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I've been wanting to get back in the gym for ages; just as I was getting set up for it, LEJOG prep and now a triathlon have got me with their beams of shiny.  Once Burnham is done and dusted...

A shift all-out to some focused lifting.  I looked at a strength assessment a while back and it reminded me (bigtime) that I'm a fair squatter, a really rather good deadlifter, but a novice bench-presser.  It's been an avoid-training-weaknesses-because-they-suck thing.  Well, balls to that.  I'm going to go with 12 weeks of the 5x5 programme, which has a good reputation and satisfies my urge to pick up heavy things and put them down again.   

One thing I got from LEJOG was a grok of the idea that repeat small stuff makes big results.  I think that reflecting that on the winter's deadlift goal -- where it was less structured but still solid -- I have a mental toolkit for plugging away at this and not letting myself get derailed.  Bored, distracted, or whatever, yes, but almost a degree of detachment that should keep me on track.  Less "this sucks" because there's always an hour of suck, so just ignore it; less "ooh shiny" because shiny isn't going to get the miles in.

Also: that 74-year-old gymrat grannyAwesome.  My inner transhumanist wants to see Aubrey de Grey all buffed up and greybearded, so it does.  Between her and Jack laLanne and the inevitable wonderful old gimmer plugging round every club tri circuit, I think Yoda needs updating: "When this old you are, look this good you may well."
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This year's go at Burnham Triathlon in two weeks' time is going to be a spectacular ass-pull.  I haven't run since winter, haven't swum all year, and all my cycling has been of an entirely different character (super low effort, super long duration); my high-effort cardio fitness is somewhere back with the autumn leaves, I think.  The Auld Knee is another factor: it hates torque, and TT riding is torquey spin. 

So, some tests before actually racing:

Swim: Can I actually remember how to swim crawl at all?    If I can, can I get back to the required 20 lengths without puking up a lung?  Get in the pool and JFDI.

Bike: Does riding hard hurt?  And more importantly, does the hurt matter?  Through LEJOG there was plenty of hurt, but ample ibuprofen meant it shut up an went away; also the first ten miles hurt worst, so a warmup may be indicated. Torque hurts more but if it's just a rubbish signal from complaining gristle, I can pill and tune it out to a degree.  Get the road bike fettled and hammer some commutes.  Do Science on it.

Run: Can I actually run?  Apparently yes I can -- if I can do 20 minutes now, I can do the 30-35 that Burhnam's sandy 5k offers, on race-day when the gumption is high.  Cardio effort is extreme though, and my feet and calves are like "wat?".  Test passed, though it's going to be ugly. 
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I'm kicked back into tri-thinking by these guys: Freak Events are new, and South West, and their proposed May 15th race at Roadford Lake, Okehampton looks tasty as a battered haggis pizza.  Roadford's a reservoir that doesn't get enough swim action, and the surrounding course will be lumpsome and bumply (moi luvly).  Sprint and Oly.  Spendy, but with awesomeness potential.  And it doesn't clash with our Club race, the week before. 

Now where did I put those running shorts?
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Finally broke my race duck for 2010 with Burnham tri, which is a 500m pool swim, 20km flat square bike, 5km beach and trail run.  While the Speedy Boys were towel-flicking each other for supremacy, I'd decided to take this one mellow.  KISS is the mantra of the day. 

Cut for detailses, my precious )

Last year in good shape and hot weather, with some drama; 1:26:00.  This year in bad shape and cool windy weather, with no drama: 1:26:11.  I think the lesson here is: get in shape and then KISS. 

A big thank-you to the marshalls and organisers - exactly the right number of bods on the road and I love the new transition (a bit crowded, but otherwise awesome). 

Oh!  And as I was packing up, another competitor approached me. Turns out she and I both did our first triathlon at Wellington Novice in 2006, and we both got hooked the same way.  Small world.
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Just a reminder, if you're thinking about entering the Exe Valley Tri on 9th May 2010, entries are filling up.

It's a nice pool sprint with a mostly flat out-and-back valley bike, then an onroad rolling run. Good little start to the season.
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The numbers are out.  This was a 481-strong wave of male 35-39 age-groupers: as fiercely competitive a group as I'll ever race against.  No bonus points for eating up half a field of "your mum on a shopper" this time.

Cut for length... )
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Swim 41:27: Good first half, got noodly in the second half.  Zero viz. Who thought blue buoys was clever?  T1: Golden. Long. The shoe trick worked. Bike 1:16 including transitions I think: An hour and more of playing Wipeout on the bike.  Fast, twisty, with tunnels and ramps. No weapon power-ups. Went out hard and fast. T2: Oh, I can run in those shoes if I have to. Yay.  Run 1:04: I checked my soul in T2 and sent my corpse out to shamble round the run.  Run and walk in the hot sun / I fought the nause and the nause won.  Total 3:11.  Full writeup and photos to come once I'm back at base camp - am still at Charlotte & Liz's making their spare bed smell like wet dog.

Is it true that the docks on the Isle of Dogs are full of dead dogs?
andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Today's race was okay. Swim was just okay - what I'd predicted, but not smooth. T1 was a comedy catastrophe with one shoe going flying off into the road - so even though I was holding evens for much of the bike course (translation: staying at 20mph) I lost so much time that my bike leg suckethed verily. Very lonely out, too, so the usual mental-focus issue (speed drops if I don't have people to chase or Hulk Smash to fuel my speed) applied. Then it was T2, quick as you like, and onto the Dreaded Beach Run (roughly 1k beach, 2k woodland, 2k beach), which took about 8 minutes on top of my best, like most folks, and came it slow but solid. 1:26:45 total.  And I finally got a T5 out of my Suunto.

Thing is, that didn't matter 'cos there was great amusement to be had with an evening of lasagne (nom!) bike fettling and pinball, then a sparrowfart dash across the Levels to set up and go before the sun got to "roast grockle" temperature. [ profile] skean , [ profile] xeeny and [ profile] despaer were in tight competition and the result came right to the wire.  [ profile] skean started in the wave behind me -- underestimated his swim-fu -- and I  was pleased to have held him off until we were back on the beach with the last 2k or so to go.  

A good time was had by all.

Introspection behind the cut )

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Today was lovely: set up for the race, a little swim counting (argh! clipboards! hats!) and then lots of standing around in a tabard yelling "GO ON TRITALK!" and more usefully, "WELL DONE! Through the gate, straight across, SPRINT FINISH!"  or "Looking GOOD 123!" at various marshal points.  Nobody got lost on my watch (some novices rode the full sprint distance due to a marshalling bork up the road).  

Everyone had fun.  The novices on bike-shaped objects and plenty of suspended MTBs got a good thrashing and ended feeling like they'd done something big and challenging and excellent (surrounded by worshipful family members).  The club athletes had perfect race conditions - warm without being hot, broken cloud and tree-shade, gentle breeze.  That Freedman fellow won again with an utterly dominating 56-minute time: the lad's pointed towards 2012.  Women's was won by our Speedy Sue, who is still pocket-sized and lovely and bloody fast. 

With all the sturm und drang about training and targets, it's good to just go along to a race and be reminded that they're just good fun.  I spent most of the day thinking "I wanna play!" and that, for sure, is the right headspace to be in for the coming week.

Now, if only I can master that shoe trick...
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Watching the plane crash footage last night, I couldn't help but think, "Man, the Hudson does have a fierce current, doesn't it?  No wonder the New York Triathlon has a rep as a tough swim!"

(And like me, after it had gone a couple of km, it was submerged and only good for scrap...)
andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
A couple of youse guys were interested in offroad triathlon; there doesn't seem to be a handy list of 'em, but this thread on TriTalk has more in one place than I've seen anywhere else, including some sprint and olympic distance ones as well as bonkers gruel-fests like the Big Ben.  Hawley Lake might make a grand day out.

I'm very tempted to go for an offroad sprint or two: Loch Lomond was a hoot.

London Tri

Dec. 24th, 2008 10:30 pm
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If you're thinking of entering the London Tri, get your entries in fast - the regular slots are filling up fast.  I'm doing the Standard, age-group.  [ profile] xeeny , you may now shake your head and sigh at my foolishness, but I just fancy a huge-numbers, high-profile mega-event to balance off the (wonderful) grass-roots stuff.  Plus I get crash-space with a cool lesbian who makes killer falafel. 

Nothing gets the heart fluttering like actual commitment.  :)

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It's getting time to think about 2009's race calendar.  I'm aiming to do 2-3 olympics and probably 3 sprints this season (no more long stuff: I enjoy the training for these distances far more).  And the Great West Run, just because.  Bala or Perranporth will probably be my end-of-season oly, and that's in mid-September.  The GWR precludes doing New Forest this year, so I'm looking for a couple of high-season olys.  Is there a date for Burnham yet?

If you want a nice sprint on rolling Devon roads, 10th May is the Exe Valley Tri (pool swim) - I'll be marshalling again and promise to wave :)
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After a night's sleep I'm mellow now about missing the race.  I race to train, not train to race, so it wasn't the world-breaker it could be.  I am disappointed, deeply so, but hey, life is full of disappointments, get used to it.  This training wasn't as much fun as the sprint and olympic distance training, and I'll focus on that next year.

The Twitter Confessional was interesting: since I was on my own, it was nice to be able to tweet.  A good vent, if nothing else:
  • On the road, singing along to Rocky. Eye of the badger!
  • If I ignore this lurgy, will it go away? Dot berry habby, dabbit! :-(
  • Driven the course. Met Paul and some Tri Talk bods. Bike racked and ready. Time for pasta!
  • Hot and cold flushes all night. Fever dreams. Not in a happy place. HTFU? Snarf.
  • Lurgy has transitioned to cough and hot-cold shakes. Can't swim like this. :-(
  • There goes the bus. Gah! Furious, gutted, nothing to kick. Gah!
For the record, I don't recommend pushing a new and challenging race distance on your own.  A support network is a good thing.  Tweeting is not the same - your plastic pal who's fun to be with?  Ish.

With nothing else to do, I took the time to take some photos.  Got some really good ones - here's the Flickr set.  I have to say that this year's look - compression knee-socks - works better on women than it does on men, especially when combined with pigtails to work around that aero helmet.  It's a kinda techno-high-performance-St. Trinian's thing.  :)
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It has been observed that I have a strangely serene calm lately.  I guess I'm not one for serenity normally.  I think it's the Plan.  Because I've handed all my big training decisions until over-the-horizon to the Plan, that whole stressor has gone quiet.  The stress of the training itself and the microplanagement still exists, but it's almost as if I've abdicated responsibility to the Good Book.

I wonder if this is what religion feels like?  I can see how it might be compelling; this is quite nice. 

Must rinse wetsuit.  Today opened the book with a sea-swim session with the club: force 4 and lumpy, swimming was like crawling across a ploughed field and every time you found a rhythm, a fat wave hit you in the face. About 1000m of hard going.  The buoys are visible on Google Earth!
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Time for half-ironman prep to begin in earnest with about twelve weeks to go until the big day.  Here's the program I'll be using; it's one of Friel's (I'm going to try to put in a couple of short, constrained strength sessions as well, for my own mental health and since I have no social life, but they're optional).

The race distance is 1.2 mile swim, 56mile bike, 13.1 mile run.  The swim will be challenging but I know and like the lake and my best swim evar is just over a mile non-stop; the bike is gravy as long as I keep it tightly bottled; the run's going to be interesting as the 10k course on that site really spanked me in May, but with three half-marathons under my belt I know what to expect.

Now because I've slacked the tri-training since the May race, I'm going to ease into the program, allowing myself to do as little as 50% of the routine durations this week and 75% next.

So, to complete this, I'm going to have to be in the best shape of my life.  And that's the goal too.  What a happy confluence of intents and requirements.

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Has u seen mah bukket?The river today was much warmer, and we put a thermomomometer in to see.  Ten degrees (fifty to you yanks).  Okay, it took the best part of ten minutes to get comfortable, but the temperature was fine for actual swimming.  So any swim that there is, isn't going to scare us because of the cold.  I'm glad on that count alone that we made the effort to get wet.

Of course there had to be an issue.  I swim well only on an empty stomach, and I mean empty.  2 hours from a light snack, 3 from a meal.  Hungry works.  Fasted first-thing works well.  So a big late lunch and a pasty grabbed on the drive over was dumb -- and yea, verily was the price paid in spades.  From this are revealed three things:
  1. Barf chunks in your beard are bad, hm'kay?  But the swim washes them out.
  2. Never underestimate the bloodymindedness of a guy who knows how bad it would be to bail on the swim.  Even if he has barf in his beard.
  3. There is no shame in brainlooping the verses of Rocky 2's Burning Heart if that's what gets you to the end. 
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I like picking up hitchers.  The stories are worth it - even if they're really mundane, they're always new to me, and today's (the Grand Guignol life of Donna Rascal and her Spongebob square pants) was particularly memorable.  Is the life expectancy of the homeless in the UK really just 42?  Scary.  Still, she's deposited in Glastonbury and I got to be kept alert on the drive and assuage my carbon guilt, so we all win.

I was there for swim coaching.  The session was pretty handy, pointed out where my stroke was wonky, offered some good stuff to help with that... and then finished on two lengths of butterfly.  Never done it before, so length one was a frothing, gasping foambeater, but somewhere on length two I actually found a rhythm and some sort of a stroke.  This lubber absolutely loves it when he gets something right in the water - it's a rare treat.
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Found this abstract while googling around for swim stuff.  You tri lads might be interested:

Facial Hydrodynamics and Front Crawl
D Drexler et al, UC Berkeley Institute of Sports Science
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Bloody hell, I aten't dead.  Despite the illness, injury, turned ankle, storms, utter lack of training, the Somme theme park and plagues of locusts, I somehow managed to pull in a 2:22 finish.  It's a par with my personal-worst, but this time I was 'training through'.

Time for a nice glass of red.


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