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?!

Holkham Training – Week 6

I would love to say that everything is going fabulously but it really isn’t. My running mojo has completely fled and I’ve just not been in the right head space – which isn’t really an excuse but with so much other stuff going on – it has taken a little bit of a back seat. I have however, had a good week of life in general – a flight to Northumberland, a really good bike ride with a mate and some swim improvements too, so not all is lost! I also seem to have signed up for Coniston End to End swim in August…..

Swim – 3500m – Consisting of only two swims – one set was 10 x 100m in which I averaged 1:45/100m – really surprised myself. A slight change in my stroke seems to have made a bit of a difference. The other 2500m were swam in the outside pool at the gym, the main set was 400, 300, 200, 100, 200, 300, 400 and to be fair I quite enjoyed it.

Bike – 67km – Monday’s ride! I rode every day of bank holiday but Monday was the longest ride I’ve done this year and with company too – which was awesome. As was the pub stop – I should have had pints as the halves went down too easy. The ride back into town, post pub was a bit speedy – think I averaged about 20mph! I was a bit shot though when I got back! Still need to sort my TT bike out but the weather was glorious, the company fabulous and the riding good. So despite not getting more rides in (shoddy weather/time) – it was good to get a longer ride in, especially after riding the three days previous.

Run – 11.7km – I lead the club run – all two of us – on Wednesday and did hills. After the horrific rain half an hour before, if no one had turned up I probably would have gone and run on a treadmill. I feel I have lost my mojo again which isn’t fun considering I have Edinburgh half marathon in 4 weeks. I was supposed to have a 2 hour run today – yeah that didn’t happen. I managed 30 minutes. I am going to have to buck my ideas up and get back on it some how. I might try running outside on Tuesday morning and combine it with a swim, so we will see.

Holkham Training – Week 5

The week did not start off particularly well. I am not sleeping as well as I would like and waking up early with zero motivation or energy to get out of bed. I did start the week with a swim – which was good fun – slowing down is hard, but my week also started with the news that my mate, who I was supposed to be racing with, has withdrawn. In all honesty, I am not surprised. Life does, sometimes, get in the way, and sometimes you just have to say no, or cancel things to protect your own health. Having being in a situation where things can be too much, I do get it completely! And talking of things getting in the way – the lack of energy/sleep thing has been getting to me – the lack of sleep issue is partly related to the cat, but I have also started taking iron tables so we shall see. Hopefully energy levels will improve – especially with long weekend and a quieter week work wise.

Swim – 2900m – Another lowish swim week but…. more interestingly – I have been reading Swim Speed Secrets by Sheila Taormina – and so I tried adjusting my stroke on session and suddenly I was swimming 1:42/100m! I need to work on it to get it to suit and finish reading the book but wow. Just wow. The theory, basically – is that swimming is 80% about the pull, 20% rotation/other stuff so need to focus on the pull – and within this, reducing the number of strokes as well as increasing the cadence. Sounds simple but I suspect it won’t be anything but! She also advocates/points out the high elbow within the pull, or at least keeping it high to start. So work to be done there. I am also conscious that I need to be thinking about starting OW swimming.

Bike – 87km – Three days on the trot – to be fair, Ive really enjoyed cycling this week – the weather has been glorious for it and its been a long bank holiday. I’ll be going out tomorrow too! From a mid week post, you might have seen that I’ve finally put new wheels on my bike – and they have made quite a difference to be fair when putting the speed down. They aren’t really any lighter but the deeper rims are more aero and I have felt the benefit. I was a little gutted to be 1 second away from a QOM, without really trying. I’ve just enjoyed it. I even got to ride with a mate this morning – even if it was only for 4 or 5 miles!

Running – 5km – And on a treadmill too. This isn’t good. I have just completely lost my run mojo. End off. It’ll come back. Hopefully on Tuesday!

Holkham Training – Week Three

This week has been a very mixed week. As much as my fitness is improving – Coniston 14, general rubbish sleep and being busy has wiped me out this week so I have barely stuck to the plan – on the plus side though – I’ve found some cycling mojo again and seen major improvements in my CSS time. I’ve also managed to be relatively sociable – a committee meeting, a trip to the cinema and a evening at my mates, eating and generally chatting.

Swimming – 2500m – A very short week swim wise. Literally just due to tiredness but still. I did my CSS test with a mate on Thursday night and surprised myself to be honest, I wrote about it midweek – see here if you’re that interested! Apart from that, there isn’t more to say – the swim doesn’t worry me – although getting round in a good time would be rather nice! Swimming at my local lake started this weekend but it is too cold for me at the moment!

Cycling – 45.7km – This has been the bigger thing for me this week – I ended up having to take the summer bike off the turbo to go and pick my car up from the garage on Friday as I knew my other winter bike wouldn’t fit back in my car with mudguards. It’s first time I’ve ridden my summer bike this year on the road – and it really brought back my cycling mojo – I’ve just been so down about my own cycling and lack of over winter. It was only 12km to the garage but I managed to hit some of the speeds I was in the summer – peaking at 24mph through Elvington – short, sharp blast – proved I could still do it! So on Saturday, after work, I managed to get myself out on the bike for a 20 mile loop around home and really enjoyed it. It did help that the sun was shinning to be fair. Just glad to be finally getting myself back out.

Running – 5km, Ok this is really poor, even by my standards. I was going to run post committee meeting on Wednesday but I was just so tired. This week has really got to me and my general enthusiasm has waned. I’m not worried and just putting it down to general tiredness.

I’m really looking forward to next week though – I have only one private tutoring appointment as opposed to three and because I worked Saturday, I am off the day job Wednesday as well as Thursday. Hoping the Easter holidays will provide a little bit of quiet and rest as I won’t be working bank holiday Monday either. Hopefully next week I will be able to stick to the plan a bit better – and possible up my protein and sleep! Oh and actually doing some strength and conditioning work – might be wise!

Holkham Training – Week One

So first week of my half-iron training done. I’ve included an introduction – so will be a longer blog than maybe normal but seeing as I’ve few readers and this is mostly for my benefit – meh!

Training plan background and general introduction

I am following the plan from IronFit Triathlon Training for Women by Melanie and Don Fink. Why? Because it was the Be Iron Fit plan that the ex had followed for his IM training and it had worked for him and after a year and a half of it, I had a good feel for it. The Half Iron plan from the book follows a similar layout to the Be IronFit one to be fair so the routine is one I am used to. I am also using TrainXhale to map my training and record it (as well as Strava and Endomondo – I like stats). My base in terms of run fitness and swim fitness have been pretty good. My cycling has fallen by the wayside a little – but it’ll come back. I always worry more about my running but the cycling is creeping in a little. Regardless – going back to the ‘plan’ – The IronFit book has three levels of plan – complete/intermediate/competitive – I’ve looked at the intermediate and the competitive – and used a combination of both to make my training plan – the main differences between the intermediate and competitive were longer brick sessions, an extra bike session and longer swims. I know where I can tweak according to other plans. I have also taken on an extra day at work.

General issues

Beyond training – I struggle to eat properly at the start of the week due to work commitments. Last Sunday after a long run, I tried to be mega organised – I came home and cooked enough food to feed an army. Well, ok maybe a little bit of an exaggeration but certainly enough to get me through the start of the week. This has proved to be an absolute godsend and worked really well. I ate well and felt better for it. Until I scoffed my face at work with too much cake and sweet stuff – I need to be careful NOT to over eat on the premise that I am training more and need fuel. It doesn’t work like that!

I also need to find time to actually chill out, rest and do other things beyond triathlon – hard when I am in the middle of renewals, had Members’ Day to organise and a business to run (which I really need to get on top off and advertise more!). I managed to find some time this week and despite being tired, binge watched some ‘Nailed It!’ on Netflix.  I also managed to be sociable and went out for tea with a friend I haven’t seen in years.

Anyway – on to…

Training!

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Recovery! Chocolate milk is just the best after a long slow run!

Swim – 3 swims, 5.65km. Well, I still have the same niggles I’ve had for ages, didn’t quite get the distance I wanted either but think I may need to reassess my swimming and when I swim as quite often my pace is all over the place. I’m not worried though. Swim is swim. Nothing else to report!

Bike – 2 x Turbo sessions – 48.52km – One session was the 4wk FTP Booster Wk1 Day 6 Tempo with Accelerations and the other was literally 75 minutes of spinning/endurance. Nothing to report – I really need to get out on the bike. The second session nearly was – it was after being at Members’ Day all day and the faff of getting lights and kit out just did not appeal despite the weather.

Run – 2 x Treadmill, 2 x Runs – 35.9km total.  Did my first long slow run (lsr) in a LONG time on Sunday (before I actually started my plan on Monday) and it was actually really enjoyable. I can’t believe I’m saying that about running, although I always did prefer a LSR to sprint and tempo sessions. Sore feet (blisters by the end) but all in all – good. It was also my first solo lsr too. 14km. I’ve managed to keep the running up through the week – I’ve been aiming for Zone 2 runs on the treadmill and considering Wednesday night’s club session – it appears to be kicking in. Friday’s treadmill session was same pace as always but my heart rate average was 142 – so I know it’s definitely kicking in! My LSR today was 10 miles/16km – which was against the plan but I have a 14 mile race (Coniston 14) next weekend so thought I better get some miles in! Again, sore feet about 12km mark but slightly faster average. By end of March I will be on my longest ever running month. My mojo is slowly coming back.

Overall

I managed to keep to the plan this week – I even got in a stretch session at the gym and my normal yoga session on my rest day. Today’s LSR though did remind me that I definitely NEED to get in my strength and conditioning work as my glutes were complaining a bit today. I know there will be weeks and days were my motivation is dire and I may need to catch up on rest/be sociable but looking ahead, beyond this (and acknowledging it – Long slow work will be most important) my bigger concern is May as I am away a lot and will really have to think/consider how I am going to get long rides in. I’ve some time to think about that, but for now, I am happy that for the first time ever – I have ACTUALLY stuck to a training plan! Heres to the next fifteen weeks!

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!

She wouldn’t believe it!

This post has been flitting through my mind without even realising it until today. I’ve partly categorised this under ‘Matters of the heart’ because it is a subject that is close to my heart – education…

Random thoughts this morning while heading to the gym to swim included the thought that one day I would like to write a book. I’m not sure if I ever will but if I do it will probably be related in some way shape or form to triathlon. I say random thought but I think it was triggered after seeing that Sean Conway’s new book is available for pre-order. This then got me thinking about who I would dedicate it to – which links in with a random tweet from someone the other day about school PE and former PE teachers.

To put this into a bit more context. The tweet in question was something along the lines of how being a chubby (fat) child, people presume you would be bad at sports – yet there she was having running an ultra as an adult. I was a chubby child, more academic than sporty. Sorry. Academic and non-sporty. I was rubbish at sports and dreaded PE. I had this the other day with some lad over on POF when I announced my dislike of team sports, he presumed that it was because I was rubbish at sport – not an uncommon assumption. He carried on to say that it didn’t matter if I was the slowest etc – I could still train and play – or words to that effect. I clearly put him in his place (don’t get me wrong, I’m not the fastest but I’m definitely a competent swimmer and reasonable cyclist). I just don’t like team sports such as netball (or football etc).

So all these thoughts and things coming together – if I wrote a book that was sports related – I would dedicate it to Mrs Houlston – one of my PE teachers from secondary school.

As you’ve probably guessed, I really did despise the majority of PE in school. Most of all team sports. Netball topping the list. Being picked last is demoralising. I hated most of it. Although ironically, considering my love hate relationship with running, I never minded XC and I loved badminton (the only sport I ever played as extra curricula at school – we were just allowed to play, it was run by the male DT teacher and with hindsight was probably rather dodgy!). That’s about it. You may have already noted – these are usually solo events. Even now I hate team sports or anything like that – although relays are fine. I put it down to school mostly but when its a solo sport, you’ve only yourself to upset/let down really, anyway this is going off point a little.

Where does Mrs H come in in all of this? Why would I dedicate a book to her?

By the time I was in Y11, I was walking a lot more, being generally more active and I’d started to lose the puppy fat that had plagued me for as long as I remember. No-one ever said I was fat or anything like that but I wasn’t slim and my mum always just called it puppy fat. There was a complete transformation in my appearance – when I show people my Y7/9/11 school pics they don’t believe its the same person.

There is one PE lesson, or rather snippet at the end of a lesson, that really stuck in my head. It was summer, we were playing rounders. Yes I’d been picked last again but as I wasn’t carrying the weight any more suddenly I was managing to run and get half/full rounders. We were walking back to the changing rooms and Mrs Houlston was walking beside me and just happened to say something along the lines of how well I’d played or compliment me on how much faster I was/fitter I seemed. I told her about the walking, she seemed impressed. I don’t quite remember the words, but I remember the feeling. I’d had a compliment/praise from a PE teacher! I was secretly proud as punch – praise was less meaningful in other subjects as I was pretty good academically. The other thing to note about Mrs H, especially compared to my other PE teacher, Mrs P, Mrs H was always more understanding of us less sporty girls – encouraging yes but never berating us for thinking we weren’t putting the effort in or make us feel awful. It’s like she knew how much we despised it and tried to make it tolerable (she did know, I’m sure of it!). Mrs P always seemed full of over-enthusiasm and had obvious favourites – the sporty ones. We always copped it.

That feeling that I got from the quiet praise and the fact she had noticed, means that Mrs H will always be a bit of a hero when I look back. Its been the comment thats stuck with me more than anything at school. It’s probably inspired me more than I realise too as I often wonder what she would make of what I get up to now! I’d like to think that she would be a little bit proud. She will have no idea just how much of a lasting impression her words have had and I would love to just bump into her one day and tell her. My inner teacher is reminded that teachers hold more sway than they realise sometimes and sometimes its the littlest things than make the biggest impact.

So if and when I do write that book… I will dedicate it to Mrs Houlston, with a massive thank you for recognising that I maybe wasn’t quite as rubbish as I thought and for just making my last term of school PE ok.

 

(I’m starting a triathlon coaching course this weekend. I don’t think she’d believe it!)