Sunday, 26 April 2009

Missing my girls...

Back to work after a nice refreshing two week break..... Well I would have been refreshed if I hadn't done 40 hrs training, including 580 miles of cycling, but I was far from refreshed. I have been really tired all week, not helped by the delivery of our new bedroom furniture on Tuesday which resulted in two late nights building drawers and the bed. However the bedroom is looking good, and Sarah has done a fabulous job painting and sorting it out.

Training wise I had planned a steady start to the week. Sarah was away from Friday with Ellie and Evie and her girl friends for a mini holiday, so I'd planned a big back end to the week. However Thursday's ride confirmed my legs needed a rest, so a change of plan was made. It is at times like this when one needs to be flexible. Race day is only four weeks away, it's no good blowing away weeks of training by pushing and not resting. I canned my long run on Friday instead spinning the legs to and from work. I'd planned a decent ride on Saturday but also settled for a very easy spin to and from work. I chucked in a couple of ridiculously early nights and hoped I was ready for Sunday's session. It turned into a good one. I felt good on the bike and knocked out 92 miles in 4hrs 45mins followed by a 10 mile run. I am feeling really good running off the bike. Along the grassy canal path I just ran comfortable and ended up with 8.18 min/mile pace. I kept telling myself to relax and slow down, which I did but I must admit I felt good. A nice end to another decent week. Over the last 6 weeks I have averaged 16 hours, this compares to 13 last year.

I am hoping for 2 more decent training weeks. During these I will be aiming for a couple more race specific sessions and a couple more long runs, and as much swimming as I can fit in.

I set myself the target of more longer rides, 3hr and 4hr plus rides in the final 10 weeks before race day. Last year before Switzerland I managed four 3hr rides and three 4hr rides. This year with four weeks left I have managed three 3hr rides and six 4hr rides. Things are looking good.

On one hand it's great having a weekend to myself, but it's spookily quiet in the house. I really am looking forward to my girls returning tomorrow.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Ironman Triathlon is going to....

.....make me cry, make me smile, make me sing, help find me, break me, make me strong........ I could go on. At the moment one things for sure it is taking up a very large chunk of my time, physically and also mentally. I'm still finding time to get some balance (just) between me, my girls and doing everyday stuff, but I think it's the mental side that's taking over. How am I going, how fast will I go at Lanzarote, can I still hit my target times, will I run ok, how long should I taper for etc etc. Nought room for much else in my little head at the moment....

Being a teacher and having nice long holidays provide a great opportunity for large blocks of training, I am glad this Easter Holiday is only 2 weeks long, I'd be broken if it was 3!!

After Sunday's 100 mile effort I rested on Monday in anticipation of Tuesday's session. Myself Tom and Helen did this session last year, and it was a cracker, so gluttons for punishment we returned for more of the same. The A168 is parallel to the A1 it's a nice straight, slightly undulating (probably no where to free wheel) 7.5 mile section between a couple of roundabouts. There is a great little lane to run up and down afterwards and you keep passing the parked cars so water, extra food etc can be easily to hand. 7 laps (106 miles) and a 10 mile run was the plan. Tom and I planned to do 10 mile intervals on the front, with the back man holding a minimum triathlon drafting distance, effectively it was a solo effort. I was quite apprehensive about this session, it's bloody hard, the road becomes relentless in the latter laps, there's no free-wheeling, and last year we nailed it, so the goal posts were set high. As it turned out it absolutely has to be my session of the week and probably my best training session for a while. Banging out 23mph the early pace was set. I had a concentration wobble at 35 miles then boooom I was on fire. At 65 miles I did my turn on the front and then stayed there. Motivated to drop Tom, (but not ruin any chance of running) I wanted to be a little more aggressive on the up's and downs, and controlled on the flats. I went through 100 miles in 4:21:45 and finished strongly in 4:41:45. I was pleased last year, this year I went 7 minutes quicker, even paced every lap and had a slightly lower heart rate, 157bpm (approx 78% max HR) All that was left was the simple matter of 10 miles running. It's great motivation to run 1/2 mile reps out and back, see Tom every few minutes and give and receive a few words of encouragement. I ran 1:25:50 averaging 8.25min/mile, feeling comfortable. What a session, solid throughout and still going strong at the end.

Next up was a very hilly 73 mile ride in the Dales with Tom on Thursday, nice, and a short T1 run.

Friday I wanted to do all 3 disciplines, nice a steady though. 1 hour bike spinning, 2 x 1k swim session and a 5 mile run.

We all headed north, for a few days with Elieen and Bernie (Sarah's Mam and Dad) Recharging my batteries kind of happened, at least regarding day to day duties with my little girls, and I also managed to get a couple of sessions in. A fabulous run along the coastal path from South Shields to Sunderland. Longest training run EVER 18.7 miles. Again felt really comfortable and questioned whether Tom had spiked my pasta with EPO!

Sunday I rode from Corbridge to Stanhope, a lovely hilly route in the North Pennines. Well it would have been lovely if I could have seen something? The lovely day materialised a few hours later, but during my ride the mist and fog made for a cold one. However I managed 50 miles and completed another big week and thus a big fortnight.

I am feeling a bit sponge like at the moment (hence the photo), soaking up all training I throw at myself. That is a great feeling and one I am liking. However, it's now time to back off a little, lose the extra add in sessions, make sure I recover properly from tough sessions, and make sure every session is really Ironman specific.

My 2 week Easter training block looks like this;

Swim x2 1hr

Bike x9 29hrs

Run x4 7hrs

Weights x3 3hrs

Grand Total = 40hrs

Big up to Tom and Helen, I don't get to train with you guys as much as I'd like, but when we do hook up we always have great sessions, and more importantly lots of fun hanging out.

With all this fabulous training the best bits in the week are still as a result of my girls and family. Evie is developing a really cheeky look and manner, and Ellie is just great fun. I caught her at Ra Ra and Pom Poms (Grandma and Grandpa) in front of the bedroom mirror practising some keen dance movers, (she must get them from her Daddy) Magic moments.

Hope you have some magic moments in your week...

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Diary of Ben Garrard aged 34

This week my writing will take the format of a diary, it's been a full week and this will give me a bit of writing direction.

Monday: Up early for an hour spin on the bike. After 20 minutes the left pedal felt really weird, like the pedal cleat had come loose. A little look revealed it was fine but the crank bolt had worked loose and the crank kind of wobbly. Without an allen key I tried my best to tighten the bolt with a stone a couple of times, it lasted until the last 5 minutes when the crank fell off!!! I rode home on 1 leg. That was seriously lucky in a strange way a day earlier and it would have ruined my Circuit of the Dales Race. After lunch Sarah and I drove across to Kirkby Lonsdale where we were booked in to the Whoop Hall Hotel for 3 nights. Sarah was calling it a second honeymoon, I was calling it a mini break with my wife with some cycling in the hills. I soon checked out the 20m swimming pool. My first swim since IM Switzerland, what to do??? I just decided to go for it. 34.15 later I'd done 2000m and was feeling very good. This has to be my first 'session of the week' I don't think I'm a technically great swimmer, however I am a firm believer in keeping the upper body strong with weights and this I think translates well into swim muscle endurance when I do get into the pool. A few more sessions and I'll be ready for Lanzarote. The day finished with some delicious food in the hotel. Now before anybody phones social services Ellie and Evie were not home alone, my Mum had come north to keep them entertained. Cheers Mum, I know you had a great time and so did we.

Tuesday: After breakfast I left Sarah to get her Aroma Therapy Massage and, Facial whilst I rode in the Dales. What a perfect combination, we were both as happy as pigs in shite! 4 hrs 35 minutes later I'd nailed 80 miles over the hilly (and windy) Dales. My legs were pretty stuffed but with some serious climbing between Ingleton and Hawes out and back I wasn't surprised. Crashed in the afternoon, or tried to. As my wife snored, I was wide awake, buzzing after too many caffeinated gels and goodies whilst on the bike, could I sleep, no chance.

Wednesday: I nice lay in and a late breakfast before I headed out for another ride and Sarah headed to Bliss for another pamper session. Only trouble was it was blowing a hooly (technical windsurfer's term for very, very windy weather) I just didn't think it would be safe over the tops so laced up the asics and went for a run along the river. A really steady pace saw me clock 13 miles in 2hrs including a dozen or so gates and a slippery river bank session. I then hit the Hotel gym for an hour of upper body weights and core work. I did manage an afternoon sleep, nice.... A cheeky curry in Kirkby Lonsdale and an early night, wicked.

Thursday: I left my Honeymooning wife in the land of nod and at 6.15am set off on the Sedburgh road for an out and back 2 hour ride before breakfast. Sarah was still in the land nod when I returned.... After packing our bags we rocked up at Ingleton, to walk up to the Falls. The weather behaved and a very enjoyable stroll resulted in some wonderful views and interesting Waterfall formations. Lunch, drive, tea and apple pudding near Harrogate and we were soon home. It was great to see our little girls, who of course had had a great time with Grandma. They had baked cakes, made Easter Goodies, Easter hats, been to the park every day and had a brilliant time. I think everybody won. Sarah and I had a great break together, I got some great training in, Sarah returned relaxed and pampered, Ellie and Evie had a mini break from us, and a fun filled few days, and Grandma played with, and enjoyed her Granddaughters.

Friday: Up early for another bike ride (6.15am) Felt good for 90 minutes but then bonked, (cyclists term for running out of energy) Simple had a really busy day on Thursday with not enough food. Managed 45 miles and was really pleased to get home and start feeding. A nice afternoon at Lotherton Hall Bird Park with the girls, Sarah and my Mum. We watched '28 weeks Later'. An interesting movie, not my favourite but nice to crash out and relax.

Saturday: We brought Easter forward a day so my Mum could enjoy the girls excitement of the egg hunt around the garden. This was followed by a few hours at Two Hoots Animal Farm, where goats, pigs, lambs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, horses, rabbits, chipmonks, wallabee and an Ostrich? made Ellie and Evie (and me and my Mum) smile. I left Sarah at home playing her piano (she's making great progress) The girls spent the afternoon on their scooters and bikes, whilst I cleaned my bikes. Whilst doing so I managed to get my thumb caught between the chain and the rear sprocket on my fixed wheel bike, Ouch (or words to that effect) luckily it was thumb nail up. Still managed to pierce the nail and get a good bleed on. My best buddy Ben phoned from Seattle, we had a great chat for an hour, mostly about triathlon. I then finished off the day with an hour of weights in the garage. When I got back in the house Sarah had started to prepare our 'love nest' for being decorated. Now it wasn't my idea to decorate, I'm rubbish at painting and I am very impatient even with a roller filling in the middle sections. But I did my bit, tried to shifted the bed, broke it and got in a huff, went too bed.....

Sunday: Spent the morning with Ellie and Evie at the local indoor soft play center, they love these places. It was empty so they had a wicked time. Got home to find Sarah had painted the ceiling (good girl) and placed an order for a new bed and various drawer combinations in a nice dark walnut wood. Should look great when 'my wife' has finished the painting, wish she'd get on with it... I was up for a decent bike ride this afternoon, and was further spurred on by Tom's text messages. On Friday he texted me saying he was going over distance on the bike on Sunday. I texted back saying 'don't go more than 38 miles over distance' Now whether this planted a seed in Tom's mind I don't know, (38 miles over distance would give a ride of 150 miles) His first text came through at 10.30am, breakfast in North Allerton 52 miles down, the next text was lunch in Leyburn at 103 miles. Now Leyburn is a long way from Leeds so clearly Tom and Helen were on for a big day. I set off at 3.20pm and was hoping to do a 100 miles, but with the sun setting at 8.30pm I'd have to ride well. It was a cracking afternoon, just a light breeze and my legs felt fabulous. I was cruising. A bit more text banter with Tom when I stopped to refill with water, (he was still out there) and I rode on. Chasing the setting sun my legs were still feeling fabulous and I was knocking out a great pace. Being really careful to keep fuelled with gels and Power Bar's I was on for PB solo 100 miler, without really trying too hard. Maintaining big gears and steady cadence I finished off the last 3 miles along the Selby Bypass beneath the street lamps. I went through 100 miles in 4:50:15 This was a 20.5mph average. I was stoked. Legs still felt good and if it hadn't been dark I'd have stayed out for some more miles!!! Can I have 2 'sessions of the week' Course I can it's my blog. So today's ride is 'session of the week' number 2, it had to be really. Well done to Tom and Helen 158.5 miles, now that's a big, big day at the end of a big week. Awesome stuff guys. Whilst most of my training is solo, when my mates hit it hard or big the inspiration and motivation is shared. Great stuff. I better sign off now, because I need some more food and want to lay down in my bed.

It's been a great week on many fronts. Just to summarise my training;

Swim: 1/2 hr

Bike: 15 1/4 hrs (280 miles)

Run: 2 hrs

Weights: 2 hrs

Total: 19 3/4 hrs

Next week is shaping up to be a good one, training (hope the legs recover) and family time, enjoy your Easter Eggs!!!!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Piano, The Dales and Hose Pipe Fun

Well, another action packed week draws to a close. Sarah's Mam and Dad came down for a couple of days mid week. It was great to see them, however the real reason for the visit was to deliver Sarah's new Roland Electric Piano. This has come about from a conversation I had with Sarah a month ago when I suggested she do something just for herself during the week. I was envisaging her playing her Saxophone in the local town band, or something similar. A week latter she announced what she was going to do, and that was to learn to play the piano!! Minutes later she was on ebay and that was that. The ebay piano was a dud (that's another story) so her fabulous parents came to the rescue. My talented wife can play the Saxophone, Flute and Clarinet through to grade 8 and now passes on her skills to a new generation of musicians both young and old, (her saxophone lessons with 65 year young Christine are legendary) So now we can add the piano to her repertoire. How is she doing, well at the rate she is learning it isn't going to take her long to be very proficient. It sounds fabulous, and Ellie and Evie love hitting the keys. I think its great that Sarah has such a wonderful talent for music, for I am seriously lacking the part of my brain that can do it. As a kid my Dad encouraged me to learn the electric guitar, but alas too much time on the football pitch, and not much natural talent meant very slow progress. Sarah's Mam and Dad are extremely proud of her because it was them that saved for the instruments and enjoyed her success doing her grades and playing in various school concerts and bands. Their daughter who they invested all that time and energy in is now thoroughly enjoying her music again and making a career out out of it, great stuff. I look forward to the day when Ellie and Evie begin to learn.

I may not be able to play an instrument but my sporting brain is still firing on all cylinders. In a Year 9 Basketball lesson on Friday I nailed an awesome layup to win the game for my team!!

I have eased back a little on my training this week and feel good for doing so. No chasing the miles and squeezing in extra sessions. I am going to start a new theme this week. It's going to be called "training session of the week" Basically it's the one session during the week when I really feel on my game. It doesn't have to be the toughest session of the week or the longest just the one when you finish you think "yeah that was sweet" and you want to text or face book your exploits. For me it was Thursday's long run. I have yet to do a long run since the Brass Monkey 1/2 Marathon, so this week I set myself the target of a long run to see what sort of shape I was in. It was very Ironman specific, nice and steady, time on my feet. I ran 13 miles at 8.30 pace in 1.50. Pleasing, was that I felt strong throughout the run and comfortable increasing the pace in the final couple of miles. Join me if you like, posting your "training session of the week".

Today was the Circuit of the Dales 50 mile TT. Clearly circuiting the Dales would mean HILLS, something I will encounter in abundance at Lanzarote IM. I had set a target of 2hrs 30 mins based on Tom's previous experiences of the race (I ride very similar to Tom) and also thinking a 20mph average would be pretty solid. I raced out the start and tried to control my urge to attack every rise as a heart rate in the 170's had me thinking I was going a little hard. I felt good though so cracked on, trying to ride steady up the hills and hard down the other side. My new bike was sweet, the SRAM gears are awesome and the Profile handle bars and tri bars are very comfortable. At 36 miles I swung right onto the final road out of the village of Hawes. This is probably the hilliest part of the course but according to Tom I would get a good tail wind and then the final 6 miles would be ballistically fast to the finish. As I turned onto the steepest hill a pretty stiff head wind had me diving for the 39 x 26. Oh shite, tired legs, a head wind and the biggest hills. I died a little but bought it home for a 2:26:59, average heart rate was 171bpm, (not that far away from my 10 or 25 mile TT heart rate zone) I was really, really pleased. I have some work to do on my endurance, but given the level of intensity I held I am very reassured that my bike speed and strength is about where I want it to be. Unfortunately Tom had a mechanical before he even got going. A cracked stem clamp marked the end of his race, still better for it to happen in the car park then descending the Dales at 40mph, scary thought. I was gutted for him, he's raced the Dales in horrible weather and today was a really nice sunny day, unfortunately he missed out. Cheers for the unexpected shouts of encouragement mate. Helen however had a right result. A huge PB, a win in the Ladies Category and a cracking time of 2:40:02. Well done, all those miles in Lanzarote and the Dales have made a huge difference, no excuses now, time to start biking with much more confidence, banish that fear, you are really looking good for a fabulous Lanzarote bike split. Cheers Tom and Helen for a nice chilled Saturday, and a very enjoyable day in the Dales.

This week's photo is Ellie watering my lawn. I have reseeded a section following a very lazy winter where I neglected to rake up the leaves and thus killed the grass. However, why would you want to spray Daddy's grass seed when you could spray yourself? Why do we become all careful and boring when we get older, make sure you don't visit when I have the hose out, you will get wet.....

I am now on my Easter break, I have 2 weeks off and have some long bike and run sessions planned, it's a nice feeling. Right that's it from me, my legs are cooked in a pleasant sort of way and my energy levels are plummeting, bed is a very appealing place. Have a good week, do something child like.....