Archive for March, 2019

Fail. So much fail.

I did that 20 mile run last weekend. That was quite good. In the teeth of the gales that were battering us I went out and tried to run 20 miles at a good pace. I wanted 7.30, but the wind was atrocious, so I settled for keeping it under 8 m/m.

So that was a good effort. Then nothing. Work are still battering me with hours, then Luke, Wendy’s son, had a really evil bug, he was bored with being ill on his own so came around and gave it to me and Wendy. Super. Wendy’s been off work, rough as a rat’s arse, since Tuesday, I’ve just been feeling week and horrible. I had a patch, lay in bed last night, where I thought that I was actually OK, and could probably manage a run. I got up this morning grotty again. I’m missing valuable training and I’ve got the Manc marathon in a fortnight. I don’t have the time to be ill.

However, I thought I’d make the most of my down time by finally selling my kit. I put it off, not because I want to keep the kit, but because of all the hassle trying to sell stuff.

I decided to put my FireBlade up for sale as it’s ridiculously fast and it’s only a matter of time before I get caught and banned. Losing my license costs me my job. I can’t risk it.

I put it on Gumtree for £2,800, a fair price, I got it cheap at £3,000 (or was it £3,100? I forget.) I said “This is the price I want for it. If you want to haggle imagine I put it up for £3K and you’ve beaten me down.”

I put it on eBay at the same time, for £2,500 opening bid on the auction, or £2,800 “buy it now”. Amazingly, before I’d had chance to be bombarded by questions and scams, someone bought it.  Within 2 hours!

I took the advert down off Gumtree prompting one of the Gumtree denizens to text me, “I’ve got £1,800 for the FireBlade now”

That is more the calibre of abuse I was expecting.

I’ve checked the buyer’s feedback, he’s been on eBay for 9 years, 100% positive feedback, lots of “Paid full amount. No hassle. Great eBayer.”

I think it’s a done deal. That was easy.

Also I’ve decided to sell my saxes. The thing is, truth be told, I’m crap. I just can’t do it. While I have saxes about the place I’m always tempted to go back and try again. I really want to be able to play, but I just can’t. I can’t get the hang of counting time. Without that it’s all meaningless. Even typing that has made me think I should give it one more go. NO! Focus on triathlon!

I listed them yesterday. Within hours I got an email about the soprano. The guy came around tonight, played it like I would never be able, and paid me the full amount. I was happy to get shut, and his playing convinced me I was right to quit, but so gutted. It sounded like a different instrument. It sounded tuneful and lovely. It sounded like a duck being poked with an electric cattle prod when I was blowing.

Positives. Sold it hassle free. It was the right thing to do.

Also, I’ve been struggling with my other bike, the ratty old VFR750 I use for winter. Since I crashed it I’ve had nothing but problems. The fairing was smashed, I got an aftermarket replacement.

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Then I had to spray it up. Then fit all the clocks and lights and such. Put it back on only to discover the frame that holds that bit of the fairing was badly bent and the clock mounts were all snapped.

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I got a second hand subframe and a cheap set of clocks, stripped the clocks and assembled one good set out of the two. Then I realised it was only running on 3 cylinders. I changed the plugs, air filter and sprayed carb cleaner into the carbs. Still not having it. Yesterday I had to take the tank, air filter housing, and the whole of the carbs off to get at the jets.

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One was blocked. I cleaned it, reassembled the bike, and balanced the carbs. It works! Finally, I’m getting there!

Also I had to reattach the hugger and take up the tension in the chain.

Lucky I had set my mind to doing it, as I realised afterwards the MOT is due in two weeks. The last three obvious faults are the exhaust is blowing badly. That’s just a joint that come undone. It’s just a matter of tightening three bolts, but they are inaccessible to a normal spanner or socket set. I’ve ordered some long reach sockets. That should be an easy fix. The rev counter works intermittently. I don’t think it’s an MOT fail and I’m not that bothered. I’ll wait until I have to take the fairing off for some other job, then do it. The third job is minor again. The holes in the top of the replacement fairing don’t line up with the screw holes in the frame. I need to drill two holes in the fairing and screw it on properly.

I’ll book it in for an MOT for next Friday and see how it goes. If it passes, or it’s quite cheap/ easy to fix, I’ll keep it. I took it for a spin to test it after I’d done the carbs, it’s quite lively when you open it up. It seem it likes running on 4 cylinders. Who knew?

If it’s going to be expensive or major hassle I’ll sell it. It’s been irritating me ever since I crashed. If only there were some sort of lesson to be learned.

I was talking to a New Zealand biker on Twitter who’s just bought a Harley Davidson and I started really hankering for a HD.

On the one hand they are ideal: Slow, cool, sound great, and are fun. On the other they are massively expensive for what they are, thief magnets, and would lose all their prettiness and a lot of their value after one winter of English salted roads.

I was searching eBay and Gumtree for one anyway. Stupid money. £4k upwards. £5K for something half desirable.

No then.

But then I was thinking along those lines. A naked (no fairing to protect you from the wind and weather), slow, nice, fun bike. That would tick all my boxes. I could use it all year round, I wouldn’t need to insure and tax two bikes, and it would protect my license. (Wendy, and lots of others, say ‘it’s up to you how fast you go’, but when you nip a few hundred yards, between a roundabout and a bridge, overtaking 3 cars, look down and you are doing 104, without even trying, that’s too damn fast to retain a license.)

I was looking at “best cheap, used bikes” when I came across something I’ve read about before. The Suzuki SV650, naked.

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OK, I’ll own it’s not best pretty. And the V twin engine leaves the front pot right in the way of road grit and abrasion. But it ticks every box. Nippy, fun, handles really well (they’ve set up a category of racing around this bike) has a slow top end (123 mph) that is supposed to be a bit buzzy and unpleasant, and is naked.

In other words you could ride it as a practical workhorse or for distance, have fun chucking it into corners and have to really work to lose your license. You would have to thrash it a bit to go over the ton (automatic ban). On the Fireblade that’s barely out of second gear (of 6).

That exact bike in the picture is currently for sale in Warrington for £2,100. 10K miles. Immaculate, fully original condition.

If the VFR750 doesn’t start working sharpish, that’s what I’m looking at.

Super. Just realised, it’s 22.43 hours and I’ve just started feeling OK again. Marvellous.

Right. That can only mean it’s bedtime.

Sigh.

Later,

Buck.

Anus Horrible-plus

I know. I know.

My week has been a nightmare for my training and just in general. 

Sunday was an 11 hour shift, I weakened and called it a rest day. Didn’t train.

Monday I had nightmare. Supposed to be a 7 hour shift, at the last minute they changed my second drop to Didcot, (just past Oxford in deepest Darn Sarf). That bumped it up to an 11 hour shift. Then they shut the M40 on the way back up. I was going to run out of driving hours so I took another break to clear my clock on the A50. I went to start my truck back up, nothing. Had to call the repair guy out. By the time he’d got to me and repaired it I had enough time to get back to base with a spare half hour before I ran out of my legal maximum of 15 hours worked. If you run out you have to pull over and spend 9 hours on break. I set off, because it had gotten so late they’d put night roadworks closures in place. A50 shut. I had to divert. I made it to the M6 by luck, I didn’t know the diversion route, and started to relax. Then the signs came up “M6 J17- 18 long delays”. What? OK, I know that diversion. No probs, come back on at 18. Then next sign, “M6 J18- 19 closed”. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I had to come off at J16 and work my way around. I got into the yard with 8 minutes to spare of my 15 hours. I just pulled over and dumped my truck. Didn’t train.

That put me on a reduced rest for Tuesday, so 9 hours later I was back in, minus the hour for commuting, the hour wind down/ eat/ shower etc. Knackered. Didn’t train.

Wednesday I had an easy run, then when I got back they stitched me up with a bad second run. The second drop takes ages to load you. I was there 4 hours 15 last time I went so I was fuming before I started. 3 hours 30 this time. a 13 hours 15 shift. Didn’t train.

On Thursday I had a day off as I had a hospital appointment. By this time I’d built up a mental resistance. I was fighting against training. Everything seemed too hard. I didn’t train.

Friday, today, I was struggling. Really struggling. I prevaricated for about 2 hours or so before I finally forced myself on to the bike. I TRAINED! Huzzah!

So glad I did. I decided to redo the 4DP fitness assessment. It’s an hour of beastly tests. I’ve only been on Sufferfest a month, you’re supposed to do it every three months, but I wanted to know if I had improved. Here’s the proof.

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FTP is how much power you can maintain for 20 minutes (up 10 Watts) MAP is the 5 minute test (+17W) AC is the one minute (+43W) and NM is the 5 second burst (+348W!)

That’s what I call progress! For a month!

It looks more striking side by side.

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Look at that! I’m well chuffed with that.

I had talked of doing the hour long test and then doing another Sufferfest workout. Not even. I got back on the bike and just couldn’t spin my legs up.

I went for a 10 mile run instead. Sub 8m/m on the way out, a negative split of sub 7.30 on the way back.

If I could maintain a 7.45 for this year’s Outlaw (big “if”) I’d be able to knock nearly an hour off last year’s time. Just for the run. I’m hoping for at least an hour on the bike. Really, really got to get over my swim aversion and batter it.

Tomorrow I’m going for a 20 mile pace run, try and keep it at 7.30. Then a Sufferfest. That’ll be fun.

Next week I start back fresh, un-phased, and determined to batter it.

Later,

Buck.

Review

Sufferfest’s mental toughness programme says you need to set quantifiable weekly and monthly goals. Then review how your training went that week so you can reward yourself for success and try to learn from failure.

So here goes.

I split my goals down into the disciplines.

Swim: (For the week: ) Arrange 3+ swims per week.

(Month: Learn not to sink. Learn to breathe.)

Bike: 3 sessions per week (2 Sufferfest, 1 long ride.)

Run: Increase fast (sub 3 marathon, 5.48 m/m) by half a mile a week.

 

It was my first week, I worked 6 days at work, doing a 12 and a 13 hour shift (with an hour’s commute, so two rest days).

That having been said I did 2 swim sessions and am making great progress towards my monthly goal. I have floaty pretty much sorted, and my breathing is really coming on. It’s harder than it should be because I have to overcome the way I have been doing it. If I don’t concentrate for a second I slip back into it. 

 

I didn’t manage the outdoor long ride because I’ve only had the one day off and it’s cold and blowing a gale, but I did 3 tough sessions on Sufferfest. I increased my max power burst on The Shovel (a 1 hour 6 minutes intervals beasting) from 580 watts to 897. That was a good job.

 

The running was another mixed bag. Now I’ve decided to get serious and have rest days, then work battering me with hours, I’ve only done two runs this week. That’s after 2 months of running every day. Which is what I feared.

However, I did achieve greatness. I set out to do a 5½ mile fast run. Instead of a mile warm up, a sprint, catch my breath, then do the fast run, I tried to go at pace from the off. It was a mistake, frankly. It was so hard. At the end of 2 miles I thought my pace had dropped off so much I was going to have to jog and do it again. I looked at my watch, still 6.50’s, so I put my back into it. Then it was just a matter of not letting it slip. Horrible, horrible. I decided to make it 6 miles as I haven’t set my watch for half mile intervals. The last mile has a short but steep hillock. I looked at my watch at the top of it, wearing my lungs externally, and I was on 7.40 pace. So, on my last mile, totally shot, I had to claw back 50 seconds! And I did.

I should look into a proper speed plan. But I’ve gone from 4 miles, joint best ever distance at race pace, to 6 miles, in 2 weeks.

 

Some good achievements: broke my duck with the swimming, have worked out best times to swim, and started to make progress on a proper technique. I’m really digging in on Sufferfest and I think I’m getting a lot better. And I’ve increased my maximum effort on the run by 50% in a fortnight.

What can I learn from this week? There’s nothing more I can do about work stitching me up with long shifts, so best not to fret about that. To take a positive from it, I won’t schedule rest days, I’ll take the ones work forces on me.

I have to focus on swimming, make sure I get at least 3 sessions a week.

I need a big ride to see how Sufferfest translates to the road. (Just looked at BBC weather forecast: rain and wind. Forever.)

I need more runs.

 

My goals for next week: 3 swims, master floaty, get 90% on breathing.

3 rides, and redo my 4DP test (to see if I’ve improved).

4 runs. One long, one fast. Set a 7.45 brick pace.

Kicking My Arse Today So I Can Kick Theirs Tomorrow.

Same ol’

Sufferfest say I should concentrate solely on my goal, so sorry if there’s anyone reading this, it’s all going to be tri.

Except to say I rebuilt my VFR750 motorbike fairing (again) with a new subframe and the cannibalised best of two sets of clocks and all it all went back together properly this time. Now the bloody thing is running on 3 cylinders instead of 4, and being a V4 engine the carbs are a total pain to access. I’ve ordered some tools, when they arrive I’ll sort it.

Anywho, that’s not focusing on my goal.

I had a moment a few days ago. The Tour de France guy who did my bike fitting last year heard I was after a sub 10 Ironman and said I’d be looking to maintain a 25mph average on the bike. I was surprised he nailed it, but agreed readily. My plan was to get up to 20mph average for this year, 22.5 for next, 25 for the sub 10.

Since I’ve been beasting myself on the Sufferfest I really think I’m in with a shout. I won’t be happy with less than a 20mph average this year. The last 3 attempts have been 16mph. I looked back on an old blog and my 3 year plan was to get to an hour for the swim (too ambitious, say 1.10), a 5.25 bike and a 3.26 marathon (about right.)

Then I did the maths again. (I am thick as brick at maths, so I generally avoid it.) If I can average 20 mph this year, that’s 5.36!  In one year. If I could get to 25mph that would be 4.30! That doesn’t seem possible.

Just looking at 2017 results (2018 was blowing a gale) the guy who won the race, in the male, 20-25 year old category, did the ride in 4.33. Hmmm, I may have to lower my expectations. Or just win the race outright. That would be a hoot. Time’s to beat are 49 minute swim (never going to happen), 2.15 transition (T1), 4.33 bike, 2.23 transition (T2), and a 3.12 marathon (8 hours 39 overall!)

 

Well, that was a short-lived goal.

 

The winner of my age group did a 9.44 tri. That’s about the very limit of my ballpark hopes/ expectations.

She did a 1.05 swim, 3.00 T1, 5.10 bike, 2.42 T2, and a 3.22 run. Those are my targets now.

I’ve just written them down and propped them under my monitor.

Right.

*Game Face*

Actually, she was the winner of the 50-54 age group, by the 2021 race I’ll be 55, the winner of that age group was a 10 hours 39 time. That’s obviously outside my sub 10 hour goal. Interestingly, he was only 5 minutes slower on the swim, 2 on T1, 12 on the bike, 1 on T2, but then blew it massively on the run, 36 minutes slower. Or to put it another way, still 20 minutes faster than my PB last year.

 

All this talk of supreme efforts and the glory I’m going to achieve in 2½ years time kind of takes the shine off today’s huge achievement. Should have lead with that. Ho hum.

When I was trying to do a serious plan to run faster I eventually got up to 4 miles at sub 7 m/m pace. Supposed to be 6.48, but oft edged into 6.52 /53 territory.

After my run every day thing I managed last week to go out and run 5 miles at that pace. Extraordinary for me. I go long because I have lots more grit than speed. I ran a warm up mile, two miles fast then burned out when I got stopped by traffic, so ran another two miles slowly to recover, then did the 5 miles on recovered legs. Today I thought I’d try for 5½ miles. I was in a rush as I wanted to get a swim as well (didn’t happen) so I set off at race pace. It was so, so hard. I thought my pace has slipped back so far that I was going to slow down and try again by 2 miles, I checked my watch, amazingly still 6.50+ m/m, so I picked up the pace and carried on. In the end I ran 6 miles (Garmin said 5.99 miles afterwards, I’m having it, I don’t care) 6 miles at a 6.52 m/m average. It was hellish. I wanted to slow down or stop the whole time. Mental toughness. Just hanging in there for one more second, one more minute, one more mile. Thanks, Sufferfest.

I’ve broken my run every day thing in my pursuit of my tri goal. I had my first day off from training this year yesterday. 

Tomorrow it’s a bike day. Sufferfest to the max.

I’m going to have to start doing long rides on the road to see what power and speed I can maintain. I’ll do that on my day  off.

Right, another pointless blog. It’s just something for me to reference later. That was the day I set a new speed/ distance record. And thought I could ride a 4.30, lol.

Later,

Buck.