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!

 

 

 

11 Weeks To Go: Post Broken Collar-bone

The week is a blur of sleepiness, quite a bit of pain around my broken collar-bone, working in my living room, eating junk food and marking little victories on the road to recovery.

As I recover from my second broken collar-bone, and write this blog I’ve discovered my life without training could be very different. For one my routine is gone and not training makes me lethargic. I’m an hour into procrastinating about going for a run. It’s not the injury that’s stopping me. It’s lack of routine, and a bit of tiredness. But I’m making plans and from next week will kick-off with an adapted training plant that will be mind-numbingly boring* and based at the gym.

Pain Threshold Almost Reached

The week started painfully! I couldn’t remember the pain being so intense last time I broke my collar-bone. But if I got in the wrong position it was taking my breath away.  I was on nil by mouth, on stand-by, ready to hot-foot to the hospital for the operation to fix the break. The call came around 845am and I was told the op would be on Tuesday. I was delighted. I hadn’t expected it to be so quick. And I was able to enjoy my morning tea!

The rest of Monday morning was spent drinking coffee in the garden with Chris and trying to get myself into a position where I could type and reply to emails. Ironically, it was easier when I broke my right collar-bone. I only really managed a few emails and wrote the story up for this blog.

 

Ready for the op – clad in green compression to match my top!

After the op – coffee and chocolate before leaving the hospital!

On Tuesday Chris dropped me at the hospital for 730am. I was very glad that I didn’t have to wait another night for the plate. It was all straightforward, and as I posted on Facebook, after the morphine and general anaesthetic, my manic post op babbling in the Recovery Room was all about triathlon. In between laughing a lot I felt 100 per cent sure I was in transition and had the marathon to run, and told the staff what was happening! The woman attending to me found it very funny.

Once I was ‘back in the room’ I drank lots of tea, water, ate half a sandwich and enjoyed the biccies and a Costa Coffee choc-thing on the way out. I tried to concentrate to work, when I got home but was mainly out of it.

Slowly does it!

Wednesday started slowly. I managed a couple of work emails, but the morphine had worn off so I pumped myself full of codeine. Feeling stir-crazy, I had to get out of the house by lunchtime, so decided to go for a walk (with sling). A mile into the walk and I suddenly remembered I had a Tesco shop arriving, so ended up running and even measured the last half a mile for Strava! (11 min mile pace!). A blurry sort of working afternoon followed once I’d put the shopping away.

Energy Levels Up (& Down)

On Thursday I woke up early and managed to get a good four hours work done, then got ready to go to London for a meeting. It seemed energy levels were restored. I managed London and the tube (thankfully off-peak) on the hottest day of the year with my sling and spaced out on codeine/paracetamol and nurofen, and had a great meeting.

In the evening, family came to visit and we had pizza and even a beer and went to bed around 1230am! I decided not to run/walk or do anything as I had walked a fair bit around London.-Friday was a planned day off from work with my cousin Eamonn, his wife Mary and their son Kaiden visiting. Coach Marianne and I met to discuss plans and rehab exercises I’m going to do. I ruled out the next 100-mile TT Race on August 12th! I also had to pull out of a standard and sprint event.

Knowing if I was not self-employed I would have been given a sick-note I enjoyed mooching around the kids splash park, and the amusements – even having a go on the fruit machine – my alter ego, living on the edge in a different way!

Pikey me! What life might be like if I didn’t do triathlon

By Friday night I hit a zombie-like exhaustion. I’d had a whole day of just nurofen and the pain was much better, I had also realised that it helped to ice my sore neck (muscles aching either from the fall or from being in the tuck position on the TT bike!). I had thought I might run in the evening, but not a chance!

Procrastinating before running

So here I am today. Without my usual significant two to three-hour block of training to do, after dropping the kids to work (oh, yes another landmark, driving), I was able to crack on with work and managed to do four hours before picking up my son. And now, after procrastinating on social media, and then choosing to write this to stop procrastinating, I’m putting on my sling and heading out for a run. There really is no excuse and part of my recovery is getting back in the groove.

Mind over matter

Just back from my first proper ‘sling’ run. This is all psychological. I was feeling heavy, lethargic etc. And I was a bit cautious – and that’s how I ran, plodding along at 10.15 pace. But could I have done more today? I The general anaesthetic was on Tuesday and I haven’t had a painkiller today, so I think there’s no accident-related reason for lethargy. I was cautious as I didn’t want to lose my balance (wearing a sling to stop vibrations around the still repairing collar-bone) and fall again, but then I reasoned that I only broke my collar-bone because I flew off my bike, out of my cleats at around 20 mph, I was jogging along today at over 10-minute mile pace. The mind plays a big part in training – but overall I was really pleased to get out today.

Time on my hands!

And so, here I am having finished my weekly update, early. I have found 10 hours this week that would normally be spent training. But the plan tomorrow is to train as normal, starting with a run and I hope to get to the gym for some turbo, too. As I’ve written before I think it’s a good idea to stick to the routine and keep hours to dedicated training when injured, but just do something a little different.

*Boring is good for training the mind in Ironman and I said to Marianne I see turbo training as an opportunity to get some bike strength.

 

 

 

12 week countdown – The week that ended with another broken collarbone

The week: A long trip back from Ireland; working and interviewing; my son’s graduation from Newcastle university; hills on the TT; easy running; some great swim sets; and then falling off my bike at the Sussex CU 100-mile Time Trial and ending up with a broken collarbone. The twists and turns of my Ironman Journey!

A week is a long time in triathlon training! I finished last week’s blog on Monday as the boat pulled into Fishguard. We’d got up at 630am and were by home by 630pm, and I was determined to start the week with training and have no more days off so we headed out for a three and a half mile run, which I described on Strava as ‘sore legs, grumpy, tired’ – but I was glad I had done it.

On Tuesday I was up at 630am for a bike ride with Rachael and Catherine, I was still post-half IM weary and a bit behind the girls, and somehow managed to not attach my Garmin Edge properly so it flew off onto the grass verge! Another first on the TT, I managed to climb the hill to Devil’s Dyke – a demon dealt with but more bike demons to come!

On Wednesday I met Tori for a run. A fellow endurance woman, she had got up at 430am to go for a pre-run sea swim, I’d been tempted, but I knew I was too tired. We had a fantastic seafront easy 11.3 mile run and injected some pace from just beyond the pier, keeping around about 7.40 pace for just short of two miles. In the afternoon I went to the pool and was pleased to tick off my 3150M swim set, 5 x 400 varying paces, with 150 using paddles, and 200 warm up and cool down. After this I was tired!

Early starts and Spa

On Thursday I had 530am start and very slow 10K jog, then a trip to Newcastle for my son’s graduation (2.1 in History and Politics from Newcastle University – proud mother moment!). Again, I was tried but managed to keep going til 1230am. I had decided to let myself lie in at the hotel but did think I might run, but as it was I took the planned day off, other than swimming two lengths under water and racing Ciara my 17 year old daughter in the  10M ‘spa’ pool (she won)…. it’s a thing we like to do at a relaxing spa!

On Saturday, back in Brighton, it was the perfect day for a pre-race long swim. I met with Tori and two new friends and after much faffing with parking on my part we got in. One with a hangover, one sans wetsuit, me faffed… and off we went, once in the water we were flowing brilliantly, and we were all a similar pace – synchronised swimmers. It was a beautiful swim that covered the entire IM distance, including going quite far out and joining a group of stand up paddle boarders, around the West Pier. Thanks to Nicki for the fantastic pictures!

TIME TRIAL COURSE – G100/61: the next demon

I signed up for the  Southern Counties CU 100-mile Time Trial and had a sense trepidation and gut feeling that maybe it wasn’t right for me – or was that fear? I knew this was going to be way out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to try out the TT bike on a long ride, and to do the distance in race conditions without chats and stops for coffee. I did lots of research* but couldn’t get the course to download onto Garmin Edge (note if you’re doing it and find this I have a the course on Strava). Having spoken to the organiser I thought I could just make the cut off of six hours and decided that if I had to be pulled out /timing stop at 80 miles I could just add on the extra 20 myself. But having the time pressure was the thing that made me feel nervous about the whole event which had just 40 fast riders on the start sheet. I’d checked out results and knew I’d be last.

Another worry was that I’d be knackered, but I was really pleased when I woke up at 430am to feel fine. Chris and Tori decided to join me and do some laps, as well as manning the ‘fuel’ stop.

I had that feeling of being part of a different tribe at the start: lots of pointy helmets, and disc wheels, aero shoes and long socks! As I said I was out of my comfort zone and although I was vocalising how nervous I felt, I also had a knowing that as always I was actually fine, and I believed I would complete it and reminded myself how good that would feel. I followed the example of a woman ahead of me and chose not bother with the push off start. I didn’t think it would make much difference to me.

As expected the aero-dynamically dressed riders behind me soon overtook, but I was happy with the ride, and relaxed and the course which I’d been told was ‘horrific’ wasn’t at all bad, undulating and an A road, but with great weather and relatively empty roads, all was good. After two hours I had settled in to the pace of 17.5mph. I reckoned I was now last on the lap but didn’t mind and as I started the second lap I was confident I’d keep the pace for the whole distance which would get me comfortably under six hours. I felt good in the tuck position and started to relax thinking how good this was for Barcelona, and for practising nutrition etc… I managed to eat a cliff bar and drink. I was needing the loo and try as I might I have yet to master going on the bike! But I decided to wait until I had done three hours at 17.5mph before stopping.

Chris had leant me his aero helmet and it kept sliding to the front. It was large and I have a big head – but not hat big! I hadn’t put the visor down because I wanted to see where I was going on the first lap, but when I fly hit my eyeball I knew when the loo stop happened the visor would go down. I did decide adjusting the back dial to stop it sliding to the front was important and managed to get it fitting properly on the move. Thanks goodness I did!


Being new on the TT bike I was making sure I concentrated and didn’t get lost in working out sums about pace. I took care over potholes, and focussed ahead, but for what must have been seconds, I lost my concentration. As I headed down the A283 towards the  left turn I realised I’d over-reached. I saw the two yellow jackets of the  time-keepers who were pointing left and in a split second decided to try to take the corner, in the next split I knew I wasn’t going to make it and was now out of control, and fearful of what I might hit if I went too wide, in what was left of the second I made a decision to head for the grass (and the two timekeepers). I hadn’t see the gravel on the road, or the kerb, and of course it was all too late! Over the handlebars I went landing on my left side. The pain didn’t kick in at first but I instantly knew this wasn’t ‘a get back on my bike’ situation. I lay head down lamenting the fact that I was out of Barcelona, that I’ve spent so much money on it: race entry, travel, flights, reccey trip, new bike, coaching, new gym new clothes! On top of that there’s all the training and progress made. As I lay there one of the time-keepers asked if my collarbone was okay and I said, yes fine.  A few seconds later I moved and the pain kicked in. Ah, no it wasn’t okay! I knew it was broken having broken the right side back in December. I asked the guys to call an ambulance. I had some confusion at first wondering when I had broken my other collarbone – I couldn’t remember. But soon after I felt (relatively) normal. The paramedics could see straight way it was broken.

So, that’s it. I’m off for the operation tomorrow for another plate, completing the full Metal jacket! My ironman journey isn’t going to be as smooth as I hoped, but as someone on social media and my very wise 17 year old daughter simply said, everything happens for a reason.

Next steps

The positives are, that Chris is going to lend me his turbo, and I think I might get bike strong using that. I will get to run again, last time I ran after three days. My swimming had improved but that is obviously the biggest worry with just 11 weeks to go to Barcelona it’s going to be hard to get that back.

Patience is not one of my virtues, so it may be that I have to learn to have some, hold back and not push so hard? I’m inspired by Tim Don who came back to victory six months after breaking his neck, and Chrissie Wellington who was back on her turbo a day after breaking her collar bone but as a friend reminded me, we have very different lives and priorities. Setbacks will bring interesting lessons. I look forward to seeing what unravels.

 

*Check out this report: https://ridewriterepeat.com/2015/07/26/100-mile-time-trial-doing-things-i-thought-i-couldnt/

13 weeks to go – The Galway Tribesman Middle Distance Tri

This week I had a lower volume week & raced The Galway Middle Distance Tribesman Triathlon.

Wednesday 11th

I’m writing this before we go. I’ve done my pre-Galway training now. I’m working with a new coach, Marianne.  She helped get four other triathletes cross the finish line in Nice, I’ll be talking to them very soon. Watch this space.

So this week started, dare it I say it, with me feeling knackered – again! This time it was because I’d just done 85 miles on the bike. So on Monday I just managed a swim set, which was 2.2K and sets of 300s. On Tuesday I met my friend Tori and hit the Velodrome which I’m very fortunate to live less than five minutes from. I’ve not really used it before so it took a while to get going but an hour spinning round was a good session – just got to get round one lap in under a minute next time! After this we did a very gentle 3.5 mile jog round the park. Today (Wednesday 11th) My HRV app was showing I was tired – I knew I was but good to have it confirmed. I decided I had to complete my Watt Bike and swim set, tired or not. I’m still struggling to get the RPM up on the Watt bike but with a very low/no gear I can manage 85 to 95! After an hour on the bike, my legs were like led for the first 200M of the swim, but I soon settled into an easy pace and completed 3.5K in the pool.

Monday 16th July – looking back on the week

So the week had less hours of training overall than previous weeks,  and two days off, but obviously there as a little more quality as I raced a middle distance triathlon.  I broke a 31-day run of no days off – with triathlon, I feel I need less rest and recovery than with straight running, so a total day off isn’t always necessary, just less intensity and a mixing up the activities seems to offer recovery. Mentally, however, whether swimming easy, or running hard, it may sometimes work to have that day off, especially before and after racing.

 

On Thursday I travelled to Ireland on the boat, so a very early start and packing put paid to any training and I was glad I had scheduled a day’s rest.

On Friday we managed an easy run on the seafront in Galway reviving a lot of childhood memories of stop-offs at Salthill with its 40ft diving board into the sea (it was in fact about 15 to 20ft but it was firmly etched in my childhood memory as being 40ft).

Close to the edge? Well not quite!

As a young girl (who loved to dive off the top board at home) I’d always wanted to dive off but mum and dad hadn’t allowed me (not surprising when I stood up there). My cousin did remind me I had jumped from it on a hungover morning in my 20s (but I couldn’t remember that!).

It was on Friday morning that I’d realised my Garmin 920 XT had limited battery, that the race was in fact on Saturday not Sunday as we’d somehow told ourselves, and after some panic and a few calls I realised I was actually entered in the race (I just hadn’t received the confirmation email). It was a blessing in disguise, when you come to race, you come to race, so another day mooching round the shops and seafront wasn’t needed. After our bike ride we drove the bike course. After the boat journey and early starts I was dropping off as we drove along the windy and roads through beautiful Connemara. I had that real sense of the distance. Weirdly it seems longer in the car than on the bike to me!

The Galway Middle Distance Tribesman Triathlon

Before we’d left I’d said to Chris we’d better double-check whether we should be packing our TT bikes, but as the website had declared it wasn’t a course for PBs and to look out for the big hill between 40 and 50K we’d opted for road bikes. As it goes there was no giant hill, and the undulating course was well-suited to TT bikes.

The swim in the River Corrib, was perfect. I decided to do exactly as Marianne had advised, stay relaxed, practise drafting and sighting. It worked, I had a great swim for me, and was delighted to see quite a few bikes when I got out of the water – and for the first time ever, I was out the same time as Chris. Even though I’m still a slow swimmer, I’m really pleased that now I don’t think what’s lurking beneath the weeds, or panic, or try to get away from other swimmers (clearly not a good strategy). Now it’s all about staying relaxed, enjoying the stretch out, focusing on who to follow and making sure I’m not swimming too far off target!

On the bike things changed, and as TT bike after TT bike whizzed past me, I was cursing about not bringing the TT bike. This was race-head irrationality, it really wouldn’t have made that much difference, these cyclists were all men and all faster than me, whatever bike they were on! And as it goes the wind further up the course may have thrown me a little on the TT bike.

As we approached half-way, I started to get a bit of a sinking feeling as I counted how many were ahead of me. By the time I reached 40 I was seeing quite a few women – I thought around eight to 10. I estimated I was in the bottom third now (haven’t double checked yet but reckon I wasn’t far wrong). The rain and wind picked up on the way back, and there were a few stops for traffic, but overall it was a great bike course, undulating, great roads, and when I did look up and peer through the mist and spray, stunning scenery. Having run the course in the Connemara half, marathon and ultra, these were roads I was familiar with, but on the bike they didn’t seem quite as tough!

My Mad Race Head

My main aim on the run was to catch the women who I’d seen 20-plus minutes ahead of me! A typically unrealistic race mentality. Even though my running is in my running eyes pretty poor, by triathlete standards I’m still okay, especially when compared to the bike, so I managed to work my way through the runners, only overtaken twice by two faster men, one of whom I reckon was a lap ahead anyway! I like laps and aimed as I did at Swashbuckler to keep my pace at 8 min mile. Around halfway the low battery sign popped up so I couldn’t see the pace which I knew was flagging. My race head – which I do watch and find amusing as it chats away to me in races – said two things, one not being able to see the pace was the reason I was slowing down and then the other part of my head was telling me, it’s  a good thing you can’t see the pace slowing down, or you’d slow down more! As for catching women, I only managed to catch up with one, and women who I thought were ahead of me where behind me, the woman I thought was leading was in fact fourth (she must have wondered why I was so enthusiastic in my well dones as she’d passed me).

Through the whole race I didn’t look at my watch to see what the overall time was but on the last lap I spotted five something and wondered if I might crack 5.30. As it was I came in on my watch in 5.31 an on the clock in 5.32. According to the first set of results I was first V50 and sixth woman. After checking splits and chatting to Chris (who’d finished in 5.18) I felt satisfied that progress has been made, and allowed myself a little celebration – a couple of glasses of Guinness and a lot of food! The boat’s pulling into the harbour as I type. The week ahead includes another trip to my son’s graduation, but once again  it’s all about getting back on it and being psyched up for the 12-week countdown to Barcelona.

 

14 Weeks To Go – Glorious sea swim, 85 miles on the bike and dealing with being tired all the time!

The week started as it finished – me feeling tired. I think part of Ironman training is expecting to feel tired all the time, but… I love it!

I started a new gym membership and on Monday evening had a swim in the pool.  I ran out of time to finish the planned session, so had to settle with just short of 2K. On Tuesday I ran and followed my prescribed plan of doing 15 minutes easy, 15 minutes medium pace, and 15 minutes harder. I found my harder pace was actually my previous slow pace – a little alarming, but I know not to worry about my slowing running form! After the run I quickly got ready and took the train to London for a press event about Sugar, held at the Ivy. I’m enjoying my non-drinking now, and found it easy to resist the lovely wines on offer.

Watt Bike and FTP

On Wednesday, I did a planned 20K session on the Watt Bike at the gym in the (late) morning and a 3.2K swim with sets of alternate 200s with the pull body and then a set of 50s to finish up. The Watt Bike test gave me an idea of my Functional Threshold Pace. I’ve done this test on a My Ride bike and scored 170.  More on this to come!

 

 

On the Move

On Thursday I was tired (again) and went from bed to a hygienist appointment within 1- minutes (reminded again how important it is to floss – no matter how time-pressed we are). I then forced myself to do my planned longer run of 11 miles. It was hot so I ran uphill onto a route that took me through the woods and kept me cool. The pace was super slow which I would have chosen to do, but today I couldn’t have gone any faster! I was feeling it. The day was a hectic one, and due to a Southern Rail signal failure and advice not to travel on the trains I decided to drive to London to attend a Driven Woman Lifework Workshop Introduction session (in preparation for my own intro sessions coming to Brighton on 20th September). Driving in and out of central London in the heat required my endurance skills and stamina, I finally hit the pillow at 1am.

Heart Rate Variability

On Friday I was still battling tiredness. I noticed by Heart Rate Variability (more to come on this too) app had advised me to ease off on intensity three days in a row. But an article on HRV explained that it can be affected by hormonal changes and given where I was in my cycle I went with that. By Friday I was back to ‘normal’ levels but after an early start to work and not much sleep, the lunchtime session of Watt Bike followed by three mile bric run was hard, hard, hard… I did contemplate not finishing the planned Watt Bike session, and felt like I was crawling on the run in the midday heat, but, I was pleased to tick another session off, and after a brainstorm for my coaching business session in the afternoon I allowed myself a beer and some nachos on Friday night.

Check out the HRV4 Training app – great for an insight into your ticker, the ultimate training advisor

Palace to Paddle Swim

Friday was another late night so on Saturday morning the temptation to stay in bed and not do the swim was almost overwhelming, but as I was meeting Chris there was no turning back, so once again I was out of bed and into my Cassie and wetsuit, feeling a bit delirious with tiredness.

But I was so glad I didn’t miss the swim. It was a really beautiful morning Brighton and conditions were perfect for Brighton Tri Club’s Palace to the Paddle swim. The current was with us so although I’m still in the slower end of the swim I was happy with my result – and at how far I’ve come with open water swimming. When I started I was fearful, and panicky and my imagination ran riot, on Saturday I was totally in the flow.   The amazing weather continued and Brighton was full-on holiday resort. I had another dip without the wetsuit and totalled 3K sea swimming for the day.

palace to paddle 2.5K swim hosted by Brighton Tri Club

Long bike ride

On Sunday I was up at 7am and out the door by 733am (yes that precise!)  to cycle to Eastbourne to watch Chris in the Eastbourne 10K put on by my running friends Sue Fry and Liz Lumber in support of  Autism Sussex. Another scorching hot day for the runners, but just perfect on the bike. Chris and I had some croissants and coffee after the race then headed off from Eastbourne to Rye for some bike miles in the heat – 85 in total.

https://eastbourne10km.wordpress.com

Well done Sue and Liz for putting on the Eastbourne 10K sporting autism

Another week of Tri Training is done. I’m trying not to panic about the lack of running – but I can’t deny I still do have irrational moments where I worry that I’ll never be a proper runner again. However, I also have to keep reminding myself that this is not a marathon it’s an Ironman.

Oh and I’ve been topping up my glorious tan!

Top Tan!

 

 

15 Weeks To Go – Some firsts: 3K in the sea and cycling 52 miles on a Time Trial Bike

This week was heatwave week… and I love it! It was also the week I got my Time Trial bike and rode it for the first time  and swam 3K in the sea. (Oh and ref the heatwave, here’s a piece I wrote for Women’s Running on hydration).

Back to my week! On Monday I ran a very easy seafront 10K  in the evening, on Tuesday I went out on my bike for a short but hilly loop (the Ditchling!) and on Wednesday I loved getting into the sea and swimming 3K, my goal for the week. I took Wednesday morning off as I went to the Tri Store in Eastbourne to pick up my new toy – a Cervelo P2 time trial bike. Yikes! Another ‘investment’ in triathlon and one I’m going to have to get used to quick!

Heart Rate Variability

On Thursday I was feeling tired. I measure my Heart Rate and it’s variability daily now, using the app, HRV for training. The very simplified explanation is that it gives a bit more feedback than heart rate alone as it measures the gaps between the beats, which is a better measure of how rested/stressed you are! Yesterday it was clear that I needed to take it easy, as my score was lower than other days and the suggestion was to lower the intensity. So that’s what I did. I worked from 8am to 630pm in my garden dressed in running gear (I had intended to do a long run – but really was just too tired) and I contemplated a day off as the day dragged on. But looking at my new investment in the hallway I decided to go across to the veoldrome in Preston Park and try out my bike.

First time on the Time Trial Bike

I chose the right time to get out on the bike, as the football was on and the roads were very quiet. So after the Velodrome I hit the roads, and spent an hour on the bike, getting used to the tuck position, gear changes, brakes and having a lot less power going up the hills. I’m not sure if it’ll make me ride faster just yet, I think I need to get a bit better at cycling on the thing, but it’s great to feel I have the right equipment for the flat course at Barcelona. On advice from a fellow Bri Tri member on our Facebook page, I entered two 100 mile time trials in July and August and I’m now feel panicky!

The rest of the week

On Friday I joined the Bri Tri My Ride session which was 2 sets of 12 x 60 seconds split as 40 seconds in the red (hard) and 20 easy. I followed this hard session with a 10 mile run through the woods. I felt good after my easier Thursday but was back to feeling tired again on Friday night! On Saturday Chris and I headed out for a long ride on the TT bikes. We had a vague idea of the route but as I haven’t worked out how to attach my Garmin Edge to the TT bike yet, we were using the phone and stopping – a lot. Luckily, Chris is much faster than me so he was able to check the phone whilst waiting for me to catch up. The unplanned route was great and I managed to get on the bars for most of it, but with an hour’s lunch thrown in we were out most of the day so there was no time for any other training as we’d been out (in the very hot sun) for five and a half hours (cycled for 3’40).

Being out on Saturday night meant not getting to bed until 2am, and so I had a bit of a lie in on Sunday. I headed to the beach where the sun was blazing and ordinary people (i.e. those who don’t spend their entire weekend training) were lazing about drinking beers, having bbqs and relaxing in the heatwave. I zipped on my wetsuit, left my gear with the lifeguard, strapped on my ‘Be safe. Be seen (by the million jet skiers)’ orange inflatable and headed out – annoyingly, without my Garmin! (GRRR) As I was about to get in a guy said to me the current is very strong. He wasn’t wrong. The tide was turning and it felt as if I was stationery for the first 30 minutes. I think I covered the same distance back in less than 10! But without a Garmin it was all guesswork. I guessed (possibly being generous) that I’d covered 1500M – I will go back to measure it!

So that’s another week done. I didn’t hit my new baseline for IM of 15 hours but did manage to clock 13’35 hours. And again another week has started… Training continues, one session at a time – each one gets me closer to achieving my goal of completing an Ironman at 50!

#HeatWave Crash when you can

 

16 weeks to go –– The 15-hour Ironman Training Week

Last week I said “If I manage to do it all, I’ll be clocking between 15 and 20 hours a week (like another job!).” This week I managed to hit the magic 15 hours, a new baseline for IM. And when I looked back I realised I’ve averaged 11 hours a week, for the previous 15 weeks, so despite my three week blip (when I raced a half Ironman, went on holiday, ran in the South Downs Relay and raced a sprint – then got ill), I’m on track with training and feeling good (if a little tired at times).

I started the week tired (again!) but finally rid of sore throats, cold sores, and migraines and back in normal good health.

On Monday I cycled to the office for an extra bit of time on the bike! I ran slowly in the evening as I was feeling a bit tired after Sunday’s long run. On Tuesday I had a shorter working day, and therefore less training time, and managed quick run to and from spin.  The shorter day was because I was fortunate enough to have a ticket to see Ed Sheeran singing and talking with Dermot O’Leary in the intimate setting of the London Irish Centre. The celeb-studded night finished at 1am and I drove home getting to bed at 330am.

I gave myself a self-employed lie-in til 9am and managed to train on the bike in the evening. On Thursday I was back on it! I joined Rachel and Caroline for a 2K swim at Pell’s open air pool on the summer solstice and ran back the 13 miles over the Downs home – then headed up to London in the night for a Driven Woman meeting and a dinner in Soho.

The Glorious Downs

On Friday I swam in the sea and cycled wearily in the evening and on Saturday I did the full three: swim, run, cycle… and Sunday was a swim and a cycle. I didn’t get out for a long ride but I did hit over 100 miles on the bike, and I swam three times and ran four times.

What you see when you’re cycling: World Cup

All in all a good week’s training. And a slightly boring blog post – because the reality is that Ironman training is quite boring when you do it properly. The key thing is to get out and do it all again the following week. And that’s what I’ve done. I’m now on day two of the 15 week countdown and have managed a run and a bike so far. We have a heatwave in the UK and I’m writing this blog outside. It’s very easy to forget just how much easier, running, swimming and cycling is in great weather! But, no iced cold beers for me with all this training going on… make mine an Erdinger!

Erdinger Massive: Alc-Free for me!

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!