Tuesday, 25 June 2013

100th post!

It doesn't seem all that long ago that Ruth suggested I start a blog on my training to hopefully inspire some of our students to set themselves some goals and to work towards them.

At the time I'd been training for a few months and IM Austria seemed so far away. Now, all of a sudden, it is this week. Sunday in fact - or 5 more sleeps… One of which will no doubt be incredibly short as we have to make our way to Edinburgh airport at stupid'o'clock in the morning. I'm guessing that we'll not get much sleep on Saturday night either as we'll probably be too excited / nervous and the alarm will be set for an early start on Sunday in order to get breakfast down and digested before jumping in the lake.

It has been an incredible journey to date, the race is simply the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake.

I've been incredibly lucky to be training with my wonderful wife, have the support of my amazing kids and extended family and be part of the ATHelite club - thank you all for being so supportive and integral to our journey.

I had some great news today from Jamie, the Boardman UK Sales Manager. He has agreed to replace my damaged wheel as a gesture of goodwill and support from Boardman bikes. So I have this to look forward to on arriving back from Austria. He also mentioned that he passed on my blog details to Chris Boardman himself, one of my all time cycling heroes… I'm chuffed to bits that he may well have been reading some of my electronic scribblings!

My bike is now running smoother than ever after a visit to Willie Bain in Pollokshaws - what that guy doesn't know about bike maintenance frankly is not worth knowing. Now I've built my own home, built my own car and spent a lot of time at Uni, but rear derailleurs are a source of black magic and witchcraft as far as I am concerned. He now has my gears running smoother than ever and has sorted out my front brakes so I should now be able to stop as effectively as I can go. Result.

So what next? Well, packing the bike for the journey springs to mind. We're supporting another British company called Bike Box Alan who have supplied us with some rather tasty personalised bike boxes:

 Mine, all mine!

 Lorna's bike box!

 Lorna's bike with her new red 'bling' tyres

And a little inspirational message for my better half when she's cycling round Austria - custom LASER engraved headset from Kapz (another UK company!!!!)

Thanks to all of you for reading the blog, otherwise the hours I have spent on my computer after the hours of training would have been wasted.

Huge thanks to all those lovely people out there who have sponsored us - your generosity will certainly make a difference and your messages of support are brilliant.

Remember, there is still more than enough time to add to the total - simply click on the link below:


Please feel free to leave a comment on the blog - click on the 'No comments' link at the bottom left of each blog post, or add to any comments that are already there  :-)

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Almost there...

It's now the last weekend before the race - time flies quickly when you're having fun, and I must say, the training has been a blast. I've loved it - even getting up at stupid'o'clock in the morning hasn't dampened my spirits.

I managed to fit in another 3.8km swim on Friday afternoon. A little slow at 1:21, but another good confidence booster. The temperature in Klagenfurt is cooling down a little, so we may be able to get away with our wetsuits. I'll find out in less than 7 days…

Out to the Scottish Business Awards on Friday night in Edinburgh.  This chap was speaking, very eloquently, at the event:

 Yep, Bill Clinton!

Me and the missus - makes a change not being in sports gear!

I must confess, the eyes were a little heavy that evening, the training is catching up with me. Next week will be better - no need for early training sessions, so I'm going to stock up the sleep bank… I may need it, I generally take ages to get to sleep the night before a big race due to nerves / excitement and we'll be up early anyway given the race starts at 7 a.m.

On Saturday I built up my new ZIPP 404 wheels with my new black and white Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tyres: 

They look even tastier on the bike:

I need to get the bike tweaked (brakes and gears) prior to the race, just to ensure everything is running A-OK.

Last long training brick session on Saturday evening (2 hour bike + 30 minute quick change run) was spent watching one of the few Bond movies I'd never seen; George Lazenby in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. Needless to say I'll not need to watch it again, but it did keep me occupied for the session.

Last 'long' (if you can call 1 hour that) session on the treadmill this morning, my heart rate was really stable at just under 130 bpm - looks like the enforced rest has done me some good. 

I popped along to see Willie Bain this afternoon to get my bike checked but he was shut! Doh! I expect he was watching the bike racing in Glasgow - which we managed to catch… albeit briefly… those guys are F A S T !!!

Well, according to the countdown clock, we've got just 6 days and 13 hours to go.  Thanks for reading the blog to date, hopefully you're enjoying the journey so far.

Remember, I may be totally MAD but together we can make a difference:

…there is still time to donate: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GGall 

Thanks to all of you that have donated to date, and in doing so have left us both kind messages and good luck - it is very much appreciated :-)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

It's warming up...

The Worthersee is warming up - now officially 24 degrees C, if it reaches 24.5 degrees C then we're not allowed to wear our wetsuits for the swim… If you'd told me that a few months (or maybe even a few days ago) I would be seriously freaking out by now. The wetsuit really helps buoyancy and (in theory) I should be able to swim faster in this than without. However, it also restricts shoulder movement a little and I've swum over 3km 10 times without a wetsuit and precisely 0 times over 3km without… The temperature of the water is out of my control, so I'm not going to worry about it - let's just see what happens  on the day!

My wonderful 3rd year Physics class presented me with this today:

Not only did they make me a card, but also a delicious cake (no photos - I ate it a break time) and £25 donation for the charities I'm raising cash for. Thanks again 3MK, you are all stars!!! I am chuffed to bits and humbled by your kindness :-)

I've managed a couple of runs and thankfully the knee is holding up well - another run planned for tomorrow morning and hopefully a swim in the afternoon before heading out for a very posh meal… more details to follow.

Did I mention there are only 9 days left until the race… SINGLE figures - how did that happen?

Don't worry, there is still time to donate: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GGall

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The plan is coming together...

Last night I had a great meeting with the incredible knee surgeon, Mr Colin Walker, who fixed my knees 2 years ago and planted the idea of competing in triathlon. He laughed when I told him I'd maybe taken his advice too literally and was about to compete in an Ironman.

After checking out my knees he has given me the go-ahead to start running again which is great news. I'll take it easy at first and if I do have any problems he's said he can sort me out with a painkilling injection which will see me through my race. I'm looking forward to my first gentle run tomorrow morning - I've missed battering away on the treadmill in the mornings! Hopefully my body will remember how to put one foot in front of the other… it's only been a couple of weeks out but it feels like months…. That grey matter is playing tricks on me.

Back to the pool tonight to face my demons once again. I have to confess my confidence was a bit battered and bruised from Friday's open-water session, where the swimming, or lack of it was not much fun.

Instead of taking part in the coached session, I was a bit anti-social and just swam up and down the outside lane at a fairly steady pace for 156 lengths. 3.8km done in 1:18:53, not the fastest but I felt pretty strong and controlled throughout the swim. Psychologically, this is a big boost for the confidence. I'm now feeling much more positive about the swim and can now picture myself running, dripping wet from the lake through transition and onto the bike… Not long now to turn that vision into reality.

Looks like we're 20% there towards our fundraising totals - many thanks to all those that have donated…

…. to those that have yet to do so, go on...just click on the Virgin Money Giving icon at the top right of this page, or click on this link: 


Sunday, 16 June 2013

An eventful weekend!

Well, as I sit here on Sunday afternoon I can reflect on another eventful weekend of training.

On Friday we went up to Loch Lomond for one of our last open-water sessions prior to the race. Hard to believe what a difference a week made… 7 days ago and the Loch was lovely, not exactly warm, but 'refreshing'. On Friday, the best description was 'Billy Baltic'. We came out after about 30 seconds given the rain battering off the Loch had turned the mirror like surface into a seething watery turmoil. I remembered rule 5 from training and got back into the Loch… not too bad I thought, then I swam out over the shelf into deeper water…f-f-f-f-f-f-f-freeeeeeezing!!! After about 30 seconds my feet, even with neoprene booties were getting chilled to the bone and my hands were starting to lose sensation. We turned round, tail between legs, got out of the Loch, got dried and warmed ourselves up with (undeserved!) fish and chips… No point in cold weather training, Austria is currently about 26 degrees C.

My better half was out on Saturday at a Triathlon Coaching course so I missed the usual ATHelite bike ride. However, the weather intervened in this session too and the rain, strong winds and low temperatures had even the hardiest of souls heading back in to defrost after only a couple of hours. I stayed dry and warm by focusing on my leg stretches in the gym and then an elliptical session down at Virgin Active later in the day, either side of a dog walk down by Bothwell Castle.

Sunday morning and after learning my lesson from last week, my bike is ready and waiting for me. I met up with John who is training for the Iron distance outlaw - 1 week after Austria. We spent the first couple of hours burning up the roads in South Lanarkshire… probably much faster than I should be travelling in my taper period, but good fun none the less. I left John after a couple of hours and continued on towards Lanark on what I thought were fairly quiet roads.

Quiet in terms of little traffic, but still dangerous as it turns out… I was almost taken out by an old lady who was obviously struggling to see above her steering wheel. She cut straight in front of me at a junction and had certainly not seen me - thankfully I had slowed down to take the 90 degree bend, if I hadn't I suspect this blog would be coming to you from Wishaw General Hospital.

5 minutes after avoiding Mrs Magoo, I heard the yapping of dogs as I passed a farm, then a fat Jack Russell dog jumped out of the bushes right in front of my bike. I hammered on the anchors and came to an emergency stop with the rear of my bike at least 30 cm off the ground. The years of BMXing as a kid helped keep me stable and I amazingly managed to get my foot out of the pedal - stopping me from flying over the handle bars. Not content with that, the dog continued to growl and bark, snapping at my ankles until his big mate, the Bernese Mountain Dog came out and bit my left knee…

Right knee smacked off handlebars...

Left knee bitten by Bernese Mountain dog…

I shouted at the dogs to clear off and tried to alert the owners of the house who had seen fit to leave the gate open for the dogs to escape onto the road as they pleased, but surprisingly no-one came out. I decided to pedal off and put some distance between me and these mutts.  The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful after that!

Well, that's another week done: 171.28km covered, 12 hours 34 minutes and 55 seconds and burned 7,079 kCalories. Only 2 weeks to go now, so the next couple of weeks will see a dramatic reduction in training from 10 hours next week to 5 hours in the lead up to the race. Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Race numbers and tickets!

It's getting real now - the tickets for our Austrian adventure arrived in the post and we've both got out race numbers for the event:

Gav: 1801
Lorna: 0317

If anyone is interested, there is an app on the app store (IronTrac) which will allow you to track us live throughout the race...

16 days to go…

Had a great few days…

Another good swimming session and a 750m time trial in the pool on Tuesday. Some really good tips from John for me to think about (hands, leveraging forward, body rotation, engaging core muscles, acceleration through stroke, etc. etc.) - I certainly have enough to think about that I won't get bored during the swim!

Met up with Dr Chris Easton (and John Young!) at UWS on Wednesday afternoon where he kindly showed our S4 Sports Science class the Sports Science Labs. He performed a blood test (glucose + lactate level) on me before and after a VO2 max test on the bike and explained the results in real time as the kids sat back in amazement at how sweaty I can get!

Me getting measured again.. 186.5cm (i'm sure I used to be taller.. must have worn some of my legs out), 82.5 kg and 6.3% body fat:

Getting started on the bike - this increments the load so smoothly that it tricks the brain into thinking nothing is changing and then after 10 minutes or so you wonder why it is so difficult when it had been so easy! It's the exercise equivalent of boiling a frog!

Sports Science class watching a real time readout of my CO2 and O2 levels as I pedal away on the bike...

Last few seconds of me doing the test… The face mask was slipping off my face due to the copious volume of sweat!

As you can see from the heart rate graph below, I maxed out at 180 bpm… I can't go any higher!

My glucose levels before the test were 4.9 and after the test at 5.2. Lactate level jumped from 1.1 prior to the test to 11.1 showing I didn't 'wuss out' on the cycle!
Thanks again to Dr Chris Easton and his Ph.D. student, David, for running the tests and to John for taking the photos and video.

Managed a quick session on the turbo when I got home, then a quick shower and off to the S6 Prom where it was great to see how amazing the S6 pupils looked, all enjoying themselves after finishing off their exams.

Thursday's early morning session was replaced by a lie-in after getting home late! Another dog walk and a quick bike session focusing on high cadence before going to Grant at The Treatment Hub in Hamilton for another sports massage. Owwwwwww!!! It hurts like heck at present but I know in a day or two my legs will feel soooo much better :-)

Hopefully another open-water swim in Loch Lomond tomorrow and our last long (4 hour cycle) as we taper towards race day...

Monday, 10 June 2013

Not good… wheely not good!

Well, the weekend went really well in terms of training. I managed my 5 hour ride on Saturday and coped with the 3 hour elliptical session on Sunday, squeezed in lots of stretching a couple of long dog walks and iced the knee.

Out with the ATHelite gang on Saturday, a rare blue sky and the smell of suntan lotion:

Unfortunately, on Sunday when cleaning the bike, I discovered this:

The braking surface has de-laminated from the rim, making this wheel unusable. I've been in contact with BSpoke in Peebles and they have been great to deal with. I'm waiting to hear back from Boardman Bikes and hopefully there will be a happy resolution - the bike leg will be difficult enough on 2 wheels let alone one!

Still, a good week of training completed:
13 activities
Covered 209.42 km
Spent 16 hours 35 minutes and 38 seconds exercising
Climbed 1,775m
Burned 9,131 kCalories.

I've now completed the peak phase of my training and tomorrow the 'taper' phase begins. Gradually reducing the hours and intensity of the training as we get closer and closer to race day… only 19 days to go :-)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Facing the demons!

A stunning day here today, sun splitting the sky, barely any wind, 21 degrees C… I believe this is what is known as 'Summer'. Out to Loch Lomond for the first open-water swimming session of the year.
I confess I was feeling both a little excited and a little nervous at the prospect. The water was a balmy 16 degrees C, and after splashing my face with the cold water I felt surprisingly ok.
I started off quickly, keeping up with John (part man - part dolphin) - a little too quickly perhaps, and struggled for a couple of sections of the loop we do in the Loch. My sighting seemed pretty good - I'm not normally too good at swimming in a straight line without lane markers! I managed to re-adjust my wetsuit and got more flexibility in the shoulders and once I relaxed a little, I got into a rhythm and it started feeling a bit easier.
We completed a couple of loops (28 mins to swim around 1.8 km, or half the distance I'll be doing in 22 days time..) and then, once dried and back into clothes, we hit the local fish and chip shop.
After pouring over the data at home, I'm maybe not as bad at this as I had feared. Still not great, but at least moving in the right direction. My last open-water swim had been in the London triathlon and I confess that this had not gone to plan… Maybe I'm just being tough on myself, tonight's session is only the 5th open-water swim I've actually done, If I could keep up my steady moving pace, I'd be similar to my pool time at around 1:18… I'd be ecstatic if I could do that on the day… The only thing I can do now, is get back in the water every week until the race! Eeeeek. 

The knee is feeling pretty good, although I have yet to try running on it. I have an appointment with the Sports surgeon who fixed my knees in 10 days, so until then, I'll keep on with the I.C.E., ibuprofen and keep off the treadmill.

Well, I'll sign off for now - another long (5 hour) bike tomorrow and I should be doing a 3 hour run on Sunday… I wonder if I can do that on the elliptical without going mad?! Would anyone spot the difference?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

More miles under the belt

Well, despite not being allowed to run at present, I've managed to rack up the miles and keep the fitness levels going.

Spent roughly an hour on the elliptical on Saturday as my  better half was pedalling away on a Sportive near Edinburgh. It's not as much fun (in my humble opinion) as running, but hopefully it will keep up the cardio-vascular fitness until I can run again. Good thing about it is it is very low impact, so I'm not putting any undue stress on my dodgy knee / I.T. band / bursa!

After stretching out, massaging my leg muscles and walking the dogs it was time to get the TT bike ready for action for an early start on Sunday…

Great weather (dry, warm and light winds) greeted me a I rolled out of the door at 7:45 a.m. for a pretty epic ride:

I ended up doing 163.4km in 6 hours and 2 minutes… would have been under 6 hours if people could walk on the correct side of the cycle path in Strathclyde Park! This is the second longest ride I've done to date - but the longest so far on the TT bike. The new bars and position are great, so I'm felling pretty happy about taking this over to Austria now :-)

I've reset my alarm for 5:30 a.m. and I'm doing specific exercises to strengthen my legs and core muscles… hopefully this daily session will help to heal my knee as quickly as possible and ensure that I can put in a decent performance on the run section of the IM race.

Well, that's it for now - I'm off to swimming!!!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

May stats

Well, after a mega training month in April, May turned out to be slightly down on plan. That's what happens when you contract food poisoning and have issues with the bursa under your distal I.T. band!

I still managed to squeeze in the following training:

37 activities
covered 807.67km
spent 44 hours 19 minutes and 39 seconds training
burned 29,732 kCalories

So now, we're into the last month of training. I have 2 more weeks of peak intensity (5 hour long bike rides and 3 hour long runs to do) followed by the taper period, where training ramps right down in the lead up to the race.

Hoping to squeeze in some open-water swimming sessions over the next few Fridays at Loch Lomond - let's hope the water temperature can make it into double digits!

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