Sunday 29 April 2012

Rain rain RAIN rain rain RAIN drizzle RAIN...

Still managed a furthest run yesterday though.  28km - 11.5km up to Lloyd Park for parkrun, 5km round the park and then 11.5km home.  The Lloyd Park parkrun has a bit of a hill in it and I blew up up it on the first lap, ended up way outside zone 1 and got into a crappy mental state thereafter.  On the second lap, I half-heartedly tried to keep my heart rate down up the hill, walked some of it and then played about with the descent, trying that thing where you let your arms flail about rather than pump backwards and forwards.  Well, that works pretty well so it turned out.  It's far easier to keep your pace up downhill if you do that rather than try to force your arms to be all disciplined.  Anyway, I did the course in 29 minutes - a horrific parkrun time for me especially given the average heart rate and the peaks that happened.  It meant that I was monumentally cross by the end of it and pretty worried about running home again afterwards.

Turned out I needn't have worried.  Apart from aching quads and a slight niggle in my right knee, getting home took just under a minute longer than getting there.  28km in just under 3 hours, up from a longest run 2 weekends ago of 22.5km is a slightly non-sensible increase in distance.  Which means I've had to pay for it today by working on some trigger point release and total rest.  I'm not begrudging the 10 hours sleep I got last night, waking only to hear rain still falling since Friday night.  And I'm not begrudging not going out for a bike ride today.  Partly because of the Rain rain RAIN rain rain (etc.) that has been going on for well over 48 hours.  Partly because I couldn't work out whether I needed to do a long ride or a hilly ride or what the heck.  I'm not begrudging any of it because I need to keep my brain happy and not stressing over training.

4 weeks now of no training plan from coachJez and I'm now talking to someone else about coaching.  I can't afford to have no properly structured plan and no decent support.  I've got too much I want to accomplish over the next 5 months.  It's 7 weeks to UK 70.3, 12 weeks to UK IM... there's no time left to lose now.  I've got a good base fitness to build on, now I really do have to build on it.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Winding up to Wimbleball

Less than 60 days to go to the first Half Ironman and some things are going really rather well.  This weekend,  I started trying nose breathing for my longer runs.  There are all sorts of views on nose breathing, and there's naff all proper studies on it but I'm going with the general idea that seems to work for people with asthma who have been known to get better use of the more limited breathing (lung capacity, throughput, whatever it is) they can have by working with tools like Power Breathers.  Whether it results in "stronger" lungs, better use of the oxygen that does get through, I don't really care why it works only that it might do.

Today was my second go with nose breathing.  The rough theory is that there is an aerobic threshold above which nose breathing is not possible and that level is below the lactate and functional threshold, so you can guarantee that you are in that golden Zone 1 where the endurance benefits really come.  The fantastic piece for me was that I ran 14km in an hour and 25 minutes whilst nose breathing only.  Including a first km at 07:01 due to twatting about with my GPS and some fun traffic.  That's an average pace of 05:57 per km, a whole 45s per km faster than my old Zone 1 runs.  And it felt -easy-.  I'm going to carry on with nose breathing for the long weekend runs, longish midweek runs and T2 bricks.  Basically anything low intensity.

This weekend is the Wimbleball familiarisation day.  Sunday sees a splosh in the lake, a spin around a lap of the bike course and a bit of a trot around a lap of the run course.  It'll be cold as all hell in the water for sure, but I'm looking forward to finding out what these 53 hills in 56 miles are really about.  I've ridden Hell, it can't be all that bad!

Thursday 12 April 2012

27km down, 845.5km to go

Yes.  That's the distance I'll be covering in triathlon races this year - 872.354km.  Give or take a few metres for errors.

Eight hundred and seventy two and a third kilometres.

That's quite a long way.

And that's just the races.  I have no idea how far I'll have covered in training by the day of the final race of the year.  An order of magnitude higher no doubt if I'm averaging 150km or equivalent on the bike and turbo trainer during the weeks, peaking maybe at 180-200km at some point.  Much less running, maybe an average of 35km a week, peaking around 50km.  Swimming even less (obviously), averaging 3-4km a week, peaking at 5 perhaps.  If I use the averages over the weeks from mid-December to mid-September, that's another 5,800km of cycling, 1,350km running and 135km swimming.  That's going to total somewhere between 8,000km and 8,500km under my own steam over 9 months of training and racing.


Wednesday 11 April 2012

Bike position

What a difference clip-on tri-bars make even when not properly adjusted.  I don't look like a fat kid on a bike any more:-

Left - HSBC triathlon October 2011 67.4kg, Right - Thames Turbo #1 2012 63.4kg

First sprint tri '12 - photos

Nice high elbow - breathing underwater ;o)
Look ma! I'm on the bars! Could do with my seat being higher though.

Rain rain rain rain... and a scabby knee.

Monday 9 April 2012

PB in the rain and through the pain

First Thames Turbo with chip timing and it showed up where the pain happened today.

First of all it was cold.  And raining.  We cycled down to the course with dry, warm clothes in rucksacks, waterproof jackets and overshoes and having registered last night all we had to do was have a bike check and rack up.  The layout is a tiny bit different this year for both transition and a bit of the course - the one bit of the race briefing I actually heard (being at the back of the crowd) was that there was now no need to stop at the bike course end, just go over the mat and enter the non-compete zone.  Also, no numbered places in transition, just lettered rows for the waves and marked places.  I found a gap between two other bikes, where someone had missed a marked place and laid out all of their kit underneath it, with their bike next to it in the next spot.  Tough nuts matey bobs and I racked up over his kit, racked the reverse way to him to mesh the bikes properly so they didn't tangle, and laid my kit (bike shoes, running shoes and rucksack full of dry kit) under the front of my bike, with helmet, race number and glasses on my tri bars.

At the end of the race briefing, my guts said "loos! now!" and there was no choice in the matter.  Thankfully I was not too cold yet and quickly out of my clothes and tri suit and back in again -just- in time to queue for the start and watch someone near the beginning of the swim start, I think 3rd over the line, break into breast stroke, take off her goggles and pootle really slowly through the water.  Maybe she didn't understand the seeded swim-time race start or the point of it?

Anyway, it was cold.  Really quite cold to the point I was worried about not putting on any clothes after the swim, but the water in the pool is deliciously warm and we were warmed up from our ride to the course, so it wasn't too hideous at that point.

The swim felt... well... rubbish.  I thought I was slow, I thought it felt easy although my arms ached a little by the 7th length and my form wasn't brilliant.  Skipping out of the water, over the timing mat into transition I just got on with it into T1 where I ended up knocking matey bobs' bike off the rack next to me - again, tough nuts, that's racing.  I left his bike on the floor where it had fallen and ran off to the Bike Out to hop on, right behind Clare Cunningham (GB Age-Grouper F30-39).

For the second time ever on a bike ride, I got down onto the tri-bars.  And stayed there for the majority of the ride, trying to stay in Z3 but it was raining and very wet on the road, with puddles an' t'ing.  I did ease off after about 10 minutes on the bike which I'm a bit cross about now, but still...  I reeled in 5 other cyclists and passed one poor woman with a puncture and towards the end I realised I was reeling in Clare Cunningham and almost caught her!  Mr TOTKat just passed me near the end of the bike and we chatted through the non-compete zone then I pedalled off a bit quicker to get into T2, taking my cycling shoes off as soon as there was soft matting before the timing mat for T2 so I could run barefoot on the soft grass a bit faster.

T2 was a bit of disaster.  My feet were so cold that I didn't feel that not only had my little toe on my left foot been rammed between the elastic gusset and the lining of the shoe, but my big toe too.  I couldn't get the shoe all the way on and couldn't work out why for a while.  Then I had to pull it off and back on again, still not sure it was right as I really couldn't feel my toes and despite the talcum powder in there, my foot was a bit stuck.  Still, it appeared to be correct and I shoved the other one on and trotted out, turned my race number belt around so the number was at the front and discovered that for the first time, one corner had come free.  That explained the unusually loud flapping noise from the paper during the bike leg then.  My right hand looked like I'd had a punch-up with a clown as it was slathered in talcum powder and grass stain, but there wasn't much time to marvel over it as there was still the run to go.

Mr TOTKat passed me on the pavement section of the run into the park, seconds before the horrible stitch kicked in.  Now, I've had stiches before and run through them, but this one was really nasty - all the way across my diaphragm.  I slowed to a very slow jog and breathed through it before picking up again and pushing through the gate and into the park.

In the park I felt good, much better than previous runs, which I know means I'm not pushing hard enough, so I pushed harder and shortly afterwards, the stitch came back and I had to slow to a walk and breathe slowly again to get it to go away.  I was then wary of pushing too hard, which peed me off quite a bit, but yes... one more naffing time the stitch came back with a-vengence about 1.5km from the end and I had to walk -again-.  Just under 1km to go and I turned up the gas again and hope it wouldn't come back.  It didn't and I hit the penultimate corner of the run where I usually sprint from to the end and decided not to quite there this time.  Good thing too as, because one of the other corners was cut a bit short on the route today, the finish line was further down one of the paths than usual.  A final sprint in and I threw myself over the line and stopped my watch.

It said 01:26:44 - I was convinced I'd not made my goal of under 01:20:00 as the non-compete zone is 7 minutes long and I was sure I'd not used a huge amount of it.  However, I had started my watch early in the pool as the count down was short and quick.  Mr TOTKat had definitely managed under his target of 01:10:00 and we walked back to the pool, getting a bit colder all the way.

It was really really cold by then and we shivered about waiting for the final swimmers of the second wave to finish so we could get into transition for my dry clothes.  A nice lady offered to buy me a cup of tea, I looked that cold!  Clothes on and up to the cafe for a cup of tea (and a Bakewell tart for Mr TOTKat) and we were still shivering so much that I nearly threw my tea all over the floor.

I was desperate to get home, warm, with bacon buttie and tea, but Mr TOTKat had spotted a results tent on the top deck in the cafe (yay for the new chip timing!) so we used the printer to get our provisional results:- me 01:19:45, a whole 41s faster than ever before; Mr TOTKat 01:08:23, 3 minutes 36s faster than his previous PB!

Compared with my previous best performance, the provisional results from today (rank and category rank to follow when the results are published):-

Race Weight Time Swim+T1 Cat rank Bike Cat rank Run+T2 Cat rank Rank Cat rank Rank % Cat %
30/05/11 67.5 01:20:26 00:09:32 15.1% 00:42:32 9.6% 00:28:22 61.6% 196/405 16/73 48.4% 21.9%
09/04/12 63.4 01:19:45 00:08:56

What's interesting is that I'm clearly fitter than then and clearly put less effort in (lower average and maximum heart rate by 6 BPM) today for a faster time.  AND it was raining and really wet!  The top graph is my previous best (where it looks like I got caught by the traffic lights in the bike leg), the lower one is today.

And you can really see in the run where I had to walk three times... the run starts just before the 01:00:00 line and there are three clear dips where I slowed or walked to clear the stitch.  But look at the difference in the bike stage end; a real sharp drop off rather than a sludgey slow down.

I think I'm quite pleased with that and I'm looking forward to the full results with placings for the disciplines and in my age category.

Friday 6 April 2012

Game on

First tri of the season on Monday! GAH!

It's been a long time coming and I've actually been training since December.  Consistently.  Unlike any of the races I've done before.  However, due to social obligations I didn't have any long sessions at all last weekend and due to wanting a rest day this week, there's none this weekend either - just a bimble down to the sprint bike leg, a spin around it, a swim and then a bimble home again.  That will have caused a bit of dropoff in endurance, but hopefully not in the power/speed that I've been doing a bit of training on.

I'm really quite excited.  I'm hopeful of an appreciable improvement on the bike leg.  I've been doing some structured training around power and endurance on the bike which has made one heck of a difference to my hill climbing and my distance capability.  But if there's a course change on Monday due to the stupid roadworks that have been on the Thames Turbo course for months, there's no comparison with previous races.  And that'll be annoying.  I crave benchmarks and comparisons to tell me how and if I'm improving.  I'm hopeful of a strong swim that's less draining than before for the same speed.  And I have no idea about the run, but there are three factors at play there; lots of long slow running, a change in running style to stop heel striking, and a bunch of speed/power work.  So it's hard to tell whether I'll be slower or faster there.

There is a 5km "time trial" for me tomorrow morning (a parkrun - probably Roundshaw) which should give me some idea of run speeds for Monday - my first all-out 5km in a very long time as I've been doing either 15km+ runs or really short intervals sessions for the last couple of months.  So we'll see about that in the morning.