Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A long weekend of decent weather and some successful training sessions

Last week I entered a weekly goal of 10 hours plus of quality training within the   Garmin Connect on-line tool.

By Thursday I already had close to 7 hours in the bank so I was well on track. Friday was taken as a rest day but I was well up for getting outdoors and some training over the long sunny weekend.

Saturday morning began as normal with the Club swim - lots of pace work. On early Sunday morning the South Downs beckoned and I couldn't resist dusting off the old Ellsworth Epiphany full suspension stallion and heading for those hills. It has been a while since I have been on the MTB and I was smiling all the way - fantastic weather and great trails. Despite my lack of recent mountain biking training I was still able to get up the steepest of hills passing a number of cyclists walking up the tough parts of the South Downs Way. I sometimes have to remind myself that I mostly got into triathlon because I wanted to get fitter in order to keep up with the stronger local MTB riders. Anyway it was just great to enjoy the biking and the fantastic area which I live - I am very fortunate to have such wonderful rides on my doorstep.



Sunday afternoon saw me back at the lake for a similar open water swim session to last week although I was pleased to focus on a more aggressive style and higher arm cadence.

So ended the week with well over 11 hours of training - goal achieved!

On Monday I woke to more sun so was happy to cycle to the Coast and meet my work buddies, Ewen and Charlie, at Sea Lane Cafe, Goring-by-Sea (pictured below).




From Goring we headed off towards Arundel and then a big climb to the top of Bury Hill before descending at speed (over 60km per hour) towards Pulborough. It was there where I left the boys who continued their journey as I headed for home. An enjoyable session including hills, speed and easy riding, 62km in total.

The long weekend ended with an easy 5km trail run before dinner.

A busy week ahead with 2 days in London so probably lighter on the training front. Only a fortnight to my first charity ride - London 2 Paris

Friday, 24 May 2013

An evening with legendary cyclist Sean Yates - a Brewin Dolphin event at Evans Cycles (Brighton)



Evans Cycles (Brighton) has also kindly offered a 10% discount for the evening (not applied to goods already discounted)


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

First open water swim of the season

I was intending to go for an easy run on Sunday morning following my long bike ride the day before but the thought of a lie in was just too great. Thereafter I had planned some family time.

Fortunately by 5pm I had a spare hour so headed to Southwater lake for my first open water swim of the season. The Tri Club I belong to have recently begun to offer open water coaching so Coach NF (Nick Finch) was there with some useful advice. One thing I learnt, which was completely new to me, was that drafting should be ideally done by the side of the swimmer in front, just behind the arm pull through rather than directly on the toes. After a couple of warm up lengths (each approx. 250m) we tried some drafting exercises in couples. Then we did a group swim and completed a lap of the lake. Probably 1,600m in total, which was enough for my first venture out.

Most triathletes swim faster in a wetsuit because it provides some buoyancy, however for some reason I don't feel I get much benefit. I mentioned this to Coach NF and he reckoned that my swim stroke is a little too smooth and not aggressive enough for open water swimming. I need to practice lifting my arms faster and higher/wider - slightly more thrashing  of the water rather than my relaxed gliding effort.

Since the Sunday swim I have put in some decent training sessions and a few hours in the bank:

Mon - 11km easy Z1-2 run along Brighton seafront
Tue - 60km commute on the bike with a decent tempo set covering 20km in approx. 37mins on a rolling route
Wed - push/run set around Preston Park followed by the Club swim session in the evening, which focussed on pace work and included a 1,500m set at the end.
Thu (today) - another 60km bike commute planned. This morning I had a focus on hill work. Probably an easy return.

As for the rest of the week - may be another run (strides set or short time trial) on Friday will be in order. Saturday morning is back at the pool with the Club. Sunday possibly a brick set then open water swimming in the afternoon. By tonight I would have completed 7.5 hours so I expect to have 10-12 in the bank for the week.

South Downs Spring Sportive - event report

On Saturday morning I lined up at the start line with two of my friends / work colleagues for my first sportive this season. The event was titled the 'Cycling Weekly South Downs Spring Sportive', start location: Plumpton and organiser was www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk. We had gone for the 'Epic' route, which measured 74 miles or 120km in distance.

I do love the more informal and social aspect of a sportive, going off in small groups and generally building up speed over the first few miles. Saying that Team Brewin Dolphin (Ewen, Charlie and myself) set off at a decent pace from the start. Up to the first stop (60km) we were averaging over 30km per hour on a rolling course. After a 10min toilet break and an opportunity to load up on energy (great range of food incl. peanut butter sandwiches, flapjack, fig rolls and other goodies) we were on our way again. Our speed remained relatively high but the second half had many more hills that slowed the progress a little. Charlie was our hill man, being the lightest in the team by some margin. He shot up the hills like a whippet leaving us to catch him on the other side. Ewen was the powerhouse and took his turn at the front many times allowing Charlie and I to benefit from some drafting on the long flat sections. Then there was the oldboy 'Tri Hard Dave' - 'Mr Endurance', not bad throughout but probably the best at getting aero on the descents.

Thanks to Charlie and Ewen I think this was one of the best sportives I have ever completed. I always have no problem covering the distances but never really pushed the pace. The boys certainly made it a goal to get a decent time and help each other throughout the ride. We had no problem acquiring 'Gold' status, covering the distance in 4 hours 26 mins (ride time was approx 4:15), despite a slower second half because of the many hills.

Full details of route and stats can be found via my Garmin Connect page (cadence data incorrect):

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/315094103#.UZlOV8UQz1M.email



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A decent session in the aero position

An early start on Sunday but pleased to be out, this time on the Titanium Omega Stealth (my time trial / triathlon bike). I even wore my 'Sonic the Hedgehog' aero teardrop helmet to get me in the mood.

I will be honest and first to say that it wasn't the fastest of rides, however I managed to stay aero for a good 80-90% of the time. I completed the 60km loop of the Petworth area and back in 2:15, which was mostly Zone 2 aerobic work. In race conditions I would expect to cover the distance in sub 2 hours, although that wasn't the objective of the session.

I had hoped to complete the day with my first dip in Southwater lake for some open water training but unfortunately the weather turned very nasty and the idea lost its appeal.

Monday was a rest day simply because I had family commitments and unable to allocate any training time. On Tuesday I was back on the bike. The night before I had eaten poorly and was not feeling good about my food choices so for punishment I decided on a longer route to work which included the tough Ditchling Beacon climb. Actually it was a relatively easy morning ride but it was a different story for the commute home. The heavens opened up that afternoon and I thought I may need a canoe to get home rather than a bike. My wife kindly contacted me with offers of a lift however in true Ironman fashion I decided to face the music and ride the 28km home. In minutes I was completely drenched and soaked to the skin. The wind was also fierce along the seafront and I struggled to keep the bike upright. Funnily enough once I was as about as wet as I was going to get I started to enjoy the ride. I handled everything the weather could throw at me and my mindset changed to 'bring it on'! Saying that I was pleased to finally make it home and enjoyed a warm shower.

Wednesday morning was a strides set - pretty basic: 15 mins warm up, 10x 30 secs all out + 30 secs recovery, cool down. Unfortunately I had to miss my Wednesday Club swimming session as I was staying overnight in Brighton on business. This morning was a 11km run including 3x hill reps thrown in for good measure, each one at increased speed / intensity. Tomorrow morning I might hit the gym or if the weather is as great as it was today I will be out for another run.

Missing more swimming on Saturday morning but have a 72 mile Sportive to contend with, decent mileage which I need in my training. If all goes to plan maybe an early morning run on Sunday and then  another attempt at a lake swim in the evening.

That brings me full circle and another week of training. I will report back on the sportive and whether I finally get in the lake.

Happy training and keep the rubber side down.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

How fast can I go

Quick update on the week so far:

Tue: 2 hours (38 miles) on the bike - hill route via Devils' Dyke into work followed by fast rolling route for return leg home

Wed: 1:30 Club swim - mix of longer 600m sets and fast speed work. Used my pullbuoy for some of the longer sets.

Some of the guys I swim with were amused that I was getting a slight rash on my right shoulder, which turned out to be razor burn as I turn my head to the right and it rubs against my shoulder as my arms rotate. One friendly person said that it was probably because I was quite muscle bound in the shoulder area. To be honest I think that is code for 'your technique is crap and you need to rotate the arms wider'. That is one solution, an easier option is to simply shave before every swim!

Thu: 0:40 run - gentle warm up for 15 mins and then fast 2.5km on track (Preston Park Velo - Garmin to accurately measure distance) before cool down. I wanted to break 10mins for 2.5km. My average pace came in at 3:55mins per km, which meant I scraped in at 9:48mins. Over the coming weeks I plan to do similar speed sets but build up the distance by 0.5km each time. The goal is to beat my 5km PB of 21:27 and over time complete the distance sub 20mins.

I might start competing in the 5km Park Run events normally held on Saturday mornings at least once a month (i.e. miss my Club swim and replace with a run). Meanwhile, still more focus needed on the bike. If I struggle to get in a commute tomorrow I plan to jump on the rollers / turbo in the evening. I also plan to be up early Sunday morning to get in a 2-3 hour ride - remember those! 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Taking it easy by the River

As expected last week was pretty light on the training front. Got an easy bike commute in on Wednesday as unable to swim that evening (family dinner planned). Thursday morning was a 45min run / strength set around Preston Park.

I had planned a nice weekend away with my wife (Fri-Sun) as it was our 18th anniversary. We stayed at a comfortable hotel in Hampshire which had a half decent gym and swimming pool. Friday before dinner we tried the pool, sauna and steam room - all relaxing stuff.

When away I love a cooked breakfast but do feel I have to earn it first. So on both Saturday and Sunday morning I was up at 7am and first in the gym for hard one hour sessions of cardio and weights, followed by a brief swim to cool down. I certainly got the blood pumping and was sweating buckets by the end of each session. I planned it to perfection as I was back in our room before 8:30am to wake the wifey up with a cup of tea. Breakfast followed at 9:30am and I didn't feel too guilty going for the cooked option.

As we had been away for the weekend I promised the children a trip to Thorpe Park on our return. I quite like all the rides but as I am getting older they are becoming less of an interest. My thoughts were I would go on a few and them camp out at the local Costa Coffee outlet at the Park with a good book. Then I started to think a little bit more like a triathlete... My plan developed into the following:

I drove the children to Thorpe Park, got them tickets and ensured they were safely inside. My daughter and boyfriend are quite responsible so they were kind enough to keep an eye on the younger boys (my 11-year old son and his mate). They have been to the Park many times and always tend to go off on their own so I didn't feel they needed me there anyway.

Meanwhile, I changed into my running gear and headed off on a route I worked out last night on Google Maps. I ran about 4km up the A320 and across the river. Then it was a good 8km run along the river bank in glorious sunshine passing the lovely riverside properties before hitting a bridge at Chertsey, which got me back to Thorpe Park - an easy 14km run.

During my run I found a nice riverside spot opposite an Esso petrol station where I could grab a Costa coffee and some semi-healthy food (sandwich + fruit). I decided to head back to my newly found spot after my run. If I had gone into Thorpe Park I would have probably ended up eating a KFC - tasty but certainly not healthy.

I am pleased that I made a couple of healthier choices, saved myself a bit of cash yet my children are still happy with a good day out - everyone's a winner!

The plan is to be back on the bike tomorrow and Thursday, running Wednesday and Friday, and swimming on Wednesday and Saturday. I really do need to start to get a few 3-4 hour bike rides in the bank if I want to have a decent middle-distance race at Vachery.

I leave you with the view from the Thames.



New running shoes and new SwimRun kit on its way

I decided to upgrade my trusty ASICS GT-2000 Series 7 to the new Series 8. I had run about 600km in my old shoes but had started to get some...