With thanks to my late aunt, Jean Abdee, whose legacy has helped make this possible.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Challenge 1 - Olympic distance Triathlon

Yesterday I did the Olympic distance triathlon - challenge 1 is complete. I can't believe I'm actually typing that. It was so very hard; not just the distances (which I'd trained for) and not just putting all the disciplines together but also the heat (hottest day of the year so far at 30C) the high pressure and the pollen count which together resulted in a truly debilitating asthma attack.

I wasn't expecting that - I've only ever had problems in very cold weather before, but since I couldn't breathe deeply (painful and brought on coughing) all I could do was plod round, very slowly, wishing for the end.

Surprisingly the swim was my best discpline on this occasion, in that I wasn't the last of my group out of the lake. But on the bike I fell further and further behind. The Olympic distance is two loops and I finished the first loop with a group of people doing the Sprint distance (and was quite tempted to come in with them and have done with it). On the second loop I was quite alone, apart from the marshalls along the way who were, as every, extremely encouraging and supportive.

The same was true of the run; I came into a group of runners which very rapidly thinned out as people finished. It was incredibly hot by now - midday - and most of the water I poured over my head in order to cool down evaporated in minutes. Four gruesome slow plodding laps later, I crossed the finish line, very very last, but I finished. It was never about the time (though of course going faster would have been nice) and finish I actually did.

That was seriously tough. One down, two to go.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Nearly Tri Time!

Counting the days down to Northampton Triathlon on 27th now - it's come up so quickly. Went for a swim this morning and did my 1.5k in 35 minutes, and felt glum as it didn't beat my last time. It's something to feel down about - this is still a good four minutes off my previous (pre-Swim clinic) times! Hopefully it will be closer to 30 mins on the day, given that I won't have to stop and turn at each end or stop to give way to faster swimmers and I'll have a wetsuit - so added bouyancy.

Also sent the e-mail at work stating what I was up to and sat back waiting for the 'you must be mad' comments - not as many as I thought, actually. They must know aleady :-)

It's strange, but now that Andy has completed it feels as if it's now OK for me to start planning in earnest. Made some more LeJog purchases at various places including Field & Trek and Wiggle - leg warmers, so I don't have to worry about putting trousers on when it's cold and taking them off when it's hot; a bike mirror (which gives an excellent view of my right knee) and the tiniest, lightest little stove ever - a mere 50g! (It's called the Fly and made by Go Systems if you're interested). Since most of my cooking will probably involve warming things through, it'll do for my small set of two pots (Gelert - cheap and cheerful).

But the first challenge, the triathlon, is nearly here already; I'm as ready as I can be but feel that it's still not enough. I'll try and get another run and cycle in before Sunday and see how it goes. I'll also be hoping that this hot weather doesn't last - it is Wimbledon fortnight after all; shouldn't it be raining?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

John O'Groats

Home at last after a long drive to and from Scotland to collect Andy after he and Alfie successfully completed their LeJog challenge - well done both! And to John of course and all the other finishers. It was good to see the final signpost and the queues of people waiting to have their photos taken. Lots of cyclists; some alone, some in groups. One man cycled it in 9 days (but didn't have vast amounts of luggage). All along the drive I was looking for routes, cycle paths, the state of the roads (very good) and hills (not that many that were extremely steep - apparently Devon is the steepest bit). The wildlife was amazing with seals playing in the bay by the campsite, all sorts of seabirds and of course, midges ... I must remember to take lots of midge repellent when I go. It was great to get up there and I can't wait to start now!

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Last week I did my first Olympic-distance brick training session - a 25 mile bike ride followed by a six mile run, which I was very pleased with, especially as it was an extremely hot day. As the triathlon is so close now - just two weeks to go - I knew I'd better go out again today but to be honest, didn't really feel like it. I'd been over at Mum and Dad's to celebrate Mum's birthday, drove back in the morning and was trying to get motivated. As it happened, I'd left my purse behind by mistake, so that was the perfect reason to get on the bike - it's about 13 miles to Rushden from Kettering. So I plodded over and back again and still didn't feel very energetic or fit enough to go for a run afterwards and was all for talking myself out of it completely.

The best way to cope with this, I've found, is not to think about it but to just do it. I came home, changed my shoes and as it happened, turned in the best run time I've done in a long time. Perhaps it was the copious amounts of Lucozade I'd been drinking on the bike; perhaps I'm getting fitter at last. I picked my feet up and it felt good and fast - and it was; just over 55 mins for six miles. So that was encouraging.

I also had some encouragement when I last went swimming. I've been going as often as possible to work on my new (hopefully correct) front crawl and to be honest, I'm getting so puffed out I can barely do two lengths. I came away from the pool on Wednesday wondering what on earth I was thinking entering a race where I had to swim 1,500 metres when I could barely swim at all, but on Thursday it seemed to come together a bit more and a fellow-swimmer was kind enough to say she thought I looked a lot less splashy than usual, and smoother. Again, it's a case of keeping the pace up. The Swim Smooth website reckons on about six sessions to learn something new, so I'll be packing in as much swimming as possible over the next fortnight!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Swim Clinic

Yesterday I attended a Swim Clinic. A what? Well I knew my stroke was (still is) pretty awful and despite trying to teach myself to improve it's very difficult on your own. I'd like to join a club but KSC being what it is, that's out of the question. But that's a whinge for another time. So, I battled up the M6 to Birmingham for 8:30 and we were videoed swimming in the water. My issues were immediately apparent; a breast-stroke kick with a crawl action doesn't look elegant but worse, creates drag. No wonder I was going so slowly and struggling. My arms also weren't quite right and my breathing could be improved (these chaps are big into bilateral breathing, which is taking a breath on either side, every third stroke or so).

There were three swim and three classroom sessions, and I got to take away a swim plan, the dreaded footage of my original swim on DVD and loads of advice on what to do to improve. The best session was the last where we worked with a 'wetronome' a little bleeper that sits under your swim cap and sets your stroke. By increasing my stroke rate from my standard 45/min to about 54-56/min (and using a floatie to stop my legs trying to kick) I can improve my arm action and breathing and then (hopefully) the kick will follow. Working with fins also helped but of course you can't use them in the pool.

So gadgets do help. As I feared, it's almost like learning to swim from scratch again, probably worse with bad habits to undo, and that's going to take time. But I'm so fed up with struggling along that there is certainly the impetus to improve, and hopefully this will also be reflected in my times! (but wish me luck).