Training Report: Week #24

This week I have (most of) the whole week off work! I seem to have picked a good week, just coming off a mini heatwave. I plan to enjoy as much running, cycling, swimming and gymming as possible. So hopefully the good weather will stick around!
Monday

10am: 3h ride following a cycle race in reverse around a 15km circuit. Glorious sunshine!
Tuesday

1pm: A long long ride in the hills in lovely sunny warm weather. I was supposed to run off the bike afterwards but I got a bit lost (hello bridleways!) so it ended up being an hour longer than planned and I ran out of time / energy.
Wednesday

8am: Back in the pool for a spot of stroke practice.

9am: In the gym for a bit of S&C – nice to fit it in while I’m off work.

10am: Easy run home in the sun.

3pm: Ride to swim lesson on Old Faithful. Lovely route but it would’ve been much nicer on my zippy summer bike!

6pm: Swim lesson with Do3 Coaching, working on the underwater pull through the water.

7pm: Ride home just inside sunlight hours. Yass!
Thursday

6am: Back to swim squad for a threshold session.

4pm: My poor legs are feeling it! Easy ride for an hour.

7pm: Easy recovery run around the park.
Friday

8am: Swim with paddles. Poor arms!

9am: Wattbike session with long Z4 intervals. Poor legs!

11am: Another S&C session. Poor body!
Saturday

6am: Ride to swim.

6:30am: Do3 speed and power swim session. A whole hour of 25m sprints! 💣💥

8am: Speed endurance run with 10k efforts.

9:30am: Pootle home 🚴💨
Sunday

7:30: Do3 recce ride of the Outlaw Half course. I’m not doing the HIM but I’m racing a sprint at the same place so thought I’d come along for the jolly.

11am: Quick run to recce the lake and transition area.

Total training time: 28h. The luxury of having a week off!

Favourite session: Do3 recce ride. I do most of my training solo so it was nice to go out with a group for a change!

Least favourite session: The Wattbike session – only completed 3.5/5 reps. It’s been a tough week!

This week’s win: Getting promising times when putting my new refined swim stroke to the test. Now I just need to work on holding it longer than 25m!

Advertisements

Training Report: Week #23

Race done, recovery/taper done, I was so eager to get back to unrestrained training! I was surprised to feel fine the next day after racing on Sunday, so I could hit the week full force. This week I’m focussing on getting some run miles in, with speed endurance and double run days. And working on my swim technique with Do3 Coaching.
Monday

5am: Easy ride to the pool.

6am: Do3 squad swim – endurance ‘red mist’ set. Feeling good, although it’s difficult to maintain my stroke very long without regressing to my previous technique. More practise needed!

7:30am: Wattbike! 4x15mins @Z4.

9am: Ride home, supposedly easy but the block headwind said otherwise!
Tuesday

6am: A repeat of the endurance Do3 squad swim, building mileage and again working on my technique.
Wednesday

7:30am: A quick dip in the pool to work on my stroke.

8am: Double run day! Run back from the gym in torrential rain. Half at HM pace, half easy. (1h)

5pm: Double run day, round 2! Another hour run, this time a little faster.

6pm: Easy ride to watch a local bike race (1h).
Thursday

6am: Back in the pool with the Do3 Squad! Feeling good, for once I was leading the lane! 💪
Friday

7:30am: Another quick swim to work on my stroke.

8am: Run back from the gym, this time in glorious sunshine! Working on 10k pace. (1h)

5pm: A bit of yoga in the garden 🙏
Saturday

6:30am: Boom! Do3 speed and power swim 💪

2:47pm: Hot! 10M time trial on the K41/10 course. Flat, out and back but rough road surface. Beat last year’s time on the same course by a minute 😊


Sunday

7:30m: Long run in the sun, trying to avoid the heat of the day. Phew! (2h)

Total training time: 15h

Favourite session: Saturday Do3 swim. Love swimming with the group and the sprints in the session really help with my new stroke!

Least favourite session: I had a pretty good week, but I guess my least favourite was the ride back from the gym into the headwind. Yuck!

This week’s win: TT course PB 😁

Race Report: Southam Sprint Triathlon

Pre-Race

This is the second year running I’ve done Southam Sprint Triathlon. I loved it last time – a great local, well organised race just 30 mins drive from home with all my Do3 squadmates. Brill! And it’s not often I get to do the same course twice, so it’s a nice way to compare year on year. Last year I also came second senior woman (it’s not a very big field!) so another little motivator too to see how I’d do this year.

Swim

The swim was 16 lengths in a 25m pool in 4 lanes. We each got set off 30s apart, did 4 lengths in each lane before ducking under the lane ropes to repeat through the remaining 3 lanes. Apart from a little bit of argy bargy in a couple of the lanes as I passed people and they passed me, the swim was fairly smooth. I even did a little bit of my new stroke! This time I got to exit via a ladder – much better than my usual launching myself out of the water and ending up inelegantly beaching myself like a whale on the side of the pool – and onto the run!

400m / 7’43
Bike

After a quick transition and a snap decision not to wear my cycling jacket over my trisuit (most people did), I was off on the bike! The course is a little ‘sporting’ with a few undulations and exposed bits, although much less traffic and road furniture to deal with than last week. The conditions weren’t great, dry skies but wet roads, cold and windy. But I was still glad I didn’t wear any extra layers – I was just about warm enough and it gave me more motivation to work harder! The headwind was a bit punishing at times, but mostly I enjoyed passing people on my super speed machine and powering through.

19km / 35’45
Run

The run was 5 laps around a field, which I remembered last year being a bit on the slippy side. Not mud as such, just wet long grass with mounds of grass clippings. So I was SUPER glad I opted for trail shoes this time, no chance of sliding around this year! I knew my time wouldn’t have improved (and probably worsened) from last year seeing as I was out with a knee injury Jan-Feb, but I gave it my all and I was really happy with the sustained effort level I was able to put in. Plus – I know everyone hates lapped courses – I love them! It gives great structure to the run (“3 laps down, over half way, push a bit more”) and a chance to see my clubmates mid-race.

5.2km / 26’44
Post-Race

Over the finish line – done! There were plenty of volunteers on hand to extract my timing chip and ply me with food, drink and medal. After standing around for five minutes and turning a lighter shade of blue, I waddled off to get changed and returned to watch the medal ceremony. As there were 200 competitors this year (up from 80 last year!) I wasn’t in contention for any medals, but it was lovely to watch one of my squadmates win overall female and applaud our fellow competitors. I came 10th woman, so I was happy with that considering the field of amazing female triathletes on the day. Representing almost 40% of the field it was a great to see a large turnout for the girls.

Looking back at last year, I’ve improved my swim, maintained my bike, and slowed down on the run. Which was what I expected. I’m going to take the bike as a win though because the conditions were way worse than last year, my power was much higher and I felt really comfortable in my TT position. And it was my best performance of the day, coming 3rd female in the bike split. I’ll just have to work on my run and come back next year!

Training Report: Week #22

Let’s start at #22! That’s how many weeks I’ve been training for now for the 2017/18 triathlon season. I started at the end of November after a few weeks off at the end of last season to relax, go on holiday, and practically drown myself in chocolate. I’m very good at the latter, and quite frankly wish there was a sport dedicated to eating lots and lots and getting fat, I am most skilled at it! But sadly there isn’t, and if there was, my success might be somewhat shortlived as I would eat myself into an early grave.

Anyway! Here we are, 22 weeks into 2017/18 training. I’m not going to recap the last 21 (they’re mostly quite boring, and I certainly can’t remember the details) so we’ll start at #22. A rest/taper week. I know, really boring! But probably a good place to start seeing as I’ll actually have time to write it up…

Monday

5am: Easy ride to the pool (45min) to assist the coached swim session at 6am.

7:30am: My turn to jump into the pool and do a 45min swim with decreasing distance reps but increasing speed, all the way up and then down the other side. A speed volcano!

9am: Easy ride home (45min).

Tuesday

7:30am: I got dropped off at the local running track for a 5k test, just to see how my fitness is after being out for ~2 months with a knee injury. As we arrived I was feeling pretty exhausted, so I wasn’t exactly set up for a PB! In the end my time was OK, no slower than December at least, but no faster either.

8am: Easy run home along the canal (1h).

Wednesday

Big commuting day today so just:

6pm: Swim 1:1 with Do3 Coaching, working on smashy smashy arms!

Thursday

6am: Back in the pool with the Do3 Squad, doing sculls and sprints and practising my new technique. It’s feeling good although my arms were complaining heavily by the end!

7:30am: Wattbike time, finishing off a 4 week block of longer efforts with an easier 3x15mins @Z4.

4pm: Easy recovery ride in the sun (1h)

Friday

Rest day! 🙌

Saturday

6:30am: Do3 squad swim working on sprints and my new smashy smashy technique.

8am: Short run in the rain with a few sprints to get the legs firing again for Sunday.

Sunday

Race!! Report here -> [forthcoming]

Total training time: 10h

Favourite session: Saturday’s sprinty run. It was nice feeling a bit of speed in my legs after a few weeks of slogging it out and getting progressively more tired.

Least favourite session: The 5k test. It hurt and it was badly timed in my training block so no PB and no useful data to set my threshold numbers. Lesson learnt!

This week’s win: Working on my stroke with Do3 Coaching and feeling like there might be light at the end of the tunnel. Plenty of hard work to do in the meantime!

Race Report: Mira Showers Sprint Triathlon

Pre-Race

I signed up to the Mira Showers Sprint Triathlon mostly because I was dying to race after about 6 months of just training training training. It was time to put all these swims, bikes and runs together into an actual triathlon! I chose Mira Showers mainly because the date worked around my other commitments, but also because I’d heard great things about the venue – Sandford Parks Lido. It’s a heated open water pool in Cheltenham and it looked amazing. An open water swim without a wetsuit in APRIL without turning blue?! Yes please!

We arrived an hour early ready to set up. What do I need for a triathlon again?! I laid everything out in transition and tried to visualise the run in from the swim and bike. The number of times I’ve gone the wrong way in/out and with/without helmet is embarrassingly high!
Swim

The swim was 8 lengths in the 50m pool in a lane with 6 people. It was so nice getting into an outdoor pool that actually felt warm! The swim got a bit congested towards the end as I overtook one person but then couldn’t get past a second and then had to wait for space to climb out. It was nowhere the time I knew I could do but at least it meant I started the bike feeling nice and relaxed!

400m / 7’55
Bike

After a long run with the bike through transition (my poor cleats!), I was out on the road. The bike route was a bit windy and undulating for any impressive times, and very congested with cars, competitors and road furniture. Oh and traffic lights. But it was still just nice to be back racing – this was a fun local triathlon after all, not a PB smashy course! I must admit I did take a wrong turn more than once… the arrows were quite small and stuck in odd places, so I struggled a bit there. But all things considered I was happy with the bike as I rolled back into transition.

17.5km / 33’08
Run

Helmet off, trainers off, run! The run was just an extended nip around the block at 2.8km so I just went as fast as I thought I could hold for 10-15mins. I managed to keep my lead ahead of most people (bar one woman who zipped past half way round) and felt surprisingly good! Running has been my Achilles heel (ha! geddit?) this year after an overuse injury put me out for most of Jan/Feb. So to be running fast again felt good. Although when the finish line came into sight I was very glad!

2.8km / 12’29
Post-Race

Finished! I loved being back racing, even if the course wasn’t set up for best performance potential. It was still an amazing event at an amazing location, and was everything I love about triathlon – inclusive of everyone from newbies on mountain bikes to all-the-gear-no-idea people like me. We got a t-shirt, medal and bacon butty at the finish line and instant timing print off receipt thingies too.

Looking at the results it turns out I didn’t do too badly, coming 4th woman out of 68 and 29th/191 overall! Pipped to third by less than 10 seconds too, so chuffed with that. Next race is just a week away at Southam Triathlon. I can’t wait!

Race Report: Kenilworth Half Marathon

I’ve eyed up the Kenilworth Half Marathon for a couple of years, but I’ve never got round to signing up in time. I usually find locally run running events, particularly those run by actual running clubs by actual runners, are often far better organised and can cost considerably less than their more commercial counterparts. As Kenilworth Half Marathon has also been recognised as one of the top UK half marathons and gets a high rating on Runners World, it was safe to say that it was probably going to be a pretty good race. I also especially like races which are held nearby – I value my lie ins!

The race was scheduled to begin at 10am, so at 9am I took the short drive over to Kenilworth and parked in a local (free all day!) car park. I left everything in the car to minimise the hassle of baggage reclaim at the race, and jogged a mile through Abbey Fields to the start at Castle Farm. I had a slight detour on the way (navigation is not my strong point!) but soon turned back and sheepishly followed the steady stream of walkers dressed in running gear. Run number and chip collection was running like a well oiled machine so by 9:30am I was ready and raring to race!

After a short run briefing (watch out for speed humps, no headphones, thanks to marshals, etc etc), we self seeded into predicted run time pens and in no time at all we were off! The course is a single lap on-road route which heads out West from Kenilworth towards Beausale. It was fairly undulating and there wasn’t much in the way of views, but the roads were largely smooth and there were very regular water stations. There were more marshals than I think I’ve ever seen on a course (with the exception perhaps of the Outlaw triathlons) so we were very well looked after!

My target was a mix of trying to get a PB, and also to see what kind of pace I might be able to hold at marathon distance. It was about 18 months since I last did a proper half marathon race, so a PB was a fairly low bar. I aimed to hold a breathing rate which felt achievable for ~2 hours, which seemed to be around 8 minute miles (5 minute kilometres) average. I held this for about 11 miles and then just opened it up to see what else I could do. I didn’t have much left in the end (in hindsight a few jelly babies might’ve helped!), but anything around 5min/km at this point was good so anything faster was just a bonus! I managed to finish in 1:44.27, absolutely smashing my previous PB of 1:51:57 from Reading Half Marathon 2015! I was super chuffed 🙂

At the end of the race we got bottles of water (very welcome!), a long-sleeved technical t-shirt, and a bag of goodies including chocolate, crisps and a banana. One of the ladies from Kenilworth Runners came to speak to me afterwards, saying my time was really good (cue big head) and wondered if I was looking for a running club. I’ve let my Bracknell Forest Runners club membership lapse since I moved, and as I spend more time in Warwickshire, joining a club up here doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. She especially lured me in with talk of a cross country league (muddy running – sounds amazing!) which starts up soon and she’s looking for ‘fast women like me’ – flattery is most definitely the best persuasion! So who knows, maybe I’ll end up with more than a PB out of Kenilworth Half Marathon.

My Ironman Journey: Year 3

Ever since I started doing triathlon, I got the asked the same question again and again – “Have you done an Ironman?” Those who are vaguely aware of triathlon as a sport know that Ironman is a triathlon, but many don’t know the distances involved, nor that there are many other challenging distances/terrains before you get to Ironman! So I don’t think people realise quite what they’re asking. And for me, until this year, the answer was no. No, I hadn’t done an Ironman. I always said I would absolutely never do one. I didn’t get on very well with my first marathon, I didn’t enjoy my first 100 mile bike ride and, until this year, my open water swims had always been half breastroke. But once I’d done the half Ironman, something inside me was nagging away. And logically, if I was ever going to do an Ironman distance race, now was as a good time as any. So on a rainy day in September I signed up to the full distance version of the half Ironman triathlon I’d already done – the Outlaw Triathlon.

While I was exercising through the winter to keep my fitness up, my training didn’t really kick properly until February. The first thing I did, while it was still cold outside, was to embark on a swim training program. I had to kick my nasty breastroke habit and really work on my front crawl! So I bought the swimsmooth training program to give me motivation, structure and progression in the pool, and off I went. I focussed on swimming until the weather improved a little more, and then in April I really started to ramp up my run and bike distances. I got more used to eating on the go (nutella wraps and flapjacks on the bike, and jelly babies on the run [I hate gels!]). I also went back to swimming at the lake once a week to get over my hatred of cold open water swimming (one swim was around 13-14℃ – I lasted one 750m lap and practically turned blue!). In the end, my longest swim distance was 4km (all front crawl!), run was 32km and bike was 200km. Considering the Ironman distance is 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run, I felt as prepared as I ever could be going into the race.

24th July 2016. D-Day!

I was surprisingly calm about the race. I think the years of doing races now and having the ‘if it all goes wrong it doesn’t matter’ talk with myself each time has really helped dissipate any pre-race nerves. We set off on the hour journey to Nottingham at 4am (UGH), having already dropped my bike off and set up my transition area the day before. Arrival at 5am gave me ample time to slither into my wetsuit ready for the 6am start. The water was a tropical 20-something degrees so it felt a bit like a weirdly warm murky bath. So much for all my cold open water training! Still, as the swim got started, I was glad of all the training I did in my wetsuit and in getting better at sighting buoys.

I exited the swim in 1h30, bang on my target time! As I staggered to my feet I realised there were volunteers all around me unzipping my wetsuit and helping me pull it down to my waist. And then further on someone helped me pull it off over my feet. This is why I love the Outlaw! I tottered over to transition, wetsuit in hand, to find my swim-to-bike bag on its peg. I disappeared behind the changing tent, stripped off my swimsuit and put on all my bike clothes – including a comfy pair of bib shorts I’d got from my parents for Christmas. The chamoix was so squishy it was like sitting on a sofa! I’m so glad I chose to change my clothes for each discipline – how my backside would’ve ended up if I’d stayed in my hard, unforgiving trisuit the whole time for the sake of saving a few minutes doesn’t bear thinking about!

I set off on the bike and prepared myself for what I estimated to be 8 hours of mindnumbing cycling boredom. There was certainly some mental strength required, but the sights and sounds of the race – especially the spectators! – really helped egg me on. I was on track for a 6h30 bike time (yay!) when I felt a familiar squidgy feeling in my rear tyre. Puncture!! I was dreading a puncture, as while I had all the kit and was perfectly competent at changing the inner tube, I completely lack the hand strength required to get my stiff road tyre back on the wheel. So when two kindly cyclists came along in the opposite direction, I eagerly flagged them down. After a lot of straining we finally got the tyre back on the rim and I was on my way! The puncture cost me 30mins, so in the end my total bike time was 7 hours. As transition loomed again I was so relieved – even if I had to walk, I would make the final cut off time and I was definitely going to complete an Ironman! Woo-hoo!

Nearly 9 hours after I started (which, by the way, is when the first female finished!), I was finally running a marathon. I’d loaded a pair of heavily pocketed running shorts with 50 jelly babies before the race and I focussed on eating at least one every kilometre. At every food station I let myself walk so I could drink a cup of water without choking! And then I would run again. At about halfway I started adding orange slices to my food station trips – sweet sweet liquid, they went down a treat! I didn’t realise before I did an Ironman quite how many people walk the whole way. So I was feeling really good when I was still running at halfway (and *spoiler alert* I managed to run the whole course!). I had finally been joined by own personal spectators which was awesome as it gave me something to look forward to on each lap. The first time I passed them, I bounded along beside them while they flip flopped along for ~300m. I wasn’t quite so boundy and eager after I’d passed them for the fourth and final time! 

The nature of running laps at the Outlaw, meant every 10km or so I would pass by the finishing line. I was seeing people finished as I still had 30, 20, 10km to go. When it was finally my turn to finish, I turned into the finish chute (red carpet, natch) and found a smidge of speed that had been saving itself for the crowds and deliriously grinned my way Cheshire cat-style to the finish banner. I raised my hands and passed under the gantry and I finished! I had finished an Ironman! I WAS AN OUTLAW!

The only downside of the Outlaw Half was the stairs you have to walk up at the end. “I’ve just done a half Ironman and you want me to climb stairs?!” Thankfully this time a ramp had been installed and, after handing back my lap wristbands and collecting my medal and T-shirt, I slowly walked up the ramp and got funnelled into the food tent. There was so much on offer – lasagne, chilli, curry, stew, cake…but I couldn’t stomach any of it. The weird thing about exercise and especially racing, is how it suppresses your appetite just when you need to eat most! I saw my spectators through a window in the food tent and they pointed at the food and their mouths. My hungry spectators needed feeding! I grabbed some chilli and a few naan breads and met them outside. We sat on the grass for a while and then realised that it was actually quite late in the day and a school night so everybody should probably go home. I need a bit of crowbarring to get up from the grass and hobble back to the car!

After my initial reluctance to do an Ironman distance race, I am SO glad I finally did. It was my favourite race I’ve ever done. Yes it was long, yes it was hard, but the race organisation at the Outlaw and the enthusiasm from the volunteers made it so much fun. I’m now having to remind myself of all the long dull training I did to be able to complete the race to stop me from signing up to another!!