Saturday, 5 September 2009

Withdrawal Symptoms and Project Halves

My 2009 season is over and I'm getting some serious withdrawal symptoms. My coach has ordered 2 weeks no training, so obviously because I can't do it, I'm thinking about it all the more and finding it really odd that i'm not 'allowed' to do anything. Coach's reasoning is correct though. I've put my body through an awful lot these last 6 months and so I need a bit of rest and recovery before it begins again. And it will indeed begin again.

I had blogged a while back that my target for 2010 was training for and completing an Olympic Distance triathlon (ideally London). BUT the plan has now changed and I've become a bit more ambitious.

I have 2 'A' race plans/ambitions for next year ...

1. the Malta Half Marathon (February 28, 2010); and

2. the Antwerp Half Ironman (August 1, 2010).

The aim is to finish both ... I haven't got a time in mind for either but crossing the line in both would be absolutely incredible.

Training starts on September 13 ... the fun and games will start soon!

Monday, 31 August 2009

August and Tri 5 - the season draws to a pleasant close

If I were you I'd sit down, relax, get comfortable and get ready for a good read ... its gonna be a long one.

First and foremost comes the confession/apology ... "forgive me blog readers for I have sinned ... its been nearly one month since my last blogpost."

My last post was Tri 4, and the third sprint at Leybourne Lakes ... Team Outrageous, who I must thank, have been the backbone of my Tri season (3 out of 5 races) and have been a partial gauge of my ongoing improvements.

So what's happened since Tri 4 (on the 8th of August) ... well, to be honest its been 3 weeks of very little training. I've been dogged by a combination of apathy, laziness and being supremely busy at work. I did three 5k runs, one 10k run, 1 swim and 1 bike ride. That was it, over 3 weeks. Excellent prep for a full sprint tri - NOT!!

With little prep let's just say I wasn't particularly confident going into this race, however there were some positives in all of this.

1. I bought a turbo trainer and had one session on it. It was interesting but nothing too exciting. I have to get muc more acquainted with my turbo in the coming weeks.

2. I bought pedals and bike shoes ... I fixed them onto the bike and tried clipping in and out on the turbo trainer. Of course this is nothing like clipping in on a bike on the road (as I was to find out). So as you can imagine, my one bike ride with the pedals was quite interesting. Got to the lakes, got astride the bike, clipped in to one pedal ... pushed forward, attempted to clip in to the other pedal, failed miserably, slowed down, started losing speed, started wobbling, tried to clip out (of the pedal that was clipped in), again ... failed miserably, wobbled more and promptly fell, gashing my knee, my elbow and making a complete fool out of myself in the car park. So i got up, dusted myself off and tried again, with a heavy wobble i finally managed to clip myself and get going. Clipped and unclipped a couple of times (getting decent at it (ish)) and headed off on the Leybourne tri bike course. I had a target of under 38:30 ... which until then had been the fastest I'd ever done it. I didn't have the full 16k in me at full tilt so I slowed down in the last kilometre but I still managed it in 34:15, a full 4 minutes faster. I was mega chuffed. That set up the expectation that I can get my times down.

3. I've now got a coach. Or at least I will have a coach for the winter and in preparation for next season.

Coming back to my fifth and final race of the season, this was an F3 event at Dorney Lake. It was also my club's (yes, I've joined a club - in true fashion - an online club - with a fair few members I chat to through the club's forum - ppl crazy about triathlon, many of them in their first season as well - its fantastic - its the BCTTT!!) first championships (the club was founded this year and I am one of the first members, though the membership is growing regularly).

Dorney Lake is known to be a flat course. The distance was 750/20/5 - full sprint - and the aim was to try and get a better time than London - and in any event, go under 1 hr 45 minutes which was my target time for the sprint in London.

Race day was good. I got to Dorney early and met up with some members of the club. Now bear in mind that many of us had never met and we introduced ourselves by our handles. I must admit, this is the most comfortable and relaxed I've ever been in the build up to a race - cheers guys!!

To the race:

The swim - I hadn't swum in a while so I wasn't sure how it would go. It went - nothing special - I got whacked a few times by other swimmers - a couple of times in the head. Swim time was around 18 minutes. Slow really, but I've barely done any swimming.

T1 - went smoothly - got out of my wetsuit, into my bike shoes (for the first time in a race scenario) got my stuff and ran to the mount line.

The Bike ride - started off with a bang - an uncomfortable one - it was the sound of me falling off the bike, still clipped in, a mere 2 metres from the mount line. At the third attempt - a bad elbow graze and a nasty cut on my hand later I managed to be off (wasting about a minute on that crap). The bike ride wasn't particularly comfortable, the legs weren't up for too much (I did a 5k with Clare the day before and as I hadn't been training too hard that told a bit on my legs). I hadn't worn my bike shorts over my tri bottoms. My bum was sore, my legs were sore and happily I managed to avoid a spill when coming back into transition.

T2 - smooth and fast (in fact I made up 2 places).

The run - uneventful. I have no idea how fast I actually was (split times aren't out yet) but it felt laboured. I had a stitch throughout but kept going and actually overtook more people than I was overtaken by. I did sprint at the end - properly this time, a full, knackering, "can't breathe anymore once past the finish line" type sprint.

The time? Unofficially 1 hr 37 minutes and 49 seconds (I'm told by clare who was standing a few metres away from the finish clock when I crossed the line). A full 10 minutes faster than my London time.

I'm mega chuffed. A good way to end my season and its reasonable to go try and go under 1:30 next season!

More updates soon as I set out my targets for the winter and next season.

More soon.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Tri 4

Saturday 8th August, Leybourne Lakes, the scene of my 4th tri, the third at Leybourne Lakes.

The lead-up to the race wasn't a good one. After waking up ok on Sunday (very very early coz I had to take my parents to the airport (so it was a 5am wake-up)) we went back to the London Triathlon to watch day 2 and the loympic event. We did, however spend most of the afternoon resting (and recovering).

On MOnday I headed to work and to my first football game since my injury. The game was ok, I think I played ok (nothing spectacular) and our team drew. I actually played outfield for the first time (the point was the workout) and it was a hell of a workout. There was however a big down-side. In the warm-up kick around I went for a shot and felt the toe 'go'. I was in quite a bit of pain but considering its a 5-a-side game and there were only 5 of us, I kept going, played the full game and left myself to regret it later. And regret it I did ... it was back to the pain of the first week of the metatarsal injury, so much so that I couldn't walk on it overnight and had to stay home. I have, however, discovered a new cream "Deep Freeze". I must admit it worked miracles. 4 applications a day. At that stage I had all but given up on the Saturday race but Deep Freeze worked its magic and a day before the race I woke up pain free. I hadn't done any training since Monday but being pain free gave me te confidence tat I could do the race. And do it I did.

I had unfinished business with the Saturday morning race. You may recall this was the setting of my second Tri and debacle so there was a serious detemination to do better, to get a PB for the course and to get under 1 hour 20. To cut a long story short the race was a fairly fast one. I had decided to draft off someone in the swim but within 1 minute of the race I was in limbo, the vast majority of competitors had long gone, and the ones next to me seemed to be going slower than I was. I finally managed to draft over the last 50m. The swim and T1 were my fastest yet.

The bike ride was again my fastest yet (still slow but faster than before). So I got off the bike and into the run after 50 mins and some change. I had half an hour to do the run but that's where the problems started. For the first 500-1000m I felt like there was someone literally sitting on my chest. Not a chance of taking a deep breath. The legs were tired and my laces kept coming undone (three times) which kept interrupting my rhythm. The run wasn't my fastest but sheer determination and a continued realisation that if I kept on going I would be on target for not only a PB but also a sub-1:20 time meant that I kept at it. I finished in 1:19:47. A personal best and under 1:20.

That's it for the Leybourne Lakes course this season. I've hit a target. Next season, hopefully, I'll have improved my bike riding markedly, and my fitness. The target (at present) is therefore to get under 1:15 next season ...

There's still a couple of races to go this season (varying distances) so I'm looking forward to further results (hopefully good ones) which I can then aim to improve on over the winter.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

London Tri (one hell of an experience - I want more!)

It's over, it's done and I feel on top of the world ... there are a couple of storm clouds in the sky but I'm above them at the moment, riding high in the full glow.

Yesterday I completed my first full sprint triathlon i.e. a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. Those of you who have been following my blog know that this was my third ever race (the other two were shorter sprint tris, so the added length of this race and the pressure of the world largest triathlon event made the run up to this one quite a daunting prospect). As it turned out, the race was even longer than expected ... 750m swim, 21km on the bike and 5.2k on the run.

Needless to say I was nervous, I had a restless nght, woke up at 7:30 and helped myself to some brekkie. I spent the rest of the morning trying to relax and then had an early pasta lunch (at 11:15) and set off to the race. A traffic jam and parking issues later I walked up to Excel to find a mass of ppl (both competitors and their families/supporters) and bikes milling around what is quite a huge area. I headed over to pick up my chip timer and then moved on to transition. Transition was a shock ... I kid you not, the place was huge! I obviously haven't seen that many transitions but this was incredible. Line upon line of rails for bike racking. Bear in mind, I was scheduled to start off at 3pm and I was racking in row K1 ... when you consider that each row racked in excess of 150 bikes, that's one hell of a transition area (which by the way, went up all the way to row Z). It was intimidating to say the least (more on that later).

I got into my wetsuit nice and early (had a chat with a few ppl who had racked next to me) checked out the various transition entries and exits (different entry and exit for each T) and headed towards swim assembly ... a full 300-400m from my transition layout. My wave gathered, all 400 of us and after some race prep we headed down (2 stories) to the dockside (picking up our pink (yes pink) swimcaps on the way) and got into the water. My goggles immediately started leaking and fogged up. I must admit I panicked a bit at this stage. My other pair of goggles were way too far away to go and get so I tightened the pair I was wearing, tried to defog them as best I could and headed towards the start line (about 50-100m away) using it as a bit of a warm-up. The dock was choppy (over 100 canoes there making sure we were all safe, hundreds of swimmers and a touch of wind) and the water was very murky with a 2 foot visibility maximum. I kid you not, I could not see beyond my wrist when stretching during my swim stroke. That made drafting very difficult ... you don't see the arms, or the legs coming.

I placed myself in the middle and towards the back of the group, preferring to pick off slower swimmers rather than getting into the ruck at the beginning. So we set off, I found some space, settled into a rhythm and picked off a few swimmers. All was going well, goggles were fogging up a bit but no particular leakage. The murky water was a bit of a problem as I usually calm myself out by focusing on technique but hey, it could have been much worse. The water was choppy so I tried some bi-lateral breathing but it was the sighting (usually my forte) that ended up being a bit off ... I got to the half way point a bit off so I had to close in on the buoy which meant I had a bit more crowding. I ended up at the very end of the swim area in the return leg ... constantly jostling for position and squeezed against the rope. This is where I lost my rhythm and with that the momentum I had built up. My stroke got choppy and lost form and technique, I had to slow down and I was getting hit (elbows and kicks, one particularly just under the ribs) frequently and hard. The swim ended, I was a bit woozy but I got out of the water and started taking off my wetsuit (it came off this time). My swim time was 18:48 - I was looking for a sub-17 but considering my second half of the swim was a constant struggle I'm satisfied I went under 20 minutes.

London is a bit different, you take off your wetstuit by the dockside, put it in a plastic bag and then go up 2 flights of stairs and a few hundred metres to the bike. I must admit, I walked up the stairs and half jogged, half walked to my bike. Got my bike shorts on, my Unicef Tee short, socks, shoes, sunglasses, number belt and helmet on ... unracked my bike and headed to the mount line ... again, a couple of hundred metres away ... and got on the bike ... T1 was 6 and a half minutes long (an absolute age) ...

The bike has been and continues to be, my weak spot ... the course is generally considered a flat one (not for me), 2 laps of 10k each and while I did pick off a few ppl over the course, the amount of ppl passing me was much greater. Apart from the struggle, an occasional risky moment during the 180 degree turns at the extreme ends of each lap and settling into a (slow) rhythm, the bike ride was fairly uneventful. I got annoyed because someone spent a good 2k drafting me after I had overtaken him (which is supposed to be illegal) and was even more annoyed when he then proceeded to get past me with a burst on the last bit of a small hill. I have no idea what the draft busters along the course were thinking or doing but anyways, the guy did what he had to do, I guess, well done him for getting away with it.

The bike leg ended with a shortish climb up a ramp to the dismount line ... not the greatest of ideas in my opinion but anyways, who am I to say ... I got to the dismount line, fairly winded from the last climb, jogged/walked to transition (again a couple of hundred metres) ... took my helmet off, moved my number belt (on the bike leg the number should be at the back, during the run, at the front) and tore one fastening off in the process and spilt my drink all over my towel. So I moved the towel, moved the bag for it not to get soaked (losing more time in the process) and set off to the run out (again a couple of hundred yards away). T2 ... some 3 and a half minutes (when you consider how little there is to do its a shame it takes so long). So I ran out after consuming quite a bit of liquid in T2 (I am not confident enough to ride the bike one-handed so I don't drink on the bike ride) so the moment I got into my rhythm I got a stitch. The legs were heavy but I was determined .... I had one competitor 20-25m ahead of me so used him as a point man to reel in.

I kept chugging away, kept up with the guy ahead of me, got passed by a few ppl and passed a few myself. The course had a bit of a surprise ... a 2 storey ramp (built so that the viewers could get across (read under) the run path) ... so you went down one ramp (1 flight), up another ramp (1 flight) then down to ground level (2 flights) and the reverse towards the end of each of the 2 laps. It was my fault really, I hadn't trained for hilly runs (I didn't know it was coming) and previous races were all flat (with very little incline) so the ramps chopped my rhythm and my breathing.

By 1km into the run I had found some rhythm, by 2k my legs were screaming to stop, then came the ramps again ... my body was screaming at me to stop and walk ... my head shouted even louder that I wouldn't dare ... I spotted my wife, my parents and a friend who came to support, cheering me on at exactly half way and was even more determined not to stop. By the end of the bike ride I knew that a finish under 1:45 was out of the question ... I had lost too much time between the slow bike and the long transitions to make it up on the run, but I wanted to get there as close to 1:45 as I could. I got to within 1 metre of my target point man when at 4.5km my legs just gave way ... 100m from the ramps ... I just about managed the ramps at a jog and headed in to the finish line, smiled at the wife and family ... and kicked slightly at the finish. I had lost the guy I had all but reeled in but I had finished. It felt fantastic ... I must admit when they gave me my finisher's medal, I was on the verge of tears. My family came to congratulate me ... I felt like crap but I was happy and proud ... I'd done it, finished it ... job done!

So ... what were my goals, and did I achieve them

Goal 1 - Finish (achieved!)
Goal 2 - Finish with a smile on my face (achieved!)
Goal 3 - Finish within 1hr 45 minutes (not quite - 1 hr 48 minutes 6 seconds but see below)
Goal 4 - Finish the swim within 20 minutes (achieved - 18 mins 48 seconds)
Goal 5 - Finish the bike leg within 45 minutes (not close - 51 mins 51 seconds but the distance was in fact 21km not 20km ... had it been 20km I still wouldn't have been under 45 minutes but I could possibly have gone under 1:45, maybe)
Goal 6 - Finish the run leg within 30 minutes (achieved - 27 mins 44 seconds)

I achieved 4 out of 6 ... which I consider to be not bad ... not ideal. but I refuse to beat myself up over it ... I was in transition for 9 minutes and 45 seconds in total (needs working on, but the transition area was huge) ... my bike leg needs a lot of work (to that end I've just bought myself bike shoes and clipless pedals) and I have a target ... I do a full sprint (similar distance - different course) on 30th August ... a new PB would be nice

to that end, I might race again on Saturday (another Saturday morning race - the scene of my second race debacle) depending on how the recovery progresses (at this stage its doing well). It won't be with the new pedals and cleats (I need time to get used to them) but I want to exorcise that demon and get a better time.

So onwards and upwards it is then ... it feels great to look back ... I'm proud of myself ... but this is but the first of many steps on my tri road ... I have another 2 (possibly 1) race(s) left this season ... on 31st August I begin 'Project OD' ... the Olympic Distance triathlon, London, August 2010 (and a season including a mix of Olympic and Sprint races).

but more on that later ...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Less than a week to go

Its been more than a week since my last post and I had left off with a disappointing race (Tri 2) where I had to thank my lucky stars for finishing. I must admit that 6 days before my 'A' race and my longest race yet my morale isn't too much better than it was last week. I've had 4 intense training sessions this week, a good swim on Sunday (my time for what I think was 750m has gone down to about 15 and a half minutes), a disappointing run on Tuesday, a tough cycle on Thursday, and another swim on Friday. Let's just say that although they were good sessions, they haven't filled me with confidence. That being said ... today I did a brick session, a 16km race pace cycle (the same course as my races) where even though I stopped on the cycle (I usually wear my trisuit and cycling shorts over them but my cycling shorts were in the wash today so the bike saddle was blooming uncomfy) I beat my PB on the bike leg. After that (a 10 minute break between the ride and the next leg) I went on a run of 2.6k (13.5mins) ... not fast but the legs were tired and its still below my 'goal time'. One of the things that was prevalent today was a very strong wind. It really did push back, cutting down speed by at least .5 or 1k (my bike computer was doing itss snazzy thing) so all in all it wasn't a bad effort.

As I said, its 6 days to go ... taper time ... I'll still be working but not as hard, its more maintaining fitness, keeping your muscles going and race ready and making sure you're not fatigued. And fatigued I am ... I'm knackered this weekend, it really wasn't a weekend. I felt like I was at uni, a whole weekend of work, sat on my sofa reviewing documents drafted by lawyers who I will not mention (suffice it to say they have lost any possible shred of respect I may have had for them - a document as far away from a term sheet as this, I have yet to see). They've made my weekend miserable. 8 hours yesterday, 8 hours today ... I'm now shattered but at least its been a productive day work wise and training wise. I can't believe these ppl ... such an incredibly shoddy job, I really can't believe it. A job that should have taken 4-5 hours (if the docs were properly drafted) ended up taking 10-12. Absolutely rubbish! Enough of this rant, the point is now showing our clients (and theirs) how absolutely sh?*$e these guys were (and what a waste of their money this exercise was)!

Chin up, a week of light training and shedloads o work ahead. On the bright side, my parents are coming to the UK on Friday so I'm looking forward to that, more race day pressure but more motivation for sure.

The fundraising is going well ... nearly at target ... so if you're reading and haven't donated ... what are you waiting for?! :)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

TRI 2

I took part in my second sprint triathlon today (the same course as the one I had done my first tri) - and here's my race (day) report -

4:30 am - the alarm rang - race - 3 hrs 30 ... time to fuel up (so I did) - and made my first mistake. My 'fuel' consisted of a large glass of water, 2 nutrigrain bars and a go ahead yoghurt bar ... with hindsight it wasn't fuel enough (more on that later)

5:00 am - headed back up to bed, read for 5 minutes and dozed off (mistake no.2) ... woke up at 6:30

7:00 am - headed off to the race (which is a 15 minute drive away) and stopped by a petrol station to pick up a couple of small bottles of lucozade bodyfuel (my racing liquid of choice) - had a swig pre-race, racked my bike, got into my wetsuit and rocked up to the pre-race briefing.

8:00 am - a quick warm-up in the lake and I'm ready to start ... as usual I headed to the back of the pack to avoid the washing machine that is the mass start (only 50 ppl there but it was pretty crowded for me). At the go I felt quite comfortable, set out, built into my rhythm and kept going. I kept getting squeezed by two ppl (one on either side of me) who seemed to have exactly the same stroke speed as I had and kept on wanting to come into my racing line instead of keeping to theirs ... I was sighting well, going dead straight (unlike the people on either side of me) who insisted on barging me and blocking my stroke etc. Getting increasingly frustrated I tried to kick on, speed up a bit to lose them ... and lose them I did for the next 200m. Being slowed down by three ppl ahead my 'wingers' caught up and contnued to hem me in ... a couple of elbowed hits later (received not given) I ws literally hemmed in ... two ppl ahead, one on each side and I must say it was hard work. Out of the lake and on the way to the transition area I felt very weak and dizzy, I could run to my bike, lost my balance while taking off my wetsuit, forgot to dry my feet (towel was straight in front of me) so my socks were soaked and full of grassy/muddy muck. Helmet on (also with a bit of a faff) and off I went. Winded and slightly dizzy, I hoped the first couple of minutes of the bike leg would see me recover and then push on ... oh how I wish ... about 1.5km into the bike ride my legs started to burn as did my lungs ... I was pushing a fairly weak gear so the complete lack of power was completely unexpected. Things just got worse and worse for the next 750m-1k to the point where I could either get off the bike of my own will, or fall off ... I chose to get off, sat on the kerb for a couple of minutes, leaving a small souvenir by the side of the road (some lucozade and some nutrigrain) and watched the last few people who hadn't overtaken me in either the swim, my awful transition, or my agonising ride until then go past.

I had two choices, give up and head back, or man up and continue, pushing as much as I could in the circumstances. Bearing in mind London is two weeks away, giving up would have been soul-destroying and confidence crushing. So I didn't bloomin give up, I got back on my bike and finished my ride, painfully, but I finished it. Once again, I had a choice, retire or do the run. Again, retiring was not an option, so I ran ... 5km of jelly legs and recurring stitches, some back pain, toe pain (I nearly broke my first metatarsal two weeks again) and general malaise, but I didn't walk ... I wasn't running fast but I didn't walk.

Crossing the line didn't have the exhilaration it held last time around, but I felt a great deal of pride. I persevered, I hung on by the very skin of my teeth and I finished. I came second last (massive 7oaks tri club contingent in the race) but anyhoo (not last at least :)). Talking times, my first tri took 1:21.05 - today, I came in sub-1:25 ... I'm still waiting for the exact times (I forgot to stop the timer on my forerunner) but it should be a sub-1:25 time. I had targeted a sub-1:20 sprint but that wasn't going to happen today. All in all, I'm happy I finished, and considering the state I was in this morning, it was a pretty decent time (for me).

The mistakes (aggravating/mitigating factors ... a.k.a. excuses) were the following:

1. have been feeling fluey for the last two weeks, not outright sick, but my body is fighting something off for sure

2. the toe is still playing up (damn thing) ... I can run, but its not comfortable

3. didn't take in enough fuel for the race - a proper meal next time (breakfast is a meal) even if it was 4:30am

4. I should NOT, go back to sleep after fuelling up ... I should have kept my body going, got some adrenaline pumping, tricked my body into believing that its not true that it should still have been in bed resting at that time

the rest was a combination of bad luck (my wingmen - though I think one of them was a woman, and the crosswinds on the bike course were completely out of my control) and a bit of complacency on my part (... having done it the first time around I assumed it would automatically be easier the second time around ... NOT the case) ahve ensured that the next two weeks in the lead up to london and any other races I take part in will have my full focus ... back in training tomorrow

Friday, 17 July 2009

TRIing again and building in excitement

There has been some training since my last post ... nothing too spectacular ... another 5k run (sub 28mins - which for me is ok) and another session on the spin bike (40 minutes to be precise) ... and just to add some spice to the mix I proceeded to stub my blessed toe while releasing my leg from a quad stretch on Wednesday which aggravated the pain that was going away ... nevertheless, I will soldier on and I will race tomorrow.

Yep indeed, 8am tomorrow sees the start of my second triathlon. Once again the aim is to finish, not to finish last, and if at all possible to finish in a sub 1:20 time.

The distances are 550m swim, 15.4k bike and 5k run. When you consider that I finished a 550/16/5 sprint in 1:21:05 ... and that this race will be 0.6k shorter (on the bike ride) it isn't too ambitious to try and chop off at least 1 minute off that time and set a new PB (it'll obviously be a PB for that distance coz its different from the distance I've done before).

My only concern is the nutrition pre-race, especially because its an 8am start and I need to fuel up properly very early in the morning.

On another note, my race number and race time have been published for the London Triathlon ... very exciting ... it'll be 2 weeks away tomorrow!!!

I'm racing at 3pm on Saturday afternoon which is fantastic because it means I can take it easy and there will be no need for those awful early morning wake-ups and I can have an early lunch and head to the race. For those of you who have been reading regularly my goals are still the same though I have a feeling it'll be difficult to beat my bike split goal ... I'll sure as hell give it my best shot though!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Of being remiss and other issues

Its been a looong loong time since my last post and last time around I was grumbling about motivation ... well ... plenty has happened since then, and here's a small summary of it

1. Holidays :) - Clare and I went to Malta on the 27th of June (until the 5th of July). It was hot, good fun and I did exercise ... indeed I went for a couple of swims (one sea based, the other pool based ... there were jellies so I didn't go for any long sea based swims) ... and 3 good 5k runs ... then I decided to add some spice to my training (you can spot the bad idea miles away can't you) and that spice (a.k.a. the bad idea) consisted of a football game with some friends ... and the result was an afternoon at A&E taking x rays of my right foot (the first metatarsal). Nothing broken but the first metatarsal is badly bruised and more than a week later still hurting.

2. Injury induced laziness - I've been limping since (shoes hurt but its bearable) but that shouldn't stop me swimming or even cycling really ... but it did ... I finally got my act together and got back to training yesterday (with a couple of swims in the lake) and today with a 30 minute stint on the spinner, a 400m swim and ... wait for it ... a jog. Yes I decided to try out the toe with running and it seems to be holding up fairly well ... so no more excuses (or at least limited ones). Its not exactly ideal to be taking a week off training three weeks before race day I know, but it has now happened and I have to deal with it ... and dealing with it I am ... this week will be getting back into the swing of things with training to ensure the fitness is up to scratch again.

3. Getting old - I turned 30 last Friday ... I'm not particularly hung up about it but it is quite a milestone ... it went off with a bit of a whimper to be honest ... not sure how I feel about that ... the work drinks were cancelled coz everyone was too busy, the dinner clare and I had planned was a bit of a disappointment (the restaurant wasn't quite up to expectations) and most of my friends are in malta so the celebrating wasn't exactly on the agenda ... on the upside ... I got some fantastic gifts (Clare got me a wonderful book about my favourite yacht, The Maltese Falcon ... look it up, its worth it ... my parents got me a Garmin Forerunner 50 with an HRM and a footpod as well as a bike computer, and my cousin got me a nice book about Foodies) and we've had a really chilled weekend (training apart).

oh, and by the way ... if you have some time and are not easily offended by stereotypical comedy, watch "Bruno" ... not as good as Borat but still funny in an 'oh my God I can't believe he's just done this" kind of way

I should be updating more often now we're back from holidays and I'm back in training ... till the next one

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Motivation Check

I once belonged to a student organisation (marginally ... I wasn't particularly active but my girlfriends at the time were) that had motivation checks during long(ish) meetings to ensure that the participants were still on the ball, still thinking straight and that they all hadn't lost the will to live. While I found those humorous at the time I find myself in need of one at the moment.

After the great high of the race, and a couple of days' rest I'm finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things. I had a good 1.5 hr session on Sunday (1 hr of swim sprints with my coach) followed by a 2.6km run in under 14 minutes (which I'm happy with). After that I'm struggling. I had to wake up early to go to the gym on MOnday and failed miserably to heed the call of my alarm. All was not lost, I did play 40 minutes of 5-a-side football ... as a goalkeeper but you'd be surprised how much jumping around gets done in those 40 minutes. I reckoned I'd get my run in the evening. But during the course of the afternoon I realised that I'd tweaked something in my lower inner thigh so I decided (as much to do with laziness as with treating my body as a temple) that I'd best not aggravate it by running. Session missed and plan made to train Tuesday morning, where another woeful response to my alarm meant I didn't get up either. Its becoming a habit and one I need to break. I'm stiff and sore after all the jumping around, my leg still aches etc. but I'm headed to the gym this evening. I must do. To make up for it I'm going to do Bike/Run Brick Sessions ... 3 sets of 10 minutes in large gear on the bike followed by what will hopefully be a good 10 minute tempo run. That's the plan ... the mind is willing but the body is weak (well the mind is a bit weak at the moment too).

The come down from the race high has been quite shattering, and a busy Saturday which knackered me hasn't helped (see Clare's blog for further details). AND!!! I'm sooo looking forward to our summer holiday in Malta (during which I will be training).

On the bright side I am now the owner of a brand new bike computer (thanks to my parents and my wife who together co-operated to get me this rather useful birthday gift). My birthday isn't for 2 weeks but we all reckoned that the quicker I start using it the better it is so I got it early. I'm also the proud new owner of a Garmin Forerunner 50 with footpod. That'll be coming on holiday with me to accompany my training.

I'll be turning 30 in 2.5 weeks, and though the weight of the significance of turning 30 hasn't yet settled upon my shoulders I'm sure it'll hit at some point and that's where Triathlon comes in. Something to keep me going and keep me healthy for the next however many years.

So to all you AIESEC ppl out there who remember (or still do this) ...

"MOTIVATION CHECK ...!!!" ... to which the standard reply was (once you'd recovered from your moderator's shout giving you the fright of your life) ... "YES! WHAT!!"

Friday, 19 June 2009

Race 1 - Race Report

Its a day late I know but for all of you who were wondering what actually happened at the race here goes -

(Race minus 2 hours) - "HOly crap I'm nervous, my stomach's doing somersaults like an olympic gymnast and I can't settle down. Breathe ... concentrate ... and visualise ... you can do this, you will do this ... and sod it if you come last, you'll still have done it ... now go check your equipment again, make sure you've got everything ... shit, hydration, better go get those bottles ready, you're gonna need something to drink before and during the damn thing"

(Race minus 1.5 hours) - "Why is there shitloads of traffic?! I just wanna get there, settle down, take in the course and get ready ... what?!?!? can you see all those cars lined up on the bike course in traffic? how the hell am i supposed to get through that at speed?!"

(Race minus 1 hour) - "Great I'm the only one here ... so much for making it to the race with two hours to spare ... at least I'm registered ... the weather isn't too nice is it? i hope it doesn't rain, my riding's crap enough as it is without the rain ... water looks cold ... will need to acclimatise well before we go off ... ahhh, ppl getting here ... jeez, look at the size of him, did he pump himself with a track pump before he came here? ... crikey that's an expensive bike ... he's gonna go faster than me without even pedalling ... ok, breathe ... oh my God there's a 65 year old man ... I hope he doesn't beat me!! ... let's set up transition ... quick drink ... will get into the wetsuit with 20 minutes to go"

(Race minus 20 minutes) - "I've spoken to noone and I probably look like a lost little rabbit ... confirmed by Clare ... ph well ... here we go, friendly face, making conversation about wetsuits, here we go, Marshall's prep ... breathe, breathe, quick drink ... time to get into the water .... you can do it mate, you can see yourself doing it so now just put that into practice".

(On your marks ...) - "Deep breath, here we go, you're at the back of the field, take it easy, don't blast out, its all about rhythm ... regular breathing ... every 3 strokes, then every 4, occasionally every two ... see?! you're already practically at the first buoy ... and you're overtaking ppl ... come on son! keep it steady ... straight ahead ... where's the flipping second buoy?! just follow the splashes ... damn I wish this guy would just get out of the way ... will have to swim round him ... ... close to the end now, use the legs a little bit, occasional kick to get the blood flowing ... and ... stand up, get ready to come out ... they've pulled your wetsuit zip down and opened the wetsuit, get your arm out quick ... Shit, its not budging, its closed again, just get to transition and deal with it then ... come on!!! come off you bugger of a wetsuit ... ppl are blasting past me, damn thing, stretch it, stretch it ... finally! velcro off ... christ that took nearly a minute!!! BUT!!! i'm only 13 minutes into the race ... 550 in under 12..5 minutes ... that's good, now keep it up ... there's still a few behind you ... helmet, gloves, sunglasses, drink, grab the bike and off we go ... skip on and we're off, 16km of this and then the run, take it easy, save the energy, we're ahead of schedule ..."

(During the bike ride ...) - "damn my legs feel like I can't push a high enough gear, tone it down, don't knacker yourself ... ppl are lapping me but I don't care ... I knew he'd be fast on that bike, bloody hell ... ... can't find a comfortable position for my feet on the pedals ... really need to invest in cleats ... stop thinking about post race, concentrate, breathe, up a gear, push push ... keep pedalling, its downhill, let's make some time ... damn she's passed me ... ok, still 3 ppl behind me .... fuck ... he's passed me too ... where do I go now? I think its a left at the lights ... why's she going straight? ... dammit, I'm going left anyways, I'm sure the lake's that way ... oh well, at least I passed her now ... here we go, i can see the lake ... a marshall ... I made it into T2, good stuff, still going and the legs don't feel too rough ... there's 2 ppl behind me, let's keep it that way, helmet off, gloves off, bike racked, quick drink and off we go ... 5 km away ... you can do it mate .. come on ... here comes the winner already finishing his run, geez he's fast"

(The run) - "regular breathing, keep the legs pumping, short strides ... crikey they feel like jelly, come on, keep going, crap a stitch, keep braething deeply come on, it'll go ... blue vest ahead, the guy who passed me on the bike ride, come on can catch him, keep it regular, he's going slower than you are ... breathe, breathe ... encourage ppl coming the other way, thumbs up to nice guy who was chatting to me before the race ... here we go, 10m, 5m, past him ... now keep him there, keep steady"

(Lap 2) - "damn the stitch hurts, but a bit less than before, keep those legs moving and the breath regular, look back, that guy's nowhere to be seen, well done ,,, turn round the cone and back again ... you can do this, 2.5km to go ... breathe ... I can see someone ahead ... can I catch her? ... don't do anything stupid now, keep it steady, you're 2k away from the finish line, don't blow yourself out, keep steady and kick in the last bit ... ok, it hurts but there's only 200 to go, when I get round that bend I'll be visible from the finish line so I'd better kick a bit ... go on, kick ... pathetic effort at a sprint but sod it, 15, 10, 5 ... finish line ... OH MY GOD I've done it!!! Fukc I'm tired ... but it feels good, my first tri! ... there's definitely 2 ppl behind me ... where did that woman go? I didn't come in last!!!! ... need a drink, need a rest ... sit down, most of the others have all left but who cares ... I've finished :) ... need to check the time, by my calculations I did it in less than 1:30 ... 1:25 maybe ... sod that, I'm just happy I finished."

And so it went ... final finishing time well within the 1:30 at 1:21:05.

Splits were as follows :

Swim + T1 - 13:53
Bike - 38:24
T2 + run - 28:48

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Tri-Man Cometh ...

Today is a good day, nay a great day ... today I completed my first tri.

I did it, I did it and I did it ... going under my target time to boot.

I'm still buzzing from the excitement and soon gonna crash but suffice it to say I really enjoyed the experience and I'm sure I'll be doing many more.

Full race report tomorrow :)

I can't believe I can officially call myself a Triathlete now ...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The (supposed) calm before the storm

Its 24 hours before racing time and I'm just preparing to leave work, do my last mini work-out and then get some proper rest. I'll be at work for a half-day tomorrow and then will head home to prepare for what is already becoming a pretty nerve-wracking event.

I'm running through lists in my head - which reminds me I have to make sure I actually write the list and pack my bag early tomorrow afternoon. The race is pretty close to home so there shouldn't be problems but I want to be as prepared as I can be. My legs are a bit sore from the workouts over the weekend and I need to make sure I'm properly limber for action tomorrow. The upside is that there's no rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon though it is supposed to be cloudy. We'll just have to wait and see I guess. Come rain or shine, I wanna be at that start line ... and more importantly, crossing the finish line.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Inhale ... and man up

I'm actually quite excited. Contrary to what a number of ppl advised and contrary to what may possibly be common sense I've signed up for an earlier tri race ... quite a bit earlier ... in fact, its on Wednesday (yes, this coming Wednesday).

Wednesday evening, at 7pm London time I will be suited and at the start line of what will be my first official tri. I'm super excited and I'm bricking it at the same time!!!!!!!!!

As you know I've been quite hesitant about doing this but on the back of a good weekend's training I'm reasonably confident ... or at least within the general realm of being resonably confident ... that I can actually finish. I haven't set myself a finish time, the goal, and the visualisation is to finish, give it a good go and actually run (not walk or crawl) across the finish line.

Let's talk distances ... the race is a 550m swim, 16km cycle and 5km run ... shorter than the sprint in London on 1st August but not by much, so finishing on Wednesday should be a good confidence boost for London ... and let's face it ... if I set a time for Wednesday's race ... which will obviously be a personal best, I can always train for the next six weeks to try and actually beat it in London (yes I know the race is longer but one must have ambition ...).

So what did I do over the weekend to have instilled such confidence? Well a couple of good brick sessions worked wonders (when I say good I mean good in the context of results, coz actually doing them was quite tough) ...

Saturday - swim session with Mike and an 800m swim with paddles timed at 18 mins 20 secs. Which I was exremely chuffed about considering that I've set myself a target of 20 mins for 750 in London (once again, no targets for Wednesday, I can come last by an hour for all I care, if I post a finish time I'm happy). That was followed up by some short sprint sessions. Apparently technique and consistency are improving, next week we work on speed. I followed the 1hr swim session with a 5.2k run, nothing spectacular, but once again on the open road not the treadmill. I have no idea what speed I'm running at (its probably considerably slower than I would on the treadmill) but the knees are responding ok. We'll drum up the gadgetry later.

Sunday - the plan was a 2hr bike session with Stewart. Unfortunately, Stewart had to bail so I was left to my own devices. I decided that I would do the race course to familiarise myself with it. The race consists of a loop which doubles back on itself ... so I did the loop without the double-back for starters (about 12k) had a 5 minute chat with Mike in between (met him at the lake) and then decided to do the entire course afterwards (12k wasn't enough to convince me I had the distance in my legs) ... so I did ... and did what is probably 15 - 15.5k (not the full 16 coz I took a shortcut to my car at the end) in around 35-36 minutes. Fairly happy with that. I followed it up with a 2.6km run (which was slow ... the transition from bike to run is painful (jelly legs aplenty)).

So all in all, over Friday, Saturday and Sunday I've swum approximately 1.5km, biked nearly 28km and run 12.8km. Not a bad effort. Tomorrow is a rest day (mini taper before the race) and Tuesday will be a light workout in all three disciplines (no more than 10 minutes of each) ... after that its T-Day ... wish me luck!!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Its been a while ... but there's decisions to be made

My last post was over a week ago ... and rather than not have things (or training) to write about I must be honest and simply admit that I was lazy and couldn't drag it out of myself. Wednesday of last week seems like a long time ago (it is actually) and there's been plenty of training between now and then. I'll give you a short run down and then a bit more detail:

Thursday - enforced rest day - had client dinner so didn't get home until well past midnight
Friday - lazy day - couldn't get up in the morning and couldn't be ar**d in the evening (or so I told myself.
Saturday - brick (and payback for 2 days not training) - 50 minutes spinner followed by 32 mins (5.5km) run
Sunday - 1 hour with swim coach - approx 1.6km of open water swimming (1k of which was one continuous swim) and a 7 mile bike ride in the afternoon (again payback for the lazy two days)
Monday - rest day (2 days of two events per day really did take a lot out of me) did some weights to feel less guilty
Tuesday - brick (disastrous session) 30 minutes absolutely caning it on the spinning bike followed by what was supposed to be another 5km run with intervals ... after 8 minutes (and 1 interval into my run) my legs literally screamed stop (which I had to do) ... massive low point
Wednesday - depression and pain induced rest day (my legs felt like they were made of lead)
Thursday - 1hr in the pool ... approximately 1.8-2km (I lost count) in total
Friday - 5km road run during my lunch hour spent dodging tourists and city workers getting their food but fun nonetheless.

That's the training summary. As you can see there are still wayyy too many rest days but I am trying to listen to my body in a bid to avoid serious injury.

I had a chat with my swim coach about taking part in a race over the coming weeks to test myself over a slightly shorter distance, get transition practice and generally gauge where I am with fitness. His thoughts are that I should definitely go for it and that it will be fun.

There are plenty of reasons which scream for me to do it - the confidence it would give me and the practie for the London race which will be watched by quite a few people including some friends and family (my parents will be over from Malta and will be watching th race) as well as the UNICEF team which I do not want to disgrace.

On the other hand, the only realistic race I could be doing is on Wednesday (yes, exactly, Wednesday coming) and considering how my body's been reacting to upping the intensity in training it may not be the best of ideas to go for it quite yet. I'm afraid of the effect that a potential DNF may have on my confidence. In addition its a small race (maybe 15-20 participants) and watching the times of the previous race I'm going to be dead last.

So you see ... I've been mulling over whether or not to do it and I must admit that Tuesday's session didn't help. I had just about managed to convince myself to take the plunge when that happened. I know I shouldn't be giving up but then again, it may be too early (the Tri is actually a 550m swim/16km bike/ 5km run so its pretty close to the race distance in London - which is now 7 weeks away). At the same time there are no races which aren't a million (ok that's exaggeration) miles away or that aren't occurring when I'm on Malta for hols! There's also the thing that it'll be my first triathlon ... should I be doing it as part of training and just another run of the mill event or should there be some pomp to it? If that is the case then I may as well wait for London and pop that cherry there?! Anyone's thoughts would be more than welcome.

My sessions this weekend (and how well I do in them) will determine my participation.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Two arms, two legs, two wheels ... but many goals

I've been holding off writing this post for a while but the time is right and I can now put down on paper (or rather electronically) what I've been thinking about for a couple of months now. (I'll get there in a bit - and no its not further procrastination).

Monday was my run day. As this is my supposed recovery week my programme provided for a short run (30 minutes). So a short run it was (not that there have been much longer runs recently, but you know that). Instead of taking it easy I did however decide to push myself (I deserved it, haven't been on the treadmill enough to deserve a really relaxed jog) and tried to force the pace and do the occasional faster 1 minute interval (I managed 2). After a 200m warmup I upped the pace and did 5k in 28:39 ... faster than I've gone in a while. I struggled a bit at the end but hopefully that'll improve. The eventual target (and not necessarily by race day though it would be nice) is to be running sub 25 minute 5ks on the treadmill ... race day will be another matter. I finished the 30 minutes and did a 5 minute cool down and some situps afterwards. I've completely neglected normal gym/weights workouts in favour of concentrating on the disciplines themselves (3 out of 4 - yes there are 4 disciplines in triathlon) so I'm going to have to do something about that.

Tuesday was my bike day, and my first foray out on the roads of my neighbourhood alone. It was a bit daunting but I was up at 5:50am changed by 6 and hopping (with a bit of a wobble) onto my bike at 6:05. The roads were fairly traffic free (which was the intention) and though my signalling is not yet up to satisfactory standards there have been slight improvements and the ride worked wonders for my confidence. It was a very easy (in terms of pace and for the most part effort) 40 minute ride (as per the programme) with a few hilly bits ... I'm still getting used to the gears and an actual uphill on a bike so it was a bit of a killer but anyways. The mission was 'recovery' and confidence and that mission was a success. Only 7.5 miles in total, which is woeful for a 40 minute ride but then again I wasn't really trying. I'm still becoming acquainted with my bike ... we'll hopefully become friends soon, and a lack of spills or falls was much more important than speed, that will come. I also made another appointment with Stewart for 2 weeks time. Another session with him should help build my confidence and 2 hours on a bike never did anyone any harm ... if that anyone actually stays on the bike for the whole two hours that is ... and no ... being hit by a car or bus while actually on the bike doesn't count here ok?!

Today was supposed to be a swim day though I've tweaked the programme a bit due to circumstances I'd rather not go into and too short a sleep as a result. I'm sorry but I fail to function on less than 5.5 hours sleep especially when a training session needs to be followed by a day at work being productive. So I took a rest day and will be in the pool tomorrow.

Coming to the meaty bit of the blog I've decided to set myself some goals for the race ... realistic ones which I hope will be exceeded anyhow ... so here goes:

GOALS for London Triathlon

1. Finish the race
2. Finish with a smile on my face having enjoyed it
3. Finish in under 1 hour 45 minutes
4. Finish the swim (750m) in under 20 minutes
5. Finish the bike leg (20km) in under 45 minutes
6. Finish the run leg (5km) in under 30 minutes
7. Not make a compelte t*t of myself in transition.

Whether or not I will do any shorter races in between now and 1st August will be decided at a later stage, I'm tempted but slightly hesitant.

You can see that my goals are not necessarily that ambitious, but for someone like me who's been unfit for the vast majority his life, finishing will be a challenge in itself. Once I've done that (and I can't even afford to think about it being an 'if' at this stage) we'll drum up the next challenges (one of which is already brewing in my head to be honest - OD London 2010). But one step at a time matey .... I've learnt how to walk ... no need to go sprinting for now, all in good time.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The last week in numbers

Its been a week of ups and downs personally speaking ... coming off an injury to the foot and then a tummy bug or IBS or whatever it was I was starting to panic that there was too much 'wrong' going on in my training.

What didn't help was my Wednesday morning work out, supposedly a 37 minute run. 18 minutes into the run an my breathing was laboured, I had a stitch and I couldn't continue, and there it was, one of the biggest knocks to my self-confidence I've had since I started training. 9.5 weeks away from the race and I can only do a 3k run without needing to stop and walk. And walk I did, followed by another jog, another bout of walking and some more jogging. Instead of the 29:30 that it should have taken me to do the 5k, it took 34:30 ... cue disappontment.

Thursday night and another shock to the system. Swimming was the idea, using the new technique I imagined I would improve my stroke rate and my time ... I was very very wrong ... my stroke rate is the same and (29-31 strokes per length) and the time for a 750m distance actually went up to 23 minutes. I was slower and in much more discomfort and pain. I swam about 1.2km in total and it wasn't pretty. Cue more disappointment.

Friday is supposed to be my 'go 4 it' day with a long workout (I'm going to change that to Saturday because I simply do not have the time on Fridays). Instead, I decided that another run was in order, and run I did ... the difference was remarkable ... 18 minutes came and went (as had the 3km marker by then) and I felt comfortable ... not sitting on a sofa with ice cream in my hand comfortable but not gasping for breath like a drowning man either. I upped the speed somewhat and ended matters with a 'mini-sprint' ... well it felt like one for me. Verdict, 5km in 29:15 and a total of 6km run non stop. I was BACK!!! ... cue hope.

Saturday came along, and my second meeting with my swim coach. I may or may not have told you (i forget what's in my earlier posts) that my wonderful new Zoot wetsuit actually ripped at the neck seams the first time I used it. So i returned it and am waiting for its replacement. In the meantime I still had to do an open water session in the lake with Mike, my coach. SO he lent me a wetsuit (a touch tight but just about ok) and off we went. My shoulders and arms were still quite tired from the swim on Thursday (note to self - I need at least 48 hours in between swim sessions until my shoulders and arms get used to the technique) so while the technique was good, the stamina wasn't ... I ended up throwing my head quite a bit, and though I managed to lengthen my stroke, the result was nothing to write home about ... a touch disappointed but then again, I'm not a robot and I need to work hard at this to master it and get comfortable. ... a slight down but with hope ...

In the evening, having decided that I'd been off the bike long enough and had to catch up on a few workouts I spent 45 minutes on the spinner doing intervals, working the legs. It felt ok, my legs responded this time (rather than last time when they didn't quite want to co-operate) and it was a good intense session (not too intense though - you'll find out why soon enough). Two workouts in one day, I was feeling tired, but satisfied ... I need to improve but then again I'm still a novice so its all part of the learning curve.

SUNDAY - i woke up nervous. I met my cycling coach, Stewart for my 2 hour session. I'm a complete novice on the bike and having a racing/road bike first time around isn't ideal or too wise. Anyhow, I'm getting more confident so I decided to take a 'lesson' before hitting the roads on my own. Two hours, some wobbly looking over my shoulders and signalling later Stewart is confident enough to tell me to get out onto the roads and practice. Nothing too busy but I need to build confidence ... NICE ONE ... we didn't cycle very far or fast, but I was cycling on the road and that's a big boost to my confidence. I can now replicate race riding on the road ... so watch out Medway, there's a new cyclist on the road.

Not content with just the cycling (it wasn't intense enough to be a proper workout) and finally being injury free I decided to head back to the gym to follow my programme. Day 1 of week 4 ... which is the taper/recovery week. I'm not too keen on tapering but I figure it'll stand me in good stead having just come off injuries and maladies and whatnot ... so I'll do the taper (in terms of time and distance) rather than push and then push on in week 5. So a swim it was (please note ... not 48 hours after the previous one ... in fact ... just about 35). The programme said 800 metres, but sod the programme ... hehe ... I did a 100m warmup followed by a 750m race pace distance ... and guess what ... back under 20 minutes ... 19 to be exact ... even though its not particularly comfortable and I still do far too many strokes per length. Still, I'm happy with the time ... we're getting back on track! Hope is returning, I'm tired generally ... my body aches a bit, but I'm happy.

The shoulders are sore today, and a footy game (I play keeper) won't have helped, but my next swim is not until Wednesday now so its ok. Tonight I run ... an easy 35 minute run. I'll keep it steady, do some (very short) intervals in the run and we'll see how it goes. Early to bed tonight ... tomorrow is cycling on the road time. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm sure I'll be ok. I'll get out by 6am so there shouldn't be much traffic, and aim to be in by 7. Its more a confidence building thing than a workout. If I feel like it wasn't enough I can always do some spinning in the evening.

till the next update ...

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Tri-ing to catch a break

Its been a while since I last blogged, and the last you heard I was having a moan about my foot not being in good condition. Well I'm glad to say that cleared up and I was able to train on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That's not to say that the training went particularly well.

Friday was a bit of a shock to the system ... I got into the pool and wasn't comfortable at all. A 300m warm-up followed by a 750metre 'go' at the race distance. The time? A disappointing 19 minutes. Not good, considering that in open water that'll be slower. I followed that up with another 350m warm-down but I wasn't happy, not happy in the least.

Saturday added to the woe. I had little time on the spinner, and as it turned out little energy (I did my workout on Friday in the late evening and did my spinner workout early Saturday morning - early by my standards i.e. 8am - which is when the gym opens - but considering that we went to pick up my sister in law from the airport on Friday night and got to bed at 2:30am, it was early). I managed 35 minutes, at a struggle ... granted it was on a high gear and all that but still ... I once again wasn't happy. The race was then 10 weeks away and that just wasn't good enough.

There were however two things that cheered me up on Saturday - I finally picked up my wetsuit (at long last) and we spent the afternoon watching 7s rugby at Twickenham, which was a blast.

Sunday arrived and the splendid weather meant I was in a good mood going into my first session with my swim coach. The session didn't start off in the best of ways ... we got mixed up with the timing of the session so instead of starting at 10:30 (which I had arrived 10 minutes late for anyways - shame on me) the session actually started at 11:30. In the meantime, once I was suited, I did a 4oom warm-up, followed by 2 2oom sets. Only then did the coach turn up for our session. He critiqued my technique (I never knew there was such a nice way of saying "your swim technique is rubbish") and put me through some paces. After which he brought out the paddles and we ended up doing about another 1km or so (possibly a bit more) together with technique and breathing being the focus. I enjoyed the session thoroughly and could literally feel the improvement. By the end of it I had a slight tan, very tired arms and an almighty rash on my neck from the wetsuit (occupational hazards).

I got home and washed it down to find that the seam on the neck had split!!! I'd barely owned the damn thing for 24 hours!!!!! (I'm now posting it back to the retailer I got it from who were very nice (and quite shocked) when I told them what happened). And that was the sugnal that the 'fun' of my long weekend was to end.

We went for dinner to Clare's sister, spent a wonderful relaxed afternoon there and on the way back (and this had nothing to do with the food, the food was great) my stomach decided it hadn't played up in a while and that therefore it would. I spent the whole night tossing and turning in pain, unable to take deep breaths, unable to find a comfortable position and above all unable to sleep. At 4am I managed to doze off (after 5 hours of tossing and turning). Monday was a Bank holiday and to my mind an excellent chance to put in a training session ... but my stomach thought differently, the pain continued (and continues still, though much less). I think its a case of IBS ... yes I know, I seem to have an injury/illness log from hell, I'm perfectly aware of that. Basically no training yesterday, no training today (I would tonight but we have tickets to the theatre) and another week's training scheduled buggered royally. AND THE RACE IS ONLY 9.5 WEEKS AWAY!! I'm starting to panic. I'm hoping and praying I'll be in a position to train properly tomorrow morning. Pretty please with a cherry on top!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Recovery (the Second)

As I told you all last week I didn't much enjoy the driving on Saturday, and my foot enjoyed it even less. Add brick sessions on a Sunday and footy on Monday and we were back to square one with the pain. It was frustrating, annoying and many other words I'd rather not grace this blog with. Once again Monday nigt went by, no workout, though the kittens are absolutely fantabulous. For more info visit my wife's blog (go to www.accidentallykle.com - apologies for it not being a link but my wife ain't around to remind me how to do it). Tuesday morning was excruciatingly painful, every step felt like someone was stabbing me in the foot, so lots of 'Deep Heat' equivalent, some care and attention and another day of rest meant that I woke up feeling better this morning. There is still niggling pain but it is much much less than it was. So after what can only be described as a mind-numbingly boring day at work (I wasn't busy so time tends to drag) I headed home early (5:30 is really as close to a half day as you can jokingly get and officially the earliest I've been out of the office for no reason apart from the fact that I just wasn't busy in over a year), spent some time with the kittens and then got on me bike. I'm a bit more confident and a bit more adventurous. There's a small road close by to our development that leads to a small carpark so I've included that road and the carpark in my little circuits. I'm even trying to signal when I turn (in preparation for having to actually do it on the road) - its wobbly but its happening. Its a bit frustrating being so c$*p on a bike because I really want to be out on the road racking up the miles, doing the hills etc., but if I do do that at the moment the risk of me killing myself and causing a serious car accident injuring others is quite high. So for my safety and that of the motorists/pedestrians in my area, I'll gain a bit more confidence and skill before I do venture out on the road. I plan to head to a running track surrounding the lake where I swim with the bike over the weekend and getting a few miles under my belt without cars around.

The pent up frustration was excellent motivation to head to the gym and that I did. Back on the spinning bike to get the bike feel for 50 minutes in total. 5 minute warm-up, 4 10 minute sets comprising a 5 minute 'flat' on a fairly hard gear and then a 3 minute 'uphill' (for those of you who read this regularly its my equivalent of being out of the saddle pushing fairly hard at high(ish) resistance - since I haven't been out on a bike I don't really know what a hill will feel like) and 2 minute recovery. All this was followed by a 5 minute cool-down and a nice long stretch.

For the first time I tried one of the SIS Go Gels during the cycle. I can't say that I felt much of a difference though it probably did help. The most important thing is for me to get more comfortable with consuming these things ... they're not easy to feed on one-handed, and the fact that they didn't (or at least haven't yet) upset my stomach or give me a stitch etc.

On further news ... I today received my UNICEF fundraising package which also contains the T-Shirt I'll be wearing over my Tri-Suit during the race. I know it'll take time to put on in transition and all that but I am going to be participating for a cause and I want that to be very clear, so come race day, I WILL be wearin my UNICEF t-shirt for the bike ride and the run - the cause and the children more than deserve the extra few seconds its going to take to put that T-shirt on.

I hope and pray that my foot doesn't react badly to the training this evening and that I wake up better. I've strayed from my programme long enough, its time to get back on track and I need my foot to co-operate!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A wibble and a wobble

I really can't help it ... every time I look at the bike it brings a smile to my face. My riding s another matter however. There is no way I am going out on busy roads at present, so my riding today has been limited to short spins in the private roads of our development, so its a short ride and i'm trying to do figures of 8 so that I can get used to cornering as well. I'm getting better at it slowly and the confidence is returning but I'm still pretty rigid on the bike. I've contacted a 'coach' to inspire enough confidence in my riding to get me out on the road. We'll see how that develops.

In the meantime I went back to the gym and did some brick sets. I'm finally able to get back to running on the treadmill so I took advantage of that. I did 3 brick sets in total, 10 minutes of bike followed by 7 minutes of treadmill. I was quite happy with the runs 7 minutes at 9.5kmph for the first set, 10.5kmph for the second set and 11kmph for the third set.

I'll be getting back on the treadmill tomorrow and getting back to my standard routine. I'm looking forward to the structure again and hope to remain injury free. The run was fairly pain free though the foot is a bit sore now. It should be ok tomorrow morning (if its not, I'll switch to a cycle instead).

In other news, we get kittens tomorrow :) looking forward to the 2 little ones :) should be fun :) we went on a kitty shopping spree this afternoon (litter, kitty bed, scratching post, toys, kitty food ... the works). Everyone at the pet shop was looking at us like we were nuts. Clare goes to pick them up tomorrow afternoon so I need to work out in the morning coz I doubt I'll be able to get away in the evening :) oh well :).

Saturday, 16 May 2009


There it is ... haven't decided whether its a 'he' or a 'she'. On the basis of riding a 'he' or a 'she' my personal preference is that the bike be a 'she'. Will come up with a suitable name when I've had more time to think about it.

Its been an interesting day which kicked off with a haircut and continued with my first ever open water swim in a lake. I frikkin froze to death in that bloomin lake. The wetsuit I borrowed was a bit big so water kept coming in with every stroke ... it literally took my breath away and I found it much more difficult to breathe deeply and to find any sort of rhythm. Anyways, that'll have to improve (and it will) ... I'm back in the lake next Sunday.

After lunch I headed off to Halfords (those of you outside the UK will have no idea) to buy my bike rack. With the bike rack installed I headed to pick up my bike and the wetsuit. The bike was ready ... sadly, the wetsuit not (I'm not too pleased but there's nothing I can do about it ... I've already paid for it). I had a bit of a go on the bike and managed to keep my balance somewhat ... it was fairly funny actually ... I need some serious practice (all in good time).

Just to add a wonderful twist to the tale once I had had my go on the bike and went to rack it on my new bike rack hanging off the back of my car I realised that the bike didn't fit on the blooming rack. The frame of my bike is too narrow for the rack so I had to remove the front wheel and stow it in the back seat. So i drove back to return the rack and headed off to pick up Clare from the airport.

As if that wasn't enough, all the driving has brought back the pain in my foot ... lovely ... that's enough driving for me for a while and its back to a bit more rehab for me.

Really looking forward to taking the bike out for a spin ... at present in a fairly empty car park so that I can gain more confidence before going out on the road. That'll be an extra 'chore' every week to make sure that come race day I'm ready and confident to ride.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Rest and Recovery

My last workout was Wednesday, which is not really the plan but my foot was hurting and some rest was due in order to help me recover. And recovering I have been, the pain has gone down loads. I can still feel the foot fairly sore but the time had come to get back on the saddle and start biking again. So I've done by 47 mins of spinning today.

And because its been a while since I worked out and te foot felt fairly ok, I decided to beast it a bit.
After a 2 minute spin tester it was 9 sets of 5 minutes which included 3 minutes out of the saddle (uphill is the way I picture it in my head) and 2 minutes back in the saddle recovering but not spinning (so still some resistance). It was a hard one but it felt very satisfying once I'd finished.

On to some exciting news ...

1. I'm picking up my bike and my wetsuit tomorrow!!! Its exciting and nerve wracking at the same time ... I haven't been on a bike in over a decade so its going to be interesting.

2. I'm meeting up with a swimming coach tomorrow morning at a lake close by my house ... I need to have an induction first to be allowed to swim in the lake after which hopefully I'll be getting some 1 on 1 swim coaching.

I'll update you on how that goes.

Thanks for the help and advice on the injury ... much appreciated!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

If my body is a temple ...

... then I'm an atheist.

I thought this up yesterday as I limped home from the gym after what I can still describe as a work-out but with a small, but nevertheless present, side order of pain.

Heading home, pressing gingerly on the gas pedal because it hurt to do so I just started thinking about the crap I make myself put up with.

These are a couple of cases in point ...

1. As you know from my previous blog I managed to injure myself in the most bizarre, inane and frustrating way possible last Sunday. It hurts to step off my right foot (which doesn't help considering I have to walk to the station and then walk to the office once I get off the train, though I am taking the bus at the moment). So in all the wisdom bestowed upon my increasingly balding head (it doesn't show that much but it is happening) on Monday I rocked up to work and still played the 5-a-side football game. I have no idea whether I did myself any further damage but I'm guessing I probably did. The adrenaline got me through the game without major incidents, but again, not the brightest idea. Similarly, yesterday's 45 minute spinning ride may not have been the result of divine inspiration. Granted it hurt a hell of a lot less than walking, but it still hurt (though I must admit this morning it did feel a bit better). So the jury's still out on the cycling (knowing me I'll be doing more of it until I can get back to running), but footy was definitely not my brightest moment.

2. I met my wife and a friend of ours for lunch yesterday. Now as a budding athlete and with a workout planned for the evening you would have thought that common sense dictated I would fuel up appropriately and NOT eat the burger and chips that I did end up eating (in fairness it was top notch meat at gourmet burger kitchen - but that's not the point). I complain about not losing enough weight from the training and I go and have a burger for lunch ... wth is that? (Compare that to today where I had a grilled chicken wholemeal baguette for lunch and you can easily see the difference). I don't feel sluggish now, yet I was bloated and tired and generally narked when I hit the gym yesterday evening.

A football coach here in the UK (when commenting about the stupidity of professional football players getting drunk the nights after games) was quoted saying "You don't stick diesel in a ferrari". While I don't profess to be a ferrari a similar analogy could and should apply. If you want your engine to run smoothly and get as many miles to the gallon as possible you don't chuck junky, cheap and dirty fuel at your car (metaphorically of course ... for those who are novel to the car refuelling process, this is NOT the correct procedure).

So things have to change ... I'm not going to turn over a new leaf and start afresh eating completely healthy, that would be an unrealistic goal for me (the caveman in me still screams loud and clear "YOU MAN, YOU MUST EAT MEAT" ... and I do enjoy listening to him) ... but at least I'm going to watch what I eat (and by that I don't mean look at the ice cream and cakes while scoffing them down) and try and be sensible about things. A burger and chips is just not a good idea except maybe as a very occasional treat.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Sod's law

Just when things were going well ... and yes, notwithstanding my moans about my swimming, they were going well ... an injury occurs, in the most bizarre of circumstances.

As I posted yesterday we drove to Reading for Clare's horseriding day. About one hour and fifteen minutes into the drive I got a sharp pain around the joint between the leg and the foot. It feels like muscular pain and it hurt to press the gas.

I didn't think much of it. It hurt and I got on with it. But it didn't hurt majorly. I went for my swim and went about my training. This morning the picture was somewhat different. Every step of my right foot hurts ... I (possibly stupidly) played the football game anyways ... adrenaline kicked in and I didn't feel much. It only hurts with specific movements but when it does it hurts like a b*&$h. This evening I've rubbed in muscle gel into the lower leg and decided to give my run a miss. I'll make up the workout on the rest day or double a workout on another day.

I'm really really miffed. Properly miffed, because I don't want to have to stop.

I've lined up a swim coach meet on Saturday to start working on technique properly and all I want is to stick to my schedule. I know I don't need to follow the schedule to the letter but I still want to as much as possible.

Bugger, bugger, bugger.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

1 of 72

The first workout of my 12 week plan has come and gone, though not necessarily in the manner I intended it.

For Valentine's day I bought Clare a day out horse riding, which Clare duly booked and which we headed to this morning. It was a 2 hour drive away. We got up at 7 (an unholy hour on a Sunday) and headed to the outskirts of Reading. Clare had a fantastic time. The experience ended at 4pm and we started to head home. The gym closes at 8 so considering the fact that there was a hell of a lot of traffic I was worried I wouldn't have made it in time for my swim. As a matter of fact I did make it time, if a bit flustered.

The workout was focused on technique this time and I was only due a 1000m swim. My primary priority was stroke length and the number of strokes per length. By lengthening my stroke (reaching forward at the beginning of each stroke and letting myself 'flow') I brought the number of strokes per length down to 29-31. It wasn't easy and it wasn't comfortable, therefore it was disappointing. Lengthening each stroke felt a lot harder work than my usual 'less efficient' strokes. After a 250m warm-up the main body of my workout consisted of 7 sets of 100m. The first length of each set was unfailingly 28-29 strokes long. By the fourth length my arms were feeling heavy (which was surprising, disappointing ... and many further adjectives to that effect) and the stroke number degenerated to 31-32.

700m done and a 150 metre warm-up punctuated by alternate breathing exercises ... again, uncomfortable and punctuated by a certain amount of water swallowing and spluttering.

in summary, 1.1k in total, but a bit of demoralisation. This session has absolutely convinced me that I need some swimming coaching. I pick up my wetsuit next saturday and I've found some open water technique coaching sessions about 45 mins drive away. They're on Saturday morning at an ungodly 7am so I'll need to be up and out of the house by 6am but a couple of sessions should well be worth the sacrifice. In the meantime, I'll stick at my swimming sessions and try to keep lengthening my stroke, developing more power, and breathing on both sides. It'll make the swim sessions more arduous, but noone said this was supposed to be easy.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Building Bricks

The original title for this post was actually supposed to be 'Laying Bricks' but the alternative connotation of the phrase is not exactly what I was looking for, so Building Bricks it is ... and today, 3 bricks were built. I have read that a 'Brick' session is basically a training session including two or more sports, most typically (and because it is the easiest transition to make) between the Bike and the Run legs of a triathlon.

So rather than take it easy, as I said I might do on my previous post and because it had been a while since my last run, I decided to do some 'Brick' sessions.

The format was the following

10 mins spinner (yes, I know I mention it often) - done in sets of 2 mins flat with a cadence of 90-95 rpm and then 1 minute out of the saddle with a cadence of 60-70 rpm (which means 3 sets and then one minute of 'recovery' in the saddle. Once that was done I quickly hopped off the spinner, hopped on to a treadmill and legged it for 1km at 10.5 kmph. Brick 1 done.

Once the 1km was done I hopped off the treadmill, jogged back to the spinning room got on the bike again and did another 10 minutes. Once again, back onto the treadmill for 1.1km at 10.4 kmph.

The third 'brick' was somewhat longer ... again, 10 minutes bike, doing the same sets but I went for 2.1kms on the treadmill thereafter (at 10.5 kmph).

30 minutes of bike and 4.2 km on the treadmill in total. Its instilled a bit more confidence in my ability to complete the Sprint Tri and do it fairly well. I've been panicking recently because I haven't yet started actually riding a bike. That's now my primary concern (actually getting on a bike and keeping my balance and riding well i.e. not killing myself on the roads and not breaking the bike itself). If I don't develop confidence in my riding my time goals/estimates will be completely useless.

When I got home my wife Clare was planning to go for her walk (usually a brisk 4.5km walk around our area), so I decided to join her and add another couple of miles on the legs.

Its been a good week of intense training, bring on many many more.

A touch sore

The end of the working week approached and I looked to end it on a 'workout high'. I got up early (though not as early as I was supposed to) and got myself to the gym for another spinning session. Mission completed as I did 11 sets of 'flat terrain' for 2 minutes followed by a 1-1.5 minute 'climb'. I can feel my legs getting stronger for it and it feels like a much more balanced workout than the normal exercise bikes. The only down side is that I have no idea of distance really. But bearing in mind that I pick up my bike a week from today I reckon I need to get used to the more bikey feel.

IN addition to the morning workout we had a 5-a-side football game scheduled yesterday at lunchtime. The game was good, I scheduled a friendly for our team against members of the firm's 11-a-side team so that we could better prepare for the league game next monday. I must admit, my back side hurts like crazy. I'm bruised and sore, my knees aren't too happy and I'm fairly tired ... but it feels frikkin fantastic. Playing goalkeeper in a 5-a-side game requires a lot of spring a lot of bouncing around, alot of bounding on your side so the bruises are present and have reported for duty. The fitness aspect is very different ... not hugely present because there isn't much running, its a lot more anaerobic and all about reflex actions and springy muscle action. Some of those muscles I don't use that often and it shows, but that's not going to stop me from getting to the gym later today.

It'll be an easy session today - tomorrow we start the 12 week programme - the race is 12 weeks away!!!!!!!!!!!

So for your delectation here is the workout plan for next week (Sunday to Saturday):

Sunday - swim (30-40 minutes) - 200m warm-up, 100m sets (6 or 7 of them) and then a 150m cool-down - technique will be the focus - I need to get the stroke rate down and will give the breathing on each side a go.

Monday - run (30 minutes) - nothing too intense because there'll be a football game at lunchtime so its an extra bit of exercise thrown into the mix

Tuesday - bike (45 minutes) - again, just making sure that we get the rhythm right and do some intervals with hilly section

Wednesday - swim (30-45 minutes) - after a good warm-up this time I'll be going for a bit of distance but again, technique not speed.

Thursday - rest day - what should be the only break of the week.

Friday - brick session - a 30-45 minute bike ride followed by a 10 minute run.

Saturday - long run - 45 minute run taking it nice and easy

Bear in mind it is week 1 of a 12 week session so its not as intense as it may need to be but we'll be upping the intensity in further weeks.

feel free to comment on the training etc.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Need for speed

Apparently, one of the fundamentals that I need to be concentrating on is shorter distances and higher speeds so that I can up the ante and reduce the time of my run, which up untl today stood at a woeful 34 minutes for the 5k. With that in mind I trotted over to the gym this evening (I did try to wake up on time this morning but my legs simply refused to co-operate ... so I pressed the snooze button and hit the sack again for another hour) intending to run a 5k at a 'decent' pace allowing me to run a 30 minute 5k. I set the treadmill at 10kmph and headed off, 6 minutes and 1km into the run I decided to up the ante just a tad and upped the speed by 0.1, at the second kilometre the speed went up to 10.2 and so on and so forth, so that by the 5th and last kilometre I was running at 10.4kmph. I just about made it, the last 800metre were hard but I persevered and stuck it out. The result? 5k in 29.36 - I'm happy with the time but realistically speaking I won't (at this stage) manage that pace in the race after all the previous efforts, so I'm going to have to work much harder on my running. By race day a 5k at a 10.5kmph pace should feel like a walk in the park.

After the 5k (and since there was still about 15 minutes of the Chelsea vs Barcelona game left and I don't have Sky Sports at home) I decided to stay on at the gym, jump on a spinning bike and do 10 minutes of spinning (4 of which were up off the bike seat and doing the spinning equivalent of an incline). Just as got off the spinning bike Andres Iniesta scored and with that goal, entertaining football got through to the Champions league final. I hung around just enough to watch Michael Ballack make a complete fool of himself in what can be generously described as an emotional protest or alternatively a prolonged, very public, spoilt brat strop.

The two best teams in Europe will now meet in the final in what will hopefully be a spectacle of football ... talking of football spectacles, FIGO (not the player, but rather my work 5-a-side team) have a friendly on Friday, should be fun. No workout tomorrow (no time) early b'fast meeting and drinks in the evening means I can't fit a workout tomorrow morning or evening. After today the break will do me good (or that's what I tell myself).

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tri-ing for UNICEF

I've always known that I'm not doing this just for myself. Though there are selfish goals behind chosing to do the Triathlon, namely getting healthier, I've always wanted to do this for charity as well. I've never done this sort of thing before (i.e. doing an endurance event for charity) and what I've been agonising over is what charity to 'swim/bike/run' for. There are obviously, and I think this applies to everyone, events and issues that have affected me and loved ones throughout my life but there hasn't been one thing that has stood out and that has driven me to 'represent' it during the race.

Having thought about it long and hard I came to the following conclusions. One of the constants in my life, through the grace of God at times, has been my parents. They have dedicated their lives to me and throughout my life there has been nothing they haven't (within reason) tried to 'give' or ensure I had access to. They have supported me in the vast majority of my goals and dreams and have set the foundations for me to hopefully build a long, happy and successful life.

With that as a background and many happy memories of my childhood with my parents (we moved countries when I was young and I am an only child) I find it very hard to imagine living a life without that support mechanism, without a loving family and my heart goes out to all those who haven't had it and huge respect to those who have had these difficulties and have had the strength to move on and succeed (in whatever shape or form that takes).

UNICEF is therefore a charity that hit home and the work they do with orphans and children struggling with HIV/AIDS is something truly inspiring. The odds stacked against these children are enormous and any tiny (and potentially, in the whole scheme of things, insignificant) contribution I can make, and through your support of my efforts, you can make, will be a huge step forward in their lives. What may be something that would barely bring a smile to my face (or a child in a 'developed' country) could be something that would make one of these children's day, month or year. If I can make one child somewhere smile just once, all the training, all the sweat, the achey legs ... they will all be worth it.

That thought is going to be one of the things that'll keep me going come race day ... it just has to.

If you want to support UNICEF through my efforts please go to www.justgiving.com/davidgalea

Monday, 4 May 2009

Ending the Bank Holiday Weekend with a splash

Its been a good weekend with a mix of activity, rest and relaxation. After meeting up with good friends on Saturday in Canterbury we spent Sunday and Monday shopping (for the house and for sports equipment). Today was a fairly lazy day for the most part.

After a late wake-up, a good vegetarian English breakfast - i.e. an English Breakfast with no bacon or sausage (i.e. mushrooms, baked beans, toast, cottage cheese and poached eggs) and an extended lie in we headed to Bluewater and Clare bought her new running shoes (to find out more check out www.accidentallykle.com ). On our return I graced my sofa for a further extended lie in and then mustered the energy to drag myself to the gym. I was aiming for a drill session of 72 lengths (1.8km). Well, the training session didn't go exactly as planned ... the drills got very boring very quickly, and actually tired me out more than the actual swim (I tried doing the 'Touch catch-up drill' - slow, boring and a tiny bit painful was the best assessment of that). So after 4 lengths worth of drills I just gave up the drills and continued with the normal swim. With the target at 72 lengths, I reached 70 and still felt fairly good. Sighting the clock I saw I was 10 minutes away from the full hour so since there were 'only' 10 lengths left to hit 80 (and the 2km) I went for it.

I really need to improve my technique though. The problems I've noticed (or at least the ones I reckon I've noticed) are the following:

(a) stroke rate - I counted the strokes, 38-40 strokes per length is quite heavy and I need to improve my stroke efficiency;

(b) breathing - I breathe once in every four strokes, so I always breathe on the same side. I feel like it may be giving me a crick in my neck so I need to get comfortable with one breath every three strokes ... which at present is very uncomfortable (breathing over my left shoulder comes naturally but breathing over my right shoulder really doesn't).

I'm sure there's plenty more that's wrong, but notwithstanding these issues, I'm very happy with the effort today.

Unless I start getting serious withdrawal symptoms throughout the day it'll be a rest day tomorrow. The fitness base is building well and as of Saturday I start with the actual structured 12 week programme leading up to race day. Bring it on!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

In a spin

I woke up this morning with very heavy legs. My body seems to be in quite a bit of shock recently ... I don't quite think it's caught up with the fact that the race is only three months away and that there's no more messing about with training. My mind has switched into serious mode, its now up to me to make sure that my body actually follows.

With that mindset, rather than taking the day off, I went to the gym anyways. Details to follow. We headed to Essex today for some shopping (Lakeside to be more precise) and one of our regular stops there (apart from IKEA) is a sport shop, Decathlon. We took the opportunity there to stock up on some further equipment. I bought a few workout gels ... nutrition will be essential in helping me finish the race, let alone allow me to reach a decent time target so I figured I may as well start getting into the seing of things. I'm going to start trying various products over the course of the next few months and if any of you actually have any suggestions I'd be more than happy to hear them and try them out. At this stage I've decided to stay with water for hydration purposes during the workout rather than purchase a 'workout mix' ... it may not be the wisest of ideas (if you think its wrong, feel free to drop me a line and tell me so) but I figure as weightloss is also part of the general idea for training then water on its own should be enough to do the trick.

I headed to the gym this evening (while my wife was painting the wall - somewhat of a role reversal I know, but she loves it and I don't) and rather than doing the normal routine I headed to the spinning 'room', got on a spinning bike and spent 45 minutes doing 7, 6 minute sets followed by a 3 minute cooldown. 5 minutes of flat ground followed by a minute 'uphill' i.e. off the saddle and on my feet pushing hard. It felt good and a hell of a lot more like, i imagine, a bike will feel in a couple of weeks' time. A nice stretch after and my legs didn't feel like jelly as I expected them to. It'll be interesting to see how I wake up tomorrow but the plan is to get to the pool. Its a Bank holiday tomorrow so I don't need to fit the swim in the early morning or the late evening.

The plan is to fuel up properly for the swim and ensure I do a good one (with a positive attitude) and a target of 1.8km. I aim to be doing some technique drills also so it won't be a 'fast' time, but as long as I get the distance done, and the technique improves, it still counts as a decent deposit in the training bank.

Will let you know how it went tomorrow.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Back Down to Earth (but with equipment ;))

After what was a fantastic Thursday in terms of training I was less sore than expected on Friday. Friday was my rest day so I enjoyed it, though as usual I did do my walks to and from work (20 mins fast walk each way - 2.4 miles in total).

I therefore woke up today expecting to feel fresh and aiming to do 8km on the treadmill. It may be because I was feeling slightly fluey overnight (nothing swine/pork/avian/bird or any other animal related just in case you were wondering) or because it really does take more than 24 hours for the soreness to kick in but my legs felt like lead from the moment I stepped on the treadmill. I didn't feel good at all but I trudged on and I completed 5km at 9.4km/ph before I took a walking break. The walking break did help and after a 2 minute walk I got back to running for another kilometre. I alternated the running with the walking, ending in a 'sprint' at 10.5km/ph for the last 500 metres.

I did finish the distance but not exactly with the flourish I expected. It was disappointing but I think it has and will continue to ensure that no over-confidence seeps into my training.

On a positive not i headed to Tri & Run today to pick up my triathlon equipment. So they didn't have the wetsuits in stock and I couldn't pick up the bike because its being measured specifically for me and built accordingly, but it was nonetheless an interesting experience. I did try on the one piece tri-suit ... and went for the two piece instead (its just a question of taste I guess), got my bike helmet, another set of goggles, my number belt, a water bottle and a bag to put it all in. It is quite exciting to see that I now have the majority of the equipment I need to complete this. I'll be back there in 2 weeks to pick up the bike and to try on and pick up the wetsuit :) ... It has been about 15 years since i've been on a bike so it'll be interesting to see how I get on. I'll keep you updated of course.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

A worthy effort

Today is a good day, a productive day, today (training wise) I'm on top of the world.

The day got off to a good start in that when the alarm rang (at 5:50) I actually did get out of bed and get my rear end to the gym. I got on the bike and did a 30 minute workout at a harder level than usual on a hill programme - the total distance was 17.5km which was satisfying. I'm on course for a sub 35 minute ride if I do manage to translate time on the exercise bike to actual time on the road.

I followed the 30 minutes with a 5 minute run at 10.5km/ph ... faster than I usually run over the longer times/distance and hopefully it will be a sign of faster times to come.

That was the morning session.

This evening I decided to head back to the gym and into the pool. You will recall my last swim was a 1k slog which I intended to surpass either in terms of time or in terms of distance. I managed to do both. I calculated that the 750m sprint triathlon distance took me between 20-25 mins and I kept on going. Before long the 30 lengths (750m) of the 25m pool had become 40, after which I went for 50. At 49 I was still feeling fairly good so I decided to plough on and go for the magical (for me, yes) 1500m, double the required distance for the sprint triathlon and the distance of the actual olympic triathlon. I am really really chuffed with the effort. It is, in fact, the furthest I've ever swum in my life.

For the first time in my training sessions I've actually done all three events in one day. God only knows how sore I'm going to be tomorrow, but whatever the result, its been worth it.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Footy at last

Monday came along and our 5-a-side team 'FIGO' had its first game of our MOnday lunchtime league. We're a team that has never played together before and a number of us haven't played football in a long long time (myself included as I haven't played footy in over 1 year) so my expectations were quite low. The team we played seemed to have been together a while, and in the first 5 minutes it showed. We didn't really have a look in in the first 5-10 minutes, but to be honest, over the course of the 20 minute game we acquitted ourselves fairly well. In the end we lost 4-2. Its a loss, but one with dignity intact. I'm fairly pleased with my performance. I was kept busy and it meant that I got quite a bit of exercise and as well as being sick today I am fairly stiff.

Upon recovery it will be time to resume normal standard training.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

In anticipation of some sport

I'm still sore from the run yesterday, but more surprisingly, its my back and my shoulders which are the most sore. How? You may ask considering it was a run ... well, I had a golf lesson yesterday afternoon (a hobby I have picked up and somethin that I play fairly badly) ... it had been 6 months since I had played so the soreness shouldn't have come as such a huge surprise.

So I've decided to take a rest day and watch the London marathon on tv, and the Bahrain GP. I ave such an incredible admiration for the elite athletes and the impressive times in which they run the marathon. Respect going out to all the rest of the 36 odd thousand ppl who actually were running the marathon.

One of the reasons for my rest day is that I don't want to be sore for tomorrow. I've set up a 5-a-side office team to take part in a league, which starts tomorrow at lunchtime. It won't be much exercise for me, I play in goal, but I don't want to be slow or sore tomorrow. I owe it to the team not to. Its been over a year since I played the last game of 5-a-side so I'm quite excited about it and very much looking forward to the game.

So I'll pick up again tomorrow evening. I'm due a good few kilometres on the exercise bike.