Author Archive

January done.

I’ve just about got back on the triathlon horse.

I’ve completed the first month of my ‘run every day of 2019’ challenge. It’s not been easy as I have been nursing injuries. Happily I’m mostly over them. The tendons on the top of my foot keep flaring up, but nothing debilitating. The pains up my shins, in my knees, and my shoulder are all but gone. Because I’m doing most of my runs straight off the pushbike after riding 9 and a bit miles back from work (and I’ve been tentative due to injuries) I’ve not done that many miles, but they all add up. 186 miles for January.

I did a trial run (a literal run) to work last weekend, to see how long it would take me. It was cold and it had been threatening rain all day. I set off in a new, long sleeve, running top. As I was about to leave the house it started spitting. I ignored it, thinking it would pass. All the way to work it rained. I was soaked, freezing and in a very dark place as I was dreading the run back. After I turned around it stopped raining for a few miles which allowed me to warm and dry a little bit. Then I was well on my way so it didn’t get me down when it started raining again. With me getting lost and such, it was a 17.5 mile run in the end. 2 hours 35. Not a great time, but the challenge was just to keep going it was so beastly. Or rather, I was stupidly unprepared. A waterproof (and windproof, it was biting) jacket would have made all the difference. Again, the fact is I did it.

As I say I’ve been commuting to work, that’s about 18.5 miles round trip (by road, the run was down the canal and such). I had a day slipping about on some ice, the back end slid out three times on one ride in. Which is scary when your feet are clipped to the pedals and you are being narrowly passed by cars. I asked for some advice and bought a set of new, fatter (28mm instead of 23mm) puncture resistant, sports tyres. They are very nice.

The product photo’ made me laugh. Everyone else who wants to advertise their product calls the modelling agency for a bunch of beautiful 20 somethings and a wise old man.

Not the Germans. Their photo’ says “Yes. These are the best tyres in the world. And if you disagree we’ll come and punch your lights out.”

IMG_20190126_101501

I bought them then realised I’d had the other set for nearly a year and they were as smooth as glass. Not ideal for winter. I ordered the new ones. The next day, as I was riding home, and the front tyre made a big hissing sound and went flat in a few seconds. I carry a spare tube so I checked for puncture inducing foreign objects, all clear, then replaced the dead one. A mile later the same thing happened again. I carry some kung fu slippers so I’m not clip-clopping around work with my bikes shoes on. I had to change into them then run the last two miles, in full bike kit, with my works kit in my rucksack, pushing my bike by the saddle. I saw a local running club as I was running. They had no bikes or bags or anything. Lightweights. When I got in I checked the tyre and wheel in the light. Then double checked. Nothing. So I replaced the tube. As I was pumping it up it exploded! WHAT?!

I lined the hole in the tube up with the tyre when I took it out, there was a split in the tyre sidewall, so the tube stuck out, pinched, then exploded. Ah. Nicely timed, ordering the new tyres then.

It snowed again the other day. I thought the roads would be cleared by the cars, but the edges of the road where I was riding were still deep in snow and ice. I really regretted pushbiking in that day. Still, I made it.

That the bike and the run going to plan, more or less.

Yesterday I broke my duck and finally got back to the swimming.

I watched some YouTube tutorials beforehand. They were loads more informative than my improver swim lessons. I cancelled my lessons and for the same price got anytime gym membership. I’ll learn it off YouTube and get better by doing loads of swim sessions.

I was really up for it once I’d been. I hadn’t been for a month, since I hurt my shoulder in the bike crash. As usual I’d built up a resistance to getting back to it. Building it up in my mind as being awful. It was bad, but that was just lack of fitness and technique. I was all set to watch loads of videos and try to stick in 4 swim sessions a week.

But (there’s always a “but”) when I got out of the pool my foot was bad again. Swimming is all about stress on your top of foot tendons, apparently. Lots of foot pivoting and pressure. Super.

Ho hum. I’ve just got to rest it, keep up with the ibuprofen and compression bandages. Not easy when you have to run every day.

 

In other news, the depression seems to have passed and I’ve not had another psychotic episode, which is fantastic. My thoughts started getting abstract and tangential on another run (might have been nothing, but you can’t help but flap) but this time I just centred and remained calm until it passed.  Thinking about it, if I am reporting one good thing in my training, and indeed my life, that is it.

Also I’ve been involved in a crash that was in no way my fault. That’s novel. Wendy was on a dummy run to some place she was going in Manchester, I was just there to help her with motorways and when she got lost. Because it was Manchester she put extra pressure on herself not to hold anyone up. She was trying to work out what the satnav was telling her on the hoof, pulled out and smacked another car. No biggie. I had a moment afterwards when I thought, as a named driver on her policy, I would lose my no claims bonus, but that’s safe. I got Wendy to drive it home, through Manchester then on the motorways. She was fine.

The next morning she woke up and lost it. Shaking and such. She couldn’t face driving the 2 miles to her church.

Bless.

She woman-ed up on the Monday and drove in to work.

I don’t know if it’s part of my condition or I genuinely am just used to it, but I don’t go into shock. I bounce down the road, pick myself up, then check on my bike. The only time I remember being in shock was when I got my front tooth headbutted out and took a kicking while I was on the ground. I was only a kid.

 

The other thing is my bike. I’ve got the replacement fairing, but it was unpainted. I’ve sprayed it myself. Surprisingly it’s not too terrible. It’s only for my winter hack, it’s a cheap, rusty, bike, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I finished applying the lacquer today, so tomorrow I can start trying to reassemble it. It would be a relatively simple job except the bars to which it attaches got bent in the crash. It’s going to be trial and error bending them back into shape. I’ve got two days. I’ve just got to be patient and not snap anything, or beat it into tiny pieces with a hammer, if it doesn’t fit immediately.

Well, that was all boring stuff.

I say that now, but it’s surprising how often I have to review this for dates of things. Last year I re-read the blogs about my last triathlons. I’d forgotten loads of the mistakes I made the first two races.

Right, off.

Later,

Buck.

There is no try!

I did a review of last year in my last blog, so, with mind numbing inevitability, I’m looking ahead now.

I’m trying to make it my New Year’s Resolution to run every day this year. At least a mile.  The mile is just for rest days and when they stitch me up with 15 hour shifts.

I say ‘trying’, risking the wrath of Master Yoda, because I’m starting off with some injuries that really should be rested.

 https://anshuchristajacobson.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/try-not.jpg

It’s nothing serious. My shoulder is still a bit rum from the crash.  I managed to slide the back end right round and hit the van sideways, slamming my shoulder into the van. Good job I was wearing an armoured leather jacket. I’m almost completely recovered I think, except for if I try to lie on it, put pressure on it, or try to rotate my arm. Good as new. I’ve still not tried it on a swim, though.

Then there’s my foot. I’ve managed to pull some tendons on the top of it, which is new for me. Doctor Google says the usual (RICE: Rest, Ice/ Ibuprofen, Compression, Elevation) but I don’t seem to be making it worse, so I’ll stick with it for now. It does make sleeping a bit of a challenge though. If my left foot isn’t perfectly flat it hurts (not bad, but enough to be uncomfortable and a worry about further damage) the only way I can reliably do that is to roll on my right side, which hurts because I’ve smacked my shoulder. It’s like a bone moves up when I lie on it. Gotta larf.

And I’ve got a pain up the inside of my shin. Again, that doesn’t seem to be getting worse. Possibly better, in fact.

Anyway, if I can get through these injuries and heal while still training, that’s my goal for this year. Some guy (Ron Hill, better to name him, he deserves the credit) ran at least a mile every day for 52 years and 39 days! He had to stop in 2017 because of heart worries, but huge respect. I don’t think I’m going to beat that somehow.  

The gargantuan pachyderm in the room though is my mental health.

As I’ve mentioned before, it turns out the ‘borderline’ in Borderline Personality Disorder refers not to it being borderline as a condition (ie, negligible) but refers to the fact the condition is on the borderline between neurosis and psychosis. Sufferers can cross back and forth.

I’ve had some bad times with it, but I’ve never been psychotic.

Until now.

Quote:

“Let us begin with the short explanation about neurosis. It is an emotional illness in which a person experiences strong feelings of fear or worry. It involves distress but not delusions or hallucinations. Its symptoms are similar to stress but not a radical loss of touch with reality.

Unlike neurosis, psychosis is rather a severe mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. The symptoms of this mental illness are typically characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality. The person suffering from this disease may then encounter hallucinations or delusions.”

 

I was having a splendid day, first day back on the bike trainer, 26 miles of slog and graft, then out for a 7 mile run (roughly quarter race distance and it was only January the 5th.)

I started the run and and kept having confused thoughts. It felt like it wasn’t me thinking them. Then I started having confusing memories of things that hadn’t happened and half remembered things like a memory of a dream. Suddenly my head was filled with all these thoughts and I couldn’t tell what was real then I started seeing graphs and charts. It was like a waking dream. I can’t really describe it or even remember it that well, but it terrified me. I stopped my run and had to turn around from the way I’d been going to try to stop looking at it.

I’ve tripped out before now. I’ve had panic attacks and gone loony focused to the point of obsession on trivia. This was nothing like that. I can’t remember it or make sense of what I can remember, but I know I was stopped, terrified, chanting “it’s not real, it’s not real” as it was stubbornly being very, very real. 

Anyway, I don’t want any more of that, thank you very much. But it gives you insight. Poor old Lettie was psychotic for months. It’s so much worse than I’d ever imagined. It’s not just the (in her case, voices and visions) it’s the absolute loss of self. I’ve seen ornaments get up and wave at me and took it in my stride, but when that came on I couldn’t deal with it. I was overwhelmed. Panicked. Nothing made sense. It’s pretty much the worse thing that has ever happened to me. That was a few minutes, and like I say, I’ve had lots of practice in tripping. That turned into poor ol’ Lettie’s life.

It was a one-off blip. I’ve never had it before, no reason to assume I’m going to get it again. And if I do, perhaps I’ll learn to deal with it. A bit overwhelming first time out. That would be enough to get me to go to the doctors, I can tell you that for damn sure.

Right, stand down, nothing to see here. It was a strange and horrible thing that has happened and happily gone now. No need to worry. I needed to record it though.

Later,

Buck.

Clearly Now The Past Expects…

(…the giant steps we had to take. Sisters of Mercy song lyrics.)

I’ve just read through my blogs for the year, (so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.) and it was an eye-opener. You, (perhaps just I) take for granted where you are and what you’ve done. Then I read back and bloody hell! I’d totally forgotten.

This time last year I hadn’t ridden a pushbike or swam for 3 or so years, hadn’t run for 5 months, had no life, was low, and all I did was work and sleep.

I did my first run of 5 miles last January, then a few days later just about made a 10 mile pushbike ride to work. I remember how bad that was. A year on I’m spinning it up and going for better times, back then it was all I could do to finish the 10 miles.

The swimming remains my Achilles heel.

Then I committed to the Outlaw triathlon. From my worst fitness in years to an Outlaw in 7 months. It feels a bit like it happened to someone else, so I don’t mind saying that was quite impressive.

Work was a pain. I couldn’t train around the stupid-long shifts they were giving me every day. I got myself into a flap thinking about how I was going to have to quit either my job or the Outlaw, I thought there was no way they’d let me have short shifts, logistics just isn’t that kind of job. I asked, and they changed my start time and gave me shorter shifts! Thanks work, that was really great of you.

I went from no running for 5 months to 3 marathons over 3 weeks in 3 months.

I’ve had a few setbacks, sports injuries from ‘too much, too soon’ (Every. Time!) and doing stupid things like running without socks, wrong size cycling shoes, etc, but I did the Outlaw and got a personal best. The sports injuries have killed my hope for a sub 3 hour marathon in April. *sigh*

There have been a few fails over the year. I didn’t keep going to the tri club, I was over-committed so had to quit my Russian language school and there was that (mercifully brief) period of really nasty depression that killed my training stone dead for a month.

Over the last year I’ve sold one motorbike, bought the awesome FireBlade and recently crashed another motorbike.

I bought my road pushbike, fitted it for triathlon, bought a turbo trainer, a bike computer and my triathlon specific pushbike.

Wendy got her pushbike (and has ridden it nearly 10 miles in total, lol), passed her car test first time and got her Mini.

Also I’ve recently returned to the saxophone and bought a cheap straight soprano sax for use at work. Also I’ve gone back to being a vegetarian. And have found a wonderful site (and bought the cookbook) called minimalistbaker.com . It’s all vegan recipes with 10 ingredients or fewer. I wasn’t actually after vegan. It’s only a few weeks ago I was telling someone on twitter that (from my past experience) the only good thing about being vegan is that it takes the sting out of the fear of death. I was just looking for a good recipe for fried rice, hers popped up and it was delicious. I tried some others and they were all great. Better than the meat food I’d been eating. If it’s delicious and easy to make why wouldn’t you eat vegan? I’ve not gone all in. I still have dairy on other things, and I’m not giving up my leathers. But like I say, why wouldn’t you?

So, that’s where I am.

I was feeling a little miffed that I’m out of the running for a sub 3 marathon in April, and my swimming isn’t what I want, but reviewing the last year I am now really happy to be where I am.

I seem to be over the nasty bout of loony, I’m not too badly injured, have the right shifts to train and have regained my training mojo. I’m going to draw up a revised training plan, get back to swimming, and batter it.

2019 is here and I’m ready for it!

Buck.

Barking.

I’ve been having patches of anxiety and such for a while. Then out of the blue I’ve been slammed by a really nasty bout of loony-ness. Depression.

I’ve had several attacks of random loony in the past, I was expecting that again. Where I fixate on one trigger event or concept (the local kid’s ball, – I still get uneasy at the sound of a ball bouncing –, or prior to that, Death and Time) which is horrible and scary.

But no, just depression. In our family that’s at best passé.

It’s been a few weeks now. On the bright side, it’s not constant, I keep having good days. They other day I was having an episode of sane and I convinced myself I was just imagining it, that it was just feeling blue with a large dose of self pity. I was driving along, concentrating on the road and my Russian ‘tapes’, when suddenly it hit me full force. Utterly crushed me. More than I thought I could endure.

I’m not imagining it. And the self pity is hard earned.

As I say, in my family my little bout of nuttiness is embarrassingly minor. I’m the guy with the plaster on his blister telling someone in a full body cast how much it hurts. But when it washes over me it takes everything away. I can’t get excited, or make plans, or do anything. The bad bits feel literally unbearable.

The weird thing is; whilst I know consciously that bouts usually last three months and that it will probably go again in a day or so, when it hits I can’t believe I will ever be right again.

I’ve had a good day today, hence being able to blog.

I’ve not done any training for about a fortnight, totally not been able to face going out to my swim lessons.

On the bright side, I’ve been constructive in my avoidance. I’ve built a really spiffy and sturdy back gate to replace the shoddy fence-panel-on-hinges thing I put up originally. For some reason the wind funnels across our house. At the front we’ve had to bungee cord the bins to stop them from flying away, I have to park my motorbike on the pavement because it’s been blown over twice out front, and the back gate gets blown off it’s hinges. I’m totally on top of that now.

Also, I’ve returned to the saxophone.  And I’m flying through some really good books. Also I’ve found a brilliant vegan cookery site https://minimalistbaker.com/ and I’ve been cooking loads. I was after veggie fare, to be honest, but that came up on a search for fried rice. Some gorgeous food. Best damn veggie burger I’ve ever tasted. The stir fry rice is delicious. And, amazingly, vegan.

It was only a few weeks ago I was telling someone on Twitter that the only good thing (in my experience) about vegan food was it took the sting out of the fear of death. It must have been pre-internet days (for me) when I was doing it. Honestly, the food I’m eating now is so good I’m sorry I didn’t go back to veggie years ago. Saying that, Wendy has reminded me that my tastebuds and sense of smell are pretty much fried. But with these tastebuds the only things I was eating were (proper Asian) biryani, stew and corn dog butties for work. I endured spag bol (though it tasted offensively watery) and sometimes didn’t mind lasagne. Chestnut and quorn lasagne is bloody lovely and the spag bol is amazing.

The other thing is the depression makes my other condition harder to bear. Super. It lead me to read a bit more about it. It seems the ‘borderline’ in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is not to denote ‘negligible’, it’s because BPD occurs at the borderline between neurosis and psychosis. Some people move back and forth over the line.

Here’s some of the highlights (NHS)

  • Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, such as rapidly initiating intimate (physical or emotional) relationships or cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of being abandoned
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviours, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. 
  • Self-harming behaviour, such as cutting
  • Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviours or threats
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Difficulty trusting, which is sometimes accompanied by irrational fear of other people’s intentions
  • Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, seeing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality

And cited quotes from Wikipedia:

“People with BPD are often exceptionally enthusiastic, idealistic, joyful, and loving. However, they may feel overwhelmed by negative emotions ("anxiety, depression, guilt/shame, worry, anger, etc."), experiencing intense grief instead of sadness, shame and humiliation instead of mild embarrassment, rage instead of annoyance, and panic instead of nervousness.”

“People with BPD may feel emotional relief after cutting themselves.”

“Reasons for self-harm include expressing anger, self-punishment, generating normal feelings (often in response to dissociation), and distracting oneself from emotional pain or difficult circumstances.” 

 

It’s all there. Which makes me sad on another level. They say BPD makes you feel empty with no fixed image of self. The thing is, take away the goddamn BPD and there is no me.

Even the bits I like about myself (selflessness and bravery) are actually symptoms (no sense of self and recklessness).

Ho hum, whaddayagonna do?

On the bright side, I’ve not got that last one from the NHS list. And since I quit drinking I’ve managed to stop the self harm thing. And, in retrospect, that whole embarrassing messy scene wasn’t actually me being a drama-queen, it was a symptom and a coping mechanism. So, there’s that.

 

I may take it to the doctor. I’m not bothered about most of it, but if I could find a way to deal with the unending series of bad memories that constantly torture me, that would be nice.

 

If I’m sane in the morning I’m going to try and get some training done. I need to get back to it.

Right,

Sorry for all that, had to get it off my chest.

Later,

Buck.

Swings And Roundabouts.

My training is taking all sorts of turns. Because I was dropping off my plan for the sub 3 hour marathon in April I was upping the mileage more than the rule of 10% per week. Also, because I was pushed for time, it was basically every run I was doing was trying to raise the bar. Every run. Not a pace run, a long, easy run, sets, rest, then batter it. Go out and run 3 miles at stupid pace. Next run try and run 3½ miles faster, next run try and run 4.

It was a stupid thing to do. I’ve gone and knackered my calf. As soon as I try to go fast it sets and starts hurting. And gets worse the more I push it. I was scared it was a tendon thing, but Dr Google says it’s just a weak muscle or muscle overuse. Too much, too soon. I need that printed on every pair of trainers I buy. The remedy is rest, then slowly build up again. With some strengthening exercises.

I did about 2 runs in 2 weeks. The first it had eased off so I warmed up for 2 miles, as soon as I went fast my calf seized. I managed to shuffle home. The second I started slow but it was hurting so much that I turned around at a mile, but then it eased off so I turned around and managed a 6 mile run.

That was when I hit Dr Google.

Armed with the knowledge and the experience that I could, slowly, push through it, I tried a long, slow run today. I managed a half marathon with no real problems. I’m hoping to build some stamina and maintain some fitness so I can build my speed again. I’m thinking April is out for next year, though. Downer. I’ll try for a flat course later in the year, if I can’t do it for April.

 

On the bike front I’ve got my fancy pants bike set up on the turbo trainer and I’ve got a monitor and a laptop so I can run Zwift. It’s a computer game that, with all the techno bells and whistles I’ve got fitted, monitors your power (in watts), your pedalling rpm and such, and converts it into your speed and performance in the virtual cycling world of Wattopia.  Which all sounds a bit pointless, but the thing is you are on a resistance trainer so it’s all good, hard training.  You can see the power and rpm you are pushing out, you get to race against other people from all around the world in real time and there are challenge sections where is suddenly says you’re on a timed section, the best has just finished it in 3 minutes 49, your ETA is 5.45, so you have to go flat out for the length of the challenge to try to beat it. And if, like today, someone comes past you with “such-and-such Tri Club” in their profile you have to thrash them.

Compare that to staring at a wall for an hour and just grinding the pedals.

screen-grab-za-launch-3 

That’s a generic picture from the game.

I still pour sweat and can’t wait for it to be over, but I reckon I’m getting the absolute maximum from my hour or so on the trainer. I’ve put my Fireblade away for the winter (going to service it and try to sell it. It’s too much fun for my job. I can get an automatic ban in second gear.) so I’ve started cycling my commute again.

I reckon I should really see some gains on the bike in next year’s Outlaw tri.

The other thing is the the swim. I’m not so sure about that coach. He’s determined to get me breathing, which I’ll accept is a prerequisite for anything else, but he keeps saying everything else is fine. It really isn’t.  I was looking to see what else I could find and by a stroke of uncommonly good luck, we have a long distance swimming club in Warrington. Channel swimmers and the like. They should know the ropes. They seem keen. They have an hour and a half swim on Friday evenings, and open water swims during the summer. They could sort me right out. Got to keep trying.

Anyway, nothing exciting to report. Just plotting where I am for future reference.

Later,

Buck.

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.