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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TT Queen and General Training

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.

Mission ‘get my arse in gear’ is on!

I also need to try and catch up with friends!

The Weekend That Was Supposed To Be

Holkham Half Iron was today.

I was supposed to be racing it.

I didn’t.

Anyone that has been following this blog (hahahahaha) knows that I transferred my place to Outlaw X in September. A most wise and excellent choice. To the point that although the weather looked perfect – I didnt feel bad about not doing it. Although I did remind myself that I need to run.

So what did I do instead?

I surprised myself.

It is becoming a bit of a bad habit to say yes to the random things my mates suggest. About a week ago one mate sent me a link to race he had signed up for – up near Consett on Derwent Reservoir. Asked if I fancied it – and camping (with my new tent). Well bit of a daft question. I read through and debated it – but then it dawned on me I could use this to my advantage.

I decided I would use this as the perfect opportunity to head north (what a surprise!) and go cycle in my favourite part of the world – Northumberland.

I decided not to race but still go and camp and support my mate racing, while also riding my bike.

It was actually quite hard getting myself up and out on the Saturday morning to be honest – there was a little voice in my head wondering whether it was worth the money (fuel) and time going all the way north just to ride for a few hours when I could do a 40 mile ride at home. I had already printed off some OS maps just to keep in my pocket as I don’t have a cycle computer, and my bike was in the car – sod it. I overrode the little voice of doubt and thought it would do me good to go.

It was. Road trip central. I set off at half 7, donned in lycra from the start. I stopped at Scotch Corner as per normal and got some funny looks – which considering the lycra was unsurprising. I made Beadnell for 10.45. Driving North makes me so happy!

The weather was absolutely lovely but as I sorted out my bike and got ready to go (this is quite a quick process when you are on your own!) I realised that my route meant that I was going to be cycling back with a headwind!

Ah well.

My route was taking me towards Boulmer via the coast and then back round towards Lesbury and up to Rennington before heading over North Sunderland and into Bamburgh – this was a long tough slog actually – headwind and up hill – but the view was worth it (see the picture!). The other thing that made it worth the slog was the tail wind from Bamburgh through to Beadnell and some amazing speeds and top 10s on Strava!

It was bliss! I stopped eventually at the harbour in Beadnell for an ice cream before cycling back round to the car and heading back to Derwent Reservoir. It was mixed feelings though – it was an epic ride in terms of scenery and just sheer enjoyment – I was over the moon with myself at cycling so far away from home (without the usual back up) on my own! But equally – I really would have liked to have had someone to share it with. The joy of a good bike ride is like nothing else!

However I was feeling – it definitely helped reset the happiness/wellbeing button in my own head.

So looking forward to riding up there again and planning my next trip up there!

The mystery of the Phantom Phaeton

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!

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!

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?!