Hmmm.

My training is taking all sorts of false steps.

There was that disaster when I thought the top Tri people ran without socks (confused it with riding without socks, which I think is a thing) and knackered my feet for a fortnight.

Then I went for a professional bike fit (getting the saddle at the right height, position forward and back, angle of seat, setting the cleats in the right place, adjusting the handlebars to correct length of reach, armrest, and height, etc. Basically getting the bike to be a perfect fit for me.)

The guy doing it was an ex Tour De France professional rider, so he knew his stuff.

The fit is great, totally not how I had it, so hopefully that will rule out further knee pain and such.

Better than that though was the free advice. It took about 2½ hours to fit me up (really!) so he had plenty of time to talk.

Everything I thought is wrong. Everything.

I remembered as a kid riding all day in boots and jeans and going flat out in top gear. From that I extrapolated the best way to train is no padding in your shorts to toughen up your nethers, and put it in top gear on the trainer and grind it out until you get huge muscles.

All wrong.

As he pointed out, if you could toughen up your bits don’t you think the professional riders would do it?

And don’t go for big muscles. You have the physique you have. He said, as a runner, I’ve got strong legs anyway, get them moving. I am comfortable at about 70rpm on the bike. He said I should be aiming for 95. I’ve done a few training rides on the turbo trainer at that cadence. It is brutal. I’m in a pathetically low gear, legs screaming, sweat streaming off me. He said to maintain that cadence so when you transition to the run your legs are already at the right speed. Fair do’s. I’ve just got to adapt.

After he’s adjusted the bike to perfection the tri bars had a big bit sticking out the back which needed to be cut to length. Which entailed taking the gear cables off, then rethreading them through the frame. I gave it a go. I managed to do it, but it just wasn’t right. The rear derailleur wasn’t taking the slack on the cable.

So I had to take it in to Ron Spencer’s to have a proper bike mechanic look at it. It turns out there is a length of outer cabling, through which the cable must pass, hidden inside the frame. That was out of line so the cable was snagging.

Got that fixed, brought it home, all set to start battering my commute. The seat post isn’t the conventional round one, it’s a thin, long, aero blade. I can’t fit the clip on mudguard to it, or mount a rear light on it. *sigh*

The last two days I’ve been resuming my commute on the other bike. I’ve set it up to same dimensions at the pro bike-fitted one. Yesterday, the first day, nearly killed me. Low gear, thrashing my legs around. Awful.

Today was a lot better. Still awful, but progress.

 

Then there’s the running.

My training plan went out of the window playing catch-up after the no-sock fiasco. Getting a base of speed, fitness and stamina is the hardest part, but then you can build on it. I’ve had to skip that bit and just try and set new PBs every time I go out. This week it failed. I went from 4 miles at killer speed straight to 5. Only I didn’t. I failed big time.

I’m going to get out and try to redeem myself tomorrow, but it’s looking incredibly hard to get a sub 3 hour marathon by April.

 

And the swim.

After me getting my hopes up with the swim lessons coach, now I’m not so sure. I’ll give it a few weeks of practicing smooth, regular breathing, (which was my primary goal, anyway) but then I want him to iron out the rest of my problems. He keeps telling me there’s nothing wrong with my stroke, but there so is.

As he said, he’s the expert, I’m there to learn. I’ll do as he says. For a few weeks at least. As I said to Wendy, I’m sorting out my breathing which is the first and most vital thing, and I’m forcing myself to go swimming. That is a good thing. If I wasn’t taking lessons I’d find excuses not to swim at all.

 

Next Day:

Today I had a bonus day off. Wendy had booked a week off work to use up her holidays, which I didn’t know about, but there was one day available at my works so I booked it off.

Yesterday I did my ride into work and back, an hour and half to get showered and some food, then out for my swim. When I got back my nose was running again. I ignored it. In the night I woke several times all stuffed up, with the threat of a sinus headache. Still ignored it. Today I set out to see where I stood for my Manc half marathon on Sunday. After the disappointing last few runs I thought I’d do 10 miles at 7 m/m. Tough, but possible.

I set off fast but just kept getting slower. I couldn’t get my breathing and my legs had nothing in them. I ended up averaging 7.38 which is pitiful. I was thinking it could be the strong winds, the ride and swim knackering my legs, or a catastrophic loss of fitness.

Not a happy bunny.

After that we went around Durham Massey gardens and suddenly my nose was streaming and I felt like crap.

Ah, the penny drops.

Hopefully it was just the onset of a beastly cold.

Sunday isn’t looking promising. The Manc half is supposed to be my attempt at a 1.30 half marathon, the way I feel now it would just be a “finish”. I can do a 13.1 mile “finish” run any time, without travelling to Manc.

I’ve had a load of food and painkillers and I feel OK at the minute. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow. My eyes feel tired still and I just want to lay down.

I suppose I’m due. I’ve not had a cold in ages. March ‘17 was the last bad one. I’ve still not recovered my sense of taste or smell from that one. I can still taste some things, not accurately or consistently, but I know if I like it on not. As for smell, that is just odd. I was convinced my leather motorbike jacket stank of rotting meat. I was gagging putting in on. Then the days of smelling nothing but diesel fumes, now an ongoing thing where strong smells all smell the same, a sort of fruity, yeasty smell.

On the bright side, I’ve not smelt Wendy’s perfume in forever. I expect it’s nice, but I didn’t like strong smells so I used to choke on it. Now I don’t even know if she’s wearing it. So, swings and roundabouts.

Anywho, here’s a deer.

20181009_151114

And another eating chestnuts.

20181009_155340

While a ninja deer looks on.

Later,

Poorly ill Buck.

Not Waving…

Finally got to my first swim lesson with the proper coach tonight.

Martin, Wendy’s workmate, (who has been going for a while) said the coach will ask your goal, assess your swim, then be brutally frank about your chances of achieving it. Martin has heard him tell people they just don’t have enough years left to achieve their ambitions.

I was all set for confrontation. You say I can’t do it, I’m going to prove you wrong if I have to go to a different coach to do it.

He told me to swim up and down while he walked besides me in the pool. After 2 lengths he stopped me, and asked what I wanted to achieve.

“I want to be able to knock 40 minutes off my 2.4 mile swim time within 3 years.”

No problem. 3 months.

Bugger me! Didn’t see that coming. I suspect he may have misheard me, but he was very positive about my chances.

He was happy with my stroke, my kicking and my rotation, said not to change it. He correctly identified my initial problem, not being able to breathe.  He set me a task of swimming to the deep end, then dunking under and breathing out through my nose, surface, in through my mouth and repeat.

After a few goes of that he told me to breathe every second stroke on the swims.

It sounds stupid, but it was really working.

I had been keeping my head down for as long as possible because every time I breathed I had to roll right out of the water and stick my head up to get a huge lungful of air, which more or less stopped me dead. Then there was the panic of missing that huge breath, and the panic as I was running short of air before I took it.

By only breathing out through my nose it trains you to only breathe in through your mouth. You’re not wasting half of your breath seconds blowing out. By doing it every second stroke I was sipping regular air. Never running out, never panicking, not having to gasp huge amounts, which in turn let me relax and keep my head in the water as I breathed.  That is my first ambition, to master the smooth, head in the water, breathing of the good swimmers.

He had another point as well. “The trouble with adult swimmers is they come here and tell me why they can’t do it before I’ve even had a chance to look at them.”

He didn’t think there was much wrong with my swim once I’ve got my breathing right. He really thought I could do it.

That is the best bit of tri news I’ve had in ages. As I say, I know I can batter the run, the bike is going to be incredibly hard but just a matter of constant training. The swim was what could have stopped me dead.

Brilliant.

Buck.

Warrington Half

Just some stats for future reference.

I did the Warrington half marathon today. I didn’t think I was going to be able to, but managed to get a shift swap at work.

It was a good run for me. I managed to batter my previous personal best (from 2012 when I was a young and vigorous slip of a 46 year old lad) by 3 minutes 24 seconds.  I was a bit disappointed with the overall time of 1.36:17, I wanted to be a lot closer to 1.30, but hills. And wind. And other excuses.

I’ve got the Manc half next month, so hopefully get within spitting distance of 1.30 then.

Still, PB.

The stats, subject to change when the final results and proper breakdown get posted are:

I was 1.36:17

5,295 people entered the half (I don’t know how many were no-shows/ DNF’s yet.)

I finished:

277 overall,

246th in the men’s race, (only 31 women beat me! That’s quite impressive for me.)

25th in my age group.

The age group stat is meaningless until I know how many were in that category, but 277th out of 5,295 puts me in the the top 5.23% for the overall race.

Just looked at my last Warrington half stats in 2016.

1.47:42

558 overall

496 gender

65th in age group.

Wow. That’s way more encouraging.

Right, I’ll confirm when the official results are up, but just on the stats I’ve got that’s not bad.

Then Lettie, a niece-in-law, said her chap did it in 1.15.

I thought it was a wind-up. He’s a noob, only been running for about a year, after knee surgery. No way.

She seemed serious. As was Wendy. I looked it up, that would be a 5.45 m/m pace. Nah, not even. They looked it up on the results, there he was 1.15. I was stunned, full of admiration, but mainly gutted. In the end Lettie got to doubting herself so texted Mark, her chap.

He’d ran the 10K.

Bloody hell.

But, for some actual perspective, today somebody ran a 2.01 in the Berlin marathon. A full marathon at 4.38 m/m pace.

I hear competitive knitting is the future.

Buck. 

Where The Iron Crosses Grow.

The title is a reference from a not very good war film. A cowardly German officer is jealous of his sergeant’s Iron Cross. At the end of the film the sergeant runs into the fight saying to the officer “Come with me and I’ll show you where the Iron Crosses grow.” Or words to that effect. 

It’s a phrase I use for my training. I finish work and I’m tired and hungry and want to sit down, eat and sleep. But I’ve set myself a massive challenge. I grit my teeth and do an hour on the bike or a run.

The bike is set up in the shed on the turbo trainer. I shut the door to keep gnats out (and in an attempt to heat condition myself) and go like stink. I couldn’t believe how hot I got so I bought a cheap wall thermometer to quantify. An hour of pure graft, sweat pouring off me, and I raise the shed temperature by 6°C! And the humidity goes stupid, I’ve had water running down the steamed up windows. It’s awful.

But, that is where the Iron Crosses grow.

I set myself this sub 10 challenge, then looked into where it would place me. In 3 out of the 4 Barcelona Ironmans that would have given me a podium finish for my age group. Which is an impressive ambition, but then I took the reasoning a step further. That would place me in the top 1% or 2% for my age group.

When you think of it like that… get sweating fatlad!

I’m thinking of how I can make it happen.

I want to lose another stone, not through dieting as such, just keep on exercising.

 

I’ve missed out on 3 weeks of swimming. We had a bank holiday so it was shut, then I was on holiday, then yesterday my feet were still bad so I thought I’d best wait. Next week I start my swim training in earnest. That is my biggest challenge. I can build leg muscles for the ride, I can get faster for the run, but swimming is technique. And upper body strength. Of which I have neither.

I was thinking that it’s all going to succeed or fail on the ability of this swim coach. Then I changed my attitude. If he can’t help me I’ll find someone who can. I’ve got nearly 3 years.

 

My running took a bit of a hit after my stupid attempt to run without socks. It turns out I was thinking of the bike section, that can be done comfortably bare foot. I could barely walk, never mind train. After 10 days I did a test 6 mile jog while we were on holiday. It hurt but it was manageable and it didn’t exacerbate the problem.

I tried to catch up with my sub 3 training when we got back. I was 2 weeks behind so I had to go from 2½ miles at 6.45 m/m, then two weeks off injured, straight to 3½ miles. I gave it my best shot but was about 20 seconds too slow overall. Then I tried to do a 10 mile run at 7 m/m. That was a massive fail. I wrecked my chest muscles trying but averaged at 7.19.  I’ve got the Warrington half marathon on Sunday so I can’t do too much more this week. I’ll try and do my fast run again tomorrow. But if I’m to stay on track I’ll need to add another week, so 4 miles at 6.45.

 

Of course, the big news on the training front is my Canyon (triathlon specific) bike. I was trying to make do. A cheap ‘it’ll do’ aero bike, some cheap swap over bits from China. Not ideal or what I really wanted, but probably sufficient.

Wendy, bless her, said “Stop trying to do it on the cheap. You won’t be satisfied and it never works out. Buy the proper bike.”  When I checked Canyon’s website they were having an end of season sale! It was meant to be!

a8b804b233483722dfd5fab62b181

My lovely bike is arriving tomorrow.  Another reason I force myself into the shed. If I go out on that bike I’ve got to be so fast nobody can catch me. The shame of having that bike and being burnt off by a granny on her 3 speed shopping bike would be too much to bear.

 

While I was looking for the picture of the bike on my ‘phone, I noticed the holiday pictures. Oops. Forgot all about it. While we were away Wendy had to tell me off and say “you can do all that when we get back, we’re on holiday” or some such. Well deserved. I am obsessing.

So here’s some snaps.

Hole. Why?

20180903_135144

Tolerable views.

20180904_133219

20180904_132144

Just a bunch of seals.

20180904_150057

Wilderness Wendy.

20180906_140256

20180906_150558

Cornish traffic jam.

20180904_183953

You should have seen the size of the one that got away.

20180906_151204

IMG-20180907-WA0000

Bah. Holidays.

Later,

Buck.

Dumbarse.

After all my big talk about managing the pain of running with no socks and the getting bad blisters, it turns out recovering from them is vastly worse.

They went from scratched-looking to red raw open wounds.

20180828_192107

20180828_192135

It’s been 6 days and they are still raw. I’ve been washing them in salt water, pouring raw salt on them, and dabbing them with rubbing alcohol. The pain is enough to make me sweat. At least the rubbing alcohol only lasts a few minutes, pouring salt on is intense for twice as long.  And they still won’t heal. Stubborn.

I was feeling a bit better this morning, I thought with the padding of the plasters and socks I could probably manage a run. I put my trainers on upstairs and made it as far as the bottom of the stairs before I changed my mind. No chance.

 

I’ve been training on my bike on the turbo instead. I’ve managed 4 out of 5 days. My training plan (1 minute in each gear going up the gears, -starting in 3rd- , 5 minutes in top gear, 2 minutes in each gear going down) works out as two complete repetitions in an hour. Which is handy. 

I’ve managed to set up the data logging app on my ‘phone from the turbo, so now I can quantify my workouts.

I’ve managed two session with it working. On the first one it said I did 28 miles in the hour. I don’t believe that’s the case.  On the road I usually do about 18 mph maximum. But that’s always pacing myself for a long ride, and there’s the stopping and starting, hills, wind, traffic, etc. I will have to go out for an hour’s sprint. See what I’m really good for.

That’s besides the point. The point is, that is the reading I got for an hour’s workout. Using the same settings, doing the same workout, I can see if I’m doing better than X (which happens to be 28 miles in this instance).

The other readings were the power I was putting out, on the first run it was 185 watts average and 262 maximum.

Apparently decent riders run at 350 watts, I heard on a video the other day. The guy who was testing some kit patronisingly said he was doing it again at 250 watts to give a reading at the level of club riders. I’ve got a long, long, way to go.

Once I’d laid down a benchmark figure I had to beat it, obviously.

Today’s workout I did 28.9 miles (it clicked over to 30 miles a few seconds over the hour. Damn.) with 194 watts average, 330 watts max.

Tomorrow I’ll do 30 miles.

I can’t run or swim because of my feet. Showers hurt enough. I don’t expect they’d want me in the baths with open wounds even if I could take the pain.

 

The other training news is on my aero bike.

Obviously I want this:

OMG!

It’s the decent ‘entry level’ triathlon dedicated bike from Canyon. It’s freaking awesome. Aero, great spec, fully integrated, black, and cooler than a penguins chilly bits. But £2,600. For a pushbike.

I decided to make do. I ordered some cheap carbon fibre wheels from China. The brand name ones that look like those in the picture start at about £600 to thousands of pounds.  One wheel I ordered was via a UK stockist so that has already arrived, but it’s a bolt on wheel, not the quick release that is the standard nowadays. I was fussing over how to convert it, but it looks like I’ll have to take it to a bike shop and see if they can do it, and if it would be worth it. My idea was buy the cheap wheels, then I just need to get a frameset and I’m away. I want a set up that’s dedicated. My (very good) road bike is a road bike. The geometry is all wrong. And the frame is fat. It’s stiff and perfect for road riding, but a bad compromise for holding an aero position.

Last night I was busy obsessing on eBay and such when I came across some “new, old stock” Boardman bikes.

20180831_111851

Apparently it’s a good frame, quite light, aero, and cheap. £900. The wheels would need replacing, it doesn’t look cool and it’s red. A reddy/ orange in fact. Ewww. Also all the mechanicals are cheapo, not even base level, really. So really I would be just buying a frame. swap all the mechanicals off my road bike, stick on the cheapo Chinese wheels and don’t look at the paint job.

I was all set for settling. It’s not what I want, but It’s possibly all I need.

Wendy came to see what I was doing and said “Stop trying to do it on the cheap, it never works out, and you won’t be satisfied with it. Buy the good one.”

And that’s why I married her.

I was that excited I didn’t get to bed until 01.30, window shopping. And Canyon have launched an end of season sale, £450 off!

As today has gone on I’ve talked myself into getting it RIGHT NOW! But the bank want stupid interest for a loan and want me to ring up and argue why I’m worth it. I’ll keep my eye on the Canyon website, as they prices are for 2017 stock they are selling off, (the XL has already sold out). I can fit an S or, ideally, an XS. If one size sells out I’ll panic buy the other. I won’t be using it until spring probably, so if the stock lasts I’ll just carry on doing 6th shifts to bump up my money and save up and buy it.

Now I’ve really got to improve. I’ve got to be worthy of the Canyon. At the minute I’ve got grannies on 3 speed shoppers clipping me with their basket as they ride past me.

It’s a weird thing, perspective. To me the Canyon CF 8, (above) is an awesome super pushbike and ridiculously expensive. To the cycling journalists it’s an entry level, good, cheap option. They talk of the budget business model of good kit, sold mail order straight to the consumer, keeping prices down.

To the pros it’s a comfy, cheap commuter they wouldn’t be seen dead on. 

Here is the top of the range Canyon.

Sheeeeet!

Brand name wheels, electronic gear shifters built into the handlebars, super aggressive riding position with the low handlebars, way beyond anything I’ll ever need. Only £8,150 in the sale.

Bargain.

Next year I am taking an hour off my Outlaw time. At least. I won’t have any bad tools to blame. If I get my bike, batter the turbo in that thrice damned sweatbox of a shed, run through my transitions, carry over my speed from my sub 3 marathon attempt, and can make any progress on my swim, it’s in the bag.

So, good as got then.

Later,

Buck.

Bike!

They say that 60% of your tri training should be on the bike as that’s where you are going to be spending the majority of your race. I’ve been putting it off as it’s horrible and boring.

I finally bit the bullet, cleaned out the shed and set up the bike on the torture device/ turbo trainer.

I did one session after my epic run the other day. It was good training but I was sweating and panting, kept pausing to take drinks and generally make excuses to rest for a second. I had it in a low, mostly manageable gear, apart from the 5 minutes in top gear. I kept trying to shift up, to build muscles and stamina, but quickly dropped down again.

On that session I ended up opening the shed door to try and let some cool air in as I was dying. I’ve had time to think about it though, and now I’m keeping the door closed. It should keep the gnats out, which is a bonus, but my main goal is heat conditioning. I’m thinking if I start now, plan in regular training sessions, and work through autumn and winter, as it starts getting warmer I should adapt. In theory. If I’m looking to an end goal of the Barcelona or Hamburg Ironman (even two out of three of my Outlaws have been in blistering heat) I need to heat condition. More for the run, to be honest, but surely that will carry over?

Anyway, I did another session today, with the door shut. I’ve got a big fan there, but as part of my new masterplan I’m not using it. And I’ve stumbled across a successful training plan. I remembered at the gym on on their kit you can do stepped training plans, say for 2½ minutes at one level, then up a level, down a level, etc.

Instead of just pedalling in a do-able gear and keep stopping I timed myself. I settled on 1 minute per gear up, 5 minutes in top gear, then 2 minutes down the gears. The only difference is mental, but struggling in, say, 5th gear, knowing you’ve got another 6 to go, all harder, is too much at the minute. So, 1 minute up, 5 in top, 2 minutes down. Again it’s just mental, but because I wasn’t just churning away for an hour, I kept going. Instead of thinking “45 minutes to go, I can’t do it”, I was thinking “only 2 minutes, then it gets easier” Once I’d stumbled on the stepped plan (a few minutes in) I didn’t stop.

The sweat was running down the back of my legs. Everywhere else as well, but literally running down my legs.That’s not normal for me. Pure gross. By the end of the hour the condensation on the shed windows was running. I’ve just ordered a cheap thermometer, I want to know just how hot it’s getting in there.

I’m a mite concerned about rusting my tool in the shed. I’m hoping an hour sauna, 23 hours to air, will suffice.

 

I have encountered a  few set backs in my training. I didn’t reckon on it being a bank holiday today, so no swim lesson, and next week week we are on holiday, so I’ll miss that one as well. It’s going to be a fortnight before I get to see who is right about this swim coach, and what he thinks about my chances.

 

The other delay is my feet are too badly damaged to run. Which is a total bummer because I am really excited to see how fast I can get over 10 miles. If I could do 10 miles at 7 m/m (not inconceivable) I expect I could maintain pace for the extra 3.1 miles for an actual half marathon race. Those little blister-ey scrapes on the pictures I posted have turned into red raw ½” x 2” open wounds. They are still weeping. I’m hoping by tomorrow I’ll have a proper layer of skin so, with plasters, surgical tape (to secure the plasters) and socks (big, fat, lovely socks!) I can run. 

A good test would be the Warrington half marathon on Sunday the 16th of September, but my holiday request got knocked back because it’s full. I have discovered a plan B though. I can request a shift swap. With myself. So I have the Sunday off, then work one of my rest days.

I’ve got to talk to the planner tomorrow, but I’m hoping I’ll get it.

Then the Manchester half in October. I’ve already got that booked off. I am going to batter that one. 1 hour 30 or die trying.

Well, the thing to take from all of this is I’m training hard and I want to train hard.

I can build the muscles and speed for the bike, a fast marathon is the “easy” discipline. It all hinges on whether I can learn to swim.

What’s life without a challenge?

Later

Buck.

Winning! Sort of.

I am really getting focused on my training.

I’ve cleaned out my shed and set my bike up on the turbo trainer. I did a session yesterday and today.

I did this week’s task of 2½ miles at race pace the day before those.

So today, before the hour on the bike, I decided to go for a fast test run. I thought that the professional triathletes didn’t use socks, thus saving a minute in transition. Transition is the easiest place to save time, you don’t have to use any muscles to not put a pair of socks on, so I gave it a go.

The good news is I battered my times. I did a 10K (seems that’s a popular reference, I still work in imperial) in 45:13 and 10 miles in 1.12:20, knocking 2 minutes 11 seconds off my previous PB from June ‘15.

Well pleased with that. I was aiming for a 7.15 m/m pace, didn’t go above 7.21, mostly below 7.15, with a 6.59.

To be fair to myself, that wasn’t the course on which I set my previous PB, I think it’s a bit harder. I’ll try again on that course for a like for like comparison. Hopefully shave a bit more off.

The downside:

20180825_163842

20180825_163156

The pain was OK for 10 miles, but I think it would have at least slowed me down over a full marathon. I asked on twitter, what I was doing wrong. The tri guy who’s done a 9 hours 50 Ironman, said “Wear socks, the pros all do.”

Oh.

So I destroyed my feet for nothing.

Super.

Live and learn. That little faux pas aside, I’m buzzing off today. That was a good run, I maintained a fast pace for the full ten miles, then did an hour on the bike. Which seems to have set itself harder. I have done an hour grinding it out in top gear before on the turbo before now. Today I did a 5 minute section in top gear and I was standing on the pedals having to use my lardarse to move the damn thing. Which is good. Not that I was struggling, but that it offers such resistance. Great training.

This could happen, people. I could go sub 3. Maybe, just maybe, sub 10. *excited face*

Morpheus

Right, to bed to reset.

Later,

Buck.

Oh Yes!

Things are coming together.

After all my talk of why I couldn’t fit an aftermarket exhaust silencer (“end can”) on my bike I got talking to someone on Twitter. He said to try a certain brand, so I went and looked. They said you could just straight swap the can, no retune, no remapping the computer for the fuel injection.

Huh.

Entirely contrary to what I’d read. They were obviously selling new, expensive cans. I looked on eBay and someone was selling one for £39.99. I waited until the last minute and got my bid sniper bot to put in a bid. Got it for the opening price! Get in!

I stuck it on yesterday and compared it with a decibel app, not much louder, one or two Dbs.

Super. While I was fitting it I had a look at some other stuff. Apparently the exhaust is fitted with a butterfly valve, so it blocks exhaust gases up until 3,000 revs (making it quieter while you are warming the bike up, and, not coincidentally, making sure it meets industry emission standards at test levels) then opens up to make it racier when you are starting to rev.

That is a good feature by me. I can warm my bike up without getting lynched, bike goes RAAAAAARRRGGGHHHH! when I open it up.

The confusion lies in the fact that the computer that runs the fuel and the butterfly valve is set up to run with the back pressure of a standard exhaust, remove that and things go pear shaped. This is where Power Commanders come in. They are a plug in jobby that, by some techno voodoo, makes the computer do the right fuelling for any specific set up. The trouble is they cost about £300.

I looked under my seat to try to locate the servo (motor) to the exhaust (butterfly) valve, and there was a power commander! Woo-hoo!

I was told this bike was stock, that was a fib, but if it saves me shelling out £300 I’m OK with it.

So, three components: end can, exhaust valve, power commander. I have to say I’m out of my depth. I have no idea how to synch the three.

I looked online for a fancy garage that does dyno testing and remapping in the North West, and the best one is in Warrington!

You know how I took my VFR800fi in to a fancy garage, they took a week or so to service it, but the back brake still felt funny? So I rang them up and accused the highly skilled mechanic of not doing his job? Then found out Honda have linked the brakes on that model so no matter how hard you stand on the back brake it won’t lock up? So I had to ring back and apologise?

Guess what?

*sigh*

Anyway, I’ve booked it in for next Friday. They said they can stick it on the dyno and check if the fuelling is working for that set up (£45), if not, they can remap the power commander (£150 in total).

That’s still less than £200 all in. For a nice end can and a properly tuned bike. What I don’t want is to scrimp and blow my engine up.

I’m well happy with that.

 

The other thing is I’ve committed to the cheapo option on my tri training. I’ve ordered the Klingon Bird of Prey handlebars (£60) some fancy brakes for that style of handlebars (£10) and that 45 degree stem(£10). That’s it. Oh, and I’m having to swallow more humble pie and do what Wendy said in the first place, go and get a pair of properly fitted cycling shoes. And a better helmet at some point.  No rush for the last two though, I don’t wear a helmet for training and my shoes are bearable over shorter distances. So £80 and my bike should put me in a proper aero position.

Somewhat cheaper than the £2,600 (FOR A PUSHBIKE!) dedicated triathlon bike over which I’ve been obsessing. They say the rider is 80% of the drag on the bike, so if I’m in a full aero position the difference shouldn’t be that huge. Once I’ve tuned the engine to max (my legs) I’ll worry about tweaking the bike.

 

The last thing is the running. My arbitrary training plan is to just run a bit longer each week at race pace (6.45 m/m) and build up. I’ve discovered a safe way of doing that is to run the first mile slow/ steady, the second faster, the third faster again, then slow down and catch my breath then do the fast miles. So far this is working.

I did my run today, hoping to push it to 2½ miles fast. The thing is, it’s hard. So very, very hard. 6.45 is a killer pace for me. After three warm up miles I was there or there abouts. I did a half mile at a jog, then had two minutes to get my pulse down. (I’ve dug out my heart rate monitor for my next run.)

I set off flat out, but quickly burnt out so just slogged it out. On the bright side, after taking the breather the 2½ mile didn’t seem half as bad as the 2 miles I did last week. Something to note.

When I got home and checked my stats. The first mile was 6.31! 6.31!

Followed by a 6.45 and a half mile at 6.48 pace (I thought I’d done the 2½ miles, slowed, then realised I still had a bit to go.)

It’s all good news!

In the past when I’ve been training at a target pace, (8 m/m I seem to recall) as I put in more miles I got quicker. Well, say I was training for a marathon, I could do a 10 mile run way quicker. I’m hoping, prematurely, that the 6.31 was a sign I’m getting used to the pace.

Right, bedtime.

Later

Buck.

Face as Flint.

More ups and downs with my training. I went out for this week’s fast run on Saturday and just had nothing. It was shameful. I don’t know whether it was starting off at race pace, not fuelling properly beforehand, wearing too hot clothing, all of the above or nothing, but I just couldn’t. I ran 1.6 miles and had to stop and get my breath. I turned around and came home. I was devastated.

On Sunday I got an early finish so forced myself out. I was going to do the 8 mile run I’d done the week before. Set off at a relaxed pace for a mile, a mile faster, faster, a mile breather then belt it back. 8.37, good start, 7.23, good, faster, noticed I was doing 6.45 pace, sod it, let’s do it! No breather, straight into race pace! I did the first half mile, turned a corner onto a straight and the wind was in my face. I had to dig in and really push, got 6.46, turned around and had to get my breath back at race pace. I had to use every mental trick I have to keep going (it doesn’t hurt any worse, just keep going to the corner, to that lamp post, done a mile and half, that’s three quarters, this is furthest I’ve done at this pace, another quarter mile and I’ll quit, etc) did it in 6.44. Redeemed myself. I had to stop for a few breaths, then continued at a jog for that mile. Got 8.10, OK, it’s back on, upped the pace again 7.32, and an extra .3 of a mile to make it a 10K in 47 minutes. All in all, pleased with that.

 

The other good news is after noticing my position on the bike on that picture I’ve given it some thought and think I’ve got it. There is a 4 inch bar that connect the headstock to the handlebars. I’ve ordered one on a 45% angle.

Screenshot_2018-08-21 FMF Mountain Bicycle Handlebar Stem 3 18x26 8x90mm   - 45 degree, Black eBay

(£10! Get in! Somewhat cheaper than a £2K+ TT bike.) Flip it upside down, that’s an inch drop for the handlebars. If that’s still not enough to get my back flat I’ve seen some handlebars where the elbow rests are basically resting on the handlebars (mine are an inch above) that would be £60.

And they are way cool. They look like a Klingon Bird of Prey.

Tri bars.

They look like this, when fitted:

zipp-vuka-race-carbon-aero-bar-extensions01

That’s the brand name ones, but I have just discovered Chinese rip-offs on eBay.

Yay the Chinese!

Hopefully that will do me for a season, strip my bike down to basics, get a proper aero position, fitted shoes, and I should be good to go.

That’s running and cycling on track. And I started my swim lessons! And I went!

The regular guy wasn’t there, so some young girl was taking the class. I quickly got bumped up from ‘crap’ lane 1, where I said I should start, to lane 3. She said I was much better than I’d made out. That doesn’t inspire confidence, for a start.

I don’t think she addressed what I need, (getting the breathing technique, sighting, fluid stroke) but she was OK. I was still waiting for next week for the proper guy, then I got talking to the two others in my lane. They were both triathletes. the chap does sprint distance, the woman half Iron distance. They said they’d been coming a while and didn’t think they were any better. They did spend most of the lesson stood up chatting to each other while I thrashed up and down though. I’ll wait and see how it works for me.

If it’s not what I need I’ll quit and join a proper swimming club. They say for best results swim with swimmers, run with runners.

One thing though, the woman triathlete said, when I mentioned I wanted to get my swim to an hour for a sub 10, said “You’ll definitely get sponsorship if you do”

I don’t think I will, not at my age, but it got me thinking. I looked at the times a sub 10 at this year’s Outlaw would have put me best in my intended age group (55-59) *and* best in 50- 54!

Oh I hope this isn’t pie in the sky. Imagine actually winning something! Me!

We’ll see.

3 years of pure graft, but, if I can get the swim training I need, I think it’s *just* possible.

Later,

Buck.

Pie In The Sky

I’ve started on my next two impossible challenges.

Going sub 3 hours for a marathon, then going sub 10 hours for a triathlon.

I’m hoping to get the sub 3 in April on the Manchester marathon. I’ve made a training plan and it *just* has me running half a mile extra each week at the blisteringly fast (for me) pace of 6.45 m/m. I accidentally started at a mile instead of half a mile, so this week I did 1½ miles to keep it up.

That’s not all the running I’ve been doing, obviously.  My long run last week was 18 miles, today I’ve just run 20. This is going to have to stop. It’s a brilliant exercise in mental toughness and discipline but it is horribly painful and I’m risking overuse injury. Also it’s really discouraging to struggle so badly on a long-ish run and have your pace drop right off, when you are aiming to be going longer and faster. 

I’m thinking now that the sub 3 is going to be so hard I may have to accept just getting faster this time, then do it next time.

That’s as nothing to my second challenge. The sub 10 Iron tri.

My PB, this year, was 13.17.

My swim was 1hr 40, I need to knock 40 minutes off that.

Transition 1 (T1) was 11 minutes, need to just run through, 4 minutes max.

My bike was 7hrs 01, I need to get to 5hrs 25

T2 was 7 minutes, needs to be 4 minutes

My marathon was 4hrs 18, needs to be 3hrs 26.

Look at those figures!

Apart from the transitions (just run through) the only one I’m confident I can achieve is the run.

I’ve finally managed to enrol with a swim coach at Orford leisure centre. Wendy’s workmate goes to the same class, he says the instructor is a well respected triathlete coach. Apparently he wants to know exactly what you want to achieve, then is brutally honest about whether you can do it.

I’ve been giving it some thought, I’m arbitrarily setting the bar at 3 years. I’m thinking: I’m 52 now, I can get fitter and stronger but my body will get older and slower. It’s not a battle I can win. I reckon I can force my body to do as it’s told for another 3 years, beyond that I’ll have to wait and see.

I will be telling the coach then that I want to do a 2.4 mile swim, in an hour, within 3 years. If he says it’s not possible I’ll still train and try to prove him wrong, but at some point I’ll have to lower my sights.

I hear competitive knitting is the next big thing.

All of this may come to nothing. I may never even get a sub 3. I always have unrealistic expectations of what I can achieve. Then I achieve it anyway. It’s going to be a sad day when I am forced to accept I’m too old. I’ve already accepted that I’m never going to win a marathon race. It’s stupid to think I ever could, but a few years back I couldn’t see why not.

Against professional athletes.

In their twenties.

Unrealistic expectations.

 

The coach is away this week, but hopefully I’ll have some sort of answer a week Monday. If I can’t get the swim, I can’t do it. If it’s a maybe, it is ON!

I’ve got a beastly hard turbo trainer for the pushbike, put in many, many hours of that, go sub 3 on the run, It’s still possible.

One thing that did cheer me, in an odd, ‘this is going to cost a fortune’, way, was a video I saw on YouTube. Two cycle journalists comparing a standard Raleigh racer bike with an aero bike. The fancy pants one was full carbon frame, weighed 5 kilos less and had aerodynamic wheels and a sleek frame. Their question was does it really make a difference?

The answer was a resounding “Yes”. 7.5%- 10% in different areas. This was the same guys taking turns over the same courses on the bikes then comparing their personal times. If that’s right, that means I could save (say 8%) 33½ minutes on the bike just by upgrading. To, say this:

bloody hell!

A mere £8,399.

EIGHT. THOUSAND. THREE HUNDRED. AND NINETY NINE POUNDS!

FOR A PUSHBIKE!.

I’ve told Wendy when I’m in the top 10 in the world I’ll get one.

I’m not doing anything yet, but if I am showing any signs of being on target, this time next year (or the year after) I’ll get on eBay and get a second hand bike. Not that one, obviously. It’s the end of the season and loads of people are saying “sod that for a lark” and selling up. I feel their pain. So much so I knocked this up.

Outlaw Logo - Copy (2)

Well, I bought the bottom bit, cropped it, and added the Outlaw logo. Not exactly rocket science, but I’ve never tried to do anything like it before, so I was quite pleased with myself. I’ve bought some sticky back sheets and made it into stickers.

 

The only other thing is the FireBlade. The complete package of settings for the shocks worked a treat and it’s a really stable and confidence inspiring ride again. And such an awesome beast.

 

I’ve started doing 6th shifts again this week. The ‘Blade cleaned us out. Now it’s the end of the season I could do with going back on to long shifts and raking in huge amounts of cash, but times are changing with the buy-out, and I don’t know if they’d be so accommodating if I asked again in a few months. Plus there’s the constant messing them about. 

Later,

Buck. 

 

PS, Week later.

I should have known. I booked my swim lessons to start on Monday, knowing I’d not had a long shift in ages, ended up doing a 13 hour shift. Typical. I’ve been doing 7 to 10 hour shifts for ages, hardly any overtime. Suddenly a 14hrs15, 13hrs, 12’s..

In a way it’s what I wanted, to get a quick boost of cash, but suddenly I’m struggling to train again.

Also, I’m enjoying the FireBlade so much I don’t want to pushbike in to work.

I’ve pre-registered for next year’s Outlaw triathlon. See how much I can knock off my time. See whether it is any way feasible. I was talking to some guy on twitter who has done a 9 hours 50 Ironman and he said a big factor is flat, well surfaced roads. Apparently Hamburg and Barcelona are top of the list. Who knows, if I can get close, spend a bomb on a fancy bike/ a brand name “Ironman”/ travel/ hotel/ etc, maybe…

One downer, I was watching other videos and reading up, and the consensus is that was a bogus comparison of bikes and performance gains. They say the aerodynamics are vital, of course, but the rider is 80% of the drag, the bike is only 20%. The test bikes were a racer, which has the rider sat up, against a tri bike, where you are hunched right over. As some people pointed out, a fair test would have been a road bike fitted with clip on aero bars (like mine) vs the tri bike. Once you are in an aero tuck, then you can compare gains. Still better though. A clip on aero bars road bike is always a compromise in position, a TT/ tri bike is dedicated.

I look like this:

Outlaw 2018

compared to this:

TT position

Look at the difference. Even on my tri bars I’m at 30- 45% angle, the pro is flat. I’ve just watched a video from some Time Trial world record holder, he was saying he was churning out loads of power, then tweaked his position, put less power down and went faster. It’s basically free speed. Well, once you’ve paid a few grand for the bike it’s free. For now I’m thinking of different handlebars. Something a lot lower.