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.