy arms after all of this running and cycling!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

30 Weeks to go - The Countdown begins

Today marks day 1 of my official 30 week training plan to get me ready for Ironman Austria 2009. I've obviously put in plenty of training to get to this point and very much enjoyed my week of complete rest last week but am now eager to get going again.

My first bit of training was my commute into work, after suffering on the trains with all the miserable, rude and ill people last week I was not even put off by the thicl frost that greeted me this morning.

However, I hope this is not a sign of things to come as I got a puncture a couple of miles away form the office!! You have to take the positives out of these things I suppose, so I tried to look at that as a bit of practice at changing a tube. I was on my single speed bike so no quick release wheels which slowed me down a bit but managed to change the tube (and remove the offending bit of grit from the tyre) and be back on my way within 10 minutes, amazed a few people at the bus stop with the CO2 cannister to pump the tyre back up again!!

I'm going to wait until after Christmas to push my sponsorship harder but thought I would also say that I have set up a sponsorship page online for people to donate to my chosen charity should they want to. I've set myself a goal of raising £3,000, I have no idea if this is even remotely possible but thought I may as well aim high!

the website is feel free to pass on the details to anyone that you know. As I said, I will send out an email in the new year to try and drum up some support.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Swim Video Analysis

I did a swim video analysis in an endless pool last week. As I don't get the chance to train with a squad or get any coaching over here, I thought it would be a good idea to get a few pointers to help me improve my efficiency.

I know that I am fit enough to cover the Ironman swim distance but I am certainly not very fast! So the aim was to try and get a few key things to work on that would mean that I go as fast for less effort or faster for the same effort. Given that the swim only accounts for about 10% of the Ironman race, the main goal for me is to climb out of the water feeling nice and fresh, not like I have just had to fight my way round.

Here are a couple of videos that they took, the first was my swimming when I turned up the second one is at the end of the session. Not vastly different but I definitely got what I wanted out of the session, plenty of tips to try and make me glide through the water rather than sink like a brick!

The key things I am going to take away and work on are my kick which was going much to deep into the pool and therefore meaning that I was dragging my legs along a bit and also the tiing of my stroke which is much better in the second clip than the first. Really enjoyed the session though, is pretty weird watching yourself swimming (they have a mirror in the bottom of the pool!)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

November Training

Totals for this month were as follows:

Swim - 25.1km (15.7miles) 9 Hours 35 min
Bike - 1053.4km (658.4 miles) 41 Hours 22 mins
Run - 223.6km (140 miles) 19 Hours 8 mins

Total training time in month 70 hours 7 minutes

Total training since I entered Ironman Austria =

Swim - 82.9km (51.8miles) 31 Hours 43 min
Bike - 3,854.8km (2,409.3 miles) 144 Hours 58 mins
Run - 926.4km (579 miles) 79 Hours 44 mins

Monday, 24 November 2008

My legs don't work so well in the cold!

I've had a really good couple of weeks of training since the ballbuster. I'm quite looking forward to my total rest week at the start of December before I start the 30 week countdown to the Ironman. I've been trying to focus on my swimming the last two weeks and have managed to do 7 sessions over the 2 weeks which is a vast improvement on my previous dedication!

This weekend certainly posed some challenges. The forecast was for a nice clear day on Saturday but cold, maximum temperature forecast to be 3 degrees, and Sunday had the prospect of heavy snow!

With that in mind on Friday lunchtime I went out from work to the local bike shop and stocked up on some warmer bike trousers, a hat that would go under my helmet and some 'extreme weather' socks.

Friday was relatively mild but I thought I should wear them all on the commute home just to make sure that they were comfortable and it was lucky I did as when I got to the top of the hill about 10 minutes from home, it started spitting with cold rain. within 2 minutes I was in the middle of a torrential hail storm which made staying upright pretty interesting! I was hoping that this was not the way that the weekend was going to progress!

Friday evening was good, I went out for a 30 minute run with Erika, her first outing after the heart op and ll seemed to be fine, I know that she was pleased to be able to get out again after not being allowed for the past few months.

Saturday morning started with the promised cold weather but I wrapped up warm and headed out for my planned 5 hour 15 minute ride. As usual the ride was pretty hilly but fortunately I didn't find the cold weather too uncomfortable. One strange this was that I seemed to be getting through my fluids quicker than I have been recently, with the colder weather I generally don't seem to need too much liquid and usually en up coming home with some left over but for whatever reason I felt like I needed more. I also had a good supply of powerbars and energy gels and was getting through those at a good rate. About 4 hours into the ride I really started to struggle, just felt like I was running out of fuel and the last hour or so was not too much fun. After the last few weeks of improving times and good race results, this brought me back down to earth a bit, realising how hard an Ironman is going to be if I was feeling like that 4 hours into a ride.

I slowed down significantly but battled through and felt a little better for the last 20 minutes once home was in sight! Got back in and quickly changed for my 20 min run. This is always interesting to see how I feel and I was expecting to have a 20 min fast walk rather than a jog but I actually didn't feel too bad and got about as far as I usually do. Was pleased to get home after almost 6 hours out in the cold and proceeded to replace some of the lost calories and have a well earned hot shower!!

This morning I had a 2 hour 20 minute run scheduled, woke up and luckily no snow before I started, headed out with the expectation of getting wet and immediately had some small snowflakes that was actually pretty cool. This got heavier for the first hour and resulted in a nice covering of snow, I would have taken some pictures but by the time I got home, the snow had turned into rain and washed away anything that had settled!

One thing I established is that having hairy legs did not help, the snow was sticking to my legs and then turning into ice! Had to stop for a bit at the turnaround and get a layer of ice of the front of each leg! The last 20 minutes was also very tough today, again I was drinking and eating more than I would have expected to, I'm sure there is some scientific reason for this but its good to know for the future! Managed just over 27km in the 2.21.

I'm pleased with the weekends training although a bit worried about how bad I felt towards the end of each day.

Next week is more of the same, I'm having a video swim analysis done on Thursday to try and help to identify what I should be working on to help me swim less like a brick.

Ballbuster pictures

Some photos thanks to my mum...

A nice warm start o the day to set up transition (would later turn into a mudbath!!)

Race start!!

I'm not in this photo but gives you some idea of the main climb, look to the left of the photo and you can see the road lower down the valley
Bike leg, nearly too fast for the photographer!!

Coming to the top of the final climb, nearly at the finish almost 3.5 hours after the start .

Tired and wet at the finish line

The official race photos can be seen here, race number was 72, the run ones were all taken on the final loop, hence the tired look!!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Ballbuster Race Report

I'd entered this race with the main aim of it being a nice long training day, it would involve my longest run to date(about 26km) with the small matter of a 40km bike ride in the middle.

As previously mentioned, the Ballbuster is so called as it starts at the top of Box Hill, not quite a french alp but as close as we get to it in the south east of England with a 2.5km climb from the bottom to the top including a couple of hairpin bends for added mountain authenticity.

Not quite sure how best to describe the weather. If I were being the optimist I would say that it was relatively mild for a November morning, however that was largely due to the cloud cover and pouring rain that started about 30 minutes before race start!

Transition was in a field on top of the hill which was already muddy when I was setting up and got worse throughout the day.

My plan for the race was to try and finish the run strongly, after looking at last years times, only a handful of people ran the last lap quicker than the fist so I thought that was a good aim and I had a time of 3 hours 30 mins as a goal.

Support crew was thin on the ground today as Erika was starting her massage course. My mum made more than enough noise each time I came past.

Run 1
The hooter went for the start and about 400 or so competitors slipped their way across a muddy filed onto the start of he loop, as planned I took it nice and easy and felt fine, was pleased to actually get warm so no real dramas on the first part of the run, had to stop about 30 minutes in due to a case of over-hydration, but a quick pit stop and was soon back on my way. Was running along in a group with 3 other guys and as we hit the bottom of the zig zag road up to box hill I felt fine. Didn't suffer too much in the first of 5 climbs up the hill, had a good chat with the guy that was running next to me that helped to keep the heart rate in check.

Transition 1
This was more like a cross country race that what I am used to, run through the mud to my bike, got bike shoes, helmet, bike jacket, gloves on and loaded up the pockets with energy gels and spares for the bike and took the bike off the rack and ran back across the muddy filed to the road. My feet were already wet from the first run but after going across the filed in bike shoes they were soaked!

Bike course was 3 laps of the same loop, the first lap was terrifying, anyone who knows my bike riding knows that I am quite happy hammering along nice and fast but this was something that I have never experiences before, the road is quite bumpy and was wet and covered in leaves, grit, mud and anything else that had been washed on to the road. As I came down to the first sharp left hand corner which was at the bottom of a downhill section I grabbed the brakes and despite some noise from the wheels, they didn't seem to effective at slowing me down, in fact I think I got faster! After a quick prayer I hung on for deal life and luckily made it round the corner without coming off! That knocked my confidence a bit and not being too familiar with the roads I crept around the next part of the lap with a few people coming past me who were more confident on their bikes so I was actually pleased to reach the bottom of Box Hill again as it felt a lot safer! I started passing plenty of people on the way up the hill and didn't feel like I was pushing too hard.

The next two laps were more of the same, I slowly go more confident on the downhill sections as I learned the route a bit more but I still hat to crawl around some of the turns to make sure I didn't come off. I was making up plenty of places, going quite a bit faster than those in front of me up the main climb which was promising. My last lap was actually my quickest as a result and coming into transition I felt pretty good.

Transition 2
Running across a lumpy car park in bike shoes is not easy and wasn't something I had planned for but back through the muddy filed to get my trainers back on feet completely frozen. Removed the bike jacket and started on my way for the last 8 miles (13km). On the way out of transition I realised how cold my legs were, couldn't actually feel my feet but just hoped that it would get better!

Run 2
I was clearly not de-hydrating (unlikely given the weather) as I had to have another quick over-hydration pit stop at the start of the loop and then I set about chasing down those in front of me. Despite being a bit numb, my heart rate was nice and high which is a good sign for me as it means that I still have some energy left in my legs so I planned to try and set a good pace for the first 20 minutes and see how I felt. I was making up places throughout the run and after about 15 minutes could even feel my feet again so things were looking up! Threw an energy gel down at the drink station after about 5km and then tried to keep up a good pace to the bottom of the climb where I would give it everything I had left. The run felt pretty long, the long downhill sections was really tough on my legs.

I did have one interesting moment to make sure that I was awake, running down the narrow country lane I heard a noise in the bushes and then a deer scrambles across the road in front of me ('made me jump' is probably an understatement!!) and runs of across a field, that was certainly a first!

I was pleased to get to the bottom of the hill and then started the long slog up, it certainly hurt but I was passing quite a lot of people so kept pushing forward. The fifth and final time up was certainly the hardest and felt like the longest but I was thrilled to hit the finishing line in just over 3 hours 27 minutes, running the last lap over 3 minutes quicker than the first.

I came in 114th overall, after being 240th after the first run so was really pleased. Had the course been dry I'm sure that my bike time would have been quite a bit quicker but you can never know how much it would have taken out of my legs for the last run.

My legs are definitely going to be sore tomorrow, here's a profile of the course from my watch that will probably explain why:

A really good race though and certainly something a bit different. They run this race again in the spring and if it fits in with my schedule I'll definitely plan to do it again as it was a good training day.

I'm really pleased with my training so far, I'm now going to try and have a few weeks of focusing on my swimming, before having a week off training altogether before starting the 30week run into the Ironman.

Off to bed now for some well earned sleep!

Monday, 3 November 2008

October Training Log

Total Training distances and time spent on each sport this month were as follows:

Swim 16.16km (10.1 miles) 5 hours 59 minutes
Bike 645.7km (403.6 miles) 24 hours 46 minutes
Run 265.7km (166 miles) 22 hours 53 minutes

Totals since I entered Ironman Austria (15 July)

Swim 57.84km (36.2 miles) 22 Hours 8 minutes
Bike 2,801.4km (1,750.9 miles) 103 Hours 35 minutes
Run 702.8km (439.3 miles) 60 hours 36 minutes

Heavier focus on running during most of this month in the build up to the half marathon, touch wood, no major injury concerns at the moment.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

The most expensive swim ever??

This is no doubt going to be a rant but so be it!!!

As you may have noticed from the log of time/distance, I've not been doing quite as much swimming as I would have liked. The prospect of doing 170 laps of a pool each time does not fill me with joy so it tends to be the one that gets moved if things are busy.

I was getting annoyed by my lack of swimming though so decided to make sure that I got my long swim in this week. I use a Fitness First gym just next to the office, and to avoid the crowds, tend to go either late morning or early afternoon.

So at about 3.15 yesterday, just after a hail storm had passed through, I grabbed my jacket and swim gear from the office and went for my session. Fitness First give you a membership card that you swipe to get in and then also use to lock your lockers. I then headed into the pool, wrapped my card in my towel and left it on the side of the pool just like everyone else. The off into my own little world for an hour and a bit to do my 3.5km swim.

I finish that feeling quite pleased with myself for having the motivation to get out and do it, hop out, grab my towel but membership card?!? At first I assume that someone must have picked it up by mistake but then I remember that I had a post-it note stuck to it with the swim session that I had planned so no one would have mistakenly picked that up. I then start thinking the worst. Head into the changing rooms to see that my locker is locked so finally manage to track the manager down and they open it.....b£$&*%d...almost everything has been stolen.

It just so happens that on this day I also seem to have managed to take almost everything valuable to the gym with me so they managed to get away with the following:

Wedding ring
Wallet (including all my cards, driving licence and £80 in cash)
Watch (18th birthday present from my mum)

All of those bits I can understand that if I was a thief I would take them to, but the last bit really takes the biscuit, they also decided to steal my suit, both jacket and trousers! Not sure what was wrong with my shirt, boxers socks and shoes as they thought they would leave those for me, maybe my sense of fashion wasn't quite up to scratch for them!!

So then begins the long process of trying to sort it all out. Lucky in some ways that another guy in the changing room as I was ranting at the manager was a police man so he helped me to report it to the relevant place and then I spent the next hour or so trying to cancel bank cards etc.

Should probably point out that at this point I have put my shirt back on and have been lent some nice crop trousers by a member of staff so that I am at least decent. Erika was due to be meeting me at London bridge anyway as she had a medical appointment so I called her at work and asked her to come over to my office and pick up a spare suit that I luckily had in the office (I ride into work everyday so leave most of my clothes at work).

So eventually I am back to being fully dressed but still very angry! I'm obviously pretty gutted about losing the ring and my watch but don't feel that I was particularly careless, as the policeman said to me, he always leaves his valuables in his locker and does the same with the card.

I must have been followed into the changing rooms by whoever did it, otherwise they wouldn't have know what locker I had used and when the manager looked into the locker next to it there was a crowbar in there so someone was pretty intent on stealing some stuff. The gym has CCTV in the pool so they should be able to get a pretty good look at who was picking up stuff from my towel but I very much doubt that I will ever see that stuff again.

I managed to get all of my cards cancelled and report it to the police yesterday evening and then called my insurance company this morning and I think that most of it will be covered.

So just when I think that it is not too bad, I log on to my internet banking to see that the nice chap who took my stuff, also managed to draw £400 out of one of my bank accounts. It sounds really stupid now but a few days ago I had written the pin numbers down on a post-it note as we have just opened a new account and I was going to go to a machine and change them, however all of the machines wouldn't let me change it for whatever reason and I has completely forgotten about the bit of paper. I can only imagine that it must have still been in my jacket as I can't see any other way that he would have got cash out. He must have got pretty lucky with that as I have about 10 cards in my wallet that need a pin number or some sort so he would have had to try each of them before he found the right one (that was the only one with that PIN number).

I've spoken to the bank about it and reported the fraud but am not sure whether I will ever get that money back so it could end up being an expensive swim. That money is not covered by my insurance even though he got it as a result of stealing my stuff so I will have to wait and see what comes of that.

I'm now just really angry with the whole thing, and feel a bit stupid for making it so easy for someone to get away with so much money and valuables. I clearly upset someone in a previous life!

Anyway, I think that is my rant over, feel a bit better now!! I always knew that swimming was bad for you!

We then had Erika's appointment with her cardiologist. He confirmed that she does have WPW syndrome (google it if you want to know more!) and after he talked us through the options we decided that it was best to have the procedure done on her heart that should cure the problem.

He said that she should get the appointment within the next 4 weeks so it will be nice to get that out of the way.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

This weeks training - 26th October

After a few weeks of some slightly lower volume of training (holiday, tapering for half marathon etc) this week was back to 'normal'. The weekend included a 4.5 hour ride followed by a 20 min run and then Sunday was a 2 hour 10 minute run.

The ride was relatively easy, didn't attack too many big hills this week although stil managed over 1100m of climbing over the 130km's that I covered, also convinced myself that I need to get some winter specific bike shoes as it was freezing on Saturday morning. My watch took the temperature as I took the split time for my turnaround, I had already been riding for 2hours 15 minutes and it was still only 2 degrees, I thought my feet were going to fall off!

The run was pretty slow as I had expected but got through the time without too much trouble, weather forecast was for rain so kitted myself up in wet weather gear but it didn't start raining for about 90 minutes so I was a bit too hot! Although I did get soaked by a bus that came past and moved a big puddle from the side of the road into my shorts that was not much fun!

Those two big sessions were punctuated by looking after 2 of my nephews for the day which was like an additional training session in itself!

I've been a bit poor at keeping up my regular swimming but have been maintaining at least the long swim each week, plenty of time to improve on the consistency, maybe one day I will enjoy swimming 170 lengths of the pool but at the moment it does not particularly fill me with motivation!

Totals for this week just gone were:

Swim - 3.4km (2.1 miles) - 1 hour 16 mins
Bike - 345km (215.6 miles) - 12 Hours 54 mins
Run - 36 km (22.5 miles) - 3 hours 11 min
Total time 17 hours 21 minutes

This was my second week of bike focus and involved me spending a few sessions in the garage on the wind trainer. I kept the running pretty light as my legs were feeling the effects of the half marathon from last Sunday.

This week again has a bike focus, am planning a 5 hour ride on Saturday to include riding the course for the Ballbuster duathlon that I am doing on 7th November. From reports that I have read the hill involved is not too daunting, about 2.5km long and not too steep but we will see, given that I have to ride it 3 times and run it twice, I suspect that it may feel pretty steep on the last run up!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Winter training den

So here's my secret weapon for the winter. 1 garage, 1 tv, 1 dvd player and about 2 degrees celcius. That all adds up to me becoming a human steam machine!!

Erika took this video clip just after I had finished my main interval session so I was actually steaming even more just a couple of minutes before.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Maidstone Half Marathon

The last few weeks training has been largely run focused, with about 85km (53 miles) per week on average. My long runs have been up to 2 hours 5 minutes and I've been feeling pretty comfortable on those so I was looking forward to seeing the results of all of this work at the Maidstone Half marathon.

I have run 2 half marathon distance races before, the first was last October in Melbourne where I was pleased with my time of 1.51.53 as I was training with more focus on my cycling at the time as I worked towards the Around the Bay in a Day ride (210km).

The other half marathon was at the end of my half Ironman in Geelong in February, obviously not very fresh for that one after a 1.9km swim and a 90km bike and I ran just over 2 hours!

I was hoping to get under 1.40today but didn't really know what I was capable of as so much of my running recently has been long slow running to build up my endurance ahead of the Ironman next year.

The weather was pretty good this morning, a little cold but nothing too bad, the course was fairly undulating with a a bigger uphill section from about mile 5 to mile 8. My plan was to try and take it fairly steady until about 7 miles and then push hard for the last 6 miles (10km) of the race. This came off pretty well, I kept my heart rate under control for the first half of the run and felt strong going up the hills where I was making up quite a few places. Just around the point where I was intending to push on a guy came past me so I decided to try and stick with him. Did that for a few minutes and then moved past him but he decided to stick with me. This was pretty helpful and I ran with the same guy for the next 5 miles, I was generally in front but if I ever started to ease off he would come past and make me push on again.

This resulted in us both making some great progress through the field and running at a nice fast (for me) pace. I was able to hold the pace right to the end (and managed to make sure that I beat the guy I had been running with!!) and I was thrilled to come in to the finish with a time of 1.32.11, much faster than I had hoped for.

I'm really happy with the time but also with the fact that clearly my training is paying dividends so I really feel like I am moving in the right direction. Legs are a little sore this evening so I'm having a nice recovery day tomorrow.

I'm now moving into a 3 week bike period, I've set up the garage with the indoor trainer in front of a tv with a dvd player so that I can get some extra time on the bike even with the colder weather.

I only have 3 weeks until my next race which is the Ballbuster duathlon, which I'm expecting to be pretty tough.

I also bought a new bike this week for my commute into work. I've been saving on train fares with all of the commuting so wanted to get something that was a bit easier to maintain throughout the winter months. I got a single speed bike which is going to give me a nice workout over those hills every day.

Thanks to the support crew for turning out to watch the half marathon and for the bacon and sausage sandwiches after the race!!

Here's a picture frm the race, I like it as it looks like I'm in the lead!! sadly not though, not sure where I finished, will update once the official results are posted.

Official results have now been posted and I came in 72nd out of a field of 609.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

September training log

Total Training distances and time spent on each sport this month were as follows:

Swim 26.26km (16.4 miles) 10 hours 10 minutes
Bike 960km (600 miles) 35 hours 24 minutes
Run 204.5km (127.8 miles) 17 hours 43 minutes

Totals since I entered Ironman Austria (15 July)

Swim 41.7km (26.1 miles) 16 Hours 10 minutes
Bike 2,155.7km (1,347.3 miles) 78 Hours 50 minutes
Run 437.1km (273.2 miles) 37 hours 42 minutes

You would hope that I am getting fitter and stronger after all of that!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Embracing the hills

It's now been two weeks since my last race and my training has included a 'recovery' week and then the first week of a 3 week block with an extra focus on my running.

The recovery week involved a similar number of sessions but less time spent on each session so that was pretty easy. We visited friends in Swindon on the weekend and I had a good run out in the coutryside being guided by Simon on his mountain bike which made a nice change from Welling. I had to run down a nice steep mountain bke trail that was interesting and almost fell over in a big muddy patch but it was nice to not have to run on roads the whole time and I got to the end of the 90 minutes with plenty of energy left.

Last week was a bit more eventful. I had a couple of days off work with Erika to sort out the remaining stuff that was still in boxes following our return from Australia and then she had an appointment with a cardiologist following her recent decisoin to collapse on a train on the way to work. She has been diagnosed with WPW Syndrome and needs to have a procedure called a catheter ablation to destroy a rogue electrical connection in her heart (I hope no one with any medical knowledge reads that as I think i may have over-simplified it!!). She's been told not to exercise until she's had the procedure which is tough for her but the procedure should completely cure the problem so hopefully no more trips to the floor of the train.

I managed to log a total of 85km (53 miles) of running this week. I've been a bit worried about the potential for injury with the increased running volume but have had no ill effects so far.

On the weekend I had a 4hour 15 minute ride on the Saturday and a 1 Hour 55 minute run scheduled for the Sunday. I've got a duathlon coming up called the Ballbuster which involves multiple laps of a hilly course and have also entered a half marathon in Maidstone that has a few hills in it so I decided that this weekend would be all about embracing the hills.

I woke up early on Saturday morning to watch the AFL Grand Final frm Melbourne, 26 degrees and sunny over there but I wasn't worried as the forecast over here was for a nice day, however, when I looked out of the window all I could see was fog!

I set off at about 8.30am hoping that it would clear and I had planned the bike route to take in as many climbs as I could find around the local area. The ride went pretty well, it was certainly tough going but I actually enjoyed the challenge of the climbs, and the profile of the ride from my computer looks pretty cool:

To give you some idea of the scale (since you can't read the graph) home is about 60m above sea level and the highest point is about 240m, I think the total climbing for the whole ride was about 1,300 vertical meters (Ironman Austria is 1,600m over the entire 180km course)

The hilly theme continued with my run on Sunday, I decided to run to my mums house, but with that being about 25 miles away got Erika to drop me some of the way there. This run started with about 12km of running almost constantly up hill and towards the end of the run the downhill sections were also pretty tough on my legs but I was pleased with the distance covered. I managed 21.3km in just under 1 hour 55 minutes.

Total training amounts forthe last two weeks have been as follows:

15 September 22 September

Swim 2.4km (1.5miles) 7.58km (4.7 miles)

Bike 224.5km (140.3 miles) 185km (115.6 miles)

Run 26.26km (16.4 miles) 85.2km (53.3 miles)

This week is agian mainly about running, we are off to France on holiday for a week on Saturday which I am really looking forward to and I plan to keep up regular runs out there as I have the Maidstone Half Marathon to do on October 19th. Ironman Austria is now only 40 weeks away, a long time I know but considering I entered it with 52 weeks to go, time is already going by pretty quickly, good motivation to keep the training up though.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Race result...and the joys of England

Results from yesterday have now been posted, I came in 55th overall out of 388 finishers. Split times were as follows:

Swim 28.58 (167th)
T1 0.52 (24th)
Bike 1.08.42 (29th)
T2 0.36 (12th)
Run 45.07 (114th)
Total 2.24.17 (55th)

Very happy with that result.

And now for the joys of England... no training today other than the commute to and from work, worked quite late and whilst on the way home some little kid decided to hurl a half empty Mcdonalds drink at me! He was pretty determined because he managed to get it across about four lanes of traffic to get me on the leg! He must have been all of 4 foot tall but knowing London as it currently is he or one of his mates no doubt probably had a knife or two so I decided that the best option was to probably just continue on my ride home!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Last race of the season

Did the final triathlon of my season today. Training this week was reduced as a result with no long ride or long run on the weekend, although I did swim more this week in a desperate hope to bring down my race time a little!

The weather forecast leading up to the race was horrible, with heavy rain forecast so wasn't especially happy with that, however this morning turned out to be a fantastic day, clear and warm and a fairly light wind.

The race was Olympic distance and held at Dorney Lake in Eton which will be the venue for the 2012 Olympic rowing events. The whole race course is pancake flat so I was hoping for a fast time. I had a good support crew in tow this weekend which was nice, Erika was able to explain this triathlon thing to my mum and step dad and I think that they enjoyed the day. Race is a good one for spectators as the bike course is 8 laps of the lake (that meant I had to concentrate hard to keep count! Thanks to Erika for also telling me that I was on my last lap!!).

I haven't been doing any speed specific training in the lead up to this race as my focus has been solely on building my endurance for next years Ironman so I wasn't too sure what to expect. After having some stomach problems in my last two races I was hoping that wouldn't be an issue again ad was planning to try and start a bit easier on the bike leg as I have a tendency to hammer it at the start and then struggle to keep the pace up toward the end of the bike leg. I was hopeful that the run would be better as I have been felling pretty good on my long runs recently.

One of my solutions to the stomach issues has been to take the decision to switch back to the energy gels that I used to use when in Australia. I have been trying to use the ones that they supply at Ironman Austria but couldn't get beyond the fact that I think they are disgusting and have not been agreeing with my insides. I've tried a couple of other brands hat are available in England but also determined that they were foul! A quick trawl of the Internet and a fedex package from Canada later and the new energy gels arrived on Friday, just in time for this race.

I set off from home early, determined not to be rushing to get ready and everything went according to plan. The race organisation was ok but transition area was seriously cramped and all men were starting in the same wave (must have been a few hundred people) which was started just in time to get in the way of the leading women starting their second lap, I'm sure they were thrilled! After a race briefing that I could barely hear we moved downinto the lake which was really quite cold!!

After the chaotic first couple of minutes I moved out to the side of the swim pack and found some nice clear water. The swim was pretty uneventful, got attacked by some weeds a couple of times but the water was nice and flat and owing to it being a rowing lake there are lines of buoys down the lake so it is fairly easy to make sure that you are heading in a straight line which makes a nice change! I swam the long was round a couple of the turns to make sure I stayed away from the fighting and was pleased to get out of the swim in about 29 minutes.

A quick change out of the wetsuit and then onto the bike for 8 laps. Just out of transition there was a potentially nasty couple of corners that required some serious concentration, just ask the bloke with the nice road rash after he took it on a bit too quickly (he still beat me by miles though!!), but other than that is was a couple of km down wind before turning and coming down the other side of the lake into a head wind. I managed to keep my lap times consistent throughout the ride which I was pleased with, I think the bike course was a little longer than 40km (did a previous race there when 6 laps was classified as 30.6km so I reckon approx 41km for this race). I have my bike split at 68 minutes something which was ok, nothing spectacular but I certainly didn't get passed by too many people ad didn't feel too bad coming back into transition.

It's been on the run when my stomach has come to play tricks on me in the last two races so I started fairly steadily hoping that I would not have the same problem. Had a couple of people come past me early in the run as is the norm with me but was moving fairly well and pleased that not too many others were coming past (although wasn't making much progress up to those in front of me!). The run was a two lap course, I took the first lap fairly easy and got back to the turn in 23.20, started pushing much harder on the second lap and was pleased that I was able to pick up the pace, with my second lap being 21.53 to bring me in with a total time of 2.24.20 or thereabouts (official times have not yet been published).

Was happy overall with the race, I could feel the benefits of the 4 week solid training that I have put in and it was one of those where I finished thinking that maybe I could have gone a bit harder a bit earlier but in reality I think I went pretty much as quickly as I could have done.

I finished reasonably well up the field, will post the official results when they come out.

This coming week is a recovery week for me which means a similar amount of sessions but less volume in each session.

Strange to think that my next triathlon will be a half Ironman race in Barcelona 8 weeks before the main race on 5 July, although I have a few other things planned during the autumn and winter months. Next up is the 'Ballbuster' duathlon, an 8 mile run (13km) followed by a 24 mile ride (38.5km) and another 8 mile run. Would be fairly hard anyway but the course is a very hilly one so the event has a reputation of being fairly tough. That is at the start of November so the weather could also play a major factor, but that should be a good indicator as to how my run endurance is coming on.

Thanks to all those who came out and supported today, despite the poor weather outlook, I actually ended up with some classic English sun-burn, and it was good to have plenty of support whilst trying to keep count of my laps!

Monday, 8 September 2008

A week of English weather

I certainly know that I am back in England this week! I managed to fall of my bike on the way to work on Friday, I was turning into Greenwich park when my bike decided that it would have bit of a rest on the road so threw me there too! Luckily no major injuries, a couple of bumps and bruises and a bit of damaged pride but was able to do all the planned training over the weekend with no trouble.

Saturday's plan was for a 4.5 hour ride followed by a 20 min run straight off the bike. Weather forecast was foul but luckily it didn't turn out quite so bad, had a few downpours to contend with and after Fridays incident I was taking it pretty steady on the downhill parts which slowed my overall speed for the ride down a bit but it pretty much went to plan. I rode down towards Hastings on the A21 and discovered that the hill down from Sevenoaks to Tonbridge seems a lot steeper on the way back up than it does on the way down! My 20 min run off the bike was fine this week, took it really steady and felt ok, much better than last week. Hopefully this should show the elevation profile of my ride this week, certainly not many flat bits!

Erika & Debbie were running a 5k race in Hyde park on Sunday so I decided that I would run from home into London and meet them there to give some support and then get the train home. Weather forecast was much better for today so I was looking forward to the planned 1hour 50 minute run when I opened the front door to be faced with a torrential downpour. Back inside for the rain jacket and off I went, the first 30 minutes or so were foul, my run goes up and over Shooters Hill which was like running up a waterfall so not very pleasant!

The weather improved as the run went on and I felt fine the whole way. The plan is for these runs to be at an easy pace and today I certainly felt like I could have kept going. I decided to stick to my planned time though so finished the run here:

which was pretty cool, also enjoyed coming along other part of London with less people around than during the week. Ended up running pretty much half marathon distance and then spent the couple of hours walking round watching the women's 5k race at Hyde park.

Distance totals for this week were:

Swim - 5km (3.1 miles)
Bike - 305.5km (190.9 miles)
Run - 51.4km (32.1 miles)

I have a race next weekend and am looking forward to that, hoping that I can overcome some of the issues I had over the Olympic distance last time out.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Training so far

Since entering th event in July (about 7 weeks ago), the numbers stack up as follows:

Swim - 15.5km (9.7 miles)
Bike - 1,075km (672 miles)
Run - 229km (143 miles)

This includes a 9 day period of complete rest. I've known some people who really struggle to do no training, I'm pleased to say that I am not yet that obsessed with being fit as I found it pretty easy to do nothing!

My ironman focussed training only started a couple of weeks ago and I am starting to build my endurance up from the distances that I am comfortable with so am currently running for 1hour 45 inutes and riding about 4 hours. I've also joined the gym next to work which has a 20m pool, not ideal but means that it is much easier to swim regularly which can only be a good thing for me.

My run today was pretty hard going, but got through to the end of 1hour 47 minutes, lesson learned was that I need to take more water out with me next time!

Tomorrow holds a ride down to Folkestone, my aim is to ride for 4 hours 15 mins and then do a slow 20 min jog straight off the bike. The ride down took me about 3hours 45 last time I did it so I will have to do a bit of a tour of the coast when I get down there to make up the time, I hope that the hill around Folkestone does not cauce me as many problems as last time (nearly fell off I was going so slowly), I may stop at the top and take some pictures this time to prove to all the people in Melbourne that England is a nice place!

The Plan

How do you complete an Ironman?? I learnt a lot from doing a half Ironman, mainly that despite being confident of being able to complete the distances without too much trouble, stringing them all together on race day is pretty hard to do. I was pleased with my Geelong time, although in hindsight, I went a bit to fast on the bike, didn't concentrate enough on my nutrition whilst running and as a result had a real fight with my body for the last few k's!

Luckily there were plenty of people there to help me through the low points and I felt amazing to complete the race.

Those that have trained with me over the last year or so have probably picked up on some obsessive compulsive traits! For one thing, can no-one please challenge me to do anything stupid, who said that riding 1,000km in a week was a good idea? (done in 6 days for those who were not there to witness!). I also like my numbers and always keep track of exactly what training I have done. Part of the reason for writing this blog is for me to keep track of the training that I am doing, and also give some other people an idea of what I am up to.

So what do I want to achieve? Well, number 1 priority is to complete the event, 17 hours is the time limit so anything under that and I will be happy to be an Ironman.

I'm not too concerned about my time, there are so many things that can happen on the day that I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to achieve a particular time, although 12 hours is a nice round number that would be my ultimate goal for this one.

I've done plenty of research on how to train for these events and have already been bugging those people that have done an Ironman before for advice so am pretty confident that if I stick to my plan I should achieve my aims.

My training plan through to the end of this year is to basically work on my base fitness and get my endurance up, this means lots of long and relatively slow bike and run sessions, I want to be comfortable with running for 2.5hours and riding for 6 hours, as well as swimming with some consistency.

I know that I have the determination to achieve this, just needs some careful planning to fit it all in with work and other committments!

A brief history...

So how did I end up here? Well, I left for Melbourne a bit overweight and very unfit and then enjoyed the culinary delights for a few months and became more overweight and no fitter.

After a couple of fun runs to try and address the problem, I stepped into Erika's team for a corporate triathlon in March 2007. From that point on I have not looked back, got progressivly fitter and managed to shed a fair bit of weight in the process which was great. This all culminated in me completing a half ironman in Geelong in February 2008, just a year after taking up the sport.

It was in the run up to that race and being part of a major achievement in so many people's lives that put the Ironman thought in my head, although originally I thought I would leave it for a few years before attempting that somewhat stupid challenge.

That didn't last long though, after leaving all of my triathlon buddies back in Australia I felt that I needed a major focus to help me stay committed to the training so decided that I would enter an Ironman for the following year.

These races are pretty hard to get in to and I had initially wanted to do Ironman Germany in Frankfurt but that was already fully booked so decided that I would go for Ironman Austria instead, the online entires opened a couple of days later and I managed to get an entry.

With the London triathlon to do in August I decided that I would get through that and then start planning out my training for the coming year, and come up with a plan for achieving this new goal