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!

 

 

 

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/

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.’

 

 

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

Monday 16th April to Sunday 22nd April

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

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

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

Tackling the Beacon with a migraine

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

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

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

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

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

 

Teach A Girl To Swim

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Mum of three children (ages nine, 11, 13), Malini Mehra, 50 is determined to make 2018 a year that counts. She’s set herself a goal of swimming 500K, which includes swim training 10K per week (as well as running and cycling) and taking part in swim events in cities around the world (totalling 150K of racing). She’s also lined up a marathon, 100-mile bike ride and Ironman Barcelona. She’s combining her experience from a 30-year career in sustainable development, climate change and human rights with her love of a challenge to make life better for women and teach girls to swim.

‘Climate change is the major issue of our times and it’s devastatingly obvious that it’s here to stay. Its impacts are many and you only have to look at how floods are affecting us all globally – including here in the UK. However, our losses and suffering are nothing compared to what those in coastal areas of Bangladesh, Cambodia and other Asian regions experience.

‘Floods are the most common form of climate disaster and they’re becoming more frequent – with women and girls are most at risk. Women are twice as likely to die in a flood, and four times as likely as men to die in a disaster in the developing world. In addition to this, women are the last ones to respond to emergency warning when disaster strikes as they’re often taking care of young children or elderly relatives.

‘This is a very real gender disparity and explained by the different social roles and status of men and women in these societies. Females are more likely to die than males in floods, for the simple reason that women and girls are generally not taught to swim.

‘There are also important cultural reasons due to notions of modesty and the taboo of menstruation that prevent the same freedoms for girls as boys enjoy. It’s common to see boys jumping into the water and enjoying themselves, but not girls. This isn’t fair or right and needs to change. Everyone should be able to enjoy the wonder of water and swimming. And no-one should die because they haven’t been taught basic safety swimming.

Time to Take Action

‘In my day job I’m the chief executive of GLOBE International, the world’s leading cross-party network of parliamentarians committed to green issues. I could see that there are a number of small organisations doing what they can to help out, but they lacked the resources and political know-how to do more. I decided to use my position to try to make a difference. I’m a mother, a feminist, I’m passionate about action on climate change – and I can swim! So, I came up with Teach A Girl To Swim (TAGS) to raise awareness of the issue and connecting those working on climate change, gender equality and disaster risk reduction around the world.

‘The attention-grabbing part of the TAGs campaign are my 10k swims in different cities – Kolkata, Dhaka, Beijing, Manila, Tokyo etc – which bring media attention to the epidemic of drowning deaths around the world, climate change and its differential impact on women and girls. But the bulk of my work is about raising funds for local organisations doing work on drowning prevention, raising awareness and putting in place national policies and measures, – and money! – to ensure that swim safety (for girls and boys) is a basic part of the national curriculum and a fundamental part of a country’s response to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

‘So, that’s it in a nutshell. Some people think I’m a crackpot, but I hope this publicity will spark dialogue and drive action and make a difference.

Family life

‘In 2000, I founded an NGO working on corporate responsibility, sustainability and climate change in India and the UK. It meant a lot of travel for me back and forth. I’m Indian and my husband is British. It was especially tough when my kids were very young.  I was a militant breastfeeder, which meant I took the kids with me everywhere for the first year of their lives – all around the world, to my offices in India and international board meetings and conferences. My husband is in the same field and we had consecutive travel all the time, so someone was always at home with the kids. We had no nannies and it was exhausting. So, I’m really glad I don’t have to travel with them anymore!

‘Thankfully, we live in a very different world now to our mother and grandmothers. My grandmother had her first child at 13, my mum at 23 and me at 36. That’s a massive change and we have many more choices now. IT has also transformed the working world for women and given opportunities for many modern mums to work at home and grow the ‘kitchen table economy’. We don’t have to compromise family life in the same way as before. Parenting is very different now. I really like working from home and being a hands-on mum. So, now I’m working flexibly with a portfolio career and therefore able to structure my day so that I can prioritise family and also be committed to work and training. I’m lucky, I know this isn’t the case for everyone and the trade-off between family, work and training is very real.

Training

‘I train five days a week, which includes a three to five-mile run after the school drop off and one hour of swimming (2.5K) four days a week. I have focussed my training on swimming and do 10K per week in between four to four and half hours. I also train with Mark Kleanthous (@ironmatemark) for expert coaching. I’ve run more recently as I’m running a marathon on March 11th. I’ll be swimming throughout– it’s the bit of the Ironman that I’m least anxious about – and I’ll begin to focus more on getting cycle fit over the summer so I build my bike legs, and can get off the bike after 180k and still have the legs to run a marathon and have a good finish to Ironman Barcelona!

Teach A Girl To Swim: the Legacy

‘I’ve always loved swimming and as a child growing up in Delhi, I splashed around in pools before learning to swim at school in London when I was 8. I was lucky to learn in the UK when I did. This country is very unusual and our kids very lucky that the national curriculum includes basic swimming skills. This should be the case everywhere. I want this year’s commitment to my goals and challenges to be meaningful, not just a flash in the pan. I hope to raise awareness about teaching girls to swim, to raise money and in the longer term to create a foundation for TAGS, so that I can leave a positive and lasting legacy.

‘Inspiration for me has come from many sources. Back in 2009, I started working with a fabulous Indian ultra-runner, Dr Rajat Chauhan, who had started this amazing Himalayan ultra-run – on the highest peaks  in the world – called  La Ultra – the High. We worked together to use the run to promote awareness, in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit, of the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, where glaciers are receding rapidly. The High is an incredibly tough ultra trail race. You’ve got to contend with thin air, altitude sickness and crazy trucks flying past you like juggernauts. I’d love to do it one day though. Events like these are powerful catalysts for change. I’m also driven on to keep going by women like Diana Nyad, the unstoppable endurance swimmer, motivational speaker and author, who’s now almost 70 and an absolute force of nature.

‘And after this crazy year, I’ve got more planned – I love endurance sports and women do get better as they age! We can get better PBs as we age, while men flag and wilt.  So, that’s a real upside of aging – as long as one keeps one’s health. For next year, my son and I are planning to cycle the length of the UK – from Lands End to John O’Groats – when he’s 12, so we’ve got a lot of long training rides in store!

‘I hope 2018 is the start of something bigger and I can inspire people to make a real difference by engaging with and supporting the Teach A Girl to Swim campaign.’

More info

Support Malini: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/teach-a-girl-to-swim 

Check out Malini’s impressive professional profile: https://globalchallenges.org/en/about/ambassadors/malini-mehra

For great coaching advice: http://www.ironmate.co.uk

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