Thursday, July 30, 2009


Meh. Whatever. At least I went!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making an effort

Back to Thursday efforts for the first time in ages - over to the grass track for some short sharp sprints.

4 x 200m (relay, groups of 3) - 3 mins for the whole lot (I don't think we split the track into even halves, as my splits were 41, 49, 42, 48) makes about 6mins/mile.

2 x 100m (relay, groups of 4) - didn't time it. We cocked up using teams of 4, as that meant there was nobody at 0/400m on the second rep! So it was 1 x 100m and 1 x 200m. Lesson: teams need to be the number of relay stages plus one if you want to go round more than once!

2 x 150-200m - not exact, not timed, just an attempt at a handicap. Quite good fun running really quickly (everything's relative...) in a huge chaotic bunch!

Then I had to walk back as both my calves were cramping. Oh well - the main set was good. I'm not as slow as I might be, or thought I was, and am faster than some. It would be interesting to get some technique training, not that I will ever compete in anything sprint-like, but just to see how I could go faster.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No motivation!

I passed up on swimming at lunch time but then Lizzie emailed about a run tonight, so I redeemed myself a little and joined her. Around the block, so 5.9km, 34:50, 9:30/mile. Felt about the same as Monday - I just can't get this pacing lark at all!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Short lunchtime run

Down by the river - just 5.4km, but 35 mins: 10:25/mile. Didn't feel that slow :(

The runs from UEA seem to be the ones where I think I ran quicker, or that the distance is a bit short. How odd!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend long runs are back!

Well, long-ish. 13km, which is just under 8 miles, done in glorious drizzle with Lizzie. Perfect running weather! 1h16, 9:24/mile, which is great and makes me even more doubtful about the supposed 10 min miling from last Monday. Today felt leisurely and less effort than that, but was allegedly significantly faster. What's going on here?

Friday, July 17, 2009

For the sake of it

Little swim to escape the office, no watch and no counting, but a few speedy lengths thrown in for interest.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pretend training

Fed up of aimless swimming, I decided to repeat an old training session:

300m WU
200m drills (kick, pull, fists)
6 x 100m, 5s rest (all 1:57-1:59)
6 x 25m sprint, ~45s rest (done @1:10, all between 23-25s)
300m CD

Total 1550m

Pleasantly surprised to see my times still quite decent! Just need to keep it up now. Probably going running instead of lake swimming on Sat, so will aim to get another pool session in on Friday.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Better, but not quicker?

A much better run than last Weds, with Lizzie and Jeanette at Conac. Doing Colney/Bluebell or Bowthorpe marshes AGAIN was vetoed, so we went via the park and the posh bit of Unthank, and back via the river. It felt like a good pace, but it was 4.3 miles in 43 minutes, so 10 min miles - certainly felt faster than that to me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Longest lake swim

I traded in my red hat for a slightly slower yellow, and joined forces with fellow yellow Sue who wanted to do 1900m in preparation for a middle distance tri.

There are 4 buoys in a line down the lake, and 2000m was given as being out to the far (#4) buoy (750m), back to the nearest (#1) (+250m), back to #4 (+250m), back to the deck (+750m). We swam out to #4 (16:30), back to #3 (+8:15), back to #4 (+8:15), and back to the deck (+19:00 - getting tired). Total time 52 mins, total distance likely 2250m. Methinks there should have been an additional buoy between #3 and #4! Never mind - it was a good swim and another nice day, although the wind picked up a little as we swam. The lake seems a bit green and murky at the moment, and the weeds are high, but it's nothing too bad.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2 x 50%?

Lacklustre swim (35 mins, no watch, little motivation) and lacklustre run (Keswick Hall/Brettingham Ave, chunk of walking related to need for Waitrose pit stop - 52 mins, 4.8 miles).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Recovery run

Around the Waitrose loop: 6.6km - 38:37 - 9:24/mile. Legs fine, a bit out of breath but nothing too chronic. I suppose a week off should be plenty, but it's good to be back. Lovely evening, sun coming out after a shower, still drizzling a bit, and a fantastic double rainbow.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Longer race report, with photos

You can see my full results here.

The story of the day...

Up at 5:15am - astounded to see thick fog outside, and immediately worried that the bike leg may be cancelled. Lovely B&B owners let me microwave my porridge (although no discount for not availing myself of their breakfast!). Over to the park for 6:20am to set up in transition - clearly nothing is cancelled at this stage. Feeling very bleary and pretty nervous. Realise I forgot to bring my MP3 player for a few preparatory tunes.

Meet up with Nigel plus Sally, Hannah and Richard supporting us. Announcements over the PA indicate a late start due to the fog so we don't bother fully suiting up just yet. I am, of course, delighted to have a swim hat bearing the legend "Big Cow"...

We were ushered over to the swim start, ready to go after 20 minutes - it was questionable whether we could see the first turn buoy through the murk, but with canoeists to assist it wasn't a problem. There were three waves: male seniors, male vets, and women and relay competitors. Even at this point I didn't really twig to the male/female balance but there were only 50 or so women competing out of about 300.

The three waves went 4 minutes apart, so after skittering down the bank in my flip flops and tiptoeing over the pebbles, then a brief bit of acclimatsation, I was off. No, you can't work out which one is me in the photo. There was plenty of room and very little contact going on - I didn't have any problems. Even managed to spot Nigel as I passed him about 2/3 through lap 1. The leaders zoomed past to exit just as I turned to start lap 2, but I carried on pretty steadily I think, and exited in 41:29 (32nd fastest female - my most successful leg). Being dragged up a slope isn't the prettiest exit, and there was a brief threat of calf cramp, but I did remember to fill my suit with water to try and make it easier to take off.

Sadly it didn't really work, as I just couldn't seem to concentrate on running and getting the top of the suit off at the same time, so by the time I got to my space all the water had gone. Oh well - I was out there in under 4 minutes (!). Also gone were most of the other bikes, but not all.

I had some kind of problem with my right pedal/shoe - just couldn't clip in. Probably due to running over wet grass, I guess something was just clogging up the cleat. I stopped twice to try and check but couldn't see the problem so just pressed on. Halfway up the first hill it just clicked in (at which point I immediately unclipped it just to check I could!) - just after that, Nigel swept past me on his way to a 3:03 bike leg.

The first lap was excellent - although probably too fast. My computer gave me 28.2km/h (17.5mph), and the downhill past the race HQ was what gave me the big grin as I passed a few of those who had passed me on the earlier uphill. I reined it in a bit for the next lap, but was temporarily undone by my chain popping off at 41km (easily fixed, but while checking it I noticed I couldn't get into the lowest gear - worrying). Of course, it happened on an uphill that I had to then walk up before I could start off again. At 52km I got a puncture on the front tyre - did a quick fix that I thought would be good enough, but at 62km, 75km and 85km (!) it needed topping up. By the last one I had used my two CO2 cylinders and was topping up by hand.

The other killer on the bike route was Chicheley Hill, up to the A509 about 5km from the finish. The OS map makes it a 30m climb in 600m, so 1:20 or 5%. I'm not sure I could have trained for it in Norfolk! The first time up, it was tough; second, tougher. Third time up, I downed an energy gel 5 minutes before, dropped down to as low a gear as I could get... and my quads locked. Just cramped up completely, simultaneously - I just managed not to fall over like a complete idiot, but then had to walk gingerly to the top and hope they relaxed enough to continue. At the top, after a final tyre top-up, I was primed to hit the main road again for the last stretch.

So, 3:43 for the bike leg. That's an overall average of 24.7km/h (15.3mph) including stationary time, but the bike computer said (I think) 26.8km/h (16.6mph), which equates to 3:26 cycling time (including the last hill walk) - it would have gained me 10 places (on the women's bike leg - I would have lost some of those on the run!) and presumably about 17 minutes overall had I not had the mechanical "issues". So, time to ask around about better performing tyres!

I was quick in T2, so it was on to the run. At this point I was noticing Mark's absence - I hadn't seen him since the end of bike lap 1, and he was supposed to be handing me gels. The Conac crowd were there, cheering and receiving the sweaty bike top I should have left in transition (yum), but it wasn't until lap 2 that Hannah was able to hand me 2 gels and tell me Mark was unwell and back at the car. I didn't have the mental energy to do much more than think "oh well" and try to concentrate on keeping going, but he was actually quite poorly and had been seen by paramedics! (Everything turned out fine, though, thankfully - too much heat/sun and not enough water - but we're really grateful that the others were there to look after him, especially Richard. Thank you!)

The main problem for me on the run was my legs, continually threatening to return to full-blown cramp in my quads, calves, or (at one point, and a new one on me) achilles. I knew if that happened it would lose me more time than walking, so I had to judge when to ease up. So, an interminable run/walk, in the midday heat, but with a total of 12 water stations and the gels that Hannah and co had thankfully found, I made it. A stop each time to sip water and pour more on my head (no hat, just a buff) got me round. One incline, but a matching up and down so that wasn't too bad. Not much shade, though, and boy did my shoulders feel that later. A week later I have a lovely tri-suit tan line on my back. The great thing about the run was loads of encouragement from other runners on their later laps, although it was torture running past the finish sign three times before actually turning to cross the line! But on the whole I think the laps worked well for me. Run time was 2:30, which, given that my personal best is 1:59 and I have run "just" a half marathon in 2:17 (Toronto, 2005) I was very pleased with!

I think I'm waffling now. After a week it's hard to really get back into the post-race frame of mind and remember all the details. Plus the first thing I did on finishing was drive a pale and groggy Mark to Oxford (where we were visiting Sally and Tom), via various Little Chefs and laybys where I had to stop to stretch, so there was no leisurely debrief either.

I do think I want to do another one. Kind of. I know that with a better-behaving bike I could take a chunk off that time... it's very tempting... Dammit. I might just have to start looking at what's on next year. Antwerp has been suggested... well at least they have good beer.

Thanks to Hannah for the last 2 photos, and of course massive thanks to everyone who supported and sponsored me. Adding online and offline sponsorship it's over £600, which is excellent!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Initial race report

After a few days "enjoying" the heat in the south-west, I'm back online with just time to post some initial results/thoughts. Proper race report to come soon.

Overall time: 7:00:32 - slower than expected. Excuses: heat, bike failure (chain, puncture, puncture, puncture...), legs failure.
273rd out of 282 overall, 45th female of 48.

Swim: 41:29 - 224th/304 overall, 32nd/53 female
T1: 3:52 - 256th, 43rd
Bike: 3:43:26 - 288th/299, 46th/53
T2: 1:02 - 53rd, 9th (!)
Run: 2:30:43 - 259th/276, 44th/48

(Some finishers seem not to have a run time listed)

The swim was fine, start delayed due to fog but the water quality and temperature were pretty good, and there wasn't too much bashing going on.

T1 was pretty slow as the top tip of letting water into your wetsuit just before you exit the lake, to make it easier to remove, doesn't work if you have to run a long way to your bike. Also wasted time getting it stuck on the timing chip around my ankle.

The bike leg was the disappointment. Lap 1 was too quick really, but after reining it in a bit for lap 2, fate reined me in a bit more with a few bike issues, before the final hill on lap 3 killed my quads.

T2 was bloody quick, all I did was change shoes - perhaps everyone else wisely paused to apply suncream!

The run was a run-walk (or should that be walk-run); leg cramps (calves, quads, achilles) were far more of a problem than energy levels, after my quads problem on the bike. The heat was bad, but I don't think it was the killer issue for me.

Overall? It was great fun until I had to fix the bike rather than riding it. But I bloody well kept going. There are plenty of lessons to be learned.

In many ways, I don't want to do another one, but I do think I could do a better one... watch this space?