Monday, 30 March 2009

Birthday Boy

March 29th 1975, what a special day. March 29th 2009, still a special day, it was party time this year. Ellie instigated my special day a couple of weeks ago. She spent the last couple of weeks wrapping up her teddies and putting them in my Birthday bag. So in addition to some nice 'real' presents from Sarah and the girls, I had a couple of bags of cuddly toys to open, "she's so sweet". We played 'Pass the Parcel' , I won, and 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey', (rather exuberant spinning from Sarah meant I didn't win) I started the day with a 2 hour cycle on my race bike. It was my first outing on the road since the switch of front end and change to Sram. Rode like a dream, I am looking forward to riding it in anger next Sunday at the Circuit of the Dales. I spent the afternoon in the garden, playing and in Alan Titchmarsh style preparing my vegetable patch. All in all, a superb Birthday.

As I started March I had had just a couple of weeks of training after a significant break because my ear infection and subsequent problems, so I was determined to train consistently and push things on a bit. Have I achieved what I set out to do? YES, I think I can honestly say that I have trained really well in March. Having looked at the training data I am really pleased with the outcome.

Cycling: 860 miles, 47 hours, 25 riding days.

Running: 56 miles, 9 hours, 12 run days.

Weights/ Conditioning: 7 hours, 11 strength days.

Total: 63 hours.

This is my second largest month ever (Largest 66 hours, 950 miles on the bike last May during the '1000 mile month' challenge myself and Tom completed)

What is pleasing is the weekly consistency;

Week 1: 15 hours (200 miles bike)

Week 2: 12 hours (155 miles bike)

Week 3: 16 hours (240 miles bike)

Week 4: 15 1/2 hours (205 miles bike)

I have deliberately done a lot of cycling, two reasons. Firstly my Run performance at Lanzarote will be a determined by how I feel when I dismount the bike, I still aim to ride hard and feel good so am putting a great deal of emphasis on riding the bike. Secondly I cycle to work, its a 30 minute journey each way and allows me to build a good weekly milage without too much thought. Throughout March on numerous occasions I also set off earlier making the journey 1 hour. Cycling to work does allow me to build a solid week every week, but it also means if I want to run or lift weights I will do 3 training sessions per day, this is quite wearing (no wonder I crash out not long after 9pm most nights)

How am I feeling? To be honest I am tired. My legs are pretty heavy and I am battling to get rid of another head cold. However this is to be expected and it's nothing an easier week won't take care of. My training during March has probably bypassed some of the traditional training principles, but there are times during Ironman training when volume and pushing on is necessary, March was one such time. I now have 8 weeks before race day. During this time I will aim to maximise the quality, Ironman specific sessions, maximise my recovery time between sessions and minimise the miles that wont really add much training effect.

I have a huge congratulations to give to my brother Max. He has trained really well since setting his target of a couple of 1/2 marathons, and Windermere Marathon, and getting back into some bike shape. Yesterday he ran 1:25:52 at the Liverpool 1/2 Marathon, a new PB for him and a huge confidence boost as he builds towards Windermere on 17th May, well done Bro, keep it going.

This time next week I will have much more of an idea of where my cycling form lies. The Circuit of the Dales is a testing 50 mile TT, I am slightly apprehensive about it, but really looking forward to the race. Have a good week folks.

p.s. In a moment of boredom the other evening I worked out the following. Between now and 1st September when the next school year starts I have 55 working days and 77 holiday days, now that sounds spot on to me..........

Monday, 23 March 2009

Training, Family & Work...nicely balanced

I thought I'd share a few photos with you this week, and a simple training log. We had a cracking weekend, made all the better from some excellent weather. On Saturday after Ellie had been to disco dancing and I'd ridden a solid 3 1/2 hours we had a picnic in the garden and then spent the rest of the afternoon playing and tinkering in the garden. I then ran an hour in the evening. Sunday was Mothers Day. Various croissants and pastries in bed followed by a great day out at Sherwood Pines Forest Park.

Monday: am: Bike 1 hr, Run 1/2 hr, pm: Bike 1/2 hr

Tuesday: Bike 1 hr

Wednesday: am: Bike 1 hr, pm: Bike 1/2 hr

Thursday: am Bike 1/2 hr, pm: Bike 4 hr

Friday: Bike 1 hr, Weights 1 hr

Saturday: am: Bike 3 1/2 hrs, pm Run 1 hr

Sunday: Weights 1/2 hr, 1 hr towing the girls around in the bike trailer!!

Total: 16 hrs, 240 miles bike

Plan for this week is another solid week aiming for 15 hrs, and around 200 miles on the bike. I am then planning a steadier week before the Circuit of the Dales TT and the start of my 2 week Easter Break where I am aiming to hit it hard.
P.S. Hardest ride of the week, 1 hour pulling my girls in the trailer!!!

Sunday, 15 March 2009


My training week finished at 5.30pm this evening when I set off for a run along the canal just a short distance from our house. This is my favourite place to run, not because it's pan flat (although that helps :)) but because it's always such a pleasurable experience. Whether it be an early morning, a mid day or an evening run there is always something interesting to take in and something tranquil in the surroundings. Once I get past the first mile which is a more developed path, where the dog walkers pace and the fishermen sit, the path becomes more natural and it's into the countryside. This evening I watched the sun go down, I saw a family of Swans, a Heron took flight and for 40 minutes on the natural path I was all alone. The path itself is quite interesting, watching your footing negotiating the mole hills and climbing the odd style breaks up the rhythm and takes ones mind off the running. Tonight I turned at 30 minutes and even paced it home. It occured to me as I ran how nice the area I live in is. To be able to hit the countryside in such a short space of time is fabulous. This also translates to the roads and cycling. My chosen routes are also very quiet. I might be unlucky to see a handful of cars in either direction in any given hour. My mood was significantly enhanced when I finished my run, was it the endorphins pumping through my veins, the elevated heart rate, or the fact I'd ran a steady hour? I think a combination, but clearly the surroundings add something also.

This week has been another solid training week. I think I had enjoyed a pretty fresh body last week, this week I was defiantly more fatigued and more tired and it was also pretty windy out on the bike. Most folks ride in the countryside, they get some shelter by hedges, and their routes are broken up by some contour lines. In this part of Yorkshire it's different. Firstly it's very, very flat (if you don't believe me check out the terrain profile on Google Maps around Selby) The countryside is great but Mr Greedy Farmer, (ever come across a poor farmer!!) has removed all his hedges to create gigantic fields so he can plant right up to the edge and maneuver his almighty machinery. These two factors, flat terrain and no shelter, seem to magnify the slightest breeze, turning it into a gale (it felt like one on Saturday) The prevailing wind is westerly, and my best routes head East to West or vice versa , so you are either riding head down at 11mph in the 39 x 21, or cruising at 30mph spinning the 55 x 13 :) This week I tried to ride as controlled but strong as possible into the wind and then maintain the same effort levels with the wind. It would be interesting to ride with a power meter but I think there is a clear distinction between riding into and with the wind. In order to maintain a consistent heart rate, say 150bpm, with the wind you must really drop down the gears. It seems (this is just an observation with no scientific evidence behind it) that as you drop down the gears the muscle recruitment is a little different. I have decided that if I want to ride well in Lanzarote where the wind usually blows, I must be able to capitalize and maximise my speed when the wind is on my back. Thus it's no good dropping the gears and finding leg strength/ leg power lacking resulting in difficulty maintaining heart rate, and thus resorting to a steady cruise where heart rate significantly drops. Now, this cruisey state and deliberate drop in heart rate could be a positive outcome allowing refueling and some leg recovery, however although speed may appear high (say 30mph) will it be high enough to counteract the inevitable slow speeds from the climbing. I haven't done the maths but my gut feeling is NO. When the wind is advantageous, and the terrain fast heart rate must be maintained, and I think this requires practice and an increase in leg strength to turn the bigger gears. This is something I am going to do over the coming weeks, no resting with the wind on my back :)

Wow, kind of went off on it, thought I was back at Uni studying Sports Science and writing an essay (no can't be the case it's too early in the evening:), sorry if I bored you non triathletes.

Monday: Bike 1 hr, Run 1/2 hr

Tuesday: Run 1/2 hr

Wednesday: am, Bike 1 1/4 hrs, Run 1 hr, pm, Bike 1 1/4hrs

Thursday: am, Bike 1/2 hr, pm Bike 1 1/4 hrs BIG GEAR Low Cadence

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: am, Bike 2 1/2 hrs, Ref football match, Bike 1 1/4 hrs
Sunday: pm, Run 1 hr

Total: 11 1/2 hrs

Not sure what happened to the weights sessions this week just didn't seem to find the energy in the evenings to get in the garage, and ran at work rather than lift weights. Will try to find a bit more balance, although I am happy that I ran 4 times and totalled 3 hrs.
Apart from the wind, it's been a really decent week of weather. I really feel spring maybe upon us. The clocks change in two weeks, my overshoes have been packed away and on a couple of occasions this week I have over heated. Finally much to Sarah's amusement my fascination with the garden bulb comes to fruition as the beautiful (but understated I feel) Daffodils, regular and miniature begin to flower in my garden. Every year Sarah takes the mick as I try my hardest to squeeze in a few more bulbs. Hey it makes me happy twice, planting and enjoying their colour at this time of year........

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Moving Forward

I've had a great week after being given pretty much the all clear by the doctor on Wednesday. The incision in the ear drum has healed and there is just a little redness and slight bulge behind the ear drum which should disappear, but he wants to keep an eye on it. A hearing test revealed nearly normal hearing at the vocal range of frequencies, but at higher frequencies it was less comparable to my good ear. I have to go back in 6 weeks, but should expect a gradual improvement as the ear drum continues to recover. The doctors advice regarding swimming was to stay out of the pool until it is fully recovered. I intend to stay out of the pool for a few more weeks and then arm myself with ear plugs and swim hat to start my Lanzarote swim preparation (more of this later).
Concerned that Lanzarote is not that far away, and my less than ideal training so far this year I decided to check out last years prepartion for IM Switzerland. I was very pleased I did, the results revealed some very encouraging information. When I think back to last year I remember having a poor training period during March and some of April. With about 12 weeks to go I remember chatting to Tom, and we agreed that if we'd done very little training and started our Ironman specific preparation 12 weeks out we would still be in good shape and have good races. I had a great race setting a PB in 11.03.00. I have inserted a few graphs to compare 2008 and 2009, they show the 20 weeks prior to race day.
Total weekly hours shows 2008 (blue) as only slightly more than 2009 (red). What is also important for me is that in the final 10 weeks I managed a couple of longer weeks but was generally only hitting 10 to 12 hours. I know I have moved my basic training week on from 10 hours so am confident I will be able to put some longer weeks in without too much trouble.

The bike hours graph also makes me feel pretty good. The raw data reveals 48 hours in 2008, compared to 42 hours in the 10 weeks of 2009. Coincidently weeks 5, 6 and 7 were really low in 2008 and this was precisily the weeks when I was out of action this year. I rode solidly last year in the final 10 weeks, but I didn't put any hours in that I don't think I can't replicate this year. A closer inspection of my training diary shows just 4 rides totalling more than 4 hours in the final 10 weeks. This reflected the difficulty I felt staying out on the bike, I was easily tempted last year to cut rides short. This year I am excited and really motivated to ride long, and know I will double if not treble my 4 hour rides over the next 10 weeks.
The run graph shows just how little running I did leading up to Switzerland. I have clearly had quite a long period with little or no running, but I am confident I will get back to where I was quite quickly, and if I make the next 10 weeks very specific to IM running I should be in good running shape. However it is my bike fitness and strength that will govern my run time, not my run fitness.

I produced an excel graph for my swimming but it was kind of pathetic so I decided to delete it. In summary I didn't get in the pool between IMUK (Aug 2007) and Jan 2008. In the 20 week build up I clocked 8 hours in the pool, I swam 1:09:00 in Switzerland. So far I've not got wet this year!!! Even if I don't get in the pool for a few more weeks I am confident with a few specific long sessions I will swim a similar time. Hey, I could always see how I perform with my first swim being 23rd May in Lanza!!! Clearly swimming improves ones swim performance, however I do think a carefully structured upperbody weights program focussing on swim specific muscles will keep me strong and allow me to quickly find my stroke. My aerobic fitness will be built on the bike and out running.

I am now feeling pretty good about the position I have found myself in. Whilst I wanted to really push my performance on this year, particularly my running I don't think the missed training is as bad as I have been thinking over the last few weeks. I have been dealt these cards and I must play with them. I am quite excited to be training again. Back in Christmas I wrote on my training wall in my garage, so that I could see it when I lifted weights or rode the turbo "23rd May be at your best" this still applies. What my best will be will be established on the evening of the 23rd, but I will be at it.

This weeks training looks like this;

Monday: am, Leg weights 30 mins. pm, Bike 1 hour (turbo)

Tuesday: am, Upper Body Weights 30 mins. pm, Bike 1 hour, 12 x 2 mins intervals (turbo)

Wednesday: am, Leg Weights 30 mins. pm, Bike 1 hour (turbo)

Thursday: am, Bike 30 mins. pm Bike 3 1/4 hours (56 miles)

Friday: am, Bike 30 mins, Weights Upper Body 45 mins, pm, Bike 30 mins

Saturday: am, Run 1 hour

Sunday: am, Bike 3 1/4 hours (54 miles), pm Weights Upper Body 45 mins

Total: 15 hours

This weeks photo is of Ellie and Evie playing in the woods at Clumber Park. We hooked up with my Brother and his Wife for the afternoon on Saturday after Max had raced the Clumber Park Duathlon. Well done Max a solid race. We had a lovely afternoon, Ellie was in her element, suddenly she has become really adventurous climbing every wood pile she found and disappearing into the undergrowth whenever she cared. Evie tried very hard to emulate her big sister. We finished a great day off with food at Nando's and a bounce for Ellie on the Bungee Trampoline found at Xscape. Two shattered girls were fast asleep within minutes of getting home. Thanks Max and Rachael, as usual you guys are awesome with the girls, great to catch up.

Well done to my friend Steve Hobson who took his Ironman racing away from Canada (I think he's done 10 IMCD!!) to New Zealand this year, 11:30:00 a solid performance, well done mate.

I feel like I am firmly back on track. My motivation is high and my mind is set on the task in hand. "23rd May, be at your best"..............

Sunday, 1 March 2009

sleep deprivation and carpet cleaning...

Just a short post this week. It's been a strange kind of week and I don't want to write an extended post because I think my frame of mind is quite negative and if I write a long rambling post I might just reinforce my negativity.

So why the negativity? I went for a hospital check up on Tuesday and with a microscope in my ear the doctor announced the infection had not gone and he wanted to either make another incision at the infection site under a local anesthetic, or try another course of antibiotics. Being totally unprepared for this news (I was feeling really good) I opted for the antibiotics and ear drops. With my optimistic hat on I hope the doctor was seeing the back end of the disappearing infection, and when hit by yet more antibiotics it should disappear totally by this Wednesday's visit. That news kind of put a dampener on the rest of the week.

I have managed to ride the bike on the turbo. I rode a couple of hour long sessions and managed a couple of 2 hour sessions. Riding the turbo has its place but I'm starting to yearn for the road again. I need an infection free ear before I think it wise to ride in the wind and cold. I am feeling good on the bike but am not sure how riding the turbo will translate to the road, I hope to find out this week. The turbo is allowing me to ride my race bike on the tri bars. The new set up is feeling pretty comfortable which is great.

A couple of weights sessions, legs and upper body have been the total of this weeks training. Lanzarote is still far enough in the distance to get back on track with some solid training, but in my mind I have to get back into proper structured training, especially running and longer bike rides real soon.

My mate Ben posted some cracking photos from the Tuscon training camps. It looked great but reinforced my disappointment of not making it out there.

Evie thinks her new bed is an extension of an adventure play ground! She loves the game of going to bed and then when your back is turned getting up, back to bed, turn your back and up she gets. At 1am whilst Ellie was fast asleep Sarah found her in her sisters room playing in the dark with her toys!!! We are persevering with the bed but have reinforced her room with a bed guard and a stair gate across her door, yeah... see if you can get out now cheeky little girl! She did sleep through last night which was the first uninterrupted nights sleep we have had for 10 days. It is a well known fact that sleep deprivation is a cracking form of torture, it is certainly making me and Sarah crack.

To top the week off Ellie started doing some finger painting with her little sister, thinking Evie would behave as sensibly as she does. 10 minutes later when I realised what they were up to we had paint all over the dining room chair and on the carpet beneath the table. Needless to say the cream carpet now has a pinky, purply tinge to it. A day that was developing nicely turned into a carpet cleaning, frustrated and angry out burst at the 2 girls. Ellie unfortunately got the brunt of my anger somewhat unfairly. The picnic that I had prepared was eaten in the lounge and we didn't make it to the Bird Park/Adventure Playground until much later than planned. The week we have had, and at times like this one wonders why we decided to have kids?

I am really hopeful that Wednesday's visit to the hospital will yield good results, it has to, my ear doesn't hurt, my head doesn't hurt, I have no discharge and I actually feel like my hearing is improving. I think both Sarah and I need to get a grasp on our reaction to our girls indifferent behaviour. Evie is close to being 2 and all the frustration that this age brings. Ellie is probably getting a bit fed up with her sisters frustrations and subsequent crying, and as a result is not the really well behaved little girl we are used to. Non of this will last long, we just need to bite our tongues and react a little more calmly, easier said than done.

Sarah and I cooked some onion bhaji's on Friday, they turned out pretty good (oven cooked so quite healthy also) We ate curry and watched Blood Diamond. Although I've seen this film before, it is a good story and you can just about live with Leoardo DiCaprio's African accent.

It is the beginning of March and we joked a while ago after our difficult start to the year that our 2009 would start properly from March. So here we go........