Testing

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Pics or it didn’t happen.

There were only two good pictures of me from the Outlaw.

On the bike and on a mission:

and just about to cross the finish line:

Every other picture looked like a sad, beaten, old duffer who was half dead . Which, to be fair, is 50% better than I was feeling.

The other good picture is one I took today. It’s not easy trying to do a selfie with your bike. I’m quite made up with this this then:

 

The ‘Blade is as much art as function. Someone spent a lot of time and effort making it look that good.

I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of that exhaust endcan. It’s titanium so very light, but huge and too quiet. Apparently their are all sorts of sensors built in to the exhaust system though,  so you really mess with the fuelling and such if just swap the silencer for a more raucous one. Which means buying a full exhaust system (£££££££) and a power commander to sort out the fuelling (£300) and the garage to fit it, probably.

It’s like Wendy rightly said after I spent all that money converting my W650 into a cafe racer, “buy the bike you want.”

I wanted this because it was an unmolested, original bike. It will far exceed my ability as it is in standard form, I’m not going to spend a grand or so just to make it sound a bit fruitier.

One thing about it I will be changing is the seat. It’s rock hard.There’s no rush for that though, I doubt I’ll be doing many more miles this year ‘(it’s not seeing salt). But maybe next year, comfy seat, road trip? A quip nip to Germany?

I noticed the forks were set slightly differently so I looked it up today and reset them back to standard, then one turn extra to stiffen them up. Also tightened the chain.

 

The other thing I’m doing now is starting training for a sub 3 hour marathon.  I spent ages yesterday working out the amount of weeks until the race, the end distance, then working back in a steady and sustainable fashion to my starting point. I drew up a chart of date, distance, weeks to go.

If I can stick to the chart I can do it.

I went for my first run since the tri today. It was hard and humid. My target time is 6.45m/m. I started off slow to avoid tendon injury, 8.46, 8.27, then tried a fast mile. 7.42. Total disaster. I thought I’d lost my fast mojo.  I did another few slow miles then tried again. As soon as my watch beeped for the mile I charged off. It was beastly hard but I kept going. Finished that mile in 6.42! Yay! It’s back on! Then slogged home for 2 miles.

It nearly killed me, but that’s the first step on the plan done. Then I looked at the plan “Week 1, run ½ mile”

Super.

I’ll have to see how it goes. I may have to have a slack year (no tri-s) and focus on getting sub 3.

And so, said Zebedee, to bed.

Buck.

PS

The forks set up wasn’t a step forward. Over bumps it was trying to buck me out of the saddle. I’ve looked up a complete set up guide for this exact model (there are 6 different things to adjust) and set it to that. Trial and error. If that’s not right there are set-up experts who will fine tune it to your exact weight.

Another thing I’ve learned today, never, ever do a long run after a fast one. I ground out 18 slow, painful miles, but it was hellish and dispiriting. The only good to be taken from it is I wanted to quit after the first mile but kept it going. So a good exercise in mental discipline.

Addendum

I forgot to say, while I was looking for a 954 FireBlade I had my eye on a few. The others were higher mileage but had upgrades. I’d narrowed it down to 3 that I really liked and was undecided. I was leaning in favour of the one I got, and decided to do a history check on it. You could get one check or three checks for the price of two, so I ran the other bike other as well.

I had been struck by the wording on the ad, but not unduly. “Had if for more than 3 years and never been trashed or abused in my ownership…” In my ownership.  The check came back, it was an insurance write off in 2012!

That was the best £4.99 I’ve ever spent.

The other bit of good news I forgot is my legs. Yesterday on the bike the pain in my knees was so bad I thought I’d broke something. Then I forced them to run 26.2 miles. The best I was hoping for was being able to finish before the injuries crippled me. Last night I could barely walk, but as today has worn on it’s faded to a bad stiffness. I think it may have just been abuse soreness rather than an actual injury. That’s a relief. I can give it a few days to fully recover then I have to crack on with my speed training towards a sub 3 hour marathon. And start swim training. The fast boys (and girls) were out of the lake in fifty odd minutes, I was 1hr 40, again.

Just looking at the breakdown of my race. I came out of the lake in position 884 (out of 880, possibly) I finished in position 485, overall. If I learnt to swim…

 

More for my benefit here are some stats.

1,025 entrants.

929 started the race (told you it was awful weather. 96 clearly had more sense.)

849 finished the race.

58 Did Not Finish (DNF)

16 Cut Off (told to stop as they were too slow)

4 Queried (something fishy about results, I assume)

2 Disqualified.

Big Week.

A year ago I had a moment of biking epiphany. All my life I’d loved Harleys, Brits, Cafe Racers, etc. Basically pretty engines in stylish bikes. That also sound awesome. While at the same time I poured scorn and contempt on plastic-fantastic, pocket-rocket, ugly, race bikes. Then, in my moment of clarity, I realised that was a superficial and nostalgic view of biking. Air-cooled, naked (no fairings) bikes look gorgeous, sound nice, but just don’t bikey things. The true essence of bikes, the aspiration of the 50’s/ 60’s Cafe Racer is speed and handling. It’s realised in race bikes. I’ve become my own antithesis.

I’ve just bought the most bikey of bikes. The legendary Honda FireBlade. (“The Bike That Changed How Bikes Were Built”.)

The best (older) model. Obviously the tech gets better, the performance gets more extreme, but this is the desirable model of the not-the-latest (£19,000) bike.

I bought the scruffy Honda VFR750 (“The Best Bike Ever Built.” Thinking about it, only Honda get these tags, the other one that springs to mind is the 1970’s CB750 “The Worlds First Superbike”. Kawasaki don’t get “Ugliest Green Bike Ever”, though I’m willing to start using it.) as it was the benchmark for reliability, but still nippy and handled well. I was so impressed I rushed out and got a pristine VFR800fi. I just never took to it. Loads of power, comfortable, the pinnacle of Honda reliability, but chunky. I never felt comfortable throwing it in to a corner.

Suddenly, last week, I had a whim to trade it for a FireBlade. Then I did the obsessive internet research thing and found the model I wanted, only made for 2 years and prized, so dealers were charging the Earth. Instead I sold my VFR800fi and bought one private. 

By some miracle the sale went smoothly and I got the bike I was after. A more of less bog standard, 2003 954cc FireBlade, only 13,000 miles.

Look at the condition of it!

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The ‘more or less’ is that white panel on the nose. Don’t like it, but it’s not a deal breaker.

I was scared picking it up, after the last sportsbike I had (the Suzuki TL1000S) that was instant, all-or-nothing, unmanageable power. Plus this one had a brand new, back tyre (they say to be very careful of new tyres for the first 100 miles or they can slide out). And picking it up from South Wales (no bikes are ever local, it’s the law) it obviously rained.

But it’s a Honda. Smooth, easy to ride,docile. And then you turn the throttle. Wow. I’ve never ridden anything like it. 60+ mph first gear, then there are 5 more. What the hell, Mr Honda?

The “Changed The Way Bikes Were Built” thing is the lightness. Until then it was just bigger, more brutish bikes. The FireBlade wasn’t as outright powerful as some but it was so light the power to weight ratio and it’s pure handling blew everything else out of the water. Maintaining the lightness ethos, Honda expanded the ‘Blade range to smaller models. When the 2002/3 954cc came it is was lighter than Honda’s ‘Blade 600cc!

It is stunning to ride.

I picked it up on Friday, then it was last minute preparation for my Outlaw triathlon.

On Saturday I had to pack Wendy’s car full of my bike and kit, drive over to Nottingham, register, drop everything off, attend the pre-race briefing, then drive back. That took my until about 20.00hrs, then I had to be up for 02.10hrs to drive back.

Obviously the weather gods were just waiting to mock me. We’ve had an unbearable, unrelenting heatwave for months, the verges are brown and half dead. I went to pick up my bike and it rained. Of course it did. Then for the Outlaw they were predicting lashing down rain and wind, gusting to 60mph. Naturally.

I don’t know if it was 60mph, but it was hellish strong for a 112 mile bike ride.

This is the afternoon before, note the windsock.

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Breezy.

I set of a 03.00hrs, got out on to the M62 and they had closed the M6. Joy. I had to take the long way around,  East on the M62, then South on the M1.

I’m ashamed to say I was half hoping I was going to be too late. Then I could have honourably not done it. The conditions were so bad. Nope.

The swim was OK, the ride was hellish. The wind made it a nightmare. (The word I overheard a few times was “brutal”,) The rain wasn’t great but it didn’t slow me down. The wind just wore me out. And the strain of pushing so hard against it knackered my knees. I was in so much pain by the end of the ride I was glad to get out running. It hurt, but so much less. I managed a really good (considering) 4.18 marathon and ran the whole way. Lots of them were doing swim/bike/walk.

Surprisingly I got a Personal Best! My first (2011)Outlaw I got 13.32:03, the second (2013) was a slack one, (and 30C) so 14.09:52, yesterday I got 13.17:39! Go me!

The breakdown says I was 6 minutes longer on the bike than 2013, the same on the swim, 10 minutes quicker on the run. At first I was disappointed to see I’d made the most time up in transitions (19 minutes total) but on reflection that was because I was fit enough this time to jump straight to the next discipline. I wasn’t shell shocked and stumbling around. The coolness helped, but the wind massively hindered.

This is the happiest I could look afterwards.

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I forgot to say, finally given up on the denial and had my hair buzzed back to army chic. *sigh*

I lost 2½ lbs yesterday. And one day I’m expecting to be able to walk again. So it’s all win.

Also our very late tomatoes have finally ripened. Hell of a week!

Later,

Buck.

Final push.

My Achilles tendonitis in my left leg cleared up after a few weeks of nursing it, but then my right tendon started hurting. I think, it’s a combination of things, “too fast too soon” on the run was just the final straw.

I think it’s bike set up as well. I bought a pair of, supposedly, wide fit cycling shoes in the exact size for my foot. The online tutorial on cycling shoes said they should be the snuggest pair of shoes you own. Any movement is losing power and causing friction and pain.

To be honest, they totally suck. I went for another long ride to test them, (I think it was about 100 or so miles) by about 70 miles my right foot was feeling numb so I tried wriggling it around. Big mistake. The pain was so bad I really thought I was going to have to get off and push my bike for 20 odd miles. It was enough to make me shout out. Happily it happened just as I was about to start a steep hill ascent, so I found out that applying pressure to it returned it to just uncomfortably numb. I managed to ride home, but every time I hit bumps or lost direct pressure to my right pedal the pain came back.

I’ve tried adjusting the cleats backward and forward and to the sides, I can ease the pain, but it still hurts. And the punchline is the knee pain I had, that I bought these shoes to cure, is still there. On the other hand it’s kind of swamped by the intensity of the pain in my right foot, so, small victories. I’ve bought a shoe stretcher off eBay to see if I can sort it out. I remembered, afterwards, that was the pain I used to get at work, before the doctor told me my boots were too tight, causing the bones in my foot to grind.  The left shoe is fine. The race is in two weeks so I expect I’ll be using my old shoes. 

While I was trying to eliminate the knee pain I came across another tutorial, by a genuine expert, on the perfect bike set up. Instead of “foot in position X, flat foot, knee bent to Y degrees” etc, she said the seat height is your inside leg times .857 (or something). That’s the distance from the pedal to the top of your saddle. No ifs, no buts.

Fair do’s.

She had her test subject to demonstrate. She said his set up was out by quite a bit (½”) by this formula, then proved it with angle measurements. I applied the science. My set up was out by 3”. Oh.

So all the time I was riding my foot was stretched and the pressure was going on to my tendon. Hence, I assume, the injury. Balls.

I tried adjusting it to the science but ended up moving it back by an inch. It felt like my knees were in my chest. After the race I might do as Wendy said, pay more money and get professionally fitted shoes, and a professional bike fit. I’m throwing money away buying cheaper kit online when it just doesn’t work.

Another last minute glitch is my watch. I bought a Timex Ironman GPS watch in January. It’s the entry level model, ‘only’ £80, but it has multi discipline and transition features and, most importantly, a battery that should last me the whole race. You can’t use the GPS feature on the swim, but after T1 when you switch the GPS on you’ve got 12 hours of battery. That should see me to the end of the race. I think it was my last Outlaw when I just had a timer type watch and I was in saddle sore misery, having to ask people how far I had left. That’s why I need the GPS one. Wouldn’t you know it? After 6 months of faultless service, suddenly the watch refused to connect to the satellites with three weeks left to my race. I’ve been in an email conversation with a very nice foreign person in customer services for over a week, trying all the different fixes they suggested. Finally, yesterday, they called me and said I was to return the watch and they’d replace it. Phew. The watch is in the post, hopefully that’s that drama over with. Assuming the new one works.

I’m going to try to do a big tri tomorrow as my final big effort before the race. I went out today for a 10 mile, fast run. I thought if I was only doing 10 miles I might as well try and make them count. I did it in 1.17:38. Not fantastic, but I kept every mile under 8m/m pace and I’ve not done any speed work for over a month as I’ve been nursing injuries. And it’s been hotter than Maggie’s spot in hell. Just looking, my last 10 miles was in April and that was 1.29:36.

Talking of the weather, I was really worried this unprecedented heatwave was going to full-on kill me on the race, but today we’ve finally had rain. My garden has cracks in it, the grass verges are all brown. The weather people are predicting 21C/ 22C/ 22C for the Mon/ Tues/ Weds before my race on the Sunday. I hope it stays in that range. I’ve been trying to do heat conditioning runs in 27C and it has been wasting me. I did 15 miles the other day and had to have a shower and go to bed for an hour.

I’m getting this race out of the way then starting on the proper swim lessons. On the bike I’m getting my shoes and set up sorted and working out some regime for the turbo trainer. But my immediate concern is going to be working on my run speed in a structured and not damaging fashion.

I want to go sub 3 on the marathon. And I’m not getting any younger.

Ok, that’s it. Apart from finishing my first term of Russian, and Wendy passing her car test first time (!) GO WENDY!  There’s not much else to say. The 7 months I gave myself to go from nothing to Iron distance tri are almost up. 17 days and it will all be over. I want to get a PB but I’m at the stage of wondering if I’m going to finish at all. Fingers crossed.

Buck.

Too close for comfort.

You know how they always say to gradually improve?

Never increase your distance by more than 10% per week, or 10% distance overall per week. Slowly introduce speed or hill work. Blah blah blah.

And you know how I always plan to stick to it then go too fast too quickly?

Guess what?

I started off with the first surprise marathon, then tried to run a mile quite quickly.

I stunned myself with the speed and made that my benchmark.

The week after I did 2 miles. My maths isn’t great but that’s prob a smidge over 10%.

The week after I did 3 miles.

I did a tired legs run two weeks ago and managed to warm up to a pretty damn nippy last mile.

I decided I’d had enough of my overall run time being dragged down by slow first miles so I went for it from the off. And, with tedious inevitability, just over a mile in, my leg went. I had really sharp pains up the back of my left leg from the foot the to calf. I tried to stretch it off, walk it off, run it off, nope. I had to limp home. A point of note; whilst I was limping along I came up behind two girls walking. I thought “I’m limping way faster than them, going to beat them” then I took a long hard look at myself.

Anyway, when it was still there the next day I hit Doctor Google. Achilles Tendonitis. Caused by idiots trying to go too fast too soon, overstriding and taking the shock of each footfall on the tendon. The good news, they said, is that it’s the strongest tendon in the body. The bad news is that there is restricted blood flow to it, so it can take 6 weeks of rest, anti-inflammatories, and compression to fix. My big race is in 6 weeks. You see the problem. No way could I rest for 6 weeks then run a marathon. Not to mention the cycling.

They said you can guarantee you won’t get it again by focusing on landing your feet under your body. Lots of fast little steps instead of big strides.

I’ve been doing what they say. Ibuprofen, compression bandage, stretching exercises, wearing shoes in the house to support my tendon.

Since then I’ve done a 2 mile swim followed by what was supposed to be a 100 mile bike ride, then a test run. I went on the same route as last time, the A49. Once you get out of Warrington it’s not too dangerous or busy. And you only have to follow the one road. So they closed it. Super.  It wasn’t so bad on the way out, I followed the diversion and it all went smoothly. I turned around and the diversion sign led me to somewhere twixt Wrexham and Chester and just dumped me there. Marvellous. I had to pick up the signs for Chester and figure it out from there. Which turned that ride into a very dispiriting 113 miles. With all the knee pain and such. I didn’t do the run.

Yesterday, fully cognisant of Doctor Google’s dire prognosis for my leg, I set off to do a half distance tri. 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, 13.1 mile run. It didn’t get off to a good start as apparently I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep so I missed the swimming pool. I did the ride with no great pain or hardship, took about 2 minutes to transition, then set off for the run. I was so nervous. I made a massive effort to land flatfooted, directly under my body.  As ever, off the bike, it was like running through treacle, but in this instance I didn’t mind. I managed to push it out and did the whole half marathon without any pain.

I’ve been looking for it, waiting for the pain to kick in and ruin my race, but, touch wood, so far so good. I’m hoping this means I can continue training, albeit at a slower run pace, until after the race. Then I can either build up the speed or rest it, depending on how it goes.

One good thing about the ride the other day; as I’ve been saying to Wendy, it’s a 112 mile ride and the worst and scariest part is the 4 miles to get out of Warrington and the same on the way back. I have to go down a massively busy dual carriageway, ride in the middle of the road when it splits into three lanes, go around a huge roundabout, through town centre and then through perma-gridlocked Stockton Heath. I ride my motorbike at *cough* quite nippy *cough* speeds, between traffic on the motorway and it’s fun and games. Trying to ride a pushbike from here to the far side of Stocky Heath is just plain scary.  Which is the good thing. I put Google maps on pushbike mode for my last ride and it got me from here to the A49 on the far side of Stocky Heath completely avoiding the lethal dual carriageway, roundabout, town and Stocky Heath!  It is brilliant. I didn’t even know some of the roads existed. I’m made up with that.

The other thing is Wendy’s mate at work has started swimming lessons. I applied online, where the said to wait and when a place comes up we’ll email you. That was in January. He ‘phoned, then just walked in. I’m going to give it a go. He says the coach is a triathlete and he’s brilliant. That is what I need. My club gave me two lessons then expected me to muck in with the exercises. I want to concentrate on getting it right first, then work from there. I’ve still not got the breathing. If you can’t breathe you soon run in to problems. Ask any doctor. This lesson is on a Monday, 20.00- 22.00 which is ideal for me. I’ve not been able to get to the morning lane swims with my new, early, start times. I should be able to make an 8pm swim 95% of the time.

Also, they have swimfit lesson at the same time on Tuesdays and Fridays. I could practice on one of those.

If I can get my swim sorted, get stuck in to regular sessions on the pushbike turbo trainer, and get my marathon to sub 3 hours, I could really smash it next year!

 

Sorry, another boring sports blog.

Later,

Buck.

Not Dead Yet.

 

About half way around the Windermere marathon, as I was picking up the pace, I had a quick chat with another runner. I think I must have said that I’d done no hill training as he asked me how I was finding it. I replied “I’m not dead yet.” He seemed impressed with the answer.

I suppose it does express what it’s all about. You go as hard as you can, if you’re still going, you’re winning. The Iron distance tri mantra “run, walk, crawl, just don’t stop” says the same in a different way.

While I was away I managed an hour or so lake swim in my wetsuit. I’m not a natural swimmer. I struggle with it, I’m weak, and I have to overcome panic when I can’t see the bottom or I’m far out. I did get into fair rhythm at one point. I calmed my panic and was swimming quite well. Then I turned around and waves were crashing into my face and kept knocking me off course so I started to panic again. Wendy says some tourist boat had passed by and I was being buffeted by it’s wake. The good points to take from that swim is I am a lot more buoyant in  my wetsuit so swimming is easier, I can overcome the initial panic and my wetsuit didn’t unzip itself this time so I must have lost a bit of weight. Last race I had to dodge the Greenpeace boat that was trying to guide me back out to sea.

I reckon I can grind out the swim without too many problems, I’ve got the run down (well, the distance. It’s a whole other kettle of fish trying to run a marathon after the swim and 112 mile bike ride!) but I still hadn’t done any real distance riding. I’ve done a 40 mile and a 60 miles (in 3 hours 33). I took my bike to ride in the lakes but the roads were tiny and busy, I really didn’t fancy it. We got back off holiday and Wendy helpfully pointed out the race in a month and bit. PANIC!

I finally tracked down a simple route (straight down the A49) that wasn’t too busy and went for it today. 112 mile round trip to Shrewsbury. Home of some beastly hills. Though it turns out the worst one is at 90 miles. When your legs are screaming and you are wishing you were dead. So that was nice.

Strangely it was all quite enjoyable.

Apart from the last 60 or so miles which were pure hell. But apart from that, all enjoyable.

I managed it in 6 hours 29. Not great, but read above: one 40 miles ride and one 60 miles. The goal was to prove to myself I could do that distance.

The positives from the ride: it was way hillier than the Outlaw course and my tri suit (with anti chafing balm liberally applied) was actually still fairly comfy at the end. The last two Outlaws, (done wrongly) the saddle soreness was mortal agony by the end. There is hope. Oh, and I did it. That was a big question.

The negatives: it really hurt my knees. I had set my bike up the “proper” way but didn’t like it, so I moved the saddle higher and further forward. I may have to reset and see if that fixes it. My knees are throbbing now, five hours later, after ibuprofen and ibuprofen gel on them. Not good.

Doctor Google says it could be my cleats (the things that clip your shoes to the pedals) being misaligned. If your foot is twisted it’s putting unnatural pressure on your knee. That would make sense.

I’ve booked 4 random days off between now and the race. I’ll do that ride each time. Next time with a run afterwards. I was slack today. I limped in, got biscuits and a shower and lay down for half an hour.

In other news, Wendy did a ton of driving in the Lakes. I said if she could drive around there she’d find Warrington a doddle. She went out for a lesson yesterday and the instructor was totally impressed with her. Said she’s test ready.  Which I said a month ago, but then, I’m not being paid £25 and hour for not passing her. When we got back I put Wendy’s Mini through the MOT, passed with an advisory for a chip in the windscreen which we already knew about. That was a relief. I was still wondering if it was wrecked in some way, but no, seems fine. 

Right, I’m going to bed, hopefully I’ll be less hurty in the morning.

later.

Buck.

PS, Day after, my right knee is still a bit sore. This would lend weight to the cleats theory. Also I’ve noticed the cycling shoes I bought, after trying different sizes on, are 42.5 about a UK 8.5, I’m only a 40.5, UK 6.5, in running shoes. And they have to be dead right size. This doesn’t help with correct cleat positioning. I’ve ordered a wide fit pair in my actual size. Weird.

I went for a run today to try to shake my legs off. The first two miles were so bad I thought I was going to have to quit. I was doing 9.15 m/m and even that was killing me. Luckily I got into a rhythm in the third mile and kept it up for another 2. Then I turned around and started getting a bit quicker, getting it into the slightly less shameful 8.40’s. The last mile I was determined not to let it drop off so I gritted my teeth and pushed on. Then I noticed I was running at 7.24 pace! I pushed on a lot harder. I managed to finish the mile in 7.04! I am made up with that given the first two miles.

Giant Steps.

I did my marathon last week and found myself surprisingly fast. I really wish I’d have pushed harder from the start instead of tentatively pacing myself. Lots of 8.15- 8.30 M/Ms, with which I was both pleased and surprised.

On Wednesday I got an early dart from work so introduced myself to my tri club at the run training session.  Apparently they normally get you to run a few K (they work in French, I think in minute/ miles, so that’s a bugger) then scientifically work out your run speeds for different levels of work out. As I had a recent marathon time for them to play with they just paired me up with an ultra runner (Jim, who does 30, 50 and 100 mile runs) and used his times.

After the warm up, it was things like: Run 400m at X pace, jog 400m, repeat. Then run 1K at X pace, etc.

I’m not sure I’m at the pace of Jim, or that he was going at the pace set, supposedly roughly 8.00 m/ms. I was gasping for air after each run. Next time I’ll check my own times and pace. Anyway I went, I introduced myself. And I got beasted. Exactly what I need. Someone else to crack the whip. That’s how you get faster.

I was talking to Jim (between gasps) and said that I still hadn’t given up on my ambition to go sub 3 hours on the marathon. He said he’d be happy with a “good for age group”. I didn’t say anything. (I think I’ve grown as a person, lol.) I looked it up, good for age for 51 is 3.15 marathon. OK, that’s a good target on the way.

Today I got up early to do my long run before running Wendy for her driving theory test (she passed. YAY!) I was going to do 20 miles, but was a bit late so was going to wing it. I did the first mile slowly to warm up. I stopped to retie my shoelace. I still managed a respectable (by current standards) 8.27m/m. I decided to up the pace, thinking I’d try for the 8 m/ms of my circuit training. I checked my watch at the end of the second mile, 7.27! Bugger the 20 miles, I was on for a benchmark 10 miles! I gritted my teeth and pushed on. After the warm up mile I only dropped out of the 7.30s once (7.45) and did a 7.25. My average was 7.39 for the 10 miles. If I’d have warmed up properly and ran from the start I could have been faster.

I was going to go another fast 10 miles, try to go fast from the start and beat the 7.40 average above. Crazy rookie mistake though, after work I drank a load of orange juice and had some food, within a mile of setting off I had an awful stitch.

I was forced to stop and get my breath. I decided to try beasting myself on short sprints. I did one at a fifth of mile, then found a quarter mile course and did three of them. My pace was a revelation. OK, it’s only for quarter of a mile then I was absolutely snottered, but 5.36, 6.00 and 5.48 m/m pace! Then on the way home I did my last mile at a pushing-it pace, 6.47. An actual mile. In 6.47!

Before the marathon I was dead chuffed that I managed to slip in 2 miles at under 8 m/m.

Speedwork is now part of my plan. I’ve got the base level of fitness. I’ve got the distance. Now I need to get fast. Just looking, 6.45m/m x 26.2 gives me three minutes under three hours! I’ve got one mile. This is do-able! 

By the way, whilst I was working out my pace before, discovered that the quarter mile I set myself is 402 metres, near enough the distance my tri club works in. That’s a happy coincidence.

 

Spring has given up altogether this year, we’ve gone from bastard freezing to sweating with the aircon on in one day. Time to finally get out for a long ride without the fear of frostbite or polar bear attack. I’ve got my bike set up, I’m off to do some serious miles in a minute. I was going to set off early and go for the full 112 miles, but I’ve had to wait in for a parcel. I might just do Mold or a bit after. 60 to 80 miles. It’s a good test.

I’m all fired up with running. I’m regretting the tri thing now. Still, it forces me to keep active. And, just yesterday, I knocked 5 minutes off my commute time! That’s a pretty big chunk out of a 36 minute ride. I’ve found a route through the park to cut out the rush hour traffic along Cromwell Ave and through Winwick. The trouble is it’s lots of brake/ pedal, brake/ pedal, getting around dog walkers and anti-motorbike barriers. It doesn’t make getting a good time easy, but I expect it’s good for my legs. As is not being run over.

Right, crack on.

Later,

Buck.

PS, I did a ride. After I’d finished fannying around. I did a fairly windy 60 mile circuit and was set to do another 10 miles, using my commute route, but it being sunny and the kids off school, I could barely move along the park path so I sacked it off. Still, I know I had at least another 10 miles in me. I’ll have to work out a different route for next time. The last 5 miles in Wales were scary. 70mph dual carriageway with two lanes going off and coming on. If you’re riding along the edge of the road that’s a lot of gauntlets to run. Bugger that. I think I’ll try North next week. I was planning to ride to Fleetwood, 110 miles round trip. Probably best that I didn’t, I don’t think I had 110 miles in me today.

My time wasn’t great, 60 miles in 3 hours 33, but it’s 50% increase on my last ride and I had more in me. The other positive I’m taking from it is although the big hills out of Frodsham took it out of me, the rolling hills of Walton Drag didn’t bother me at all. I remember lots of rides sweating and puffing up them thinking they were interminable. So that’s a real improvement.

Another good thing, lest I forget. Last time I was in training I had padded shorts. I’ve been thinking about when we were kids and nipped to Mold in an afternoon for something to do. No arse pain. In jeans and boots. So this time I’ve been riding with the padding removed. Try and toughen my arse up. Anyway, on my big rides I’ve decided to use an actual tri suit (with a top over it) to test and train my arse. Today was the first day it was warm enough to do so. 60 miles in a tri suit, the padding of which is basically a piece of cloth thinner than a flannel. I have learned one may apply a cream. So, two good things. My arse wasn’t in agony. I’ve got a different seat, with a gulley to relive pressure, (there’s some sort of nerve ending twixt your nethers) set at a rakish angle (to put the weight on your arse bones, not nethers) and let’s face it, it was only 60 miles. But that’s still ‘so far, so good’.

The other good thing is my tri suit. When I put it on it was snug, but not bulging. I’m down to 10 stone 6, and really want to get under 10. I don’t know what I was when I last completed an Outlaw, but I was a chunky monkey. My wetsuit undid itself on the swim and the pictures of my tri suit were less than flattering.

Today, not so much. I’m still struggling to get into my wetsuit. I forgot to lube up first, thinking about it. Ah. That would explain a lot. I’ll give it another go.

Still, the less I have to carry around the Outlaw the easier it will be.

That was a rambling stream of consciousness.  Lucky no-one reads this shit. It’s good for me, I have a record to which I can refer.

Condition. I haz one.

I can only apologise for my last blog. I read it back the next day and I sound like a total arsehole. It’s taken me a while to work through it but I think I have it. I have a condition, one of the aspects of which is low self esteem. Which is all well and good and you’d think it would keep me from being an dick. However, as it’s not something of which I’m consciously aware, I don’t factor it into knock-on judgements.

It bothers me people making a fuss because I don’t think anything I can achieve is that praiseworthy. I actually get angry at people for saying they couldn’t. That is the knock-on effect. I can do it, and I’m shit, so anyone who doesn’t do better is taking the piss. Which leads to me advising noobs on a triathlete forum “If you eat at every feed station, you can do it.”  Bad advice and belittling the heroic failures of some people. 

Anyway. I have to bear it in mind. I’ll have to try and accept praise without anger and big up other people’s achievements. It’s got to be better than being the arsehole who wrote that last blog.

 

The big ride didn’t happen last week. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I took my bike in to have the gear cables internally routed as I had no idea how to do it. It took the guy a week. I hopped on my bike, rode to the main road, went to change down gear, nothing. I rode back and tried to work out what was wrong. I finally sussed out that where the inner cable goes into the frame there should be a washer to stop the outer cable from following it, thus keeping the cable under tension. The washer had pulled into the frame, the outer cable had slipped in, their was no tension, couldn’t change gear.

Balls.

The problem is the internal routing. You have to feed the cable in to the end of your tri bars and somehow have it pop out at the end of the frame on the back wheel (what would be a swinging arm on a motorbike). The shop guy, a full-on Ironman age group winner, had made done such a half arsed job that when I was looking at my bike I noticed a screw protruding at the bottom of the downtube. Apparently you unscrew that and a plate comes out, you push the cable in at your handlebars, it pops out of the panel, you then thread it through the (not) swinging arm and improvise some washers to retain the tension. Simple as that. Took me about 15 minutes of fiddling about. Bastard. Tri guy won’t be getting another penny from me.

I’m riding in to work in top gear nearly all the time now to build muscles. But my bike started creaking and the chain skipped a few times. Which worries me on a 3 month old bike. It’s got 11 gears on the back wheel, and a very skinny chain to fit that many gears. I think I’m knackering it. So I’ve bought a £30 single speed bike to commute. I’m putting the 12 tooth rear and 52 tooth front gear ratio we used to have in tenth gear on racers when I was a kid. One gear, chunky chain, £30 bike. That has to be a winner.

 

I’ve not had my start time officially changed but it seems to be around 08.00 now. If there’s no work for us after 7 hours they can send us home and we still get 9 hours pay. I didn’t do a full 9 hours all last week. I don’t mind if I do 9 or 10 hours, the odd longer one, but the constant 11, 12, and 13 hour shifts were useless to me for training. This is ideal. It’s harder than I thought though. When I come in I want to sit down. And get something to eat. And chill. Forcing myself back out to train is an exercise in mental toughness all by itself.

 

Today I did the proper (Manchester) marathon. I started off quite slowly, 8.41m/m, but after the first mile I realised I was being held up so I started working my way through the pack with 8.30’s. I thought that would be a fast pace in my condition. Then when I got to half way and I still felt great I shifted it up again, 8.17, 8.17, and an 8.15 and 8.13, then I started feeling it after 21 miles. I dropped down into the 8.50’s and 8.40’s.

My first marathon, two weeks ago, I was only under 8.50 for 3 miles, with 13 miles over 9 m/m and 3 miles over 10!  So, I’m fair pleased with that.

I had to stop for a pee which cost me a minute, but I finished in 3.46.59. Not too shabby.

Talking of, you hear apocryphal tales of marathon runners and Iron tri people losing control of their bodies and shitting themselves. Whenever the story goes around on the internet it’s always the same picture of the same poor guy. Today I witnessed it. Some older woman runner shit herself. All down her legs. It was gross. She passed me and I nearly threw up. But she soldiered on and finished 100 yards in front of me. So, swings and roundabouts for her.

I had a curry last night so I took my tri precaution of an anti-shit pill. So glad, now. Poor woman. What can you do? And how do you ever live it down?

Anywho, here’s me rocking my new T.

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In other news, Wendy takes her driving theory test next Saturday, assuming she passes her instructor is booking her in for the first available practical test.

Then the Saturday after that I start a beginners course in Russian!

I’ve wanted to learn it for ages, tried on my own a few times, and even discovered a local school for former Russians to teach their kids English and Russian that does adult classes. I could never do it as it was on a Saturday and I was always working. Now though, the stars are in alignment! Yay!

That’s reminded me, I’ve got to print off, fill in, and email back the enrolment form. They only confirmed the course was running a few days ago.

Right,

laters potatoes,

Buck.

Warm-down.

I’ve had some really amusing conversations of late. Not humorous, so don’t expect LOLs. Just amused me.

Some guy at work as I was getting changed out of my bike gear, got chatting about how he was a pushbiker. I said it was killing me getting my fitness back. The first time I rode 56 miles then ran 13 miles on day one.

“YOU RODE 56 MILES?”

Well, yes. The race is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26 mile run.

IN A DAY?

Yes.

PEOPLE CAN’T DO THAT!

I’ve done two.

 

Then last Sunday I got an early dart, the transport clerk woman said “you’ll be able to go for a run”

No, I’m resting, I did a marathon yesterday.

AND YOU DIDN’T TAKE TODAY OFF?

No. I went for my swim session in the afternoon.

 

Then I got a surprise assessment sprung upon me on Tuesday. Over the course of the hours training came up. I said I had the Manchester marathon coming up. Later,as he was saying goodbye he said he hoped I completed the marathon (as though it was an enormous challenge.) I said that’s the warm-down, in the race you have to swim 2.4 miles and ride 112 first.

 

It sounds like I’m bragging and such. And I am. But people make such a massive deal out of it. OK, it’s quite tough, but that’s why you train. And I’ve just proved the marathon part of it is do-able within 3 months. 

I suppose it is quite impressive when you first hear it. That’s why I did it the first time, just to see if I could. And everyone said I couldn’t, so that was motivating. But now, it’s just a case of get on with it and do it. So to meet people who freak out at the slightest challenge is kind of amusing.

 

Marathon training plans never take you you past 20 miles. They say if you can run 20 miles you can do 26 on the day. That doesn’t work for me. I need to know I can finish a race before I start it. So I did the beastly marathon on done-in legs last week. Wendy’s runner mate at work said that I should rest up now and just do short runs before the race. The marathon last week, after I’d seized my muscles on the “long” ride the day before, was so bad I had to know. So I did another marathon today. Loads better. My legs set a bit in the last 6 miles, but not enough to slow me much. I’m going to get some electrolytes to add to my drinks, they replace the salt and such you sweat out, supposedly stopping cramps. The upshot is, I’m going from zero to 3 marathons in 3 weeks in 3 months! I’ll take that!

Tomorrow I’m going to batter a long ride. I hope. And a swim session.

The swim with my club last week, I forgot to say, was great. It shook my legs off for a start, my stroke and bilateral breathing is starting to come together (still not in the right place for the breathing, I doubt I’m ever going to get that) and I could actually join in with the club training. Normally swimming is just grinding out boring lengths. For me, at least. This time as part of the training they had us practising race conditions. Treading water in the deep end, then everyone all set off at once. To get you used to the splashing and thrashing limbs. It was ace! Blasting down the pool in 25 meter sprints. The first time I’ve ever, ever, had fun swimming!

 

The bad news this week was riding in to work, got changed, went to shift my ‘phone from my bag to my fleece… not there. Huh? I took my bag apart, retraced my steps, nothing. I thought I’d left it at home. The ‘phone case is where my bank card and driver’s digicard live so I couldn’t work without it. Work lent me the van to drive home and get it. It wasn’t at home. I rang my number, straight to answering machine.

I went back to work and told them, they offered me the day off as a holiday to cancel my bank card, order a new digicard, change all my passwords, etc.  Riding home I saw my ‘phone case. No ‘phone. Someone had had it off. As a small mercy they left the digicard and bank card (and a tenner I had tucked in it, HA!) But a £500 ‘phone, gone. 

It was awful being ‘phoneless for days. It’s like quitting smoking. I’ll just have a fag, no I’ve stopped. OK, then I’ll just have a fag.

I’d better cancel my bank card, I’ll ring the… oh. Just log on and change my passwords… oh. Better tell Wendy I’ve not got a … oh. None stop.

All better now. I’ve got an upgraded ‘phone (on my old one, I’ve had camera envy ever since Wendy got hers), I’ve changed all my passwords, replaced my bank card just to be on the safe side, and remotely wiped and hopefully locked the stolen ‘phone.  

 

Here’s a few snaps with the new camera. It also has a feature where you can write with your finger on the screen. I chose a calligraphy pen setting.

 

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Just look at that! That wasn’t even in good light.

Someone was saying when they first introduced mobiles with cameras and everyone was saying “when will I ever use that?”

Anywho, tired me. Big ride tomorrow.

Later,

Buck.