Through sheer perseverance and rocking up more than others – the final results from the local TT put me as top woman.
That is rather cool in my eyes. Although next year I have decided that, now my TT bike is up and running – I really actually want to train for them rather than just using them as part of my training.
I am now a little lost though with what to do with myself on a Thursday night – I could try dating, or as a mate suggested – I could actually go train.
It isn’t long until I have to SWIM A VERY LONG WAY. I am entered for Coniston Epic Swim as well as Coniston End to End and as a result I need to up my swim game. I also have a half iron in September so I need to start running again and hope my knee is somewhat better!
With this in mind, and because it is the summer holidays and I am working slightly less – I managed to get in 9km of swimming. This makes me happy – but there has been little cycling or running. So next week, the mission is to try and even things out a little.
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.
I have been getting some ribbing from some mates about the actual existence of my TT bike that I bought for an absolute bargain in April. Admittedly it was a bit deserved. This beauty of a speed machine has been sat in the garage doing noting but looking pretty since I bought it because I knew I needed to get a fit done.
Getting a fit on my TT bike has not been at the top of my priorities but then my mate sent me the details of a local coach who did bike fits for £65 – too good a price to pass over.
So with that, decision was made and I booked an appointment.
I wish I had done it sooner! Or rather known about Mark sooner. Really great service and even looked at my cleats.
Far more thorough than fits I’ve had done elsewhere.
Firstly – a good chat! My plans/aims with the bike – or what would I predominately be doing with said bike (does make a difference), my current fitness, my flexibility, height, weight, stats, length of inner leg etc, followed by taking all the bike measurements as it stood. Oh and sorting out the position of the cleats on my shoes. They were well out!
Then came attaching sticky reflective dots for the camera to pick up when filming me cycle. That was the first part.
The second part consisted of then tweaking measurements, positions, stem length and height and saddle. Essentially bringing everything in – my initial concern was that the frame would be too big for me (its a small Ridley Phaeton T) but no issues.
And this is exactly WHY I haven’t ridden it until I had a fit. What a difference and far more stable/comfortable position. I really cannot fault my experience – and I have all the details of my fit and measurements and a new saddle to test as well as a stem to try out. So I need to go ride it now – this I am VERY excited about.
When I got home – I did go do a quick spin around the block. With more practice and training I reckon I could really nail some decent speed in the next year or two.
I am beginning to wonder if I am becoming a cyclist who swims rather than a triathlete or a swimmer who cycles…. Not that it matters!
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.
Slowly starting to find my mojo again I think. This week was, in some cases, an improvement on last weeks. Doing Alnwick Sprint has helped I think and this weekend’s club trip away has also helped too, so I feel a bit more positive about next week, about my training and about maybe throwing in some sportive!
Swim – 0km – VERY unusual even for me. I didnt even swim in the Lakes – however, I think I may be suffering a bit from swimmers ear after Alnwick Tri. They are very cracklely!
Bike – 47.6km – Not ideal and less than I would have liked and in one day too. I did a 6 mile TT in the evening on Thursday – as I love a good TT but… it was so hilly! For a six-miler come and try event, I think it might have put a few people off! The rest of the mileage was a loop around home on my own, I feel pretty happy with the bike in respect of its comfortable but I need to really be upping my distance.
Run – 19.1km – More than I have done in ages! This consisted of three runs – one short slow dreadmill run, 5km Parkrun at Keswick and the 10km trail race. I actually enjoyed all of it too. I am hoping this is a sign from above?!
Ive been looking at my timetable for the next week – my biggest concern is the bike – I am off to Edinburgh next weekend for running races but I need to cycle – I’m just not 100% sure how I will fit it in yet. We will have to wait and see (she says, looking at sportive for June!).
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!
Thursday was the first time trial of the season – flat and just shy of 10 miles. We got sent off to park at the village hall in the village but I suppose that acted as a reasonable warm up.
My first ever TT was a bit of a shock – someone holding your bike while your clipped in with both feet was strange – now I’m used to it but stupidly forgot to change my gears and set off in too high a gear so getting that initial momentum was a bit tricky.
The route for the TT though is, for the most part, ok but it hurt from the get go – I just remember thinking – cycling from the car didn’t feel this bad! I kept glancing at my watch – I roughly knew what my time was from the last time and all the signs were good but even so. I tried riding on the drops but head wasn’t in it. Regardless – coming back on to the main road – I was starting to flag – at mile 7 I wanted to be a little sick I was pushing that hard! In the end – the last mile was into a headwind and I was pretty happy to finish – my feet were frozen too! The whole time you’re TT you hate it then love it when you’ve finished! My official time I think was 31:30 – not mega fast by most standards but second woman (to a teenager!) and not last! Boom! Definite improvement on last year.
The post TT faff though – I come straight from work and so my boot is full of work gear, my bike is on the back seat, and so the front seat was just full of everything else – as the photo shows! Just another two months of the same chaos (and hopefully a few less DOMS)!
The chances are you have never heard of Beryl Burton – arguably one of the greatest female cyclists ever. Her achievements were phenomenal and, despite having died in 1996, her 12 hour distance record still stands.
On Friday night, a few friends and I went to see the play, ‘Beryl’ – a play written by Maxine Peak, originally for the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It tells the story of her life and her achievements – not only on the road or time trialling but also on the track in pursuit.
She is still relatively unknown by so many people – yet even with today’s modern technology and bike, knowledge of training and nutrition, she still holds the record, as I mentioned, for distance travelled in 12 hours (277.7 miles if I remember rightly!). At the time, she even took the men’s record – which took another two years to be beaten.
The play itself was fantastic and I thoroughly recommend going to see it if you ever get the chance. Having read the screenplay while away on holiday, I knew the play but to see if performed live was really special. I also had a bit of a heads up on my friends so it was a pleasure from my point of view to see their reactions to her, and introduce them to the wonder that was Beryl Burton. A wee bit of a cycling heroine in my eyes – with an absolute compulsion to compete and win!
Last Christmas (I gave you my heart…)… sorry, couldn’t resist, especially after the year I’ve had!
Let me start again.
Last Christmas, I got a free glittery notebook from Cath Kidston with an order. Being a
former teacher, I love a good notebook and unhealthy amounts of stationary. I had itchy feet to write in it – but what? I left it to the side until one day, I decided that I was going to keep a physical, rather than just digital record, of my training year.
Inside it was entitled; ‘Rach’s Compendium 2018’.
In it contains a review of 2017 in terms of distance and time for swim, bike, run and yoga, as well as a record of races, body statistics (yes – weight and measurements of all sorts body related – big drop in the summer), books read, goals (I achieved none of them!) and a monthly overview. In the monthly overview, I noted anything in particular the stuck out training wise, note on injuries, who I rode with, sportives – anything that took my fancy. I managed to keep it up – although at the back end of the year this has trailed off a little bit. Its a bit like a training diary but looking backwards rather than looking at what I have planned.
I want to carry this on, so I have a new compendium for this year – it is still glittery but slightly bigger. I will be using this alongside trainxhale.com and Endomondo (as well as Strava – but I don’t use Strava quite as religiously).
So what are the final results for 2018? Has it been a good year training wise?
It has certainly been an interesting one.
When I look at my stats – overall, 2018 has been a good year training wise. The stats are also a good representation of what has gone on in my life. In particular, my swimming stats. I have struggled over the last 18 months to get to the bottom of my swimming injury and resulting tightness. Swimming has also helped me meditate/switch off and help me recover from a horrible break up, my endurance is just about back, I just need to work on my speed). Cycling too – being dragged out to Time Trials in the aftermath of the break up brought on my cycling no end – in fact, if anything, the break up has massively contributed to me becoming more focused on me, my training, and doing what I want to do.
So distance wise – what have I done?
Cycling – (including turbo kms too) 2468.25km
Swimming – 160km
Running – (including treadmill) – 438.85km (considerably less than last year)
Total time across ALL activities – 14 days, 20 hours and 18 minutes – give or take.
When I reflect back on this, I am very conscious that a lot of this has lacked focus, so yes I have put the hours in and I have made a lot improvements (especially in terms of cycling), but I think I can do better.
I have done so much in the last six months because it has been all about me and doing what I love. I’ve probably pushed myself harder too. Reflecting on the year is rather good, as I know that with a focused training plan and getting in some decent base training, I stand a good chance of making some good improvements next year. I need/want to mix up my training, as doing the same thing won’t help me get better. I need more sessions where I push myself out of my comfort zone, but equally I need more sessions at lower intensity. Put basically – I need to keep mixing it up.
I am not sure what my biggest achievement sporting wise has been this year – but the two things I am most proud of I think involve my swimming come back and my new love of Time Trials and desire to improve and get better.
Targets and Goals for 2019
I do this every year and rarely meet any of them – or give up the ghost a bit but… if I write them here, in 12 months time, hopefully I will be able to tick them off!
Swim more than 160km
Get my CSS down to 1:55/100m or less.
Sub 30 minute 10 mile TT (I was VERY close this year)
Improve my average speed on the bike.
Cycle at least 2000 miles, if not more.
Run a sub 28 min 5km
Run a sub hour 10km
Learn to look after my bikes better!
Enter a CX race
2018 has been a rollercoaster year – roll on 2019 and the start of something truly epic!
As I am actually beginning to take my winter training a bit more serious, I thought I might as well do a couple of baseline tests. This was also triggered by a conversation with one of the coaches in the club as we were discussing doing a CSS (Critical Swim Speed) test set at the next swim session. I also decided I might as well do an FTP test on the bike too!
CSS stands for Critical Swim Speed – it’s essentially the pace you can maintain for a continuous 1500m (or hour), but rather than do a full 1500m continuous swim or an hour time trial – you can work it out from a 400m TT and a 200TT (go check out Swim Smooth here). Most of my plans and races next year are longer than the 400m swim in sprint triathlons so for me, working on my CSS pace is a good aim – I’m not too worried about my shorter distance speed (although I won’t be ignoring speed sets). I cant even remember the last time I did a CSS set so Friday morning I set out on a mission to work mine out.
I had an idea before hand that my CSS pace should be somewhere around the 2min/100m mark. I used one of the club sets – braving the longer set. I did my warm up, including a bit of speed as well as a bit of pull. My 400m time was 7:46:06 – respectable considering my swimming has been hit or miss in the last year due to injury. My 200m time was 3:49:06. I was genuinely over the moon with this as my last sprint triathlon swim time was 7:32:00 and that was at my near peak swim fitness. When I got out of the pool and plugged the numbers into the CSS calculator on the Swim Smooth website – CSS pace – 1:59m/100m – BOOM! Sub 2 minutes! Not as great as it used to be but I am still happy with this as a starting point – I’m planning on swimming four times a week!
FTP – if you cycle regularly or have a turbo trainer, chances are you have heard of an FTP test – Functional Threshold Power – the power you can maintain/produce – over an hour. Quite similar in some respects to the CSS really in my eyes. I had a debate about this with my mate and how accurate my turbo would be in comparison to the Wattbikes at the gym. But considering I’m using my turbo for my training, I decided that I would just keep it to the turbo so it was all consistent. I signed back up to Zwift and this morning decided to have a go at the FTP shorter test. It’s a while since I’ve done that too!
Forty-five minutes of sweat and hurt. I followed the FTP shorter test on Zwift – the 20 minute section from which they take the average for your FTP averaged at 164 watts – Zwift take this and work out your average watts at 95% of that (which is similar to how the CSS worked out with me). 157 Watts was declared as my FTP score – with my weight this works out at 2.5W/Kg – which, according to Zwift is Fair to Moderate fitness (see here for details from Zwift on this – its quite interesting!).
So what does all this mean?
It means that my Zwift sessions will reflect my FTP – helping make my turbo training more efficient and hopefully less dull – as I’ll be focused on following a plan. It might not be particularly accurate or my real actual power output but its a starting point. In swimming, it means that when I’m working on my threshold and endurance, I’ve times to go off – such as 100s off 2.10.
it also gives me a nice data point to refer back to in a couple of months to check on my progress.
Fingers crossed the training will kick in and I’ll see some results!