Decision Made

I’ve quit triathlon. For the third, and possibly last, time.

I’m going to sell my fancy pushbike.

I was deliberating and torturing myself over it. I really wanted to get the benchmark sub 10 hours, but I can’t get past my loathing of the swim. And my biking isn’t much better. I could do the biking in the shed on Sufferfest, … stop it!  Decision made. I’ve done 3 and 2/3rds triathlons just going for a finish, if I can’t go for benchmark there is no point in forcing myself to do stuff I hate.

I’m over it. Moved on. … Mostly.

 

So now it’s the running. Which I enjoy. It is a constant, direct challenge. And it’s relatively short. A 3 hour run is a long training run (20+ miles) whereas on the bike it’s only a short ride (about 45 miles) and in the pool it means I’ve drowned.

 

I’ve been suffering from pulled tendons on the top of my left foot (extensor tendonitis, Doctor Google informs me) since January, but it hasn’t got any worse so I’ve ignored it and carried on.

I had a week’s rest before my tri then ran the marathon on race day (Sunday).

The next week I had the Monday off to rest, and the Wednesday (as I did a 14 hour shift, with an hour’s commute). I still put in a 54 miles running week.

I threw everything at it. Previously when I was trying for speed work I’d built up to 5 miles, holding as near as I could get to my target pace of 6.48 m/m. I’ve been reading a book that says most of the tiredness and resistance to speed is your mind trying to pace your energy, not your body tiring. So, 4 days after my tri/bi marathon, I went flat out for 5 miles.

I got a PB (Personal Best) for 5K and 5 miles. Not too shabby.

I did some 8 mile runs then a double pack run day to work, 17+ miles round trip, and an 18 mile long run.

 

It was a good week. But, as usual, it was too much, too soon. My foot got a lot worse. I had to give in and rest it for 6 days. In that time I read up on extensor tendonitis. The big contributory factor everyone agreed on was too tight footwear, causing the tendons to rub as your foot flexes. I’ve been in the habit of lacing my boots tight since the army. The leather shapes around your foot and becomes like a foot glove. In theory. Also, I have to buy motion control trainers as I overpronate (my foot rolls inwards when I run) which I assumed would mean they had to be tight to do the controlling of motion thing.

It’s worth a shot. So for the last 6 days my motorbike boots and work boots have been as slack as I could make them (and I’ve been using ibuprofen gel and a compression bandage, obviously). Today my foot was the best it’s been in months so I decided to do a test run.

I slackened off my trainers and set out to do a 10 mile PB. I was aiming at 7m/m for the 10 miles. I set off at a cracking pace, I was running at 6.47 and it wasn’t killing me. I’d like to say “comfortable”, but there’s only so far you can stretch the definition. Then I turned the corner into the wind. Like running into the back of a bus. I tried to keep on pressing on with my time but it was no use. I settled for completing the 10 miles.

The great news is that my foot was fine afterwards! It’s had time to set and get a bit sore since, but nothing bad. I’m hoping I’ve cracked it. I will be so happy if it’s mainly the footwear and I can work around it.

I’ll try another run tomorrow to confirm it.  With any luck it’s manageable damage and I can keep on training. With a heap of luck it’s just the footwear and I can train and it will get better. We’ll see. The good news is it can’t be that bad if 6 day’s rest more or less cures it.

The exciting thing for me now is the Warrington half marathon in 5 weeks. It’s a bit short notice but as I’ve got a base of 5 miles at the right pace, it’s possible, if I actually have more in the bag right now, that I could get up to a 1.30 half. That would be awesome.

That’s probably not going to happen in time. But it’s certainly a benchmark goal.

 

In other news, Wendy asked me to go for a ride in the car with her as there was a funny sound. She only did about 2 miles. When we got back the nearside rear brake disc was too hot to touch. And has a scratches scored in it. Oops. I Googled it and it seems it’s a common fault. Rust builds up in the barrel around the brake piston and it eventually seizes. They said it’s probably going to need a new brake caliper. Less than ideal, but at least she caught it before it did any serious damage.

 

The other thing is; another handle has snapped on the windows of our house. The one in the bathroom has been broken for at least a year, longer in the spare room. I’ve been putting it off and swapping bits around as I’ve not idea where to start with model of double glazed windows and fittings and such. Tonight I had to do another one and I’d had enough. I hit eBay to start the process of working out what I needed.

They are a universal fit. Any of them will work. D’oh!

I’ve ordered 4 handles, with the bar that fits in them, the screws to attach them, their own keys, and postage and package for £11. All in.

Years.

*bangs head off keyboard*

 

I forgot to say; it’s a huge weight off my mind now I’ve quit. I was hating the training but badly wanted the result, then I felt I’d made a commitment and I had to follow it though. Now I’m focusing on running, and I’ve moved on, it all feels good again. If my foot doesn’t get any worse I am going to batter this!

Later,

Buck.

Decision Time.

I’ve got to commit to triathlon or quit.

I wanted to go faster this time, but that 2 month bug knocked spots off me. Then I was lazy. I didn’t do enough training. What I did wasn’t structured or consistent.

I had the Outlaw today, after which I was taking a year off from tri anyway, but now I’m not sure I want to carry on.

It was a bit of a disaster from start to finish, to be honest. I went down yesterday to register and rack my bike and stash my kit for today. That was OK, apart from the driving in torrential rain. Seriously reduced visibility from the rain and spray, wheels skipping on the huge puddles of standing water, want-to-live-forever morons doing 50 and 60 in the outside lane (of 4 in some places). There’s a lane for doing 50. It’s called the bus lane. In a bus.

Today I had to get up at 02.50 and drive to Nottingham. It was just as bad, but luckily very little traffic.

I was halfway across the A50 when I realised I’d forgotten the drinks for the bike leg. I had to pull in and buy some water. I got to the event later than planned, by the time I’d queued to get on to a distant car park I only had 15 minutes to get to the changing area and struggle into my wetsuit. They are designed to be clingy and are really hard to put on.

I was just outside the changing area when I realised I’d let my timing chip in the car. I had to sprint back and get it and sprint back to the changing area. The race started at 06.00. At 05.57 I was starting to put my wetsuit on. I got it on and sprinted out to the lake. They let me start but I was a minute behind everyone else before I got into the water.

I really thought I was going to batter the swim a bit this time. I thought I’d been making good progress with technique. Aided by the buoyancy of the wetsuit I thought I was going to fly. Nope. I was just weak and slow. My worst ever time. And I was hating it.

I got out of the late inside the cut-off only to be told “Take your time, there’s no rush, the bike leg has been cancelled.”

The battering rain had left parts of the course under a few inches of water. And a good chunk of it is on open roads. So loads of bikes, on skinny tyres, going flat out in monsoon rain, being close passed by cars. It was a recipe for fatalities.

Fair play to them. But it turned my tri into a splash about and a bit of a jog.

Then, inexplicably, they started all of us on the run individually! I was waiting 2 hours 43 minutes before I got going.

I was treating it like a stand alone marathon as there was no bike leg, but my legs didn’t believe me. My right tendon was pulling then the calf cramped. I kept running but it was really hard work. I did it in 3.57:33. Poor for a solo marathon, good for a tri marathon, but it was neither.

I think the swim, and then the waiting around, must have battered my legs.

I came out to the lake in position 906 (out of 900, possibly) by the end of the run I was position 489.

Anyway, the thing is that was too, too hard. And bad.

If I’m going to go back to tri I need to commit to disciplined, consistent training.  I don’t know if I can. I find it so hard to force myself to swim. And I don’t like road biking much better.

I’m really tired, and it’s been a long, painful and stressful day. I’m not committing either way right now, but quitting is definitely on the table.

Bah.

Buck. 

New Bike!

A few weeks ago I said to a driver at work that I’d found a great route into work but it was cruel on my fancy bike taking it along the canal. He said I should get a gravel bike.

I googled one later. It seems it’s much like a road bike (or ‘racer’ as they were called when I was a yoof) but with a wider frame clearance to take fatter tyres, a more relaxed geometry, and a slightly higher crank (for clearance).

I had a look. Some of them were dearer than my tri bike. I only wanted a knock about commuter. I had a moan on Twitter and was told that gravel bikes were the latest trend, that’s why they were so expensive, I should look at Cyclocross (CX) bikes (the sport where idiots race through mud then carry their bikes at a run up hills that are too steep and muddy to ride) as it is basically the same thing, but not trendy, therefore loads cheaper.

In my usual obsessive way I went from never having heard of one to armchair expert in 24 hours. I decided the one with the best spec on the gears, brakes and brand name frame was the Giant TCX.

Then I thrashed eBay and Gumtree for a bike. The problem I had is Giant were most specific that my statuesque 5’ 6½” meant I had to get a Small. Hardly any to be had, and dear. One for £600+.

I saw one on Gumtree for £250, with better gears and spec than a £350 on eBay that still had a few days bidding left on it (so sure to go up a lot at the last minute).

It was in Bristol.

Of course it was.

He said it was in average condition. Everything worked but it had a few scratches. Sounds good to me.

I arranged to go and look at it on the Saturday, but then he pulled the advert on the Thursday. I was gutted. I did another thrash of the internet and confirmed I was going to have to pay a lot more for less spec.
I text him to confirm he’d sold it. He hadn’t! Yay! A lot of muppets had been hassling him over the bike so he’d just pulled the advert. He said they were giving him 20 questions about the scratches. “It’s a £200 bike”.

Hmmm, I’d been happy at £250. I said if it was the bike in the pic, and it all worked, I’d give him £230, consider it sold.

He said I could have it for £200!

It was a long, tedious drive, but the bike is perfect for me.

I’ve done some basic tinkering; cleaned years of built up oil off the chain and sprockets, lowered the seat, lowered the handlebars (put the stem under the spacers) fitted clip in pedals, adjusted the (disc) brakes so it now does stoppies, and pumped the tyres to their feeble max. On my tri bike the tyres are 23mm, 105psi front and 115psi rear. This is 40mm, 75psi and 85psi. So soft, wide, grippy tyres.

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Job’s a good ‘un.

Oh, the other thing about these bikes is they have fittings for attaching mudguards! (How did that become a notable design feature?) So I can stick some of them on as well.

I took it to work. I can ride the first 5 miles off road, through the park and along he canal path (above). Which just leaves the last 3.8 miles of quiet roads.That’s the other thing about CX bikes, they have the gearing and tyres and geometry to be capable on the road as well as off it.

It is liberating. My tri bike you have to wear the kit, go like stink, and look miserable. I wouldn’t dream of nipping to the shops on it. It’s just not the right tool for the job, and it’s so expensive I’d be too nervous someone would nick it.

On my CX I can ride to work, nip the shop, or ride to the leisure centre and leave it locked up outside. It’s just a no hassle, do anything and everything bike. And because it’s not a race bike, not on the road, and doesn’t have race tyres, or tri bars even, I don’t feel the pressure to be going as fast as I possibly can. I can enjoy cycling again. Especially as I can now ride away from traffic.

Today, as a final bit of training before next week’s Outlaw triathlon, I took it for a ride along the TransPennine Trail (TPT). It’s a route of canal paths and tracks linked occasionally by short blasts on very quiet roads that stretches from the West to the East coast. I wanted to ride to the top of the Pennines. By road, Google said it was 44 miles. HA!

It’s a great route. Very quiet and with enough challenging surfaces to keep you from getting bored.

However, the signposting is rubbish.

I’d been out hours, got lost a bunch of times, and only made it to Stockport Pyramid. Google said I had another 2 hours to go. Then I lost the trail completely, so I came home.

This is how well is was signposted:

Screenshot_2019-07-18 Garmin Connect

That red line (the route I took) should be a single line from top left to bottom, then up.

Still, the bike took everything the paths could throw at it. I’ll buy the official route map and do it again after my tri.

Last pic; lost again.

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Happy days!

Later,

Buck.

Unrealistic Expectations.

I’ve known for ages that I have unrealistic expectations. Whenever I come back from an injury I expect to be out of the blocks as fast and as fit as I was before. Usually injuring myself again in the process.

Today an idle reply to someone saying I was too hard on myself crystallised my position.

“I always have unrealistic expectations, then am miffed if I don’t achieve them first go. If I do achieve them I think I should have done it faster.”

Whaddayagonnado?

 

That’s not the point though, the point is I’ve changed my unrealistic expectations. I wanted to do a sub hour marathon and a sub 10 hour triathlon. Wendy has been going on about how mad I am to keep punishing myself in a sport I don’t enjoy. (I hate the swimming and the cycling really bores me. I like the running.)

My only reply is that it’s a big challenge. As she rightly points out, there are plenty of running challenges.

After mulling it over for a few days I’ve decided on a compromise. I’ve got the Outlaw triathlon in 24 days, after that I’m going to take a year off triathlon and concentrate on achieving my running goals. Which I will actually enjoy. So I’ve lined up a bunch of races. The Warrington half marathon (on my doorstep, rude not to) in September, the Chester marathon in October and the Manchester marathon in April. I’ve put in a holiday form, if I get it I’ll be doing the Crewe 20 mile run in September as well.

And…

*drum roll*

The Leeds Endure24 (24 hour running race) in July next year!

As soon as I get my tri done I’m going to get stuck into a running plan to get me up to speed for a sub 3 in Manchester, and I’m going to be building lots of miles for the 24.

Apparently about 15- 20 runners each year get the yellow ‘100 miles’ T-shirt. Guess what I’m expecting to do?

I can run 26 miles now, and for Ultra marathons (technically anything beyond 26.2 miles –a marathon- distance) there is a lot of walking/ running. It’s building up the stamina. I did the Ladybower 50 mile ultra in 2014, I’d only trained up to 40 miles so it hit me really hard after 40 miles in the race. I ended up walking most of the last 8 miles. I did it in 10.06. That was without the proper training. Also I’d been training run X minutes, walk Y. When I got there no-one was walking. So I ran it all until I couldn’t run any more. Always follow your training. My point is, 100 miles is do-able.  But I’m going to have to train right up to that distance.

The thing is, it’s a timed endurance race, there is no set distance, it’s as many 5 mile laps as you can finish in 24 hours. There’s only me putting an arbitrary distance on it.

That’s where I am. Somewhere between terror and excitement.

I don’t want to mess up my sub 3 chances with the 24 training, but if I can juggle both, that will tick a lot of my ambitions. Sub 30, ultra, 100 miler, 24 hour.

The speed and stamina will be transferable to tri when I’m done.

If you’re going to have a challenge, make it an awesome one!

 

In other news, Wendy’s insurance over doubled with her provider if she wanted to renew. We got it elsewhere. Today I got a text off the bank saying you’re overdrawn, we’re ripping you off. WHAT!? Went on to the bank website, we paid the £800 for Wendy’s new insurance a week or so ago, her old provider have taken out £1600 to renew. Without asking. Super. Wendy was on the ‘phone to the them twice tonight, both times they claimed they would send an email for her to sign to to confirm she was cancelling the policy. Both times they didn’t. They said it’s going to be 5- 10 working days until they repay it. Super. It wasn’t a direct debit, they just had my card details from when I paid for it last time, took it out without asking.

They said to Wendy that she should tell them about bank charges, but it’s not the point.

Apart from that irritation, all is well.

Later,

Buck.

T-35

Eek! 35 days until the Outlaw triathlon!

My training hasn’t really recovered from that 6 weeks of lurgy.

I’m back up to marathon distance with my runs, I’ve done a few decent rides of 60 – 70 miles but no 100 milers, and my swim is still rubbish, done about 1½ miles.

On the positives, for years I’ve been trying to find a quiet route cycling route. If you want to ride 50 miles in any direction you are going to be on main roads at some point. A while ago it occurred to me that all around Warrington are quiet country lanes. I spent a two days sorting out a loop last week, then found an app where I could plot it out and save it (as something called a GPX file) then I had to find out how to transfer the GPX to my bike PC. I took it for a test ride, the bike PC acting like a satnav on my course, and apart from one busy crossing (which I later realised I can eliminate by doing the loop in reverse) it worked like a charm. 34 miles, mostly really quiet roads, with a few hills. I did two laps, (the second by memory) it’s akin to the Outlaw course. Mostly flat, wind to contend with, a few hills that obviously get repeated.

Screenshot_2019-06-21 Sports route planner UK Runners, walkers, cyclists - map your routes

That is the best training thing in ages. You really don’t want to get on your bike when you know you’ve got to ride around town centre or motorway roundabouts.

 

The other positive is my running.

A few times lately I’ve said “I think I’ll beat my Personal Best (PB) at X distance” and have.

Looking at it, I’ve battered my PB in every category, since May.

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Garmin Connect

Also, which it doesn’t record as a run distance, I beat my 10 miles PB on the tenth of June. 

I was recommending my running pack to two women on Twitter who wanted to run into work carrying clothes and makeup, they said their bags were killing them. I was used to pack running in the army before I got mine. Everything bouncing up and down and rubbing. By the end you’re all bruised with loads of friction burns. I got my pack for a 50 mile (ultra) I was running. It was a revelation. It just works. No pain, no bouncing, no webbing burns. Anyway, I recommended it, then got a bit nervous. Was it as good as I remembered?

I ran to work and and back (18 miles) to time myself then did a pack run on my last day at work. Carrying a full uniform, a change of running gear (for coming home) a flask, rations and ‘phone. My first pack run in years and years, and my first ever double run day. I liked it. Good training. I’ll be doing that again. And the pack worked a treat.

 

I still suck at swimming.

 

I’m looking to get through this year’s Outlaw, eat my humble pie, then I’m concentrating on getting my sub 3 hour speed for next April’s Manchester marathon. I’m also going to apply for a place in the Berlin marathon for next year. I’ve bought a book, Advanced Marathoning”, that walks you through the science, explains why you have to do what they tell you to do, then sets out a training plan. Apparently it’s gold.

 

In other news, I’ve been suffering with big energy crashes and just feeling weak after work so I’ve changed my diet to wholegrain bread, muesli, eggs, and such (instead of jam on white toast with loads of butter for breakfast and dinner) to try and develop slow release, steady energy instead of spikes and crashes.

The other great news is work have let me swop to a rotating 4 days shift pattern. I have the option to work my days off to make up my hours, but if they batter me with long shifts and I can’t train, I can take 4 days off at a time! At my works, overtime, at time and a half, is paid after 45 hours and your sixth shift is time and three quarters. So rather than working 5 days a week, I can make more money working 4 days one week, then 6 days the next. Then have 4 days off. I’ll have to see how it goes but it sounds perfect.

I’ve just swapped, I finished my last last shift on Thursday, start my new rota on Wednesday, 5 days off!

That’s not going to happen again, so I’ve taken all 5 off to train. So Thursday I did my pack run commute, Friday I did the dentist, then slacked off, Saturday I did a 68 mile test of my cycle route, today, Sunday, I set a new PB for a half marathon. Monday, Tuesday, while everyone’s at work and school, I’ll catch up on my swimming (and riding and running.

In a bit of live action blogging, just had a bad turn. I’m sat here with the window open, typing this. I heard a bunch of kids outside, not doing anything, just being loud and excitable, (it’s 22.37hrs) and I started panicking. In a few seconds it had snowballed in my head to gangs of kids running riot every night, trashing stuff and making life a misery. My stomach started knotting and I felt like I was losing it again.

I turned out the light and poked my head out of the window, it’s a bunch of Asian kids playing cricket in someone’s garden. Aaaaaaannnddddd, relax. 

I’d forgotten all about that flavour of loony. The mind is a strange and fragile thing. Wendy and I are often forced to reflect on the truth of the cliché that if you’ve not got your health (physical or mental) you’ve got nothing. 

None of the above training would be worth a carrot if I was to go loony again. And life would be a misery.

One of the white neighbours has just shouted to ask them to keep the noise down, the kids apologised and are being quite. Bless ‘em.

Right, I’m off to bed.

Later,

Buck.

PS I’ve forced myself back to the swimming. On Monday I did a 2.2 mile swim in 1 hour 40. Terrible time, but the race cut off is 2.4 miles in 2 hours, so at least now I know I shouldn’t fail on the swim.

Today I tried for a half triathlon but it all went a bit pear shaped. Wanted a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, 13.1 mile run. I left it too late for the swimming, only had 40 minutes in the pool, did a mile. It was cool and raining for the ride, but I was thinking like a runner, that it would be too hot for a waterproof, so I set off in the drizzle in just a thin, long sleeved top over my tri suit. By the time I’d done the first lap of 36.74 miles I was soaked, cold and miserable, so I sacked it off. I did the run at least.

It was good training, no matter what.

Wendy’s trying to get me to drop triathlon and concentrate on getting a fast marathon. She know how much I hate swimming and how much cycling bores me. But if I was good at it, perhaps I wouldn’t. There was a spell on that big swim where I actually found a rhythm, got my stroke right, and was gliding along. I was still slow, but I wasn’t fighting the water.

Hmmm.

Training Break

I saw a picture a while back, under “Britain’s Best Cycling Routes”, somewhere up in the wilds of Scotland.

Stitched Panorama

It’s supposed to be the UK’s toughest ascent, and just look at the roads! Empty, sweeping, awesome.

Sadly it’s in the middle of nowhere, the holiday accommodation I could find was either fully booked or rich people only, and when I asked a native it seems the pictures are totally misleading, it’s famous and a mecca for caravans and such. Imagine wobbling up a couple of miles of leg burning ascent while caravans and mobile homes are trying to pass you and each other! 

Anyway, nowhere to stay, so no. But the seed had been planted. Top of Scotland, hills, great roads, sparsely populated, little traffic.

I tried a bunch of places but they were all booked, finally got a caravan in Nairn. Great. Booked it.

Where’s Nairn?

Oh.

6½ hours drive away. Way, way, up in the Highlands.

That was our last stay in a caravan. We got up there and it was sunny and warm, as you could hope in June, then it started raining and turned cold.

It turns out we’ve been to that neck of the woods twice previously, so we’d already seen the tourist sites.

I feel bad for Wendy. She says it was alright, but the only thing for her to do there was walk and eat. And huddle by the fire.

I had a good training session. Killer hills, gorgeous, empty, back roads, great running and cycling.

Poor Wendy, though.

Next holiday is somewhere that’s got holiday stuff to do. And has brick walls and double glazing.

Here’s a few snaps.

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20190607_110058 (2)

20190602_10361520190607_093358

And look at this, Microsoft have finally dumbed their photo editing thing down enough that I can use it!

Pole ruining snap, then gone!

20190607_093508

Untitled

Voodoo, I tell you! Still not the best of pics, but the tech impresses me greatly.

 

And here’s a video of Wendy down on the farm. 4 hours in Scotland and she went native.

https://youtu.be/zzX-tDZfRvQ

The video of her ploughing fields in her high heeled, slingback wellies didn’t load.

That’s about it.

Great training, rubbish holiday for Wendy. *sad face*

Next time.

Later,

Buck.

PS, Wendy started feeling ill on Friday afternoon, said she was going to pack her kit for the morning drive home in case she didn’t feel good enough later. If we were doing nothing, why waste all of Saturday driving back? We had the idea at 16.30, 17.02 we were packed, caravan cleaned, car loaded, bike stripped and bagged, and out of there.  And it lashed it down all the way home. Started to aquaplane twice, bit of focusing trip back. (Should mention that Wendy started to feel OK again as soon as we hit the road.) Which meant today I was free to pick up my bike panel from the spray painter, cut the hole in it and fit it, with crash bungs. My bike looks groovy again.

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All the bottom red panel had snapped off below and in front of the crash bung. so all that black sideways V and the grey fins were missing. The panel I sourced was purple, so he’s done a good job of matching the colour.

There is no Tri?

do-yoda

Just reviewing. I did a blog on the 4th of May, saying I was finally clear of that evil bug. I’d made several false starts at training, only to be too weak to continue.

Since then I’ve done a bunch of rides on the Sufferfest, but on the easier setting, to get my fitness back. I did a few fast runs then decided to run a marathon. I did it, but it was so, so bad. I actually quit several times. I thought, ‘Right, just get to the next mile marker and I’m turning around, I just can’t carry on.’ Then I carried on. It was a triumph of bloody mindedness and grit, but I just wasn’t ready for it.

As usual I’d been starting swimming. Tomorrow. OK, the next day. I hate swimming and I’m really bad at it so I have a huge aversion to overcome.

Then, at the beginning of last week, I looked up when a TV series was returning (Stranger Things). The 4th of July. I thought, ‘Great, that’s only a month away…., hang on, my triathlon is the end of July! AAAAAGGGHHH!’.

I’ve done about 4 or 5 swims since my last triathlon, no long rides, and even my run fitness took a battering from that 6 weeks of terminal man-flu. And I had 9 weeks to get to 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride, 26.2 mile run.

PANIC!

Oh, and work have been stitching me up with long shifts again. Super.

So this week I’ve done 3 swims, 2 Sufferfest sessions and a few runs. I worked out a target-work-backwards plan. Then thrashed it. As usual. By the end of this week I was supposed to be up to 50 lengths of the pool. First swim I did 52 (in 40 minutes), second 62, third and hour, which I think was about 80 lengths or 1.2 miles. (I wiped the data before I had chance to confirm, but it was roughly that.)

Today I thought I’d see where I was by doing a half.

Being a Saturday there was no lane swim or adults only, so I had to go to an open swim session. I got half an hour’s swim, 42 lengths (2/3rds of a mile) before all the parents and toddlers piled in and I had to quit. Then I did a hilly 62 miles on my bike. 3,156 feet of elevation. Some of them were killer steep, I did 43mph in an aero tuck down one hill (then had to slog back up). I need to do that run again and again. The hills killed me. I had nothing.

I wobbled back in the pitiful time of 3 hours 47.

Then I went out for the run. 13.1 miles. The first two miles I was quite happy. 8 minute miles, not too painful. Then it hit me hard. I was desperate to quit. I slowed the pace and ground it out. It was miserable. I was looking back at the period on the bike where I had nothing as golden pinnacle of joy.

I did it in 1.57.

The point is, the swim was barely getting wet before I had to quit, and the the other two times you can’t just double for my tri time (which would be bad enough) I had nothing. I couldn’t have kept up that pitiful pace for the second half. It took everything I had to finish the half marathon without quitting. I was in a world of misery. I think I’d have been walking if I thought I had to do another 13 miles.

So that’s where I am. With 8 weeks to go.

Trying to draw positives from a nightmare-ish world of pain and fail:

I’ve set the bar today. OK, it was at ground level, but now I know where I am.

I’ve started swimming. The last three triathlons I was going once or twice a week. From what I’ve read consistency is the key, so I’ve worked out late (8pm- 10pm) swim sessions for 5 nights a week. If I concentrate on form doing shorter sessions 40 minutes to an hour, and do one long session a week, I should crack that. Maybe improve my time.

I totally need to work on hills on the bike. I think a lot of it was down to trying to do huge hills while still in an aero tuck, sat down. Sit up, pull on the bars, stand up!

The run should be my strength. I’ll just have to concentrate on putting in some miles.

In other triathlon news, I treated myself to an all singing, all dancing, Garmin 735xt, triathlon watch. Counts your lengths in the pool, GPS for outdoor swimming, monitors your bike sensor to tell you power, speed distance, heart rate, etc, and the same on the run. And it has a 15 or so hour (with GPS on, which really drains batteries) battery life. More than enough for my tri. Last year I bought a Timex Ironman watch. Iron distance tri-s have a cut off of 16 hours. The battery died half way through my run. 

I got it as an early present for my birthday, two weeks ago. I took it for two swim sessions, I didn’t even use the swim features, it was just sitting on my wrist as a watch, after the second session it started buzzing, then turning itself off. By the next day it was dead.

I’ve returned it for a swap, but if it happens again I’m getting a refund.

Total downer, it’s an great watch.

Right, I’m going to bed. I’ve had enough of today.

Later,

Buck.

Change and about.

It’s been a strange time.

Work are introducing spy cameras into the trucks, against the express wish of every driver there. I got into a principled huff and have been looking for other jobs. I applied online to Royal Mail, Chorley, but didn’t make it past their online personality test thing. Then I saw two other jobs that looked OK. I applied for them, and got invitations to go further, but then I found reviews. It’s not just Amazon that do online reviews anymore. These were from actual drivers, past and present. The first job is a total lie, with terrible kit and long hours, being treated like dirt. The second, which looked on the advert to be local drops, loading and unloading your own trailer, good money, and most importantly only 8 hour shifts, was nothing of the sort. Long, long shifts, bullying culture, treated like crap, admittedly the money is still good.

I was getting a bit low but I think I’m bouncing back. It’s not that my job is ideal, but it’s still SO much better than the alternatives. I’ll keep my eyes open, if Royal Mail, Warrington, advertise I’ll be all over that, but I’m not leaving my job for a worse one. I mentioned that I was looking for other work to a trainer at work today. Because of the spy cameras, but also because I never know when I’m going home. He had a good suggestion. Ask to be trained as a shunter. They are the drivers who stay in the yard all day, moving trailers around. A tedious job but one with fixed hours. I could be on the good money I am on now and know when I was going home. And it would remove the other, otherwise unavoidable, irritant in my job; traffic.

It’s certainly worth an ask.

 

Another downer is my bike. I bought the red one because it did everything the black on did and had great bodywork so looked fantastic. I got to work a few days ago and noticed half of a fairing panel was missing. It’s completely inexplicable. If it had been a full panel I would have thought it had fallen off or been nicked, but half was left behind as though it had snapped off. but there were five bolts holding the snapped off bit in place. I haven’t crashed it or dropped it, there is no plastic debris at ours, so not kids vandalising it. It makes no sense. Gutted though.

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I spent hours searching for a replacement fairing panel. It’s a 24 year old bike, and apparently left hand side ones are most sought after from people getting it wrong with the sidestand and dropping it. Found one, tried to buy it but eBay said there was an error, so I went back and tried again but it had sold. I found another panel and bought that. Then eBay sent me an invoice for the first one. It was a glitch, it had sold to me. Super. Still, I couldn’t get either panel in red, so one will do while I get the nicer one sprayed.

 

In training news I’m pretty sure the wellness has taken this time. I’ve had about 3 false starts since the lurgy where I thought I was all well, did a bit of really tough, very poor, training, only to be weak and useless a few days later.

I did two workouts on the bike, the first followed by and 18 mile run, then tonight managed my first attempt at a fast run session in about 6 weeks.

I’ve had sports watch envy for a while. I got the Timex Ironman watch last year, when you turn the GPS on it drains the battery, the same with every watch, but the so-called Ironman watch died completely half way through my marathon at the end of my tri last year. The cut off point for Iron distance tri-s is 16 hours, I finished in 13.17, and the battery was dead long before that. Not a lot of use then. Since then I’ve been using my old, brick-sized Garmin watch for runs and the Timex as normal watch.

Wendy was asking me what I wanted for my birthday, so I’ve upgraded and got myself a Garmin triathlon watch. The battery is supposed to be good for 15 hours plus with GPS on and other data devices streaming to it.

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It arrived today so I forced myself to go for a run to try it out.

You can set it with 4 data metrics on display or one big one per page. That is ideal for me. I need readers now, so 4 little readouts are no good to me unless I want to run in glasses. The one big display is clearly legible.

My old Garmin took a few minutes to find the satellites, so if I’d been on the bike I was cooling off waiting to start running. The Timex sometimes couldn’t find the satellites at all.  My funky new watch I pressed the run button, it instantly connected! Ace.

I monitors your heart rate on your wrist to an acceptable degree, but comes with a chest strap heart rate monitor for exact results.  So far this afternoon/ evening, my lowest resting heart rate has been 47bpm. I’ll be interested to see what I score overnight!

The grooviest thing though, is when I uploaded the run data. SO MANY METRICS! ALL THE STATS!

Screenshot_2019-05-09 Warrington Running(1)

Usual stuff, route, elevation, pace.

Screenshot_2019-05-09 Warrington Running(2)

 

Heart rate. But then, Stride Length, Run Cadence, Vertical Ratio, Ground Contact Time Balance…

Screenshot_2019-05-09 Warrington Running

It goes on. Steps Per Minute, Heart Rate As Percent Of Max,  Average Vertical Oscillation…

I don’t even know what half of this is, or how I could possibly improve it, but it’s FUN!

As someone said on one of the reviews I was obsessively reading whilst trying to decide which model was best for me, “Why do we need all these stats and data? Because it’s like catnip to a triathlete.”

Or words to that effect.

I almost forgot in the new watch excitement, after struggling for a few weeks to stay under 8.30 m/m I did that short run tonight, but decided to try and be quick. I managed two miles under 7 m/m! That’s more like it!  At someone’s suggestion on Twitter, I’ve bought a highly recommended book that people rate to get you under the 3 hour marathon. I’ll start on that tomorrow.

 

Right, just a quick catch up.

Later,

Buck.

Finally!

I don’t want to speak too soon, I’ve made several false starts recently, but I think I’m finally free of that bug.

It’s taken forever. For the last 3 weeks I’ve thought I was over it, gone out for a few training sessions, then felt as weak as a Southerners cup of tea.

It’s been dire. Also, there’s the knock on effect of losing your mojo. While you are training and pushing yourself you are determined to be better the next time. After you’ve spent a while being lazy you know how bad it’s going to be getting going again and you start avoiding it.

After my last blog, lamenting how utterly terrible everything was, I’m back to optimistic today.

I’ve had to switch off the 4DP setting on the Sufferfest (cycling training app thing) that is tailored to my exact strengths and weaknesses (well, weaknesses and slightly less weakness) until I can get my fitness back.

It’s still set to my maximum sustainable effort, so it beasts me, just not quite as much.  Last week when I was feeling OK I did the longest session on there,1 hour 40 minutes of mixed sets. It was too much really, my knee felt like a balloon afterwards.

Today I was cunning and just did a nice easy 45 minute session. Warm up, 1 minute hard, 1 minute rest. I can do this! Then again. By the third time I was thinking I was going to have to quit. But Sufferfest are sly. They give you just enough time to recover so you think ‘OK, I’ll just do one more’ and keep going. 11 of them. Half way through they said “This is one of the most intense workouts you can do, treat it as such”.

Nice, easy, 45 minutes my fat, lazy arse!

Then after the 11 sessions it got hard.

15 seconds of high revs, high power, sprint. Then 15 second rest. Times 20. It doesn’t sound much, but there is no time to recover. Again, they are cunning, you can just about stop gasping then the next 15 seconds starts and you think ‘Anyone can do 15 seconds!’ so you push it out, even though you are still dying.

My admiration for the trainers at Sufferfest is total. They are evil,sadistic geniuses. The clue is in the name, I suppose. Their genius is in torturing you to the exact level where you push at your absolute maximum, but can finish without quitting. It really is where the Iron Crosses grow.

So I slogged through that. And it was terrible. But I did it.

Then I went out for a run. The last few weeks that has been slow and painful and maximum effort just to keep going. Today the first 4 miles were a joy. I just set my legs to running, and they kept it up, at a modest pace, with metronomic ease. That was a double joy as after the sufferfest being so hard I thought my legs would be shot. By about 9 miles my calves started really cramping. I think that’s going so hard on the bike after a bit of a lay off. I kept it going and managed 18 miles. Not too shabby for a tester, recovery run.

My calves are still aching and set, but I’m back in the game!

 

In other news, I’ve started looking for another job. Work is getting me down. They’re introducing spy cameras into the cabs, that are active even when you are on your break. It’s not so much the cameras as the principle. They know the drivers don’t want them, we voted for strike action rather have them, and they just don’t care. The thing that really gets me down about my job though is never knowing when I’m going to be coming home. I just assumed that was the case for all lorry driver jobs. Then I saw the Royal Mail were advertising. I thought they only took on through the agency. Loads more money, and short shifts. But nights. Then I saw Aldi were recruiting. Nights, sadly, but 8 hour shifts, doing local runs to the stores then unloading yourself. They say you only spend 40% of your time driving. Most drivers are fat and lazy and would hate that. I reckon that would suit me. Even on nights. If you’re doing locals it’s less time on closed motorways, you’re not falling asleep driving long distances, and you have a fair idea of your finish time. That all sounds good. Also it’s only a 40 hour week and it’s more money per hour. If I can get in, get my feet under the table, then look to transfer to days if any jobs come up, it would be perfect. I’ve applied, got through the first sift, and have an interview in a couple of weeks. See how it goes.

 

I’ve sold my black VFR750, only got my new (24 year old!) red VFR750 now. One bike.

Like. A. Caveman.

 

I’ve started a running/ triathlon/ cycling/  motorbikes account on Twitter. My old account has become enmired in politics. All the fun, whimsy and interesting stuff has been drowned in polemic vitriol. My new account has left me with watch envy though. I bought the Timex Ironman watch for my Iron distance tri last year. My Garmin GPS watch was good but old and only really good for a marathon or so before the battery died. Anyway, you buy a watch that’s specifically branded ‘Ironman’, you expect it to do the business. I started it at the start of the race (naturally) fully charged, and it died half way through the marathon at the end. My overall time was 13.35 or something, the cut off time for the race is 16 hours. An Ironman watch that won’t do Iron distance. Super. All the runners and tri people on Twitter have been showing off their swanky watches. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks and Wendy was asking me what I want, so I’ve bought an upgrade Garmin! Yay! Supposed to be good for 15 hours or so with the GPS on. More than enough time for me. And it finds satellites in no time. My old Garmin, bless it’s long service heart, leaves me standing around for 5 minutes, cooling down and setting from the bike, before I can start my run.

So that’s where I am.

If I don’t feel weak and I can get back to training I still hope to achieve my goal for this year, which is an hour off last year’s tri. I have 3 months to make it so.

I so hope that’s it. That I’m back to normal now.

Right, bed time.

Later.

Buck.

Excuses, not results.

After my upbeat last post, it all went horribly wrong again.

I started feeling weak again. I did some runs but I couldn’t maintain any sort of pace and it was so, so hard just to keep going. I endured it for a week, I did 3 runs, then decided I’d had enough. I wondered if it might be the anti-inflammatory pills the doctor gave me, so I stopped taking them. 2 days later my foot was hurting from the inflamed tendons again, so I knew the pills had rinsed out of my system. I tried to do the Sufferfest.

As I’ve said, I had just really raised the bar, so all my workouts were a lot harder and they’d moved me on to endurance blocks because that’s my most glaring weakness. Then I was ghastly ill for 3 weeks and lost all my fitness.

Before I was ill I was doing sprint workouts, which actually played to my ‘strength’ (such as it is). My sustainable limit is about 200 Watts. The sprint workouts would have you me riding for 20 seconds to 2 minutes at anything up to 320W, then easy for 30 seconds or whatever, then the next big one.

I aced that on the fitness test just before I got ill, with them saying I have “exceptional” sprint to [utterly pitiful]sustainable level power.

Rather than kill myself as I’m trying to make up for a lost month’s training, I decided to do the sprint workout again, rather than the endurance blocks.

Ha! Sufferfest were on to me.

I started the routine with a graded warm up, then in to the sprints, “hold 679W for 30 seconds”

What?! Seriously, WHAT?!

I didn’t have my glasses on so thought I must have misread it, my power being around 200W and all, but no, 679W.

It looks like I’m going to have to build my fitness up on the other training thing, where it’s not tailored to you specifically, before I can start back properly.

The long and short of it being I had to quit, wearing my lungs as scarf, halfway through the workout. I just couldn’t. To try and redeem myself a little I went out for a run. I was only going to do 6 miles, but after the first mile, on traumatised legs, at 8.20 I realised I had loads more in the tank, so I put it under 8 m/m and held it there, comfortably. (It’s a relative term. I mean I wasn’t having to claw back every mile from 8.30 or whatever, I just kept going and stayed under 8.) I was impressing myself after the last bunch of runs not even being able to stay at 8, so kept going for 5 miles, then turned around and smashed the negative split.

10 miles, on thrashed legs, after an 8.20 first mile, and I averaged 7.41. I’ll well take that.

I was buzzing. I thought I was all well again and not too far behind on my training.

Sigh.

The next day I was weak again, then sneezing and nose streaming, eyes running. It’s just not fair. I think it was some sort of hay fever, Mr Google said there was “pollen bomb” as we went from nippy 5C to a four day weekend of 25C. I took some anti-histamines and I dried up within hours. That’s odd, I used to get an itchy nose and sneezy, but I don’t remember ever having full-on hay fever.

Today I’m just suffering from tiredness, (not much sleep, then up at 04.20 for a course), fatness and laziness.

That’s the thing, the more training you do the more you want to do, the less you do the harder it becomes to motivate yourself to start.

Tomorrow is my day off. I am writing all this down now to try and vanquish this incredible run (over a month) of being poorly ill, and refocus my chi. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, and, so far, I’m not feeling ill.

 

In other news, I’ve put my black VFR750 motorbike up for sale and got a bid on it, so hopefully that’s sold. Which will leave me with just one motorbike.

Like. A. Caveman.

Tomorrow it all gets real.

Crack on.

Buck.