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!

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

No booze – I lose?

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

Back to it

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

The Eastbourne Triahtlon

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

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

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

No Nerves

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

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

The Swim

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

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

The Bike

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

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

The Run

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

I love a podium

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

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

20 week countdown: week one

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

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

Fiona and Celia – endurance women 50 going on 5

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

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

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

Homeward Bound

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

The South Downs Relay

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

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

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

Week 21 of 40: Travel & Training

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

May 21st to May 27th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coach’s Summary

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

 

 

The end of week 20: Swashbuckler Middle Distance Ironman

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

In that post I said;

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

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

How early?

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

Swim

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

Transition

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

Bike

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

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

Run

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

A good day

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