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.