Archive for March, 2018

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

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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.