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.

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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