Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

Carving through the pumpkins!

Well, as per usual we've been up to our pumpkin carving antics… will anyone call at the house to take away all the sweets we've bought, or am I going to have to do some extra long training sessions to burn off all those carbs?!?!


An obvious choice for this year!
Frankenweenie from Para Norman - by my wee one!
Buffy the vampire slayer - by my good lady wife!

Jaws - by my big monster!

On the front step!


Angry Bird / Herman Munster / Mad Hatter / Eric from True Blood


Tigger / Stitch / Pretty Skeleton / Gizmo


Gollum / Sirius Black / Minion from Despicable Me 
The Joker / Gremlin / Zombie from Plants versus Zombies 
Gollum - still my favourite!

Cheshire Cat

Hello Kitty

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Good form old chap, good form...

Chi running course booked - Pollok Park on Saturday 10th November

I've never been a particularly elegant runner, proprioception is not a strong point for me… as evidenced by my (lack of) dancing skills or the ability to learn a Tae Kwon Do pattern (giving up after realising my knees couldn't take it and that both my kids are wayyyy better than me)…

My running style has been typically brute force, reasonably bouncy trainers and sheer conviction that whatever the distance, I'll get across the line somehow... (Taxi!!  ;-)

However, my better half went on a chi running course a few years ago and has never looked back. She's had far fewer running injuries / aches / pains and is much more efficient with her strides.

I realise as a heel-striker a lot of the kinetic energy I'm generating is being wasted as my heel effectively brakes my progress with each footfall. The idea behind chi running is to land not on the heel, but on the forefoot, with each foot strike directly below your centre of gravity. This way you don't brake with every step making your progress much more efficient and helping to reduce injuries as you go.  Sounds great. Just need my brain to tell my stupid feet what to do - I'll report back after the course!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Whoooooosh! Boardman AiR TT 9.4 has arrived!!!

After a stunning drive down to Peebles yesterday I picked up not one, but 2 Boardman AiR TT bikes from B Spoke Cycles.

The guys there have been brilliant to deal with and I wouldn't hesitate recommending them to anyone looking to buy a new set of wheels. The fact that they have been chosen as the only Boardman Elite dealer in Scotland is no surprise, they've been friendly and professional from start to finish and I'll be happy to take the bikes back there for servicing / upgrades in the future.

So, here is my new toy… I've added Speedplay Zero pedals and changed the saddle to an ISM Adamo Prologue which is meant to alleviate any 'discomfort' over the 112 mile stretch...

The bike is incredibly light for a TT bike - probably around 8kg, although I haven't got around to measuring it yet.

What's it like to ride?  No idea… that's why I'm about to put on some training wheels (i.e. take off the incredibly light carbon tubular wheels) and pedal away on the turbo trainer for an hour or so… I'll report back with my verdict soon ;-)

Right! Completed my first hour on the turbo trainer and have to say that this is one remarkably smooth piece of kit. Still a few adjustments required - the time trial (TT) position is pretty aggressive and will take some (read A LOT) of getting used to and the new ISM Adamo saddle is very different too, so I suspect there will be a fair amount of tweaking and fettling over the next few days and weeks until it feels comfortable. Not in a comfy old sofa in front of the TV with a beer in hand kind of way. More like I'll be able to get off the bike in one piece and still run 26.2 miles kind of way!!!

Definitely the right idea to get this now and build up time in the saddle to get used to the aero position - more time spent on this now, hopefully the less time it will take me to pedal round the 112 miles on 30th June!

Friday, 26 October 2012

It's nearly Christmas!

Well, for me it is…

I pick up my new TT bike tomorrow - really looking forward to it. My credit card is hiding in my wallet knowing that it is going to work very hard tomorrow.  I'll post pictures up at some point over the weekend once I've stopped grinning!

Swimming is coming along nicely - see notes in the training log… Still a long way to go, but I'm remembering the gliding feeling you get when your technique is working with, rather than fighting against, the water.  Thanks must go to Sir Isaac Newton!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

250 days to go

Getting closer…

Now, it may seem like ages away, and it probably is, but I noticed on my countdown timer that I'm now less than 250 days away from Ironman Austria. Looking back on where I've come from over the last 250 days I'm pretty chuffed…

I've lost about 8kg, burned about 118,000 kCalories, climbed close on 50km, travelled 2.9 million meters and worked out nearly 200 hours. What does this mean in practice? Well I can now run to the top of the street without popping a lung and none of my old suits fit any longer. 

Tonight was a pretty hard session but I kept plugging away - I'm going to need a lot more mental strength to keep on going through the Ironman when times get tough. I've heard the phrase "the only bad training session is no training session" and it seems like a decent mantra.

So, am I half way there? No chance, the training is going to start ramping up in intensity once I start on my Tri-ripped training programme. I'm confident that I've built up a reasonable base level of fitness but the work really begins in 3 weeks time.. so until then, I'll enjoy this 'tick-over' level of training, rack up the miles in the water, the treadmill and the bike. Am I feeling confident? So far so good… but ask me again in about 251 days time ;-)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Skint and excited!

A new speed weapon is on the way!

After months of investigating and deliberating I've just placed an order for not one, but two triathlon bikes!

Now, I'm not being greedy - one of them is for my good lady wife… Some women like diamonds, posh shoes or expensive handbags but I'm lucky that my better half is as mad as me and she'd far rather have something sporty.

We'd been down at the London Triathlon and had looked at a selection of triathlon bikes from quite a few manufacturers, although to be fair, I'd liked to have seen more examples at the expo. The guys on the Planet X stand were great and loaned us a head tube bung to replace one of my wife's bike that had been damaged in transit. We both liked the stealthy matt black carbon fibre Exocet 2 bikes on display and they were coming in at a pretty decent price for the specification.

After reading tons of reviews, I toyed with the idea of the Van Nicholas Blaze - a titanium framed tri bike that had been awarded great marks, especially for comfort - something vital for 112 miles in the saddle. I found a second-hand one online but unfortunately the frame size was too large for me.

We decided to go and get a bike fit to work out which bikes would best fit us. This is a great deal more complex than simply taking an inside leg measurement or rider height and comparing against a chart to see which bike fits. I'd already tried that route with a Specialized SHIV and ended up with an XL to try - it was so large I could have put an additional seat post in there and had a passenger along for the ride.

We headed off to a RETUL fitter and after a wee bit of jiggery pokery worked out that I needed a medium and the missus an extra small in a…

… Boardman Air TT  :-)

Now, I confess I am a Chris Boardman fan and I already have a Boardman Pro Carbon road bike and had bought L. a Boardman Fi road bike for her 40th. The fact that the bikes are designed in the UK is a bonus, although like most high end bikes these days, they're assembled overseas.

After doing the sums - man maths is my speciality - I decided that I couldn't possibly afford either bike, so I bought them both! A quick online loan application and voila - money magically into my account. Just like Dynamo - I'll make it disappear, very, very quickly!!!

After a few phone calls, I've just placed the order with Allan from B Spoke Cycles in Peebles. Must say, they have been great to deal with and are making a couple of modifications for L's bike so that it is exactly what she is after. All going well we should pick up the bikes and get them fitted to us next weekend.

L gets the red 9.0 and I'm getting the white 9.4...

Now, given the Brownlee brothers raced Boardman bikes in their stunning Gold and Bronze podium places at the London Olympics and Pete Jacobs has just won the Ironman World Championship at Kona, Hawaii this year on an Air TT 9.8 these bikes have serious pedigree. Will it guarantee an amazing bike split and help me qualify for Kona next year, or the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 ?? I highly doubt it, but trust me, I'll have fun trying ;-)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Racing (bike)...Flat out

I've discovered a number of things this week about training…

1. I can't train on an empty stomach
2. I get grumpy after training on an empty stomach
3. Eating dinner at 10:30 p.m. is too late
4. Trying to pedal a bike with a flat tyre on a turbo trainer is hard work

Now, you might want to point out that these are all pretty obvious issues... and I'd whole-heartedly agree.

The nutrition prior to, during and post-race is going to be an interesting issue for me to manage. The Ironman race will start at 7 a.m., I suspect I'll have to get up around 4:30 a.m. to get ready and have a decent enough breakfast prior to swimming. Given it's a long way, I'd love to stop for a snack on the way round - so send your suggestions via carrier pigeon, a postcard or even the comments section on this page.  Extra points will be awarded for easily concealable snacks that will aid my buoyancy and help me glide through the 3.8km!!!

Running has gone quite well this week; I've completed another 10km on Wednesday night whilst the junior Galls were attending their Tae Kwon Do training. Today I've put another 5km on the training record with a treadmill run, followed by weights and stretches.

Swimming on Tuesday was great and I'll miss the sessions over the next couple of weeks as the pool closes for the school's October holidays. Managed another 2km swim today in a fairly steady pace… although If I could sort out my body position in the water I suspect I could take 20 seconds off per 100m easily… that would equate to about 12 or 13 minutes over 3.8 km.

Biking on Thursday was really tough… Old Mother Hubbard's pantry was more well stocked than our fridge and I struggled to squeeze family life (i.e. shopping / dog walking / homework (my kids) / homework (mine) / eating) into the short few hours between arriving home from work and collapsing into bed. I ended up starting my session at 8:45 p.m. and starting to cook tea at 10:15 p.m. at which point I was so hungry I was eating anything I could grab from the cupboard… not ideal.

Instead of swimming last night I decided to do another turbo session on the bike. I soon spotted that the rear tyre was as flat as a bottle of diet coke that has had a pack of mentos added (if you've not tried this check out the video below)…

Must admit, even though I then needed to change a tyre and inner tube before starting my session, I was pretty relieved that there was a decent reason why Thursday's 75 minute session was HARD work!! 

My S1 classes will all no doubt remind me that pressure is caused by tiny gas atoms / molecules bouncing off the walls of the inner tube… and that if there are holes in said inner tube / tyre then these particles will escape and mix with the air in a process called diffusion.  My daughter's primary school class will know that trying to cycle on a flat tyre is hard work - so how I didn't spot that is beyond me.

I've now ordered a specific turbo trainer tyre which will no doubt see some serious action over the next few months given any outside rides will be limited to the weekends.

Next on the agenda is a bike fit for and (hopefully) purchase of a triathlon bike and a new turbo trainer with power analysis / real time video software… ohhhhh the credit card is going to take a serious hit soon!  And here I thought may car obsession was an expensive hobby… eek.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The tyre of doom!

Swim Training: Tuesday 9th October 2012

It has often been said that the best way to improve at any sport is to train with people who are better than you - which is easy for me to achieve with swimming!  

Tonight's session with the ATHelite crowd was great fun, although I must confess that instead of being scared by the unknown (as per last week) I was scared about what was coming up…

And there it was, written in white board marker on the tiled walls of the pool… the tyre of doom. An inconspicuous rubber band used to tie the ankles together, preventing you from kicking your legs.  If your swimming form isn't good - this piece of elastic will hunt you out and drag you down to the bottom of the pool. Hmmm, I wonder where I ended up ;-)

Now, I'm hoping that my talent at sinking is not 100% down to a lack of natural talent but the fact that I've lost close to 12kg over the last 18 months (7 kg over the last 6 months) and now my natural buoyancy has been reduced…

Now density is defined as mass / volume.

Muscle is more dense than fat and given I've shed a load of mass and reduced my body fat down to about 12-14% I'm hoping that this can (partly) explain my leg's ability to sink like  concrete ducks…. Hmmmm, I think a problem solving exercise for my Higher Physics class (currently on properties of matter) may be in order  ;-)

Anyhow, after 20 meters or so on my first lap with the elastic band the inevitable happened - my legs dropped almost to the bottom of the pool and I may have been faster trying to walk underwater than swim. A second pool buoy helped a little as did placing them closer to my ankles to provide maximum uplift.  Eventually I got the hang of it and managed to complete the sets as required… but boy oh boy (or should that be buoy oh buoy?!) was I happy to untether my ankles!!

2km of swimming and drills despatched in 45 mins and then we decided to do a relay - each team member doing a 25 m sprint. I was pipped by finger-tips by my better half (although I had demanded a Steward's enquiry) - not content with this misery, my calves cramped up just to let me know they exist. Funny, since sparrows have mocked my for the size of my calves, I didn't realise they could burn so much after just 25m. Much stretching has been done since my return from the pool… but they're still letting me know they've been worked this evening!

Right, off to load up the glycogen stores with some rice and one fantastic curry!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ironman Austria 2012

Hopefully 2013 will neither be as hot, or as humid as the race in 2012… click the video above to get a taste of what this race is about!

I've added a video of my efforts in the Virgin London Triathlon 2012 in the Previous Race Reports tab above… I'm the guy looking happy crossing the line  ;-)

A rest day today, so I've been finishing off the cake my daughter made yesterday… I'll hopefully burn it off tomorrow in the pool. If not, the added fat in the diet will maybe improve my buoyancy… tune in tomorrow to find out!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Meat is murder…. tasty, tasty murder ;-)

One benefit from all the training is being able to eat as much steak as I can fit on a plate…apologies to my vegetarian friends, but nuts and tofu was not about to satisfy cravings after today's sessions…

Detailed training logs now online

Added a page to the site today where (if you're really interested / nosey / suffering from insomnia - delete as appropriate) you can check out all of the detailed training logs from my trusty Garmin 910XT watch… Check out the tab above for more info!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

All signed up!

Officially registered for Ironman Austria 2012

Well, we've just received our codes, paid the cash and are now signed up for June 30th next year… no going back now (if there ever was!)… Accommodation is booked, now we just need to book our flights - not something we can do until 6 months from the date of travel.  It's a long way off but it's starting to feel very real.

October training starts with a splash!

Rushed home from work today, managed to grab a coffee and a small bowl of Cheerios and then off to swim training with the ATHelite tri club from Hamilton. Swimming is not my strongest discipline, so I got comfortable in the slow lane and listened with trepidation to the schedule for the evening:

Technical Drills: 
100m trailing knuckles; 
100m trailing fingers; 
100m no contact 
repeat for 2 sets
Done to ensure good elbow lift from the water on each stroke.

8 x 100 m swimming at 85% - building speed endurance

100m then 30 secs rest; 100m then 20 secs rest; 100m then 10 secs rest 
repeat for 2 sets - speed endurance with minimal recovery

All in 2000m in just under an hour with rest.  I started off pretty slowly then started to remember what this swimming malarky is all about. Really need to work on getting my hips and legs to float higher so that I create minimal drag through the water which will result in either swimming faster for the same effort, or swimming at the same pace (around 1:50 - 2:00 per 100m) for less effort… something that will come in handy when attacking the 3800m open water course.

Nipped to Sainsburys for some food shopping, cooked 3 different dinners (great when your kids eat the same food as you isn't it?), fed the dogs, updated this blog and now it's time for some schoolwork! Chat later!

Monday, 1 October 2012

September statistics

September training 

37 activities
Covered 255 miles / 411.4 km
Total training time of 31 hours, 27 minutes and 52 seconds
Climbed 6,524 metres (about 3/4 the height of Mt. Everest)
Average speed of 8.7 miles per hour / 14.0 km/hr
Average bike cadence 80 r.p.m.
Used 20,620 kCalories

Mondays are rest days just in case you thought I was slacking off...

Where now with the training?

Realised that we'd started our 32 week training plan for Ironman Austria a little early...  The plan has been reorganised in our calendars and should start in 5 weeks time!  This gives me more time to continue building up base level fitness before the hard work really starts!!!  Oh joy  ;-)

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