Monday, 30 March 2009

Reading Half Marathon

Today was my last race before the Half Ironman in Barcelona. We had originally planned this race as one of Erika's goals but I had also entered and went in hoping to beat my pb from late last year, although knowing that would be a tough ask as I had a great day last time for a 1.32.11.

My plan was to see if I could hold pace for a 90 minute half marathon, quite a daunting task and I knew tat it was going to hurt!

This race was huge with around 16,000 taking part, luckily I started up near the front so was only held up in crowds for the first few km. Having looked back at my time from last year I realised that I had gone relatively 'easy' for the first 10k and then came home pretty quick for the last 10k, so this time I thought I would take it out a bit harder and just try and hold on.

They had pace runners out on the course and I started close to the 1.30 runner but he was a bit more aggressive through the crowds in the first few minutes so I didn't especially try to stick with him, just try and get into my own pace, I had set a target of a 175 HR for the first 10k and then just as much as I had left for the second half.

That was going reasonably well, there was a nice big hill at around the 3km mark that pushed me a bit behind 90 min pace but I stole a bit of time back on the downhill sections and got to 10km in 42.30 which is only 50 seconds slower than my 10km pb from a few weeks ago (although this was on a course with more hills), didn't feel too bad but from mile 6 to about mile 9 I did start to struggle, legs were starting to complain and it was a battle to make sure that I kept the heart rate high.

I wasn't exactly sure what sort of time I was on for but was fairly certain that I was just outside of 90 minute pace. There were some nice parts of the course, the best bit had to be a huge band playing a selection of drums at full volume under an underpass, great motivation, wish they could have followed me the rest of the way round!

As I got closer to the end I caught a couple of glimpses of the pace runner not too far ahead but for all the effort I could not haul him back in, didn't have too much left at the end but was please to cross the line in 1.31.00.

Erika also did really well and I was pleased to see her running into the stadium after all the trouble she has recently had with her knee.

I have a feeling my legs are going to be pretty sore tomorrow, just have a swim lined up to try and loosen them up, will probably get the train to work rather than bike in.

I start with a swim squad on Tuesday night which I am looking forward to, will be nice to do some different stuff in the pool and hopefully get some more technique tips. I'm also going to be trying to cram in some bike time over the next 10 days as we go to South Africa for 2 weeks just before Easter so I will have no bike. Then once we get back from there I have 4 weeks to Barcelona and then another 6 weeks to Austria, coming around quickly to put my feet up now.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Half Way Point

Last Sunday marked the end of week 15 of my 30 week training plan so it seemed like a good time to take stock of the first half of my training, and think about the things that have gone well to date and things that I need to focus on more in the final 15 weeks.


Run Endurance - I was happy with where I managed to build my long run up to. I was running 32km in 2.45, which is 3.36 marathon pace and always one day after having done a long ride.

Swim consistency - I've been pretty good at getting down the pool reasonably regularly given that it is not my favourite past time. I also think I have made some good technique improvements and becoming more efficient.

Determination - I've done some pretty challenging workouts and have been pleased that I have never quit, 4 hours on a wind trainer has to be the worst, but good preparation for what I know is going to be a pretty tough day.

Time in the Zone - A key part of my training is spending time swimming / biking and running in my endurance training zone. I've certainly done pretty well at putting the hours in, the first 15 weeks of the programme have yielded the following:

Swim - 56.6km
Bike - 3,340.5km
Run - 645.4km

Total training time 205 hours 48 mins (approx 13.5 hours per week)

Things to work on:

Core strength - I am still much too hit and miss with this and need to try and do it consistently.

Weight - I've actually put on a couple of kg's since the end of last season, nothing that I am too worried about but I would like to be lighter, less weight will definitely make an Ironman easier. I do have the worlds largest appetite and when in heavy training often feel like I need to eat constantly. I could probably make a few better choices and would like to get back down to race weight over the coming months.

Pacing / Nutrition - I have my nutrition plans in my head, just need to test them out when operating at my Ironman race pace to check that they work for me.

A few random thoughts really but it is useful to write them down as I will only have myself to blame if I do not address the things above over the next 15 weeks!!

Although 15 weeks is still a long time, when I look at my key long ride and long run sessions, because of holidays, races, tapering and such like, I think I have less then 10 long rides to go until the big day.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Ballbuster Race Report

Did the Ballbuster again this morning, conditions were somewhat better than last time. It was a cold start this morning but by the time the race got underway the sun was well on its way up and the frost was clearing so I was looking forward to a less dangerous ride this time.

My plan was to try and run the first 13km loop a bit harder than last time, not flat out but aiming to keep my heart rate around the 165 mark (85%). This went to plan, no great dramas and the first run up the 2.5km climb was not too bad, came in just over 3 minutes quicker than last time, HR averaged 167.

Onto the bike, using the Cervelo with race wheels on so was nice to give it a blast on the flattish sections, the bike really feels fast when you get it going, road was covered with pot-holes from a cold winter but I found a line nearer to the middle of the road that wasn't too bad so kept the pace up. The downhill sections of the laps are pretty technical so difficult to keep a high heart rate as you have to get on the brakes a bit and with some loose gravel on the corners it was still a little slippy but nothing like last time. I rode the bike laps pretty consistently, about a minute per lap faster than last time but HR was also higher than before.

Out onto the final 13km run and yet again the first 5-10 minutes were a case of waiting for my feet to come back to life after being frozen on the bike, this wasn't too bad though and my aim was to settle in to the first 15 minutes and then hold about 170 HR and try and make up some places. My legs were pretty tired and the downhill parts were very tough, your legs just want to slow down but I was trying to keep the pace going, didn't feel as though I was running particularly well though.

Made it to the bottom of the final climb in just over 3 hours and the final 2.5km is seriously tough, by that point you are used to the time it takes to get up the hill on the bike so the run up it seems to take forever. Whilst I wasn't exactly flying up the hill, I still picked off a few more places for a final lap of bang on 1 hour and an average HR of 169.

Total time was 3.21.32 so nearly 6 minutes better than last time which I am happy about.

My emotions are slightly mixed though as in a way 6 minutes faster in much better conditions doesn't feel like much improvement for the level of training I have put in over the last 4 months. On the other hand I am only starting to bring in some speed work into my training whereas in November I had only just come to the end of the season where I was racing shorter distances so that may also have something to do with it. Whilst this race is still 3.5 hours long, I can still hold a pretty high intensity for the duration, but my training is more focussed on the intensity that I will hold for 11-12 hours which is quite different.

Half a half marathon next weekend and I am expecting a similar story, this is an even higher intensity race so I think I may struggle to beat my pb from last time but I'll give it a good crack.

Had a big support crew at the race today which was great, I cold hear them shouting at me from the top of the hill which was nice, I think they are all trying to get some practice n before Austria, should be a well oiled supporting machine by that point!

Race results are on the website, I came 74th out of 231 finishers (was 114th out of 335 last time).

Friday, 20 March 2009

Preparing to bust my balls

Tomorrow sees the Ballbuster part 2, and luckily the weather forecast is looking much better than when I did it last November. I think it is going to be a cold start but the forecast is clear and dry, will be much nicer than the soaking roads covered in wet leaves that I had last time.

I've been training right up until this race and am actually a bit nervous, purely because I have put in so much hard work and training since the last time I did it that I feel under pressure to see some improvement. I got round in 3.27 last time so I would like to get that down to closer to 3.20 but will have to see how it goes, I was running particularly well when I did it last time and still had some of the speed in my legs from the end of last season so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Whatever happens I am expecting a good deal of pain and suffering, the last run lap is pretty tough on this race, there is a long downhill section which really hurts your legs and then the final 2.5km up hill finishes you off nicely.

I've decided to use the Cervelo for this one, there is probably not much benefit in using the TT bike over the road bike but I'm looking at it as some good practice at riding some hills on the TT bike which I will need to do in Austria. I put the race wheels on last night and the bike is at least looking fast, hopefully my legs can do it justice!

My race plan is similar to last time, although I would like to run the first lap just a little harder to try and make some overall time gains, the bike is a funny one because for half of the lap you can't go too hard due to the narrow lanes and poor road surface but then you can go as hard as you like up the climb, I'll try and keep my heart rate steady on this part on each lap, that seemed to work well last time, the climb is a nice steady gradient and not too steep so you can get into a good rhythm.

It's nice that I have a bit of a support crew coming down tomorrow despite the early start, hopefully they will enjoy the nicer weather, my Mum won't have to hide under a tree trying to stay cry this time!

Will post a race report tomorrow when I am done, must go and eat some carbs!!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Brooklyn's first outing of the year

Spring seems to have sprung over here at the moment (hoping that comment is not tempting fate) so this weekend was a first for the new year, the race bike got a bit of fresh air on my long ride on Saturday. I had my set up looked at as I haven't been 100% happy with it so far, that has been fine for Olympic distance races where I am only riding for just over an hour but I need to make sure that I am comfortable for long periods so spent some time with the guy in the bike shop making small adjustments. Feels pretty good now, but time will tell.

With work having slowed down this week was a much better training week, I got in over 14 hours of training on top of my commuting into work. This weekend was tough going, with a 60 min run off my long bike ride on Saturday. I actually felt ok, had made an effort to eat more on the bike so that I would have some energy left and that seemed to pay off, luckily I took some more gels out with me on the run as I was getting through them pretty quickly at that point but my stomach didn't seem to complain which is a good sign. Long run on Sunday was very slow but I'm not too worried about that.

I'm looking forward to racing this weekend, hoping that the weather stays fine. The end of this week will be the halfway point in my build up, I'm happy with the training so far, would like to have been further on with my core strength and flexibility but will keep trying to motivate myself to fit that stuff in as well.

I had a box load of t-shirts arrive from the Charity last week for the support crew who are coming to Austria, they look pretty good. Have also ordered the kit I am going to be wearing to race in so things seem to be coming together.

Training totals for last week were as follows:

Swim - 1 hour 22 min - 3.7km (2.3miles)
Bike - 12 hours 51 minutes - 336.9km (210.6 miles)
Run - 5 hours 47 min - 65.9km (41.2 miles)

Very happy with that, managed to run 5 times last week, which was one of my main goals, I know that I have benefited in the past from running regularly rather than just trying to run a high volume of km's so I am going to try and stick to 4-5 runs per week from here on in. Swimming wasn't great last week as I started the week with a cold so only managed 25 minutes in the pool on Monday before I felt dizzy so thought it best to get out!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Back into training world

The last few weeks have been a steady decline in the volume of training due to work, culminating in last week when I couldn't do any training and even gave up commuting on the bike. The previous week I had ended up riding home at midnight most nights and was getting more and more tired so thought it was probably sensible to give that a miss.

I always knew I was going to be busy at this time so wasn't too worried about the training aspect in the grand scheme of things. I still manged to get out for a couple of hours last Saturday morning before going into work and then ran into London on the Sunday.

I got through the worst of the work by about 7.30pm on Friday so this weekend I was able to get back into it.

I'm still trying to ride long on Saturday followed by a short run and then a short ride on Sunday followed by a long run. Saturday was ok, did a 4.5 hour ride in the hills, and thought the run was going to be hell but did my 40 minutes without too much trouble.

This morning was much harder, did a 45 min easy ride first thing and then set out for a 2 hour run. I found that really tough, pace was well down from my previous long runs but I suppose that is to be expected given that I am riding before hand now as well rather than being fresh.

I'm quite worried about this whole Ironman thing to be honest, I'm not sure that I quite feel prepared for the pain and suffering that I am going to go through on the actual day but am hoping that the next 16 weeks or so of training will help me feel more prepared.

On the positive side, the fund raising is going well. I've received and paid over the additional £500 that work gave me to match my fundraising and I am now up to £1,165. I got a nice letter through from the founder of the charity thanking me for what I was doing which was nice.

I'm hoping to get back into full training this week, should probably get back into the swimming pool as I haven't swam in a few weeks which is a pain as I felt as though that was just starting to come together a bit.

Can't believe that it is under 4 months to go now, have 2 races in 2 weekends coming up which I am looking forward to, and then I just have the half Ironman in Barcelona planned before Austria.