Monday 30 May 2011


PBed every. Single. Discipline.


01:20:26 with a gyppy knee, wind, roadworks and a sub-optimal meal the night before.   00:04:11 and 5.2% overall faster than my fastest TTT, 2.2% faster than my fastest swim, 2.4% faster than my fastest bike, 1.2% faster than my fastest run.  An overall improvement of 00:14:36 (18.2%) on my first one, 00:08:46 in the swim (28.2%), 00:08:46 in the bike (20.6%), 00:03:03 (10.6%) in the run.

You can clearly see where the HRM didn't work at the start of the swim (always happens); T1 (the dip shortly after 15 minutes); the non-compete zone (the gap between the end of the bike course and T2) and T2 (around the 52 minute mark) and the fact that I took it relatively easy in the run (my heart rate was -lower- than during the cycle) and turned up the heat twice (once around 1hr 7, and again at 1hr 17ish), then a sprint finish (the tiny squeak of a peak near the end) before forgetting to stop my watch for a little bit after the finish.

Very very pleased.


I finished the Thames Turbo Sprint triathlon (TTT) #3!  This is a huge psychological boost after DNFing the first two in the series with my naffed-up knee.  The knee is definitely getting better but still not all there.  The first two TTTs, it gave up under 1km into the run to the point where it was painful even to walk/hobble.  This time, after lots of rest (no running for 4 weeks), working on strengthening glutes in general and the VMOs, it was totally fine up to 2.5km into the run.  It started to niggle a bit a and hurt by 3km, but for the next km, focussing on stopping my foot from rotating inwards (I pronate very very slightly, not enough to correct with footwear) and on chasing down a woman in front of me to take my mind off it, it went well.

The race in general...

Being in the second (faster) wave for the first time was a worry for me.  The second wave is made up of the people who have a faster overall race time, so being nearish the start in the pool in that wave meant that I was very likely to spend most of the race being overtaken by the speedy ones.

In the pool 40th in that wave (a bit of a shock, given I'm usually around the first 20 in the pool in the first wave) and I didn't feel great in the swim.  2 overtakes by 382 and 384 was a bit demoralising, but generally less stressful than I thought it would be.  Calm, polite stop at the end of the length where they'd tapped my feet, and off again behind them.  Not sure my swim time is going to be particularly good given how it felt compared with the last race, but we'll see soon enough.

T1 wasn't too bad, having everything laid out in order; glasses, helmet, race-belt, shoes; went pretty well.  In that order, my feet are more likely to be more dried when I try to jam them on quickly whilst not falling over.

Out on the bike and -OH- -YES-!  The new bike set-up turned out to be awesome!  The feeling that every ounce of effort I put in with my legs actually turns into forward motion of the bike is so nice.  It was a bit windy in places on the course, but with more power transfer to the road it mattered less than before.  One of the guys who overtook me in the pool (382) was a bit in front of me and in ripe position for me to reel him in.  So I did.  Felt great.  Then he took me back.  Then, yuh huh, I overtook him again and didn't see him until I was slowing down for the big roundabout at the end of the outward leg when he overtook me again.  I thought I'd lost him further down the return leg, but then he showed up again and I overtook him one last time before he came back a bit later in time for the end of the bike course.  It was so much fun and really handy to have someone around the same pace as me as it made sure I didn't drop the pace.  My thighs were telling me I'd put in some effort this time.  During the non-compete zone we had a nice little chat about it and I reassured 382 he'd thrash me in the run as I'm pretty rubbish at that.  (And he did).

T2 was a bit of an oops.  I went down the wrong side of the racks, racked my bike the same way as I had in the morning, but this time it meant that all the bikes around me and mine were all facing the same way - jamming them together.  Being on the wrong side of my bike meant that I couldn't get to my running shoes without shoving my bike about quite a bit.  Still.  Out for the run and praying that my knee behaved itself after the work I'd put in on it.

Taking the advice of the guy ahead of my waiting to get into the pool at the start and Mr 382, I took the start of the run gently.  And before I knew it, I was at the 1km marker and my knee felt fine!  2km in and still fine, I was set to finish the whole 5km regardless of anything that happened after that.  2.5km and, ah, knee started to niggle.  Still just behind the same lady I'd been behind from the start of the run, I was starting to think I'd better get a move on so I can finish sooner and if things hurt there's less time with them hurting.  Coming up to the 4km marker it was time to get a wriggle on.  Knee niggling, but not cripplingly painful to the point of inability to walk as happened the last two times, I turned up the pace to get my heart rate up from 170 to 180 for that last km.  Spurred on by the lovely kids around the course (one of the really nice things about the TTTs), I decided to put in a sprint finish as I was pretty sure that Mr TOTKat wasn't far behind and there was no way I was going to have him cross the line before me (he started 8 minutes behind me in the pool) and powered over the line, knees high, chest up and head forward.

MrTOTKat was seconds behind me, which pretty much stopped me from bursting into tears of A. relief that I'd actually bloody finished the race this time and B. disappointment that my knee isn't completely fixed.  I did get a little bit of the panic attack breathing I've had in the past, but got it under control quite quickly.  Now... let's see if I've managed to hit my target time of 01:20.  *crossed fingers*

Sunday 29 May 2011

How to stay grounded?

How the hell do people do it?  When you've set a goal way further in the future than when you need to actually start doing anything about it.  How do you stay focussed on the current tasks in hand.  How do you stop yourself from starting to do stuff waaaaay too early?

I'm struggling to contain myself at the moment and it is definitely too early to change tack on the stuff I'm doing at the moment.  Having been at 3 so far this year so far (2x Thames Turbo Sprint triathlons and 1x Clapham Common 10K),  and missing the Sheffield Half Marathon (boo to gonky knees!) there are 13 more races/events left for me this year to focus on between tomorrow and the middle of December (not including the ad-hoc Parkrun 5Ks every so often):-
  • 2x Thames Turbo Sprint triathlons
  • Blenheim Sprint triathlon
  • Shock Absorber Women's Sprint triathlon
  • 3x Clapham Common 10Ks
  • Nokia Thames swim (2.25 miles)
  • Virgin London Olympic triathlon
  • British 10K
  • London to Brighton
  • Nike+ Run to the Beat Half Marathon
  • The Grim Original (8 miles off-road run)
So there's no way, especially for the new events to me (Olympic, Half Marathon, and the off-roader), that I can drop focus on this lot.  I'm really hoping I can keep my head straight through it all.  But the revelation to me right now is that while I have no doubt of getting 'round every single one of these (barring injury) physically, the battle now is almost purely mental.

And mental is something I've proven, what with losing 30kg and keeping it off for 5 years.  But still... ongoing and new challenges will constantly test the resolve.  Which is tiring.

Tuesday 24 May 2011


I'm a cynical, glass half full kind of person by nature but I'm slowly learning to take some things at face value and accept the compliments when they come. Today was almost one of those days when I accept the nice stuff graciously.

There's a newish trainer at the gym near work. First time she met me, she asked if I was an athlete. Instant like for the woman there. Today, she'd not seen me in a few weeks and commented right away on the better definition in my arms at the moment. We had a good old chin-wag about how it was going with my training and how she'd injured herself recently, vaulting bollards in the park, and she asked about what I was training for and whether 'they' were paying me for my race on Monday. I giggled a bit and she sort of worked it out and asked "so what is your job?" and was gobsmacked when I said "I'm an IT Director. I sit on my arse all day, which is why I work my arse hard here." I think she's a genuine person and honestly was surprised that I'm a nerd, not an athlete.

Sometimes it's nice to get validation like that from a professional, even if they're not a hardened veteran like Geoff-the-awesome. Makes me feel good! :o)

Friday 20 May 2011


Home alone dinners are often a rollercoaster of randomness and tonight was a real high.  Fennel, potato and cherry tomatoes with a chicken breast, seared off in butter and braised in chicken stock... based on the Abel and Cole braised fennel recipe on a card from a few weeks ago.

One whole fennel bulb, a handful of red, new potatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes.  Slice the fennel and potatoes.

 Stick a knob of butter in a pan or casserole dish to melt.

Brown the fennel slices a bit.

Lay the potato slices on top.

And then the tomatoes.

Pour over the chicken stock (1 cube made up with 300ml boiling water).

Put a lid on and leave in the oven at 180C for 45 minutes to an hour.

That's a LOT of food and it's really tasty.  Serves one very very hungry person, or add two chicken breasts to the same amount of veg for two less hungry people.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Yeah yeah... sometimes I -am- a girl

I may have just bought one of the nicest dresses EVAH!  Can't wait for it to arrive, but I'd lay down money that it's dry clean only.  *sigh*
I wish I could justify getting this one as well, but there's just no occasion or call for it.

Also, there's only so much I'm willing to spend on dry cleaning ;o)

No fair

I've been counting kcals and exercise and have been, on average, a few thousand kcals under maintenance for the last 2-3 weeks.  Thing is, I did see a dip in weight in the first week, but then a bloaty, post-takeaway (still within kcals!) day just hasn't really dropped away again since.  And I'm still bloaty, pretty badly.

I've never suffered from bloaty in the past and I've not changed diet consistency recently.  So I have no idea what's going on there.  And it's making me grumpy.  I really will look like a sofa for the next sprint tri.  Meh.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Has it really been a week?

Time is doing Strange Things at the moment.  I can't believe it's a week since I last posted.  There's work and training and even my watch is telling me "Take a recovery week!" now.  8 days straight of exercise with no rest days kinda just happened.  And there's sort of a reason for it.

I blame Paul.  He put the idea there.  He'll know what I mean and I'm not ready to really talk about it yet.  But I've bought and read a lot of books and there are still a few left to read in the pile.  And there's some more talking and thinking to do, but I'm pretty much decided.  Thing is, when I've decided on something it's really kinda hard to not think about it and it colours almost everything I do.  And it meant that I was distracted from scheduling training properly and I "forgot" about recovery.  It meant I got quite tired as I went from very little cardio to a buttload of it without ramping it up properly.

I'm going to re-brand my blog when the time is right.  I finally have a new name that I think will fit nicely - it's taken a while and it finally came to me this evening.  I need to find a better layout so I can categorise the various aspects of the blog a bit better than it is at the moment, so if anyone has any helpful hints on that with Blogger templates it'd be handy to have a chat.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Gym wilderness

Since I got my latest personal trainer (Geoff the Awesome), I've been in a bit of a resistence training wilderness.  When we do training sessions, he gets me doing stuff that I can sometimes do by myself, but quite often not; either because I don't have the equipment available (like the Bulgarian Bags) or because I need a spotter or more learning of the technique (like the handstands I did the other week - yes, me, handstands!  I've never done one in my life until recently.)  That, along with the need to work on my inner quads and glutes at the moment means I'm, for want of a better phrase, "making it up" somewhat in the gym.

Today's fun was:-

  • 5 minutes on the x-trainer to warm up
  • bulgarian split-squats: 3x10x2 (with 2x 14kg dumbbells
  • kettlebell swings - 3x15 (with a 20kg kettlebell)
  • standing side-crunches - 3x10x2 (with a 20kg kettlebell)
  • jerks - 3x10 (with the Olympic Bar with 2x 5kg)
  • standing on an upturned bosu (squishy side down) - 3x10 squats, 3x10 alternate toe-touches
  • assisted pull-ups - 2x8 wide overhand, 2x8 narrow underhand, 2x8 ring-style, 2x8 dips (no rest between grip changes, 35kg assist)
  • swiss-ball bridges and hamstring curls - 3x15 curls with 30s hold at the start of each set
  • plyometric cleans - 20 with a bare Olympic Bar
  • cool-down and stretch
Now, I have no idea if that's well-balanced enough or not.  What do people think?

Also, today I commuted to work on my fixed-up commuter bike for the first time since I got knocked off.  Tell you what, I've improved in power/cadence/other technical stuff while I've been away from bicycle commuting.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Race reports

I've taken part in 5 races this year so far; 2x Parkruns, 1x Clapham Common 10K, and 2x Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlons.  And I've not really done proper race reports on any of them.

To be honest, I won't bother with any Parkrun race reports unless there's something unusal or exceptional about one in particular.  Same goes for the Clapham 10Ks.  I kinda wanted to do race reports for the triathlons, but having had two DNFs so far, out of two races, I've not really felt the love for writing about it.  However, they both saw PBs in the swim (plus T1) and bike legs.  So it's a bit rubbish to let them pass without mention.

TTT race #1 this year; I knocked 16s off swim plus T1 and with my lovely new bike I knocked off 48s on the bike leg despite having done no swimming for months or cycling for weeks.  Race #2 was -windy- but with the absolute times in the pool of 55s faster than race 1 and 37s faster on the bike with my spanky new wheels and into a bit of a headwind all the way back from the far roundabout to the end of the bike stage, it's all very very encouraging for a sub 01:20 time in race #3 if I manage to complete the run.

Since I first started doing TTTs last year, I've gone up the swim ranks in my age category from 58.2% down the field to 26.2%; and in the bike from 70.9% down the field to 26.2% as well!  Overall I'm now 02:32 faster in swim plus T1 compared with the first race (23.8% faster) and 07:45 faster in the bike (17.8% faster) and there's definitely more to come.  Less run data of course, due to not running in 2 of the 5 races to date, but that improved from the first race by 02:51 so far (9.1% faster).

I'm really hoping to be able to give a full-race report at the end of the month and maybe to have dropped a pound or two so I look less like a sofa in my tri suit ;o)

Saturday 7 May 2011

Small victories. Or "progress".

Since Parkrun on 2nd April, I've run twice (750m tops in each of the first two Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlons).  It didn't go very well either time with my left knee squealing in pain, so I've been working on strengthening my inner quads (Vastus Medialis Obliques) and glutes (pretty much the whole of them) with weighted walking lunges, swiss ball bridges and swiss ball hamstring curls.  I've also been on the ibuprofen and icing my knee (not religiously).

This morning, as there's no other reasonable opportunity before the next Sprint Tri (I'm doing photos for Parkrun next Saturday and some bikey stuff the following week), I ran the Wimbledon Parkrun.  And there was not a hint of a niggle of a whisper of anything from my knee.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nuffin.  Oh and I smashed my PB by 57s :oD  (and went up the WAVA Age Grading from 58.1% to 60.3% - interestingly, looking at the calculator and cross-referencing with my VO2max, I -should- be able to do a 24:08 at my current fitness level, though that's probably on tarmac/paving rather than gravel paths and woodland floor as the Parkrun is).

Icing and Ibuprofen and sitting on my ass for the rest of today and no more running until the next Sprint Tri.  Just in case.  More strength work for my inner quads and butt and I -think- it might be good.  Only time will tell.

Wednesday 4 May 2011


My knee is playing up.  Has been for weeks.  First time was the first Clapham 10K of the season.  It hurt for 6km of the 10km course and I ran through it.  It then felt fine and I got hit by a car on my bike resulting in both knees being pretty bruised on all sides and swollen on all sides with tangerine-sized lumps.  Shortly after that I ran a 5km Parkrun and it niggled a little but didn't particularly hurt.  So I thought it was all fine.

About 3-4 days after that, I did a training 5km run which hurt roughly 2km into it and I thought I'd just run through it like I did with the 10km race.  But it got worse.  And worse.  And then a LOT worse.  I slowed right down, then I couldn't even jog slowly, then even walking was excruciating to the point where the joint just didn't work right at all and started to buckle.  So I hopped hopped home, iced it and heated it and ate Ibuprofen like Smarties.  Next day, I could barely walk but I -had- to be at work, so I went in and tried to stay off it as much as possible.  Over the next few days it felt better and quickly was back to feeling normal.  So I thought I was going to be fine for the first Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon.  I always had in the back of my head that if it started to hurt, I'd pull up in the run.

Lo and behold, I put in a reasonable swim (a PB), then a good bike (another PB) and kicked off into the run.  My knee felt OK for the first 500m or so, then went downhill and I pulled up around the 1km marker and threw in the towel.  I stayed off it for a whole week in the vain hope that it'd be fine for the next Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon on the following Monday - 7 days after the first one.

I put in an even better swim (a new PB) and a monster (for me) cycle in gusting headwinds (another new PB), and I started the run feeling good.  Willing my knee to feel fine, it did for the first 750m or so and then headed South again.  Pulling up again, DNFing again, I was pretty sure it's a case of one quad being stronger than the other.  I decided I'm going to self-treat and do it properly this time.

My thinking... if I go to the doctor for a referral to a physio, the likely diagnoses are either runner's knee (which I can treat with ice, heat, ibuprofen and rest firstly and then work on strengthening my inner quad to realign the patella) or something worse which will take longer to fix.  So, by taking the next 4 weeks to self-treat and rehabilitate as if for runner's knee I'm really not losing out.  If it gives up in the next race after 4 weeks of Doing It My Way, I'll then go to the doctor for a referral.  I'm damned if I'm going to DNF every bloody triathlon this year and not run more than 1km without my knee telling me where to get off.