Friday, 9 May 2014

Watching, waiting, getting ready

My wife brought me a cup of tea in bed after a short lie in this morning. She'd sorted the kids out for school and was just about to walk them there. I'd normally take them on a Friday morning, but she offered me a lie in in preparation for the race. I think she wants me to come and support at parkrun tomorrow, but I won't be up early if I can get away with it :)

Something I've observed recently, with me doing some early morning training is that our mornings have been a bit more relaxed. I'd make lunches the night before and aim to get back from my training by 7am. This is instead of aiming to get up at 7 and not actually making it out of bed until 7:30. I think there has also been a bit more give and take with training since She started to attend the local running club, and I schedule my training around hers.

PowermanUK published their startlist, and the stalking of AG competitors was duly completed. After that I went out for a 40 minute easy run in the wind, then packed my kit for Sunday. I'll be off to Sherborne after Mrs A has run parkrun tomorrow.

I just need to decide how much slack I need to include in the 2hr drive. Once there I need to check in at the B&B, register for the race, check the bike and test ride it to ensure it travelled OK. Then attend the athlete briefing, find somewhere to eat dinner. 

There are a few unknowns - whether the B&B will do an early breakfast or give me access to the kitchen for a brew and porridge or tinned rice pud. No point in sweating the small stuff. Like the weather. It is likely to be wet or windy, or maybe both. But I can run and cycle in the wind and rain. They're not ideal but they affect everyone.

I've been reading Charlie Spedding's From First to Last: How I Became a Marathon Champion recently. It has some great positive thinking in it, and it was quite a timely reminder for me. So ask me how I am, and I'll no longer say I'm not bad, but I'll say I'm good, great!

So along those lines, I'm going to have a great race on Sunday. See you then!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Weekend round-up

I've spent the past few parkrundays volunteering. It's always nice to get out there and help. However this Saturday was different. After a bike TT last week to test bike fitness and health under pressure it was time to test my run fitness.

To cut a long story short I'm about 1:30 away from my December PB. Let's say that's similar to where I was when I came back from an Achilles injury in October. I know how much I improved over 2 months from that point so I'm hopeful of good things over the next few months.

What I have found strange is doing things slowly. Ignoring the TT and parkrun, all my runs and bikes have been at a low HR. My speed has been improving over time. Run wise I'm up to 6min/km (~10min/mi) not setting the world on fire, but capable of an average 5km time.

Easter was busy with some good training and plenty of time with the family. Both kids are really enjoying their cycling and running, as is my wife.

Today she ran the Shinfield 10km, taking 5mins off her PB. I went with the kids on the U10s 2.1km race, which was a bit of a muddy cross country event. Other than that it was a rest time in preparation for PowermanUK on Sunday.

After being unsure whether I'd go or not, I'm really looking forward to it!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Family: my support crew

The family are going great guns.

My wife completed her first half-marathon this year at Reading. I'm really proud of her, and she's come along way since being last finisher at Margate parkrun on a windy June morning last year.

My daughter started in January at the local Tristars club. Her little legs wizzing round and round on her tiny 16" wheel bike around the Palmer Park track. Luckily it was her birthday recently so we took the opportunity to upgrade her to a 24" Islabike with gears. Well overdue. She can now accompany me on my runs.
She took part in her first triathlon; a practise one as part of the club. A single length in the pool followed by 2km on the bike then a 1km run. Good effort!

My son has been accompanying the family at the local parkrun where they've banged out a few 5kms over the past quarter. He has his eye on his 10 t-shirt!

It's really nice to see them get out and about and be active. I'm off work next week so we'll spend some more time on our bikes together :)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The come-back kid

My last post was back in February after finding out I had pneumonia.

The 3 weeks off work gave me some time to reflect on what I'd done, and where I could go. Initially I was angry at missing out on an early season goal (Wokingham HM) and future goals. I moved on to acceptance, trying to work out how soon I could get back out there. Then I stopped caring about training and focused on getting better. Kuebler-Ross at her finest.

I'll admit I started back too early. I ran about 6km easy one Tuesday, then followed it up with an easy 10km club run the Thursday after. Plus some MTBing. Looking back I can see that this lengthened the recovery. It's hard to sit around doing nothing!

The grand plan was to smash out the HM, then work with an as-yet-unidentified coach towards PowermanUK.  Obviously the plan had to change, but by how much? I knew from past experiences that I had an idea of what training I should do, but scheduling it was always a problem, frequently ending up injured. I likened myself to a 2-stroke race engine; running at high revs and needing frequent rebuilding. I could see from my premature return to exercise that I needed someone to curb my enthusiasm. I set out to find a coach with a two-fold purpose; control my return to fitness and get me fit enough for some form of attendance at PowermanUK.

During the latter week of illness and the subsequent weeks I had researched who was available, how recommended they were, and what the styles of coaching were. After some digging, I narrowed down and made my choice.

It was strange to begin with, devolving most of the decision making to someone else. I questioned a lot; Is that really the HR limit? Turbo or outdoors? I like to question, I like to understand the whys and wherefores. I'm probably quite annoying. However the aim was to return slowly, and not over do things, and that is what is happening.

I'm doing HR based training, which is something I don't think I've done since I started to run, some years ago. More recently I was doing paced-based running and power-based cycling. HR training was odd to begin with, but I can now see my average pace increasing for a given HR cap over a given course. Proof of something working at least.

Quarterly data:
Bike: 390km, 22h12
Run: 173km, 20h38

March alone:
Bike: 302km, 16h16
Run: 108km, 11h55

Last week was my biggest week back with longest duration and furthest distance run & bike since illness. If you believe in ATL and CTL then they're still shadows of their former selves, but also at a post-illness peak!

So just under 5 weeks until PMUK. I'm not where I wanted to be. I had an early season planned, plenty of TTs and longer sportives, some running, some shorter duathlons. However you only get the hand you're dealt, and it's up to me to make the most of it. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, etc

So I'll be there on the start line at 7am on the 11th of May. I may have to hold something back when the horn goes off, and it's going to hurt. But I'll be there, and that's what counts.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

In sickness and in heath

To cut a long story short; I have bacterial pneumonia.

My last 'anything' was TVXC league on the 12th Jan, where I didn't place anywhere near where I thought I would. It was 'too hard'. I'm nowhere near the fastest guy there at all though I know my competitors, those that I always end up racing against. I didn't race them that day, they were in the distance.

Some Drs visits, some tests and x-rays, a visit to out-of-hours Dr and finally a diagnosis and correct medication. 

Almost a week later and the medication course is completed. I feel like I have more energy when I wake, until I get out of bed. I still get breathless easily.

The font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, suggests 4-6 weeks until all symptoms have gone. The Dr believes 4 weeks until I can do 'something'. I have returned my race pack for Wokingham and hopefully they can use the space for someone on their waiting list.

I'll review my attendance at PowermanUK in time.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

2013 - what a year!

As I sit here in January I can reflect upon 2013, and what a year it was.

Some great sprint-distance duathlon racing at Dorney Lake in sunshine, a cold Althorp and a torrential Marlow. The season culminated in racing for the GB age-group team at the European sprint duathlon champs in the Netherlands. I came 13th in age-group.

A couple of days after I flew to San Francisco with work and got some good running R&R and some great cycling.

A running niggle escalated to an injury and I ignored it, racing the Shinfield 10km and then I continued until the Grendon sprint tri; my only triathlon outing of the year. Finally I saw sense and took some time off running, investing the time in upping my cycling volume.

The knock on effect was that I would be in no shape for the 2014 duathlon Euro qualifiers which had been moved to autumn. I would live to fight another day!

As the autumn season approached I entered the new Dinton duathlon where I placed the highest ever; 10th overall. My focus then moved to training for a February 14 half-marathon and the impending winter cross-country league. Oh, and another 5km PB early December.

So despite some negatives it has been a great year for me.

My race schedule page has been updated for 2014 and I look forward to starting this new year, racing hard and getting some great results!

Happy New Year!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Dinton Duathlon race report

I saw this advertised some months back, but an impending house move made the schedule unsure. I bit the bullet in the end and signed up for it. Of course a delayed house move meant only a week between the move and the race. Work also got their 2p in with me flying to the US on the Tuesday evening and landing back in the UK Saturday morning. How would I fair with such tiredness and stress?

It was very local and only took a few minutes to get there and register. A quick spin up the road and back then time to rack the bike. The advantage of having a surname beginning with A is often a low race number. #2 in this case.

Found my spot and racked the bike and attached my shoes. I seemed to be the only one doing so; admittedly the ground was a little damp but I didn't think it would be too bad. I deposited a pair of trainers at the rear of my bike which garnered some odd looks, then went for a warm up run. Back in time for briefing.

We lined up and watch a mini-helicopter take a video of us and then we were off. The pace was a little tasty and so I reigned it in a bit and started to get overtaken a few times. The run was a 5.3km loop around the lakes of Dinton Pastures near Wokingham. After a few km I began to reel in some of the overtakers, moving from one to another and so on. Throughout I kept an eye on the pace and I didn't want to overcook the first run. Just before km 4 there was a little lump in the trail, then another. Both upset the pacing but the short downhill afterwards was a blessing. 
I went through 5km in 19:39 it didn't seem like the usual hard effort for that pace, especially as I had earned a short-lived 5km PB on a similar course at Dinton in February. Run#1 done in 21:00 in 11th place.

T1 was a very swift 21s (second fastest!) and on to the bike. The LH strap had come undone so I got some speed up then managed to sort it out. Not easy with gloves on. After a few minutes I heard the whup-whup of a disc and was left standing as another tri bike came past. I was then alone for the next 8km before we hit a motorway bridge. I hung back as I didn't want to attack on a hill. A few guys came past me like a chaingang and hung off the back of a few in front. For the next few km we played cat and mouse. Each time I dropped back out of the draft zone. When I overtook, the protagonist typically sat on my wheel. After one overtake I even saw him throw a gel wrapper in to a bush.
Towards the end of the bike leg I was overtaken by the guy again and left it there. He'd take a while to catch me in the first place so I knew his run wouldn't be much. As I came to the mount line a swift dismount saw me overtake the guy and I beat him in to T2. 
20km Bike was 34:18 and 12th place.

T2 was a pedestrian 34s as I put on my second pair of running shoes. This did save some time overall even though I had trouble getting in to the shoes.

The second run was the same course as the first. There was a good first km and then I had to keep pushing to stay on the pace. I was overtaken twice, then after a few km caught up with one of the guys. Shortly before the 4.5km point I was overtaken again and there was no way at that point I would be able to kick and stay with him. That said I managed a ramp and then kicked at the 5km marker. As I came round the final bend I saw 1:17:56 on the clock and gave a good sprint hoping to fall in under the minute.  Second run in 21:44 and 10th position on the run.

The combined time was 1:18:00 exactly and 10th place overall. This was 8th Male Senior and I reckon 4th M35-39. Not a PB, but then not a flat/slightly short course like Dorney and not a qualifier either. I wasn't racing for a particular time, but racing tactically for positions.

It's always interesting to dissect the results of multisport and see where I came on each leg compared to others. For example the guy who came 7th had the 28th fastest run#1, 15th fastest run#2 and a shocking T1. However his bike was very good!
As I have said, I didn't push as hard as I could on run#1 and I was fairly conservative on the bike. I pushed where I knew I could and the course would allow but otherwise not going too hard. I did burn a match at a compulsory stop where I left the bike in the wrong gear! This did work out with only a 44s increase on run#2. The bike numbers also tell a similar story with a Normalised Power and Average Power of 240W for the bike leg (VI of 1.00 obviously). Best 20minute power was 241W for both compared to 258W at a qualifier earlier in the year where my second run suffered by over a minute.

As an event Dinton was great. Good grass roots with a lot of first timers coming from both run and bike backgrounds. Lots of MTBs and team entrants too. Will be nice to see how this event flourishes next year.