20 week countdown: week three, 17 weeks to go –– Best Laid Plans

Themes for week: Best Laid Plans (& Finding Your Tribe)

Another week done as I write this there’s 16 weeks to go, but now looking back to week three of 20.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The best laid plans of Fiona always change. But the key goals I set myself did stay intact – just some of the details went off course. I had written down last week that I had to hit double figures – that happened. I also had coach Dave remind me that I needed to get on my bike, and that happened, not quite for 10 hours, but I was happy with what I managed.

I was once again reminded of the importance of Finding My Tribe, i.e. of not giving myself any excuses to not train, this week I had a good week of training because I met Tori, Gill and Rachael and joined in sessions with Arena 80 AC and Bri Tri Club – and at the local gym for My Ride. In fact, I didn’t do any sessions by myself.

On Monday I swam in the sea with Tori – it was quite choppy.  Tori swam with no goggles or hat – she’s seriously hard! On Tuesday I ran with Gill (she was running to work)  who showed me a great new route over the Downs. I finally found my Downs loop (something I’ve been looking for since I moved to Brighton) and I felt great running 15 miles with relative ease (on a run that took in 1,673 ft elevation) but then immediately after, a 48-hour illness kicked in and I was on Lemsip for the rest of the day, and following two days!

On Wednesday I had planned to ride, but wasn’t sure about getting up early after feeling ill on Tuesday. So instead I met Tori for a lunchtime choppy swim (with lots of drinking of sea water and goggle fun!) and then persuaded by Rachael I made an impromptu decision to join in a club off-road run with Arena 80 AC (the run where a man asked the group of runners at Ditching if anyone had a light?).

My throat was red roar when I got home (not from smoking I might add). On Thursday I thought I’d need to take the day off but decided to try to do something as I hadn’t cycled yet and went to the gym’s My ride class. I thought a short sharp session might help me sweat out the lurgy. I managed to work hard but I don’t think flat out. I let myself just do that for Thursday.  On Friday I had planned to go to the Bri Tri My Ride and run after, but, another change of plan happened as I wasn’t up for the early morning start and felt I needed to shift the cold. But feeling better in the afternoon I arranged to meet Rachael and we ran off road on another great route, through the poppy fields. On Saturday, I finally felt ill-free.  Again I met Rachael and joined Arena 80 AC’s super series age-graded league at Worthing (we cycled there and back). It was great to be back at park run, especially as it was an anniversary run and Dame Kelly Holmes made an appearance.

On Sunday there had been a plan to do the London to Brighton Bike ride with my sister Clare, but we couldn’t quite sort the number situation, so I cycled with Bri Tri on the route without the hill and somehow got funnelled into the finish of the London to Brighton when I went to meet my sister. I promise I didn’t raise my hands as I crossed the finish line, or take a medal or even bottle of water! Well done to my sister, Clare, who conquered Ditchling and the race on very little sleep and long working hours.

I’m still off the booze. Not sure I’m feeling the benefits as I’ve had cold sores, sore throat, and migraines, but as I write this, I’m optimistic that I’ll stick with the no boozing and that I will start to see the benefits.

This week I was reminded by Coach Dave, that ‘It’s time to get back to basics with some consistent training over the coming weeks,’ as he reminded me ‘you’re still very much in the base building phase of your Ironman training.’

The scary base plan

Consistent training is scary! Here’s the rough plan which I’ll work with week by week. It’s hard core and if I manage to do it all, I’ll be clocking between 15 and 20 hours a week (like another job!).

Swimming – use the SwimSmooth Ironman plan which includes one technique session, one fresh and fruity and one longer swim. (three hours)

Cycling – as much as possible totalling around 10 hours per week. The longer this is delayed the harder it is going to be to do well in Barcelona.

Running – four or five runs a week including one long run, one medium run with some target pace and two or three recovery runs. (up to 6 hours)

I’ve got three full weeks, and one half a week before I head to Galway to the Tribesman Middle Distance Race. Can I do this sort of training? Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

20 week countdown: week two, 18 weeks to go. Race Season!

Monday June 3rd to Sunday June 10th – ending with the Eastbourne Triathlon (sprint)

When I train for marathons I think in 20-week blocks. This is it, I’m in the block, which means being consistent and disciplined about sticking to the training. But it’s Rae Season – which is great for racing yourself fit, but can play havoc with endurance training as it’s tiring! As  my friend Julia says it’s no good pulling up the potatoes to see if they’ve grown. There’s been highs and lows in the recent races I’ve taken part in, but good or bad, they are not my main goal, and as this week ends, I’m reminded that I must keep the bigger goal in mind.

The last three weeks have been enjoyable but jumping into race season may have caused me to fall off my training bandwagon, with less hours in the bank and two weeks where I had three days off – and I only trained four days. I have completed three races in the last month, a middle distance triathlon, The South Downs Relay, and a sprint triathlon. I’ve also been out of my routine by having a holiday. That should mean I’m rested but I always find holidays and training don’t work (not saying I’m going to stop going on holiday!).

No booze – I lose?

Back to the week that’s just gone (I’m writing this on Monday). So the week started with a migraine on Monday (another one), and finished with cold sores at the weekend. I’ve been a little run down. Ironically, I did stick to my no alcohol pledge from June 1st – and felt worse than ever. I felt extremely tired, headachey and lacking in motivation and took Monday and Tuesday off training.

Back to it

On Wednesday I was back on it, and started the day well with a ‘refreshing’ (i.e. quite cold) swim in the sea. Myself and Rachael managed two loops of the bouys and around 1250M. After meeting coach Dave at lunchtime, I made myself get on the bike and went for a solo pootle up to the Downs and on the seafront, clocking up 20 miles on the bike in the evening. Having two days off had been necessary as I hadn’t been feeling great, but it does play havoc with your weekly hour log!

On Thursday I did a very easy seafront 11-miler, and on Friday at 645am I went to My Ride, the Bri Tri Watt Bike session. Simon didn’t push us too hard and most of us there were taking part in the Eastbourne Tri on Sunday. On Saturday I had to leave my house early to get to a family christening London, and drove for around five hours there and back, leaving at 830ish and getting home for 9pm. I was exhausted when I got home and seriously doubting the chances of getting myself ready for and getting up early enough to do the Eastbourne Tri.

But I had to do it. Chris had been and got my number and registered for me. Sally from Bri Tri had taken the time to drop off her tri suit to me. I hate letting people down (top tip to avoid missing training/racing, make sure you have promised somebody you’ll be there. It makes wriggling out of it much harder). On top of that my week’s training had been pathetic, and hello, I reminded myself, you are doing an Ironman. And racing, well, I love racing!

Here’s my race report. As I said I was happy to have a great race, but now it’s time to get my potatoes back in the ground and get them to grow. I need to say in double figures when it comes to hours until taper time – so that’s 14 weeks of 10 hours as the baseline. It is written now! It must come to pass.

I’ll be telling you about Driven Woman soon…. Coming to Brighton soon!

 

 

 

 

The Eastbourne Triahtlon

On  Sunday morning, I opened my eyes and quickly closed them again. I was feeling emotional – am I still exhausted I wondered? Do I  really need to get up and race the Eastbourne Triathlon? I need sleep. I’m tired.

When I got home on Saturday night, and when that alarm had gone off on Sunday morning, every bit of me did not want to race.  Coach Dave has got me to record my heart rate variability using the app, HRV4 Training when I wake up in the morning. On Sunday I was so tired that I went into a deep sleep for the minute the HR recorded (for the record 43), and woke with a start when it finished.

But after letting the snooze button ‘snooze me’ for 30 minutes and battling with myself I finally got up at 515am and got out. And guess what – it wasn’t that bad – in fact it was good. It turned out that it was residual tiredness. The dregs of a tired week. I’m very glad I didn’t listen to the negative, emotional me, because once I was up and driving on the empty roads, I felt completely fine. It was a beautiful, bright sunny day – and I was so glad not to be missing this part of the day.

No Nerves

I wasn’t at all nervous as I’ve been performing very averagely recently so had zero expectations, and it was just a sprint. Note, in 2013 when I was a much fitter and faster marathon runner, I did my first sprint triathlon and I remember finding it very, very challenging – Note to self, this is progress.

I arrived in Eastbourne before 630am and when we got to the start it was fantastic to see so many old friends and familiar faces, from my two old clubs, Bodyworks XTC and Tri Tempo in what until August last year was my home town for 13 years.

The Swim

I met Gill, a fellow Bri Tri member at the start. Excitement kicked in as we gathered at the water’s edge. Gill and I ran/walked into the water together and for a minute were swimming along side each other. I could see we were heading in the same direction and I decided rather than swim over Gill (which it felt like I was going to)  I’d move away. That was the last I saw of Gill on the swim (she swam 19 and I was 20 minutes). We’d been warned that the current was going to be strong and Chris who had practised the day before, and been to Gary’s session (channel swimmer and all-round swimming king), showed me the best route to the take. I think I took it! But of course I hadn’t switched on my watch so I don’t know what pace I went at, or what distance I covered. However, I did find my ‘off to the left and then back to the bouy route’ (avoiding fighting the current) had somehow got me back in the group who had got ahead of me at the start. The sea was reasonably choppy and a bit unpredictable, but when I saw the sun shining on the water I had one of those moments, when I thought, I just love this!

As I got out of the water I was reassured to see not unhealthy, reasonably fit looking men around me which was a sign I wasn’t totally useless! I also noticed the watch wasn’t on and decided to tell Gary (guru Gary) who probably wondered what the hell I was saying . I ran to transition and wasn’t super slow (but still need to get faster). Then it was time to put the watch on and get onto the bike route.

The Bike

The bike route is a familiar one for me, from running and cycling in Eastbourne. But I think my recent climbs up Ditchling Beacon combined with my pimped up bike (now sporting Chris’s gears/brakes, flash new wheels and seat) meant that what I had always thought was a killer hill, didn’t feel hard at all! In fact at one point I had to look up to double check I was still on the hill. Again, note to self, progress.

The short ride felt good, again I loved the surroundings (I’ll never get bored of the South Downs): the white cliffs, the green fields, and the Sunday morning stillness. I didn’t look at my watch once. I loved the downhills and nearly hit 40 miles per hour as I hurtled down the empty road to East Dean (for me that’s fast).  It was great to see Scott, fellow comms officer from Bri Tri marshalling in the lonely spot (I’d also spotted Rachael, Mark and Grace – good turn out on the volunteer and racing from from my new club). As we headed back up the loop towards Beachy Head and the seafront we had a little headwind, but nothing too taxing. I enjoyed the bike and was pleased to cycle this challenging route five minutes faster than last year (okay I had just come back from a fracture – but still progress).

The Run

Being a sprint I was back in transition quickly and off on the run. The run takes you up to the top of the South Downs again – with a rather lovely climb up the side of Jubilee Hill. I’m not fast on the hills but the run didn’t phase me at all. It was getting hotter now, and feeling a little humid. At the top, I did have to have a word with myself as I realised I had slowed down way too much, and reminded myself, this event is short, to concentrate and I think I said out loud ‘pull your finger out’. So I worked hard on the downhill and though not particularly fast, it was a satisfactory run and I felt good at the finish, and as Dale shouted out 100m to go, I decided to have a little sprint (the glory bit).

I love a podium

It was a real bonus and a lift to my spirits to get second place vet and sixth woman in the ‘normal’ race, or 9th if you count the top three vets. But what lifted me more was how I felt good, I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel pressure, and I remembered why I do this. When I  left Eastbourne  last year, it was with some sadness and on Sunday I was reminded what a jewel it is – and the race somehow personified Eastbourne’s best bits, a fantastic backdrop for anyone wanting to challenge themselves as an endurance woman.

I recognised that my unintended taper for the previous three weeks were partly the reason for feeling refreshed and physically good, but I needed a kick-start to my Ironman training because in the middle of last week, I was not feeling the Ironman love.  But thanks to rest, friends and of course, Eastbourne, I’m back in love with this thing and ready for a summer of IM loving!

20 week countdown: week one

May 28th to Sunday June 2nd: ending with The South Downs Relay

I started this training blog with a 52-week countdown, then 40 and here I am with 20 weeks to go. This feels real! I’m writing this retrospectively, but week one of 20 started on the UK Bank Holiday, and my holiday in Portugal with my kids and friend from school, Celia (she’s lived in the US for half her life now but we’re still as connected now as we were from seven to 25 when she left). The focus for the end of the week was the South Downs Relay.

Fiona and Celia – endurance women 50 going on 5

Cycling was not really going to be an option on holiday so I’d already decided to relax about this and focus on the run and swim.

I didn’t achieve my goal of 4K in the sea, but did manage 2.3K which was fantastic. I loved the clear water with the fish swimming beneath me. I was pleased to get two 10-mile runs on beautiful coastal routes completed over the holiday, as well as some easier, shorter runs.

When people thought the world was flat,  Sagres, which is the last stop before America, was once though to be the end point of the world. If it were, it would have been a good spot to finish. It’s an ideal spot for triathlon training too, and even though I didn’t cycle, I appreciated the long, quiet stretches of road and if I’d had running company I might have ventured a it further along the trails weaving their way through the national park.

Homeward Bound

On Thursday morning I had one last lovely run in Portugal and we flew home late afternoon. So on Friday morning I was back home and woke up early, and decided to go to My Ride. With the South Downs Relay, a 100 mile run across the Downs, as part of a team of six, meant I kept the pace and heart rate low and was pleased to see just eight hours recovery on my Garmin.

The South Downs Relay

With a 530am start looming on Saturday I went to bed early on Friday, but woke up, wide awake at 230am! I decided it wouldn’t affect me as I’ve raced tired lots of times before.

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It did affect me! I was knackered and one minute a mile slower than I’d hoped/expected. However, as I type this on Tuesday June 5th feeling slightly ill, I think might have been harbouring a few bugs. But this was a team event, and my under performance didn’t deter from what was really a fantastic day of running, as part of a great team from Brighton Triathlon Club. This unique, invitation-only event, is very special to me. I’ve taken part five times now (in the past I ran with Hailsham Harriers) and it felt so good to see so many familiar faces – and to be inspired by older runners still able to record super fast time (most notably my running club, Arena 80’s Women’s team, all over 40 and won in super fast time).

For me the South Downs Relay marked the end of my messing about on the bike period and it’s time to really focus on the bike from now on! My road bike has been ‘pimped up’ by the guys at the Tri Store, Eastbourne, with new saddle, gears and bakes, courtesy of Chris and I’ve been measured for a Time Trial bike. I can’t avoid it any more. On your bike Fiona, on your bike!

Week 21 of 40: Travel & Training

Training is now a very big part of my life. I’ve had to plan a lot of travel and training this week, from getting to the start of leg 15 for the South Downs relay to travelling to Portugal. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

May 21st to May 27th

As my children are now 17 and 21, they’re very used to me training on holiday and sometimes waiting for me to get it done before we head out for a day a the beach. Today I’m writing this in training time! Who said a holiday is about resting?

This week started with a recovery day after last week’s Swashbuckler Race. My back was very sore and I had a headache for most of Monday which I put down to the heavy atmospherics and dehydration. Nurofen sorted both out!

On Tuesday I had intended to train, but I also had to finish my year-end accounts before going away, so I sat in my training gear at my desk from 8am to 8pm and didn’t really move! Two days off training…. sacrilege.

I didn’t need to worry about having had two rest days – I needed it. On Wednesday I set off just before 630am to pick up Tori and travel the 90+ minutes in the car to the start of leg 15 for our final recce before the forthcoming South Downs Relay, a 100-mile running relay event which we’re taking part in next week, as part of the Brighton Triathlon club Mixed team. Needless to say the run included some serious hills and Tori and I ran very slowly! After dropping Tori to Havant station, I drove to Heathrow airport to meet my friend Celia, who had flown in from California for our tip to Portugal. By the time we got home it was almost 4pm and I’d eaten a yogurt and 3 Clifbar blocks and drunk coffee. Celia and I enjoyed a lovely Thai meal and a few beers – but I was running on adrenaline. 

On Thursday, Celia and I rushed off to an excellent intense 45 minute spin session, then it was all about packing and travelling. I had a familiar lightheaded feeling and a few sparks of light, that usually sparks a migraine, but luckily  it didn’t develop. We arrived at our destination and ate late, and hit bed by 1am.

The migraine did arrive on the first morning of the holiday and floored me for half an hour, but in the afternoon I managed a lovely 2K sea swim.  On Saturday I was still a bit wary and enjoyed a 5K run with my daughter and some swimming in the pool (it’s tiny so I went around in circles rather than kick off the side)! On Sunday energy levels were restored and I enjoyed exploring, taking pictures and running for 10 miles and in the afternoon managed 2350M in the clear sea. The week’s hours were single digit for the first time in over six weeks, but I was quite happy to have has an easier week after racing.

Coach’s Summary

Coach Dave has given me a nice mid-term summary: ‘I have to bring you back to the objective figures that I am measuring. When we met before your training camp holiday, on 17th March your Chronic Training Load (CTL) was at 37 TSS points per day. As of today, it is at 74 TSS per day. So, although mid March was quite a low point for you in terms of the cumulative training load from the New Year until then due to your accident and surgery / recovery, you have still managed to steadily build your volume to double what it was then. Fitness lags training load a bit as it takes time to absorb and you won’t really feel the benefit obviously for another few weeks. We’re aiming to build a kind of fitness that won’t be truly tested until Barcelona in October and over the time between now and then, we’re going to have to trust the process and track the increasing training load. Sessions which feel hard now, will seem easier, particularly on the bike in terms of duration and with your swimming pace.’

 

 

The end of week 20: Swashbuckler Middle Distance Ironman

The last post in my training log was written in the middle of week 20 – in the run up to the Swashbuckler, my first half Ironman of 2018 –  and only my second middle distance race (here’s my first one). Here’s my race report.

In that post I said;

“I don’t have great expectations timewise on Sunday. I’m guessing the swim could be anywhere between 2.00 and 2.15 per 100m, I’m expecting to the bike to be between 13 and 15 mph and the run between 8.00 and 8.45 min mile pace. Transition is not a strong point. On that basis I’ll be aiming for around 6.5 hours plus.”

The swim which turned out be 350M short of Middle distance was in fact slower than my prediction at 2.20 per 100M (36.29). The bike was a bit faster, at 16.4 mph for 53 miles (3.14)  but a much easier course than I’d expected and relative to the rest of the field, slow! The run thankfully was at my optimistic end at exactly 8.00 min mile pace for 13.85 miles in a time of 1.50.53. Transitions were slow! The finish time was 5.50.

How early?

Overall, I was very happy with the result as it put me where I thought I was and I was very pleased to get a middle distance race done 20 weeks out. Racing, particularly in triathlon, not only gives you an injection of fitness, but it also is a learning arena. In triathlon there are more variables to consider than in the single sport and therefore always lessons to learn.

Swim

The positives for me were the 330am alarm and 515am start wasn’t as bad as I feared. Swimming at 515am may have accounted for my slower swim, but also I have to admit I’ve done very little swimming in the last six months (even before breaking my collar-bone). I was in the wrong position at the start – too near the front so had to endure lots of kicks in the face and large bodies trying to swim over mine! I looked up at one point and it seemed to be a frenzy of arms and splashing water in the mist and it reminded me of a brilliant photograph from a tri magazine – but I wasn’t sure it was that brilliant being in it! However, I managed to avoid panicking – unusual for me in this sort of chaotic swim.

Transition

I was very slow in transition one – a total of 6’13. I hadn’t mentally rehearsed transition or allowed myself to think about what I should do. And for transition two I hadn’t managed to sort out laces in my new running shoes. I had decided for this middle distance race doing it was more important than the fine-tuning, but I will pay attention in my next race (The Tribesman in Galway in July).

Bike

On the bike I realised that my cold hands were going to get colder. I had a thin bike jacket, but hadn’t put in arm warmers or gloves – a mistake, particularly with such an early start. I couldn’t change into the bigger gear and was only able to move through the easier gears. I couldn’t grab my bottle for fuel but I reasoned to myself that it would probably be an hour of coldness and I could cope with that. After an hour I attempted my bottle. I had to slow down almost to a stop and managed to a few good gulps of TailWind. I also ate  half a Clifbar. The second time I tried, the bottle felt out of my hands and I decided I needed fuel so got off the bike and ran back to where it had rolled off the side of the road. The next time I dropped it, I let it go! But I finished the bar. I felt I had enough fuel for today.

So far so good. I was enjoying the ride through the insanely scenic New Forest, where cows and donkeys roam freely on the quiet roads and a heathery backdrop made for a peaceful early morning setting. Cycling into the finish I became aware how much work on the bike I’ll need to do as I saw more and more runners streaming past and guessed I was in the bottom third. I knew even with a good run I wouldn’t be making it up though the ranks of the women, but I decided the run was my chance to feel a bit better about my peformance.

Run

The run started well and as I comfortably passed people, most of whom were on their second lap, I did let them know I was on my first. I didn’t want them to feel despondent. Passing through people is a great psychological boost and the 7.45 wish pace felt easy, feeling I was holding back I thought I’d go faster on the second lap and pick it up to 7.30. This was not to be! With hardly anyone left on the course my pace dropped off on round two, not shockingly so and I didn’t physically feel bad. I knew I was on for my goal of 8 min mile pace and sub six hours, so felt happy. I also felt relieved not to have bonked at all and reassured that I’m fit, even if I’m not super fast.

A good day

After the race I spoke to my coach about my slight disappointment with being so far down the field after the swim and the bike. Not surprisingly he reminded me that I need to do more of both. I’m also hoping that a time trial bike will help me to race faster, but I’m very aware that all the gear… well it won’t get me far if I haven’t put the miles in. Roll on the summer….

Week 20 of 40: Feeling fit, plans to ban the booze, and pre-race stuff

Build up to the Swashbuckler 70.3 Triathlon and some random stuff

I’m writing this on Thursday morning before I get stuck into my year-end accounts. It’s feeling so summery. I love this time of year. I’m feeling fit! I noticed it first last week. Running felt lighter, easier, cycling faster – swimming, well not quite so as I haven’t done enough. I feel like my endurance base is building. I’ve had lots of tired days, but today I’m not tired (yesterday after early morning swimming I did take a 20-minute snooze at my desk). I lay in until 715am and had a late start today. I did procrastinate, but managed to get my run back and be ready to start the day properly by 1015am – so I’ll get my full eight hours in (a thing of mine being self-employed is that I have to get eight hours in, and that doesn’t include blog writing!).

More Alcohol-free beer Vicar?

I’m building up to going booze-free. It’s something I’ve talked about for, erm, years (and yes I have written about it too!). Pre-children I was a very heavy, madly hedonistic  drinker, then in my late 20s/early 30s a non-drinker for some of pregnancy (but not all), after that I became a social drinker. I’ve had non-drinking months, I’ve drunk just at the weekend (but to be honest not very often) and I’ve run 20+ marathons this way. I haven’t been ‘drunk’ drunk for a long, long time, I haven’t been sick, or been so hungover that I’ve been wishing the day away (although this was something in the past I was too familiar with). I’m not unhealthy from drinking (well not that I know of) but I do battle with drink in that I always think about what I’m going to drink and I always feel it needs to be kept under control. I do keep it under control, but, it takes energy! I also know that the fact that I have to think about not drinking at all, and don’t just don’t do it with ease, means it has some control over me. And that won’t do at all!

So, I’m cutting out most booze now and going booze-free from the beginning of June (I’ve got a holiday to fit in) until, well at least until the Ironman. I think it’ll be one less thing to think about – i.e. I won’t need to ask if am I dehydrated from the two glasses of wine I had the night before, or because I didn’t take on enough fluids on the bike? If I’m not boozing, I’ll know. I think it’s just easier to get it out of the picture whilst I focus on IM training. I’m not expecting to feel massively different because at the moment I don’t drink enough for it to be noticed when it’s gone, but I do think it takes away an excuse to not perform so well.

The Random Race Stuff

The reason for writing now is to capture where I’m at before I take on my first proper half ironman on Sunday, the Swashbuckler, in the New Forest. When it gets to writing up on Sunday this will be all-consuming, and my mind will be full of the race, analysis and what’s coming next . This is, strictly speaking, my second middle distance triathlon as I did Braveheart Ben Nevis Triathlon in September 2016 but I’m not sure that can compare to other 70.3’s as the run was a long hike up Ben Nevis, so I feel like a 70.3 virgin.  My coach has said don’t go mad this week, but don’t taper as this race is part of the bigger picture –it really is just training for Ironman Barcelona. He’s away for a few days so I’m not sure what he’ll make of me doing a 8.5 mile run this am (albeit very slow and comfortable at 115 HR)… but I just felt good and the sun was shining.

I don’t have great expectations timewise on Sunday. I’m guessing the swim could be anywhere between 2.00 and 2.15 per 100m, I’m expecting to the bike to be between 13 and 15 mph and the run between 8.00 and 8.45 min mile pace. Transition is not a strong point. On that basis I’ll be aiming for around 6.5 hours plus.

As for the rest of the week, I’ve got a swim tonight and a club turbo/My Ride session tomorrow – then it’s all about a weekend of getting ready for, travelling to, and then being in the water for the painfully early 5.15am start for racing.  I’d of course like to surprise myself with faster times but we’ll just have to see – and importantly I’ve got to pick up the training again on Tuesday. Watch this space…

Week 18 and 19 of 40: Pacing myself and managing fatigue

The last two weeks have been about pacing myself and managing fatigue, so I can adapt to training for an Ironman, managing workloads as a self-employed business owner, a volunteer, a mum – and it’s about appreciating life’s pace isn’t always predictable.

In the last two weeks there’s been more work, which I’m always grateful for, a few committee meetings for my voluntary comms roles –and a big loss in my extended family, which puts time, and stress, and work and training in perspective. A trip to Ireland this week reminded me how lucky I am, being part of this connected group of people, but sadly it included saying goodbye to two very special people.

But there has always been a determination to stick to the routine of training. I love training. It gives me energy, as well as taking it away, it gets me outside (I  love being outside) and it keeps me on health straight and narrow (most of the time).

In week one there was a  conscious decision to ease back a little after the events of the pervious week. I was feeling tired. Work was demanding so I had to find that sweet spot between doing it and being consistent – and not being exhausted (managing tiredness is a key part of IM training) . The easiest way to do this was to take out intensity, so most of the sessions were done at an easy /steady intensity.

 

Week one

To keep running interesting but not exhausting I added in some strides to an easy run on Tuesday, including  7 x 30 secs and 3 x 1 min. An easy 2K swim and 35 mile evening bike ride on Wednesday were tiring, but again not flat out. But I did feel tired the following day, and even though it should be expected I did have a feeling of ‘oh dear will I ever run fast again?’ as I ran an easy paced hour. But experience reminded me that this is endurance training and on occasion that can mean feeling tired, and slow! On Friday energy levels were restored so that I managed an interval session on the bike in the Bri Tri Club My Ride session (2 x 10 x 40 secs) and I followed this up with a slow explore-jog. On Saturday I only had enough energy for an easy run to and from our club committee meeting and then on Sunday I really enjoyed a 3-hour off road, very easy, very hot – and very lost long run. It was hard at times but I have now worked out a great new route, and covered some more miles in preparation for South Downs Relay, coming in June.

Discovering bluebells on my long run

Week two

As the heatwave continued and tiredness kicked in, there was nothing for it but to hit the beach. I’m fortunate to own a thermal wetsuit and really enjoyed a 1100M swimming at a reasonable pace on Hove seafront. On Tuesday I ran. I used to run a session when marathon training (based on no sports science, just my own benchmark aerobic run) which was to keep 130 heart rate for 10 miles.  I decided to see where I was at 130 HR. It took ages to get my HR up. I didn’t quite manage the 8.00 min mile I used to run at this heart rate (moderate intensity), and had to settle for 8.20 and I’m guessing this is my top end of aerobic pace.  Wednesday demanded an early start as the trip to Ireland was planned or the afternoon, so I met Rachael for a 7am sea swim – it was cold! I was much slower than Monday partly due to the time of day, and partly due to a few extra waves. I made myself get out and run after the swim, feeling chilly in my Tri suit, but as always once I got going I felt good and enjoyed a 10K run. I decided to pack my running gear for my short visit to Ireland and got up reasonably early, and feeling very, very tired I managed an easy jog/explore around my mum’s home town.  On Friday I had no time to train – and was desk-bound for the day, so I was well-rested for Saturday’s half IM distance bike ride, followed by 40-minute run with the girls from Fitbitch – reminding me how great it is to train with like-minded athletes. And finally, a 33 mile bike ride has finished off the week. Next week it’s countdown to my second half Ironman – my first was Braveheart Ben Nevis – which was very different – so it kind of feels like a first! I have no idea what to expect time-wise – but I don’t think it’ll be fast.

Dream Team

 

Week 17 of 40: Getting out of my comfort zone

Monday April 22nd to Sunday April 29th: out of comfort zone

A few weeks ago I read on an inspirational business-type thing, about the value of getting out of your comfort zone every day. I wrote it down on a post-it and put in my purse – it’s stayed with me!

Yesterday (Sunday) I started to write this post with: 

‘I’m tired! This week’s training has added up to 14 hours… the most I’ve done in some time. But I’m also satisfied. This weekend was all about coming out of my comfort zone. One, to do the Swimathon on Friday night when I was feeling really tired and two to do the Puncher Sportive today, when I still feel under-confident on the bike.’

The Week

Monday: It’s my day off and I’m catching up where I left off yesterday. This is my fourth Monday off in a row. It’s become my routine.  I knew I’d pushed it last week with a FTP bike ride test, a Swimathon and a bike race within three days. In my notes to my coach I said, ‘At the end of the Puncher, I had the sort of tired feeling you have when you feel like going to sleep’, not what I expect when moving! My eyelids were heavy and I think if someone had produced a bed by the side of the road I would have conked out! So, yes, time for a rest. Rest is the time your body recuperates, muscle fibres rejoin (I know that’s not a technical explanation, but they do something), adaptations take place, that help get you fitter. And, as you get older, rest is even more important.

Tuesday:

A mid morning easy run exploring a ‘sort of’ off-road route in the mist (going around in circles on the golf course). I was out of my comfort zone taking turns into the mist and making myself run onto an unknown course.

Wednesday:

I joined Rachael from Girls Run the World for a really nice 630am 20-mile bike ride followed by an easy jog round Preston Park. Cycling still gets me out of my comfort zone. I always feel slightly uneasy about it. I also am not great getting up early and tend to not sleep the night before an early start where I’ve arranged to meet someone.

Doing a Brick session shoes and bike ready

Bricking It

Thursday:

I procrastinated and ended up not running until the end of the day. After been sat at my home office desk (the dinning room) doing accounts all day, the longer I left it, the harder it got to get out the door. Luckily, I had told two people what I had planned to do – I was accountable. So at 6pm, I got myself out the door and, once again, out of my comfort zone. I made a conscious decision to get out of my comfort zone further by going off-road. At that time of day it would be so much easier to head to the seafront. But I ran the 2 miles to the Downs, crossing the busy roundabouts by the A27, running into a field and a dead-end and climbing over a barbed wire fence to get back on track! I forced myself onto an unknown footpath that ran behind some houses and felt slightly uncomfortable about being on my own on unknown territory. And finally, I made myself get to nine miles, running an extra lap in the park at the finish.

Friday:

I was very tired. I struggled to get out of bed for the Bri Tri Club My Ride (Watt bike session) which I knew was the dreaded FTP test. I knew I had to go as places in the session are premium! I told myself the FTP test was probably not a bad option as I would work hard for 4 minutes as opposed to doing repetition intervals. I was delighted to improve my score from 159 to 170, which  divided by my body weight of 56Kg gives me a watts/kg power ratio of 3.06, putting me at the bottom of Cat 3 or Good! By Friday afternoon I was struggling to keep awake at my desk and the idea of swimming 5K in a pool seemed ridiculous. But after taking my daughter who’s learning to drive for an hour long drive I woke up – and when I got home I had no time to think so it was straight to the pool for the Swimathon. I was in a packed lane with slower swimmers at the start. I reasoned this was a good thing as it stopped me going too fast for the first 2K (I was even standing up half way at one point!). Once the pool cleared I got into a rhythm and found I was really enjoying the feeling of flow from just going up and down, length after length. After 4K my lack of swimming showed, with a little bit of cramp, but a drink a stretch and a few lengths not kicking saw it off. I was delighted to swim 1.47 for 5K (it’s on Strava. I did start my watch after the first 25M and I did 5K – although Swimathon gave me 1.54!).

Saturday:

Park run was considered but a lie-in and laze about seemed a far better option, and a recovery jog of just getting out there and moving for 5K was needed.

Sunday:

Today was my biggest step away from comfort. I have a niggling uncomfortable fear of cycling. It was sportive day and the ride (including getting there and back) added up to 5.5 hours long, and 75 miles with some hills, and an average pace of 13.7 mph, including 62.5 miles of the Puncher Sportive. I knew I had to not think too much and just do it. I decided I didn’t want too early a start, and that I’d go it alone. I headed off at 730am with tyres pumped, Garmin Edge charged, Garmin watch on, fuel and drinks on board and in the right clothing on what turned out to be a cold morning.

I was fortunate to find a group from Crawley Wheelers to tag onto for the first half and met some fellow Bri Tri club mates on the second half, but for most of the second half I was alone. I decided to stop thinking (about punctures, rain, etc…) and broke the distance down into sections. With around 10 miles to go I felt, as I said above, very tired. But I got on and got up Ditchling Beacon (for a brief moment I panicked that I may have to go down the Beacon to finish as lots of cyclists who had finished were heading back down. I knew I couldn’t do two Climbs), but as it was, the finish was at the top. I chose not to brick run, 75 miles is my longest run to date and I felt very happy with myself and ready to rest. And ready to go again this week!

 

 

Week 16 of 40: A good week’s tri training

Monday 16th April to Sunday 22nd April

Tri training this week has gone well. And as I sit here typing and trying to remember what I did in a pleasantly aching body, I’m reminded why I love training. I love pushing myself on tough hill climbs on the bike, and running in the heat for 21 miles. I like the feeling of doing the sessions, even if they’re not perfect. I love the heat of the unexpected April sunshine and I love the coldness of the sea (although I was very glad I had my thermal wetsuit, booties, thermal gloves and neoprene hat on and that the only cold I felt was on face, and in my teeth!).

So here’s how the week went. I had a day in London on Monday so used it as my day off, and I was recovering from my 30K (just short) run on Sunday. Recovery is important and  getting the training balance right is all about listening to my body – working hard but not too hard that I can’t train again the next day, and the day after, and for rest of the week.

By Tuesday I was feeling recovered, but not ready to go crazy! So I added in some faster work as part of a run in the park, 4 x 3-330 efforts at between 7.08 and 7.20 pace per mile with one min recovery. I met with coach Dave who reminded me the importance of protein in my diet – something that stayed with me for the rest of the week.

Tackling the Beacon with a migraine

Wednesday was a planned early start, and Tori turned up at my place at 550am. I put a familiar, ‘slightly not right feeling’ down to still being a little tired and the early start, and off we went. We climbed out of town on what felt like a summer’s morning, I felt pleased to be up early, but half an hour later, as we set off down Ditchling Beacon I realised that the sunlight flashing through the trees wasn’t the reason for the flashing lights I could see. And by the time we reached the bottom, I knew I was in the middle of a migraine, to be specific and ovocular migraine (distorted vision, a slightly sick out of it feeling, but not always the headache). I felt shaky and sick and the thought of going up the Beacon again made me think I’d need to get a cab. Not quite sure what to do, I said to Tori, we’ll keep going, but I felt very ropey. We stopped again. Then I rationalised that these migraines normally only last 30-40 minutes, and this could happen in the Ironman. A couple of nurofen, a Cliff Bar shot block and about 20 minutes of faffing and it started to clear… and I’m pleased to say I got up the Beacon (and Tori made up for the faffing by doing the Beacon twice!).

On Thursday I knew had to swim but still feeling a bit tired I  didn’t push it and focussed on  the catch and reminded myself to kick from the hips. Slow but sure. I followed this by a very easy seafront run of seven miles at nine-minute mile pace in the beautiful sunshine. It was just the right amount of training, as I knew My Ride (Spin class) on Friday morning needed energy!

Sure enough the Friday bike session was a good intense workout, with 10 x 40 secs  at 120 per cent of the FTP intensity. I ran there and followed this up with an easy run around the park – not even looking at my watch to register the pace, and being very conscious of again conserving energy for Saturday’s planned workout!

At  8am on Saturday morning I arrived at Tori’s and we drove to leg 11 of the South Down’s Relay which we’re running on June 3rd as members of the Bri Tri team. Leg 11 is my leg and there’s a lot of hills! I loved the run. We ran the two legs, 5.25 out, and back, adding up to 21 miles. After this we had a lot of food then met again for what was my first sea swim of the year. Just 800M but a good start. On Sunday I watched the London Marathon in bed, and tracked people I knew on the app… and I could see the heat was taking a lot of them down, well done everyone. After this it was a 30 mile easy bike ride with Ditchling Beacon at the end.  My training Peaks entry was this:

“Easy ride, on a bit of an unplanned route. Ended up doing a lot downhill but glad to get Ditchling Beacon climb in – was in a ‘I’m never going to like cycling’ mood but Ditchling changed that… don’t like cars, pot holes and time spent for what feels like not much reward, but hills make up for that! Do like hills.”