Thursday, 24 July 2014

Almost there!

Well, time has flown by unbelievably quickly and we're getting ready to head down to The Outlaw. Just 3 more sleeps and we'll be lining up at the start line on Sunday 27th waiting for the gun to go off at 6 a.m. for the swim start.

I took the kids along to watch the pros do their thing at the Commonwealth Games Triathlon at Strathclyde Country Park today. What a day, amazing weather, fantastic racing and an incredible atmosphere. There was never any doubt that Glasgow (and Scotland as a whole) would rise to the challenge and after day 1 it's safe to say these games will be a total hit.

It was brilliant to get so close to the athletes - just cm away as they flew by on their bikes or stormed past like gazelles up the hill... 

Check these out...

The Brownlees whizzing by

... and this time without their bikes!

Awesome to see Nicola's boyfriends taking gold and silver too   ;-)

The nerves are beginning to kicking in now and it all seems VERY real when you lay out all the kit you need for the race. We're going on the idea that we can stuff everything in the car and that if we suddenly remember that do-hicky we need, we'll have it in the boot... hopefully it will actually fit ;-)

The training is all done, I've stuck to the plan that Gary at Dig Deep has developed and now I've *just* got to put it into action on the day.... eek

So, for you stat lovers, the scores on the doors are...

Since the start of training on 1st August 2013;

622 sessions
covering 8,725.5 km
elevation of 50,154m
exercised for 559 hours, 51 minutes and 51 seconds
burned 334,749 kCalories.

This breaks down as:

Swim: 82 sessions, 180.3km, 63 hours, 33 mins, 37 seconds

Bike: 176 sessions, 7208.7km, 263 hours, 54 mins and 9 seconds

Run: 163 sessions, 1325km, 157 hours, 45 mins and 36 seconds

Weights / stretches: 199 sessions, 70 hours, 7 minutes and 31 seconds.

A number of people have asked whether or not I'm raising for charity this year. I decided after last year when everyone was incredibly generous that I'd not come round shaking the collection tin.

If, however, you think this madness is deserving of a small donation to a worthy cause, you could donate to the UNICEF appeal launched yesterday at The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony:

Simply text FIRST to 70333 to donate £5 via your phone - simples!

So, I'll sign off for now and update you next week after *hopefully* a successful race at The Outlaw.

You can track me and the rest of the ATHelite team online on the Outlaw website on Sunday 27th July.

Tracking numbers for Team ATHelite: Gav (625), Lorna (141), Alan Stirling (363), Alan Robertson (510), John McManus (715), John Young (1010), Derek Boyd (1028), Graeme Scott (1098), Tony Marlow (1132)

Monday, 14 July 2014

It's all in the numbers...

It's been a couple of weeks since I've updated so this is likely to be a long post... get a coffee / tea and some biscuits and sit in an uncomfortable chair...

Well, less than 2 weeks to go and I'm beginning to get excited / nervous about the race. I've now completed the peak phase of my training and I'm now officially in taper :-)

The last 2 weeks have been pretty full on and I'm looking forward to the reduced workload in the run up to the race.

The first week of July was my biggest training week to date: 21 hours 48 minutes, covering 332km and burning 10,729 kCalories. Last week was less intense, only 15 hours and 55 minutes, covering 177km burning 9,044 kCalories in the process. This week I'll cut down to 11 hours or so and only 5 in the week running up to the Outlaw. All this time on my hands, what will I get up to?! (N6 Physics - woohoo)

We've been using Pinkston Watersports centre in central Glasgow for our open water swimming sessions. It's a 140m x 28m bowl, around 1.7m deep with really clean water just minutes off junction 16 of the M8 - i.e. really easy to get to.

From the Garmin GPS trace it looks like I spent most of the time crawling around the edges of the centre rather than in the water... I know my technique isn't that great but I promise I spent all the time in the water! Hopefully the overall distance I covered was pretty close to the real value - if so I may be able to shave a little time off last year's swim time...

Had a couple of good long runs last week, covering 29km in 2:31:15 on one occasion, having covered 30km in 3:01:00 the week before... oh to be able to hold that pace for a marathon!

The Tour de France came to Yorkshire and the first 2 days were spectacular. Amazing crowds, great scenery and excellent racing. Unfortunately Cav dislocated his shoulder on the final sprint on Stage 1 so no fairytale ending for him. Jens Voigt won the King of the Mountains stage - not bad for a 42 year old (there may be hope for me yet!). I watched the first stage on my turbo trainer, pedalling away for 150 minutes - less than half the time the pros were riding and easily less than half the power they produce.

I spent Sunday 6th as my last long ride, around 4.5 hours battering into headwinds and dealing with the changeable weather conditions (horizontal rain / sun splitting sky) that is the Scottish summer. It's so much easier cycling with other people and that is one of the great reasons to be part of the ATHelite team but there's no drafting in the Outlaw so I rode on my own to build up mental stamina as well as physical. Most folk would say I'm mental enough already...

Boil in the bag wet weather gear... just as the sun splits the sky!

At the base of Tinto hill

I've been struggling for comfort on my new TT bike - unable to hold the aero position for any longer than 5 minutes before my neck and shoulders seized up. Sam (from Sam's massage therapy - 07818 477858) has been doing a great job keeping my muscles from knotting like a kitten with a ball of wool, but given the race is going to be in excess of 5 hours I knew I needed a second opinion on the bike fit.

I booked in to see John Dargie at Dales Cycles for a Specialized Body Geometry fit session.  Now, I've had a couple of RETUL fits previously and I know what a difference a good bike fit can make. This was the best fitting session to date. The first hour was spent looking at physiological testing i.e. my flexibility and strength and then this provided the data for my bike fit to be truly personalised. I've changed saddle which has stopped my hips rocking - a cause of lower back and hip flexor pain and sorted out a couple of issues with my shoes. It turned out that my aero bars were way too close together, causing the pain in my shoulders and deltoids. The good news was Zipp make extenders to move the bars apart - the bad news was the lead-time was 90 days!

After much searching on t'internet I managed to buy a second hand pair on eBay. Now fitted and the bike is a total revelation! I tried these out yesterday on a long cycle and they were great - no shoulder pain and much easier to hold aero position (= less air resistance = more speed for the same power). Unfortunately I had 2 punctures in the front wheel (and only one spare tubular tyre) so my ride was cut short and I had a taxi ride home from East Kilbride! As long as this doesn't happen in the race I'm happy. Michael has pointed me towards some (hopefully) indestructible tyres that I'll fit prior to race day to minimise the risk of puncturing - although I'll still probably carry everything (including the kitchen sink) to fix any mechanicals on the day.

Moving the bars out an additional 20mm meant bike has moved from an instrument of torture to a speed weapon!

On the 9th of July I found out my Outlaw number: 625

Now, I'm in no way superstitious and I don't normally get overly excited about numbers but it turns out that 625 was my Dad's squadron during WW2. He was a navigator in Lancaster bombers and was in 625 before moving to 550 squadron late in 1944. I performed a quick Google search and found this photo of him (second from the left) that I'd never seen before:

Amazing what you can find online these days.  :-)

One of my friends came up with a lovely idea to draw a wee RAF roundel on my hand so I could use it for an energy boost during the race - thanks Angela!  I've already added a roundel to my bike name tag:

Hopefully I'll be flying on this on race day. :-)

The Outlaw medal this year is especially cool... I'm looking forward to the first beer opened after finishing with this...

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