The ‘Short and Nasty’ TT

It isn’t a secret that I don’t enjoy running. I find it hard to push myself to want to get better but I know that if I ran more and trained better – I would have better results. When it comes to cycling and swimming – I do not have these qualms. Most of the time. I also have found that I love a good TT.

Tonight’s TT was, to be blunt, both short and awful.

Six measly miles.

Six hilly miles.

4 miles of me wondering why I was there.

To drive to the wrong side of town to ride 6 miles. No wonder one of my mates didn’t rock up. I’ll be having words!

Either way – a baptism of fire. The first two miles were great, but if you go down, you have to come back up. I really have zero strength on the bike and really need to go ride some hills. It was a hard slog, although I had ridden 20 miles in the morning – one of my favourite routes that takes in my favourite TT too!

All the pain of cycling uphill was self rewarded with Guiness and chips and a bit of a natter – so all in all – not too bad an evening. My prediction on my time was pretty spot on too!

Roll on next week!

Alnwick Sprint Triathlon

Where to start?

At the beginning.

In the beginning there was…..

Haha ok maybe not. So it may have come to some people’s attention that North or ‘The North’ is my favourite place to be. More precisely – Northumberland. In fact the temptation to move there increases regularly. As a result it should come as no surprise that entering Alnwick Sprint Triathlon was a bit of a no brainer! I’d set a reminder on my phone – which didn’t work so originally missed out – until I spied over social media that some more places had become available as people hadn’t wanted them. Bingo! This was months ago.

Fast forward to the day before.

Accommodation was booked and sorted – I arrived in Northumberland in plenty of time. All good you’d thing – I was too early to go to my accommodation so decided to drive the bike route. Well what a BAD idea that was. I knew it wasn’t flat but argh – talk about putting the wind up myself. Undulating is a rather mild word for it! Either way – it was a scenic route but it did put the wind up me and result in some frantic texting! This kind of set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Stayed in my favourite village – Beadnell – at Farne Lodge – what a gem of a find! I’ll be back over the summer! Really nice rooms and didnt need breakfast so was more than happy – although a little gutted my mate couldn’t make it. In all honesty I had a bit of an emotional wobble about life which again was solved/helped by some conversations with mates and I snapped out of it.

I had some jobs to do work wise (I had taken laptop) so sat and worked through a bit of the to do list then headed over to the pub next door for tea and some Guiness – why not? I took a book and just sat chilling on my own – looking distinctly like billy-no-mates.

Netflix and bed.

RACE DAY!

My first triathlon in nearly a year. I really think I am one of the laziest racers in the club. Alarm went off, I hit snooze. I thought about moving and wondered how close I dare leave it before dragging myself out of bed and getting up. Ate some food – thought that was wise! Pulled on my trisuit and some trousers before loading the car and tootling off to Alnwick. The joys of knowing the area meant no worrying about getting lost and knowing exactly where I needed to be and how long it would take. Bonus points really.

Rocking up on my own was a bit novel. I HAD read the race pack re registration and the briefing but after liberating my race number and my bike and racking up in transition – someone kindly reminded me I needed to be at a race briefing! Perfect planning there.

Thankfully not before leaving my long sleeved jersey with my bike. I hate being cold on the bike. Even in a race.

Briefing done, Let the waiting game commence!

My swim wave was 8.30 – I’d put down 7:30 swim time when I entered which put me in the 5 wave – out of 7 or 8 so heading towards the top half. The wave in front – one lass was quite slow in finishing, leaving no time for any warm up so it was a case of straight in. After focusing on my form – I was annoyed that I forgot in for the first 150m. Then it clicked – higher elbow, more power, pull and relax – then things eased up and I managed to keep on the toes of the lad in front – I’d let him over take. Stopped my watch dead on last stroke – 7:19 thank you very much! I was over the moon.

Then I buggered up my watch. I use my watch in triathlon mode so little that I forgot how it worked – so trundled through transition with the full intention of keeping warm on the bike (so that could have been quicker…). It took me half a km to get my watch on to cycle mode but….

The bike had almost given me nightmares but there was no point in sacking it off – I needed to do it. Turns out though that as tough as it was – it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was as undulating as it was scenic and in the end I was genuinely happy with my finish time – my average pace as 15.8mph which was better than I was expecting. My attitude on the bike is better than running – I seem to be able to push through the pain on the bike more than I do the run.

Talking of the run.- I faffed into transition – and as I set out on the run – remembered just how awful that heavy leg feeling is off the bike. I really should remember to do brick sessions. Either way – the run was four laps of the local secondary school – a long slow gradual uphill with a corresponding decent and in all honesty – once I got into it, managed to maintain somewhat reasonable pace for me, but I will admit I spent the last half an hour never wanting to do a triathlon again. I was properly miserable at one point! And so glad to see the finish line! At least the sun was shinning and. there was a good support crowd! The race photos are definitely amusing!

Of course after finishing – without having a support crew there, a flurry of texts went out with ‘I NEVER WANT TO DO A TRIATHLON AGAIN’. Obviously two hours later once normality had been restored I took most of this back!

Biggest worry now is actually getting enough training in for Holkham. Any chance I can take the next 7 weeks off work?!

Time Trial Start!

I discovered the joy of Time Trials last year.

On Thursday I reminded myself how much they hurt!

Thursday was the first time trial of the season – flat and just shy of 10 miles. We got sent off to park at the village hall in the village but I suppose that acted as a reasonable warm up.

My first ever TT was a bit of a shock – someone holding your bike while your clipped in with both feet was strange – now I’m used to it but stupidly forgot to change my gears and set off in too high a gear so getting that initial momentum was a bit tricky.

The route for the TT though is, for the most part, ok but it hurt from the get go – I just remember thinking – cycling from the car didn’t feel this bad! I kept glancing at my watch – I roughly knew what my time was from the last time and all the signs were good but even so. I tried riding on the drops but head wasn’t in it. Regardless – coming back on to the main road – I was starting to flag – at mile 7 I wanted to be a little sick I was pushing that hard! In the end – the last mile was into a headwind and I was pretty happy to finish – my feet were frozen too! The whole time you’re TT you hate it then love it when you’ve finished! My official time I think was 31:30 – not mega fast by most standards but second woman (to a teenager!) and not last! Boom! ¬†Definite improvement on last year.

The post TT faff though – I come straight from work and so my boot is full of work gear, my bike is on the back seat, and so the front seat was just full of everything else – as the photo shows! Just another two months of the same chaos (and hopefully a few less DOMS)!

Bring it on!

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Winter gloves, recovery, and safety – ticking all the boxes…..¬†

Beryl Burton – Cycling Legend

The chances are you have never heard of Beryl Burton – arguably one of the greatest female cyclists ever. Her achievements were phenomenal and, despite having died in 1996, her 12 hour distance record still stands.

On Friday night, a few friends and I went to see the play, ‘Beryl’ – a play written by Maxine Peak, originally for the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It tells the story of her life and her achievements – not only on the road or time trialling but also on the track in pursuit.

She is still relatively unknown by so many people – yet even with today’s modern technology and bike, knowledge of training and nutrition, she still holds the record, as I mentioned, for distance travelled in 12 hours (277.7 miles if I remember rightly!). At the time, she even took the men’s record – which took another two years to be beaten.

The play itself was fantastic and I thoroughly recommend going to see it if you ever get the chance. Having read the screenplay while away on holiday, I knew the play but to see if performed live was really special. I also had a bit of a heads up on my friends so it was a pleasure from my point of view to see their reactions to her, and introduce them to the wonder that was Beryl Burton. A wee bit of a cycling heroine in my eyes – with an absolute compulsion to compete and win!

Look at the shinny shinny!

Several months ago – I bought some new wheels. These were bought with the money I was given for Christmas with the sole intention of buying wheels. The Family just didn’t get it. I picked them up, brought them home, smiled a lot and gazed at them lovingly, knowing it would be a while before I actually got round to trying them out.

That day was today.

It’s been like New Bike Day all over again!

I ordered the tyres to come next day, ordered tools needed to take the cassette off my turbo to put on my wheels and the inners to go with the deeper rims and waited. The knock on the door was earlier than expected but I knew instantly what it was. The joy!

The tyres and inner tubes were taken out of the packaging and unwrapped. The tyre leavers came out and so to did the bike front and Operation Sort Out the Wheels began.

As it wasn’t that long since I changed the tyres on the Spesh, I did this relatively quickly.

I even managed to fit the cassette. Wonders will never cease.

Feeling smug and over the moon, I then tried fitting the new wheels to my bike. Well. The new wheels are wider rimmed that my old ones and there were a few issues – which, thanks to a mate, got sorted (along with bringing in my bike leaves).

Oh MY!

So after the bit of tweaking and a cuppa at said mates, the breaks were sorted and my leaves brought in, I went home for tea, only to head straight out again to try my usually 15.5mile loop and do some segment hunting.

Naturally I had to wait until after tea – but it was worth it. First ride of the year on the new wheels. First ride in shorts. First ride in a short sleeved jersey.

What a difference. I knew wheels would have a difference but I headed out and knew I was just generally faster. I could feel it. Turns out that the wheels really do make a solid difference to performance (I knew they would but wasn’t sure how much). It felt like I was flying down some roads – genuinely quite surprised at how much difference I noticed. Unlike the ex’s wheels – it didn’t feel as stiff as I was expecting but marginally more responsive. I felt more confident as a rider. I averaged 17.7mph over the ride – but did not top 10 any segments – even though I felt I was pretty close on Long Lane!

So worth the investment? Yes yes and yes again. She also looks absolutely beautiful! The decision not to go with tan wall tyres was completely the right one too. It even got shared on LaRidley’s instagram video!

But don’t take my word for it – I’m sure you’ll agree – she’s a beaut!

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The Stealth Ninja – My absolute pride and joy! Ridley Liz 105.

Coniston 14 – PB!

It was a PB – just! Half marathon distance – 2:35:54 – official race time – 2:45:41.

Coniston 14 is a road run – around Coniston in the Lake District. It was this or Keilder Night Sky and I missed out on a place (my own fault) at Kielder. Regardless, Coniston 14 was going to be another solo road trip and another epic.

Alarm went off at 5.30, I hit snooze. Finally dragging myself out of bed, sorting kit, sorting the car and eating breakfast, I was out of the house for 7.10am. As is normal on such road trips, the music was loud, the mood high and second breakfast awaited at Scotch Corner Services. A routine/ritual that signals road trip!

I rocked up a little later than intended to Coniston – made things a bit more rushed than I would have liked but to be fair, there was only me to sort so wasn’t really a big deal. Parked up, got myself sorted, went to the loo, had a chat to some other ladies in the same queue and wandered up to the start line – still wandering up when the whistle went – although my plan was to start near the back and just plod it out.

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The course elevation for Coniston 14

I’ve decided I need to get more familiar with looking at the profile of races – this will become clearer in a minute. I was expecting the second half to be harder. In the car driving over, you drive part of the course and there was a little voice in the back of my head whispering ‘what the hell have you signed up for?!’ Undulating. That would be one word for it! Before the start there were a few frantic texts out to friends along the line of ‘arghhhh” and ‘wtf have I signed up for?’.

The first four miles – well. They were both awful and hard and great all at the same time. You only need to look at the elevation to see why but it was constant up and down – then it got better but for the first 4 miles I really did wonder whether I would make it round. My glutes started twinging (another reminder that I need to do gym work!) first. I really did worry.

Then suddenly I found a bit of run mojo and I found some sort of pace that was comfortable and I started to enjoy where I was and what I was doing. Wonders will never cease, and slowly the miles started to tick by. Don’t get me wrong, my feet were not particularly happy – but around the mile 9-11 mark, I had some really good chats with different people and at mile 10-13 I ran with a chap called Tim, another cyclist from Lyme runners who was selling his track bike – Coniston was his longest ever run – we walked a huge hill – see photo of the elevation, but ran back down and into Coniston – where I left him to get to the finish.

What did I learn though while running this course?

  • Running can occasionally be enjoyable. I could probably have pushed harder too.I need to run more hills – and do some strength work.
  • Tailwind Nutrition in my water (I wore a running vest – not many did but it was so worth it) – it’s awesome. Top running fuel – no bonking or major hunger pangs at the end – really impressed me – as I have mostly used it on the bike. No bad guts either.
  • I miss running races – I haven’t really done many for a while – but it was nice to be out with others running!
  • Local, smaller events are usually better (this isn’t anything I didn’t already know!).
  • The Lake District makes for fab races!
  • I can actually run a hilly half marathon.

Slightly sore and uncomfortable – all the marshals and the course were fab – lots of support and cheering – and possibly one of my new top fave races – although not knocking CTS Northumberland off its perch!

What was even better – I knocked about a minute of my half marathon PB – and on a hillier course (Brass Monkey = flat – but I had barely trained for it). I am really looking forward to Edinburgh half marathon now!

I just need to get the cycling sorted (my epic road trip home involved picking up a new bike….)

 

Here goes nothing!

‘Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.’¬†Gail Devers

I’ve had a busy month and neglected writing. I’ve been away on holiday (which was exactly what I needed at the time, surrounded by friends and living the good life!), gained some more work in the form of new one-to-one pupils and completed my Level One Triathlon Coaching – all in all busy and productive. On the same note, it’s brought home some truths about the next few months.

Next week sees the ‘official’ start of my training plan for Holkham.

I am equally excited and terrified by this for several reasons. I have found that trying to eat well at the beginning of the week is incredibly hard. Monday through to Wednesday I am barely home – Monday I leave the house at 7am and get home about 9pm, Tuesday – gym before work means I can leave the house at 6am, go home for 20 minutes after work, then head out again, not to be home until 9.45pm and Wednesday is similar – gym pre work, work, tutoring and then running – so 9pm before home. I am going to have to start properly meal prepping if I am going to eat well enough to be able to train properly – and not eat so much rubbish. I’ve a few ideas on that front.

The other thing I’ve found is on the dating front – I just don’t have the time to date, that process of getting to know someone. I deleted my POF account the other day and felt better for it – it served its purpose at the time. If someone walks into my life that I find I willing want to make time for (mega bonus points if they swim/bike/run) then great, if not, then so be it. I am actually enjoying the single life too much to be too worried.

I am trying to balance saying yes to exciting things and how this is going to fit in with training/life. My major concern is actually cycling. As in May I am away three weekends – lots of running – little cycling. So that will be interesting. Coupled with the fact I am taking on an extra day at the day job – I have a lot going on. I’ve also got members day and renewals coming up in my club (being membership sec – this is the busiest time of year).

These are my main concerns in terms of general life getting in the way of training. Eating properly and fitting it in. I am going to try and keep myself a bit more accountable by blogging once a week purely about my training. A diary of sorts, in a mission to keep on top of training and keep myself motivated. Basically, I think I am just going to have to be a little (read as lot) selfish for the next four months.

Hopefully, come July 7th – I’ll be ready to smash out a great race and come back happy!

Best get cracking!