Archive for the ‘March’ Category

Day 90 – Zandalee

Posted: April 21, 2012 in March
Tags: , , ,

Well that went well. Almost four o’clock this morning going to bed, quite a lot of wine and whiskey consumed, and images of a moustachioed Nicolas Cage desecrating a New Orleans confession box coursing through my dreams, meant I was feeling just a teeny bit tender when I got up this morning. As I’m the only presentable/literate/coherent one of my friends I’ve been asked to do a reading at the wedding, which has given my wife all the excuse she needs to drag us down there early. That means no dilly-dallying around this morning and I have to get my training in early. As my run yesterday didn’t feel particularly good I went out on the bike instead for a quick spin. Twelve kilometres later I was back home, feeling considerably more refreshed and looking forward to getting suited, booted, and probably a little bit tipsy later.


Can’t believe I forgot:


Day 89 – Pre-Wed

Posted: April 21, 2012 in March
Tags: , , ,

This is the start of a pretty hectic weekend for me. Not training-wise, but socially, which is a bit of a rarity for me. One of my oldest and dearest friends The Duck, or John as he’s known to his mother, is getting married, which is cause for a reunion of my old college friends. There’s a few of us who used to live together, who all still keep in touch and try to meet up a couple of times a year. With expanding families, increasing commitments and the fact that half of the lads live in Germany that can be tricky, but we usually manage at least one weekend away.

We didn’t manage to get together in the autumn/winter like we usually do, but thankfully The Duck couldn’t come up with any more excuses as to why he hadn’t made an honest woman of his better half Mary, thus giving us a proper reason for a get together.

With the lads home there was invariably going to be an amount of boozing done so after welcoming them and briefly catching up I decided to head out for a quick run. When I say quick I actually mean slow, and quite a short one too. I think the exertions of the previous weekend had taken more of a toll than I’d initially thought as my legs felt absolutely leaden, and even worse really tight and knotted. When I went at anything more than a jogging pace I felt definite signs of straining so I just did a few easy kilometres to loosen everything up.

Then went home and hit the booze.

It’s true what they say about the mind being the most powerful muscle/organ/tool you have. Unfortunately for me mine is currently conspiring against me and is determined to scupper any chance I have of doing a triathlon at any stage this year. I had my usual club swimming session tonight, and after figuring out, or so I thought, what was wrong with my solo sessions I had been looking forward to this session. Unfortunately though I seemed to bring my solo form into my group session and right from the off I was struggling. As soon as I started to struggle I began to stop, literally mid-stroke, to try to figure out what I was doing. Then I became conscious of doing just that and started to berate myself for it which really didn’t help.


I’d had a few days of pretty hard training/racing and my legs felt like lead. Between this and me putting the mental mockers on the session really wasn’t going well. I knew Mark (our coach) was looking at me and wondering what was up but he was being polite/trying to spare me by not asking or mentioning it. After a pretty unproductive and frustrating half hour I said to him I was just having a bad day in the office so he suggested a ten minute break and just forgetting about what went before. I took the break but forgetting about what just happened or letting things slide is something I really struggle to do. I’m not as neurotic as I used to be, nor do I beat myself up about things quite as much as I used to, but I’m still definitely prone to analysis paralysis. It’s funny though in how it only seems to affect physical activities. When it comes to any mental activities, like college work, exams, job interviews etc I’m very confident and can breeze through with the minimum of preparation and absolutely no nagging voices or self doubts. Swimming, skiing, cycling, motor biking, and countless other physical activities have been ruined, or at the very least affected, however, by this negative mindset.


I’m torn as to whether I should dig into it more in an effort to understand it (which may just exacerbate the problem) or just try to ignore it. Actually a far more sensible option may be to try and engender a much more positive mindset. That’s definitely the ideal scenario but I just need to figure out the process to get there. I need to have some of what Diego’s having.


My legs were feeling pretty heavy today so I just went out for a short (11km) recovery ride. The weather we’ve been having for the last week or so has been fantastic, but it did mean the return of a minor annoyance I’d forgotten about until tonight – insect teeth. It was after seven when I went out, on a sunny evening, and there were fields on either side of the road. I was asking for trouble really.

I’d come through both my test duathlon and the real thing yesterday unscathed so there was no reason not to get fully back in to the swing of things and head over to Portlaoise for our club track session. Plus the unseasonably warm weather was continuing so it was a chance to crack the shorts out for an evening session for the first time this year.


There was a smaller than usual number at the track tonight. Knowing this country half the people missing were probably having their fifth or sixth barbecue of the last week, making sure they made the very most of this glorious weather. Most of the people there had done the Lap of Laois cycle the previous day, though there was one other there who’d done the Naas Duathlon. Whether it was because of that, or whether it was what Denise had scheduled anyway, but it was a relatively easy session tonight – 20 minutes or so of easy running, drills and stretching to get warmed up, then a pyramid of 1 minute easy, 45 seconds at roughly 80% effort, 1 minute easy, 1 minute 80%, 1 minute easy, 1:15 80%, 1 minute easy, 1:30 hard then work our way back down. Two steady laps sandwiching another 80% effort lap and then we were done. My first track session without any injury niggles in six weeks, Jurassic Park!


One of the things thats really changed in me over the last year is my sleeping habbits. I’d always been much more of a night person, someone who considered 5am late night rather than early morning. During the week I’d rarely, if ever, go to bed before midnight, oftentimes I’d be just sticking on a film then and only hitting the hay around 2am, before getting up as late as was feasibly possible. At the weekends bedtime would generally come even later, usually between 3am and 5am, though that would be extended until around 6am or so if there was a UFC on. Naturally that meant the next day, and in essence the entire weekend, was a write off, but that’s how things have been for at least the last ten or so years.

Now however I’m rarely up beyond midnight, even at the weekends. Saturday and Sunday are days for longer sessions, or races,which generally means getting up early. Our soccer season runs from September to April or May and means I’m busy every Saturday from roughly 10am to 2pm so if I want to get in a good session on a Saturday I need to do it before then. I’ve really grown to love getting up early though, having the house to myself, mooching round, making a nice pot of coffee and just relaxing before everyone else gets up. This morning, even with the clocks going forward, I was up at 7:14, even before my alarms went off. I must have been looking forward to the race more than I thought.

I had a bit of a faff around trying to locate my tyre irons but they had disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle of my boys room so I decided to just stop on the way to the race to buy some. I could have done the race without them, and the spare tubes and multi-tool I always carry. In fact I’m sure most people do. But the first races I ever did were adventure races, and in those you generally have mandatory kit to carry which often includes tubes and tools. For that kind of race it makes sense anyway, as punctures and mechanical failures are a lot more common, and you often find yourself slap bang in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, it can’t do any harm to carry just the essentials. I’m fairly certain the couple of hundred grams of extra weight isn’t going to be the reason I don’t finish in the top ten today.

I got all my gear together, double and triple checking that I had everything I could possibly need, and then went out to practice my transitions. It’s so easy to lose time in transitions with any sort of dithering or indecision, and I’m going to be slow enough as it is, so the more practice I got in the better. I used the same mock transition point out the back of my house and just practiced running in, getting everything on in the right order, cycling out before turning round, coming back in, getting changed again and running back out. After a couple of run throughs it was time to load up the car and hit the old dusty trail.

Day 84 – FP1

Posted: April 8, 2012 in March

Having got the all clear from my physio yesterday I decided that I’d do the duathlon. The 60km cycle would probably have made more sense from a training point of view, but it was a beautiful weekend and it’d been far too long since I’d raced.

With that decision made I thought it’d be a good idea, for a couple of reasons, to do a mini-duathlon myself. Firstly to see how my legs would hold out at something approaching race pace, and secondly, and just as importantly, to remind my legs what it felt like to run off the bike. The infamous jelly legs is something that everyone who’s ever taken part in an adventure race, duathlon or triathlon is familiar with. That first kilometre after getting off the bike where your legs appear to be controlled by someone hiding behind a curtain somewhere and you feel you’re moving forward only in the very vaguest sense. In order to reacquaint myself with that feeling I set myself a course of a 2km run, 16km cycle, 2km run, then set up my Garmin and even made myself a little transition area out the back of my house.

The first kilometre of the course I ran with my wife who was off on her LSR (and who by the way returned later after a very impressive 18km) before turning around for my second kilometre, and (trying at least) to pick up the pace all the way back to transition. After a passable transition I was out on the bike and off on a nice 16km loop, mostly flat with just three hills. I was trying to push hard on the bike, but finding it a little tougher than I’d expected actually. All my sessions on the turbo trainer meant I was, or am, reasonably aerobically fit, but the changes in gradient, minor and all as they were, differing road surfaces and some wind were causing different muscles to do work that they weren’t accustomed to and they were grumbling a bit. About 10km into the ride though my legs started to loosen up a bit  and I could think about getting a bit of a move on.

I finished the 16km in 35 minutes and managed a much better transition second time round before heading out on my second run. As expected my legs felt like crap on the run, for the first kilometre at least, but as always I was surprised to see that my actual pace was a lot quicker than it felt. If you were to ask me I’d say it felt like I was running at around marathon pace (6:15/km) when in fact I was doing around 10k pace (4:45/km). I finished my trial run more tired than I’d expected to be but happy that no twinges or niggles, pulls or strains had made their presence felt and now I could look forward to tomorrow.

So today I had a physio appointment booked for after work to see whether I’d be able to race this weekend.I knew that doing the Wicklow Way trail was out of the question but I had some other options depending on how well healed up I was – either the Naas Duathlon (3.5km run, 20km cycle, 3.5km run) or the Lap of Laois charity cycle (60km). Before that though I called into McLoughlins Cycles as I’d spoken to Alison earlier in the week and she told me they’d have some lovely spanky new sponsored kit for me.

I’d seen some of the McLoughlins branded cycling gear in the shop and hoped mine would be the same as it looked great, primarily black (always the best colour) with white and red trim, so needless to say I was delighted when Alison presented me with the very same. She game me the cycling jersey to try on first, and then the matching shorts. Obviously I was delighted with those, but then to make things even better she gave me one of their trisuits as well. Due to the figure hugging, unforgiving nature of trisuits some of them can look a little gimpy at times, however I happen to think these ones look fantastic, all black with just a smattering of red lettering. Before I left the shop Alison sorted me out with some electrolyte drinks and arranged getting my bike in for a service as soon as it suited me. This really is fantastic. I’m being treated like a proper, legitimate athlete and I really can’t thank McLoughlins enough for their support.

After that it was up to the physio for a once over and, hopefully, a pre-race massage. Realtin was the physio looking after me tonight and after a quick chat and examination she was happy enough to let me race this weekend. She said my calf wasn’t an issue at all now, but my right hamstring was a slight cause for concern. As is often the case it appeared that it was actually my lower back that was the seat of the problem, rather than the hamstring itself. We agreed that I should book a session of deep tissue massage for my back for next week, and today’s session would just be a rub down to get me loose and relaxed in preparation for Sunday.

So having got all my fantastic new gear, and the all clear to race this weekend, I thought that today couldn’t get any better, and I was absolutely right. It didn’t. I went for a swim when I got back from Newbridge and as so often happens, I seemed be right back where I was before last Wednesday evening’s session with Mark. No matter what I tried to do I got to roughly the half way point in the pool and then I just stopped – either out of breath or out of momentum or out of pure frustration. After an incredibly irritating hour, filled with setbacks, I eventually gave up and went to sit in the steam room for a while, just to have a think and try to figure out what exactly was going wrong. After some consideration I realised that there were a number of things slowing/stopping my progress:

  1. Over analysing everything I do. In the coached sessions I have I just do whatever I’m told to do whenever I’m told to do it and without thinking. I have a really bad habbit of stopping when I think I’ve done or am doing something wrong but I don’t do that any more with Mark. I do the drill he tells me to, then let him tell me what (if anything) I’m doing wrong at the end of it.
  2. Constantly stopping feeds into the negative mindset I have about my swimming. It becomes a vicious circle where I think I’m doing something wrong, so I stop, get frustrated that I’ve stopped and/or am doing something wrong and and making no progress. This is on my mind when I start my next drill or length and so I become fixated on the things I’m doing wrong, causing me to do more things wrong.
  3. The spectre of a 3km swim constantly looming over me. No matter what I do during a solo session in the pool whenever things start to go awry my thoughts will invariably turn to attempting to swim 3km. That’s 3,000m. Right now I’m struggling to swim 30m. How the hell am I supposed to swim 100 times this distance, or to spell it out a little more starkly, another 2,970m. I’m going absolutely nowhere here so the best thing to do is cut my losses now, come back tomorrow/the next day/the day after that for a good long session and get really into it then. Well I’m sorry but the 2nd of June is really not too far away and here I am still nowhere near ready. In fact to say I’m nowhere near ready for that kind of swim would be to employ levels of understatement and obfuscation that would guarantee me instant election to any political post in this fair isle. The delusion has to stop here.

Now that I’ve actually admitted that to myself it feels as if a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m still going to do TriAthy, just not the Double Olympic. I could do it, or start it at least, but it would be monumentally stupid of me, not to mention ridiculously irresponsible, as someone, somewhere along the way would have to pull me out of the Barrow. It’s not like doing a really long run where you could just gut it out and keep plodding or grinding along. No one ever drowned on tarmac for a start. Anyway, as I said, I’m still going to do TriAthy, and I’m still definitely going to go long before the end of the year. In fact I’ve started making some tentative plans. Before I set anything in stone however, or more importantly before I actually apply for anything, I’m going to have a good long talk with some people far more qualified than I, and I’m going to make a rational, logical assessment of just what is and isn’t possible.

Days 71 – 82

Posted: March 26, 2012 in March
Tags: ,

I’m some way behind in my daily updates, but I finally have something of note to write about so I’m making an executive decision to skip days 71 – 82 and instead just give you a brief summary:

I ran a tiny bit.

I cycled quite a bit more.

I swam quite a few times, some of them looking like a real person swimming, others looking like a human shaped buoy.

I did manage to do at least one of them every day however, and some days more than one.

Day 70 – Bye Bye Fattie

Posted: March 21, 2012 in March
Tags: , ,

I definitely can’t run at the moment, and I didn’t want to go out for a particularly long cycle just to be on the safe side, but I still wanted to get some good work done this morning. I decided to use, yet again, my invaluable turbo trainer so at least if I felt anything at all up with my leg I could stop. I ended up having a really good two hour session and completing all of it with no problems. A fantastic way to start the day.

10 minutes (really careful) warmup

20 minutes @ 120-130bpm

15 minutes @ 130-140 bpm

10 minutes @ 140-150 bpm

5 minutes @ 150-160 bpm

5 minutes @ 150-160 bpm

10 minutes @ 140-150 bpm

15 minutes @ 130-140 bpm

20 minutes @ 120-130bpm

10 minutes cool down