Too close for comfort.

You know how they always say to gradually improve?

Never increase your distance by more than 10% per week, or 10% distance overall per week. Slowly introduce speed or hill work. Blah blah blah.

And you know how I always plan to stick to it then go too fast too quickly?

Guess what?

I started off with the first surprise marathon, then tried to run a mile quite quickly.

I stunned myself with the speed and made that my benchmark.

The week after I did 2 miles. My maths isn’t great but that’s prob a smidge over 10%.

The week after I did 3 miles.

I did a tired legs run two weeks ago and managed to warm up to a pretty damn nippy last mile.

I decided I’d had enough of my overall run time being dragged down by slow first miles so I went for it from the off. And, with tedious inevitability, just over a mile in, my leg went. I had really sharp pains up the back of my left leg from the foot the to calf. I tried to stretch it off, walk it off, run it off, nope. I had to limp home. A point of note; whilst I was limping along I came up behind two girls walking. I thought “I’m limping way faster than them, going to beat them” then I took a long hard look at myself.

Anyway, when it was still there the next day I hit Doctor Google. Achilles Tendonitis. Caused by idiots trying to go too fast too soon, overstriding and taking the shock of each footfall on the tendon. The good news, they said, is that it’s the strongest tendon in the body. The bad news is that there is restricted blood flow to it, so it can take 6 weeks of rest, anti-inflammatories, and compression to fix. My big race is in 6 weeks. You see the problem. No way could I rest for 6 weeks then run a marathon. Not to mention the cycling.

They said you can guarantee you won’t get it again by focusing on landing your feet under your body. Lots of fast little steps instead of big strides.

I’ve been doing what they say. Ibuprofen, compression bandage, stretching exercises, wearing shoes in the house to support my tendon.

Since then I’ve done a 2 mile swim followed by what was supposed to be a 100 mile bike ride, then a test run. I went on the same route as last time, the A49. Once you get out of Warrington it’s not too dangerous or busy. And you only have to follow the one road. So they closed it. Super.  It wasn’t so bad on the way out, I followed the diversion and it all went smoothly. I turned around and the diversion sign led me to somewhere twixt Wrexham and Chester and just dumped me there. Marvellous. I had to pick up the signs for Chester and figure it out from there. Which turned that ride into a very dispiriting 113 miles. With all the knee pain and such. I didn’t do the run.

Yesterday, fully cognisant of Doctor Google’s dire prognosis for my leg, I set off to do a half distance tri. 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, 13.1 mile run. It didn’t get off to a good start as apparently I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep so I missed the swimming pool. I did the ride with no great pain or hardship, took about 2 minutes to transition, then set off for the run. I was so nervous. I made a massive effort to land flatfooted, directly under my body.  As ever, off the bike, it was like running through treacle, but in this instance I didn’t mind. I managed to push it out and did the whole half marathon without any pain.

I’ve been looking for it, waiting for the pain to kick in and ruin my race, but, touch wood, so far so good. I’m hoping this means I can continue training, albeit at a slower run pace, until after the race. Then I can either build up the speed or rest it, depending on how it goes.

One good thing about the ride the other day; as I’ve been saying to Wendy, it’s a 112 mile ride and the worst and scariest part is the 4 miles to get out of Warrington and the same on the way back. I have to go down a massively busy dual carriageway, ride in the middle of the road when it splits into three lanes, go around a huge roundabout, through town centre and then through perma-gridlocked Stockton Heath. I ride my motorbike at *cough* quite nippy *cough* speeds, between traffic on the motorway and it’s fun and games. Trying to ride a pushbike from here to the far side of Stocky Heath is just plain scary.  Which is the good thing. I put Google maps on pushbike mode for my last ride and it got me from here to the A49 on the far side of Stocky Heath completely avoiding the lethal dual carriageway, roundabout, town and Stocky Heath!  It is brilliant. I didn’t even know some of the roads existed. I’m made up with that.

The other thing is Wendy’s mate at work has started swimming lessons. I applied online, where the said to wait and when a place comes up we’ll email you. That was in January. He ‘phoned, then just walked in. I’m going to give it a go. He says the coach is a triathlete and he’s brilliant. That is what I need. My club gave me two lessons then expected me to muck in with the exercises. I want to concentrate on getting it right first, then work from there. I’ve still not got the breathing. If you can’t breathe you soon run in to problems. Ask any doctor. This lesson is on a Monday, 20.00- 22.00 which is ideal for me. I’ve not been able to get to the morning lane swims with my new, early, start times. I should be able to make an 8pm swim 95% of the time.

Also, they have swimfit lesson at the same time on Tuesdays and Fridays. I could practice on one of those.

If I can get my swim sorted, get stuck in to regular sessions on the pushbike turbo trainer, and get my marathon to sub 3 hours, I could really smash it next year!

 

Sorry, another boring sports blog.

Later,

Buck.

Not Dead Yet.

 

About half way around the Windermere marathon, as I was picking up the pace, I had a quick chat with another runner. I think I must have said that I’d done no hill training as he asked me how I was finding it. I replied “I’m not dead yet.” He seemed impressed with the answer.

I suppose it does express what it’s all about. You go as hard as you can, if you’re still going, you’re winning. The Iron distance tri mantra “run, walk, crawl, just don’t stop” says the same in a different way.

While I was away I managed an hour or so lake swim in my wetsuit. I’m not a natural swimmer. I struggle with it, I’m weak, and I have to overcome panic when I can’t see the bottom or I’m far out. I did get into fair rhythm at one point. I calmed my panic and was swimming quite well. Then I turned around and waves were crashing into my face and kept knocking me off course so I started to panic again. Wendy says some tourist boat had passed by and I was being buffeted by it’s wake. The good points to take from that swim is I am a lot more buoyant in  my wetsuit so swimming is easier, I can overcome the initial panic and my wetsuit didn’t unzip itself this time so I must have lost a bit of weight. Last race I had to dodge the Greenpeace boat that was trying to guide me back out to sea.

I reckon I can grind out the swim without too many problems, I’ve got the run down (well, the distance. It’s a whole other kettle of fish trying to run a marathon after the swim and 112 mile bike ride!) but I still hadn’t done any real distance riding. I’ve done a 40 mile and a 60 miles (in 3 hours 33). I took my bike to ride in the lakes but the roads were tiny and busy, I really didn’t fancy it. We got back off holiday and Wendy helpfully pointed out the race in a month and bit. PANIC!

I finally tracked down a simple route (straight down the A49) that wasn’t too busy and went for it today. 112 mile round trip to Shrewsbury. Home of some beastly hills. Though it turns out the worst one is at 90 miles. When your legs are screaming and you are wishing you were dead. So that was nice.

Strangely it was all quite enjoyable.

Apart from the last 60 or so miles which were pure hell. But apart from that, all enjoyable.

I managed it in 6 hours 29. Not great, but read above: one 40 miles ride and one 60 miles. The goal was to prove to myself I could do that distance.

The positives from the ride: it was way hillier than the Outlaw course and my tri suit (with anti chafing balm liberally applied) was actually still fairly comfy at the end. The last two Outlaws, (done wrongly) the saddle soreness was mortal agony by the end. There is hope. Oh, and I did it. That was a big question.

The negatives: it really hurt my knees. I had set my bike up the “proper” way but didn’t like it, so I moved the saddle higher and further forward. I may have to reset and see if that fixes it. My knees are throbbing now, five hours later, after ibuprofen and ibuprofen gel on them. Not good.

Doctor Google says it could be my cleats (the things that clip your shoes to the pedals) being misaligned. If your foot is twisted it’s putting unnatural pressure on your knee. That would make sense.

I’ve booked 4 random days off between now and the race. I’ll do that ride each time. Next time with a run afterwards. I was slack today. I limped in, got biscuits and a shower and lay down for half an hour.

In other news, Wendy did a ton of driving in the Lakes. I said if she could drive around there she’d find Warrington a doddle. She went out for a lesson yesterday and the instructor was totally impressed with her. Said she’s test ready.  Which I said a month ago, but then, I’m not being paid £25 and hour for not passing her. When we got back I put Wendy’s Mini through the MOT, passed with an advisory for a chip in the windscreen which we already knew about. That was a relief. I was still wondering if it was wrecked in some way, but no, seems fine. 

Right, I’m going to bed, hopefully I’ll be less hurty in the morning.

later.

Buck.

PS, Day after, my right knee is still a bit sore. This would lend weight to the cleats theory. Also I’ve noticed the cycling shoes I bought, after trying different sizes on, are 42.5 about a UK 8.5, I’m only a 40.5, UK 6.5, in running shoes. And they have to be dead right size. This doesn’t help with correct cleat positioning. I’ve ordered a wide fit pair in my actual size. Weird.

I went for a run today to try to shake my legs off. The first two miles were so bad I thought I was going to have to quit. I was doing 9.15 m/m and even that was killing me. Luckily I got into a rhythm in the third mile and kept it up for another 2. Then I turned around and started getting a bit quicker, getting it into the slightly less shameful 8.40’s. The last mile I was determined not to let it drop off so I gritted my teeth and pushed on. Then I noticed I was running at 7.24 pace! I pushed on a lot harder. I managed to finish the mile in 7.04! I am made up with that given the first two miles.

Giant Steps.

I did my marathon last week and found myself surprisingly fast. I really wish I’d have pushed harder from the start instead of tentatively pacing myself. Lots of 8.15- 8.30 M/Ms, with which I was both pleased and surprised.

On Wednesday I got an early dart from work so introduced myself to my tri club at the run training session.  Apparently they normally get you to run a few K (they work in French, I think in minute/ miles, so that’s a bugger) then scientifically work out your run speeds for different levels of work out. As I had a recent marathon time for them to play with they just paired me up with an ultra runner (Jim, who does 30, 50 and 100 mile runs) and used his times.

After the warm up, it was things like: Run 400m at X pace, jog 400m, repeat. Then run 1K at X pace, etc.

I’m not sure I’m at the pace of Jim, or that he was going at the pace set, supposedly roughly 8.00 m/ms. I was gasping for air after each run. Next time I’ll check my own times and pace. Anyway I went, I introduced myself. And I got beasted. Exactly what I need. Someone else to crack the whip. That’s how you get faster.

I was talking to Jim (between gasps) and said that I still hadn’t given up on my ambition to go sub 3 hours on the marathon. He said he’d be happy with a “good for age group”. I didn’t say anything. (I think I’ve grown as a person, lol.) I looked it up, good for age for 51 is 3.15 marathon. OK, that’s a good target on the way.

Today I got up early to do my long run before running Wendy for her driving theory test (she passed. YAY!) I was going to do 20 miles, but was a bit late so was going to wing it. I did the first mile slowly to warm up. I stopped to retie my shoelace. I still managed a respectable (by current standards) 8.27m/m. I decided to up the pace, thinking I’d try for the 8 m/ms of my circuit training. I checked my watch at the end of the second mile, 7.27! Bugger the 20 miles, I was on for a benchmark 10 miles! I gritted my teeth and pushed on. After the warm up mile I only dropped out of the 7.30s once (7.45) and did a 7.25. My average was 7.39 for the 10 miles. If I’d have warmed up properly and ran from the start I could have been faster.

I was going to go another fast 10 miles, try to go fast from the start and beat the 7.40 average above. Crazy rookie mistake though, after work I drank a load of orange juice and had some food, within a mile of setting off I had an awful stitch.

I was forced to stop and get my breath. I decided to try beasting myself on short sprints. I did one at a fifth of mile, then found a quarter mile course and did three of them. My pace was a revelation. OK, it’s only for quarter of a mile then I was absolutely snottered, but 5.36, 6.00 and 5.48 m/m pace! Then on the way home I did my last mile at a pushing-it pace, 6.47. An actual mile. In 6.47!

Before the marathon I was dead chuffed that I managed to slip in 2 miles at under 8 m/m.

Speedwork is now part of my plan. I’ve got the base level of fitness. I’ve got the distance. Now I need to get fast. Just looking, 6.45m/m x 26.2 gives me three minutes under three hours! I’ve got one mile. This is do-able! 

By the way, whilst I was working out my pace before, discovered that the quarter mile I set myself is 402 metres, near enough the distance my tri club works in. That’s a happy coincidence.

 

Spring has given up altogether this year, we’ve gone from bastard freezing to sweating with the aircon on in one day. Time to finally get out for a long ride without the fear of frostbite or polar bear attack. I’ve got my bike set up, I’m off to do some serious miles in a minute. I was going to set off early and go for the full 112 miles, but I’ve had to wait in for a parcel. I might just do Mold or a bit after. 60 to 80 miles. It’s a good test.

I’m all fired up with running. I’m regretting the tri thing now. Still, it forces me to keep active. And, just yesterday, I knocked 5 minutes off my commute time! That’s a pretty big chunk out of a 36 minute ride. I’ve found a route through the park to cut out the rush hour traffic along Cromwell Ave and through Winwick. The trouble is it’s lots of brake/ pedal, brake/ pedal, getting around dog walkers and anti-motorbike barriers. It doesn’t make getting a good time easy, but I expect it’s good for my legs. As is not being run over.

Right, crack on.

Later,

Buck.

PS, I did a ride. After I’d finished fannying around. I did a fairly windy 60 mile circuit and was set to do another 10 miles, using my commute route, but it being sunny and the kids off school, I could barely move along the park path so I sacked it off. Still, I know I had at least another 10 miles in me. I’ll have to work out a different route for next time. The last 5 miles in Wales were scary. 70mph dual carriageway with two lanes going off and coming on. If you’re riding along the edge of the road that’s a lot of gauntlets to run. Bugger that. I think I’ll try North next week. I was planning to ride to Fleetwood, 110 miles round trip. Probably best that I didn’t, I don’t think I had 110 miles in me today.

My time wasn’t great, 60 miles in 3 hours 33, but it’s 50% increase on my last ride and I had more in me. The other positive I’m taking from it is although the big hills out of Frodsham took it out of me, the rolling hills of Walton Drag didn’t bother me at all. I remember lots of rides sweating and puffing up them thinking they were interminable. So that’s a real improvement.

Another good thing, lest I forget. Last time I was in training I had padded shorts. I’ve been thinking about when we were kids and nipped to Mold in an afternoon for something to do. No arse pain. In jeans and boots. So this time I’ve been riding with the padding removed. Try and toughen my arse up. Anyway, on my big rides I’ve decided to use an actual tri suit (with a top over it) to test and train my arse. Today was the first day it was warm enough to do so. 60 miles in a tri suit, the padding of which is basically a piece of cloth thinner than a flannel. I have learned one may apply a cream. So, two good things. My arse wasn’t in agony. I’ve got a different seat, with a gulley to relive pressure, (there’s some sort of nerve ending twixt your nethers) set at a rakish angle (to put the weight on your arse bones, not nethers) and let’s face it, it was only 60 miles. But that’s still ‘so far, so good’.

The other good thing is my tri suit. When I put it on it was snug, but not bulging. I’m down to 10 stone 6, and really want to get under 10. I don’t know what I was when I last completed an Outlaw, but I was a chunky monkey. My wetsuit undid itself on the swim and the pictures of my tri suit were less than flattering.

Today, not so much. I’m still struggling to get into my wetsuit. I forgot to lube up first, thinking about it. Ah. That would explain a lot. I’ll give it another go.

Still, the less I have to carry around the Outlaw the easier it will be.

That was a rambling stream of consciousness.  Lucky no-one reads this shit. It’s good for me, I have a record to which I can refer.

Condition. I haz one.

I can only apologise for my last blog. I read it back the next day and I sound like a total arsehole. It’s taken me a while to work through it but I think I have it. I have a condition, one of the aspects of which is low self esteem. Which is all well and good and you’d think it would keep me from being an dick. However, as it’s not something of which I’m consciously aware, I don’t factor it into knock-on judgements.

It bothers me people making a fuss because I don’t think anything I can achieve is that praiseworthy. I actually get angry at people for saying they couldn’t. That is the knock-on effect. I can do it, and I’m shit, so anyone who doesn’t do better is taking the piss. Which leads to me advising noobs on a triathlete forum “If you eat at every feed station, you can do it.”  Bad advice and belittling the heroic failures of some people. 

Anyway. I have to bear it in mind. I’ll have to try and accept praise without anger and big up other people’s achievements. It’s got to be better than being the arsehole who wrote that last blog.

 

The big ride didn’t happen last week. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I took my bike in to have the gear cables internally routed as I had no idea how to do it. It took the guy a week. I hopped on my bike, rode to the main road, went to change down gear, nothing. I rode back and tried to work out what was wrong. I finally sussed out that where the inner cable goes into the frame there should be a washer to stop the outer cable from following it, thus keeping the cable under tension. The washer had pulled into the frame, the outer cable had slipped in, their was no tension, couldn’t change gear.

Balls.

The problem is the internal routing. You have to feed the cable in to the end of your tri bars and somehow have it pop out at the end of the frame on the back wheel (what would be a swinging arm on a motorbike). The shop guy, a full-on Ironman age group winner, had made done such a half arsed job that when I was looking at my bike I noticed a screw protruding at the bottom of the downtube. Apparently you unscrew that and a plate comes out, you push the cable in at your handlebars, it pops out of the panel, you then thread it through the (not) swinging arm and improvise some washers to retain the tension. Simple as that. Took me about 15 minutes of fiddling about. Bastard. Tri guy won’t be getting another penny from me.

I’m riding in to work in top gear nearly all the time now to build muscles. But my bike started creaking and the chain skipped a few times. Which worries me on a 3 month old bike. It’s got 11 gears on the back wheel, and a very skinny chain to fit that many gears. I think I’m knackering it. So I’ve bought a £30 single speed bike to commute. I’m putting the 12 tooth rear and 52 tooth front gear ratio we used to have in tenth gear on racers when I was a kid. One gear, chunky chain, £30 bike. That has to be a winner.

 

I’ve not had my start time officially changed but it seems to be around 08.00 now. If there’s no work for us after 7 hours they can send us home and we still get 9 hours pay. I didn’t do a full 9 hours all last week. I don’t mind if I do 9 or 10 hours, the odd longer one, but the constant 11, 12, and 13 hour shifts were useless to me for training. This is ideal. It’s harder than I thought though. When I come in I want to sit down. And get something to eat. And chill. Forcing myself back out to train is an exercise in mental toughness all by itself.

 

Today I did the proper (Manchester) marathon. I started off quite slowly, 8.41m/m, but after the first mile I realised I was being held up so I started working my way through the pack with 8.30’s. I thought that would be a fast pace in my condition. Then when I got to half way and I still felt great I shifted it up again, 8.17, 8.17, and an 8.15 and 8.13, then I started feeling it after 21 miles. I dropped down into the 8.50’s and 8.40’s.

My first marathon, two weeks ago, I was only under 8.50 for 3 miles, with 13 miles over 9 m/m and 3 miles over 10!  So, I’m fair pleased with that.

I had to stop for a pee which cost me a minute, but I finished in 3.46.59. Not too shabby.

Talking of, you hear apocryphal tales of marathon runners and Iron tri people losing control of their bodies and shitting themselves. Whenever the story goes around on the internet it’s always the same picture of the same poor guy. Today I witnessed it. Some older woman runner shit herself. All down her legs. It was gross. She passed me and I nearly threw up. But she soldiered on and finished 100 yards in front of me. So, swings and roundabouts for her.

I had a curry last night so I took my tri precaution of an anti-shit pill. So glad, now. Poor woman. What can you do? And how do you ever live it down?

Anywho, here’s me rocking my new T.

IMG-20180408-WA0000

In other news, Wendy takes her driving theory test next Saturday, assuming she passes her instructor is booking her in for the first available practical test.

Then the Saturday after that I start a beginners course in Russian!

I’ve wanted to learn it for ages, tried on my own a few times, and even discovered a local school for former Russians to teach their kids English and Russian that does adult classes. I could never do it as it was on a Saturday and I was always working. Now though, the stars are in alignment! Yay!

That’s reminded me, I’ve got to print off, fill in, and email back the enrolment form. They only confirmed the course was running a few days ago.

Right,

laters potatoes,

Buck.

Warm-down.

I’ve had some really amusing conversations of late. Not humorous, so don’t expect LOLs. Just amused me.

Some guy at work as I was getting changed out of my bike gear, got chatting about how he was a pushbiker. I said it was killing me getting my fitness back. The first time I rode 56 miles then ran 13 miles on day one.

“YOU RODE 56 MILES?”

Well, yes. The race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26 mile run.

IN A DAY?

Yes.

PEOPLE CAN’T DO THAT!

I’ve done two.

 

Then last Sunday I got an early dart, the transport clerk woman said “you’ll be able to go for a run”

No, I’m resting, I did a marathon yesterday.

AND YOU DIDN’T TAKE TODAY OFF?

No. I went for my swim session in the afternoon.

 

Then I got a surprise assessment sprung upon me on Tuesday. Over the course of the hours training came up. I said I had the Manchester marathon coming up. Later,as he was saying goodbye he said he hoped I completed the marathon (as though it was an enormous challenge.) I said that’s the warm-down, in the race you have to swim 2.4 miles and ride 112 first.

 

It sounds like I’m bragging and such. And I am. But people make such a massive deal out of it. OK, it’s quite tough, but that’s why you train. And I’ve just proved the marathon part of it is do-able within 3 months. 

I suppose it is quite impressive when you first hear it. That’s why I did it the first time, just to see if I could. And everyone said I couldn’t, so that was motivating. But now, it’s just a case of get on with it and do it. So to meet people who freak out at the slightest challenge is kind of amusing.

 

Marathon training plans never take you you past 20 miles. They say if you can run 20 miles you can do 26 on the day. That doesn’t work for me. I need to know I can finish a race before I start it. So I did the beastly marathon on done-in legs last week. Wendy’s runner mate at work said that I should rest up now and just do short runs before the race. The marathon last week, after I’d seized my muscles on the “long” ride the day before, was so bad I had to know. So I did another marathon today. Loads better. My legs set a bit in the last 6 miles, but not enough to slow me much. I’m going to get some electrolytes to add to my drinks, they replace the salt and such you sweat out, supposedly stopping cramps. The upshot is, I’m going from zero to 3 marathons in 3 weeks in 3 months! I’ll take that!

Tomorrow I’m going to batter a long ride. I hope. And a swim session.

The swim with my club last week, I forgot to say, was great. It shook my legs off for a start, my stroke and bilateral breathing is starting to come together (still not in the right place for the breathing, I doubt I’m ever going to get that) and I could actually join in with the club training. Normally swimming is just grinding out boring lengths. For me, at least. This time as part of the training they had us practising race conditions. Treading water in the deep end, then everyone all set off at once. To get you used to the splashing and thrashing limbs. It was ace! Blasting down the pool in 25 meter sprints. The first time I’ve ever, ever, had fun swimming!

 

The bad news this week was riding in to work, got changed, went to shift my ‘phone from my bag to my fleece… not there. Huh? I took my bag apart, retraced my steps, nothing. I thought I’d left it at home. The ‘phone case is where my bank card and driver’s digicard live so I couldn’t work without it. Work lent me the van to drive home and get it. It wasn’t at home. I rang my number, straight to answering machine.

I went back to work and told them, they offered me the day off as a holiday to cancel my bank card, order a new digicard, change all my passwords, etc.  Riding home I saw my ‘phone case. No ‘phone. Someone had had it off. As a small mercy they left the digicard and bank card (and a tenner I had tucked in it, HA!) But a £500 ‘phone, gone. 

It was awful being ‘phoneless for days. It’s like quitting smoking. I’ll just have a fag, no I’ve stopped. OK, then I’ll just have a fag.

I’d better cancel my bank card, I’ll ring the… oh. Just log on and change my passwords… oh. Better tell Wendy I’ve not got a … oh. None stop.

All better now. I’ve got an upgraded ‘phone (on my old one, I’ve had camera envy ever since Wendy got hers), I’ve changed all my passwords, replaced my bank card just to be on the safe side, and remotely wiped and hopefully locked the stolen ‘phone.  

 

Here’s a few snaps with the new camera. It also has a feature where you can write with your finger on the screen. I chose a calligraphy pen setting.

 

20180329_171636

20180329_172333

Just look at that! That wasn’t even in good light.

Someone was saying when they first introduced mobiles with cameras and everyone was saying “when will I ever use that?”

Anywho, tired me. Big ride tomorrow.

Later,

Buck.

Grit ‘til you’re fit.

Things are looking up on the training front.

As I keep saying, I started from a position of no runs for 5 months, no rides or swims for 4 years, on January the second. Despite missing whole weeks of training due to work battering me with hours, I got it up to 20 miles run. On the bike, I’ve been doing turbo sessions and top gear rides, to and from work, but hadn’t actually tried out a long ride. To be honest, the horror of that first ride to work in January was still hanging over me and I was a bit reluctant, scared even, to set off. Also we’ve had massively untypical freezing weather, which didn’t entice.

Anyway, it was mild on Friday and I needed to know where I was up to on the ride. I set off for Wales. Turns out the mild was in sheltered bits, it was blowing a gale. I managed 20  miles into the teeth of it then turned around. The wind was so bad, and so focused in one direction, that I rode up the long, steep drag out of Frodsham still in the saddle, on my aero bars. On the way out I was actually having to pedal to keep my speed up going down the damn thing.

So my first “long” ride was only 40 miles, but I’m taking lots of positives from it. It’s cured me of my trepidation for a start. I now know I can just grind out a bunch of hours without it killing me. Also, I trialled my thick wool socks and waterproof/ windproof overshoe things. My feet didn’t go horribly numb and aching with the cold. That was a nice surprise. I’m going to do the same as I did with run, short (going to work) during the week, up the mileage of the big rides every weekend. 40 miles is a good starting point. Without the wind I think I’m good for 60 next time. Then up it 10 miles a week or something. And fit in a long turbo. That really works you.

I was quietly pleased with that ride. Not too bad. Then I got home and tried to walk up and down the stairs. My quads (is it? Front of leg, over knee) were set solid. Talking to Wendy later I realised, (already knew, but it brought it home) that I only have 2 weeks until the Manchester marathon. Bugger, set legs or not, no skipping my long run. I got ready and warmed up my battered legs, tossing about ideas. In the end I decided I needed to know I had it in me, so went for the full marathon. It was hellish. By about 10 miles my legs were like rocks, but I just ground it out. Half of the battle is mental toughness. That was an all-you-can-eat buffet of mental toughness, I can tell you. Anyway I did it. It wasn’t pretty or fast, but it’s within 3 months of starting basically from scratch, and after buggering my legs on the ride, so I’ll take it. I’ve been looking back. I think that’s the first marathon I’ve run since 2013. As far as I can see I did the Bolton hill marathon in March, the marathon at the end of the Outlaw in July and a 50 miler in September. Then I just let it all slide. I didn’t even do the Warrington half marathon last year. Ended the last 5 months of the year without a single run. So I’m well pleased to be back to marathon length, if not marathon fitness. I’ve got two holiday days this week, so I’ll rest before the first then try again on fresh legs. The second day I can go for a long ride.

 

The other bit of news, I had a slight bit of bother at work. One of the senior managers was, very politely, asking about me trying to get off early. I had visions of it all going pear shaped. This industry they kind of expect you to live the job. To be honest, although the planning manager was putting me in for short runs I wasn’t getting them anyway. Due to the start time all the jobs that go out about then are long ones. He put me on a short one, the transport managers changed me to a long one.

I just couldn’t train and I was getting pissed off with it. After that hint of trouble to come I went and saw about a change of start time. I was expecting them to put me on a 03.00 start time, going bed at 18.00, still pissed off but at least I could train.

“What are you looking at, 08.00 starts?”

(Well, hell yes!)

“Well, ideally but everyone will want those.”

Two days later my start time was 09.00, today 07.45, tomorrow 08.45! And short runs. I was so convinced everything was going to go tits up I was already thinking about looking for another job, with 4 on/ 4 off shifts.

This could work out perfect. If I can keep these start times and just do my basic 9 hour shift, I could even go to my tri club training during the week. I can’t believe it has, apparently, worked out so well, so quickly and so easily. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even if it all goes bad I’m making the most of this time.

Time for bed, this early start nonsense is tiring.

Later,

Buck.

PS just remembered. I did the marathon in the morning, then went for my club swim session in the afternoon and had put on a pound this morning! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

Bar Raising.

I’ve only been training for 10 weeks, after 4 years away from swimming and biking, and 5 months away from running. Today I did a 20 mile run. It was hellish, but I did it. A bad, painful 20 miles, is still 20 miles.

The reason (I think) it was so terrible is actually a good thing.  I was at the gym last week and a tri geezer came on and jumped on the tri exercise bike (spin bike thing). I was on the treadmill at the time but I was watching him out of the corner of my eye to pick up tips. Position and such looked just as uncomfortable for him, but what I noticed was he was going really slowly. I jump on, put it in a fairly tough gear and grind out a half hour or hour. He maxed the gear and slowly forced the pedals around.  That got me thinking back to when I was good on a bike. When we were teenagers and we’d nip to Wales for the afternoon we just stuck it in tenth gear and went.

*lightbulb*

So that’s the game plan now, no more of this “expert” nonsense. I’ve raised my saddle and moved the aero bars and saddle forward into a position that feels good for me. Bugger all that running through the gears to maintain a steady rpm, bollocks. That just maintains your muscle level as it slowly builds your stamina. Top gear, and push. That’s how you build muscles.

It was only a few weeks ago I got the bike and simply couldn’t ride in top gear. Even for short distances. Now the Beast From The East has finally let up I’ve taken to riding to work again. Top gear, and push. I’ve only done it 2 days, 9.8 miles each way. Changing down gear on the hills less each ride. The last ride I did the whole journey in top gear. (I want to say “10th”, but the bike has 22 gears, so 22nd I suppose, but that means nothing.) Now I know I can, that means I must. I’m going to have legs of steel. And muscles!

Which is a long winded way of saying I totally buggered up my calves on the ride, so they set like concrete on the run. Hence the misery of my 20 mile run today.

 

I asked work for shorter runs a few weeks back. Ali, the planner, has been trying. Three times last week I was planned for 7 hour runs (if you finish at 7 hours and they have no other work for you, you can go home and still get paid your 9 hours.) One early finish they found me another run so I ended up doing 10.30, two other occasions the transport office took it on themselves to change my run from the one for which I’d been planned. Last week, on this short shift arrangement, I worked 57 hours. On Wednesday I worked 14 hours 45 minutes. Then had to pushbike home 9.8 miles, shower, food, bed, up, food, commute, and be back in work in 9 hours 15. Five hours sleep. Even though I only worked 10hrs 30 on Thursday I was too knackered to train. My last training was last Saturday. I’m really hoping it was just a one-off, bad week. If this continues I may have to pull out of the Outlaw.

I’ve been through my options. I could go back to being part time, but I don’t know what shifts I’d get, they could be just as long, and Wendy remembers me being made up when I went full time because the money is so much better. Realistically, we need money more than I need to train.

The same with going back in the warehouse, but worse. The kicking I’d take on pay would be eye-watering.

I’m going to have to train on every day that’s less than an 11 hour shift. The commute ride in is going to be a good, time efficient, practice.

When I was offered full time, on this start time, the manager said it’s good money because that’s when all the long runs go out. This implies there are other start times that do short runs. For now I’d be happy with a bare minimum 45 hour week. My only real option. I’ve been asking in transport but I can’t get an answer. If I could find out which it is I could ask for a transfer when a position comes up.

Talking of work, the Tesco’s deal has gone through. So now we wait and see what happens to the drivers. That could solve my work/ training problem. Stobarts and I’m out of the door.

I was right to say my company is brilliant though. The story is they thought they were going bust in 2006 so invested money to pay for all the employees redundancies. Then they got more and more successful. They’ve just sold to Tesco’s so they’ve taken the money they had stashed and are giving it to all 13,000 workers! What a company!  Anyone here for over 12 months gets about £960, less than 12 (Nathan) get £460. No-one knew about the fund, they were under no obligation to spend it, they could have trousered the lot and buggered off to a private island in the Bahamas, we’d have been none the wiser. Instead they gave us a freebie grand. Amazing. 

Right, I’m knackered again.

Later,

Buck.

Progress.

I screwed up my courage and went to the Warrington Triathlon Club swim session. Hooray! They are a really keen bunch, with two proper training coaches. I did two lengths then they started trying to sort me out. Being basically untaught since whatever they said at school they have their work cut out.

I was windmilling, my breathing is all wrong, I need to rotate my body with the strokes, lift my head by 45 degrees when face down, stretch out my leading arm, raise my elbow on the pulling arm,and only kick to balance my strokes.

The killer one for me is the breathing. I am aware of all the others and I’m trying to put them into place, but buggered if I can get the breathing. Rest your head on your leading arm, push the arm forward to rotate in the water, as your pull arm clears your face, breathe. Ha! Suck in loads of water and cough your guts up, more like. 

If I can crack the breathing I really stand a chance. As one of the coaches noted: “You swim like a runner.” Hahaha. Fair point.

I’ve broke the ice now, just got to keep going and I can batter this. One of the coaches took me to look at the lads in the fast lane. It was an awesome sight. It looked like zero effort, half the strokes I was taking, and they just glided down the lane. And they were about 3 times as fast as me, on 100% effort. If I can get those skills…

I’ve still not been out for a long test ride. The weather has gone from cold and horrible to fucking freezing and unbearable. The Beast From The East, they are calling the arctic weather front.

I’ve been going to the gym and doing brick sessions. Just half an hour on the bike, then an hour on the treadmill, but the bike kicks the crap out of your legs for running, so it feels harder than it sounds.

Yesterday I did an hour on the bike, on a ‘hills’ setting, then ran 7 miles (smidge over an hour).

I was off today so I did an hour in the baths, trying and trying and trying to get the breathing sorted. Nope. Hopefully they can sort me out over the coming weeks at my Tri club. Ooh, that felt good. My Tri club.

Then I went back and did half an hour bike, but only managed 5 miles on the run. I think the beasting yesterday, and the swim, must have took it out of me.

One thing, I’ve had a very belated and utterly obvious epiphany. I’ve been going to the gym in my running shorts. These are lycra with a mesh undercarriage. Which is not a good thing if you are wriggling about on a saddle. Basically I’ve been grating my bollocks. I noticed this by getting in the shower then trying not to scream like a girl.

Then it struck me. I did my last full Iron tri with my running shorts under my lovely padded cycling shorts to save time in the transition. 112 miles of utter misery. Talk about stupid.

Today I bought a pair of normal sports shorts. They say they are running, but they are not lycra, so quite loose, with mesh vents in the sides, not underneath. No screaming in the shower. What a moron.

Just a follow up note on my last blog. It seems the set calf was just that, which is a huge relief. And the no sugar/ fat/ illness thing remains unresolved but absent, so I’ll take it.

 

In other news, I’ve dropped lucky with the weather. Warrington is doing OK, the roads are clear, it’s just bitterly cold in the wind. The problem is the whole rest of the country. Which becomes a problem for me as that’s where I work. Scotland’s M80 motorway was gridlocked and motionless overnight, the M62 was closed for 6 hours, Wales is a write-off, even Devon and Cornwall have had blizzards.  A terrible, terrible time to be me.

However, the weather gods have smiled on me. Yesterday I had a day’s training at work so I didn’t do any driving. I had a day’s holiday booked for next Thursday, but they cocked it up in the office and booked me off today. (So happy about that.) My normal day’s off are Friday and Saturday. Hopefully it will start to improve by Sunday. Hopefully.

I think I’ll take a sleeping bag with me, just in case.

Just looked on Twitter. There is currently no route over the Pennines. The Snake Pass, Woodhead Pass and M62 are all closed. 300 people are trapped in cars in the heavy snow in Cornwall.

Later,

Buck.

Weird

The first thing is work. I asked, in a rambling, apologetic way if, when possible, I could have shorter runs. I was flustered because it felt so cheeky. I asked for longer runs last year, I didn’t want to them to think I was getting all precious and picking and choosing my runs. I was thinking straight Didcot and back, 10½- 11 hours. In a case of ‘careful what you wish for’, I got a week of 7-9 hour runs. 45 minutes overtime in the whole week. It’s normally about 8 or 9 hours, easy.

That is what I asked for, but not what I meant. The next week was back to Didcot runs.

That was a mite disturbing. On the bright side it has given me time to train, which is what I desperately needed.

I’ve joined Warrington Triathlon Club with a view to sorting my swim out. I can thrash out the distance, but I’m shit slow. I was supposed to be going to for my first class last Saturday (at Lymm) but I woke up with a shitty headache that just got worse all day. By 16.30 (class time) I’d gone back to bed to try and sleep it off.

This time! Got to overcome my odd reluctance and actually attend. If I can do that tomorrow, I’m going to enter the Chester Middle (half Iron) Distance triathlon as a warm up for the main event. It’s local, relatively cheap, and about right for my training. The only reason I’ve not already entered is it’s a river swim (1.2 miles) and my swimming is too weak to fight a current. If I can go tomorrow, then enter the Chester Half, that will give me further motivation. I want a good swim in the Outlaw.

It’s been bastard freezing. They are predicting 10 days of sub zero from Wednesday, so I’ve not been out cycling. I’ve been on my turbo and going hard at the gym on the bikes, then onto the treadmill for fast runs.

Because of the training write-off last Saturday I didn’t do my long (15.5 miles) run.  I got up early on Sunday and went for a run before work. I set off slowly to avoid injury, then decided as I didn’t have a lot of time to make it a pace run. I have been building fitness and distance, trying not to push the speed, for fear of injury. I battered it! (By current standards.) My running has been 8.30 m/m for a bit, dropping to 9 m/m. I averaged about 8.08m/m, with 2 miles under 8 (on a 10 mile run, forgot to say).

They say to never do two hard runs back to back. If you went fast or long, small and gentle the next day. I went to gym, did the bike for half an hour to warm up, then on to the treadmill. I’d developed a belief that in doing that, warming my legs up, I would avoid injury. Anyway, as soon as I started running my calf seized. I ignored it. It wasn’t shin splints, so I wasn’t going to sweat the small stuff. I was about 4 or so miles in when I suddenly realised of what it reminded me. When I was trying to adjust to those ‘natural running’ trainers, went too hard, too fast, and something just snapped in my leg. I was laid up for months. Every time I thought I was over it, I’d go for a little run and I was crippled again. Shit. As soon as I started thinking that I was done. Stopped the tready and quit.

I’ve been nursing it for a week. It’s not got worse. But I think I’m through with treadies for a while.

Also, in the weird stakes, I was sick of my weight dropping by the end of the week by about 4 pounds, only to put it back on when I gorge on curry or whatever. (I can’t taste it as such, but I know it’s nice and I just keep troughing.) I had an idea. Use my lack of taste to my advantage. So I tried porridge for breakfast (no sugar, a bit of semi skimmed milk and water) instead of loads of butter jam on toast, and baked spuds with yoghurt and tuna for my tea. With hardly any taste buds that was oddly nice. Yoghurt made it moist and creamy, the little bit of tuna added protein and a savoury thing.

With gym I lost 3 pounds in a day. No sugar, no fat. I was full up and losing weight.  I don’t know if it was that or just a terrible coincidence, but after two days I felt so shite. I thought I was getting the ‘flu. I felt terrible.

I ate my body weight in chocolate and such and after another two days it went. I’ll try again, but perhaps reduce my fat and sugar intake gradually.

 

Today, after my fast run last week, I went out to do the 15.5 miles I missed. Then I thought ‘bugger it’, and did the next week’s, which is 17 miles. Which is to say, putting me back to 2 weeks ahead of my training schedule for the Manchester marathon. It was bitter cold, the wind cut straight through me. I did it as a 10 mile lap then a 7. At the end of the first lap I went in a got my waterproof to keep the wind off me. It was bad, after the 90 second pause to get my waterproof and glug some energy drink my legs had set. I had to just grit my teeth and grind it out. They loosened off after a mile, so I was tempted to go for 20 miles. I’m so glad I didn’t. When I turned around at 13.5 miles it was hellish. Biting cold strong wind in my face, legs just didn’t want to play. It’s good to practice mental toughness, I suppose. But that’s always easier to say after the event.

I’ve had the cables rerouted on my bike for the aero bars, and had the handlebars and aero bars professionally taped. They look groovy. Now I need the weather to get out on it. The turbo sweat/torture device is great, but I don’t know how it translates to road performance.

 

In none Tri news, I promised my niece-in-law she could have our car when she passed her test. Out of the blue I got a text off our Lisa saying she’d passed. Bugger. I had to thrash the internet for a car. Wendy said a while back that she like to look of the new Mini. I was torn between a VW Up, a little, square, cheapo box or a Mini. For the same money I could get an 11 plate Mini or a 15 plate Up. Then I saw a Mini One, local, for a grand less than everyone else was asking. The One is the basic Mini, 89bhp, 1.6 diesel, 65mpg, 6 forward gears. That’s pretty much ideal for Wendy.  As opposed to say, the Cooper. Quick glance, I thought the Mini Cooper S was 138bhp, some site claiming it’s 181bhp. Try insuring that for a just-passed.

It is surprisingly nippy to drive. Put your foot down and it doesn’t half go. The clutch and gears are unnecessarily manly, but it’s a cracking car. Real build quality. And quiet. And black. Obviously.

Mini (2)

I got her some pink fluffy dice.

Later,

Buck.

More of the same.

Training. Everything revolves around training.

Can I get a training session in before work? Can I get enough sleep to go for an early swim? Am I coming down with a cold that will set my training back? Am I getting shin splints that will totally bugger my marathon training?

I’m very tired a lot of the time. Yesterday for instance. I missed the swim on Tuesday (it’s lane swim Tuesday and Thursday, 07.00- 09.00) due to a 13 hour shift, so yesterday I had to get up after 6½ hours kip, go for a swim (just 54 lengths. 64 lengths to a mile, so just keeping my hand in.) Then straight up to the gym, 30 minutes on the exercise bike (hilly setting) then 10K (6.2 mile) run on the tready. Then charge home, changed, shove some food down my neck and straight out to work for an 11½ hour shift.

I was feeling pretty miffed, to be honest. I was even thinking about quitting driving and going back to order picking, briefly. Driving is great if all you are thinking about is the money. The long hours mean shift premiums and overtime rates. Loadsa money. To do the job you gradually develop a laid back attitude. It takes as long as it takes and I’m paid by the hour. 14 hour shift? Ker-ching!

The second you introduce another priority it suddenly becomes a bind.

Instead of taking as it comes you get frustrated when the job takes so long.

That single 13 hour shift cost me two days training. I thought it was going to be a long run so I didn’t want to knacker myself before starting a long shift. Then, by the time I got to bed I didn’t have enough time to sleep and train before starting my next shift.

 

I was thinking of other jobs for which I’m qualified…

Order picking

Asda

… and that’s it.

Even if I was to go order picking at our place I’d need to do an extra 10- 15 hours a week to get to my current hours. They do the overtime in 4 hour blocks, so I couldn’t do 5 x 10 hour shifts. So say 3 x12. That’s still 3 days a week I couldn’t train. And at least £100 a week pay cut. For a nice, short, 8 x5, 40 hour week, I’d probably be £250 a week worse off.

Not a viable option.

 

Last year in a quiet spell I was only getting 7 and 9 hour days so I asked in the office for long runs. My first course of action is to see if I can change back again. This start time tends towards the longer runs, meaning longer hours, so if that’s not possible my next course is to look into changing my start time. I’m fine with my usual run, which is just Didcot (just past Oxford) and back. That is about 10½ hours.

Ideally I’d like a days start, 10- 10½ hours maximum. That would be brilliant.

 

Anyway, that’s work interfering with training. The bright side is I now have a life with which work interferes. And the money to be able to pursue it. Accommodations.

So, on to the training.

I was worried I was getting shin splints. Runner’s World summed it up as a “catch-all phrase”, “invariably caused by 4 words: too much, too fast.” I lack the self discipline to not push on. So I was getting pains down the sides of my shins. Very worrying. That can set you back months. Then I noticed on the brick session above, no pains. I think the swim and the sweating my tits off on the bike loosened my legs up. Not a single twinge (on the sides of my shins, my muscles were hurting) after that 10K.

I didn’t do a long run last weekend for fear of exacerbating the shin splints. After the warm up revelation I did and extended warm up today (after resting yesterday) and went out for a run. I was ahead of schedule, I only need to be doing 8 miles this week. I did 11 miles two weeks ago.

As I’ve only been back running a month, I’ve been struggling. The first mile has been so tough I’ve been thinking “I can’t do this. I’m going to have to quit.” But you expect the first mile to be the worst while you get into a rhythm.

Today I set off and the first mile was a doddle, and quite nippy. The second and third were as easy and faster. I was aiming to modestly up the bar to 11½ miles. I felt so good I decided to do a half marathon, 13.1 miles. And I did. And my legs feel fine. Touch wood.

That is brilliant. I am well ahead of schedule for the Manchester marathon on the 8th of April.

 

My swim, after that accidental 100 lengths, is much better than I’d hoped.

 

Now I really need to build up my bike stamina.

 

Really though, seems I’m only a month into my training, I’m well chuffed with my progress. If I can work out the accommodation with work, I’m going to batter this.

 

Later,

Buck.