Sunday, February 27, 2011

A couple of weeks of training

Two weeks today since the New Plymouth Half, and the reduced training load has been very welcome.  We've enjoyed a bit more relaxation time, had a great weekend in Wellington without too much worry about getting our training in (we did a hilly 10k run and a hungover 1:30 walk on Welly's crazy array of offroad walkways) and I think we're feeling a bit more normal again.

The lower hours have also allowed me to put more into organising Run for Christchurch.  It's taken off more quickly than I expected, and it seems there's something new to consider every couple of hours.  Phew! Phil and I will be in Wellington for the Contact Tri Event, so will meet up with Pip, Lucinda and others for our 5k.

We've still got some good training in (5 hours in week 1, 7 or so in week 2), though the swimming has been badly neglected, due to the pool changing its opening hours and our general laziness.  I've been quite tired and sluggish, and morning starts feel a world away, but we'll be getting back into it better this week.  I'm currently experimenting with recording in dailymile, rather than buckeye, but I'm not quite convinced. 

I lost my faithful Garmin at some point over NP Half weekend, so my times and distances are fairly approximate- I think it's good for me to have some time data-free, though really all I do is try to replicate the data whichever way I can! Today I rode using Phil's power tap.  I averaged 120 watts, with normalised power of 140.  It's pretty pathetic- but sort of made me feel better to see just how rubbish I am- at least I'll stop expecting more from myself!

Next up is the Wellington event in the Contact Tri Series, a flat but windy standard distance which doubles as the standard distance national champs.  Should be a good weekend- catching up with friends and family, and racing in stunning Welly!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Run for Christchurch

As you probably know, New Zealand's second largest city, Christchurch, was devastated by a 6.3 earthquake at lunchtime on Tuesday 22 February 2011. There have been at least 113 fatalities and two days later over 200 people are still missing.

Kiwis out of Christchurch and people around the world want to know how they can help, and the answer's short. With money. But we all want to feel like we're doing more than just typing our credit card numbers into a box and clicking submit. So, Mike, Pip, Lucinda, Phil and I thought we'd go for a run. Wearing red and black, to show the people of Canterbury we love them. And we'd like you to join us for our virtual fun run. Wherever you are.

If you’d like to participate, just follow these easy steps:

•make a donation of as little as $5 at our fundraising page •follow us on twitter!
•tell the world you’re in. Share the love on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, whatever. Use the #run4chch hashtag
•on the 12th or 13th of March, pop your red and black on, and hit the streets, or the pavements, or the trails, or wherever it is you run
•send us a link to your race report, and we’ll post it on our blog

We’re hoping to get at least 100 entries, so please, please share this with everyone you know!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sorry I’ve been so absent recently. You can blame Vodafone. On a normal day, we can’t access the internet for more than about half an hour. Sometimes we’re allowed online for just long enough to load our standard pages (buckeye, gmail, facebook), but (infuriatingly) not quite long enough to do anything (add workouts, actually reply to emails, press “read more”) . Now it’s stopped working in the mornings too. And at work, well, I kinda have to work.

I never thought I’d miss the days of dial up. Hopefully I’ll brb ;) [c’mon, who remembers those days?]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Race Report: (The Inaugural) New Plymouth Half Ironman

I had planned REAL hard to write a "pre-race" post for this one.

There was so much to say- my fear that I could be, not only last in my AG [quick google stalking confirmed that this was very much a possibility] but last overall [a random google stalking of some of the older ladies confirmed that a number were AG reps and super speedy cyclists]. And the fact that the race course was basically an extended version of my FIRST EVER [proper] TRI back in 2006, which led to a whole heap of reflecting and a strong sense of deja vu throughout the weekend. Well, deja vu minus the dehabilitating nerves I suffered last time.

But with two computer-less days in Wellington for work, and a race and weekend away to get ready for when we came back, I just didn't quite get round to it. So you're in luck- not too much navel gazing (yet).

2 triangular laps. Slightly bumpy, but no major tide issues and no white caps. We met one of the race officials the day before the event who emphasised that this was a true Half IM, with a swim of exactly 1.9km. Given their measurement of the other disciplines, I think they probably got it right. I got into a good pack of ladies for the first lap, but it got a bit frayed on the way back to the beach, and the second lap was far patchier. Still, although I wasn't up with the lead pack, there were a reasonable number of red caps around me (as well as men's blue caps and teams' green, purple and black). Made it out of the water in 37:15, and up over the timing mats at the beginning of T1 in 38:17.

T1 The race was designed to be a bit of an ironman prep race, and so utilised the "tent" approach to transition. I was a little sceptical, but it turned out to be great! I loved having someone there to help me, even though they didn't give me a huge amount of assistance. I was also stoked to see so many ladies in the change tent- was such a relief to know there were still bikes in the racks! Managed to get in, get my bag, wetsuit (etc) off, get socks, shoes, glasses, helmet on, bits and bobs in pockets. Got the gloves on while running to the bike, and was outta there in 2:12, which isn't great, but isn't bad when you compare it to other people's transition times (Phil did a 1:54, for example).

Bike Wow- what a course!

It was tough, but it was gorgeous, and, above all, it was FUN. I'd started the morning feeling pretty unenthused, and just generally not in the mood to race, but had a great time during the swim, and my enthusiasm picked up on the bike. I realised after the first 6-odd ks of climbing that I could ignore my average speed and just keep trying, and so I did. I possibly did too much "fun having" and not enough trying, but that's really what worked for me this time.

The last 18 or so ks of lap 1 were fabulous. I was smart enough to realise that I wasn't going 40km/h by myself, and cleverly deduced that I'd be suffering on the way back. Was the tailwind worth it? Hell no. But was it fun? Oh yeah! I saw the bike leader (team member) at 31km, first lady around 37 (?) and saw Phil at about 40km, then made my way to the turnaround at Rahotu (in 1:35). I could tell from the people coming the other way that the tailwind pushing me along was pretty strong!

At Rahotu, I made a fundamental and totally stupid mistake. Especially stupid since I'd PLANNED not to make precisely the mistake I made. I'd started the race with two bottles of Replace, and planned to exchange one for a bottle of water at the bottle drop. But I'd only got through 2/3 or so of bottle one, and I wanted to get moving [or something], so I decided I could get through 45km with one a bit bottles, and not to worry. That ten second decision probably ended up costing me a good 10 minutes. *bangs stupid muppet head against wall*.

The ride home was, as predicted, an absolute sufferfest. I did a pretty good job of ignoring the numbers, and just trying to keep working. I felt as if it was working, as I was PASSING PEOPLE. ME! Passing people on the bike- practically unheard of. I didn't do a very good job of keeping aero, but I tried to use my drops on the downhills, and I focussed on my road position. The last thing I wanted was to make myself uncomfortable for the long route home.

Making it back to Okato was a major landmark on the way back. That was where the sweet talk wind started, and I hoped where the gruelling headwind ended. Of course, it was also where the gradually downwards rolling hills ended on the way out, so where the gradually upwards rolling hills started on the way back. I'd kissed goodbye to 3:20 and even 3:30 by this point, but hoped that 3:40 would still be in reach. Anything under 3:47 would at least be a non-PW!

I felt pretty OK for the whole of the ride. Slow and sore, but not AS uncomfortable as I've felt recently, which has got to be a plus! [for those interested in the bike position sagas, I've bought some longer clip on bars, which I'll put on before the Standards in Wellington] One of the highlights was definitely passing a lady who'd passed me in the first 3km- and STAYING past. Sweet! And passing a fair few men too! Unfortunately, I ran out of drink somewhere around Oakura, with 12 hilly ks to go (at one point we climbed, with only very slight respite, for something like 4ks). The sun was well out by this point (I guess it would have been 11ish), and it was baking hot.

Made it back into T2 at 3:39 [yes, if you've done the maths, it took me TWO HOURS to get back], and was out in 1:37- stuffing around with my Garmin cost me a little, and there was a bit of messy pocket re-sorting which seemed to take longer than usual. I'd seen my arch rival (she doesn't know it...) out on the run, and wanted to catch her. More than anything, I wanted a DRINK!

Run UNfortunately, the first drink station was not until 3.5km into the run (it was a little longer actually). For the second and third laps, there was also an aid station at Ngamotu beach, but this wasn't open to first lappers. I realise my hydration woes were entirely my own doing, but I do think in a half IM it's good to have an aid station shortly off the bike- by the time I started the run it was nearly midday, and IT WAS HOT as Hades.

I started running at a reasonable pace, but it started dropping quickly. Each km ticked by slowly, and the small hills reduced me to snails' pace. I was basically just running for the promise of water. Stoked to arrive at a group of kids with hoses and buckets, but the relief was shortlived. By the time I walked through the first aid station, my average pace had dropped to 6 min/ks- slower than both my other halves this year. I'd hoped to finish each lap in 40 minutes, but it was 42:54 by the time I made it through the beach aid station, and I was feeling pretty grim. I knew by this point it was a case of survival, not speed. The one high point? I passed my arch rival, and left her in my dust.

The second lap was all kinds of hell. I was a bit headachy, and hot and shivery, and really need to wee. I shuffled up Bayly Street, and just couldn't put any PUSH behind my stride. The 2.5km before I met the hose kids was interminable, and the 1km between them and the drink station was at snail's pace. My average speed was hovering around 9 km/h- that's just a number I don't see any more, especially not on the flat! I could feel my shoulders burning, and sprayed myself with sunscreen a couple of times, but I suspect it just sweated or rinsed off- it certainly did f-all good, as I'm a stripy lobster now!

I promised myself I could walk/run the third lap, but I mostly didn't- I took a walk break up Bayly Street (immediately out of transition- it's short but horrid) and another about 2km in, but after that I found a couple of friends to chase, and just sucked it up. I think the promise of finishing at LAST combined with some of the hydration sinking in a bit gave me a bit more pep. Thanks to the wrist scrunchies everyone could see that I was on my last lap, and I got some lovely shout outs from the volunteers.

I finally made it over the line in 6:34- my slowest Half IM so far, and my second slowest run (2:12:54). But I'd picked it up well for the last lap- my overall time was slower (it was longer because I needed to get to the finish line) but my pace dropped from 6:44/km for lap 2 to 6:30/km for lap 3. Not bad for a zombie!

Comments: I'm actually pleased-ish with this race. I didn't come last in my AG, or last overall, not by a longshot. I placed about halfway through the women (14th overall) and 5th in my AG. I was also 68th overall- yes, it was a tiny field, but I beat a decent enough number of both men and women. The time was utterly pathetic- even given the hard course. Candice Hammond did a 4:53, and Phil did 5:15, so it doesn't seem to have been objectively harder than Karapiro, and I was 6 minutes slower. But I'm pleased with myself. I raced well on the bike, and I kept going on the run. 2:12 is slow for me, but it's fast for someone who feels like death warmed up! I've been very lucky with my racing so far- no super stupid moves, and no major dramas. Now I've really seen how much more careful I need to be with my hydration- it's about time I learned that lesson.

And an epilogue:I'm really glad we did all three races this season, but I am also SO glad that we are all done! One thing I've realised over the past few weeks is that I am not really ready to race long. Not even half-distance. I think Westy has known this for ages, but I needed to learn it for myself. I've struggled with realising that Phil's teenage fitness means he CAN do things I can't do. But after three years, I think it's time to be honest with myself. The big thing is the bike, of course. I LOVE riding, but I don't love riding long, and I've put SO much into improving this with no tangible results. I'm horrifically uncomfortable after 2 hours on the bike, and I finally know that that's NOT normal! Racing long is doing nothing for my weight, and precious little for my self esteem.

So this season, I'm DEFINITELY taking a break from the Half IM distance (not like last year when I promised a break, but ended up doing three Halfs instead...) I don't know what I'll do yet, but I still like the idea of getting better at the sprint and standard distances, and I truly think I could. I also like the idea of bike commuting to build some serious base, and maybe doing some more running again...Hmm- the world's my oyster!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

January Stats

January was another funny month, as we combined training with racing and holidays. But by the looks of things, the extra time we had (thanks to holidays) outweighed the time we lost due to racing (taper and recovery), and we ended up about breaking even!

Here goes (deja vu, anyone?)

- Swim: 10:30 over 13 sessions (December 10:45)
- Bike: 22:50 over 17 sessions (including spin) (December 20:00)
- Run: 10 hours over 13 sessions (December 12:30)
- Total hours: 43:15 (December 43:15)
- Average daily hours: 1:23 (December 1:23)
- Average run pace/AHR: 9:35/mi / 152.42 (December 9:57/mi, 149.86)
- Total calories burned 27,086 or 873 per day (December 27,654)

One metric I've been quite interested in is my average run pace/average run HR. While it looks like January was an improvement, it was only an improvement on "Slow December" (Whangarei hills and Paihia paths). January was a little slower and higher HR'd than November, and I'm not quite sure why, but I blame the Port of Tauranga Half IM. While we did a Half in November too, we basically trained through it, whereas I had quite a break from running post Tga. Other than that, I suppose the heat is likely to be a factor, plus it's seemed (though I may be imagining things) that we've been doing more off the bike. In any event, I've been feeling fantastic on my recent runs, and that's what actually matters!