Author Archive

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.

20190505_074632

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.

20190509_190225 (2)

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.

Excuses, not results.

After my upbeat last post, it all went horribly wrong again.

I started feeling weak again. I did some runs but I couldn’t maintain any sort of pace and it was so, so hard just to keep going. I endured it for a week, I did 3 runs, then decided I’d had enough. I wondered if it might be the anti-inflammatory pills the doctor gave me, so I stopped taking them. 2 days later my foot was hurting from the inflamed tendons again, so I knew the pills had rinsed out of my system. I tried to do the Sufferfest.

As I’ve said, I had just really raised the bar, so all my workouts were a lot harder and they’d moved me on to endurance blocks because that’s my most glaring weakness. Then I was ghastly ill for 3 weeks and lost all my fitness.

Before I was ill I was doing sprint workouts, which actually played to my ‘strength’ (such as it is). My sustainable limit is about 200 Watts. The sprint workouts would have you me riding for 20 seconds to 2 minutes at anything up to 320W, then easy for 30 seconds or whatever, then the next big one.

I aced that on the fitness test just before I got ill, with them saying I have “exceptional” sprint to [utterly pitiful]sustainable level power.

Rather than kill myself as I’m trying to make up for a lost month’s training, I decided to do the sprint workout again, rather than the endurance blocks.

Ha! Sufferfest were on to me.

I started the routine with a graded warm up, then in to the sprints, “hold 679W for 30 seconds”

What?! Seriously, WHAT?!

I didn’t have my glasses on so thought I must have misread it, my power being around 200W and all, but no, 679W.

It looks like I’m going to have to build my fitness up on the other training thing, where it’s not tailored to you specifically, before I can start back properly.

The long and short of it being I had to quit, wearing my lungs as scarf, halfway through the workout. I just couldn’t. To try and redeem myself a little I went out for a run. I was only going to do 6 miles, but after the first mile, on traumatised legs, at 8.20 I realised I had loads more in the tank, so I put it under 8 m/m and held it there, comfortably. (It’s a relative term. I mean I wasn’t having to claw back every mile from 8.30 or whatever, I just kept going and stayed under 8.) I was impressing myself after the last bunch of runs not even being able to stay at 8, so kept going for 5 miles, then turned around and smashed the negative split.

10 miles, on thrashed legs, after an 8.20 first mile, and I averaged 7.41. I’ll well take that.

I was buzzing. I thought I was all well again and not too far behind on my training.

Sigh.

The next day I was weak again, then sneezing and nose streaming, eyes running. It’s just not fair. I think it was some sort of hay fever, Mr Google said there was “pollen bomb” as we went from nippy 5C to a four day weekend of 25C. I took some anti-histamines and I dried up within hours. That’s odd, I used to get an itchy nose and sneezy, but I don’t remember ever having full-on hay fever.

Today I’m just suffering from tiredness, (not much sleep, then up at 04.20 for a course), fatness and laziness.

That’s the thing, the more training you do the more you want to do, the less you do the harder it becomes to motivate yourself to start.

Tomorrow is my day off. I am writing all this down now to try and vanquish this incredible run (over a month) of being poorly ill, and refocus my chi. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, and, so far, I’m not feeling ill.

 

In other news, I’ve put my black VFR750 motorbike up for sale and got a bid on it, so hopefully that’s sold. Which will leave me with just one motorbike.

Like. A. Caveman.

Tomorrow it all gets real.

Crack on.

Buck.

All Coming Up Roses.

My last blog was all poorliness and bikes.

I hit my nadir on Sunday morning when I had to admit defeat and not do the Manchester marathon. I hadn’t done any training at all for 3 weeks and I was still feeling weak. It started to clear on Sunday afternoon. Obviously.

I went for a test run and managed to do 10 miles at a modest but forced pace. Even though I was still a bit ill, and it was so, so hard, it was a joy to be out doing a bit. I’d been going stir crazy doing nothing for 3 weeks.

I got back on the pushbike torture training thing (The Sufferfest) the next day and didn’t die.

So, I’m back in the game. Yay!

 

I took my bike to the garage as I said. I trust the mechanic as he’s always got too much work on so he doesn’t make up jobs to boost his money. A few times he’s told me what to do and sent me away to do it myself. Anyway, he took the bike for a test ride and said the engine was “sweet” and agreed it was a steal for the price. I got him to do the full service, down to the valve clearances. On another bike I’d probably have a go, but these have gear driven cams, so you have to get a series of cogs all meshed exactly right. Put one back slightly out of position and you’ve got a dead bike.

Actually, I may have been fed a scare story, looking at it, I reckon that’s do-able.

1986-Honda-VFR750F-Engine

I might get a cheap engine and have a mooch.

While I was looking for an example picture I came across a gear driven Ducati. That is art.

Duke

Would not want to drop a cog and have to reset that!

That’s all beside the point. I took it to the mechanic and got a proper job done.

I picked it up today. He’s sorted out the front brake, changed the brake and clutch fluids, replaced 4 valve shims and done the valve clearances, apart from annual changing of oil and such, that’s me for 15,000 miles.

On the ride home from buying it I was worried that my other bike was quicker to rev up and sprint off than this new one. On the ride home from the garage I nipped past some slow cars and hit the power band. Off like a scalded cat! That was a hoot.

I’ve been waiting all week for some crash bungs to arrive so the mechanic could fit them.

(These are crash bungs, by the way. Just to protect your fairings and engine from getting smashed to bits when you come off.) (Just rereading this before posting it. Other people might say “if” you come off, lol.)

IMG_20170711_181837_LI

It’s not a big job, take your fairing off, mark them, drill a big hole in them, put them back and fit your crash bungs. It’s just I didn’t want to ruin my lovely fairings by getting it wrong. The whole point of this new bike is that it does everything the other one does, but looks pretty at the same time.

I picked my bike up this morning and, as usual,  the crash bungs arrived at dinner time. Typical. I decided to have a go. It was a nerve-racking affair but I’ve done it! The bungs are fitted and their is no visible damage to my fairings! Huzzah!

Also today I was telling the mechanic about my plans to pull the wheels off, strip them right down, then get them powder coated (an alternative to painting where some voodoo stuff is sprayed on then baked into tough loveliness) he said they weren’t that bad and suggested a touch up pot of paint to blend the chips into the same colour as the rest of the wheel. OK. £6 and an hour or so of messing about has got to be worth a shot. If I’m still not happy the first step of powder coating is blasting all the old paint off, so I’ve only lost £6.

I’ll see what it looks like tomorrow, when it’s properly dried.

Well, that’s it. We are both recovering. I did 4 days training on the trot (been busy with my bikes today) and my new bike is peach. Happy days!

20190412_123730 (2)

Now that is a picture!

VFR750s are like shoes. A boy can never have too many. (Try telling that to Wendy!)

20190412_123719 (2)

(Red ones are faster. Scientific fact.)

20190412_123751 (2)

Right. I’m off to bed. Redeem myself with a marathon in the morning. Give it a go, at least.

Later,

Buck.

Bikes and poorliness.

That’s about all that’s going on right now.

Luke was dying with a beastly cold that laid him up for weeks. He was bored of being ill at home so came around and gave it to Wendy and me. Which is nice.

Wendy’s been off work for nearly two weeks with it. She’s gone back now but she’s still as rough as rats.

I’ve not been so bad, just weak and feeling lousy. I did a 20 mile run 18 days ago, not done a hand’s turn of training since. I’ve got the Manchester marathon on Sunday. I’m doubtful I’ll even be starting.

 

The rest has all been about the bikes.

I put my FireBlade up for sale on eBay.

20180803_111538 (2)

*sigh*

It’s the most amazing bike I’ve ever ridden, but it’s just too, too much. 90mph in second gear (of 6.)

You spend all your time struggling to stay out of automatic ban territory (100mph+), it takes all the fun out of it. In an amazing turn of events, I put the bike up for sale, 2 hours later it had sold! No hassle, no insulting offers! Unheard of.

Also I’ve sold my saxes as part of my triathlon training. Cut out all distractions from your focus on your goal. While they were there I was always tempted to go back and waste more time on something I’m never going to be able to do.

I’ve finally got on top of the crash damage on my winter bike. I had to strip and clean the carbs in my latest ordeal. But now it seems to be running OK, finally.

20190222_12355820190321_105114

Nothing but trouble, but I’ve got it sorted. Now I want shut.

I was on the verge of buying an Suzuki SV650, a slow (123mph) naked (to slow me down some more) and cheap V twin, that also handles well and is great fun. So, a Harley.  But better in every way. And way cheaper.

Sv650

As I say I was on the verge of getting a really low mileage one for under £2K when I read a long term review of them. It seems they are all I thought, but built to a budget. The reason it’s all so shiny and pretty is because it’s not been ridden in winter. They are rustbuckets in waiting.

No good for me. I want one bike, that’ll do everything, that I can ride all year.

So I’ve bought another VFR750. Exactly the same as my winter bike, but not rusty and horrible.

 

s-l400-2

s-l400-3

It’s in the bike shop now having a once over to see that the engine is fine. If so I’m getting it a total service (big job, setting the valve clearances and shims, but once it’s done it’s good for 15,000 miles.)

Then I’m getting the paint on the wheels re-done and redoing the forks myself. Then maybe a respray. That’s it then. One bike, all shiny and lovely, one set of bills, all year round useable and I have to work at it a bit to get banned. I can use my winter bike while I get all that sorted, then sell it. It’s just passed it’s MOT, so it’s saleable.

Sorry to drone on about bikes, but that’s all I can do or get excited about at the moment.

I’m just waiting for this beastliness to be over so I can get back to training.

Oh, nearly forgot. I went to the doctor over my shoulder. It’s still sore if I lie on it or rotate it. Not terrible, but the other one doesn’t hurt, so there’s something not right. It’s been months since the crash.

The doctor did some tests on me, said nothing was broken, then sent me for an ultra sound. The woman doing it said there was no damage. I thought it was just like my mam said, it takes longer to heal when you’re older. I went back to the doctors for the test results, feeling like a fraud, but he poked me in the shoulder, asking if it hurt. Yes, YES! It seems something (a sack, I think he said) is inflamed and rubbing a nerve or something. He’s put me on anti-inflammatory pills and put me down for a steroid injection. That’s service, for a bit of a sore shoulder. 

Right, I’m off to feel sorry for myself.

Later,

Buck.

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.

20190117_163510 

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.

20190222_123558

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.

20190321_105114

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.

$_58-6[1]

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.

20190315_124706

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.

20190209_15234220190315_124132 (2)

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.

Archives