7 weeks to go: Back on the bike (baptism of fire)

This week I finally got the bike out on the road – with me on it! I’m going to say it: I hate the bike! I really do not enjoy cycling – most of the time. But it’s teaching me a lot about endurance and about overcoming anxiety and fear.

2 days off… but look at the big circle

I’ll start this week’s entry with the bike story. And story it is. I’ve started to enjoy Zwift and training on the turbo. I also realised I was in my comfort zone. I’ve learnt that one element of endurance training is not allowing myself to get too comfortable. There comes a time when I have to step out of that comfort zone.

That’s not to say I should be enjoying pain and suffering. It’s not some kind of sackcloth and ashes story. It’s recognising that to move on, sometimes you have to switch off the thinking and just do it. And so getting on the bike was all about that.

Unfortunately for me I have an overactive mind, and vivid imagination and the thinking bit never stops (probably why I do enjoy doing endurance sport). So after an accident on the bike, reigning in the fears and the thoughts and the feeling of foreboding is key. I have to remind myself not to confuse my gut feeling with anxiety.

The planned bike ride was on Friday, a trip to the Isle of Wight to go round the island. Chris had done it before and assured me it was mainly flat and traffic-free and a good place for me to get back on the bike. Warning! It’s not flat – or traffic-free, but it is a good place to get back on the bike.

It was as I said on Strava a Baptism of Fire. We emerged from the ferry to traffic and wound are way up some good climbs out of Ryde. I felt nervous being back on the road, and also on the time trial bike. But told myself to concentrate – and relax at the same time.

Most of the first 30 miles I cursed cycling. I was not in a positive mindset at all and repeatedly told myself I hate cycling. ‘I’m stopping this after the Ironman and going to concentrate on Swim Run’. I tried to rationalise what it was I didn’t like, and all I could come up with was cars/road/uncertainty. After cake and tea, and chats in a nice shop/bar/cafe, I took note of the nicer side to cycling. Exploring, meeting new people and going further than you can with running.

As we climbed up the steeper hill on the coast, I started to really enjoy it. Cycling into a headwind, having to focus on working to get up the hill sharpened my senses and put me into a good mindset. I like working hard enough to feel I’m being pushed – but I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to speed.

I realise as I type this, I will look back in a few years and think what was I going on about? When I first did a sprint triathlon I was completely freaked out by the open water – now I don’t think about it and can’t recognise that frightened person. (I also didn’t have any idea what gears to use, or even when to change them then, but for some reason I didn’t worry about the bike). But for now, I’m here, and I have to be patient with myself. Back to the ride.

The rain started when we stopped for lunch. But stopped again after and there as a very lovely purple patch of cycling on empty smooth roads, picking up the pace, feeling comfortable as I had settled into my mantra of ‘relaxed, in control, fast’. As we got nearer to the finish, Chris who’d been waiting for me at points along the way, went on and headed to Ryde. Meanwhile, I was behind him religiously following the signs for the bike route (we’d been successfully following them all day) and for anyone contemplating the ride, note, they are very clear and will get you round the course without GPS. There is a but! Don’t do what I did and start the route again.

Hitting some serious traffic in heavy rain, I was starting to feel emotional. I was cold, wet and realised it had been too long since I’d seen Chris and I’d gone wrong. But I carried on following the signs. As I started to climb hill after hill (away from the sea) and saw a bus going the opposite way with Ryde on the front, I knew the signs were taking me back onto the course. I rang Chris, who was at the ferry. And so began my attempt to find my way back. I headed to Ryde but realised I needed to check where the ferry was, so typed it into maps. Luckily, I could hear the sat nav and followed the instructions – but when I hit another hill (away from the sea) I had to double check again. I rang Chris, he rang me. He said be sure you’re not going to Fishguard (he meant Fishoburne) but the  maps said, Ferry Port Ryde, so on I went with this journey. The sat nav took me into town, up hills, and out of town, then along a wooded path for about a mile. By this time I was cold, wet and getting a bit worried, but I could see I was heading to a ferry so told myself there was nothing to worry about. Just follow each step. I finally emerged from the path (amazingly puncture-free) to the ferry port. It was the wrong ferry port.

It turned out the ferry was however going to Portsmouth, so I decided to get it. There were more hiccups (missed the first ferry, went to the wrong car park in Portsmouth, waited at the bus station not the train station, lips were going blue etc). But Chris and I finally were reunited (he’d got the right ferry) and were so relieved we’d got back to the car before the car park closed that we just laughed a lot and enjoyed the heated seats!

By Saturday with a planned two hour ride, a run, a swim, we both felt tired. And I felt close to meltdown on what we changed to a 10-mile spin. We stopped at Devil’s Dyke and watched the hang-gliders. As I saw them set off on and up into the sky in what looked like a very precarious set up I realised that fear and risk-taking is all relative and got over my irrational thought process (brought on by being a bit tired I think!). A 5K run after the short ride was relaxed but not easy and I reminded myself that this is what IM training is about – getting out and moving when you’re tired.

As for the rest of the week. I’d had two days off training which did throw me off a little. Work had got busy and life’s demands were more demanding. I was disappointed to only manage one swim, but it was a reasonable distance at 2.5K the longest with my dodgy shoulder, and I had a great brick session on the turbo and fartlek running on Wednesday. I finished off the week with another endurance test, a long run on the Downs in wind and rain. Starting tired I had wondered if I would get around, then reminded myself I’ve run this Eastbourne run (The Friston loop) at least 300 times and must have had that thought process 280 times! The wind and rain battered us, but we did have the wind behind us on a few key hills, we ran through a field with a huge cow and her babies – and a bull in it. I rejected the option of a shorter route down, and we hit the top of the Downs and I felt totally exhilarated by the crazy conditions (I imagined my dad ‘yahooing’ along with me and laughing along with his nutty daughter)  and I also remembered this is living and this is me – and this is what I love to do. And so another week of training is done.

 

 

8 weeks to go: sling slung and double Zwift session

Zwift has once again been the headline for this week’s training, with two 2’10 long sweet spot courses completed consecutively (well okay I did stop for tea and toast and changed the radio channel to Ted talks), but on a non-hilly course I was pleased to cover 80 miles.

A satisfying week of Ironman Training: all cycling on Zwift

I felt inspired by Lewis Pugh and Diana Nayrd’s talks as I whizzed through the weird Zwift world of Watopia. If you haven’t seen the talks, check them out below. As I watched I realised four hours on the Turbo is NOTHING, and was reminded how important the right mindset is when it comes to endurance sport. As I discovered later that day, Lewis was passing through Brighton, I must have picked up on his positive vibes! He’s also working hard to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our planet. If you want  more inspiration you can follow Lewis’s blog HERE.

 

With eight weeks to go, there’s less time for faffing about and thankfully my shoulder is improving by the week. As always I’m writing this retrospective blog post at the start of the seven-week countdown and it’s now a full four weeks since I came off my bike and broke my collar-bone, and four full weeks of no cycling on the road. But this was a week when I spent more time on the bike than on the run – for me that’s progress!

It was another good week for small conquests. It was the first time I’ve done more than four hours on an indoor trainer of any kind! I managed to run 20 miles of running at close to potential IM pace (3.50 pace for those interested) without my sling, running along the Cuckoo trail, a great time-trial for a marathon training run, a flat course along an old railway route between Eastbourne and Heathfield. As I absolutely love to run, this was good for my body – and soul!

I was also pleased to  swim 2K in the sea, and get back in my wetsuit (last week my shoulder wasn’t going there), swimming three times around the bouy. I think I picked the only calm day of the week for sea-swimming and it felt like I was in a swimming pool, as happy fellow swimmers also enjoyed the perfect conditions. I also swam a pool set of similar length this week, but didn’t get in the 3rd swim. However, as Marianne has advised me, swimming is the part where I do need to exercise caution when it comes to rehab for my collar-bone (and I assume the muscle/tissue surrounding it which must have been cut through to fix in the plate!). But again swimming is very nice and at the moment it’s relaxing (I know it shouldn’t be!).

 

The Ironman Bike – Time to Face My Fears

The more I train for Ironman Barcelona, the more I realise it’s got very little to do with my usual way of training for marathons and other running events. I have been on and off the bike since 2013, as a Tri-dabbler, but I’ve never really built that bike strength. And if I’m honest I’ve lost a little bike confidence – my sub-conscious revealed this to me when I dreamt of: a) cycling on a road, it suddenly gets dark and I realise my lights don’t work; and b) driving in my car into oncoming traffic – on the wrong side of the street!

Yesterday, at Chris’s house, I read advice from my friend @ironmate Mark Klenathous, published in Tri 220 in the May issue regarding cycling for an IM, the bit I took away was this ,’at least three 85 mile bike rides’.  As I start my seven-week count-down I’m hoping I can still make some gains and enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

9 weeks to go: Turbo, long run, and a proper sea swim

I’ve adapted my plan and with the help of the Turbo and Zwift, I’m still keeping the Ironman goal in mind.

I’m trying to focus on what I am doing – and not what I’m not doing/or haven’t done. The positives are plenty this week.  I’m really glad to be back swimming properly, albeit slowly.  I’ve also managed some running sling-free but had to keep the sling on for a long off-road run, and I’m covering some ground on the Turbo, ticking off eight sweaty spin hours this week.

The week has gone very quickly and today’s post is a shorter one. I last blogged midway through this week, having already completed Monday and Tuesday’s turbo sessions using Zwift and I’d got back in the pool and sort of swum for 750M.

On Wednesday morning I got straight on the bike and did Marianne’s session, switching between the heavier gear and 65RPM and easier gear and 85RPM. This was followed by the prescribed brick run, which was 10K easy, moderate, harder in 10 minute blocks (roughly). I finished the last block with a sub 7.30 mile, which felt like progress with my sling (I was in and out of the sling). Thursday was a day off, but Ciara and I went for a late session at the pool, and I did fit in an easy swim and managed 600M full crawl stroke and another 600 or so of drills.

Getting Turbo Tough

By Friday I was ready to go again and did my planned long bike ride (I’d swapped from long run to long bike due to the weather), followed by an hour brick run. The ride was on the turbo and was broken up as one  hour continous, then 10 minutes on a Zwift route which I abandoned as I found it very dull, followed finally by an uninterrupted 2’10 sweet spot training session with long bouts in the tuck position on my TT bike.

Innsbruck, a tiny corner of my living room… who cares it’s a workout!

On Saturday, I was back on the bike again! See below… Trying to convince myself it was fun. After the ride I went for a sea swim, and it was blissful to be able to swim continuously for 1500M. I didn’t have a wetsuit because the logistics of getting it on and off, well, I didn’t want to go there, so I was in my Zone 3 two-piece. After 35 minutes I was feeling cold, but, it was a double celebration as I had wanted to see what I could do without (well almost without) a wetsuit. After Saturday’s training I had a lovely lunch at the Hospital Club with my very old friend, Sarah (i.e. we’ve been friends a long time, she’s not a pensioner). My shoulder ached a lot as I made my way though the crowds of Covent Garden, and I was happy to have an early night on Saturday.

Sunday was long run day! And it was a slow start. The good thing is I had my sister and niece coming to visit, so I had a deadline. But I did manage a good hour of procrastination.

Procrastination… Guilty, but reading Eat that Frog (check it out)

The Long Run

The run was hard work. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone long, or off-road, and it’s true with running, if you do’t use it, you lose it! My shoulder was achy so sling-free wasn’t really an option. I’d decided to go off-road, and hadn’t really thought about the one-armed affect when negotiating flint paths, and hills. In the woods, I was looking down at branches and potential trip hazards and as I hadn’t seen where I was going, I got properly lost. The map looked like one you’d see on Bear Grill’s The Island, when the contestants take completely the wrong route in search of the sea!

 

We’re going on a bear hunt!

I also did a cow-avoidance diversion (regular for me on long runs). They were assembled in the middle of a path in the field to Ditchling. Some mountain bikers ahead had gone right through them, so I braced myself. I stopped running as I got close and I even said hello! But one of them was ‘staring me out’ and I decided to say goodbye and then take the longer, steeper route in the field. I need to deal with my cow phobia. The run continued on the South Downs Way, the lovely bit between Ditchling Beacon and Devil’s Dyke. However, on reaching the A23 path, and the hills to take me the Dyke, I decided to take the flatter path to home as my shoulder was fed up wit the hills. So the last five miles of my run were alongside a motorway – I genuinely wouldn’t have been surprised if someone reported mad woman seen alongside motorway with sling on the news. However, I reminded myself that the mentally challenging sessions (turob, motorway runs) are all good mind-training for the day long IM coming up in eight weeks time!

Losing my marbles (and Tri accessories)

I’m writing this at the start of Week eight. Virtually every day I have to spend 20 minutes searching for some missing piece of equipment (goggles, floats, cossie, heart rate monitor, watch etc.). Today, the missing piece is the long bit that attaches the Chill Swim bag to me! And so another week starts….

 

10 Weeks To Go: Triathlon Training After Surgery

Sunday 29th July to Tuesday August 7th: the 10 and some of nine week countdown: Triathlon Training After Surgery starts on the Turbo

I left off the last blog post on Saturday – it feels like a long nine days, but lots of progress has been made.  I was still wearing the horrible post-op dressing, and only sleeping on one side, propped up by pillows. Now I’m dressing-free (well I’m wearing a plaster because the scar is ugly!) and able to sleep on whatever side I like.

 

A week is a long time in recovery

I kicked off triathlon training after surgery with a turbo bike on Sunday and a turbo, brick session on the treadmill (with sling) on Monday.  On Tuesday I endured a painful (and slow) 11-mile seafront run with my sling. It’s amazing how much work the other arm was doing! On Wednesday I combined picking up my son from work with another sling-run. It was hot, I was not.  But it was a few more miles ticked off. On Wednesday night Chris brought the Tacx Turbo trainer over  – a new way to train.

On Thursday morning I spent at least an hour reviving my old Apple Mac with its big screen, downloading Zwift and turning the wheels on the bike to get set up for Turbo training at home.  A full day in London with lots of walking and hot tube travel put paid to training and I had a day off.

On Friday I felt deflated and down! I trained on the turbo for 1 hour 37 minutes, leaning on my sweaty pillow, but faffed about trying to get connections for a lot longer. With the help of Facebook Friends (thank you to The Tri Store’s all-round guru, Simon Underwood) I realised I had over-used my Bluetooth connections – and I needed to calibrate my bike with Zwift and Tacx. Zwift will not connect to my Garmin Heart Rate monitor, my Garmin Edge and the Tacx. Someone else suggested I bin Barcelona and start again next year – and on Friday that’s what I felt like doing.

Tech Trouble (not good for an inpatient woman)

I’m not patient! Saturday morning was also frustrating in terms of connections and set up, but I stuck with it and  did two hours on the turbo broken up as a 45-minute FTP test, two other stop/start blocks and in the evening a 30-minute spin.

With Pride on in Brighton I wanted to watch the parade so decided to combine a walk/sling run with watching the parade (amazing). I weaved my way through the crowds, stopping and starting, and got very hot. And on a whim decided to try the sea. The lifeguard looked after my phone and I got into the sea in my running gear, not sure what to expect. It was blissful, I felt the healing qualities immediately and decided to have a go at one-armed swimming, then breast-stroke, then a few full strokes. I ran home and did my final spin and felt happy to have got three hours training ticked off for the day. It was disjointed, it wasn’t partially high quality, but it felt like progress.

On Sunday, best-laid plans went out the window again in the morning and Chris and I lazed in the garden drinking coffee. We finally got out in the afternoon and managed a 10K at around 9.15 pace, which felt better than my slog of earlier in the week. I ran some of this sling-free, but when the aching started I put it back on. After this, we had another sea swim, a little further this time, and a few more full strokes. And after this we saw Chic playing at the final Pride event in my local park! Brilliant!

To Race or not to Race?

The decision as to whether I race or not won’t be made until August 23rd. At the moment almost normal services have resumed, but this is an Ironman and my bike training is lacking. I’m trying to ignore looking at what others are doing or have done on Strava and the like. I don’t need reminding that volume is low, but at the same time, I’m still enjoying doing what I can do, and the small conquests along the way.  The timing of my accident was bad. August and September were/are set to be the peak training for Barcelona. This is when I expected to be doing 20-hour weeks, but with the turbo for bike training, that’s a little harder (but not impossible) to achieve.

Zwift – We Have Contact (& a custom top)

I’m now halfway through the nine-week countdown. The week has started better. Chris set up Zwift with Ant so now bluetooth picks up my heart rate monitor. I’ve also calibrated my bike to Zwift. And I’ve managed two good sessions over the last two days and another swim, this time in the pool with my pull-bouy and float. I messed about for 28 minutes and covered around 750M.

I’ve unlocked the Zwift vest… I’m a bumble bee

My brilliant cousin, Patricia, from Sligo Kinesiology, in Ireland sent me some Kinesiology exercises to do, and I’ve got some resistance work (squats, lunges, core work) prescribed by Marianne – and in the day I’m mainly sling-free. I’m on the turbo without my sweaty pillow and think I’ll be back on the road again soon, in the tuck position on my time trial bike.

So for now I’m blocking out and not listening to the naysayers and being inspired by those who are just doing it.

Well done Joanne

The brilliant Joanne Smith, completed her first Ironman this weekend, with a number of health issues in the background, far more complicated than a broken bone.  Well done Joanne, inspirational – and I hope to share her story soon.

The journey continues…

Bad bandaging!