Decisions decisions!

‘Don’t make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion.’ Unknown

I’ve been meaning to write for a few weeks, but as always, life gets in the way. I’m about to fly out to a small island in the middle of the Med to support friends who are racing.  Discussing this and next years race season with one of my friends last Tuesday has made me realise I really need to decide now what I want to do next year race wise. It has been on the back of my mind for a few months really but my training is currently aimless and even though I know I should be building my base fitness – what am I building it for?

This is where the quote comes in above as being quite apt. As for permanent decision – not long after the split up, I bought another bike (ok not a permanent decision but still!) and I bought a business (a slightly more permanent decision!). Why is this relevant to my training/life/race decisions? Well, the thing is, I’ve been debating going long course next year and to me, this is a bigger commitment than the business – maybe not so much money wise, but certainly time wise. I’ve a half already booked (its not up on my ‘Races’ page yet for various reasons) – I’m doing this with some friends. I know I can be race fit for this as my base fitness has improved massively already since the summer. I’ve proved I can do the distance in the swim and the bike – running is just the thing to conquer next.

The issue is – what else do I want to do?

There are so many awesome races out there that I could do.

I’d like to go long course, but I’d like to do Coniston End to End swim. I’d like to do Red Bull Time Laps too. I’ve even been asked about doing Brecca Swim Run at Coniston.

I’ve not wanted to make too hasty a decision as if I do go long course, it has to fit in with my half-iron in July and my life in general. If I do go long course I also need to make far more serious commitment to training but it also means I have to be more careful planning out the rest of the season so I don’t over do it.

I need to be making the decision and soon.

I always said 2020 would be the year, but that was 12 months ago and a lot has changed, but I am worried that I am thinking long course next year to prove a point and therefore potentially for the wrong reasons. I know I have nothing to prove but still. Experienced and unexperienced friends alike all have their opinions but even on their advice, I still need to make the decision. And soon.

Having never properly planned my race season and going with the flow, this is proving to be a tougher decision process than I thought! Maybe five days on a sunny island, surrounded by friends and triathletes will help me make my mind up!

Triathlon X Half Relay Antics

‘Empathy is about finding echos of another person in yourself’ Mohsin Hamid

I’ve rewritten this post more times than I care to remember before publishing. For various reasons – including being too wordy! September was a very busy month – three out of five weekends saw me travelling to the Lake District, all because of some link to the Tri Club, so not all bad.

So, why was I back in the Lakes?

The last Bank Holiday in August, a group of us went open water swimming. Not an usual event considering we’re triathletes, but this time, one of my friends – who doesn’t like swimming at the best of times, had a mini panic attack in the water. This led to a conversation about the fact that she had signed up to Triathlon X half and how she felt she couldn’t do it anymore. Two of us offered to do it for her if she could do it in relay. That turned out to be me. I had planned to come up anyway to cheer her on as I had nothing else on. So a couple of emails back and forth later and I was entered into Triathlon X half to do the swim! Now, TriX has a reputation. It is possibly the hardest triathlon (half and full) in the world. I definitely had the easy part. To put it in perspective, I was done with the swim by 8.44 – she was only finishing at 5pm – and she is an Age-group standard athlete for duathlon. If you want to see the elevation involved, I would just go search it if I were you.

Back to the race planning  – after a few conversations back and forth, I booked my own accommodation. It’s the first time I’ve stayed in a YHA on my own in a dorm room. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was actually ok. It is nicer having your own room but for £27 and to be located right next to the start line, I wasn’t going to complain. I hadn’t booked breakfast knowing that I would be swimming and up early (6am to be precise). I also didn’t check out when I left for the swim. Knowing I’d be finished before 9am, I decided to wait so after swimming I could go get a shower. This turned out to be the best plan ever – who doesn’t want a warm shower after swimming in a cold lake?!

Drinking coffee and eating some oaty breakfast bar I heading over to transition and met my friends. Dressing in neoprene – literally head to toe – hat, gloves, booties as well as wetsuit was more than novel compared to normal. I had been feeling ok about the swim until the night before. Then nerves started to kick in. Although I’ve been swimming again more regularly, this was going to be my longest continuous swim since Leeds Tri in June (1500m) and the water was a lot colder than I normally like to swim in.

The actual Swim 

I can now say I have a far better understanding of what my mate feels about OW swimming.

Not that I am not empathetic – just that I have a better understanding and wish there was more I could do to help her.

Water temperature was 13.3 degrees. Coldest I’ve been swimming in for a long time, especially any distance! It was definitely warmer than it was in April though. It was a deep water start and there was about 135 of us but there wasn’t too much of a washing machine effect as normal – although I started near the back. I spent the first 3/400m wondering what on earth I was doing? Debated getting out, decided I hated OW swimming, wondered how I was going to make it all the way round etc etc. It was awful. I’m not usually negative when I’m swimming but the first part was just awful. If this is even a fraction of how those who dislike/hate swimming feel – wow. This was bad enough and I am a fairly confident swimmer and love being in the water normally.

I finally found some sort of rhythm after I got past the first triangular buoy at about 800m and started to enjoy it. I was surprisingly warm (thank you neoprene!) and took it steady – to try and save my shoulder. The last 200m were cold and long but I was apparently smiling when I got out. Was a bit annoyed with myself as my time was 44.17 and I know full well I could have done a sub 40. My mini stress at the beginning and have to physically stop a couple of times to sight properly and get my bearings definitely didn’t help. My shoulder still isn’t perfect either but it’s only twinging a bit at the moment. I really need to rest it up I think and make sure I keep stretching it out.

I will point out though, that I was smiling when I got out – and dare I say it, I finally managed to enjoy it!

Racing in relay

Racing in relay was new, but the nature of the race (see comments about about elevation), meant I was actually quite glad I’d finished. I definitely feel I had the easiest part of the race. There was a picture of my friends stood watching the swim looking so worried. It turns out they actually were. A few got out during the swim and DNF’d – that worried them. The temperature worried them. My mates nerves got to her. The picture in question is worthy of a caption competition to be fair!

I got out of the water and hung around long enough to see my friend disappear up the road on her bike and I went and got a shower and changed. It was going to be quite a long day. I wasn’t completely on my own though. My day consisted of eating and drinking and generally wandering about until about 5pm when my friend finished. I do not know how she did it, and I am in genuine awe of her achievements. She is so unassuming, quiet and quite shy – I don’t think she realises her own strength, stubbornness and determination. I suppose that’s why I love her, and was more than happy to jump in a cold lake for her. I’d do it again too!

Broken by Bouldering

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ Neale Donald Walsch

I was asked, last week, if I fancied going bouldering.

‘Why not?’

So last night I found myself at Hull’s Rock City, with good company and no clue what I was letting myself in for. I already knew my upper body strength was dire and I knew I would probably end up hurting but I’m usually game for trying something new, and after going and playing at Pines last week, I was even more game.

I turned up, only to be told I looked nervous. Well to be fair, I was probably did look more nervous than I actually felt but either way. In we went, I signed my life away on Bouldering membership, paid up, got my climbing shoes and was lead into the deep beyond of Rock City’s front counter.

Shoes on, chalked hand and glasses off.

Well what can I say? Tried some of the level 2s, they were ok, then I started to realise just how poor my shoulder/arm muscles are. Moved on to some of the level 3s and started to see why it was actually pretty good fun! Don’t get me wrong, my toes and my fingers started to hurt, and even my arms and shoulders by the end, but figuring out routes and actually climbing them – I really can see the attraction of it!

I was definitely feeling out of my comfort zone! Although once I realised that actually I could do some of these climbs and the main issue was my strength (this wasn’t that much of a revelation to be honest), I actually started really enjoying it. After an hour though I really was starting to feel it – I can see some long term advantages of climbing though. My swimming will definitely improve with climbing, and I very much suspect my cycling will benefit too. Definitely want to go back! I very much think that I will end up back there sooner than I think I will – same with Pines too. I do ache this morning though. Worth it though.

This winter will be cross training at it’s best I think…..

I just need to actually go do some running now (so I’m off out on the bike instead!)

 

Oh, and respond to the email/sign up for Holkham Half Triathlon…..

Playing at Pines

‘And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.’ Shanti

After waiting a week to have a proper play on the new cyclocross bike (now known as the Ridders), the mudguards came off, the chain was given a quick clean and the brakes given a bit of adjustment – the time had come to actually go and play. The bikes were bundled into the back of the car and the mini road trip to Sherwood Pines was done.

I had been looking forward to this all week. I am not a fan of mountain bikes really, coming from a roadie background, I don’t think this is that surprising. So the cross bike was really a more natural choice. I initially felt a bit out of place – ours were the only CX bikes there and I’ve never ridden in SPD Mountain bike cleats but that passed. Quick. Initial start wasn’t good – one cleat on upside down had resulted in frustration in not being able to clip in, but once rectified, it was time to go and play.

Heading to Sherwood Pines has been on my To Do list for quite a while – but with it being down in Nottinghamshire, I never really got chance to go. Sherwood Pines is a lot flatter than Dalby Forest, and we initially started out on the Blue route – well, my bike handling skills need some work but on the most part – it was so much fun! In my head, it was the cycling equivalent of trail/XC running. I was not really far off. Absolutely loved bombing around the course and not really worrying about speed – so much so I was wishing we’d done two (next time). Even had a bit of a cheeky play on some of the red route sections.

I love my roadies – don’t get me wrong, but this was just so much fun! I’ve got to do some serious practise but for a first attempt, it wasn’t bad! Itchy feet to be back must be a good sign right?

As for having a go at racing – I think it is definitely on the cards – especially after talking to one of the club members this afternoon. I feel this can only be a good thing for my road cycling. I am, however, glad that it hadn’t been awful weather before hand!

Ellerton Park – Swim little fishes swim!

Swimming has its educational value – mental, moral, and physical – in giving you a sense of mastery over an element, and of power of saving life, and in the development of wind and limb.’ Robert Baden-Powell

Swimming, over the last few months, has been a blessing and a heart saver. A lot of my friends swear by running as cheap therapy but for me, it’s always swimming. My swim set, how much I swim, where I swim, how much effort I put in – the ability to actually swim ‘mastery over an element’ is my therapy. I really can switch off when I swim and focus on the moment and what I am doing. It has helped my mental wellbeing after everything that’s happened and it has helped my physical body get physically fitter. Not so sure about the moral benefits, other than being able to take the moral high ground after an early morning set before work!

As such, I always feel the need to share my love of swimming and finding little gems. Today, myself and seven other club members headed over to Ellerton Park to go and swim. My friend wanted to so we opened it up to the club and in the end eight of us rocked up to swim.

For those who haven”t heard or been to Ellerton Park, it is not far from Scorton, Richmond in North Yorkshire. It really is a hidden little gem! Clean, quiet and open all day – what is not to love?

I really should have asked everyone how far they swam in order to get a grand total – I know that I did four laps (my longest OW swim of the year at 2.3km) and that one mate did 11 laps, and another 5, so theres 20 between three of us. I also heard later on that another club member had gone across in the afternoon and enjoyed it.

It was a bit of a trek to Ellerton Park from home, however, as I think I’ve mentioned before – I think it will become important in next year as I train for my planned A race of the season. Apart from been clean and quiet – it has, as stated above, long opening hours. It is definitely worth a trip.

Quick run down….

Location – Ellerton Park, Scorton, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 6AP

Cost – £5, cash only.

Facilities – Changing/shower room, steps into the water, burger van (varied opening hours – so don’t count on it!), not far from local cafe though, with Tri-ology located above it.

Spotters/lifeguards – no. Definitely worth taking a tow float/mates to spot.

Swim loop – 530m loop around 3 buoys, clockwise, can get a bit choppy.

Opening times – If I remember rightly, the season is usually March to September, and opening hours at rough 9 to 6, give or take an hour. I’ll try to double check next time I’m up there – but regardless – you can swim all day if you want!

Water quality – really highly rated – and you can tell when you get in! No pool/lake fever for me at all. Definitely a major selling point.

Parking – yep – and a decent amount of it too.

Other important info – Can be weedy, going off past experience, spring water fed so although warm when sun has been on it, can be cooler quite quickly. Usually pretty clear. Quite deep – you cannot stand up unless you swim right to the side, and even then it is only a small ledge. You may find yourself swimming over divers and occasionally some boats may be in there. They only accept cash! This is also a venue for a local midweek sprint triathlon too.

Lured to the dark side of cycling

‘You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a bike and that’s pretty close.’ Anonymous

Yesterday was indeed a day of great happiness. For various reasons.

It started with a decent swim (all the best days usually involve swimming) at the gym, and was followed by a very long solo road trip. I say very long, it wasn’t too bad to be honest but the traffic was a bit rubbish. The swim and solo road trip weren’t the cause of the great happiness that washed over me.

It all started over a week ago – a message from a friend regarding a CX bike he’d seen on Facebook and a frantic text to me to tell me about it and persuade me to call about it. I did, and in doing so, I ended up travelling up to Newcastle to go look at a second hand, extra small, Ridley XBow (being a short female, second hand bikes that fit are quite rare!).

I had been debating cyclocross for cross training but it would appear I have been lured to the dark side of cycling after all it would seem as I came home with said bike. I came home poorer but also richer – nothing quite beats N+1 in all honesty. I was grinning from ear to ear all the way home! It helps that I like the paint job on it better than more recent models.

The problem is now, I need to sort out the mudguards – bike hasn’t been raced and used more as a winter hack/commuter and I think I need to tweak a bit with the saddle height. Saying that though, the lady I bought the bike off had a shorted stem put on it – which is what I had to do to my Ridley Liz. I also need to sort out the cleats for the shoes as I’m used to SPD-SL and these aren’t! Regardless….

Seriously excited.

Seriously gutted I won’t get a chance to play until the end of the week!

 

Best get a move on and up my bike handling skills!

 

What have I let myself in for?! (No one mention MTB – I fear the worse!)

Ride, ride, ride!

“Ride a bike. Ride a bike. Ride a bike” – Fausto Coppi, on how to improve

The only way I am actually going to get better on the bike is to actually go ride (I could say the same about running – I really need to work on that!). At the moment, I have no more races pencilled in for this year and as a result, I don’t really have a training plan. This has the advantage in that I can swim/bike/run as I like without feeling guilty but the downside in the fact that my running is being sorely neglected for cycling, swimming and gym work.

So with no races booked, my current dedication to my cycling and proving to myself what I’m capable off – a month or so ago I signed up for the York 100 sportive – 68 miles. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it so I thought why not!

The plan was to ride in from home, do the sportive, and ride home, rounding it up to 100 miles. This was the plan until this morning. In the end, I persuaded a friend to join me. He’s a bit of a beast on the bike. I finished on 80 hard earned miles.

I cycled to the start – all well and good. Met my mate, registered, and set off. All well and good. Made a very good pace out of town (my spin has improved massively and the TTs have paid off too) and headed towards some climbs. The thing with the York 100 is that it starts off fairly flat and finishes fairly flat, but has a very bumpy middle. There is nothing really major to actually report – it was really uneventful really, but there two observations that I want to make.

  1. Nutrition – I tried something different today. After being mocked for taking so much food that I realised today I genuinely don’t need, I did try some new nutrition. I’ve been a fan of High5 4:1 – it is good stuff but equally can be a bit sweet. On a recommendation, I bought some Tailwind (Caffenated Raspberry Buzz if you really want to know). I tried it in the pool – not so great – but on the bike, wow! Genuinely really impressed. It is a lot like rocket fuel. I took some extra but wish I’d had enough to fill a third bottle it was that good. I had a spare pouch of the High5 but missed having the Tailwind. My belly hasn’t felt badly and it wasn’t too sweet and sickly either. Going to stick with it and see how it goes.
  2. My cycling fitness – It has definitely improved this year, massively. But also over the last few years. 112 PR/2nd/3rds on Strava on that route – and more importantly, not once did I unclip up any climbs, including a very long climb out of Leavening and a climb out of Thixendale at 17% and with some help admittedly, I am also managing to maintain a good pace and dig deep at the end of a ride too. I am feeling very smug tonight. I also managed to average just shy of 15mph too. Former attempts at the York 100 have been so much slower and compared to my riding at the beginning of the year? Well. I am sooooo on it!

All in all, today was a very good day in the office!

Late night musings of the heart.

‘Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.’ – Dalai Lama

This is very much a late night musing as I’m wide awake and overthinking. I’ve lost count of how many weeks it is since he left me for another woman and despite there still being some pain and rawness – for the most part it’s gone. I’m not quite at the ‘not caring’ stage as such but I don’t think that’s far off – I’m not avoiding him as much as he’s avoiding me! However, some realisations have been made and it’s been interesting. Helped by putting the world to rights. I feel the urge to list them. Are you sitting comfortably?

Here goes….Not particularly in order….

Realisations about ‘us’/him/our relationship:

  • As soon as a relationship requires commitment or work – he bolts. Turns out it’s a (very) reoccurring pattern. So why did we last so long you ask? I’m too laid back.
  • He’ll do the same to her. I await karma striking. When it does, I’ll probably be past caring, but it will.
  • On the same theme, he will grow into a lonely, old man. I did tell him this. He agreed.
  • He’ll never admit it, but I think one day he’ll regret what he’s done. Maybe not now – but one day. See above.
  • Both of them and their mates know what they’ve done isn’t on – trying to blend in and clearly feeling awkward. It’s obvious they all knew something was going on before I did. Genuinely don’t believe that they didn’t act/do anything before he left me.
  • He’s a complete coward (putting it mildly) and a poor example to good men out there despite appearances. Who knew eh?
  • Apparently eight years isn’t worth fighting for. It is apparently acceptable to just bury your head in the sand and hope problems will magically go away.
  • I put more effort in than him.
  • He put me in situations where clearly he aimed to spend time with her while appearing to spend time with me.
  • Turns out I was the supportive one. More on this below.
  • This list could go on but it would get very bitchy and sweary. So I shall leave it at that.

Realisations about my mates and myself.

  • I was too bloody nice! This harks back to last point above. I can’t think of one race that I did because I wanted to, that he didn’t, that he came and supported me at. I either did same races as him or he did same race as me. There’s been things I’ve really wanted to do (SUP) that he’s had no interest in and he hasn’t supported me in (although I’ll admit he was quite supportive while I did my PGCE – the levels of support given to him between career change and triathlon make his support seriously pale in comparison!). I also did 95% of the running in our relationship too and when I was stressing every week about kit I needed – absolutely no understanding whatsoever about how this was starting to affect me.
  • I have THE greatest friends in the world. Honestly. There’s a core bunch of about 7 or 8 people that, without them, I’d be in a far worse place. They have listened and supported without moaning – at least to me – about it. Been sympathetic, got me out doing stuff and generally been all round awesome. Some of this has also come from unexpected places as well – so beyond that core 7/8 people there has been some wider support from club mates/Twitter and beyond that has surprised me and helped me. Checking in on me and making sure to nag me to eat/stay positive/tell me exactly what I’ve needed to hear. I am eternally grateful.
  • I’ve pretty much put the voodoo doll away (this relates to a conversation at a TT a few weeks ago – ‘You’re going to have to put that voodoo doll away eventually’ after a long moan about what o should have done.
  • Staying on the theme of friends. They really are the family you choose for yourself. Surrounding yourself with good people is a great healer.
  • I am made of stronger stuff than I realise. Coming out of the pit of despair that was the break up – a friend mentioned this week about how strong I’ve been dealing with things and rising above things. My world was shattered to the core and it’s foundations when he left me. I’ve had no choice but to rebuild it. No point in hanging around. There maybe odd tweaks on the way but life is for living.
  • My self esteem/confidence isn’t too bad but even I need an ego boost occasionally. Turns out I am actually desirable and not at all past it. Not that I ever thought I was past it but I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me!
  • Being single for the first time as a fully fledged adult is interesting and actually fun – I’ve not had time to sit and dwell too much – I’m too busy doing so much random stuff – and things I want to do! I don’t have to hang around waiting for anyone, I can go meet new people, I don’t have to consider anyone else.
  • Which leads on to – any future relationship – I need to remember to be my own person and do what makes me happy more. Life is too short to be a sheep that merely follows. I did too much of that.
  • I can, in fact, look after my bikes myself and sort out stuff. And be organised. Far more self reliant.
  • I’ve less patience for nonsense.
  • Did I mention I have the best mates ever?
  • I am braver than I realise too. I’ve big plans and they are scary. With little to lose – why not?
  • There are still plenty of single blokes out there. That’s been an interesting wake up call! I’m seeing life/dating in a whole different light and I’ve a better sense of self and just what I don’t want. Probably more so than what I do want actually.
  • I’ve spent more time with my cousins – this is quite a big deal actually as there’s a group that are close and I always wanted to be in their crowd – they’ve always looked out for me but it’s really come into its own recently. Definitely feel much closer – and at the end of the day, family and friends – ultimately relationships are are what matter and the love that goes with it.
  • Love heals.
  • My heart will recover. My heart is recovering.

Yes I wanted to marry him and yes I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. There were a lot of things I thought I wanted. I can’t really regret anything. I’ve gained/learnt/done more than I could have imagined over last 8 years. But it’s beginning to look like I’ve had a lucky escape – everything happens for a reason and it may just turn out to be the greatest stroke of luck it happening now!