Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wild Wet Wellington Wind

For those of you who have ever wondered why I whined so much about wind in Wellington, check out the images accompanying this story!

Of course, the story is well worth the read. Bernie Portenski is a complete freakin' legend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Of monstrous hills (and dead arms) (a sort of random, mid week, incomplete, wrap-up)

Where we left off, our heroine (that's me!) and her trusty steed, Eric the Strada, had vanquished two imaginary, virtual hills on the trainer. But there was more to be done...!

But first, step back to Wednesday 19 August, 6am, at the tepid baths. Half a dozen silicon-capped and goggled swimmers crowd the slow lane, then take off one by one for 3000 metres with not one, not two, but 24 lengths of butterfly! Our heroine gulps and gasps and splutters but eventually makes her way through most of the set, and sinks into the spa before showering and getting for work (with a stop for a trim flat white along the way, of course).

By the next morning, she can barely lift her arms above her head, and struggles into her sports bra before climbing on her stationary steed, kicking ass and taking names.

And so on Friday, our heroine arrives bleary-eyed at the tepid baths for a Friday, speedwork session, with heavy arms and legs, and an overwhelming feeling of wellbeing. Her shaky quads protest every push off, and resist every kick set. Her dead arms are crying out by the time she completes her sixteenth length of the dreaded fly. On Friday night, she sits with her handsome prince, reflects on a week well done, and looks forward to a weekend adventure.

[OK, so this is getting old, even for me...]

Bike-fit Paul (who we both kinda worship a little.. ) had told us about a rad route in the Hunuas when we went to get Eric set up the previous weekend. When he told us about the hill that "goes up for a bit, then levels off, then goes up to about 20 percent for just a bit, levels off again and then goes up and up and up" we sat agape, and both mentally started calculating whether we'd be up for the challenge (ok, that was just me...) and salivating at the thought of the hill of doom (...yeah, and that one was just Phil.. I was more hyperventilating than salivating!)

As luck would have it, we found ourselves visiting Bike Fit Paul again last weekend (as well as being the proud father of a new powertap, Derek-the-Strada has also had a proper new tri-fit, and scored himself some sweet pedals), so we decided to start in Manurewa and explore. We hadn't exactly planned our route well, and we couldn't find a map that went much further than Alfriston, so we just kinda went with it. We didn't take the best route to start- it was basically along a bumpy, busy, narrow road, with one of those non-existent verges that basically drops you off a cliff if you follow the white line. At least in central Auckland, if it's busy and fast, there's usually enough room for all. Once there stops being quite enough room, the traffic's usually slow. Here it was crowded and horrid and the cars would all have been travelling in the 70s or 80s I guess (we now know a better way for next time, but I'm geographically challenged, so maybe should leave it for the husband to fill in the details! If this link works, you should go "out" the way we came "back"- much much nicer)

A wee way along, Phil spotted a road up a hill to our left. "AWESOME ROAD" he called back to me. I couldn't see a road. At first. Then I saw a dim stripe, spiralling its way up a hill. From the bottom of the hill looking up, it looked pretty dang near vertical to me. "Hell no!" I called back. I shoulda known he wouldn't listen.

We turned right a bit further along, up Creightons Road. It was a reasonably gentle climb, with a short but sharp wee climb a wee way along. I got to the top of that one puffing, and saw that there was another not far up. Sigh! I was busting for the loo, I'd barely been drinking because of the busy road, and although I wasn't in a typical Kate-grump, I was reasonably short on conversational skills. We stopped at the Papakura Water Treatment Centre (something like that) to re-group and do some munching.

Phil: So, shall we keep going up?
Kate: huff huff uh huh....??


Kate: Holy mother of.... that's that HILL you were looking at before! ARGH!

But I did it. I used my babiest gear, and my cadence at one point dropped below 45, but I did it. My HR was through the roof, my quads were screaming, I was swearing, and I almost gave up every time there was even the slightest respite. But I did it. It did level off for a tiny bit before the last push to the top, where Phil was waiting proudly for me- and I confess that if it hadn't eased off there I may have given up- but I didn't, and I did it!

The view at the top was amazing- we could even see the sky tower!

(no, you can't make the sky tower out in this shot, but you can kinda see how steep the hill is.. )

We decided not to turn left at the next nasty hill (Jones Rd), but soon reached a dead end, so sucked it up and went back. I started well- I was going strong and Phil was the one swearing and cursing. "Honey- you're going to need to stand up!" "No I don't! this is fine!" Then, maybe 15 metres from the top dumbass realised he'd been in his big gear. Sadly, I was too knackered by this point to fall over laughing!

Now that I've described the hills in excruciating detail, I'll wrap up fast:

The rest of the ride was good fun. I was buzzing on the feeling of riding up the two steep hills, and enjoying exploring and checking out the scenery. I'm also enjoying actually sticking with Phil on the downhills, even though it's mostly cos he's a pansy now :) The Hunua gorge was just brilliant riding, although quite a few hoons of various varieties seemed to think so too, so we were pretty careful. I felt strong almost the whole way, and thoroughly enjoyed riding through the Manurewa subdivisions at the end. The best long ride I've had in a long time, and I can't wait to go out there again this Sunday (though we're skipping Creighton this time, since I've got four hours on tap!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Triathlon tips follow up

"Dear Facebook friend,

[random small talk]

Anyway, have wracked my mind for some tips and tricks. The main thing about triathlon is organisation, so they’re mostly about that side of things.

Here are a few:

•Check out the race site before hand if possible, and figure out where you enter and exit transition, and where you finish!
•Bring an emergency kit, with sunscreen, plasters, loo paper etc- you never know what might happen, and sometimes you find yourself with something someone else needs
•Get a “tri-box” or bag to pull all your gear and food in (my “tri-box” is a generic hot pink plastic box with a lid, and came from the Warehouse (or similar) for about $11.99);
•Put something bright in transition so you can find your way there (a towel is good, or a brightly coloured tri-box)
•Have a towel and some water in transition for getting sand off your feet
•Bring some spare shoes or jandals, so you can leave your running shoes in transition and not have to go barefoot!
•Try to rack your bike near something identifiable and stationary if you have the option
•Keep some food or drink in transition- the race could well take between 2:30 to 3:30, which is ages!
•Look at how the cool kids rack their bikes and copy them (usually you hang the bike from the saddle, pointing out)
•Grease the openings of your running shoes with Vaseline, gets them on much faster when your feet are wet from the swim! (talc in the shoes also helps)

In terms of the race itself, my main advice is to chill out. It’s easy to get excited in the swim, which as you’ve probably realised from doing the swim leg is not such a good idea, and then come into T1 all hot and bothered. That makes you fumble, so you leave on the bike with too much adrenaline and stress. Better to swim carefully and avoid the chaos, keep relaxed in T1 (even if it takes twice as long, that’s still only about 1 minute on top of your time…) and then head out and nail the bike.

Good luck and have fun!


(PS: Mike and Aaron- it's a non wetsuit swim (so no wetsuit advice), and she's actually a sort of experienced race-doer (who knows not to try anything new), just not a triathlete. That's why your tips aren't in there- they are, however, both awesome, even though I do always find the cap and goggle thing a little too much to think about when I'm dashing out of the water, and I try new stuff all the time cos I'm into living dangerous!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Top tips?

I have tales of dead arms and monstrous hills to come, but first help me out. A facebook friend has asked for tri-tips. She can do all three, and has done team tri events before (swim leg once, bike the other time). She's not looking to break records, just to have fun and get it done. I wrote a huge mega reply, but facebook ate it.

So before I write it all out again, give me your best tips, do's and don'ts and sneaky tricks!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Something is paying off!

This morning I had a strength ride on the trainer for the first time in AGES (due to racing, travelling, being sick, recovering...). My buckeye peeps know all about these rides, cos every time I do one I b*tch about the standing intervals.

Today, the ghastly interval was increased again, to 10 minutes. And guess what? I absolutely crushed them! I got bored, but never felt weak or gammy, and my legs and pedal stroke stayed strong. I did have a quick sit part way through the second because sweat was dripping into my eyes and mouth. Ew. Looks like the mandatory-in-Auckland hill training is working!

Anyway, I really need to work on my standing-climbing skillz on the road, so I'm going to make Phil help me practice this weekend.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Feeling like a triathlete again!

Last week, I swam, biked and ran for the first time in a month or so.

The volume wasn't high (finished with 8:17 in the bank), and the intensity was loooow, but it was great to get up early, train consistently and to feel like a triathlete again!

So, here's a rundown:

M 55min swim @ squad (first swim in yonks!) Not bad, not good
T 15k run after work (Mission Bay and back). Wonderful, until my tummy let me down 2k from home.
W Rest
T 55min ride before work. Delightful (see below)
F 1:25 @ squad. 3k, including many many 50s. Not quite where I'd like to be on the short stuff, but felt like myself in the water again.
S Hungover. Managed to get myself out of the house at 4pm for my 60min run 'round the burbs. Went fast down Old Mill Rd, and then realised I was running at about the speed a (female) pro-triathlete runs a 10k in a tri.... Sad.
S 2:30 ride around the bays, then explored back through various suburbs (broadly I think I went Remuera, Cornwall Park, Mt Roskill, Mt Albert, Pt Chev, home...) Not the most pleasant ride, with lots of traffic and hills. Really took it out of me, which I suppose shouldn't really surprise me, as it's my longest ride in awhile, apart from Okoroire.

Also, a question: should I do the Sri Chimoy half on Sept 13th or The Legend on the 19th? Am worried that doing a hard half won't help me feel redeemed after Taupo, but on the other hand, have been keen on doing the legend (even if it's only the half) since it started!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What a way to start the day!

I can’t think of a more perfect start to the day:

• coffee and peanut butter toast in bed at 5:15am
• cycling around the marina, Herne Bay and Grey Lynn for an hour;
• bircher and a small glass of apple juice;
• a text from my Mum saying she’ll be in town tonight;
• walking to work with tunes and a trim flat white.

Well, I guess all of the above + husband, and + sun would be slightly more perfect, but I can’t be greedy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hey Mike!

I promised pictures of the Akl du. Here's one from trinz (I feel famous- I never make it into pictures unless they take one of everyone):

We are working on the demented arms thing...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Eric goes aero, and more bike playtime fun!

We had SUCH a fun ride today. The perfect way to get slowly back into it (apart from Okoroire, I haven't ridden Eric outside since before Wellington- and the only other bike I've ridden is an old hybrid!)

We started out with a wee warm up around the tank farm and marina, and I tested my new aero bars along Westhaven Drive. I quite like them, but they were much more comfy on the trainer at my fit yesterday than they were on the road, and the steering will take some getting used to.

Then we headed up College Hill. Phil was doing strength work today, so he was motoring on up in gears I can't even use on the flat, and leaving me well in his dust, but I felt pretty good on the climb, and I think part of that can be attributed to the higher seat. We rode down Richmond, which wasn't quite as fun as it was in the dark, but still made for pretty good riding. From Richmond, we rode along the back of Western Springs, not really planning anything, until Phil spotted another cyclist and we decided to follow him. We trundled merrily along behind them, then I realised where we were going. Dark blue cyclist got into his drops as we approached the "take this corner at 25" sign...

"Phil! I've just realised where we are. Hold on and I'll see you on the other side!"

We were heading down Old Mill Rd (I think...), which runs along past the zoo, and is one of the steepest, straightest, awesomest streets I have ever seen. Even mapmyride's hideously inaccurate escalation profile says it's over 20% at some points. It feels something like riding down the side of a building!

I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth and made the turn. My grip tightened, knuckles whitened, and my stomach dropped. It felt like sitting at the top of the Tower of Terror, waiting for the earth to drop out beneath me at any moment. I'd love to say that I hardened up and let go of the brakes, but, well, I kept a good hold on them, letting go occasionally and chickening out until I was safely near the bottom! Phil got to 76 kph, I think. It's definitely more fun descending when there are two lanes, the roads are good quality, and there are no switchbacks! (sorry Wellington, but somedays I don't miss you at all).

We followed dark blue man along Great North Road, and back up. Phil had a chat to him, compared speeds, and I convinced Phil to let me go down the hill again, so we repeated the wee circuit, before heading along Meola (normally great fun, but today was busy and windy, so not so much), out to Pt Chev and then back home via Westmere.

A good ride, with plenty of headwind and climbing to keep us honest, and some fantastic descending to make things fun. Riding in Auckland is badly underrated!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

No more pig jokes, please

I'm still sick.

I had yesterday off work, and it was probably the sickest sick day I've had for awhile. I had to leave the house when we had a fire drill at 8am, but I could barely handle the trip to New World (100-odd metres away) and back. Then I alternated napping and reading for the rest of the day, until I got so bored I wanted to throw myself out the window and crawled to bed again at 7:45pm.

I'm back in today, and I think I'm on the mend, although walking up Victoria St dang near exhausted me. No working out for me for the time being, which means basically I'm feeling like a failure lawyer and failure endurance athlete too. Oh, and living on spaghetti on toast and frujus means I'm also definitely feeling like a healthy eating failure.

Hopefully I will be myself again soon! Eric wants to ride, and I miss the pool!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

This is a post I started writing last week, then stopped and replaced it with "Pre-race musings":

"After doing my best to take it easy on Monday and Tuesday, I worked until 12:36am on Wednesday. I slept in, and didn't turn up until 9:30 on Thursday morning, after a quick wee spin on the bike, but by Thursday afternoon I realised that the dodgy tummy I've had for a couple of days had been joined by a wee sniffle and a slightly swollen gland on the left hand side of my neck. My predictable, good old friend, "Kate's pathetic cold."

I get this cold when I get rundown, and I generally don't get sick much at all otherwise (I've had 9 sick days in the past 5 years at this job- though I suppose if you added up all of the days I've worked when I shouldn't have been it'd paint a slightly less healthy picture). It runs basically the same course every time- not many outwards symptoms, but always includes the dodgy tummy and generally at some point will involve me lying down on the bed and feeing utterly pathetic, with a wee bit of a fever, congested sinuses and glands out to "here".

I'm not sure whether I should race, but I want to..."

I stopped at the last sentence when I realised I was being an idiot and that anyone who ever listens to my advice would tell me to listen to my intuition, not my ego.

My pre-race run on Saturday was OK. I made it out of the house, anyway, and huffed and puffed my way through 3 slow kms before running hard for 2:30 at 4:15 pace. Phil and I meandered to Taupo with a car full of tissues, first defence and vitamin c. The dodgy tummy got worse on Saturday night, and the cold wasn't any better on Sunday morning.

"But colds are always worse in the morning" said I. "I think I should race"

So, race I did. The first half went perfectly according to plan (55:15), and I felt pretty good, although I was blowing my nose every 5 minutes, and I could feel that my breath wasn't quite getting through my congested chest. I scoffed at the people going harder than me- the ones puffing and panting to get past in the first 5 or so ks, and when I got to the turn around I turned on the ipod and got ready to drop the hammer and nail out a negative split.

Or not....

The first part of the second half is offroad. My speed went from safely within the 5:10-5:20 zone to 5:25-5:30. My breathing got worse, and as I twiddled with my Garmin, I saw that my heart rate was peeking into the 180s, although my pace had slowed. The people passing me were now people I'd seen earlier, not just speedsters coming from behind, and it was harder than it should have been to keep on their tails.

My last "lap" (about 6k) was at 5:39 pace. My nose had dried up and was feeling sore, overblowed, and blocked. My chest was tight and I was getting passed on hills. ME! My legs were still OK, I just couldn't make them move. I kept expecting A (who'd started after me) to be the next to pass me.

I saw Phil just before 19k and managed a weak smile. From then on, it was just the typical half-marathon chant of "ten minutes to go...ten minutes to go."

Crossed the finish line at 1:54:30ish (almost exactly the same time as my first ever half in 2004 [UPDATE: It was 1:54:28, which is exactly one second off my PW of 1:54:29!]), with an average HR of 178 (basically 175ish for first half and 180ish for second half, but my splits are much more random).

Now- because I'm supposed to be positive:
- my legs felt strong until about 19k, when the quads started to protest a little. This is great for me in a half-m (usually I'm willing my legs to keep moving from about 16k.. thanks to cycling and Paul for the leg strength)!
- I did run a 1:54 (which sounds horrid to me, but isn't ACTUALLY a bad pace (5:23/k) with a nasty cold
- I did a good job of "being awesome instead". When Phil saw me, I was reasonably upright and my turnover was good. I was doing my cerebal palsy arms, but I ALWAYS do those. I felt the difference instantly when I remembered to pull myself up, focus on my abs, and breathe well
- half marathons are the best. I shouldn't have let myself forget how much I love them- even though this was a bomb, I can't wait for the next one.
- the Taupo half is a great race! Great course, with the rolling hills and mixed terrain. Brilliantly run, with well organised road closures/partial closures and a very effective wave start. I will definitely be back!