Archive for May, 2019

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.

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