Monday, December 06, 2010

A very quick post

I am feeling much better and saner after yesterday's race.

I'm not very sore, and my tightness is in all the right places (hammies and butt, not quads or calves). I've been buzzing with energy since about 4pm yesterday afternoon, and I was really happy with my swim tonight at squad (main set: 2 x 1000, mixed free and back). I'm really looking forward to jumping back on the bike tomorrow, and I can't wait to run.

It's just sunk in that in the last four weeks I've done a hard half ironman, a metric century training ride, (most of) a tough Olympic distance, and (all of) a not-so-tough Olympic distance. Phew! No wonder I'm a little overdone.

And more importantly, I have (nearly) five more weeks to train and recover for Tauranga. And two of those weeks are WORK FREE!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Race Report: Tinman, or aluminium foil man?

(Our performances didn't justify chips or beer, so we had yummy salad and smoothies at Pluto. Mine was like a strawberry pina colada- divine!)

Today was our second time at Tinman. Last year, it was a real confidence booster, and I set my Olympic Distance PB feeling like I still had plenty in the tank. This year it was...not so much.

I needed Tinman to be a redemption race after my sluggish performance and DNF at last week's Contact Series event, and my disappointing day at the Karapiro Half. Couch Paul wanted us fresh, so we had a nice light week leading up to the race, so I felt like redemption might be possible.

Last year's swim was awesome, but definitely *fast* if not actually short, so I knew I couldn't repeat my 24:51 (out of the water). It was a rough, washing machine type swim. Good practice for Tauranga Half. This year was even rougher- at least for me! I think it was also slower on the whole- from brief discussions, times seem to have been slower overall, and since conditions on the bike and run were great, I blame the swim. I was pulled and thwacked and hit and swum over, and kept having one particularly annoying lady stop dead in front of me. Then, as I approached the first lap buoy, a woman who'd missed it and turned around decided to swim straight smack into me, and I got a jolly great whack in the eye. The water was fine- I'd never call it choppy- but I'm unaccustomed to sea swimming, and the waves made me feel a little iffy. I figured out that I've only been IN the sea once since last Tinman- and that was Mission Bay the week after! I was out around the turn around buoy in 14:xx, and out of the swim just after 30:00. Ouch!

T1 was a disaster- I lost a good 8+ female places and maybe a minute mucking around with my helmet. Lesson: always check helmet before leaving bike in transition. Eventually, I got it adjusted, but did it a bit too small, so I had helmet throb for the whole ride. When I pulled it off after the ride, I swear my head grew.


I felt really good on the bike, and was happy with my riding, passing and so on. My goal was to come in sub-1:20- last year I averaged a little over 30kph on the bike, but the course is a little long, so I knew I would need to keep safely under 2:00/ks to get in (I ride with my Garmin, so I'm looking at pace not speed). The people I was riding with were less annoying than last time, thankfully, and it was good for me to get used to a crowded course again. This year, my biggest bugbear was the bunch of people who decided that it would be smart to pass at the turnaround point. It's a big enough turn, as it's around a roundabout, but really? I was basically squashed by them, and then another lady practically rode into me. Sigh. Luckily I passed her safely a bit later- she really irritated me. I leapfrogged with that woman and another couple of people for most of the way back to transition (on the first lap), but got stuck behind some annoying slow sprint people at the turnaround and lost them for most of the second lap. I was pleased to see Kieran Doe coming into his T2 after I left for the second lap (not being lapped = important goal).

I faltered a little for the first couple of ks of lap 2. Where previously I'd been doing 1:50s, I was doing 2:01s- the unwelcome 2s were enough to spur me on, and I reached the 40k point in 1:17, which I was pleased with, and got back into T2 in 1:21.08 (Garmin says this was nearly 42ks). I thought I'd taken a couple of minutes off my time last year, but it seems it was probably only a minute or so (last year's results didn't separate out transition). I guess I only felt better and stronger because I was riding with slower people, after my crappy swim :(


Last year, my run was awesome. I started off running high 4:00s, but slowed a bit on the mount track. I finished the run in 53:17, which was slower than I'd hoped, but very good considering the slightly long run, and the hills on the base track. This year, I knew from the outset it wouldn't be quite like that. I'd tried to ride like I wasn't going to run (...fat lot of good that did me...) and I basically waddled out of T2. My butt was killing me! My pace was around the 5:20s- a good 20-30s/k slower than last year- and it was much harder to pick people off, though mostly still possible. I felt a bit steadier in my effort- rather than taking off and then dying on the Mount, I was a little more restrained, and I felt like I didn't suffer as much- though my pace slowed to 5:50s, so I guess it was about the same. I got myself over the finish line with the promise of a Spider (... Kiwi for Coke Float), and was pretty gutted to see the main clock flicking over to 2:56 (so 2:54 for me). Official run time was 57:42 (Garmin has me slower, because it includes the run from my bike to the end of transition), and official overall time was 2:54:07 (grr- 2:53:xx sounds way better!)

So, that's 8 minutes slower, in a race I really thought I could do better. A bit gutted, and the time doesn't bode well for the 5:45 I've been hoping for in Tauranga. But we have 5 weeks left, and no more silly races, so maybe I can finally do something right this season???

(PS: Thanks to Mike for spectating and picture taking!)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gnarly November: Stats

(See my stats for September and October)

November was a weird month, as we’re combining training and racing. That means trying to get as much good fitness work in, but adding some extra rest days before and after tough events. It was a hard month, and maybe a somewhat disappointing start to the race season, but that's just life. Onwards and upwards!

The end result:

o Bike hours: 24:44, over 17 sessions (October- 22:00)
o Run hours: 7:47, over 11 sessions (October- 19:15)
o Swim hours: 8:30, over 12 sessions (October- 5:15)
o Total hours: 41 (just over a work-week), over 40 sessions
o Average training time per day: 1:22 (October- 1:30)
o Average run pace/AHR: 9:26/mi, 151.88 (October- 9:41/mile, 152.89)
o Total calories burned: 19,190 (or 639 per day) (October- 26,600)

There were some real lowlights:
  • I had my first ever DNF
  • 3 cyclists were killed in our region when a car hit their group (and two more killed elsewhere)

but plenty of highlights too:

I think we're all holding on for a happy December, and a merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Race Report: Contact Tri Series- Blue Lake

(previous Blue Lake reports are here and here!)

One of our favourite races of every season is the first Contact Cup event at Blue Lake in Rotorua (THE best triathlon spot in the country). In previous years, it's been a good test of our fitness leading up to our A race- the Rotorua Half Ironman, which is held in the same location. But we love it so much- despite what appears from those race reports, that we decided we had to do it again this year (even though we're building up to Tauranga, and even though we had our first half ironman just two weeks ago!)

Pre-race For the first time, we live near enough to Blue Lake to save on accommodation and sleep at home. Woop! Of course, this DID mean getting up at 5:30am. Not my favourite start to a Sunday. Usually I'm a box of fluffy ducks pre-race, but this morning I was tired and irritable and my tum was uneasy- instead of wolfing my breakfast down, I packed it up in an empty yoghurt pottle and waited until we were driving to eat it. I finally confessed to Phil that I'd started feeling off the previous afternoon. He'd felt unwell in the morning, so he'd skipped our cruisy day of training (2k swim, 1 hour bike), but I'd felt fine, and had a pretty good training session. It was only after a long lunch in the sun that my fatigue started to catch up with me.

Swim By the time we got to Blue Lake, I was feeling a bit more chipper. Although I wasn't 100% I decided I was well enough to train and, if I was well enough to train, I'd be well enough to race. Good logic, yes? I wetsuited up, squeezed in a quick warm up, and then we were off! I lost the main bunch of ladies pretty early on, but I felt OK, if a little breathless, and I had company around me. After the first buoy (250m) I found some feet, and I stuck with them for the remaining 1250! I might have been able to go faster by myself, but it wasn't worth the extra for a training race. I wasn't wearing a watch, but the time on my Garmin was 9:49 (in theory, 31:00) by the time I raced up the hill to T1 and found my bike, so I'm thinking 29:xx swim time.

Bike They changed the bike course on us this year, but the first 8ks or so was the same- up Tarawera Rd out of transition and around the Okareka loop. I found the first climb much harder than usual- adrenaline, I guess, but usually I'm pounding up it. This time it was more of a crawl, but I was gaining on the ladies in front of me, so I wasn't too bothered up. I've obviously lost some descending skills since I've been out of Welly, as I was a bit timid this time. There had been a car accident at the bottom of the tricky bit, which slowed us down a little- the lady ahead of me slowed quite abruptly so I slammed on the brakes. I passed three ladies on the final climb, and was pretty stoked when they didn't immediately catch me on the descent.

From the bottom of Okareka, we headed out towards Green Lake instead of going back for another loop right away. It's basically biggish rollers all the way out- fun, but just tough enough to make it hard to get into a rhythm- especially after a spin around Okareka. I seemed to be going along OK- I was keeping ahead of my friends, anyway. There was a man standing by a bright orange barrel a little way past the lookout- I saw the lady in front of me whizz round it and start heading down the hill, so I started to follow. The man seemed to gesture that I should head between him and the barrel, and I assumed the turnaround was at the bottom of the hill to the right of the barrel. Then I saw the woman who had been in front of me walking her bike up the hill I was about to head down, accompanied by a marshall. The marshall seemed to have left her post, stopping people from going down the hill, and barrel man needed to work on his "head back UP" skills!

Unfortunately, it wasn't so simple just to turn around. We'd just been hammering down a big ol' hill, and I was in my biggest gear. Turning back up the steep old hill just wasn't going to happen- and by the time I figured out what was going on, I'd had to stop short and clip out. So I jumped off, played around, dropped my chain and finally got into a much better gear. By the time I took off back up the hill, I'd lost two minutes, and all of my new friends had passed me and blitzed off into the distance.

I was a little disheartened, and it was awhile before I felt like I could be awesome instead, but I decided to dig deep and to catch as many of the women as possible over the next loop. I knew I was a better climber than them, so it was at least plausible. Seeing people behind me on my way back (including two I'd identified as people to beat) definitely spurred me on, as did realising I'd only been lapped once (the benefit of a 2-lap, rather than 5 lap, course). I was slow up Tarawera again, but stronger on the downhills, and not bad up the other side either. I was gaining on one of the women, but couldn't quite catch her on the way up, so I chased her out to Green Lake (where I made sure to get the turn right...)

My legs were jelly when I rode into T2, but it was time to run, and I knew I'd be catching the others soon!

As usual, I started off well. The run starts downhill and on the road before heading up a couple of steepish climbs on a gravel verge, and then heading onto a rolling forest track. I met Phil about 1km in- the same place I met him in 2008! But by the end of the second hill, I was faltering. I couldn't put my finger on it- my legs were OK, my HR was fine, but I was feeling much more fatigued than I usually would be at this point in the race. I walked the drink station heading into the forest and seriously thought about turning around and walking back, before deciding to give it a shot. There was a woman in front of me walking, so I jogged past her, which made me feel momentarily better. But as soon as we hit the shade I went from hot and shaky to shivery and shaky, and I realised my wee lurgy was catching up with me. I stopped and hit my stop watch after walking the first two short hills, but decided to man up and carry on. This carried on for the next few ks- I could run slooowly downhill, but was pretty much wheezing on the uphills, and feeling like pants. I decided I would just hang on as best I could and make up my mind when I got to the end of the first loop. I knew I'd see Phil and that he could help me make the right decision.

After nearly 40 minutes (I think), I made it back to the lake. I heard Phil cheering for me, and I beckoned him over to me, but the ground was hot and he couldn't run. I paused at the beach drink station, and realised I needed to quit. I could have continued, but it is not like me to reconsider starting again, and I knew it was the sickness rather than just heat and fatigue. So instead of heading back up the hills, I headed into the lake, and slowly walked over to where Phil was standing. I handed in my timing chip, chatted to Phil about the race, and moped a little.

Aftermath This is a standard, patented Kate Head-Cold, and they're notoriously up and down. I felt OK immediately after pulling out, but could barely stomach my scone down at lunch. I napped in the car on the way home, and headed straight to bed when I got here. I'm still feeling a bit off, so I'm drinking a lemon and ginger drink and planning an early night. Luckily, I've recovered very quickly from the Kate Head-Cold every time it's reared its ugly head this year, so I'm confident that I'll be right as rain for Tinman!

I was feeling a bit glum, not about not finishing, but about my general my performance. I remembered this time last year, when I had a solid race at Blue Lake, followed up by a good Tinman. This year, I've been disappointed so far. But then I remembered that LAST year, we didn't do a half ironman (followed by a 100km bike the next weekend) before the Rotovegas/Tinman double. Hmm- that might have something to do with it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ride of Remembrance and Reflection

"We need to keep on cycling, and keep on meeting new and wonderful friends, just as Willy, Mark and Kay were, our wonderful friends." (Terry Semmens, Morrinsville Wheelers club president)

Phil and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the Morrinsville Wheelers Ride for Remembrance and Reflection on Tuesday night. The club arranged this ride, with the support of the Morrinsville community, police and fire service, after three of their members were killed in a horrible accident.

We hoped that other cyclists in the community would be behind the ride, but didn't really know what to expect. It wasn't until we got out of central Hamilton that we realised the ride was going to be big. The roads were peppered with people on bikes, travelling in groups ( single file, haterz, in single file), in club gear, shop kit or hi-vis, and they were all heading in the same direction.

We parked in a shopping centre carpark in central Morrinsville and prepared to ride to the starting point. The carpark was buzzing- the mood was subdued, but still somehow electric- with mountain bikers and roadies of all shapes, sizes and ages. We headed out to the start (about 2k away) in dribs and drabs, and soon found ourselves crowding into a paddock with hundreds of other people with bikes. I've been to cycle events before, so it's not the first time I've been around hundreds of people with bikes, but the sense of camaraderie mingled with sombreness made it something completely different. We were shepherded towards the back of the pack, where we found ourselves next to Bike Fit David (aka cyclenutnz). We identified jerseys from all around the Waikato- Te Awamutu, Hamilton, Kaimai Cycles, Tokoroa- and even some from Auckland. I think the youngest person-on-bike I saw was about 11 or 12, and the oldest was about as old as time.

The ride started with a short memorial ceremony, where we heard from the President of the Morrinsville Wheelers and the husband of Kay Wolfe (one of the people-on-bikes killed in the accident) and then a race briefing from the police and ride organisers. The memorial was incredibly moving, and incredibly optimistic. The quote above particularly resonated with me- and there's nothing quite like the sound of 1000 cycle gloves clapping!

We slowly filed out in our pairs. I'm not accustomed to bunch riding, but I'm comfortable enough with Eric now to handle a group, at least at snail's pace! The ride took us about 21km around a gorgeous country route. It was mid evening, and a perfect summer's day- just spectacular. Unfortunately, people will be people, and the ride was not always as orderly as it could be. I found myself very frustrated by people who insisted on passing, apparently just for the sake of gap filling (typical Waikato behaviour- exhibited frequently by people-in-cars too). Particularly frustrating were the bunch of local cyclists who passed us (we were just moseying along behind a much slower group), and proceeded to fill the road at about 15 km/h for the next good 20 minutes. We had to scream our heads off every time a car came up. I almost don't want to write about it- this should have been an opportunity to be BEYOND REPROACH.

But people are people, and people are dicks sometimes, whether they're on cars or bikes or neither

Finally we got past- we weren't in a hurry, but we were feeling a bit lonely right at the tail end of the long, long line, and there was empty space for miles in front. From then on, the ride went from momentous to awesome rad fun. We were pretty much alone for hundreds of metres at a time, so we could play around (safely... duh!) with random power intervals until we caught up with another pair. There's nothing quite like playing catch up to make you feel awesome!

Towards the end of the route, we moved back into lifestyle block territory. The locals were amazing! One woman stood at her gate and whooped and waved, and another sat in her car in her driveway- she had plenty of room to leave, but it seemed like she just decided to stay and show her support (that's what I'm believing, anyway). We passed a "Wheeler" counting people- we were 463 and 464, and we guessed there were 30 or so still behind us (we weren't far off- they counted 505 in total).

We'd left our front lights in the car, so we decided not to stick around for tea/coffee and chat (especially since we had to get back to Cambridge for dinner). We made our way back to the carpark, and headed home, giving all the people on bikes a wide berth and a wave.

I'm very grateful to the Morrinsville Wheelers for organising this ride. It was so painful for so many people, but so heartwarming, and so valuable for our riding community. We will keep riding. We will keep meeting wonderful friends and awesome people. And one day, we will see this wonderful country turn into a safe and wonderful place for all of its residents.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Adventure ride #3: a roller coaster of emotions

So much for regular adventure rides! With the rowing and racing and everything, today was my first long bike ride in a while!

Phil and I were without our best riding buddy and, since Phil is off to a gig tonight, we decided it would be best to keep our adventure ride local, and hunted around for a new route near Cambridge. This 100k loop looked perfect.

After a patchy start (crossing the dam, turning right on SH3...) we found ourselves on the most marvellous riding road ever created. A smooth, single lane country road. I think we saw 3 cars in 20km- literally. It was bliss! A few ks in, I noticed some "tourist arrows" (indicating which side of the road to drive on.... maybe I should call them "Kiwi driver arrows"??) and wondered why- then turned my head and realised we were riding past Hobbiton. It certainly looked like something out of a NZ Tourism guide- horses with their foals, lambs in paddocks full of flowers. The first 40ks or so were sheer perfection.

We knew the route, but we didn't really know where we were. We'd turned left onto a very slightly busier road, and ridden along for a few ks, when I noticed a bunch of odd black marks on the road, and I saw that Phil had stopped ahead.

I soon realised why. We didn't know we were heading to it, but we were there.

There were bunches of flowers tied to the fence, and a Swiss flag waving. It was an image I knew well from news reports over the past horrible week (but when I tried to find one to post, I couldn't, and the hunt became too distressing). We stopped and shared a moment of sadness. And then our curiosity got the better of us, and we looked back. And saw the corner, and started reconstructing things in our heads. We knew what had happened, but we could really SEE it now. It's a sharpish corner on a fairly quiet two lane road. There's a single yellow line on the right hand side. You can see why someone would be tempted to cut it, but it's also blindingly obvious that that would be a ridiculously bad idea. Because even if there wasn't a pack of f**king cyclists on the other side, there could be a car, which could be carrying a family of 5, or a pregnant woman, or a ridiculous sweet old couple on their way home from a picnic.

*Rant Begins*

And as we sat there, feeling blue, and torn between staying and paying our respects, and getting the holy fuck out of there, a black car screeched round the bend, cut the corner, sailed into the right lane, and didn't get back to the left until he'd nearly passed us. I was livid, and my goal of being friendly and smiley to even the worst of the motorists was out the window. I was SERIOUSLY pissed off. This accident has been all over the news, and people familiar with the area would have known right where it was, and would have seen the memorial themselves. And then, as we saddled up to move on our merry way, another car came lurching round. It too cut the corner. Slowing down and sticking to the left is overrated, it seems.

I'd like to think profound sadness and real anger would be enough emotion for one ride, but I was wrong. A few ks on we were riding up a hill on a narrowish road- not really enough room for traffic to move both ways. The sort of road where you really need to be mindful. We didn't make a hell of a lot of difference. I was scrunched up to the left and Phil was around 50-100m ahead of me (...ok, I have no idea. He was a wee way up though). A white car was coming down the road, and I could hear a truck rumbling away behind me. The road was straight at this point. All of a sudden, I heard a whooosh, and a crash of brakes, and my heart leapt right out of my chest. I felt the truck stop behind me, and I accelerated like a mad thing, my heart pounding and my eyes prickling. The white car went by, then the truck eased past me.* He went carefully and slowly past Phil, and he was gone. I was still shaking when I got to Phil- shaking, crying, and pissed.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that when you're driving on country roads, you need to look ahead. If you can't see ahead, you need to slow down. This isn't about cyclist protection, or the great cyclist/motorist "debate" the media insists on stirring up every time a person on a bike DIES. It's simple road safety. It's COMMON SENSE. I could have been or a horse, or a pedestrian, or some cows, or a tractor, or just a car driving at a sensible speed around the corner.

*Rant over*

But despite the anger, sadness and fear, the overwhelming feeling ending today's ride is gratitude. I always try to make sure I'm courteous to other road users. If someone passes me respectfully, I give them a wave. If someone is held up momentarily as a I ride past an intersection, I say "cheers." But today I aimed extra hard for a 100% courtesy rating- I was waving and thumbs-upping my little hands off (...and yes, keeping well and truly to the left while doing so...) And of the two hundred odd motorists I met today, a good 180 were great. Another 15 or so were super awesome, and only about 5 were cocks. We felt we were given more respect and more room than usual by a number of motorists, and we are VERY grateful for the respect and concern they showed us. We showed our respect, and I hope they could see how much we appreciated it.

(...then we rode another 50ks or so until we got home. The End.)

*No doubt the story will be re-told on yourviews one day. In that version, Phil and I will be riding two abreast, probably taking up the whole road. The truck will give me a polite toot and ask to go past, and I'll turn around, wiggle my bum in the air and shout "f**k YOU!!!!!!" (I'm good at multitasking while I climb, you see). Then instead of bursting into tears, I'll stop, throw a leppin gel and "roundly abuse" the poor guy. I won't be wearing any hi-vis gear, and it will be a busy high-speed road, instead of a virtually deserted country road.

** I am not a member of the Morrinsville Wheelers, and I did not know Mark Ferguson, Kaye Wolfe or Willie Muller. I am beyond thankful that I have not been involved in a cycle, car, or anything else crash. My thoughts and best wishes and prayers are with their friends and families.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The sunburn's fading, the blisters are clearing up, and I'm feeling pretty good. I was pretty sore and pretty tired on Saturday, but slept well, and was awake and alert by 7 on Sunday morning.

On Sunday, I was sore but full of beans. Phil and I needed to spring clean our house, but before we got stuck into the chores we took advantage of the day off and met Phil's Mum and some of her friends for brunch in Cambridge. Both of our appetites were a bit screwy- I ordered fruit toast (...I'd had first breakfast earlier...) but it wasn't enough, whereas Phil ordered a big breakfast and left a lot of it. We wandered around the Cambridge trash and treasure market, enjoying the busy streets and the variety of stalls.

We had vaguely contemplated a spa but, given our sunburns, the thought wasn't particularly attractive. When Phil suggested a quiet swim in the Cambridge pool, I was in like Finn. However, there was cleaning to do first. The housework took us a good few hours. Mopping and scrubbing and organising and listening to music was a great way to use some of my excess jumpy energy- I even did some weeding, though I can't say I enjoyed it much. Too much bending, too much sneezy grass, too many bugs, and too much sun on my back (even through my t-shirt).

I hit a bit of a wall at about 4, and had afternoon tea/ lunch before we headed off to our swim. The water felt fantastic- as always happens when there's no pressure/no time, I didn't want to stop! I cruised through a km (almost entirely avec pull buoy), then we headed to the supermarket.

Today I'm still sore in my quads and walking gingerly, but otherwise feeling good. Tonight's swim was lovely, and I'm no longer stuck to the pull buoy. I was actually craving a run on the way to work this morning, and the thought of getting back on the bike on Wednesday is exciting!

Knowing we have the toughest event of our season out of the way is pretty cool. Lake Okareka Loop? Pah!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race report: Karapiro Half Ironman

A very prompt race report tonight- Phil is watching the Phoenix, so I'm sitting on the couch, with a newspaper between the hot laptop and my sunburned legs. I've been promised tea and toffee pops at half time.

Watch time: 39:53
Official time (includes run up the path to T1): 41:29

The swim course is a point to point- along the world rowing champs course. A straight 2k swim sounds like it should be fairly easy to navigate, but choosing a line is actually surprisingly difficult. The water was not too cold, but a bit choppy in the middle 1000 (which was actually a problem during the World Champs too). The start was a bit chaotic- even though there's not a big field there was a bit of a crush at the first buoy 100m or so away. Starting with Phil was really cool- I stuck to him like glue, then once we had some clear water, I took the lead so he could draft off me. I didn't know until later, but it turns out he stayed with me for about a k. I felt OK, not strong, but not totally pathetic either, and was relieved to come out in 39:53. Last year, I swam the same course (as part of a team) in 38:50ish- when I was trying to blat, and had been training hard and swimming really well... Guess that training never really paid off!

Watch time: 3:37:30
Official time (includes T1): 3:39:43
Nutrition: 1.5 1.75 bottles of Red-8 lemon lime, nearly 2 about 1 servings of Power Bar Energy Blasts (the raspberry ones are YUCK)

I knew the bike would be long and hard, and it was. It really was. There was some debate afterwards as to whether the course is really harder than Rotorua, but team Cornfield is united on this one- HELL YES! Rotorua is a big blat with a couple of horrible climbs, and reliable headwinds. Karapiro is 90k of pain- none of the climbs quite rival Hells Gate or Tarawera, but there are SO many, and there are ks and ks of false flats. The road varies between average and SHITE- at one point I was climbing a not-particularly steep hill, but the combo of big fat chip, massive holes and bumps and a pressing headwind made it feel like I was going nowhere. There are some fun bits- nothing quite like that fantastic descent down Tarawera Rd, but it's wrong of me to talk up the hard bits without acknowledging the 5 or 6 k of decent downhill (spread over 3 good wee blats)... Then again, some of those weren't so much fun INTO the wind.

I started off OK, but lost it a bit- unsurprising, since I was out there for nearly 3:40 (ridiculous!). I was quite grumpy and ratty- I think I actually said "fuck" out loud (in various combinations) 5 or more times!

My three big issues with the bike were:

- my ITB. I think it's partly a bike fit issue, as it's been fine recently, but it seized up the minute I went aero and never got better. At a couple of points, I felt like crying.. though that could just have been my supreme frustration, and a bit of a temper tantrum!
- comfort. My back and shoulders were sore pretty early on, and my Pearl Izumi chamois might not be the best for long distance. The constant vibration really didn't help matters- my arms were ruined!
- blisters. My feet are a mess- I should have worn socks with my zillion year old cycle shoes! Seriously- I was stupidly planning some sandal shopping tomorrow, but I think that'll be on hold.

Watch time: 2:04:44
Official time (includes T2): 2:06:53
Nutrition: 3 wee cups of water (plus lots over my head) 2 wee cokes

MAN, my run started off awesomely (hence the tweeting...) My first k was about 5:17, and I made it to the turnaround in 28ish minutes (if I'd kept it up, that would have led to a well sub-2 half). Even the hilly ks were around 5:45. I felt good- my HR was about what I thought it should be (mid 160s) and my legs were so happy to be off the bike that they were moving nicely! Unfortunately, it was hot and a bit humid, and it was lonely, and I was tired, and my pace started slowing. The hills are decent sized for a triathlon, and I remember one passing in 6:48. Blimey! My "normal pace" slowed to closer to 6:20, with the occasional 6:00 thrown in. It's not surprising that I slowed down, but usually in Rotorua, I'm a bit more consistent (always slow offroad, but not bad on) The first lap was fun, as there were people to see and wave to, but the second was pretty boring, as there was no-one out there (... I came something like seventh to last overall...) The highlight was being sprayed with a hose outside the fire station. Oh- and Phil coming to meet me at the warehouse to run the final 200m together. I guess that beats the hose!

I'm stoked with my final run time- the course might have been shortish by my Garmin (hard to tell as I had a couple of mozzers with it), but the Rotorua course is too, so even if it wasn't a great run, it was still a 2 minute Half IM run PB!

I am broken. Sunburnt, blistered and sore all over. A little downcast- even though I know this was a hard race and a training race, I feel like I could be and SHOULD be better at this triathlon lark than I am. WHY am I still letting 50 year olds pass me in the final ks of the ride? Why could I not keep it up for the rest of the half marathon?

But when I stop feeling like that, I'm pleased with my sore, solo ride around Maungatautari. I'm pleased that I can still go sub-40. We've both learned lots of lessons about our race clothing, nutrition (etc). And we can't wait to redeem ourselves in Tauranga! Please someone tell me it won't be THIS hard??

Friday, November 12, 2010

Karapiro: pre race thoughts

I don’t think this is going to be a fast race- the swim is easy, but also easy to screw up, the ride is bumpy and hilly and windy, and the run is un-flat and potentially hot. The times from last year make it look like a fast course- but that’s because the ride was around 5km short, and the run was another 1-2km off (…please feel free to correct those numbers Paul and Mike!), and this year they’ve added bits on to make sure we do our full 90 and our full 21.1.

It’s also likely to be a lonely race. Last year, there were 15 individual female entrants (and another 10-11 female teams). There were 144 entries in all, including teams. The slowest individual competitor did 6:31 and, as far as the ladies are concerned, there’s a massive gap between 12th place (5:42) and 13th (6:27). Basically, not a lot of depth full stop at the back of the field. This year there are about 150 entries, and I think it seems likely that the demographics will be about the same too (though I expect there will be fewer elite rower types!)

But it’s also going to be a fun race: swimming down the world rowing champs course to Lake Karapiro is something pretty damn neat. From the burning climbs to the familiar windy descents, the Maungatautari loop is undeniably a good ride. And finishing in central Cambridge on a Saturday afternoon will be fantastic (… even if it is a deserted ghost town by the time slow pokes like me are done…)

And it’s an opportunity to race a smart race- to practice swimming on feet, keeping a good consistent effort on the bike, staying aero for 3+ hours, and shutting up my CG on the run.

Since this is the beginning of my season, not the point of my season, I’m feeling less goal oriented than usual. My swimming has been rubbish, my cycling’s coming along, but I’m still useless, so all I can really count on is my run. Of course I’d love to smack my dream goals out of the water, and I’m hoping not to be too much slower than I was in my first Rotorua, but I’m not counting on anything. My guess is that I’ll be done somewhere between 6:20 to 6:30 (45ish swim + T1, 3:20-3:30 bike at 2:00-2:10ish run). Anything below that will be a bonus, and anything above that will hopefully be a lesson learned, or a challenge faced!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another mini tri; another mini race report

Swim: Crap again. I was all over the place. Caught up to Phil right at the end, again.

Awesome. Stayed a lot closer to the people who passed me (...and yes, they still did pass me) and felt fantastic. Rolled into T2 in 32:30- so close to the elusive 30km/h!- which is 2 mins faster than my good ride in the first race of the season and 4 mins faster than my shite ride two weeks ago. Average cadence ranged from 79 to 90 rpm (there are some good descents and some middle sized climbs).

OK. Felt great, but couldn't pick up the pace. Felt the same way I did last year in Tinman- like I couldn't go up a gear. In fact, I found myself actually doing shifting gestures with my right hand... Oops. Pace was between 4:50ish and 5:10ish (on the big hill at the end)- average probably just over 5:00. Poop! AHR for bike and run was 172- fairly consistent across the two disciplines.

I still came second to last, but this time I didn't feel like I deserved it. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, and have been reminded how much I enjoy swimming, biking and running- looking forward to Saturday (...well, with a grain of trepidation).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Race" report: Hotpotatokate's Karapiro "Tired Legs" 5k

I finished volunteering yesterday at 5:15pm (following a cheeky tipple while watching the Melbourne Cup), and knew EXACTLY how I'd use the unexpected spare time. Phil was at the Eastside 5k (...I should add that he ROCKED it in 18:38!!!), so I decided I would do my own, self supported 5k on the awesome Cambridge-Karapiro bike path.

I decided during the bike ride home that I'd jog the 2k to the path (big bottle of water in tow), then crank up some tunes and go hell for leather out for 2.5k, then turn around and come back. With the lack of competition and the general fatigue in the old legs, I decided to aim for sub 25, but to hope for sub 24. I knew it would be a bit of a miracle to see anything in the low 23:00s!

I got home a little before 6 and rested for a wee while (eating my- now customary- post volunteering cheerios), then headed out. I soon realised that my legs were even tireder than I'd realised- I just had NO lift in them at all, and the 2ish ks out to the path were a real chore, but I felt energetic and motivated, so I decided to stick with it.

My legs refused to loosen for the first k- I felt as if I'd taken off fast, but my pace sat around the 5:00 mark- usually more like half-m pace than 5k! I checked my HR and saw that it was in the low 150s, so more like E1-2 than race pace. That confirmed that the problem was my legs, so I decided just to keep going and to see what I could do. The first km passed in 5:03, with an AHR of 154. The second km wasn't much better, but I knew once it was done there would only be 500m before the turnaround. It was done in 5:02, with an AHR of 164 (the upper end of my aerobic zone). Even though I was looking at a "season's worst" 5k time, I felt pretty pleased to be running 5:00 ks with a broadly aerobic HR!

There must have been a slight headwind on the way out, because I picked up the pace pretty quickly as soon as I turned around. K 3 was 4:55, but still an AHR of 164 (... my usual HR at this point in a 5k race is in the high 170s!), and the legs finally felt like they were moving of their own accord! I kept it up OK for the fourth k, which was 4:48 (AHR 169... that's a bit more like it!), and all of a sudden it was time to grit my teeth and push the last km. I focussed on picking up the pace every 100m- it mostly worked- and finished it in 4:40, for a total time of 24:30.

The time may not be impressive, but I was pretty damn pleased with this non-race. First, I'm STOKED with the paces I was running at a lowish HR- finally, it's my legs letting me down instead of my heart ;) Secondly, I'm very pleased with the pure negative splits- every km faster than the last, and the second half around 40s faster than the first. Lastly, I was pleased with my ability to keep going on fatigued legs- after all, that's what triathlon is all about.

11 days to go!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Volunteer Duty

Most of you will know that I'm spending this week volunteering as a "Spectator Services Ambassador" at the World Rowing Champs at Lake Karapiro (which is also the home of the swim in my first half ironman of the season... 12 sleeps to go!)

It's going to be a full on week (plus two weekends), with 7:30 reporting times every morning, and finish times that will vary from 5ish to 7:30ish (with very little advance notice). I have to be honest- it's a bit more than I anticipated when I signed up (and, indeed, until last weekend!)

This, combined with (sometimes) long days on my feet, makes training hard, but I've figured out a few ways to manage it:

  • Bike commuting. The venue is about 9km away, so I've ridden there and back on my MTB every day so far. I won't have time for the commute (with headwinds, and some changing/bike storage time, it means leaving at around 6:30) if I want to swim, but it can be a great start and end to a long day, so I think I'll be able to keep it up.
  • (One way) run commuting: There's no showers at the race venue for volunteers, so a two-way run commute is out of the question, but if I pack VERY very carefully, I can catch the bus out and run back in. After a tough day, and a bit of a strop, today, I'm thinking of trying this out tomorrow.
  • Short'n' early swim: I was hoping to have time for a half hour swim in Cambridge every morning, but the bike commute takes a bit longer than I'd hoped, so I'll only be able to do it (a) with the love and support and company of Phil, and (b) if I catch the bus. A quick swim was the plan this morning, but someone who remains nameless and lives in the same bedroom as me was less than enthusiastic about getting up with me at 5:30, so a bike commute it was.
By taking care of myself, trying to stick with these workout solutions, and exercising a little self restraint at the volunteers' slice table, I think I should be OK. And even if I'm not, this is one of those neat "once in a lifetime" things- and this is a bloody good way to start the morning!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

O for Oarsome October: Stats

(see my September stats post here)

Swim: 5:15 (September- 5:45)
Bike: 22:00 (September- 11:00)
Run: 19:15 (September- 19:05)

And some more randoms:

Total calories burned: 26,600 (September- 21,617)
Days of training: 30 /31 (Nice!)
Number of workouts: 46
Average training time per day: 1.30 (September- 1:12)
Average run pace: 9:41/mile (September- 10:08/mile)
Average run AHR: 152.89 (September- 154.08)

And some highlights:

It really was O for Oarsome! Now stay tuned for a Gnarly November, with volunteering adventures, a Half Ironman, and more!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mafia Mini Tri: Mini Report

Swim: Slow. Barely caught up to Phil. About 10 mins for 600m (downstream) + T1?

Bike: Slow. Passed by pretty much everyone. First fast dudes. Then a normal chick. Then fat dudes. Then a duathlete chick. Gave it everything I had (not much) to pass her back, but she overtook me in T2 and creamed me on the run. 16km in 36 mins. Ghastly.

Run: Slow. EVERY SINGLE k was over 5:00. Had no hope of catching my rival so just soldiered on. Didn't see ANYONE on the way back. DFL. 4km in 21:00ish.

(seriously though- this was NOT my best work, but it simply was not DFL material. Ridiculous.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Zealand Sucks: A photostory in opposites

New Zealand.

The camping sucks.

The mountain biking sucks.

The views suck.

Getting to halfway sucks.

The mountains suck.

The markets suck. I mean really, who wants to see a market half way through a day of riding?

The Mr Whippy sucks.The views on the return trip suck even more.

The post ride relaxation sucks. Standing in a cool, calm lake looking out at the mountains, then lying with your feet up on the picnic table (beer not far).

Just sucky.

Some other, unphotographed things that suck:
  • organic craft beer
  • hot pools and hydroslides
  • picnics
  • chicken burgers
And, to top it all off, the sunsets suck too.

New Zealand. Who'd live here??

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eastside 5k: Race 3

I have found myself annoyed recently by the absence of race reports for various minor (...and a few more major...) races, so from now on I'll be trying REAL hard to blog each one, no matter how inconsequential it seems at the time. With that in mind, I present to you a very boring race report about race 3 (for me, 4 for others) of the Eastside 5k series.

Conditions: were OK. Phil thought it was a bit humid and a bit windy. I can't say I noticed either.
Numbers: were down on last week, probably up on the week before.
Key competition: Turquoise Hat (beat me in Race 1)
Feeling before: odd. We had just learned of the death of an acquaintance, and I was nervous about a big court hearing the next day. I told Phil a couple of times "I don't WANNA run fast".
Feeling during: Relaxed. Steady. Consistent. Semi strong.
Feeling after: Much better!
Time: 23:19 (18s down from week 2, 1:37 down from week 1)
AHR: 180 (up from week 2, down from week 1)
Splits: 4:40 (167) 4:42 (179) 4:48 (184) 4:52 (184) 4:18 (187) (the last k is always a teeny bit short, because I'm not too bad at running this course fairly tightly)
Comments: Turquoise Hat was there, but seems not to have raced. Darn her!
Place: 7th lady
Overall grade: A

Monday, October 18, 2010

O for Oarsome October: Week 3

3 swims, including Wednesday's mini tri; total time 1:27

A bit of a blah swimming week- squad on Monday was slow and boring, then the "bonus" swim I planned for Wednesday became a pretty pathetic 25 minute session due to bus delays. We were all set to make up for it yesterday, but when we arrived at the pool there was another "contamination". Argh!

2 rides, including Wednesday's mini tri; total time 3:08

Saturday's bike session was pretty good, but my back/shoulders are still bothering me (despite Friday's massage). I'm going to need to start wearing my contacts and working harder on my posture. Maybe a new fit?

I rode out to Te Miro (about an hour), then did my "half IM effort" as an out and back on a good bunch of rolling hills. I didn't get my heart rate up as high as I would have liked, but I'm happy with the effort, given that I haven't been riding hard at all recently. My speed for the interval was about 27.5km/h, which isn't quite what it should be, but it could be worse!

6 runs, including Tuesday's 5k and Wednesday's mini tri; total time 3:49

I snuck in a cheeky 40 minutes while Phil was doing his long run on Friday night. It was the perfect evening for a run, and it meant I enjoyed my wine with dinner even more :) Saturday was a 10 minute run off the bike, and it was fine. Well, it was hard, but it was meant to be! Pace was a little over 5:00, including the horrid little steep hill by our house.

My long run on Sunday was a CHORE. I did a few chores (and a lot of mucking around) in the morning, and headed out late (about 11:30). By that time, the drizzle had come, and it pretty much didn't leave for the next 2 hours. I headed out along the new bike path, which opened on Saturday, but sadly it's still not quite finished, so I ended up back in Leamington with 45 minutes to spare. The drizzle eased, but was replaced with stifling humidity, so I basically plodded around in a snotty mood for 45 depressing minutes. I was bloody glad to get home! My AHR for the run was 141, super low for me (probably a mixture of fatigue, a general lack of motivation, and maybe- hopefully- a wee increase in fitness??)

Total time: 8:25(ish) (plan said 10:25... Coach can't add, but it took me until Friday to twig!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two days; two races

I love after work race season. It's crazy and full-on, but, oh how fantastic it is to be able to experience the adrenaline and thrill of racing, for a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the pressure! We're very lucky in Hamilton to have two high quality races right on our doorsteps, with the Hawks Eastside 5k on Tuesday nights, and the Mafia Tri Club's Twilight Mini Tri fortnightly on Wednesdays. This week, Coach Paul generously allowed us to capitalise on that luck by racing both!

Eastside 5k

You may recall that last week's 5k was satisfying, but pretty ghastly. I had hoped to take off a good bit of time this week (I was thinking a minute or so, if I was lucky), but watching the poor ducks flailing in the headwind on the way over made me pretty sceptical of my chances!

I tried to make sure I held back for the first wee while- there's some good little hills early on, and last time I was a heaving burnt out mess 1k in. As it happened, I still hit 1k at about the same time as last week, but feeling a lot less shattered. It's hard to tell if my splits were "even" or not, given the hills and the wind, but I felt as if I was "about right" most of the time (although I got passed more than I'd have liked!). I only had lap pace/time most of the way, so very little sense of how I was doing overall, apart from "OK" (I know that 5 x 5 = 25, and 4.5 x 5 = 22.5, but in between I'm just guessing). At about 4km, I checked my watch and realised for the first time that taking a minute or so off last week's 24:56 was actually going to be possible! I tried to pick up the pace a bit, and ran the final k at 4:37/km pace, for a finish time of 23:37, a 1:19 improvement on last week's time!

Although I'm still a good way off my best times, that was just what I needed to start feeling a bit more confident. I'm not going to see any more improvements like that, but at least now I am pretty sure that the 24:56 was a product of humidity and the weekend's adventure, not just plumb lack of fitness. ONE day, Runner Kate will be back.

Mafia Mini Tri

I had hoped to return to this event a couple of weeks ago, but was briefly and bizarrely sidelined with food poisoning-like symptoms as I got changed into my tri kit after work. Luckily, nothing like that this week!

I dilly dallied about whether to swim- the river's still a bit high and quite fast, and the weather wasn't great. But when I saw a 12 year old girl preparing to get in, I (wet)suited up, and joined the hardcore crew, instead of the woossy duathletes. Definitely the right decision- the water was freezing, but exhilarating, and we were carried downstream in currents of something like 6.5km/h! I overshot my exit a bit (again) and had to do mad panicky windmill arms for a few seconds to get out. The lead male swimmer waited for the 12 year old (and me, but I think I was just a bonus) and we all jogged up the giant hill to T1 together.

I whizzed through T1, and was second out on the bike course overall. Now, this was only because:
  • 12 year old had to put shorts and a jersey over her togs
  • a few other hardy swimmers had missed the start and jumped in late
  • everyone else was running, which takes a fair bit longer
...but it was still awesome. Probably the only time I will EVER experience the feeling of being first lady :)

I rode pretty well, with an AHR of 172, and average cadence of about 93. By the first roundabout (a little less than 1/4 of the way in), I could still (sometimes) see fast dude, and the late-starting swimmers were still a good distance behind me. It was pretty choice being in front of Phil! However, sooner or later, they all started to catch me. First the swimmers, then Phil and his arch rival. I managed to stay fairly close to them for most of the second lap, but then they got away from me. My secret dream was to get into T2 ahead of the actual female leader, but I knew the second time I hit the roundabout that that was a bit of a pipe dream. To be fair, she represented NZ at AG Long Distance Worlds this year, and is about to head off to Xterra Worlds too... She passed me towards the end of the second lap, and swiftly passed the two guys I was trying to keep in sight too. However, it can't have been by THAT much, as she was just leaving T2 as I pulled in.

My time for the bike was around 34ish minutes, I think, for around 16km. I always feel bad for not being able to average 30 on this course, but Phil told me today that he normally doesn't either- today was his first time, so I don't quite feel so bad!

The run. Oh the run. It's been a LONG time since I ran off the bike. Since last time I did this tri, in fact (but I didn't blog about it, or even buckeye... so I don't know what my time was). So, fittingly, my legs felt like bricks. Ow. The run starts downhill, so I was very much doing the awkward triathlete shuffle. I started at around 4:45/k, but couldn't hold it, and ended up running each of the 4 ks at about 4:55- 4:59/km. I don't think I got passed on the run, though a couple of women behind me would have been ahead of me if we'd all done the same event. I didn't do much passing either- maybe one guy who was walking, and a little leapfrogging. But I felt good, and I was working hard, and that was enough for me. I honestly feel like it was one of my best, most consistent triathlon efforts ever.

...Oh, and since I was the only female who did the medium course tri, I won!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Training "performance"- a contradiction in terms

Most weekend warrior endurance athletes are fall somewhere right of centre on the "Type A" spectrum. We tend to be all-rounders, A-students, high achievers. We miss the simple days of school where success was measured by how well we memorised our multiplication tables or how many words we spelt correctly.

Don't deny it- you wish your boss could give you As!

It's not surprising that we turn to swimming, biking, running and competing to satisfy our Type-A urges. It's not the reason I do what I do (lots more on that here, here, and here, and on pretty much every other page of this blog) but it would be a lie to say I didn't get a buzz from going further or faster or higher or harder or just plain BETTER than before. I mostly compete with me, but I'll freely admit that going further or faster or higher or harder than other people is a motivating factor too.

PBs replace As as the new markers of success. We crave age group awards [not that there's any bloody chance of me winning one of those in NZ any time soon....] instead of the flash principal's awards they used to give out at assembly.

But we don't race enough to keep our Type A urges satisfied. Soon it's infecting our training too. And THAT, my friends, is the point of today's post. Don't you love how I took 5 paragraphs to get there?

Recently, I've observed an increasingly high number of posts dealing with people's disappointment with specific training sessions [No doubt you wouldn't need to look hard at all at this blog or my buckeye to find a fair few from me]. They tend to end with some sort of comment along these lines:

"I'm really disappointed in my performance on my long run today. I feel like a failure."

Usually, this is not because the gorilla [see this post] in question threw a giant tanty or canned their bike ride because it was a little bit windy (this happened... more than once. It seems I may have been too ashamed to blog it) or cut their 20k run down to 3 because they got scared of a big barky dog. Nope. Usually it's because they ran until they fell down but missed their goal pace. Or biked until their legs fell off but got dropped. Or swam a minute slower on this month's time trial than last month's. I do this all the time, so I'm not admonishing anyone- just examining.
I think the problem stems from treating training as something that requires "performance". It doesn't. Races require performance.

Training is the studying, racing is the exam.

The purpose of training is to GET better, not to BE better.

(image credit)

You might have mini-tests on the way- MAF tests, 5k races, Yassos. Just like the practice exams at school. But the purpose of these still isn't to perform- it's to LEARN. Is the studying/training working? Will the studying/training help my performance on the day that counts? Should I study/train more/less/differently?

I think that by keeping this in mind, I'm going to be a lot better at dealing with difficult training sessions.

I'll remind myself that that stink run is like that time I read that frustrating House of Lords decision over and over again and just couldn't grasp it. But, in the back of my brain, SOME of it's still sinking in and that ghastly run is the same. Maybe it's time for a mini break from the case/run to look out the window /sit on a park bench and watch ducklings.

"Failing" a MAF test has almost undone me twice this year. But next time, I'll remind myself (as Coach Paul has told me all along) it's like trying a practice exam and finding it difficult- you pause, make a coffee, listen to some music, and then you figure out how to tweak your study plan. It's exactly the same with the run.

I know this isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff, but I think remembering this will help me to adjust my attitude, and it might work for someone else too.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Eastside 5k- short race, short report

I went in with a goal of 25:00, conservative I thought, to reflect the hilly course and the decent training my legs have been doing over the past few weeks. As it happened, it wasn't so conservative! I started well, but just didn't have enough in me to keep getting up the steep wee hills along the river trail. With 1k to go, I was running close to the wire, but gritted my teeth and crossed the line at 24:56.

I'm actually happy with this- although I've run on the river path before, I've never tried to run FAST. I found that the steep and frequent climbs made getting into a rhythm very difficult, and I didn't have anything in my legs to push the downhills- I was getting passed uphill AND losing ground downhill! I think familiarity with the course, and a better idea of who my "competition" is will help to gradually bring this time down over the coming weeks.

Elevation profile

(obviously this exaggerates the elevation a LOT, due to the small scale, but believe me- enough steep wee hills can really break you!)

So THIS is happening.

13 February 2011

Oh yeah.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

O for Oarsome October: Week(end) 1

What a weekend! Phew! I think this is going to be a two-parter!

On Saturday morning, Phil and I woke up early (6am) to drive to Tauranga to meet Mike for a long ride adventure (Mike, like many others, knows that I'm pretty much up for any ridiculous workout if it comes packaged as an adventure).

We'd dabbled with the idea of riding a (n imperial) century, but each decided it was probably a bit much of an undertaking at this stage in the training (also, since I hadn't cleared ANY long ride with the coach, I thought 100 miles was pushing it....) so I started researching metric century-ish rides in the Bay of Plenty. The full 160 will have to come later (Mike, how about a post- Tauranga Half summer adventure?)

After weighing up various options (actually, I made a "short list" which repeated the same loop three times) we settled upon a Bay of Plenty standard, the Tauranga / Rotorua loop, going out through the Oropi Gorge, and coming back through Paengaroa and Te Puke, finishing along Welcome Bay Road.

It may not have been 100 miles, but it was 120ks of awesome, as illustrated by this elevation chart.

I hadn't appreciated quite how hilly the first half was, and since it was quite a gradual climb (a good 30-odd ks), I found my slow pace very frustrating, especially since I was aware that I was slowing the others down too. I really don't know why I'm so slow!! As we rode on, I stopped letting it bother me- I wanted to get to the end in one piece more than I wanted to show off for the boys!

After the long climb, steep climb up the gorge, and nail biting descent, we rode around Lake Rotorua, following the iconic marathon course for a few ks. We had our first proper stop at a local dairy, and cruised around the lake, enjoying a break from climbing and head winds! We picked up our pace enough over the next 15 or so ks to bring our average to a pathetic 20km/h for the first half. If my AHR hadn't been 160 at that point, I'd have been feeling pretty rubbish- but I knew I was working about the right amount, and feeling OK, so I felt confident in blaming the terrain, at least partly.

Riding around the marathon course was great. Mike and I both ran it in 2007- it was the first time I'd *met* him - though I'm not sure spotting someone at the finishing line and giving him a whoop really counts as meeting - and it was amazing how vividly I remembered it having only ever been there once. It didn't hurt that it was a gorgeous day and the lake was glistening, unlike race day '07, when it was pissing down.

Then the downhill back to Tauranga (sea level) from Rotorua (one of the higher NZ cities) began. As the profile shows, it was pretty much downhill all the way home- but with an awful lot of wee, and not so wee, rollers. At one point it was just hang on and cruise for 5k- such bliss, and after the grueling climb it didn't even feel like cheating ;) The downhills gave us some time in the bank if we wanted to maintain our first half average (... we HOPED we wouldn't be slower than that overall!) By 4:00 we had 15 minutes in the bank, and by 5:00, it was 30.

We had another longish stop in Te Puke at about 4:15. By this time I'd ridden further (and for longer) than I had since last year's half ironman, and although my legs and heart were still doing OK, my shoulders and nether regions were starting to feel it. The time from 3:40 (when I suggested a break at 4:00) and 4:15 (when we found a good place to stop) seemed like forever. I was well dropped, but I was happy enough with my own exertion and pace, so I ignored it.

It wasn't long before I reached my personal distance record of 100.31km, reached a VERY long time ago in the Taranaki. I think passing that gave me enough oomph to get through the next 20ks. Riding Welcome Bay Rd and back through Tauranga also helped- great varied terrain, and the scenery's OK too. I did let the men go on ahead- I felt much better being proud of my own pace than feeling frustrated at being so far behind.

We arrived back at Mike's at 3:20pm or so, with a total ride time of 5:35ish. Our average speed for the second half was about 24 km/h (.... or 2:30/k!), which is actually faster than I often average for a weekend ride. Not too shabby for my longest ride ever!

Nutrition note:

I followed my normal nutrition approach to long training rides- plenty, and random. Closer to race day, I'll practice a more sensible nutrition strategy, but for a long, slow ride, with no goals other than surviving, I prefer to just eat what I have to hand and what I feel like. As it turned out, I think our food served us well- I was never hungry, and my energy levels were mostly OK (in the overall context of my longest ride ever.... I can't say I was a box of birds the whole way!)

So, here's what I had:

1.5 bottles of Lemon /Lime "Red 8: Sports Hydrate"
A few Natural Confectionery Company dinosaurs (Don't chop the dinosaur, Daddy!)
A peanut butter sandwich on Molenberg (with Pic's, of course)
A piece of banana and date loaf (left over from our week's lunchbox baking)
A sausage in a piece of white bread (how could I not- they were selling them for $1)
Part of a curly wurly
Half a bottle of Raspberry Lo-carb Mizone Isotonic (I wasn't being carb conscious on a long ride. I have loved this for ages, and hate it's rebranding as lo-carb...)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some September Stats

Today when I was entering the stats for my (sweaty and miserable) run into Buckeye, I noticed that it was the 30th of the month. A-ha! I thought- what better time than to check my monthly stats. And so I did:

Swim: 5:45

Bike: 11:00 (including spin)

Run: 19:05

And, because I love the random stats:

Total calories burned: 21,617

Average calories burned: 720

Average daily training time: 1:12

Total number of workouts: 31

Total run distance: the length of an Ironman bike course (112 miles)

As I commented elsewhere, this isn't exactly a mega triathlon training load. I suspect that in a few weeks time, I'll look back and laugh at my paltry 8 hour weeks. But when you put it into the context of this year, it's damned impressive. In May, June and July, I did around 23-25 hours per calendar month, so I've added a good TEN hours this month. And what makes that particularly awesome is that I'm in a heavily run focussed segment of my training, so my hours on the bike have, if anything, been down (getting a 10+ hour week in is much easier if you spend 5+ hours pootling around on a road bike every Sunday....)

With the end of September comes the end of abstention (from DRINK, guys, from DRINK). I've had a few more "tastes" than I should have, so I'm not super proud of my performance, but, quite frankly, complete sobriety is balls, and there's plenty of time for that in the years to come, so instead of having Pisshead October followed by No-Booze November, I've decided to take a more sensible balanced approach to both months, with one night of grog per week. The rest of the time, I'm taking a leaf out of Kath's book- it's mocktails all the way! Time to stock up on soda water and fun flavours.

In summary:

1) Go me!
2) Roll on October!
3) I get to drink WINE tomorrow!
4) 44 days til Karapiro. Holy crap!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly rundown

A nice solid week, totalling a little over 9 hours. I'm feeling pretty good, and definitely enjoying my training, in all three disciplines.

It's starting to feel like tri season is coming- which, of course, it is. Phil and I have got ourselves on the committee for the Mafia Tri Club, which I hope will help us to get more involved in the *scene*... Though it might interfere with my vague plans for a marathon and rowing year next year!! We're the bike and run coordinators, and we'll be organising occasional group training sessions, as well as trying to "match-make" new members. We've missed having a bunch of training buds, so this is far from purely altruistic.

I'll be volunteering at the World Rowing Champs at Lake Karapiro in early November, and my commitments to training and volunteer days are picking up a little bit, so it's going to be even more important than usual to keep up with things, especially with the Karapiro half coming up shortly afterwards. Thank goodness for bright evenings!


A typical swimming week. A squad session at St Peter's on Monday, and a cruisy session with Phil at the pool in TA after work on Friday.

Swim time: 1:25 (a little down on what it should have been)


I had a longer than usual midweek ride scheduled for Wednesday, and was stoked to get home early and head out with Phil. We managed to get about 45 minutes in before it started getting dark, and another 15 in the semi-dark. It was still light enough to see in front of us, even without our super hardcore lights on, but I was a little jumpy, especially with the frequent showers. Phil was only riding for an hour, so we headed home and I jumped on the trainer for a (much less enjoyable) half an hour.

The weekend's "long" ride was only 2 hours, and we decided to head out on the MTBs, as we were in Auckland for a family gathering. My mojo was pretty low, and I spent the first wee bit feeling a bit stompy and sulky. It didn't help that there was an event on, and I was constantly worried about getting in the way. After half an hour or so, I started feeling a lot better, but I'm still a lot slower than the boys, and didn't exactly feel gnarly. We finished our usual loop in about 1:20- 1:30, and decided to call it a day as we had places to be. So, not exactly a win week on the bike, but not bad either. I was definitely glad to have some mojo return by the end of the ride- can't wait to get down to Rotorua a few more times over summer!

Bike time (including MTB and half-hour spin): 2:50


This wasn't my best running week, by recent standards, but wasn't bad either. On both Thursday and Friday I felt a bit weak/dizzy during the runs (only a little bit, nothing worrying)- which I attribute to a mixture of not eating properly and slowly changing seasons. The long runs are proving to be great for my self esteem- it's amazing how much more awesome I feel after a 2 hour run than after 1:40.

Running highlights of the week were:

- evening 10k run at the lake in Hamilton with Phil;
- running along the quickly growing pedestrian/bike path from Leamington to Karapiro- it's looking brilliant!
- today's 20k around the bays in Auckland. Much warmer than I'm used to, but was great to do a nice straightforward run- and to hit the 20km mark for the first time in goodness knows how long! (in training, anyway).

Run time: 4:50

Total time: 9:05

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Last couple of weeks: Rundown/highlights

I think it's now evident that I am NOT capable of blogging regularly. The long draft still sitting around from our epic Beervana/Wellington weekend is testament to that. So, since we're getting into The Season, I'm going to revert to the bullet point weekly update.

So, how are things going?

In general, I'm starting to feel like a triathlete again. I'm not quite making it up early every morning, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the extra light in the morning and the evenings, and I am getting most of my training hours in every week. I'm a little nervous about my riding and my general fitness, but I know I can get through Karapiro now, and I am SURE I'll be able to dominate September through December in order to rock Tauranga.

We're back in the pool, and back to squad sometimes. Swims are still pretty short and easy, compared to what I was doing last year, but, well, swimming 3.5k hard 3 times a week didn't exactly help me out with my race times! Going to squad on Monday night was great- there's nothing like an outdoor pool in the evening. Also, I'm convinced that the St Peter's pool is shorter than our usual pool in Te Awamutu- my times were miles better!

I'm riding well enough, but we're not doing the distances we were this time last year either. We've done a few 3:00 to 3:30 rides, but we're mostly in the 2:00 - 2:30 range. My endurance has been OK for the longer rides. Last week's ride was 2:30 around the countryside around Te Miro. My legs were feeling a bit thrashed, and the weather was ghastly- muggy and windy for the first 2:10, and torrential rain for the rest. If I hadn't been so close to home, I think I'd have pulled over and found some shelter!

My running is feeling great. It's slow, but getting stronger and stronger. I'm doing 2:00 weekend runs, which is big for me, since my marathon training days at least! Last year I don't think I ever ran 2:00, outside of races.

Today my run took me out through the country and up the ginormous hill we rode a few weeks ago. After rolling countryside (complete with evil cows and bad, chasey dogs) for a few k, you start climbing. And climbing. And climbing. There's a few hundred metres of respite after the first steep climb, but after that it just winds steeply up and up for a total climb of nearly 4km.

(Yep, it's steep!!)

When you get to the top, you can keep running along a rolling gravel road. Totally invigorating, especially on a crazy, Wellington-style windy day!

(this is what happens when there's a bit of wind in the Waikato)

Running from Cambridge to the top took just under an hour, so I ran along the gravel road for a k before turning and running back down the hill.

(I didn't follow the first piece of advice this time, but I did follow the second!)

Next time I'll definitely start a bit closer to the hill, so I can spend more time on the gravel road (and also, so I can finish on a downhill, instead of 4 boring flat ks!)

My mid week runs have increased too. When we started the run-focus, my short midweek run was 30, but gradually grew to 60. Last week I had a 45 minute tempo run scheduled, and I'm pleased to say that 45 mins is definitely short again. Phew!

The elephant in the room. In short, I'm trying, but I'm still F.A.T. About 5kg heavier than my race weight last year- GAH!!! I'm off the booze in the hope that things improve this month, but every time I weigh myself I'm disappointed again. I feel like I'm doing a very good job of not rewarding myself with food (too much), and eating healthy, balanced meals, but I guess I just have to do more.