10 Things to Tell You About Ironman Training (4-weeks to go)

This week (September 10th to September 16th 2018)  I wanted to tell you about Ironman training and share some surprises,  some facts, and some lessons I’ve learnt over the last seven days from a typical week of Ironman Training…

1. Your immune system gets… confused

I mentioned in last week’s post that I was flagging and on Lemsip-alert, a familiar feeling from my marathon running days. On the day we left for Barcelona, I had the achy, slightly shivery, tired feeling, familiar with the onset of a cold, or as I’ve come to recognise over years of endurance training, a slight imbalance, a tip over the edge, familiar when I train harder. It lingered in Barcleona, but I managed to train. For a week I’d wake up thinking, there’s no way I’ll train today, then I’d be fine, then ill, then fine. (I’m pleased to report I’m currently fine!)

2. Tired all the time (TAT)

I’ve been so tired this week. I had two days off, one for travel, one for exhaustion. I ran on Wednesday night, but it was more like crawling at the end, I could barely put one foot in front of the other, and my body felt like lead I was clocking 11 minute miles and just willing myself to get home. This was closely linked to the point above. But, as I know these feelings pass. By Sunday 9-minute miles for 16 felt totally fine after a bike ride and a big training day on Saturday.

3. Welcome a Rollercoaster of emotions

Ironman training makes me happy, and it makes me sad, angry and chilled, competitive and couldn’t give a sh**e (more of the latter as the weeks have gone by – it’s really about finishing now). Like my immune system my emotional barometer is on freefall one day and the sun is shining the next. No it’s not the menopause – it really is training. One session I’m screaming venom about cycling thinking of nothing but impending doom and going over the handlebars; the next session I’m loving the feeling of the smooth roads, and the sunshine and enjoying that Autumnal feeling of expectation and excitement being just round the corner.

4. It takes up the whole bloody weekend

I’m getting to the point of longing for a Saturday morning when I do a park run, have a croissant and a coffee – and have time to clean the house – and even doing the washing! And maybe even go shopping for winter clothes… I’m getting carried away now. After all, I’ve spent all my money on… whiskey and beer? diamonds and pearls? No – on bikes, races, training, tools, gas canisters, socks, butt shield (yep), nutrition, and lock laces.

5. Enough Already?

You know the 2018 life-coach/counsellor/guru mantra, ‘You are enough’. But with Ironman training, I can sometimes feel like I’m just not doing enough, damn it! There’s always someone knocking out 17, 20, 30 hours a week, as well as working full-time, rustling up whole-food wonders on instagram, and being successful in minimalist and immaculate homes. Meanwhile I rush in and swig a lager (followed by an Erdinger) and hungrily scoff a bag or two of marmite crisps. The dreaded Social media can give you the comparison-wobbles – but as I know, only if you let it! The truth is, enough is really enough… more isn’t always better, and we are all different. Different lives, families, work and different bodies and capabilities. And no one really cares anyway.

6. It makes you hungry, ‘hangry’ & not hungry all in one day!

After a weekend training and surviving for hours on bloks and drinks, Mondays are usually ‘eating all day’ day. On Saturday morning I ate a bagel and a banana and was out the door by 830am and didn’t finish training until about 530pm. The session was a bike ride with a coffee/half a bacon sarnie stop, some protein bars, and a hydration drink; this was followed by a 10K run, with some pre-run chocolate, and then Cliff bar bloks; then a sea swim. We were hungry and talked about food all through training, and quickly consumed post-training coffee and cake, then crisps and a beer and prawn crackers. By the time it came to eating the ‘proper meal’ at around 9pm I didn’t know if I was hungry or not, and only managed half my rice and chicken. The following day on the short ride/long run we ate blocks and drank water from the public toilet taps (forgot the camelback). We ravenously ate M&S egg and tomato sandwiches and crisps, snacked more on chocolate. I fluctuated between starving and too tired to feel hungry. I ordered a pizza, it didn’t arrive, again by the time it did come (without cheese horror) I was eating for the sake of it.  Monday is eating day!

7. It’s a great way to end the week

When the long swim, the long ride and the long bike are complete, the feeling is one of accomplishment. The messy house, the sunburnt nose, and wild hair, the very tardy nails and exhaustion don’t matter. I’m starting to feel fitter.

8. It includes a lot of cycling

I knew doing an Ironman was going to include a lot of cycling. I hadn’t appreciated how much – and how six hours on the bike was going to impact on my social life! I haven’t done enough (but enough for me – see point five). I’ve broken two collarbones, I’ve loathed the bike, and loved it, and I’ve learnt loads about the roads and good/bad driving. I read somewhere that an Ironman is bike race with a swim and a run added on. I tend to agree.

9. Marathons will never be the same again

As anyone who has read my blog will know, I love running. But, my body was starting to give me warning signs, more niggles, stiffness, aches and pains. I would run 50-70 miles per week and always tried to do 60 miles a week for six weeks before tapering for three weeks. For the Ironman I’ve done about 25 miles a week. I will never complain about a long run again, six hours on a bike is a lot harder than three hours on the run (I think mainly because I’m not very patient). Is a marathon going to seem easy after this? One thing is for sure my body is thanking me. Swimming strengthens the core and keeps me flexible, and it’s good for the mind and soul. Cycling makes me strong. On Saturday I did feel strong running. The triathletes were right, cycling does help your running (well, I’ll have to see what I do park run in come November).

10. I’ll miss Ironman training when it’s gone…

With all my moaning and groaning, my anxiety and negativity (there’s been a lot), I have also had an equal measure of loving it – all. I’m proud of myself for getting back on the bike and learning two new sports. I’m now part of Zwift and wear long lycra shorts – I’ve even got a ‘twat hat’, and I wake up on Monday morning with bike oil on my legs! Bring it on… well almost, it’s an Ironman, I’m not tapering yet, there’s another week of hard training to go before that happens.

 

Five weeks to go: Recce Trip to Barcelona

The race is getting closer and it seemed the right time to check out the Barcelona Ironman Course with a bike route recce.

I left off last week’s post having already started the five-week countdown with a long swim and bike session, then a day off on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I worked hard all day and then finished the day off with a Zwift session of 1:45. On Thursday morning I hit the park for a pre-travel day set of intervals, ran at what was not a slower than usual pace, but it was better than just running slow. The journey to Barcelona was long! BA had a number of issues, so we spent six hours at Gatwick getting on and off the plane, and didn’t arrive at our hotel in Barcelona until 2am.  It was actually quite relaxing at the airport. I had a slightly ill feeling and enjoyed just zoning out, and I managed to finally get to read Chrissie Wellington’s, Life Without Limits (inspiring!).

We had a lovely lazy beach day on Friday, and then having mustered up some energy got into the sea for a planned 3K swim, I heard the announcement that the water quality wasn’t good today and that the yellow flags meant that you swam with caution. I didn’t really think much of it, until Chris stopped and pointed out a dead bird. He swam over to investigate, but soon realised that it wasn’t a bird. It was a rat, and there was another one close by. I’ll be honest, I wimped out and swam straight back to shore after just 650M! Later we saw more rats washed up onto the shore. I spoke to the lifeguard who explained that the problem was that there had been a big storm the day before (the same thing happened in Brighton back in the summer). She expected the sea to be rat-free in a couple of days.

Rats in the sea

That night as the rain lashed down, lightening struck and thunder clapped, we agreed that rats might be making a comeback. After some red wine and a late dinner, we were still optimistic we’d do the long bike ride and run in the morning.

Saturday started a little slower than planned, the travelling, the lateish night, and for me, just being tired, meant it was hard to get going. We went for a beach breakfast first, and finally set off on the ride around 11. But things didn’t start well. We hit a cycle path that was overcrowded, soon after Chris got a puncture, then a second puncture. The C02 canisters weren’t working so we had to back-track to Decathlon. Chris is a much faster cyclist than me and we were both tired now. I suggested he go off and do the bike ride work out the course and I do a run. It worked!

Tweaking the plan (again!)

I headed off through a hot, humid and very crowded Barcelona seafront, combing sightseeing with slow running. Chris worked out the route on the pre-recce recce, and did one lap, out and back (57 miles).

Barcelona sightseeing run

On Saturday we ordered room service and watched Netflix. We had a good sleep and even though we didn’t exactly bounce out of bed when dawn broke, we were on the road by 10, both ready to complete as much of the 2.5 lap course as we could.

The course is, as we were told, flat. There are obviously a few minor inclines as you go in and out of the various seafront towns along the N11 route. A fairly busy dual carriageway at first felt daunting, but I soon noticed how courteous  Catalonian drivers are. It seems Barcelona is made for bikes, as well as bike lanes in and out of town, there are instructions for drivers to allow 1.5M for cyclists. And there are lots of cyclists going in both directions. We took it very steady, stopped for brunch in Callela (where the race starts and finishes) and then stopped for coffee near the finish. All along the course I was tracking my friend Tori and her girlfriend, and a friend from Eastbourne, as they took on Ironman Wales – and knowing we were all cycling together in real time I was inspired by their valiant efforts. For me the day was just about completing most of the course (100 miles) and saying goodbye to my bike demons and getting used to the tuck position, all of which I managed.

Bric and Trip

We headed out for a short 5K seafront bric run when we got back. I managed to trip up as soon as we were out the door on a small hump at the children’s playground, the bit where the kids land off the slide. I thudded down hard and hit my right shoulder (my broken collarbone side). After a check to see if I had knocked the plate or to check if a screw was sticking up, we started running again. I felt totally fine doing 5K and could have done the hour, but we agreed it was time to eat.  By the time we’d showered, changed, scoffed some crisps and found a restaurant it was 10pm. But the food was worth the wait. A short cab journey had taken us to a lovely burger bar.

Down but not out (again!)

 

And relax…

Start of the four-week countdown

Monday morning started in Barcelona.  I looked out of the hotel window from the 13th floor, and saw a slightly less manic city start to London or Brighton, and lots of cyclists! We managed a seven-mile easy run, with a little bit of pace at the end. It was the final session of our recce trip. We considered swimming but now there was a brown foam, as well as yellow flags, so we decided to have some holiday time instead.  We walked another five or six miles, meandering our way into the gothic part of town, into churches and shops and stopping for tapas, juice, more tapas. Again, with a quick google search, we found a gem of a restaurant for dinner, Canate. We waited an hour for a table and drank red wine, observing a constant flow of people, some with reservations, some not.  But it was worth the wait, and after five or six tapas dishes and the best tiramasu I’ve tasted, we headed back to the hotel waited and ready to pack up bikes and suitcases.

Keep consistent and keep going

I’m now home and at the start of four weeks to go. Today marks another day off as I’ve travelled, washed and unpacked. My shoulder is now stiff and achy but I’m hoping it will ease off – swimming will be interesting. The plan for the week ahead includes these core sessions:  swim/bike/run bric at the gym; bike 5.5-6 hrs steady pace throughout but last 15 mins of every hour slightly overgeared + bric run 60 mins easy pace; long open-water sea swim. It’s not time to taper just yet, it is time to continue and be consistent.

 

Six weeks to go: Endurance, Cyclists’ Hand Palsy, lost Garmin and other fun!

End of the summer (but not the sun – or the endurance)… Monday 27th August–Tuesday 4th September (& that’s taken me into the final countdown!)

The week:
Six weeks to go and with the shoulder healed, I’ve been able to train properly – and that’s meant, I’ve been knackered as I continue to test my endurance, and my mettle!
On Bank Holiday Monday I was at my sister’s house and nipped out pre-party for a 3.1K in the local pool.  I hadn’t planned the session, so decided to try and work on breathing on my left side. Not only is this my now slightly less mobile side, it’s also a side I don’t use when breathing! So I made myself do a length of breathing on the left, a length on the right, and then mixed up the breathing (every three, four, five, six, and seven strokes), and then tried kicking hard on every fourth length. It helped pass the time.
On Tuesday I was supposed to ride two hours easy outside, but got too into work (after four days off) and opted for the Turbo at 8pm! I managed 1’20 on Zwift.
On Wednesday I felt tired but made myself go through the motions on the turbo (inside as it was raining), then a bric run with some ‘fartlek’, 10 laps lasting between 34 seconds and three minutes! I managed 45 seconds at 6 min mile pace – a short-term goal is to get back under six for those shorter reps.
By Thursday with a Turbo session and long two-hour bric run planned, I had to dig in mentally. I decided not to get up super-early. Being self-employed, I can structure my day how I like, and work later in the day – which I did, and stayed awake! Friday was a lovely long sea swim of 2.1K,  by myself, and then Saturday was the big bike ride…

The Big Bike Ride

The plan was a big endurance session, 4.5 to 5 hours on the  bike a 20-30 min bric run and I had hoped to do a swim too, (but ran out of time for that).  I was tense from the off, still feeling nervous (visions of being flung over the handlebars) about the TT bike and long rides, as well as tired. But I decided to grin and bear it, and just do it.
One thing that was bothering was the time it takes to do a long ride. I’m very inpatient and hate wasting time. I’m also a slow cyclist and the idea of being out all day didn’t feel me with glee, especially as I had to drive to Watford for a big family do straight after. As Marianne reminded me after, ‘if you are tense and rigid on the bike it is really hard to pedal fluidly and efficiently. ‘
Early into the ride, as we headed out of Brighton I looked down to check my pace, I was feeling more relaxed and pedalling well at this point. No Garmin Edge! I rode to catch up Chris and we spent the next half hour looking in vain for the missing gadget.
This was a 50th birthday present from my family. Losing it, and time, sent me into a negative spiral. A meltdown of industrial-sized freezer with door left open all night proportions kicked in. I told Chris, ‘I f**kin hate cycling and I’m not doing the Ironman.’  He suggested going back and trying out the turbo, and then when I started to calm down reminded me it’s called Ironman for a reason. I pulled myself together and off we went at a reasonable pace.
In gritting my teeth and just doing it I think I’d tensed up my entire upper body. On the downhills I kept my right hand held onto the bars and my left arm in TT tuck position. I’m quick to recover from bad moods and broken bones, but I hadn’t noticed that I was still holding the tension in my body!
After the ride I managed a 2.5 mile bric (how am I going to do a marathon?) and more searching for the lost Garmin, then I was in and out and on the M25 for a long car journey up to London.  A brilliant family do with dancing followed and I got to bed at 3am. It wasn’t difficult to take Sunday off!

Five weeks to go

At the start of this week I was understandably tired. Sleep-deprived I still woke up at 5am and got on with Monday. Training was good, a 4.1K swim, followed by an hour on the Watt bike. However, I noticed in the pool that my right hand which had been feeling a bit numb and tingly now had a renegade little finger, which wouldn’t move back and join the rest of the hand, making my swim interesting.
A bit of googling and I found exactly what I had – cycling hand palsy. It can be down to bad set up of the bike, but as I had a professional fit, I believe it’s because of bad posture and positioning due to my tension. I said to coach Marianne that I think the wavy finger is symbolic – reminding me that I need to stay tuned in and listen to my own mantra, relaxed, controlled, smooth and fast… As I was cycling on Saturday I had realised that the negative spiral was all about fear and it was up to me to control that, not the bike.
Triathlon has forced me out of a decade long comfort zone of identifying as a marathon runner, I even made my work as a content & communications specialist reflect all of this (She Runs She Writes, Running PR, The Running Ed). But change is growth and sometimes a bit uncomfortable, with unexpected hurdles (broken bones and stray fingers). I love trying new things, and I have fallen for triathlon, but I’m reminded that commitment is the bit that counts. A quote from a  programme on Radio 4 on Monday morning (Morality in the 21st Century) stood out for me:

‘My favourite definition of commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behaviour around it for the moment when love falters.’ Training, eating well, staying positive, and sticking with it!

P.S. Tuesday was another unplanned day off and so now I’m swapping my training around. This was partly due to a disjointed day including a chunk of time out to go to the hospital for my X-Ray. Check out the before and after pics: no wonder it hurt.

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

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

2 days off… but look at the big circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

8 weeks to go: sling slung and double Zwift session

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

A satisfying week of Ironman Training: all cycling on Zwift

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

 

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

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

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

 

The Ironman Bike – Time to Face My Fears

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Turbo Tough

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

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

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

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

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

The Long Run

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

 

We’re going on a bear hunt!

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

Losing my marbles (and Tri accessories)

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

 

10 Weeks To Go: Triathlon Training After Surgery

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

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

 

A week is a long time in recovery

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

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

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

Tech Trouble (not good for an inpatient woman)

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

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

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

To Race or not to Race?

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

Zwift – We Have Contact (& a custom top)

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

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

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

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

Well done Joanne

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

The journey continues…

Bad bandaging!

 

 

 

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.