Thursday, November 29, 2012

an open water swim at coogee

last week i entered my first stand alone open water swim since this time last year when i did the rotto swim thru.  i had this moment of panic that my swimming hasnt been enough.  that i had spent too much time just plodding along because my legs were always knackered.   i had also never swam in my wetsuit over 1.9k so it needed to be tested.  my last swim at mandurah i felt i had struggled to breathe and the wetsuit was too tight.

these events are organised by swimming wa and are usually pretty good.  but this one took ages to start as they struggled to get the course buoys right.  the first wave was the 500m swimmers who do the course with a chaperon.  this is fantastic for getting people into the sport.  they dont start any other wave until the last 500m swimmer is back.  

the second wave was the 5k swimmers and i was in the third wave for 2.5k.  i felt good and the wetsuit felt okay too.  the water temp was around 21 degrees, very little wind or current so perfect conditions.

heading out to the deep water start i felt good and the previous warm up swim had felt okay too.  the gun sounded and off i went.  it was a great swim.  the first lap was just finding my rhythm and place amongst the swimmers.  as usual i was very slow but began to pick people off and pass them.  i was also swam over by a few of the 5k swimmers.  there were no stingers at all so it really was perfect conditions.  as usual we had the surf lifesavers patrolling the water and the westpac helicopter had been overhead checking for marine life.  

on the second lap i decided that i needed to practice swimming more to my right.  i swim bilateral in the pool but only to my strong left side in open water.  but i was so comfortable in the water and my breathing was going so well i swam the whole second lap bilateral.  this is a huge confidence boost for me and the swim overall did wonders for my confidence.  my wetsuit felt good the whole time and if there are any trouble spots i know where they are.  i really had time to think about my technique and observe.

swam past a few people to the finish line for a decent 53 minute swim.  after this i headed off to claremont for a double swim day and did an hour session with the squads.  i went surprisingly well and know that the endurance miles have been done.  got home and on the bike for a 90 minute ride followed by a 50 minute run.  and for once i managed to get home just before a massive storm (with hail) came through.

just about to finish work and head off to the pool.  i am officially on holidays for 10 days.  whaa hooo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

nutrition and the dilemma of what to wear

everyone who goes down the path of long course triathlon has to develop a nutrition plan.  if you dont all sorts of bad things can happen.  i have read a lot of race reports and nutrition gets a mention every time.  some plans are so damn complicated you need a university degree to keep up while others are as basic as they come.  nutrition is the fourth discipline of triathlon.  recovery is the fifth.  

i have elected to adopt the 'kiss' principle of 'keep it simple stupid'.  i know that i need to consume 1 gram of carbs per kilo of body weight per hour and i know the approx amount of calories.  i also know how much fluid to take in.  i have the motto of  'drink a little a lot'.  i use gu gels and i drink gu brew.  on course they will have gatorade and i dont have a problem with that.  i use shotz electrolytes.  i usually have a couple of cliff bars or similar.  i like eating bananas.  i need to remember to drink my shotz before and after gels otherwise i can get a bit bloated and i think my body isnt processing the gels well enough.  

i can be bad when running and not eat or drink enough and this is where drinking a little a lot will be important.  i plan to continue with the gu gels/shotz/brew up until the 20k mark.  then i will stop the gels and start to include  the magic elixir of coke.  

i have three other tools in my little bag of tricks.  i always carry nurofen plus, gastro stop and salt sticks.  depending on how things go the only one i will use is the salt stick tablets.

i still havent quite decided if i will have a special needs bag or not.  for either the bike or the run.  i am thinking a frozen red bull and maybe a long shirt for the run.  i really want to keep this simple and aside from the fitness benefits training does give you a huge opportunity to figure all this out.  the only variable that has me thinking i will need emergency items is the weather.  if the weather is hot things can change and training over winter doesnt give you the chance to test it all.

when it comes to the decision of what to wear i have opted for comfort.  this event is not about time.  the only result i am interested in is enjoying myself and finishing.  it would be naive to think that i dont have a goal time in mind but i keep this in a box that i dont open until it is time.  having a personal focus ensures i dont do anything stupid and burn all my matches too early in the day.  i tested my wetsuit over a longer distance on the weekend and it  went well.  i will probably just wear my swimmers over my sports bra.  the big thing here is to apply lots of glide and avoid chaffing at all costs.  i am wearing my tried and tested bike gear.  that means my endurance 2xu bike shorts with the great padding.  i will wear one of my oldest but most comfortable bike jerseys and my zoot armcoolers.  i have to decide between the effect of being a little warmer but protected and avoiding sunburn/ sun stroke or being able to sweat freely and have the feeling of being cooler.  you cannot underestimate the impact of the sun.  the arm coolers are great and even better when you throw water over them.  sunscreen does not stop you getting sunburnt.  i am also going to wear my triathlon bike shoes without socks.  these are bigger and will be better if my feet swell in the heat.  i have pretty much assumed that the day will be hot.  somethings may change if this turns out not to be the case.  

in transition i will be taking my time.  i will re-apply sunscreen and deodorant.  i dont want to stink all day.  i want it to feel like it is just another training day.  for the run i am wearing my run gear.  a pair of short A400 skins, my nike running singlet and nike hat.  i have a spi running belt that i can carry a few goodies in.  this will include blister bandaids and my little drug supply as above.  i will rely on the aid stations for everything else.

it would be nice to be able to do the event in one outfit but the two factors that swayed me to go for a change is the risk of sunburn and while my ugly seat is amazingly comfortable i still want the added padding on the bike.

there is nothing here that i have not used before as we all know the golden rule if racing - never try anything new.  i am a little worried on the nutrition side of things.  training is never exactly the same as putting it altogether on the day.  i know i just have to be disciplined and things should come together.

it is officially taper time and it feels weird.  i feel like i am not doing anything but getting fat. i am also really really hating work at the moment. i just want to be away from this place.  i could easily just pick up my bag and walkout of here.  the girl that works here - actually that is a lie as she doesnt work she just fucks around all day.  well she is annoying me beyond belief.  i am not talking to her as i may say something i will regret.  i am really paranoid about getting sick.  i know i will start to relax once i am done with work.  2.5 days.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

ironman run course and an update

42 kilometres.  this i have not done before and especially after a 180k bike ride.  so as it is for most people this will be the really challenging part for me.  but as my dad recently reminded me i need to focus on each part and not the whole.  and for me it is 4 x 10k laps.  i never refer to it in its entirety.  they have changed the run course again this year so i hope it keeps the great atmosphere that it is known for.  it basically heads out west along the coast to a turn around and then you run back past transition to another turnaround.  again staying adjacent to the coast.  you collect 4 bands as you complete each lap.  the course is flat, probably hot and maybe a bit of a breeze.  if the bike is hot and windy it will be a little tougher.

as we know i do not have a huge run background.  i have never done a half marathon as a stand alone event and i have never run further than my longest training run (last month) which was 27k.  my programme was written with my history taken into account.  it had a bigger focus on the bike and doing longer bricks off the bike.  i also changed to running alot more on the treadmill and this certainly had an impact on me being (touch wood) injury free at the end of ironman training.  another huge positive is that my cadence has improved and along with improved fitness i am running faster.  i dont know if this will flow through to the big day but i have felt great doing short bricks after my longest rides so i can only take that as a positive.

my plan is to run as far as i can for as long as i can and see how much i can handle past a half marathon.  i will then walk the aid stations and just take things as they come.  i am expecting the end of the third lap and beginning of the last lap to be the most difficult.  after that i am hoping that the adrenalin will kick in and bring me home.  my dad and brother are going to track me live and drive down from bunbury when i get close to being half way through the run.  hopefully i will get to see them before and at the finish line.  i am worried how i will cope and this is where the mind will play a more significant role.

from speaking to other people and knowing that one of the biggest challenges is getting to the ironman start line fit and healthy it seems i have done well to get through training without a major injury (again touchwood - i am starting to get paranoid about this and people with colds/flu etc).  i think i have trained smarter and i have put a great deal of effort into my recovery.  sometimes i get a little annoyed when people say to me that i am lucky and i guess luck does have a part to play but so does the many hours i spend preventing injury.  i stretch, i do yoga, i suffer ice baths after long runs and a few long rides.  i use compression and i rub arnica cream into aching muscles.  i have a massage every two weeks and trust me this is a most painful experience and not cheap.  i get physio when i need it.  after trying everything i could google i finally got my pf under control.  that was a long haul.  

this is my last week of any real sort of training.  my two biggest weeks feel like forever ago.  this week has been tough.  i am over it all.  i am tired and sick of the smell of sweaty lycra and unwashed drink bottles.  work has been busy and molly dog has been back at the vets.  i started panicking last week about my swimming so put some big swims in and then signed up for an open water swim this saturday at coogee.  it wont make any difference to my fitness but swimming 2.5k in my wetsuit in open water will be a huge confidence booster.  i worry that i havent done enough.  i ran my last long run yesterday - 20k.  i was meant to do a 2.5 hour trainer ride today  but i have (again) swapped it for a ride outside.  i dont feel like i am ironman fit.  i really should be pretty happy with my training.  i never missed a bike session.  only two runs were cut short by 15 minutes otherwise they all got done.  i did miss a few swims and some of the ones i did do were crap sessions as my legs were fucked.  upon reflection i hope i will appreciate all this a great deal more.  especially when i am out on the course and hopefully not suffering as much as other people.  

the fun news today is that i managed to get in and sign up for cairns 70.3 ironman in june 2013.  i took a chance and did not enter busselton 70.3 for may 2013.  the bike course is amazing and i have never been to cairns.  i had already booked my flight using frequent flyer points so i really did take a chance. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

ironman 70.3 mandurah race report 2012

this went better than expected and  at some point i am going to have to start believing in myself a bit more.  so the bike drop off was easy.    the merchandise was terrible.  all they had was a grey t-shirt or hoodie.  i actually asked if they had sold out but they said that this was the total range.  very weird.  i thought ironman loved to make money.  there was virtually no expo at all. i checked out the course and then headed back home.

i had a terrible nights sleep and was up at 3.30 am.  drove in record time back down to mandurah and arrived by 5.15am.  i got a good parking spot and into the porta loo before they had been destroyed by the men.  got my gear set up in transition and had a good chat to alana who was two bikes down from me.  also caught up with scotty from work who was doing his first bike leg as part of a team.  rick (from my physio/massage place) was directly across from me and wished him luck too.  conditions looked to be great and very little wind.  water temp was 19 so wetsuits optional.  

i headed over to the gear drop off and got my wetsuit on.  met a couple of girls doing the same thing and we walked over to the swim start together.  i had bought a $2 pair of thongs so made the walk a bit more comfortable.  we were all in wave 4.  i was starting to feel a bit nervous.  not sure how the wetsuit would feel, i didnt know if the legs would be there and i had physio on my shoulder on thursday and saturday and while it was feeling pretty good who knew ?  it was my favourite deep water start and we climbed down some stairs and into the water.  it was quite fresh but we had a few minutes to adjust and float down to the starting buoys.  this swim course is in the canals of mandurah and you are surrounded by very expensive houses and very big boats.  you get to see how the other half live and i have to say this is the easiest swim course EVER.  

we headed off and it was all very polite and so much room.  it was easy to sight as you are in a friggin canal.  my first point to point swim.   with each breath you got to see another house and people sitting out on their balconies watching the action.  i was a bit breathless and really struggled for consistency and rhythm.  i had one patch where i felt okay but then lost it.  i am not sure but i think the wetsuit is a bit tight.  its the big guns i am now sporting.  you also swim with a slight current and the water was very smooth with no chop at all. i probably wasted a very good opportunity to set a pb.

it did seem to take forever but it was only 32 minutes or so before i climbed up another set of steps. a very quick swim.  i walked while getting my wetsuit down.  training session remember.  then i felt bad and had a bit of jog into transition which was about 300-400 meters away.  i did hear that some guy got a DQ for getting naked in transition.  for the first time ever they actually had changing tents so i guess no excuse.  i took my time and had a chat to a guy taking official photos.

the bike heads out over the old mandurah bridge and out onto mandurah road for a straight ride for 20 odd kms.  this was into a bit of a head/cross breeze.  most of the road is very smooth but there is one section that  is course and a bit bumpy.  turn around is at stakehill road and on your way back there is a little side detour down paganoni road.  this is very smooth but has a couple of little roller hills.  amazing how many people attacked these small lumps like they were climbing the biggest hill in the tour de france.  i took it easy for the first out and enjoyed seeing the professionals heading back in to town.  they never lapped me either.  the ride back in was very quick and i dont know why but i turned at the very first roundabout thinking that even though there was no sign this was it.  fuckwit.  so i did a little lap of that roundabout before heading further into town and the correct roundabout.  heading back out was a different story.  the wind had picked up and it was going to be a slog to get to stakehill road.

i took it steady and easy and just made sure i was never in a position to get busted for drafting and i tried to avoid the constant surges to pass people.  coming back in was quick and at times i was doing over 40 km per hour.  yeeehaaaaaa.  i passed a few people and put in a bit more effort to get it done.  back into transition and again i did not rush things.  put my compression calf socks things on and then my socks and shoes.  grabbed my hat and my little special needs snap lock bag and headed out. the legs felt NORMAL.  the bike time was around 2.50. 

the run course took you back over the bridge and into town for a small loop past the finish line and main town centre.  the atmosphere here was wonderful.  you also collected your first band before heading back out on the first loop.  kilometre number one was way too fast at 5.20 so i nipped that in the bud.  lots of great support out on the course and luckily for me quite a few people i knew - either cheering on the sidelines or running and so i never felt lonely. including coach paul from swim smooth who always gets you going.   the first lap felt pretty good and everyone looked great.  second lap it was a different story.  and i passed quite a few of those people who smashed it up out on the bike course.  even the pumped up guy in the fluro speedos.  he raced past me on the first lap and then i ran past him as he was walking the second.  the course is a little cramped in some spots and the section up to the headland is a bit of a challenge but i really enjoyed things.  the legs felt good most of the time but i did start to get a blister on my left foot at the 10k mark.  this is new.  i just ignored it.  towards the end i was just plain tired.  nice final run past the crowds before crossing the finish line.  i got a great welcome from the volunteers and a big fat medal.  i will do anything for a medal and a t-shirt and i got both.  the finisher shirt was pretty good too. run time was approx 2.14.

so the wrap up.  at the beginning i was worried that my ego would not let me set the right pace.  i didnt want to go over the six hour mark as my previous two races were under and this had become a little bit important to me.  then i really did not know if i would have legs in the swim or even for the whole race.  i think you will always be happy with a race if you achieve beyond your expectations and this may have nothing to do with your time.  i had fun at this race and the most fun in awhile.  this was because i really had no pressure and because of the great support on the day.  and i think some of that great fun feeling comes from the fact that i exceeded my goals.  i felt great all day and it was only at the very end that i felt a bit tired.  i was disappointed with busselton last year as the weather prevented me from getting the 5.30 time i believe i am capable of.  this raced proved that i do have a 5.30 in me.  i just need the weather planets and a few other things to align at the right time.

so with a pb at a training race things are looking good for the full.  i will be back for this race next year and there will be no holding back and i will be nicely tapered.  total time 5.50 something.