Sunday, 28 July 2013

An easy week - a bit of an Achilles niggle

Not checked in for a while - sorry!

Been a bit of an easy week following my 'A' race last Sunday. Still have a bit of pain in my Achilles, not too serious but just a little twinge after any period of inactivity (i.e. getting out of bed) or at the start on a run (normally eases after first 1km). I originally felt it the day after I cycled up Ditchling Beacon on my friend's cyclocross bike when in my trainers. Hopefully it will simply get better with a bit of rest and some easy exercise and light stretching.

Need to sort my road bike out for next Sunday, which is the inaugural RideLondon 100 event. Ribble has inspected my frame but unfortunately is not willing to do any deal on a replacement even if I give them a decent parts order (new Campagnolo groupset plus wheels). I am now looking at two options - simply replacing the worn components on my Ribble Gran Fondo (bottom bracket, chain, cassette, chainset and cables) or using my company's Ride2Work scheme and buying a complete new bike. Although I like the sound of a new bike and am investigating a couple of very nice machines it is doubtful I will have sorted by Saturday when I have to travel up to London for the 100 mile event. So it looks likely to be a patch up job in the short-term.

In terms of new bikes I currently like the look of the Trek Madone 4.5 C H2 or a heavily discounted carbon Jamis that I have seen with full Ultegra electronic Di2 for about the same price. Both would set me back around £1,700 but I still hope to get £500-£700 for my Ribble, despite the minor paint imperfections (apparently not structural damage). Even so - a lot of money and something I will have to continue to sleep on.

Will try to get 1-2 cycle rides in before Saturday plus at least a couple of easy runs and the long Club swim. That should hopefully do me.

Before my summer holiday I also hope to do a full week of commuting - approx. 300km if I could manage it #nextgoal

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Vachery race report - good result but a few schoolboy errors

So today was my 'A' race - Vachery middle distance triathlon.

I was up at 4:15 and at the event for just gone 5am when registration opened. The atmosphere was nice and relaxed with some soothing tunes coming over the loudspeaker. So good so far.

When setting up my bike we heard that news that wetsuits were banned for Olympic distance and below but optional for the longer middle distance event. I would have preferred a decision one way or the other but now I was forced with a decision. I do like the buoyancy that a wetsuit gives you but am not much quicker wearing one. The race official persuaded me out of it and I walked to the lake and race briefing in my tri suit.  Looking around I realised most athletes had a wetsuit on so I bottled it and ran back to transition to grab my wetsuit - I had 15-20mins before my wave started.

First small mistake was coming back without any Vaseline or lube, which normally helps me from rubbing around the neck and arm area. Luckily Chris was on hand with his bag and Vaseline (he was doing the Olympic event a little later in the morning). Before I knew it I was in the lake and kind of glad I had gone with the wetsuit option.

The klaxon went off and we were away for the first leg and a full 1,900m swim. There was a lot of pond weed and lilies in the lake, which made the going very difficult in a few places, however for the most part I was setting a decent pace and sighting well to keep me on track. I even got a bit of a draft from a few swimmers. The swim seemed to go quite quickly and before I knew it I was been helped out of the water onto the pontoon for a time of 35mins. My legs were still fresh and I was feeling good. Next schoolboy error - I dropped my new swim goggles on the long run from the lake to transition and decided to head back to get them. Only 30-40 seconds wasted but I could have done without that!

Next error and one I wouldn't realise to later in the race. I must have pulled my timing chip off as I pulled off my wetsuit so no official T1, bike split and T2 time - silly boy! Overall the bike was not super fast and I plodded up the steep Leith Hill (twice), however I was pleased with my nutrition and felt pretty good throughout. On the flat I managed to put the pedal down and increased my average speed to just under 30km, not too bad considering the hilly route and sharp descents.

My final schoolboy error came as I came into T2 - I couldn't find my bike spot and running shoes. You should always review swim in, bike in/out and run in/out and did I - no! That is almost on page 1 of 'how to race triathlons' and I know this stuff - what was I thinking.

Anyway, finally got to my gear, found my timing chip in the leg of my wetsuit and put it on - all good to go. I thought the 20km run would be agony but actually I was feeling pretty good, averaging between 4:45 to 5:30mins per km on the varied terrain (grass, gravel and road). It was nice to see some of the Club members as it was a double loop and I managed a few 'high 5's' with my pals. I was still feeling strong for the last 5km and even managed a bit of a sprint for the finish line.

My time was 5:08 and change and given my few schoolboy errors, which probably added 2-3mins I was pretty pleased. I immediately went to the timing chip company and explained my problem with the timing chip. They recommended I e-mail the company with proof that I completed the bike route. Fortunately I had a full record on my Garmin plus hopefully a few choice pictures from the official photographers - I am a bit of a poser. I have already sent the proof so am hoping that I do not end up with a 'Did not Finish' (DNF).

Anyway, I know I completed the full 1,900m swim, 80km bike and 20km run - a little less than a standard 70.3 event - and am putting it down as a personal best. I am most pleased with my swim and run, a much different result than previous half-Ironman distances I have completed at Antwerp and in the New Forest.

The good news is that I feel fine and at the moment (at least) have know aches and pains or funny tummy / appetite issues (as in the past).

I might be getting the hang of this triathlon business!

N.B. Well done to Mark Davis (the organiser of the Vachery event) and all his crew - a great event

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Dress rehearsal - brick session to finish off the week

Sunday morning and by 7:30am I was out with Tri suit, TT bike, 'Sonic the Hedgehog' aero helmet for a brick session in preparation for the Vachery middle distance event next week.

15min warm up, followed by 2x of the Southwater relay course (approx. 18km loops) and then 15min cool down. Full distance was done at pretty decent speed (above 30km per hour). After 1:35 on the bike I was back home and within a minute had transitioned to run mode. My ankles were a little tight to start with but soon I was feeling pretty good and was quite surprised at my fast run pace: 4:00 to 4:30 min. per km. It was approx. 22:30 at the 5km turnaround point. Definitely a little slower on the return run but all completed in just over 46mins. Hope I can maintain similar speeds on the bike and the run next week for Vachery.

Been a little light in training volume this week with just under 9 hours but acceptable. Next week will be even lighter as I taper for Vachery.

I did however manage to get in my minimum 2 swims this week although one was a little more unusual. I found myself in Brighton on Wednesday evening and decided to join Brighton Tri Club for one of their the weekly swims at Pells Pool in Lewes. It is an old 50m length outside pool with plenty of width, which makes it excellent for open water swimming practice in a safe environment. We practiced sight breathing, drafting and turns all in a wetsuit. Then we put it all together and swam 10 circuits (around 1km) around floating markers (spacehoppers) positioned in the four corners of the large pool. All good stuff and a very friendly bunch of triathletes at all levels.

Probably take Monday as a rest day and Tuesday as an easy 2:00 ride. More swimming and running planned for later in the week but nothing too heavy.

Monday, 8 July 2013

More focus - preparation for Vachery

Last week was generally a better one for overall focus and training volumes. I managed a relatively decent 10 hours with a good mix of cycling, running and swimming. Still a little light on swimming, over the last month I have been averaging only a single swim session per week rather than my normal two or preferred three.

The training included some decent interval sets and a Vachery cycle loop, trying to getting more race specific prior to the 70.3 event in a fortnight's time.

I performed the bike interval sets on my morning commute (Tue / Wed) - following a 10 min warm up, 8x (0:30 all-out + 4:30 easy) with a 10 min cool down to finish. Still on the singlespeed bike but managed speeds of 40km per hour on the 0:30 sets. This week I plan on completing some longer interval sets of 4x  (8 mins hard + 2 mins recovery).

One of my runs included some hill reps, which should help to improve my strength further.

The Vachery loop was a sensible idea, which Chris, my old training partner, and myself rode on our TT / Tri bikes to get a good feel for the route and effort required on the hill climbs. It has plenty of variety with fast descents, sharp turns, long roads ideal for the aero position and hill climbs (Leith Hill being the big one). It is route that you could equally cycle on a road or a TT / Tri bike. I do not think it is a course for PBs but the variety should make for an enjoyable, albeit tough, event.

My plan is to get another 10-12 hours in this week with a similar range of activities, including 2 swims (minimum) and a brick session on Sunday morning (2 hour TT + 1 hour run).

I will let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Evans Cycle Event

Brewin Dolphin hosted a fundraising evening with legendary cyclist, Sean Yates, at Evans Cycles (Brighton) last week.

There was a decent turnout for the event with the majority of the attendees being from Brighton Tri Club and Horsham Amphibians Triathlon.

The highlight of the evening was a Q&A session with Sean Yates. It was an interesting insight to the world of professional cycling with some good stories about Lance Armstrong, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to name a few. 

When asked about what amateur cyclists could do to get faster Sean's top answers were lose a few pounds and train to improve power to weight ratio. He was also keen to recommend training by power and confirmed cycling had come a long way in the area of sports science.

All good stuff, made even better by a 10% discount on the night.

I noticed most of the Evans staff owned Brompton bikes. Since the event I have found myself investigating folding bikes and thinking how I could use one on my travels. Could be the next purchase via the Ride2Work scheme!

Evans Event - Brighton

E-Bike adventure

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