Whose idea was this anyway?

Mine unfortunately!

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This chainring was even more caked up that this originally!

A couple of years ago, if not longer, my dad was having a bit of a sort out under the sheds at the farm and had put his old Raleigh Traveller on the junk heap with the intention of getting rid. He’d been given it by a neighbour years ago when I was a little girl – maybe 7 or 8? I remember it simply as I’ve quite a good memory and remember bike rides around local parts and him buying new whitewall tyres and a new saddle for it from the local bike shop – not that he was much of a cyclist himself. At all. Anyway, it got to the point where, even for quite a short lass, I used to take it and potter around on it as it was a lot easier to ride than my old hybrid. For sentimental reasons and also for the fact that I cannot bare seeing bikes go to waste – well, classics like this, being scrapped, I vowed to save it.

So it sat, back under the sheds. Then it moved. To outside of the shed. Where it has stood for the last year or two, within sight of the kitchen at home. Looking sorry for itself – it has spend the past decade neglected, unloved and gradually gathering more and more dust and muck. Until today.

With covid-19 still doing the rounds and showing no signs of abating, today has been the day where I have started to pull the bike apart with not really much idea of what I am doing. I will reiterate now that my mechanical knowledge of bicycles is little and that when it comes to actually pulling a bike to pieces – well. Virgin territory right there. On my regular bikes that I actually use, I’ve only just, in the last year, got comfortable with taking off and changing cassettes – through necessity with turbo trainer and new wheels.

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With the chain guard off so I can clean it and see what I’m dealing with – and surprised at how little wear there is!

First things first though, washing the bike seemed like a good idea – just to see what I’m dealing with (apart from a lot of rust). The sheer amount of muck though on that bike was (and to an extent still is) pretty epic – but the grease and oil had done a pretty good job of preserving some of the chrome work on the hub and chainring – so far, not too bad. Washing it down and scrapping what mud and crud I could first without taking anything off the bike was useful and I was able to start looking properly at how things fit together. From a starting point of taking things off – I was actually starting to enjoy figuring out what to do first that was within my capabilities – although with a little elbow grease/brut force from my Dad managed to make a start.

What have I done this afternoon then? Well, managed to convince myself that this might actually be an achievable project despite my lack of knowledge – and that I might actually be able to rope a few people I know in who are happy browsing/searching the internet for parts etc (I haven’t asked him – I know he’ll probably read this and realise who I’m talking about!). I have also taken off the chain guard so I could get to the front chainring to check it over and clean it. I have, with the help of my dad, taken the kickstand off and the back wheel – unhooking the dynamo (which still works if the light at the front is anything to go by!) and taken off the back light, as well as give it a proper wash. I’ve kept relevant bits together and taken photos to help in the putting it back together stage but I think I need to make a mini to do list for jobs that need doing and research needed in terms of fixing and getting things re-chromed etc!

If nothing else, it will give me something to tinker with rather than looking at screens or bemoaning lack of training/days out! No doubt this will cost me more than the bike is actually worth but seeing as I’m emotionally attached to this bike – I think it’ll be worth it!

…. hello Bike!

After waving swim temporally goodbye I have turned to my bike to fill the gaping hole where swim was.

I am missing swim a lot – to the point that I have, like many other swimmers if Facebook and Twitter are anything to go by, started looking at pools. I have resisted so far from parting with any money though!

With everything being in lockdown – I am home more which has some advantages. I am cycling more (it’s replaced swimming – lets not touch on running though) and travelling less – life in itself is less hectic.

Cycling more and quickly getting back some of that fitness means I am slowly starting to gain some definition in my quads again – sort off. After doing little over winter and not feeling motivated, I have managed to get back on it – I’m even enjoying turbo sessions and making the most of my Zwift subscription. When I’ve actually been out on the bike though, it’s made me miss riding with my mates, despite the fact that most of my riding is solo anyway. I enjoy cycling with mates more. More surprisingly is the fact that I am actually doing spin sessions at home – and enjoying them! Though I have no intentions of letting on how much to my mates. I think part of this is just routine. I’ve put off going and refused point blank all winter but this is partly due to the fact that Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days work wise. Although after all this, this may change and I may have to reassess my workload. The other bonus is, that a combination of following a plan, my mate’s spin sessions and cycling out, I have improved my FTP by 10 watts in three weeks. Apparently. I am a little skeptical about this but I think it just means that I am getting back some of my fitness – my FTP was considerably higher at the end of 2019!

I’ve also had time to read more and self study.  I’ve read and debated starting sewing again, however, I still need to keep things ticking along with the business and looking into that. Theres a few things I want to try but its making me a bit nervous and I’ll admit I’ve been putting it off – but a few Zoom catch ups (via quizzes and murder mystery games – seeing my face on video isnt quite so bad!).

Day to day though, I am still working the day job but being home more is actually quite nice and I am eating better/more regularly – just need to keep healthy and as fit as possible – I may even come out of lockdown bike fit at this rate.

I am very much looking forward to lockdown ending as the more I am at home, the more things I am adding to my bucket list and researching in to random trips…

Well, might as well live life to the full!

 

Stronger and stronger….

I have been quite quiet on here recently. I did start writing a post last week – after an awful month in October which lead to a mini-break down with my mates who, as usual, were pretty fabulous at putting up with my full on rant about very little at 7.30 in the morning. Three weeks on and off antibiotics, working full time hours at the day job coupled with the start of a coaching course and my tutoring work after work – it is no wonder that I was in such a state.

So finally had a few days off and started to come round a bit. I caught up with some friends, slept, did little, watched some Netflix and switched off a bit. Normality is slowly returning.

So what’s next?

The conversation with my friend was rather inspiring and enlightening. Long story short, she was like me at school and never sporty, still isn’t but has a PT in a local town and is on a mission of her own. She was singing his praises – which is saying something! This got me mentioning my ongoing knee injury and fact that I am rubbish at keeping on top of my S&C work and could do with someone to keep me accountable. I also actually want to be a better swimmer/cyclist/triathlete next year.

SO what is next?

Ha well, next week I have an appointment with my mate’s PT. I am going to find my mojo, get back on it and come back next year stronger.

What have I let myself in for?

 

Off Season!

I have done very little in the last two weeks in the form of training – and despite a bike ride yesterday, with a bit of UCI World Championships inspiration in the form of cycling through floods…. I have only been to stretch and yoga. I have, however, spent quite a bit of time catching up on some bits and pieces and reminding myself that there is time, or rather life, outside of training too.

I would like to say my mojo is back, but that’s a bit of a lie. Today I really am just tired and I’ve no real idea why. My bike needs cleaning, my accounts need sorting out, I have some marking to do but still, motivation is not quite there for anything. It’ll come back I am sure but at the moment I am just procrastinating. I suppose I need to get back into a routine as everything seems a bit up in the air.

I also think I am just feeling a bit ‘blurgh’ and unmotivated due to the time of year and recent poor diet. Autumn is definitely here. I was supposed to go to a gig on Thursday but couldn’t be bothered and at the moment I am not feeling particularly excited about going to London on Friday. There is nothing big planned on the near horizon and things at work are a bit up in the air. I suppose I am just in a bit of a lull/dip of general tiredness and fed-up-ness that I know will pass.

I suspect I just need a bit of a plan of action and to figure out a new autumn/winter routine!

It’ll all come good!

In the meantime, I’m off to hibernate for a while!

 

Rest, Reflection and Reading

Time flies doesn’t it? It’s a week since Outlaw X – the buzz has just about worn off. The race pictures are out and I have had time to sit and think about things and reflect – like all good athletes should do. I’ve even had the week off the day job to recover. It has been strangely blissful. I also received my email about my Level 2 Triathlon Coaching course this week and after last time, I’ve decided to crack on.

So a week of reflecting, resting and reading – what has come of it.

Well on the resting front – I really haven’t done much. Went to yoga (that was painful!), two stretch classes, coached swim, slept a bit, read a bit, mooched a bit and tutored. I also sat and reflected on my race. It has been quite blissful really.

My thoughts still stand from the last blog about the race (see here) – I have decided that I am going to have another go next year and I am just waiting for entries to open, which should be in the next week or so. I have also found my love for triathlon again. I have only done two triathlons this year, swimming and cycling took over really. Unsurprising as they are my favourite disciplines, but… after sitting down and working out how to cut some time off next year, I feel like going sub 7 and knocking off 35 minutes is more than achievable – as long as I remain run fit!

How am I going to get better? The wandering reflections….

Swim – I need to sort my back/shoulder out. I am hoping it is just tightness but 8 months ago, and my last sprint triathlon, I was managing a really good pace and my CSS was down to 1:51 – at the moment it is back up to about 2:00 – partly due to a sore/tight back. Starts to whinge at about 1500m. I also need to do more OW swimming – more consistently – at least once a week from May onwards I think. As I am slower in OW. If I managed to replicate 1:50/100m in OW, and in a race, it would knock off about 4 minutes. Swimming is also my favourite disciple as we know so hopefully

Bike – If I can average 17mph on the bike, I will knock off at least 15 minutes off my bike time – which is not impossible, so long as my training over winter is consistent. I actually need to keep it up and probably get in some speed sessions. I am also keen to improve my skills on the TT bike and possibly ride Outlaw X on the TT. Better structured training would be wise too!

Running – This is the biggest issue for me. It is my least favourite part. My knee injury is now, hopefully, on the mend – I need desperately to keep on top of strength and conditioning work going forward (this is part of my winter plan – dial back on actual swim, bike, run – and do a bit more gym work). Come back stronger and reduce risk of injury! I am going to speak to one of my mates who is a running coach and try and avoid junk mileage and find some way to measure improvement. I am planning on doing a bit of cross country this year so hopefully see some improvements over winter. My next running race, excluding XC, is CTS Northumberland. I also have a half marathon booked in too at Edinburgh. My half marathon PB is 2:30, so even if I ran/walk Outlaw X in better condition than this year, I should easy knock 15 minutes off (2:45 half marathon) and if I can keep injury at bay, improve my running and technique and come off the bike as strong as I did last week – I would like to aim for a 2:30 half marathon. 2:45 would do….

Transition – well, so long as it isn’t raining, I shall be better next year – I probably should practice transition, and do some brick sessions along the way…

I have further been reflecting on how I am going to map out my training as the plan I started on this year clearly didn’t work or fit my life/work commitments. I need to probably say no to a few things as well! I am about to start my L2 Coaching course and I have started reading up ahead of time – there is a lot to get through and it is really making me think about my own training and phasing it out.

Putting all this together – I am actually feeling excited about next season and training, but equally at the moment, I am enjoying not feeling an pressure to swim/bike/run and have relished having a full week off. The next few weeks are about keeping up the exercises from the physio, sorting out plan at the gym (need to make an appointment), and slowly getting back into swimming and cycling for the sheer enjoyment, without a particular goal.

I can see a plan slowly starting to form…

Looking Ahead – 2020!

The title of this blog post and the nature of how this blog came about suggests that it should be about relationships and life and looking forward rather than back. Well, I COULD have written a post like that – and maybe I will as I have temporarily  given up on dating and have currently resigned myself to being single a bit longer (no bad thing) – although… no – this isn’t about that.

I like paper to do lists, I like paper diaries and I like paper wall planners. Although I have taken to using my phone diary a lot as it syncs to my laptop diary and I can print that off all colour coordinated and blocked out. Saves me a job! This has got me thinking – how to other people plan out their year?

I find that a huge wall planner, next to my desk in my office works best. Academic of course…

Its even got a basic code – races that I am interested in go on – regardless. As soon as they are ‘booked’ or confirmed – I put a cloud round them. Holidays have a line through them. It works! It really does! When I am sat working in my office (which, when it is tidy, is more frequent that it is at the moment) and I am wondering what my plans are/training needs are, I can quick glance at what is coming up – I can visually see the space/time between events – which makes planning so much easier. It also means that if I get my way then May next year will be bust and I need to save some serious money to do what I want!

I am VERY excited though – which probably means actually, dating would not be wise…

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Chillswim Coniston End to End 5.25 miles

The 31st of August 2019 may go down as a day that I decided never to swim again.

Temporarily anyway. I’m waiting for sleep and time to dull the painful memories.

It’s already fading as it is and I am beginning to think that I actually might have enjoyed it – in a type 2 kinda way!

So the decision to do the End to End was made nearly a year ago. A year ago when I went to watch and support friends. I walked up a hill to watch from afar – little spots in the water in the far distance swimming beautiful calm water in a beautiful calm part of the world. I was wishing I was in the water – not watching!

I decided that I would have to give it ago, and low and behold, Saturday morning came round and I found myself stood next to a lake wondering what I had let myself in for.

This weekends adventure started as we left York – I say we, as there was one of my mates, his gorgeous pooch and myself, all packed and loaded into the car and on our way – and already planning/researching an epic trip for next year! We stopped en-route at a fish and chip shop in Kirby Stephen that has not seen any modernisation in about 30 years (except maybe the till). They weren’t bad for all I mock. The second stop was Kendal before arriving quite late into Coniston. By this time we had already learnt that the swim had been put back five hours due to the weather forecast which meant we had time for a drink and chance of a lie in. Winning!

Morning came round and breakfast consumed – we wandered down to register and investigate the water (walk the dog and attempt some geocaching – we even bumped into Sean Conway!) and waste some time. Milling about waiting is actually harder than it looks. Our complacency though backfired as we realised the time – quickly scoffing some lunch before getting changed (I have NEVER put a wetsuit on as fast in my life) and heading to get the bus to the start line.

For once I didn’t feel nervous. I knew I could do the distance but that it might be uncomfortable – my kit was all ok, ear plugs in, hats on – even booties – which was a good call! Checked in, scoffed a snickers, stuffed one up my sleeve and finally got in to the water and off. And a water temp of 17 – I knew I could swim in that happily!

So far so good. Managed to keep up with one of my mates to the second food station. Was struggling a bit with sighting and a bit off initially but the first half was quite uneventful – I cant say easy – it wasn’t and some of the food stations meant getting so close to shore you had to walk out of the water. The real fun came between miles 3 and 4 – the sun had been out for the first half and considering the rain and wind of the morning – the afternoon was looking promising. Then the wind got up and the rain started. One the plus side I saw a rainbow and didnt notice the rain so much! Mile 4 or rather at the 6km mark, my shoulder started to give me issues and I debated getting out and DNF-ing. I am a bit stubborn though and I could not have worn the hoodie if I had so I carried on and the last mile was the worst!

After the fourth feed station pain, boredom and negative self talk started. My shoulder was making me miserable, I was struggling to see the five mile buoy and I misjudged the finish – like a few others. I also needed the loo – anyone who knows me, knows how hard I find it!

It seemed to take forever. All hopes of coming in in under three and a half hours were shot and I just wanted to finish. I have never been so happy to see a finish line!

The photos of me exiting the water say it all!

My mate was waiting for me as I wandered out of the water, down the finishing shoot and to the exit – first two things to sort were my need to go to the loo and food. Both satisfied – we got the buses back to the registration point. Lots of people around me mentioned that they had found it harder than last year and the conversations since suggest that a lot of people were about 20 minutes slower than they expected – which makes me feel somewhat better about the the 3:50 when I know I can do it in under 3:30!

Achy and sore, both my friend and I wandered back to our cottage and got showered before heading out for a drink and then eating tea. Wetsuits in the drying room, fed and watered, bed called. I have never been more happy to go to bed!

Still woke up tired though, but less painful memories of the swim!

As for the event itself – considering the delays – communication was excellent, organisation was excellent, the volunteers and safety crew were excellent and the whole set up fab. It really was worth doing and is worth doing – just because!

And yes, I was glad I wore booties and had snickers up my sleeve!

Will I do it again?

Ask me in a week or two!

Getting Back On It

It is twelve weeks today until Outlaw X in September – which, alongside Coniston end to end swim, are my two big goals now. After spending most of May socialising and June recovering from said socialising, its time to get back on it.

Timing, hopefully, should improve in terms of how much time I have to train. Work is the same in terms of the day job – although I have a week off soon, but the tutoring work will probably ease up over summer – or rather my one to ones will.

I am slowly starting to up my swimming and the Time Trials will finish in three weeks time – although it has to be said I’ll miss them! I am slowly starting to put together a plan for the next few weeks with what I’ve got planned but I need to start prioritising running as a running total of 15km in June is pretty poor – and not going to get me around the half marathon at the end of a 70.2!

At least I feel like I am starting from a reasonable decent place with most things. Just need to get the mojo back!

Pressing Reset – Holkham

This has come as a bit of a surprise to even me but after seeing a Facebook post about changing my A race, a month of being far too sociable and thinking I can manage to balance everything, as well as a rubbish race last night and cold….. I’ve decided to quit Holkham and change to Outlaw X in September.

After speaking to mates last night and some equally awesome people on Twitter, this will come as no real surprise – there are multiple reasons for this and I am quite happy to share them – I don’t feel at all bad about changing my race or my priorities – in fact if anything, going to see Graeme Obree speak last week has just reaffirmed my own outlook to not really care what others think, to not worry too much about life’s purpose and to enjoy the moment. I’m not a pro and life happens and no-one will die as a result of me changing my mind!

So why the change?

  • I don’t think I will be race fit in 6 weeks. That is completely my own doing. I had a plan. I was, at the start, doing well to keep to The Plan. Then I booked too many social things and took on extra work with my own business and an extra day at work in the day job, that I’ve struggled to fit it in – slowly heading towards burn out.
  • I was too ambitious with my initial training plan – I think this may have contributed to my loss of running mojo. It had all started so well too! I know too well though that this does ebb and flow anyway.
  • My friend withdrawing meant that I was racing far from home on my own. Ok this is a bit of a no-goer as an excuse and her decision, like mine, has been the right one (so no feeling bad!!). Changing my race means I can probably actually get out on the bike more with her, which was part of the original plan when we discussed Holkham anyway so win win! We will be back! And I’d still like to do Holkham.
  • Delaying/changing my A race means I can take on board what I’ve learnt in the last three months and get it right or rather improve it. How many people honestly get to reset their training during a race season? We are still only just in to triathlon racing season and I’ve a reasonably ok base on which to restart – so taking this as a mini win.
  • I need to reset – building on from the last point. I’ve come down with cold/chesty cough and noticed last night how much it effects my riding. As well as getting a good kick in the backside about doing more hills and actually going and doing some S&C – as one of my mates keeps nagging me to do. I need to mix up my training again. I also need to swim more as I have signed up for Coniston End to End and that now lands BEFORE my half-iron distance race.
  • Outlaw X is quite a bit closer to home. I hadn’t sorted out my accommodation for Holkham but Nottinghamshire is closer – which has some obvious travelling advantages. I also think I know a few people who might be doing it so that’s a bit of a winner for me too.
  • The weather will, hopefully, stand a chance of being cooler. Equally, there is a higher chance of it being a lot wetter – but I don’t really do well in heat – to be fair, this is just an advantage of having a later race – it could end up being an Indian summer and hot!
  • It gives me chance to go do some sportive that I’d like to do which will help with training – after last years events and thinking about my cycle fitness by September last year – I was in a good place – hopefully I will be in an even better place by this September!
  • Hopefully I have learnt to not book in too many social events – or rather, balance them a bit better. I feel like, after 8 years of being in a relationship with someone who actually wasn’t that spontaneous and that up for mini-adventures, I’ve been making up for lost time. I don’t want to lose that but I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Alnwick Sprint a couple of weeks ago – why not incorporate my mini-adventures/road trips with training? So going forward, I want to incorporate them.
  • Triathlon/training has taken over a bit too much and I need to step back as well I think. Hopefully in changing races, I can actually take a step back. I am heeding the warnings of my friends about burnout before I do actually properly burn out.

Genuinely think this is a good call on my part. A middle distance triathlon was the goal for this year and changing it has all sorts of advantages. It also means that I stand a better chance of getting a time I am actually happy with compared to racing in 6 weeks and possibly breaking myself!

Roll on a summer of training and enjoying life!

 

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!