Monday, 26 May 2014

New bike day!

It's been a really busy week culminating in over 18 hours of training.

Luckily I was off on Friday (Bank Holiday) and was able to head back up to Velocity 44 in Stirling to pick up my new time trial bike.  It took a little longer than expected to arrive from Italy but it has been worth the wait - it looks totally stunning in the flesh.

I've now added on my Stages power crank and spent 40 mins or so yesterday checking the calibration of power between this and my KICKR power meter. Numbers look pretty comparable, so now I need to focus on a smooth pedalling technique and set the Garmin to display 3s average values when out on the road. 

Paul has completed the RETUL fit for me on the bike, so I know that this fits me... I just need time in the saddle to get used the the TT position again in time for the Outlaw.

Shameless advertising for our club... after all, why do you think I picked this colour scheme?

Saturday's ATHelite (+friends) group ride was good fun but at 4 hours and 105km it was a little faster than I'd been planning on - once home I donned the trainers and set about 100mins on the treadmill, followed by 25 mins of stretching and weights... no rest for the wicked.

Rest day today (26th) and Gary has promised me an 'easy' week this week... Big race this Sunday - the Carluke 5 mile fun run :-)

Strathclyde Park triathlon

Week commencing Monday 12th May was a fairly easy week - in the run up to the Strathclyde Park triathlon.

I sneaked yet another Saturday off (what a slacker) and headed down with Lorna to the Watersports centre at some alarmingly early time for her to rack her bike and get ready for the full race. I had (much more sensibly!) decided to just do the 10km run, however, the pressure began to mount as I knew Brian was half man half fish and Mark would give Bradley Wiggins a tough time over the Strathclyde Park circuit. Suddenly 'just' running 10km felt pretty scary.

I'd done absolutely no speed work in the last few months - everything has been geared round low heart rate training so I really had no idea what to expect.

Brian came racing out of the water in 25:54 (1500m) and handed over to Mark who blazed off on the bike. I kept occupied by taking photos of the rest of the ATHelite team until it was time to head to the transition area. 

Michael Martin came in and handed over to Colin Bain, then the 'spider' came in and handed over to John's pal... But where was Mark, he'd been flying? I was worked he's had a mechanical, or worse, crashed on the tight circuit... nope, he'd been having so much fun he'd done an extra lap (8) of the 7 lap circuit!! Mark handed over in 1:09:20 and it was time for me to get going... the pressure was on... (It later turned out that Mark's last lap was about 9 minutes, so he'd have been one of the fastest cyclists on the day)

I set off like a rocket (well, a slow rocket, more like a Catherine wheel with shoes on) through transition and I felt my heart racing. Just as well since my heart rate strap had slipped down my chest and was hovering below my belly button. Checking the Garmin and my HR was 205 bpm... so I could forget about pacing on this data and just set about settling into a steady pace of around 4:30 / km.

The course led along the banks of the Loch and then up and around some small but steep paths to a Marshall standing by a cone 2.5km away. The two loop course was great in one respect - being able to cheer on and high-5 the other ATHelite competitors, but knowing what the first loop was and then repeat it is always a little tricky. Having to plough through a headwind back to the turn around /finish point at the Watersports centre didn't help much either.

I shouted on words of encouragement for my fellow ATHelites and leant into the wind and focused on my Chi running for the last few km of the race. I'd seen our President, Mark, gain ground on me and I was expecting him to breeze past me in the final straight but I managed to hang on in there and posted a time of 44:26 for the 10km. I'd managed to knock 2 mins and 30 sec off my previous 10km p.b. and set personal records for 400m / 1/2 mile / 1km / 2 mile and 5km. Result!

We cheered on the rest of the ATHelite team as they all came in and found out that our triathlon relay teams had come first and second! I reckon our team may have come third if we'd discounted Mark's last (victory!) lap, so a great day was had by all!

Well done to Papa G for the ATHelite banner! Have to say, I love our triathlon club, I've never met a nicer group of lycra-clad nutters! So supportive and great fun to be around - can't wait for The Outlaw with them on the 27th July :-)

Ah yes, sunburn. Nobody thought to mention the sun *might* come out, but out it came during my run. I totally forgot to put sunscreen on (and given the cloudy conditions that morning it really didn't cross my mind) this is what happened... ! week in Lanzarote, milk-bottle white... 3 hours on the 'Strathy Riviera' and I match our club kit...

busy, busy, busy...

It's been a busy few weeks since I last penned electronic ink to virtual paper and it's no coincidence that I'm writing another instalment on a Monday (rest day) bank holiday.

The week of 5th May - 11th May went well. I've been suffering from pain in my right arm (maybe biceps tendon / devoid insertion point) possibly from all the swimming I've been doing recently so I avoided my usual Friday after work swim. I sneaked in an additional rest day on Saturday 10th in preparation for the Caledonian Etape on the Sunday.

The conditions this year (our 3rd in a row) were great and for once, I managed to correctly guess how many layers to wear. I usually end up freezing or like a boil in the bag chicken. Lorna and I set off at 6:42 a.m. and we waved each other goodbye after a few hundred metres! I linked on to a couple of 'road trains' and was amazed at how much easier it was to sustain a high pace in a group. I took several long stints at the front and after one particularly long uphill section the following group promptly dropped me like a hot potato... thanks guys! As one of them passed as he flew up the hill he at least thanked me for putting in a 'good shift'. Cheers!

I'd just fitted a Stages power meter to the bike so it was interesting to analyse my power both during and after the race. I think the general conclusion was - push those pedals harder!!!

I practiced my nutrition strategy (despite one less gel pack!) and felt pretty good crossing the line in 4 hours 9 min, about 9 mins faster than last year. The legs felt good, just as well as I had a 50 minute run of the bike to do, so once Lorna crossed the line we donned our trainers and headed off to the hotel gym. Surprisingly enough, the run felt pretty easy - I remember being in agony doing a 20 minute run after last year's Etape, so I'm treating this as good progress.

Kudos to Alan (3:48), Graeme (4:06) and John (4:58) from ATHelite who all completed the Etape in great style and to my pal Darren who despite crashing 3 miles from the finish posted 4:28 for his first ever Etape - kudos!!!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Gran Fondo in the bag!

Well it's a Bank Holiday today and I've been taking a rest from the exercise after a busy week's training. I managed to squeeze in 17 hours 22 mins last week so certainly needed my rest day today.

I completed another 4km swim on Friday in surprise, surprise, another 1 hour 20 minutes. It seems I have found my 'steady' pace. This is a little faster than I was last year and I know that I can swim a bit faster in a wetsuit so I'm happy with results to date. The biggest thing is racking up yet another IM distance swim, psychologically it is great to look back and see that I've completed the distance a number of times and I know that I'll rely on that when the gun goes off for The Outlaw.

On Saturday a number of Team ATHelite headed down to Drumlanrig Castle for a well organised sportive.

Tony leading the way, followed by Calum, Graeme, Alan, Johnny, Stuart, me and guest star Stevie Kattenhorn from East Kilbride Road Club.

All smiles now... little did I know what was yet to come!

Stevie and Johnny set the initial pace and we were quickly zipping along the quiet back roads of Dumfriesshire picking off a number of other groups as we rolled through some gorgeous countryside. Then BANG! I'd punctured my front wheel going over a sharp stone and pulled over to the side of the road as quickly as I could. I managed to whip the wheel and tyre off quickly enough but Stevie's pump didn't seem to want to put any air into the new inner-tube. I gambled on using a compressed CO2 cartridge for the first time and it managed to work - getting the tyre inflated just in time for us to join the back of a large chain-gang. 

After about 5 minutes keeping up a strong pace I heard something clatter on the road and a number of cyclists close to me let me know I'd dropped my glasses - doh! In my haste to get back on the bike I'd forgotten to stick them on and had left them hanging onto my top - a schoolboy error. I stopped and rode back about 300 or 400m picked them up and put them back together.

Once I'd put my glasses back together and then on properly, the race was well and truly on to try and catch up with the rest of the guys. I embarked on a solo time-trial effort and after about 48 mins where my heart rate bounced between 160-180 rpm I eventually caught them up. There is a lot to be said for riding in a group!!!

I was pleased to see a few of the guys waiting at the bottom of a hill, although they were mercilessly ripping the mick out of Graeme as he changed a puncture on his back wheel. Didn't help the fact that his pump was as good as the Katt's... I think we're all converts to gas cartridges now  ;-)

We rode on, stopping after about 3 and a half hours at one of the cake stops en route - refuelling by firing as much sugary goodness into the systems we could muster. Luckily we were one of the latter groups, otherwise Papa G would have gone down in the bad books for consuming most of the tablet ;-)

After a few more lumps in the road we finished the first loop (62 miles) of the Drumlanrig sportive and then set about the food once more... I can safely say that was the best corned beef and tomato sandwich I've had in a very long time!

Johnny waiting patiently for me to return... I should really have given him the car keys.

By the time we'd finished lunch, Johnny and Stevie had already left for the shorter, but much hillier, second loop of 38 miles.

Stuart and I decided we were up for the second loop, although the prospect of snoozing in the car and waiting for Johnny to get back did appeal. I know that I need to get a few century rides under my belt before the Outlaw and had signed up for the 'Gran Fondo' challenge on Strava where you need to complete one ride of 130km or more... Drumlanrig ticked that box.

We took a couple of wrong turns immediately leaving the Castle, uphill of course, and needed to retrace our steps up more hills. As we were whizzing along one of the (few!) downhill sections near the river I was chatting about how this was more my style (i.e. going downhill aided by gravity!) when a bumble bee pinged right off my nose - with sufficient force to turn my head sideways! I reckon the bee came off worse but given the fact I was talking and the size of my mouth, we were both lucky I didn't swallow it!

Then the road turned upwards, through the Mennock pass. This is where my mass is most certainly a disadvantage and I waved goodbye to Stuart as he danced on the pedals skywards. I put the bike into the granny gear and kept on spinning, watching all the skinny racing snakes ease past me. The training in Lanzarote helped here but I reckon more work is to be done to help me attack the hills in the future. The road climbed up to about 468m above sea level to Wanlockhead, Scotland's highest village and then turned across Leadhills for a more gentle climb and a rip-roaring descent, hitting speeds of around 67 km/hr which was a total blast :-)

One quick stop to chat to yet another lovely Marshal, fill the water bottles and scoff a banana and it was on to the home straight. Unfortunately, nobody had informed the weather forecasters that we were out and we battled through the headwind from hell for 45 minutes across bleak moorlands until suddenly the road dropped back into Dumfriesshire and again, gravity became my friend!

I led a couple of strangers for about 10 miles as they sheltered behind me (I form quite a big wind-break!) despite me looking over my shoulder and allowing them to pass to take their turn at the front. They nipped past me on the last turn as we climbed towards the Castle for the final time but I'd decided they weren't going to finish in front of me so I dredged up some more energy and out sprinted them down the finishing straight. Boom!

So 166.5km and 6 hours and 30 minutes later I was finished. Never have I been so pleased to put on a dry t-shirt, top and socks, get into the car and stick on the heated seats!!!  We'd been lucky with the weather, it had stayed dry, but 7 degrees C is a bit chilly for me these days - I'm born for sunnier climates ;-)

Johnny and I loaded the car and the sat-nav led us home via the Mennock pass. I did think of turning on the Garmin and driving at an average speed of 22mph to claim the king of the mountain for a laugh, but some poor soul has won that fair and square... I'll need more training (or actually another set of legs) to challenge that in the future!

Once home, it was onto the treadmill for 30 minutes and then followed by my knee exercises and stretches and the fun of analysing all the data from my watch! My Garmin told me I'd burned 5,314 kCalories on the ride alone, so I stuffed my face with curry, cake and beer and fell asleep on the sofa - it had been a great day.

Thanks to all of the ATHelite team for their company and banter, and the Drumlanrig Tearfund organisers who put on an excellent event.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Awesome April!

Well if last month was Mega March, then this has just been Awesome April!

Another really enjoyable month of training chalked up - helped by a fantastic week away at Club La Santa.

Managed to get my road bike and I'm loving the outdoor rides - as good as the Wahoo KICKR is, it's more fun cycling outside when the weather is good.

I've got the Drumlanrig Sportive coming up this Saturday - a nice, 100 mile race than my fellow ATHelite, John Young, described as 'lumpy'... Should be fun :-)  Race report to follow.

April's training calendar looks like this:

A little down (!) on last month, but I'm happy with another 60 hours and 3 minutes of training, covered 911km and burned 39,720 kCalories.

Attended a really good session on Bike maintenance at Dales Cycles in Glasgow that had been organised by ATHelite. The team there are really friendly and showed us all sorts of techniques for the bikes including proper cleaning, brake adjustment and indexing gears. This wealth of knowledge is often overlooked when people hunt down 'bargains' on the internet - get out there and support your local retailers!!

Congratulations to Alan Robertson and Graeme Scott who both completed the ICAN 1/2 ironman event last weekend in Malaga - although special blog of the year award goes to Karen, Graeme's wife!

Well done too to Derek Stewart who ran 53 miles of the West Highland Way in The Hoka Highland Fling, only for his hamstring to go pop 20 metres short of the line. In true Ironman / MDS finishing style he made it over the line... nothing stopping him getting his hands on his recovery beer! Wishing you a speedy recovery Derek!

Big congratulations to my pal Lucy Downie who also completed the Fling in an amazing 12 hours 8 mins, no doubt smiling all the way!

Total Pageviews