Thursday 25 June 2015

Do not feed the sea gulls

Monday - Rest day.
Tuesday - Swam 2 x 750m laps at Ragley Lake. Suffered terrible cramp - worse yet. SJ did some research and thinks I need to drink more, rotate my ankles before getting in the water, and point my toes like a ballerina when I swim. Hmm. Wore my 'new' wetsuit (short leg and sleeve) which was fine but maybe not quite as buoyant as my full suit - cheers Lin. This suit will be great for any future holidays.
Wednesday - Cycled 40 miles with my buddy Roger and The Beast (his tandem). Great ride on a terribly hot day. We cycled to Whitlenge Tea Rooms and back. We had the obligatory full english breakfast which is a must should anyone venture to this wonderful place.
12 Intervals, ouch!
Thursday - Ran my interval style run. Followed the formula - 15 mins warm up; 12 x 400m run with 90 seconds rest; cool down to finish. This was a 10k run and in retrospect I should have shortened the warm up because I had reached work (my destination) before I had really cooled down. Maybe I'm getting too fast for my own good. (Ha!)

Friday - Rest day.
Long run 17.9k (11 miles)
Saturday - Long run. I ran on a lovely hot day all the way to Mappleborough Green Village Hall (where I had my wedding reception) and then to Alexander Hospital for an emergency poo (my second emergency in 2 weeks). From the hospital, I ran to Arrow Vale Lake and then back home. It was nice to see the Parkrunners at the lake (I went in opposite direction). Man, this run hurt. My right calf and both feet found it heavy going. Was pleased I managed 11 miles.
Tri-club cyclist's post TT (L-R Doo, John, ?Martin, Phil)
Sunday - Tri-club day. Swimming followed by a bicycle time trial. My swim was lousy. Despite Leigh giving me and just one other his undivided attention, it just didn't click. I swam like a bag of sand. The time trial (TT) was much better. I was pleased with my position and time (19:59) and felt my efforts were well paid off. According to Strava, I am currently KOM (19:55) for the Tri Redditch TT!

Tuesday 23 June 2015

(The Avenger) The day I was Johnny Mitchum

After my 10 mile run on Saturday, I sat in front of my computer to download my route and stuff. And just at that time, a message popped up on my FaceBook account. My buddy John had strained his calf  and was not able to participate in the Avenger Triathlon at Ragley Hall. He asked if I wanted to take his place...
I did a quick back-ground piece of research and found out the following:

The Avenger - Olympic Distance 
1.3km Swim 
46km Bike 
10km Run 

The swim takes place in Ragley's ornamental boating lake, with competitors completing either one, two or three laps. (2 laps in my case).

The bike sections head out onto the open roads of the Warwickshire and Worcestershire countryside, the routes are scenic and undulating with good road surfaces throughout. 

Finally the tough run course takes competitors through the tracks and trails of Ragley's beautiful estate; the run course has been changed from previous years to encompass more trail running and less grass sections. 

Please note that distances for the Sprint and Olympic events are subject to confirmation. (And Heartbreak Hill is making an appearance).

Without further ado, I decided I would be Johnny Mitchum for the day. Free entry into an awesome event. Would it really matter that I had just ran 10 miles, was ill prepared and had no time to train specifically?
Well, before I knew it, the race day had arrived. I packed up all my stuff and got to Ragley Hall about an hour before my event kicked off. First off, I located my slot within the transition area. Not an awful lot of room, but enough to just house my bike and leave my cycling sandals and running shoes ready for those legs of the event. After I got my stuff ready in the transition area, I just bummed about for a while. It was nice to take in the atmosphere and was awesome to bump into fellow triathlete's from my tri-club.

Only minutes before the start, I, alongside just over 100 others, was summoned to the water. My stomach felt full of butterflies and I just couldn't shift this feeling. Am not sure if it was nerves or excitement, maybe both. These feelings soon went once the whistle/horn/what-ever-it-was was sounded. My plan was to not race this section but just swim as normal and get to the finish. I knew swimming was my weakest discipline but I didn't think I was really as bad as I was. Quite embarrassing really, but I was the last but 3rd person out of the water! My 1.3k swim (2 laps around the lake) took me a good 38 mins to complete, that was a whole 8 mins slower than the field average. Out of the water, I ran to the transition area. It was awesome spotting my daughter Lunar (and Lin) watching from the sidelines. I just had to stop and give Lunar a kiss. Lunar got wet and exclaimed 'naughty daddy!'

I only spent about 2 mins in the transition area. I decided to wear cycling sandals (SPD's) so I wouldn't have to bother drying my feet and trying to put socks on. Helmet, glasses and gillet was all I decided I would wear (plus the tri-suit I was in). Getting the wet suit off was a menace, and getting my sandals on was a challenge. Once in bike mode though, I was off!
The bike leg was fantastic. I felt strong and was getting an almost constant buzz after I overtook cyclist after cyclist after cyclist. I chased each cyclist I saw in front of me and felt I was reeling them in one by one. I managed to cycle at an average speed of over 30kph which was my goal and I knew I could maintain this as the outward cycle was into a headwind.
At about the half-way section, drinks were being offered but I didn't partake as I was prepared already and taking sips from my bottle every 5k. The route followed roads that I had recently cycled with my blind friend Roger on his tandem. Thinking about Roger motivated me further and helped me grind my gears. I passed so many cyclists, this section was just great. As I neared the transition once more, I remembered advice from John Legge and span my legs big time in an easier gear before dismounting the bike. Just before reaching the transition, I passed Lunar and Lin again which was nice.
Lunar, my no.1 fan!
The 50k bike leg took me about 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete, about 8 minutes faster than the average cyclist in the field. My maths told me that I was now on an equal footing after my slow swim. Only a quick transition and a run to go....
In the transition area I swapped my sandals for my running shoes. I put my socks on but they felt damp. It was hot, so I removed my gillet and put on m running cap. I took a couple of gels as they were being offered and off I jogged.

The run was a10k off-road route. It was really warm by now and running was a sweaty affair. It was nice to cool off a little as the course went through wooded areas allowing me to simmer down a little. I took a couple of gels and drank some water at about the mid-way point. In retrospect, I wished I pushed myself a little harder during the run as I wasn't really racing. My time was about 1 minute slower than the field average and I only really raced the last few metres as I sprinted to the finish.
It was great getting to the finish and completing my very first ever Olympic distance triathlon (including my only ever triathlon with an open water swim). It was a lovely event and I felt I deserved the lovely medal at the finish. I came in 62nd position out of a filed of 109 (an additional 2 did not finish). My overall time was 3:15:09.
I didn't beat the 3 hour mark which no doubt the real Johnny M would have done, But hey, I had fun and have a target to beat should I race this event (or Johnny M) again in the future. It felt great to be Johnny M on that day in history. :)

Saturday 20 June 2015

Holibobs over..

With my holibobs over, training resumed again on Tuesday. Am training for 2 up coming events, the Isoman Triathlon (1/4 distance) on 18 July 2015 and the Heart of England Forest Marathon on 3 October 2015. Info on the triathlon can be found here and info regarding the marathon here.

Tuesday was a 'double-whammy' training day. For starters, I ran my 10k 'Run 2' route into work. This run felt hard, maybe because my back pack was more full than usual. For finishers (ha!) I went OW swimming in Ragley Lake and managed 3 x 750m laps. I think that's the furthest OW swim I have swam to date and that equates to about 1.4 miles.
Wednesday was a cycling day. Usual commute into work and back. The lights in Edgbaston Tunnel were not working and I bashed my bars into the side of the railings which caused much bleeding to my middle finger.

Thursday was a hard run. I ran a 10k route interval style. I warmed up for 10 minutes; ran 4 x (3 mins fast then 3 mins easy); cooled-down to finish.
Pace graph for Thursday's 10k run
Friday was another cycling day. Usual work and back commute. This time I suffered no injury!
Long run 16.6k 
Saturday was long run day! I managed to run 16.6k (a little over 10 miles) on a grim drizzly day. I had to stop at the hospital for an emergency poo. This day was SJ's birthday, so the day could only get better! Happy birthday SJ!! xx

Monday 15 June 2015


Last week, I was on my holibobs. As a result of this, little training was undertaken. Mostly, I ate and all the wrong sort of stuff too!
It's not like I didn't exercise at all, I managed 3 runs during the course of the week. Each run took me from our holiday garden flat, touched the beach, and then returned to the flat. Weather was just right on each run.

My first run was great, as I wasn't exactly sure where I was running to and all the sights were essentially new. I ran through tunnels and over grass, sand, tarmac and soil. Despite the picture below, I didn't actually run into the sea!
Run 1 (Run to the coast) 5k
Second run was essentially an extension of my first run. Again, I ran to Wisemans Bridge but this time, I ran there twice and took a beach route on the first return and a hilly off-road (woodland) route on the second. Further tunnels were found as I ran to Saundersfoot beach. Ugh, there were jelly fish everywhere!
Run 2 (Tunnels, hills and beaches) 8.5k
Last run was essentially a jog to Saundersfoot and then a bunch (well 3) of hill repeats. Perhaps I should have ran a few more but hey I was on holiday! Oh, what fun!
Run 3 (Hilly holidaze 5.5k)

Sunday 7 June 2015

Ride a tyre down the River Euphrates

Monday: Wanted to run but just couldn't find the time. Have said it before but 'work really gets in the way of fun' at often times. Monday turned out to be a rest day.

Tuesday: Wow, what a day. Completed my first open water (OW) swim at Ragley Lake. Aside from the sea, I think this was my first ever OW swim. My sister Jane tells me I've swam in Arrow Vale Lake before but I don't think so (though do remember we capsized canoe's there). All being well, I will swim Arrow Valley lake during my planned 1/4 Isoman triathlon event.
When I rocked up to the Lake I really wasn't sure what to expect or what to do. Luckily the chap parked next to me happened to be my new buddy 'John Legge' from triathlon club. John really looked after me and showed me what to do in terms of getting ready, registering and entering the lake. I got changed into my wetsuit next to my car (essentially copying John's routine). Once in the water, it was kinda hard to describe - I was neither hot nor cold though I suspected the water was cold. As I started to swim out, I was reluctant to put my face in the water but after about a minute was brave enough to do so. I expected my goggles would allow me to see clearly into the lake and spot fish and all sorts but they didn't. Looking through goggles was like looking through a jar of mustard. The swim around the lake (1st lap) seemed to take an age - it actually took me about 25 minutes to swim these 750 metres (my GPS watch reckoned I swam 1.1k but I am unsure of the conversion). Wow, I swam a lap of Ragley Lake! Back at the start John congratulated me and it was great to see Phil was there too (the chap who got me into this malarkey in the first place).
My first OW swim at Ragley
The water was considered choppy and it sure was windy outside. I nipped out of the lake to remove my wedding ring as I felt it was slipping off. I then returned to the lake and figured I'd swim a second lap. I was more confident on my 2nd lap but still slow. Some guy swam into me but all was okay. At times lake weed would brush against me which felt a little nasty and the lake stunk a bit pond like too. Was real pleased I managed to complete 2 laps. I was tempted to try a third lap but didn't want to push my luck - had already witnessed a boat going out and rescuing one swimmer. All in all, a great first experience and it felt nice to be inside my tri-suit (thanks SJ x), inside my wetsuit. Some folk asked 'how did it feel', well my experience was like riding a tyre down the River Euphrates! Only slight menace was some cramps in my calves and ankles during and after the swim. Some folk commented I got cramps because it was so cold, others said it was due to lack of salt (and suggested I take 'salt sticks' or something?!)

Wednesday: Ouch, woke up with sore calves. After swimming I had usually felt tight in my chest area, however, after my OW swim it was my calf muscles that felt tight. Kinda surprised because I thought I used this muscle group lots during my cycling activities. This new triathlon experience was really a learning exercise that was teaching me big time.
Long run (10 miles)
Achey calves didn't prevent me from going for a run. And what a run I ran! 10 big fat miles! The furthest I have ran for a long time (possibly years). It felt good to run, the weather was fine and I felt okay whilst running. Once I stopped running though, ouch, my calves really hurt and I was reduced to hobbling. 
Achey calves didn't stop me going to Winchcombe with my family. We walked a big big hill in search of the Goblin caves (Belas Knap). Lunar located the 'tunnels' but the Goblins had long gone.
After my run and walk we went for a stroll around Bourton on the Water. Family day was so much fun. Oh, and we found the bog where the Goblins now reside!
Thursday: Ouch! Big time achey calves. Forced rest day.

Friday: Ouch! Still big time achey calves. Another forced rest day!

Saturday: Cycle commute. Pleased to have been back on the bike. Used my single-speed machine as it was the weekend and the roads were a wee bit quieter.  

Sunday: What a great day this was! Started off by open swimming once more in Ragley Lake. Unlike last time, the water was calm and definitely warm. In fact, it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining bright. On Sundays, swimming is only allowed to the half-way point, so a lap would equate to 400m (as opposed to the 750m laps I swam on Tuesday). In all, I swam 5 laps = 1.25 miles! I was the 2nd person in the lake but there must have been about a further 200 that joined me a short while later. Just before I swam my first lap, I saw a fish jump out of the water which was nice. My first 3 laps went well and I suffered with no real cramp or tight muscles. When I looked up I saw Phil again from the tri-club. And then, I spotted John Mitchum and Phil B - how cool and unexpected that was! Drinking electrolyte juice before I started swimming helped delay cramp I'm sure but even so, I experienced cramps a little during my 4th and 5th laps. All in all, a great swim. Am sure I will be able to complete the necessary 1.75 miles during my pending 1/4 Isoman triathlon (just slowly that's all).

In the afternoon, I swam some more. Not in a lake but a swimming pool. This was the swimming session with my local tri-club. I swam lots of lengths (but no where near as many as the faster others in the club). My left arm felt a tad niggly but on I swam.
Tr-club cycle 35.7k
Finished the day and week by cycling a jolly with the tri-club. This was a 35k loop in beautiful sunshine (and the longer/faster option of 2 available routes). My cycling is definitely better than my swimming. Folk were marvelled at my rather funky SPD sandals (not worn with socks)!

''Triathlon just means I'm not very good at three different sports''.  

Happy New Year 2022

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