Monday, 23 February 2009

A tough couple of weeks

Haven't posted for a while which is a pretty good indication of how the last 2 weeks have been...busy! Work is now pretty full on so as expected some of my planned sessions are not getting done. I'm not too worried as the worst of it will be out of the way by 9th March.

I've still been managing to ride into work most days and getting a couple of other sessions in during the week and luckily to now my weekends have been unaffected but i certainly don't think that working 60 hours weeks and trying to train for an Ironman is a good mix, have been pretty tired!

Last week was week 10 of my program and the last week of my 'base' period. That meant that on the weekend I had my longest ride and run to date planned. The ride was ok, a little warmer that it has been (although still only about 5 degrees!) and I managed to do 6 hours ok. It was pretty tough going as for some reason the whole world thought it would be a good idea to just abuse me for the day. To be honest when I got home I was a bit fed up with it. It appears that people still find it hilarious to drive right next to you, wind the window down and hurl abuse at you for no reason, normally I just ignore it but I had about 5 or 6 different people do it to me on this ride. One guy tried to run me off the road twice just trying to prove to his mates how tough he was. His tactic was to hurl abuse at me as I went up the inside of a line of stationary traffic then once the lights changed, he cut me up and then as he came to the next set of red lights, pulled his car over to the kerb so that I couldn't get past. I just went round the other side and waited at the front of the line of traffic for the lights to change and as expected as he came back past me again the same trick of swerving right across in front of me before driving off.

The last woman to have a go at me as I was going round a roundabout (fairly sure I am allowed to do that) got a full verbal response from me. I was almost 6 hours and 165km into my ride then, tired and fed up and the last thing I needed was some fat smoking chav telling shouting abuse at me! I'm not sure I quite understand these people, don't know why they just can't leave me alone to get on with my own life and maybe worry about theirs a little more. Anyway, rant over!!

Sunday was then a 2 hour 45 min run. As expected this was pretty tough going, especially for the last hour or so but I coped ok and am really happy with the pace I am maintaining on my long runs, which are done at a pretty low intensity. I covered 32.3km so only 10km short of a full marathon and at 3 hour 40 min marathon pace with a 6 hour ride in my legs from the previous day. I think I am in good shape to run a marathon at the moment, would be confident of getting under 3.30 if I were to do a stand alone one rested.

That's not going to happen though! This week was week 1 of the next 10 week phase of training, the build phase. There are two key changes in this phase, firstly, I start to bring in a little bit of higher intensity training into my sessions, which will increase week by week. Secondly I am now going to be running straight after my long bike ride on a Saturday and doing a short ride before my long run on a Sunday, so starting to get a bit more triathlon specific.

I'm trying to be careful not to overdo it so have dropped the length of the weekend session back a bit to allow me to adjust to the bike-run sessions.

This weekend was a bit odd. Saturday was a 4 hour 30 min ride followed by a 30 min run and I felt great. It was 12 degrees and the roads were nice and dry and purely because of that my average speed on the bike was noticeably increased. I was happy to see this as my speeds over the winter have been shockingly slow compared to what I used to ride at in Melbourne. I was fairly sure that this related to the conditions but am glad to have got some confirmation. Average speed for the ride was pretty much bang on 30km/h.

It was also amazing how many more bikes there were out due to the warmer weather, I almost wanted to tell them all that I have been doing this all winter and they should toughen up!!

I had a nice moment as I hammered past a pack of riders on my way back home, a few of the guys at the front of the group must have thought that I was one of their group making an 'attack' off the front and almost killed themselves chasing me down, they looked disappointed when they caught me and realised that I was not with their group. I got home for a quick change and back out the door within 5 minutes for a 30 min easy run, this was ok, didn't feel too bad, although I can tell that as I increase the length of the run I am going to need to pay attention to my nutrition whilst on the bike as by the time I got home I was starving. Pretty please with the day though, a nice confidence builder.

Waking up this morning I was therefore confident of my 30 min easy ride and 2 hour run given that I had run for 2.45 last week. Ride was fine and run out was no problem, but I really struggled on the way home, legs just didn't have much in them and I was much slower on the way back. I think the long week at work probably hasn't helped but I have another recovery week scheduled this week so hopefully the body will recover well and come back stronger.

Race season is now not too far away, I have the spring Ballbuster in 4 weeks and then the Reading half marathon the week after. Erika is also training for that but has had a bit of an injury problem this week which is a shame. Up until now coach Rob has been doing a pretty good job and she has been steadily improving but I have a feeling that the 10k race may have stressed her legs a bit more than was ideal. Hopefully a week of rest will help.

I had better get back to the work I was trying to do now, in a desperate effort to try and get ahead with a couple of things so that I do not drown at work next week. Roll on March 10!!

I've also been making some good progress with the sponsorship. It got up to £500 which meant that I could apply for the matching contribution from work which should be sent to me this week taking the total to over £1,000. I've been in touch with the charity and they are going to send out some t-shirts etc. for the support crew which is nice, they are only a small operation so if I can get up to my £3,000 target it will make a real difference.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Brain transplant required

A pretty eventful weekend this weekend, despite it being my recovery week in training. I had a very easy 4 hour ride scheduled for Saturday, the snow had pretty much cleared from last week so I had it in my head that I would go out for as long as I could bear the cold and then come back and finish off any time remaining on the indoor trainer, rather than trying to spend 4 hours n the trainer again.

We had another sprinkling of snow n Friday night but when I go up on Saturday morning the roads looked clear so I put all the layers on I could find and got ready to head out. For some reason the weather forecast saying very cold with icy roads didn't quite register, I clearly thought I was invincible and headed out.

I was actually quite enjoying the ride, taking it pretty steady but wasn't too cold, was sticking to the main roads and riding in the wheel tracks of the cars as there was no frost in there. I probably should have started to worry when my computer was reading -2 at the top of a hill but clearly I had switched the brain off, turned onto another road and started heading down hill. SO, going downhill on a side road, -2 yet somehow I still carry on. I'm sure you can guess the next bit....

The first I knew of the ice was as I was sliding down the road on my belly, absolutely no warning but the tyres just lost all grip and I hit the road pretty hard, due to the ice I didn't stop and probably skidded about 50m down the road. Looking back at my computer data it seems I was doing about 28km/h when I came off. As I started to slow down I think my brain re-engaged and I realised just how stupid I had been. Luckily I was not too badly injured, managed to ruin one of my gloves and whacked my right wrist and hip pretty hard but due to the amount of layers I had on and the ice there was not too much road rash to report.

It really dawned on me how stupid I had been when I tried to pick myself up off the floor, I couldn't even stand up it was that icy, quite how I thought I would be able to ride on that I don't know. I was abut 20km from home though so I walked back up to the top of the hill and then rode home very gingerly, luckily no further incident although my confidence was obviously in pieces so it took a while.

I was then angry with myself for risking all of the training that I have been doing, so punishment was to spend the next 2.5 hours on the wind-trainer, luckily no ice in the kitchen so that was pretty uneventful!

The wrist got worse on Saturday and I was thinking that I may go and get it x-rayed but as I write this it seems to be easing a little so I'm fairly sure its just a bit of bruising. Hopefully lessons have been learned though.

On Sunday, both Erika and I were taking part in a 10k event at the Triathlon, Running and Cycling show at Sandown racecourse. Another cold morning greeted us but after the good 4k race last week I was quite looking forward to trying to set a good time. Coach Rob had put this into Erika's training program as she builds back up towards the half marathon at the end of March.

The race was 3 laps and it was much more undulating that I thought it would be so was really tough going. My aim was to set out at the same pace that I had done the 4k race in and see if I could hold it for the longer distance. Jenson Button was running the event which was pretty cool, he's quite fast though, even without the car and he managed to beat me by 3 minutes which was a shame! I started pretty well, managed to get to 5km in 20.09 (an new pb!) but I could tell that I was struggling a bit, the rest of the second lap was tough going, and I could tell that I was slowing but the heart rate was still up around the 180 mark which is pretty much full tilt for me so I knew that I was giving it as much as I had. I was happy to get to the 8km mark and had 1 k down hill and the final k back up hill. Felt a bit stronger over the last part and pulled a few places back on the last uphill section, finishing in 50th place (274 starters) in a new 10km pb of 41.20 which overall I was happy with. Here's the elevation (lover line) and hear rate profile from the run, you can see why it was pretty hard work:

My body (apart from the wrist and the hip) feels pretty good after the recovery week. Work is going to be very busy over the next few weeks so it will largely be a case of trying to keep it ticking over during that time, more snow forecast for Tuesday so that may also affect things.

We also enjoyed watching the live athlete tracker from the Geelong Half Ironman on Saturday night, it was a year since I did the race and most of the guys that I did it with last year were dong it again. Everyone seemed to have a great race and I was very jealous, would loved to have been there rather than sliding down and icy road!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


As expected it tipped it down with snow over Sunday night and most of the day Monday. Couldn't get to work on Monday and had a bit of a nightmare yesterday too but made for some nice pictures. This was Monday morning first thing:

We had a lot more snow during the day on Monday, about 20cm in total.

Tuesday morning was nice and sunny and after a walk to the station to find it still closed, meant I spent some time clearing the snow off the car
And here's a couple more photos from Tuesday morning

lucky it is a recovery week for me as there is not much sense in going outside to train in that!

Monday, 2 February 2009

A hectic week and snow on the way

Had a pretty good week this week, had to miss a couple of sessions due to some unforeseen circumstances. Kings College thought it would be a good idea to let my step dad out of hospital following some major surgery in less than 48 hours. Turns out that wasn't sch a good idea as 24 hours later he was on his way back in with a paramedic and had to endure a very nasty few days whilst they got him on the right treatment plan to help recover from the op. I was not particularly impressed with the treatment so had a moan to the patient complaints service which ironically was very quick to respond saying that they will investigate.

Hopefully he's back on the way to recovery now, although this has made me more determined to try and raise a decent amount of money for my chosen charity. Both he and my mum have had a hellish year at the mercy of a disease that people know little about, so it would be nice o try and help out a bit. For those that don't know, Mick has Polymyositis which developed following a nasty virus towards the end of 2007. This has caused sever and irreversible muscle damage and also causes great difficulty in swallowing due to the muscle damage. This meant that in the early stages getting nutrients into his system was almost impossible and he became very ill. The lack of knowledge about treatment (there is currently no cure) meant that it took some time for the doctors to be able to start to bring the condition under control although thankfully over the last year they have manages to bring the symptoms under control with a variety of steroids and chemotherapy drugs. The recent operation he had was to remove a lump in his chest that was attached to the thymus gland(also removed) which may or may not have contributed to the initial cause.

SO I'd be grateful if anyone reading could take the time out to make a small donation through my just giving web page once i get the donations up to £500 my work will match that initial £500 which would be a good start. I've not pushed the fundraising too hard at work yet as the actual event is still some way off and there are currently a team of people from my department trying to raise £20,000 for the Princes Trust so I think they are getting every penny out of people that they can, they do the event in April so I will start promoting my event a bit more after that. I've been a bit disappointed with the initial response from some emails but I realise that post Christmas people don't have too much money to spare so I'll just keep trying!

On the training front I still managed to have a pretty good week, only got 2 swims in and missed a bit of commuting time but had a good weekend. A 5 hour 40 min ride yesterday with a crazy wind. I rode out towards Ashford turning left just before I got there to take in a climb up towards Canterbury, progress was hard going into a head wind but after half of my planned time I turned around and headed back assuming that the tail wind would balance out the fatigue and I'd get back home in about the same time.

Hadn't realised how strong the wind was as I flew back towards Maidstone averaging about 40km/h. By the time I got to within 30 minutes of home I had made up half an hour so took a bit of a detour to make up the planned time. Despite riding an extra 10km I still got home 5 minutes earlier than planned and legs actually didn't feel too bad. 151km covered and some very cold feet!

Erika is on her course this weekend so I had agreed to go out on her run with her in the evening as I don't really want her going out on her own in the dark. She is on her recovery week (I'm writing her a training program for a half marathon at the end of March) so had an easy 50 minutes to do. We did that without too much drama, although I am clearly getting old as I was moaning about the nasty kids n hoodies sitting at a bus stop pointing laser pens at me, if only I could have thought of things that were that much fun when I was a kid! Would have gone and really told them what I thought but no doubt they all had knives on them as is the way over here so thought it was probably better just to whinge to Erika!

This mornings long run was planned for 2 hour 40 mins again (same as last week). I'm beginning to understand more about how my body reacts to being stressed through exercise and generally on these long seasons it is my muscles in my legs that give out rather than my cardiovascular system. SO I thought I would go a little bit quicker this morning to see how I felt. I have a heart rate zone that I try and stick to (Zone 2 for long runs is between 145 and 155 beats per minute for me). Last week I averaged 145 but I set out trying to go at 150ish and see how I felt in the end.

The answer was that I was pretty tired!! The run was good though, the last hour was pretty tough, as your legs get tired they want to slow down but in an effort to try ad keep my heart rate at 150 I just kept pushing along and trying to hold a decent pace, which I just about managed. Covered 31.6km in 2 hours 42 which I was very pleased with, was happy to get into the shower though as it was cold out this morning, then rewarded myself with an hour laying in bed to let the legs recover!

I'm have a recovery week scheduled for this week which I am looking forward to. This means a similar number of sessions but shorter sessions to let the training from the last few weeks sink in, I definitely feel as though I have made some progress which is good. I'm going to do a 1km time trial in the pool and have a 10km running race next Sunday to test out where I am at.

The current weather forecasts for tonight and tomorrow are for some heavy snow showers so the recovery week may be more of a recovery than I had planned, commuting into work on 23mm wide tyres in the snow doesn't seem too sensible but I'll see what i am faced with when I get up in the morning.

Sorry for the very long post, if you've got this far down you must be bored! Next week is the Half Ironman in Geelong that started all these thoughts of Ironman races for me. I would love to be there doing it again but wish all those that are good luck, I'll certainly be looking forward to seeing the results and hearing how everyone gets on.

I can't believe that I am already 8 weeks into my 30 week program for Austria, the 2nd 10 weeks is a new block of training for me when I start to include some higher intensity intervals to build on the base fitness that I've been putting down over the last few months. I don't need to be able to go fast on the day of the race but doing higher intensity stuff should help to make the race pace efforts seem easier, it also helps your running and cycling efficiency but I expect the training to start to get tough as I get into this phase. I'll also be dropping the time of my long ride and long run back a bit but will start to do more brick sessions where I will run after my long bike ride (probably up to an hour-90 mins) and also do an easy ride before my long run to start to build towards the race. I'm hoping that this phase of training is greeted with some warmer weather!

I think that's about it for now, quite tired still from my run so may have another lay down! Totals for this week are as follows:

Swim - 5.8km (3.6 miles) - 2 hours 4 mins
Bike - 280.0km (175 miles) - 11 hours 6 mins
Run - 54.7km (34.2 miles) - 4 hours 50 mins
Total time - 18 hours

As we're now into Feb I also have my monthly totals. I've had a really good month and this has been the most hours I have done in a month to date, totals are:

Swim - 23.0 km (14.4 miles) - 8 hours 23 mins
Bike - 1169.8km (731.1 miles) - 44 hours 55 mins
Run - 202.5km (126.6 miles) - 17 hours 44 mins
Total training time - 71 hours 22 mins

Have now also been keeping track of my calories burned through exercise, I've got through 50,274 during January!