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…

Emotional Recovery

This blog post has been written and re-written a few times over the last week or two It is also rather long! The original draft I blurted out after a week of being very tired (and suffering DOMS) and emotionally a bit out of sorts – not helped by watching Rocketman at the cinema.

But seeing as tonight is the year anniversary of the official beginning of the end so to speak, it does feel fitting and somewhat cathartic to sit and reflect.

This post is very much about emotional recovery as opposed to physical (although I’m catching up on rest now and realise I need 7 hours of sleep a night to really function!).

Brief background

Today is the Summer Solstice – this time last year I was swimming in a lovely little lido in North Yorkshire – knowing full well something wasn’t right. I knew things hadn’t been right for a while but I’d put it down to stress. This particular night though he was mega distance – more so than normal and driving home I just knew.

I texted him ‘You don’t want to be with me any more do you?’ and the response?

‘I didnt want to do this over text’

So essentially – he didn’t want to be with me. His behaviour highlighting his cowardice more than anything. I had to pull him up. I had to hit the nail on the end. Eight years. Just like that. All for another woman essentially. Far from repeat myself – take a look here for the full story.

So one year on….

I am still single.

But emotionally I am in a far better place. Don’t get me wrong, there is some lingering bitterness – understandably but it’s fading. Rising above it all and in the words of a mate ‘remaining classy’ has, at times, being very difficult – but same said mate is my voice of reason and go to when I need reminding of this!

Things that I have realised:

I have had a lucky escape – so many people have mentioned how boring the ex is/was. Family and friends. Even now ‘he seems a bit 2D’ – this made me laugh. I’ve thought about this and actually theres some truth, though I wonder how much of this is related to him falling out of love with me and falling in love with someone else – but I don’t know so much – when he left old job, I hoped that we would do more spontaneous things – and we never did. In 8 years we never even lived together. Clearly he wasn’t the one, and thank the heavens we never got married. His loss will be someone else gain. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and two failed marriages which didn’t last as long as our relationship, and then our eight year relationship – he has some serious issues to sort out (as soon as any woman demands commitment out of him he bolts/behaviour changes). My dad always said he’d never marry me!

Being single and independent – is A LOT OF FUN! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s quite hard and I’ve had to make myself go out and do things. Quite often though I have managed to rope others in! I can suit myself without considering someone else – which has been an amazing feeling – after being in a relationship for 12 years and never being single as an adult…. anyway – lesson learnt – retain some independence. Be my own person. I do miss having that person who always has your back, if that makes sense. I was talking to the girls at work and they got what I meant!

Friends (and family) – I’ve found out who my mates really are and what they are made of – this includes virtual friends I have made over Twitter! I am in a far better place because of their love, support and enduring patience. As well as a lot of ribbing and piss taking. They keep me grounded. There are no words to explain/convey my love and gratitude for everything over the last year and in general. Someone mentioned that I am pretty strong emotionally – and I had to explain that most of this is because I have this amazing set of people around me – that I have surrounded myself with, that I draw my strength from. I have accepted the support, leaned on them and moaned a bucketful and all they have shown me is love, care and support. Without them, I would not be where I am now. I’m also one of the youngest out of the lot of them and I trust their usual wisdom. Normally anyway. Apparently I am the bad influence. I don’t think I am. If any of my mates read this – some know about my blog/Twitter – massive thanks and love – you really are awesome!

I am more capable than I believed – I’ve done more random things in the last year than I think I ever have – honestly – buying a business, racing on my own, travelling about, on my own, fixing things, being self-reliant. Finding my own two feet and what makes me tick! Finding out who I am in relation to me, and not in terms of ‘a couple’.

Good sex is out there. Just saying.

Being selfish – first time single as an adult and I have been able to be completely selfish – and I’ve enjoyed it. Doing things/races I want to do. Sometimes you need to be selfish and be true to yourself – this links quite nicely back to the bit about being independent!

I also need to take less crap from blokes and probably be a bit less laid back in relationships – I hung around and waited 8 years for nothing – never demanded anything, had low expectations.

Making up for lost time – I have filled the last year with adventure – with saying ‘yes’ to as many things as possible, to living life to the fullest and doing stuff that I never dreamt I would. My bank balance isn’t happy but – I have no commitments and ties – and to be fair, I’ve done some serious adulating and sorted out my credit card. For all my little emotional wobbles – being single at 30/31 – has been be best adventure I have had for a long time but this does lead to some worries/concerns which are probably only natural.

General worries:

Starting again – will I ever trust anyone so completely again? Head is weary, heart says yes. I use one of the girls at work as living proof that things will come good.

Children – I don’t know if I want them. Part of me screams yes. Part of me is enjoying life too much to want them – no-one ever sells the joys of motherhood. This really worries me. I am worried about being an older mum. About settling down.

My expectations – My mum thinks I am being too picky – well I don’t want to waste another eight years on someone that isn’t right. I was talking to my boss about this just this afternoon and she doesn’t think its a case of me being picky but more a case of me having higher expectations, less willing to settle for second best and having a better idea of what I want in life/a partner.

Being lonely – sometimes I am, which is unusual. I miss having a partner-in-crime, a go-to person, someone to spoon/watch dodgy telly with. To spend time adventuring with – its always better with someone else.

Getting ‘stuck’ with the wrong person again. Goes without saying.

Not knowing what I want – I don’t plan ahead anymore – I don’t think, oh in x amount of years I want to have done/achieved/be… in the words of Graeme Obree – ‘be more seagull’. I am very much a believer that things happen for a reason – and always when I try and plan too far ahead – it never pans out like that.

The person I am now if very different to the one I was a year/eighteen months ago. Far more outgoing, no longer in someone else’s shadow, more confident and outgoing, braver and stronger. I’m a older, improved version of the 17 year old me I think. And for all her spunk – I rather like her!

The heartbreak, the split, life experience shapes you, but more importantly, life is what you make of it, and its there for the taking!

Nearing burnout!

My mother has been mentioning for a while that she thinks I am doing too much. Three weekends away on the trot, working/tutoring silly hours, trying to train and to date (theres a blog post in there all by itself) – I think she might have a point. May might just have caught up with me.

I am getting better at spotting the signs of tiredness and near burn out – and I do try to get ahead and prevent it – this week has been a case of me trying to do this. I had planned to restart my training plan this week but I’ve called quits for the week.

Yesterday I could have cried out of sheer tiredness and ashiness – this is my own doing. I might have technically been at home this weekend but I cycled Saturday and then went on a hen do which resulted in me not getting to bed until 2am the following morning and naturally waking up early! Sunday night was as bad as I went to see one of my mate -resulting in another night of only 5 or 6 hours sleep – so I was starting the week on a bit of a sleep deficit. Being at home is more tiring that travelling and being out and about.

My body and my bank balance are currently very unhappy with me!

I’ve also had a bout of DOMS – which is unusual for me really and alongside not eating properly (lack of meal prep on my side with being away so much) – I really need to try and get back on it.

So this week I am NOT feeling guilty about not training as much or about being quite selfish and leaving a chuck of the To Do list as it is – still to do. It isn’t going away but no-one is going to suffer if I don’t get it done.

I do, however, need to call my bike insurance company up and sort out some advertising for my business.

I will come back stronger. As always!

Edinburgh Marathon Festival Road Trip 2019

What an absolutely epic weekend!

It should be clear by now that I love road trips and that this May has been full of them. It is possible that this weekend has been one of my favourites! All of them have involved eating a lot, drinking a lot and racing, a lot. All good I hear you say! Well you would be right!

There are two main parts to this – the races and the rest of it.

I’ll get to the races but I like chronological order. Possibly due to my inner historian. Anyway…

Background

Why Edinburgh? Why Edinburgh Marathon Festival (EMF) weekend?

Why not? One of my mates is doing Endure 24. He has signed up to run it solo. Edinburgh Marathon Festival formed part of his training plan of sorts (the 5k, the 10k and the marathon). Because our mates and myself are thoughtful, kind and supportive (knowing the likelihood of him reading this – we love you but we think you are a little crazy sometimes), we decided to tag along in support. In my case, with the thoughts of doing Holkham, I decided that it would prompt me to keep running as part of my own training. I decided to sign up for the half-marathon and then cheer on the marathon. I later signed up for the 5k after getting a discount voucher from EMF for my birthday. One of our other mates signed up for the 5k, the 10k and marathon out of support.

This is the result of post-swim/training discussions that result in all sorts of crazy, wonderful plans.

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities so it was never going to take much persuading to get me there. Any excuse!

The actual trip

So the actual plan of action. There was four of us going to race. We travelled up in pairs and made our plans. I managed to persuade my mate to book first class train tickets – making the most of my railcard – both to Edinburgh and back. This was the wisest decision ever, even if we did lower the average age of the travellers in first considerably. More on this later. My mate, in turn, proceeded to book the wrong tickets home – causing me mini-heart palpitations. Thankfully, he realised! He was also responsible for booking the hostel.

Plans in place we met on the station platform at lunch on Friday and took the train to Edinburgh – making the most of the complimentary drinks and food while doing a great deal of people watching and general chatting. I love traveling by train, and its even better first class! What bemused me most though was how little luggage I had compared to my mate – however I was NOT complaining about this later and was soon rather impressed with his travelling skills. All kudos to him!

Arrival in Edinburgh and searching for our hostel reminded me how many steps there were in the city. To be perfectly honest, I followed my mate so he could have lead me on a right merry dance and I’d never have known! I knew where we were staying would be pretty cool but it was better than I thought it would be. We were Hostelling at the Kick Ass Hostel in Grassmarket – it was genuinely the funkiest place I have ever stayed – in these cool pods! Towel rail, hooks, plug sockets, own mini light, AND funky colour changing lights, black out curtain and own locker cupboard. Bar, plenty of toilets and showers, kitchen etc. All for £30 a night! Winning!

So far so awesome. So first night involved eating pizza, finding our feet and drinking Guiness. Our other mates had got to Edinburgh but both were poorly. This turned out to be a complete bummer as it meant neither of them would be racing. At all. The whole reason we were there. These things happen though. An early night was had and the next day saw my mate racing the 10k, and then both of us doing the 5k. Which was a bit surreal to be fair. Doing one race after the other? Well, I say that, but that was my mate. Watching and then both racing – and the number of people/organisation was impressive. More about the races in particular can be found here.

Post race plan was pretty simple really. Back to the hostel, shower, nap, eat. All of which we did. Brunch and Supper, where I went back in February, was literally around a corner or two from where we were staying so we wandered over before heading into the centre for some retail therapy/drooling over kit. Mentally spending a lot of money. This was followed by tea (I did say we ate a lot!) at a place called Mamma’s in Grassmarket – really reasonably priced, really fresh and really good service. No curry this time. Pre race pasta.

Nerves were starting to kick in about Sunday though. I was feeling it – I suspect my mate was too but he wasn’t showing it as much as I was moaning about it! Constant weather forecast checking and me debating kit and whether I should have brought a long sleeved top summed up my evening! Although I warm up a LOT when I’m running.

Sunday morning came, and I crawled out of bed – my mate came to the start line with me – well actually, it would be more truthful to say he lead me to my race – I was just following his lead! Either way – my mate’s forward planning came to the fore – black plastic bin bags! Kept the rain off perfectly. Anyway – this isn’t so much about the races as the weekend. My mates race start time was two hours after mine so after I’d set off – I’ve no idea what he got up to!

I’m going to skip forward now to post race and getting back into Edinburgh as the race day antics can sit in another post (which I’ve linked above).

We got back into Edinburgh and hobbled back to the hostel – first priority was clearly Guiness. Naturally! Then showers and then berating our mate for not racing. Followed by more drinks in the Beehive. Although our poorly mate deserves some credit – we did manage to all meet up and he suggested Zizzi’s and it was lush! So the eating and drinking carried on. Full three courses for me and the tired marathoner and pizza and desert for the poorly one. There was an internal debate about a final drink but tiredness had kicked in and so we all parted ways and headed back to sleep.

And thankful for a 10am train.

Monday morning – the pair of us aching and stiff, and me suffering with some blisters hobbled about getting our stuff together before a morning coffee and checking out of the hostel. The walk to the station was slower than our original walk from the station. It was at this point where I reminded my mate that he would soon be thankful for first class tickets home. The train was packed down in standard and probably a lot noisier too! We definitely made the most of the complimentary food and drinks, the bit extra space and the quietness. Discussing our weekend, the medal haul and me suggesting another road trip (the key is to drip feed these idea!).

It was with mixed feelings that we departed the train in York – parting ways on the station as I headed to Piccadilly to get the bus back to my pick up point. Sad that the weekend was over, that the racing was over and that I had no more planned road trips. I am more impressed that I didn’t lose my mate over the weekend or that it was as laid back as it was.

I haven’t been so chilled in so long.

Clearly in my mind I’m planning my next road trips and how to rope my mates in….

Maybe I am the bad influence?!

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!