Thursday, April 21, 2011

On fire in the pool

The water's on fire!

Yesterday's run was truly rubbish, and I felt crap about it all afternoon. I had a long stressful day after that, and this morning didn't go much better. I wasn't even supposed to be in the office, really we get Thursday and Tuesday as additional closure days, but I had too much to do. I planned to leave at lunchtime via the pool, but finally hauled my arse away from my desk at 3pm. I nearly, SO nearly just went home, but my swim stuff was right there... I gave myself a swift talking to, ignored the fact that I hadn't had any lunch (I'd had a banana and my two remaining Graze punnets, hardly starving), and went up to the pool for at least a short swim.

Once in there, I realised this may well be the last swim I get before the tri, seeing as I am away from Weds 27th to Fri 6th, just 2 days before. So, time for one last time trial, even if I'm not feeling up for it - 2 slow lengths to check goggles and nose clip (pah), and then off.

It was hard going. My stroke felt scrappy, desperate even. I had to fumble my nose clip back on twice, and then dumped it in passing at the end of one length in disgust - immediately getting water up my nose. I was breathing hard, every 2 strokes almost, and it felt like my legs were not kicking so much as having some kind of fit. I knew it was going to be bad, but I forced myself to push on. "If you can't swim fast, at least swim strong" was what I was telling myself as I reached and grabbed on to the water in as big handfuls as I could manage, but it felt leaden and messy, not at all efficient or smooth.

I counted lengths all the way, determined not to mess up like last time. Four, I'm a quarter there... eight, that's half... ten, into double figures... twelve, that's three-quarters done... fourteen, come on, last two... push that last one all the way to the end... grab, stop the watch, squint at it... HUH?


7:46 !!

No way. Is there any way I could have miscounted, should have swum an 8:46? No. It felt slow but not that slow. So 7:46 it is. That's 10 seconds off - insane.

After that I did four recovery lengths in a state of shock (and exhaustion), and then chanced my arm with 5 x 25m sprints - all at 23-24 seconds. Another four recovery and I called it a day and went home. Still stunned.

So, a rough and scrappy, slow-feeling 400m - 7:46.

Goes to show you never can tell... sounds like the cue for a song :)

Photo: The water's on fire! by Mukumbura, on Flickr

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Lyle's Black Treacle

Sticky weather, sticky suncream, sweaty hair, unwilling legs, sore hip, crap run. Bah humbug.

I don't know what I have done/am doing to my right hip. After running, it's getting quite stiff, especially if I then go and sit on my arse for a while like I do when I run at lunchtime. But it doesn't hurt as such, just feels like it needs a good stretch. Today my knees felt like they were coming out in sympathy, kind of creaky - often I just felt like I was running through treacle, pushing hard to barely move at all. Yet there were times when I felt I was running strong, if not fast, I was holding decent form and could just about maintain the pace.

Oh yeah, pace? Ha - not timed, not mapped, a few walks thrown in for good (bad) measure... maybe 35 minutes? This is not good. I have 2 weeks to pull this together, most of which I am spending away from home. Back to the spreadsheets I think.

Photo: Lyle's Black Treacle by Sifter, on Flickr

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Catch up

Friday: Gym session. Up to 3x10x8kg on biceps, 3x12x15kg on triceps, 3x35s plank, and other Good Stuff. Listened to the last Now Show of the series, managed not to drop any weights while giggling.

New Estate.
Saturday: Riverside run from the Aylesbury Premier Inn. Rock and roll! Actually it was quite nice... wide, surfaced paths along the immediate floodplain of the Thame, a minor excursion up to the top of a hill (bump) to look at the voo (as they say in Norfolk), and then across the river to follow an older path all the way over to the Bicester road, and back again. Lots of dog walkers out, but no poo in evidence (hurrah). Only later was I told about the woman who was murdered down there not so long ago. Damn. I'd have gone faster if I'd known.

Sunday: cheering on Tally (and 34,999 other people) in the London Marathon. And just for a change, not walking 10 miles while doing it, which Mark was probably pleased about.

Monday: Campus run with Conac, didn't log time or distance, probably 3-3.5 miles @ 10 min miles.

Today: biked the Intwood/Ketteringham loop with Kerry, not really a training session as such but I did reach the heady heights of 55kph on the downhill between East Carleton and the Ketteringham monument :)

Photos: 40/365 by Jack Fussell, Flickr, New Estate. by dlanor smada, Flickr, Tally at 14.5 miles by me, Footbridge across the River Yare, UEA by Nigel Chadwick, Geograph Cattle pasture south of High Ash Farm, Ketteringham by Evelyn Simak, Geograph

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bluebell run

Bluebells in Alsa wood, Elsenham

A bit early, they are only just coming out, but in a week or so this will be glorious!

3.5 miles (ish - there's more zigzagging in the woods loop than I can see from the aerial imagery) in 33:32 (so close...) = 9:32/mile, which is not bad for offroad. More to the point, it was pretty (but not as pretty as Monday when the sun was out and I went for a walk!).

Photo: Bluebells in Alsa wood, Elsenham by hungrybrowser, on Flickr

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


swimming polar bear.

The pool was quiet today, which was odd - I thought (school) Easter holidays would cancel out (university) Easter holdays. But no - I had a choice of 3 empty lanes. Perhaps the fact that it was BLOODY FREEZING had something to do with it (or maybe the pool suffered from the lack of bodies to heat it up?).

Anyway, 7 x 100 max (at uninspiring times ranging from 1:55 to 2:00) and 5 x 50m sprint (ditto, 55s to 58s). A guy got in with me and proceeded to do slowish front crawl, but I just timed the rests so as to keep out of his way completely or overtake him early on. When I moved to the next (empty) lane later, for the sprints, he was keeping pace with me doing breaststroke...

Photo: swimming polar bear. by Brad Cross, on Flickr

Monday, April 11, 2011

I dunno...

Question mark in Esbjerg

About 4.5 miles at Conac, with Jeanette and Emily and a few others. In the rain, but leading to a lovely sunset and, opposite, sunlit dark clouds. No idea of the time I ran for. Probably about 10 minute miles, but my pace sense is not the most reliable... Ah well. Call it a recovery run!

Photo: Question mark in Esbjerg by alexanderdrachmann, on Flickr

Sunday, April 10, 2011


P ä i v ä n s ä d e k ä s

Same bike ride route as last week. One more companion (Kerry). Same lovely weather. Added in three sprints (High Ash Road, and two on the B1135) after realising that I only have this and the Easter weekend left to do any proper bike training. Eeek.

The sprints felt great... for about 30 seconds each time. Then my quads started complaining - gently whingeing at first, but moving into full on Monty Python Dead Parrot mode. I was wary in case I got cramp, but that never materialised, so I pushed on. No idea how fast I went for the most part, because my bike computer was being temperamental, but on the last (flat, straight, headwind) sprint I was nudging (and struggling to keep) 30kph. I think gym + parkrun + lots of cleaning isn't really the best way to prepare (so no housework for me before the race :)

Photo: P ä i v ä n s ä d e k ä s by Pörrö, on Flickr

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Weak? Thought ee, too?

First parkrun in yonks today. There were about 199 more people than in the photo above :) Glorious weather, not a cloud in the sky - perhaps a teeny bit chilly in the shade, but that's all to the good. Keeps me moving. The cool headwind along the only incline was welcome too.

No watch so no pressure for a particular time, I was just out to enjoy it and I did. Despite stiff legs and various other aches from yesterday, it felt good to run and I was steadily passing people all the way. I couldn't put a finger on a time while I was running, but judging my pace as best I could I thought I was in with a reasonable chance of a PB (previous PB 28:35). It turns out I knocked 43s off, running 8:58/mile to get 27:52. Wheeee :D

About halfway I looked back down the course as I rounded a corner and saw Mark (training regime: bugger all) about 20-30s behind me. For the rest of the race I expected him to appear over my shoulder but he never did, and I had the fun of watching him sprint finish with a bunch of other guys (it was the timekeepers I felt sorry for!). It's not often I beat 'im indoors in a race so clearly the training is paying off - although I have to say I won't be doing weights in the gym the day before the tri. Now I'm wondering what I could do on fresh legs...

Photo: Weak? Thought ee, too? by harry harris, on Flickr

Friday, April 8, 2011


Strong Man Bot

Time seemed to fly by today at the gym, and everything felt good. Tricep pulldowns: 3 x 12 @ 15kg, no problem. Dynamic lunges: went on for ever, but fine. Bicep curls: need to go up to 8kg next time. Half press-ups: 3 x 10, not quite "no problem" but I did it :) Planks: 3 x 35sec, ditto.

Bring it on, world.

Photo: Strong Man Bot by Jenn and Tony Bot, on Flickr

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Steamy windows


By the time I got my goggles to actually stop leaking today, they were so steamed up I could barely read the (big, red, illuminated) clock, let alone my watch (had I even remembered it). I couldn't face removing them and having them start leaking again, so I just went with the fog. So, no timing for me this time. My nose clip was misbehaving again too - I wonder if it's just lost its springiness? Grr.

250m warm up
pyramid @ mod/hard effort: 50, 100, 150, 200, 150, 100, 50; 50, 100, 50
250m cool down

1500m total, just under 40 mins incuding rests and goggle faff.

Not concentrating on blistering (?!) speed today, but staying strong and keeping form. Turns were mostly pretty decent (one was a bit early and I barely touched the wall... duh), I was doing OK at kicking slower and from the hip, and given the way my shoulders felt by the end, catch and pull were not too shabby either :) I probably had longer rests in between the pyramid elements than I usually would, but it worked well for form (if not for developing endurance at that speed).

Photo: Heat by AmoraInk, on Flickr

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Phew what a scorcher


Today I went out for some of these (above), making the most of the short time I had at lunchtime for a run. Well, to be honest, being where I am, the hills are more like:


What made it tougher, though, was lots of this:

Blue Skies!

Which meant I had to run here:

Spring Green

So, 35 minutes. Didn't really count the distance but I did 10 hills altogether around the pitches/Colney lane/metal bridge area, with minimal resting (but slow active recoveries), playing around on the paths through the woods which were in very welcome dappled shade. Running back across the plain to the office, I could have sworn it was July, if only the leaves had all been out. I reckon 20-21ºC, easy. Plenty of people out enjoying the sun.

The hill reps were OK, given they were the first for a while. I felt good at the start, and even at the start of the later reps, but by the top of each I was gritting my teeth. Recovery jogs down again helped, though, and wending my way back after the last one felt a bit like the cool down on a swim, when I'm just flowing easily, all the effort done and dusted. Well, it felt like that until I hit the blazing sun and the sneaky slight uphill leading back to the office.

After all that, I definitely enjoyed this:


Photos: Nestled by .aditya., A-Molehill by tölvakonu, Blue Skies! by ..::K2::.., Spring Green by Turkinator, Shower by Woman of Scorn, all on Flickr

Tuesday, April 5, 2011



Woohoo - finally went sub-8 minutes on 400m today. Got off to a bad start by losing my nose clip after 6 lengths (weird, as usually it stays firmly put), reluctantly deciding to stop, and then noticing I never zeroed my stopwatch before I started. However, subtracting my memory of last night's run time I reckon I had done 6 lengths plus a push-off in 2:55, so it wasn't looking too shabby.

I did a couple of slow lengths to check the clip was sorted out and staying in place, then started my 400m again. It was a good swim, but I could tell it was getting sloppy as I got more tired, especially the kick - I reckon from behind I probably look like I am having a convulsion. It ended up as about 7:56, which (although some way off my best) is great. I'm very happy to be sub-8 again, and hope I can shave a little bit more off that over the next few weeks.

After that I did some drills as a mid-session recovery, and then pairs of 25m sprints, taking 35s for the first one plus a rest, and then having a longer rest after the second. I cranked out the first 25m in 23s, 22s and 24s (woohoo!), but was more like 24-27s on the second of each pair. Three of those wiped me out, so I called it a day and cooled down. Not bad for a lunchtime's work.

Photo: 7 by duncan, on Flickr

Monday, April 4, 2011

Team pink

Floating Marble

Club run tonight, youngster Chloe was there again so Claudia and I ran with her - 3.5 miles, just under 37 minutes tonight. Chloe and I were matching in hi-vis pink, and I'm running out of inspiration for a blog picture today so that will do :)

I could have gone for a quick trip around the Fiveways block after I got back, thought about it and probably should have done it but unless I get out there straight away it doesn't happen - if I pause and chat and stretch, I'm done. Next time I shall declare my intentions up front and then it'll be less easy to wimp out. I do need to up my speed training before the tri.

Photo: Floating Marble by spettacolopuro, on Flickr

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Social ride and sloshy run

Chaos in a Cup

After spending the morning marshalling at the Diss Duathlon, I went out for a lovely hour-long social ride with Clare - so lovely to have company on a ride, the roads were really quiet and the weather was perfect too. It's all good for getting used to the bike again and feeling more comfortable, having someone to chat to instead of fretting about stopping and starting.

I couldn't really call it a brick, but I did go for a run after I got back. There was a few minutes' gap between the bike and run, and I only went for 25 minutes' slow shuffle around the marshes. Mainly it was tough because I stupidly glugged half a bottle of water after getting off the bike and my stomach felt like a washing machine on slow spin cycle. Slosh slosh slosh... after about 20 minutes it eased, but my legs had had enough by then :)

Photo: Chaos in a Cup by DillonH, on Flickr

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wrong, wrong, wrong


Wrong frame of mind, wrong headspace, whatever. I had to force myself to go to the pool, and I just couldn't keep count, focus or do anything useful at all, so I just swam. Didn't help that most of the lanes were full, for some reason, and I was in with a lady doing 2 lengths for my 3 (even at my "just swim" pace). One of those days. At least I went!

Photo: meh by Яick Harris, on Flickr