Time Trial Love

This week has seen the last of the Club Time Trial Series.

What on Earth am I going to do with my Thursday evenings now?

Well, according to one of my mates (who only discovered my blog the other day  – yes I am talking about you!), I should go train seeing as I have some big swims coming up and a half iron triathlon!

I only started part way through last year and rather enjoyed time trailing more than I thought I would so I rather looked forward to this year and it still holds the same appeal – although this year I’ve gone in with a mission of going for the Championships. I think I’ve got it simply through default to be honest.

It is actually a bit sad that the series I’ve done has seen so few women race and few from my own club in it too. It is a rather sick kind of fun – the whole time you race you think ‘why am I doing this?’ but there is something rather satisfying post race about pushing so hard and trying to ride a bike fast. It is a strange way to spend an evening though. That much is true! From those in speed suits, disc wheels, aero shoe covers, pointy (ok ok aero!) helmets through to those like me who rock up with bright pink socks, her favourite road bike, cake and pie, meeting up in a roadside lay-by, setting off at minute intervals. Despite all this though – every single person there that I’ve spoke too or passed has been so welcoming and supportive – no judging, all there with the same intention – to ride bikes as fast as they can.

Finally raced my TT bike in an actual TT race and ended up with a personal best on that particular course by 2 minutes!

I have a confession though. I’m being sucked into marginal gains.

I have a horrible feeling I may end up with a disc wheel and a speed suit.

Cycling is a ridiculous hobby/sport.

(Apparently I’ll be racing CX this year….)

 

 

Sledmere Sunset Trail 10k

Sledmere Sunset Trail race on Friday night was a bit of a last minute (week) decision. I haven’t really run properly since Edinburgh Half Marathon so I knew it was never going to be brilliant!

I had managed to get a last minute place – in terms of – I had a place that someone didn’t want/need and it got transferred over, while I was sat in the cinema watching the trailers!

Anyway, back to the race. I tagged along with a mate who was running it and thankfully the weather had, for the most part, had improved. Considering the amount of times I’ve been through Sledmere, I have never stopped at the house so it was actually quite a treat to be there.

I registered, had a bit of a moan about how unfit I am and wandered down to the start line. The 10k did on mini lap – the 3.8km mini trail race route then did a longer loop around the estate. I have to say, the route, for 80% was really lovely – reasonably muddy but not XC style thankfully, undulating but few real hills as such (cant believe I’m saying that of all things!). I was doing ok for the first 5km – a bit caught up with slower runners but I wasn’t initially too worried – then we hit grass. I hate running on grass. Majorly. To me it is harder than sand.

From about 5/6km in to 7km, you had to run down the bottom of a long valley – and it was awful. Just energy/leg zapping grass. Even my mate at the end had a moan about that bit! Then a climb out and another run through the woods and down the trails. Apart from the grass, my only bug bear with other runners was down to the fact that very few were willing to fling themselves down the descents!

It started to rain at the 8k mark but my mate was already in – and I was happy for the rain just to cool off a bit. I pushed the last 2k – to an extent, as it was mostly downhill and then I heard my mate cheering/shouting at me to hurry up as I came to the finish line.

If I hadn’t been so unfit – I think I might have enjoyed it more – the scenery and setting was really lovely and doing an impromptu 10k during the week rather than on a weekend in the morning, was actually pretty good! The medal was also one of the nicest I have too! As for the organisation – that was top notch – as was the marshalling and cheering on. Driffield Striders put on a great event!

Same time next year I think!

Racing at Edinburgh Marathon Festival

For all I hate running – this weekend I loved it!

Its been a pretty epic weekend in some respects. My mate and I pulling in 5 medals between us.

I’d heard good things about the Edinburgh Marathon Festival from friends who had been and I never need much of an excuse to go north so cutting a long story short (the full story of the weekend is content enough for a blog post in it’s own right), there was four of us heading to Edinburgh to race.

In the end, it ended up being just the two of us racing as the other two were genuinely very poorly.

The racing started on Saturday. I was only down for the 5k but one of my mates was down for the 10k before hand. Feed and watered at breakfast we headed down to the start line – and I watched the start of the 10k race, and waited/watched for my mates return. So far so good, with a cheeky second climb on the 10k – my mate came in with a respectable time and we promptly headed for a cheeky coffee before the 5k.

Racing a 5k…

This seemed odd to me – being a distance I had never raced, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The route takes you around Arthurs Seat – my observations?

  • If doing a short race – such as a 5k, put down a faster than usual time. I tend to plod out a 5k in 32 to 35 minutes – although my last park run was 31 minutes. Anyway – I found myself near the back with all the runners who were clearly not runners, or just starting out. All kudos to them but I found because there were 1500 of us – and the route quite narrow, I struggled to run between to get myself out.
  • This was more of an issue in one respect as the route was a slow gradual pull up hill – so people who could possibly have run were walking – it was a tough pull in that respect but I know I could have slow run it quicker than walk it.
  • It’s over so quickly!
  • The views at the top are just amazing. The most scenic 5k I’ve run.
  • Benefit of a long slow climb at Edinburgh 5k? An awesome down hill which lead to some PB times on Strava in terms of 1km/1 mile etc distances.
  • I reckon, if I had put a faster start time and started further up, I could have smashed my 5k PB.

Did I enjoy it? Yes! Very much! And it was so well organised too!

Perfect racing conditions, good company and well organised. So far EMF was looking like it was going to be a lot of fun!

The Half Marathon..

I cant say I slept well Saturday night or that I was feeling particularly prepared (LSR anyone?!) but I knew that the course was flattish and had PB potential.

Nerves where there but the bigger debate was what to wear. The weather forecast kept changing and although I had brought a waterproof and clothing for post race – it was still all changeable.

Morning came round and I was sort of thankful I had liberated some instant porridge from Sainsburys the night before. Getting up at 6am and eating breakfast I was a little quite when my mate walked into the kitchen. Him contemplating his marathon and me my half. I was more than happy to know he was planning on coming down to the start with me. The forecast had changed and the rain was just drizzle (it saved the torrential for the start of the marathon!). Deciding against the waterproof – we wandered to the start – the hostel perfectly placed close to the start – and I dropped my bag off. I decided NOT to queue for the loo but I wish I had now – which will soon become clear as to why.

Theres not much to say in terms of the waiting and hanging around. It was so busy and so wet! It really was just a quiet waiting game. Thankful for my mates forethought on the bin bag raincoats!

I was near the back – think think id put down a 2:40 time – but my plan all along was 7 minute Ks – so I wasn’t worried about being so far back – it did mean though that I had a 15 minute wait from the gun time to actually getting over the line!

The start of the race though through Edinburgh is just lovely – downhill and down the Royal Mile too! Seeing the city from a different angle was really cool – I didnt over cook myself either. The first 5k flew by but this is where I kicked myself. I decide rather than queue and miss the start of the race (in hindsight a daft idea), I’d go at the 5k mark – but this lost me time that, if I had gone before, would have seen the official time be sub-2:30.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing though.

Anyway, back to the race – I managed to keep a good pace – right through to the 6 mile mark my head was in a good space and my feet still holding up. Breathing was perfect and I suspect that the slow runs on the treadmill really played a part here.

After the half way mark my feet, or rather toes, started to get sore and I knew I would get blisters. The second half of the race took us out to Musslebourgh and Preston Pans – fairly familiar places as I’d been to watch the half-iron last year. The atmosphere was good though – all the way round. The route fairly flat and my pacing consistent – I was even in a pretty good place mentally and enjoying it, but by the 8 mile mark I was trying to work out the maths as to how far was left in kilometres as well as how long it would take if I ran at a certain pace. I never quite managed to work it out (I spoke to my mate about this and he does the same in races). By mile 10 my right hip and glute was starting to complain too!

Either way – we reached the part of the course that had the switch back.

I hate switch backs. So the marathoners 10 mile switch back must be horrific.

The turn around point seemed to take forever to get to and my feet were so sore by this point. I kept glancing at my watch – I was looking at a negative split – my pace increased and I was feeling mostly ok.

I managed to work out that I might be able to get the sub 2:30. I know thats not fast but I was on track for a half marathon PB.

I still done know how I managed to push the pace at the end to the extent I did. At the switch back point it was sheer determination and a bit of run/walk strategy and clock watching that got me to the end. This wasn’t helped by the headwind that all the runners encountered on the switch back – I dread to think how demoralising this was for the marathoners (my mate and many others commented on just how awful it was!). The sign for 25 miles for the marathon appeared and I knew that there was only 1.2 miles between the finish and me. I went for it.

The finishing shoot appeared and I tried to sprint finish but as soon as I pushed harder I could feel that I might just be sick and eased back – just enough not to be. It was awesome! I had got round a half marathon, with very little walking and knew I’d got a PB! I was incredibly happy about this but I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.

Walking through to retrieve my medal and goody bag was well organised and clear. I really couldn’t fault the organisation. I went and retrieved my bag (very quickly – I genuinely was impressed with this!). Next priorities were actually getting changed and getting food. Next time I am taking a towel. I could have had a proper shower!

I got changed and had a bit of a chat with some of the women in the changing room and went in search of food – I had at least a two hour wait for my mate. A peanut butter and banana waffle and a cup of tea later, and I was sat chatting to some of the marathon finishers as well as a couple of blokes from Doncaster who were supporting their wives. Thankfully by this time the sun was shinning despite the wind. Now was just the waiting game – but a chance for me to contemplate how much I had enjoyed it – and how much my mindset had changed when it came to pushing (I think a lot of this is to do with racing TTs and my stubborn determination to push through the pain on them – I think its helping my running mojo).

The marathon… 

I didn’t do the marathon but I did go to watch the finishers and to keep an eye out for my mate. Time ticked by and I genuinely started to worry that I’d missed him. Thankfully I hadn’t – and I genuinely was relieved to see him come in. The headwind had had an rubbish impact on his race but such is life – that switch back was never going to be pretty.

The best thing about racing with mates is the post race review and chat – it is so much better when you’re with mates.

Once changed and ready – then came the worst bit of organisation/lack of local knowledge/only annoying bit of the whole weekend happened. There were a load of buses sat outside the playing field/school where the finish was. These were apparently the local and spectator buses.

We had a right walk to get the buses back into Edinburgh and paid £5.50 for the privilege! Then there was a faff sorting out which buses we needed to be on. Getting back to the hostel and talking to another lad who had done the marathon, what we should have done is just get one of the local buses back. £1.70 and less hassle/walking.

Despite this, on the bus back into Edinburgh, I was seriously contemplating and discussing doing the whole lot again next year!

So it must have been good!

And I have (temporally at least), found my running mojo again!

Rock’n’roll Half Dublin anyone?!

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!

 

Bad Day at the Office

Well what a loada rubbish that was. Thursday evening is last becoming one of my favourite nights of the week simply due to Time Trials but tonight I was genuinely quite ready to chuck it all in and throw my beloved Ridley into a hedge. I also have a new found appreciation as to why pro cyclists will do almost anything to avoid germs and nasty bugs.

I shouldn’t make excuses but hear me out. I started with a sore throat at the beginning of the week. I was actually a bit concerned it might turn into tonsillitis but its morphed into a chesty cough/cold. Every now and then I am having horrible chesty coughing fits to the extent it sounds like I am going to cough up a lung. Deep joy. Hindsight is telling me that racing tonight was a bad idea and I should have marshalled.

Either way – I rocked up in a pretty good mood. Tonight’s TT route is ridiculously pretty but also VERY rolling but with some fab decent and some reasonably nice long flats, followed by some awful rolling (‘undulating’) hills back in. Usual banter with mates – whats been nice this year so far is that there have been more club members rock up and I am starting to slowly get to know other riders from the other clubs. All well and good. I refused to sign on until they had so I was somewhere near the back. Bike set up, a good coughing fit, ready to roll.

So, rolled up to start line, usual rigmarole – all good. Set off. All good. First left hand turn. All good.

Yeah that didn’t last.

Issues with breaks caused me to stop – they were sticking. We had to alter these to suit new wheels as they are wider rims that the factory fit ones, but even so, they had been fine on the warm up. Sorted it, carried on – with what felt like nothing in my legs. Brilliant. Carried on, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to PB tonight – but ah well. Enjoy the sun and the views. All good.

Then I just seemed to have problems with my gears. This might be my doing and I think I’ve knocked something out of sync. Either way, it put myself in a right mood. Looking at the rolling hills and my watch and thinking this is just absolute s***. I literally had nothing in me and I actually thought at one point I was going to bonk. Considering last time I did this course I averaged a nice 28.8kph average I was definitely not feeling it, and when I passed a friend marshalling I nearly considered bailing all together

It was that bad an attempt tonight that I had two mates set out to come find me, thats how worried they were – they thought I’d had a puncture but no. They had both gone opposite ways around the course to come find me – which to be fair, all kudos to them looking out for me. It took me a good amount of time to actually chill out. I passed the finish line and literally just carried back on until  one of my mates found me – I felt a bit bad as I’d actually just cycled off with my race number and ignored TT etiquette of shouting out my number passed the timer. Ah well.

Catching up with the first mate, I slowly started calming down and between him and another, put my head back in its rightful place – its always useful/good to have someone close to spout off at when things go south! And by the time the second mate who had come to find me, actually found me, I was in the pub. Properly calm.

I am just putting it down to a bad day at the office and realising just how much of an effect having a cold has on my cycling (and maybe not eating enough today). More so than on my running. Or maybe it’s just that I care more about my cycling?

This has, along with a facebook post from earlier, got me thinking about Holkham and whether to change my race to September – but that is for another post.

KMF 10km and Road trips with friends

As part of my apparent ongoing road trip May adventures, this weekend was the club trip to the Lake District, or more specifically, the Keswick Mountain Festival.

In some way, shape and form, there were 9 of us milling about the festival village mid afternoon, chatting about the weekend and generally being sociable (like this is anything new!), and was followed by lunch in the town centre, but not before an awesome weekend with a great bunch of people.

Friday night, five of us went to watch Graeme Obree speak – mostly about his hour record 26 years ago but touching on other subjects. I had wanted to see him for ages and it was really worth waiting for. Saturday was chilled for some of us –  the Swim sessions for Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) has been cancelled due to algae so some of us went off to do Keswick Parkrun (which is a lovely out and back along the old railway). One of us was racing Fairfields Fell race and the rest of us milled about either wandering into town and then on to some open water swimming in a very cold Buttermere, and the rest of us ended up getting lunch in Ambleside. Tea was curry (not wise pre race day!) and then a late night in the hostel drinking and chatting away – a very chilled day.

Sunday was race day.

Three of us had signed up for the 10km race at 10am.

Sunday morning came around. We went down to breakfast and checked the weather (and forecasts), got ourselves packed and ready and headed off to the festival village. Three racing, three spectating (this grew to 6 spectating the finish line which was awesome!).

We went down to the ferry to take us over to the start line – I was on the second boat as I’d had to rush round to the bag drop and I had been waiting for my mate at the hostel to get himself ready so we’d been later setting off.

Landing further up Derwentwater, the race wasn’t quite a ‘run back to the start’ but more of a run away and up, then back. I knew it was going to be a tough one as the race took us over Catbell’s Terrace. The sun was out, the weather was good and conditions under foot couldn’t have been better. I’ll admit I felt a bit nervous – I usually do. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fair either!

The race started and was pretty crowded, the first 4km the runners were all quite close as there was little room for over taking and a lot of walking uphill (I’ll put my hand up here and admit I was one of them) – for me, I could walk some of these climbs quicker than run them, and make up the time on the decent. And boy were those fun! The scenery was, without a doubt, worth the climbing today. The view from Catbells is one of my favourites anyway but despite it being hard, it was really enjoyable. I loved some of the more technical descents – and I think this is possibly the only area in running that I may actually be better than one of my mates at – and he is a far better runner than me!

The last 4-5km were a lot flatter than the first – but did include some tarmac and my feet let me know they were not happy about running on tarmac in trail trainers. I grinned and bared it until the route went back on to gravelly trail.

I even managed to run the finish line uphill and look fairly strong still – if the photos are anything to go by!

The organisation of this race was pretty spot on – I cant fault it, but if you don’t go to the festival, £38 can seem like a lot of money. I also made the mistake of ordering a medium tee for the finish as they were offering female specific tops – mistake right there. A small would have fit. Ah well.

Lunch became order of the day (after devouring post race pancakes and getting changed) so six of us walked into town, reflecting on time well spent and enjoying what was left of the weekend.

I feel I can sum up this weekend for me in seven words – Ate lots, drank lots, ran lots. Happy.

Cant ask for more than that!

 

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!