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This time next week … IM Sweden!

This time next week I will be somewhere in the environs of Kalmar, Sweden – on my bike. Cycling. I will have swum 2.4 miles (3.8 km) and will be visualising getting off my bike sometime in the near future (as near as possible) to start a wee marathon jaunt.

I think my last blog was slightly negative – but more than that, on re-reading I fear it was rather dismissive of the people who got me to this ‘here’ and and this ‘now’. I just want to rectify that.

I would never have got to the start line of IM Cairns on my own – and I most CERTAINLY would never be packing for IM Sweden 9 weeks later!

I hold Kurt Charnock and Amy Jordan ENTIRELY responsible for my clicking on the IM Sweden website the day after my Cairns DNF. Thanks for that is on hold hahahaha

I hold my husband entirely responsible for my IM Sweden registration. After the massive expense (and the treat) of a magical holiday (never mind the DNF in the middle!) in Cairns, Australia, I couldn’t even entertain spending money on another jaunt away – yet when I landed at Heathrow Airport, the first words out of his mouth were ‘So, have you registered for Sweden?’ (Yes, he IS amazing!)

Fabulous friends and family have kept me encouraged and determined to give this another go. Caitriona, Chris, Sebastian, Rebecca, Kelly, Jo (Andrews), Ros, … Eeeek!

And then ………. AND THEN ……… there is the BTRS ‘family’. I don’t have time for an Oscars speech here – but THANK YOU!!! The support has just been so unbelievably humbling – what on earth I did to deserve it, I’ll never know! The influx of messages and texts after Cairns was incredible. Hiding was impossible. The words ‘IM Sweden’ floated around and suddenly I had a whole new type of message coming my way ….. ‘Come swimming!’ ‘Are you swimming tonight?’ ‘If not, why not?’ … and then ‘Got to get your get bike miles up’ …. followed by Kurt, Amy, Jody … giving up HOURS of free time to accompany me on several bigger-mileage rides ……………….. and all simply to help me reach my second IM start line even more prepared than last time. Words fail.

Steve McMenamin and Simon Barry – thank you for your texts and support (and Steve for all your bike help)!

Jane Millar – thank you for your swimming help/advice/tips and time.

Issi, Becky …… MWAH!! Thanks for picking me up – continuously!

THANK YOU! I really don’t know what else to say but it had to be said. You are ALL unbelievably supportive, encouraging, inspiring …

With all of you behind me, how can I possibly NOT make it to the finish line this time??

I am one very lucky athlete.

Russ? Amy? Ready???

Seventeen days and counting … (Ironman Kalmar)

Oh my oh my. Yes, blogs have been missing – since Cairns! About as ‘missing’ as my training. Seventeen days to Ironman Kalmar/Sweden and am I ready? Erm …. well, not really. Then again, how ready will I ever be? Especially after feeling so ‘ready’ for Cairns and then not getting much past the swim.

Hey ho. It’s a different journey and I’m still trying to file Cairns away and open a new chapter. I thought it’d be quite easy. I thought entering Sweden – 9 weeks away from Cairns – that I’d simply be able to top up my training and keep everything ticking over.

Easier said than done!!

One big big BIG mistake: letting go of my coach. Merely because I’d already decided to take a few months ‘off’ once I’d ‘nailed’ Ironman Cairns!!! Hrrrrrmph! My next mistake was not immediately running back and going HEEELLLLPPPPPPPP!! What nowwwwwwww???? And HOW DO I PREPARE FOR SWEDEN????? But I didn’t. I thought I could let it slide and simply redo my pre-Cairns training for the same weeks up until Sweden.

Idiot!

Seventeen days to go and I’ve ………………………………………. done a bit of running, played games in the sea, done TWO sea swims (neither v. long), and done one long (if fantabulous) bike ride (and a few shorter ones) – supported by the amazing group of athletes and friends that is BTRS.

IMG_4651 REMEMBER

I’ve had loads of encouragement and the best of help and suggestions – but I’m not a ‘do what feels right’ sort of person. Nor am I a ‘do a bit of this and a bit of that’ sort of person. I need plans and structure – and I need a coach. It takes a great coach to ensure that, with history of various injuries and niggles AND training hampered by weather I was still able to train 17-20 hours per week for three full months pre-Cairns without the slightest hint of injury. That was an AWESOME feeling. That feeling has been sadly lacking since Cairns.

So Sweden is coming up and I’m living on the hope that my pre-Cairns training will carry over. I’ve added four bike rides (albeit hugely enjoyable rides (3 of them) with FABULOUS company!!), a couple of runs and two swims??? Yep! That’s about it! For nine weeks, that is NOT good Ironman training. Structure, consistency ………………….. gone!

But all is never lost. I’m on holiday now and I’ve done more this week than in the previous six. I had a fantastic 15-mile run the other day and it felt GREAT (last long run). I’ve done a couple of really full-on gym sessions – mostly cardio because no point doing any strength stuff now. My cycling ‘was’ definitely my weak point so I’ve been boosting that with some solid sessions on the erg to target my leg strength. These have definitely paid off (I did a 500m PB this afternoon)! Probably my biggest fear (because I’m not even going to entertain the thought of ‘the marathon’) is the swim, which is where I came to pieces in Cairns. Apparently, the ‘issue’ I had is oh so common – so common, in fact, that there are LOADS of blogs and articles about it. No guaranteed cures, however, so it could still be an issue and that is very VERY worrying!

1075_010426

BUT ……… family and the bestest of friends will abound in Sweden. I CAN do this! I’m ‘well rested’, to say the least – although I think nine weeks of taper might be a tad long? But let’s not split hairs!!. The swim is ‘brackish’! I can’t wait to find out what that means. I think it might mean ‘full of jellyfish’, but who knows! The bike course is ‘flat’. PAHAHAHAHAHAHA That’s what they said about Cairns. I don’t believe ANYTHING!!! And any way, ‘flat’ means ‘wind’ and that can be worse than any bloomin’ hill so let’s see. Still – I’m happier about the bike now. Bummer! You know what? I think I came close to actually ‘enjoying’ a couple of those training rides. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!!!!! I’m hoping I will have avoided consistent vomiting in the swim this time to be able to give the bike course a good go.

Like I said, we’re not talking about the run.

I did my last three-hour training session today. It’s way past midnight now. Sixteen days and counting!

Eeee.

And THAT, my friends, is all the negatives out of the way. I can. I will. That medal awaits. Just keep swimming, just keep pedalling, just keep running! This will happen!

REMEMBER

Five Excuses and It – The story of weight gain

Chapter X

Admit it! How many times have you looked at the scales, thrown a tantrum and headed straight for the biscuit tin screaming ‘What’s the point? It’s not working!’?

I’d be a liar if I said I’d never done that. However, that was before I ‘needed’ to lose weight. In those days my goal was to ‘lose a few pounds’ or ‘tone up a bit’. What can I say? Fluffy goals will only be backed up by fluffy thoughts. ‘A few pounds’ is not a goal. ‘A bit’ is not a measurement. And ‘it’ can never ever EVER be blamed for your lack of success. Once you’ve got that straight, you’ll already have increased your weight loss chances.

So before you lay all that blame on ‘it’ …

1.  Did you set yourself up with a number on the scales? (i.e. 3 lbs, 7 lbs, 1 ½ stone)
2. Did you set yourself a deadline between 2 and 6 weeks? Your goal must be achievable within this time scale. Remember, you can always set another goal afterwards but setting a 6-month goal is, for me, too demoralising. Do it in steps!
3.  What plan are you following? Are you sure the balance of food is perfect – between complex carbs, proteins and fats? Are you working this out yourself or do you ‘know’?
4.  Have you been following the same plan for X weeks?
5.  Have you lost weight before and/or have you regained weight formerly lost and/or how much weight have you lost to date?

Now ……. things are not going to plan so you are blaming ‘it’. This tells me a number of things:

1. You have not stopped to think what ‘it’ is. ‘It’ is such a wonderful, easy scapegoat, eh?
2. You have not truly answered the question ‘How much do you want this?’ – otherwise you’d be approaching this from a different angle, rather than immediately laying the blame on ‘it’!
3. How much DO you want this?
4. You can’t understand why you’ve suddenly gained some weight (or plateau-d) since you’ve been doing exactly the same as before? I rest my case!
5. You’re not actually truly committed to losing weight. You’re not prepared to put in the work. You want ‘it’ to do it for you, right? So much easier to blame ‘it’ instead of working out what you did or didn’t do to get you to this place.

The solution?

Easy-peasy. Let’s clear this up once and for all and you will nail this weight loss battle.

1. IT = YOU
2. ‘It’ didn’t get you to this place. ‘You’ did! (How much do you want this?)
3. Change ‘It isn’t working’ to ‘I need to change something’.
4. Change ‘It doesn’t work’ to ‘I need to change something’.
5. Change ‘Sod it! Where are the Hobnobs?’ to ‘ I need to phone my trainer and find out what I need to change!’

You know where I am.
[email protected]

IRONMAN – NOT THIS TIME!

Ironman sign

Midst the tears of disappointment, frustration and devastating result I shall try very hard not to dwell on the brighter, brilliant and more positive aspects of my Ironman adventure … travelling over in FIRST CLASS (Oh My Goodness HOW WONDERFUL AND AMAZING WAS THAT!!!), landing in Australia for the first time (a dream since teenage years) (did I mention that I flew First Class?), the adorable company throughout of my wonderful and magical eldest daughter, corals, snorkelling ……… these things are for another blog. I must try very hard not to mention the Great Barrier Reef, the tropical fish, sky rails, rainforests, the cutest koala bears EVER and, of course, did I mention that I flew First Class?

First Class dining

I will focus instead on the task that lay ahead (after my FIRST CLASS flight)!

Good luck cards

Drop Bags

Time to Race

RESULTS:

Swim: 55:22 (1.9 km) – 1:12:55 (1.9 km) – TOTAL: 2:08

T1:       9:52

Bike:    5:05 (81.6 km) – RACE TIME: 7:13:18

DNF

 

Cue MELTDOWN!! Or, well, to be totally honest, the meltdown didn’t come until I met Caitriona on the way back to the hotel. At the moment the marshall informed me I’d missed the cut-off and he had to ask me to stop, my body said THANK YOU!!!! Having the decision made for me was one of the positives amidst soooooooooooooooo many negatives!

So what happened? Perhaps the reason this blog has been delayed a while is because I can’t say for certain. I don’t know! All I can say is that involved the swim, it most definitely involved bananas … and after that it was all down to lack of ANY fuel.

Breakfast was spot on. Breakfast has seen me through so many races I know it was right. Then there was that top-up banana an hour before the start time. Well, I’ve practised bananas pre-swim and never had a problem. Not so on June 14th. On this day the banana decided the limelight belonged to him/her and it was determined to fight back! Why? Nerves? I was pretty calm. Emotional? I got a bit flustered because I desperately wanted to hug Caitriona before I dived in and I couldn’t find her – but I DID find her and all was well, I took a deep breath and we were off. Fear? Nope. I’d warmed up, swum, nothing scary about the water. I was perfectly happy with that. So ……………. What? All suggestions welcome (please post below). Adrenalin? I’m pretty calm and wasn’t noticeably worked up (not that I knew, anyhow). Jet lag? Really? Who knows?!

Anyhoooooooooooooooo … took my place at the start line, perfectly happy running into the water, swam about 20 strokes, concentrating on not going out fast (chance’d be a fine thing!!), controlling my breathing and settling into my natural pace. It took about 20 strokes to realise that perhaps breathing should be a priority over pace – and I just couldn’t breathe! I started to breaststroke and attempted to slow my breathing down but EVERYTHING seemed constricted, it felt like my chest was about to burst out of my wetsuit and I couldn’t get any air past the top of my chest, which meant that essentially I was sort of hyperventilating and could NOT slow it down! After a couple of minutes I decided that if that was what my breathing was going to do, maybe I could adjust my stroke rate to suit it – as opposed to the other way round??? I know, I know – who DOES that??? But it was the only strategy I could come up with. Alas, it didn’t work (surprise, surprise!). On to Plan C. Wait. Slight problem. I didn’t have a Plan C.

Never mind. My stomach has a Plan C. Cue a new strategy. Lean on lifeguard’s surf board, retch, take a few deep breaths, swim 20-30 strokes. Repeat. For 1.8 km!

No, really! That’s how it was. His name was Heath, by the way (probably still is lol). He might have saved my life; he certainly saved my race! I didn’t think I was going to make it to the very first buoy! As it was, Heath didn’t move more than 3 ft away from me for the entire swim. He talked me through the lot, muttered a million platitudes and was a master at disguising his thoughts of me repeatedly retching over his lovely surfboard. He supplied me with fresh water and did my sighting for me – pointing out which buoy to head for next as my head was just spinning. As we reached the halfway beach turnaround he leant down and grabbed my wrist and looked at my watch – at which point he said ‘Awesome! Run! You can still make the cut-off!’ At which point I ran, returned to the water, swam 10 strokes and then properly threw up!! Hey ho, after that I felt soooooooooooo much better!! I managed to settle into a half-decent stroke rate and complete the swim. I was a little surprised that the timing for the second half of my swim was so much slower, but having said that the water had definitely changed by then. There was quite a big swell (compared to the first hour!), it was choppier and the current was a little faster.

Boy, was I glad to get out of that water!!!!! I actually did the swim in 2 hours (bloody miracle). The 8:18 seconds was the time it took to launch a quick hug in Heath’s direction – alongside a massive THANK YOU!!

I was a sort of greenish colour when I got into the tent. The euphoria of having actually made the cut-off was short-lived. The ladies who greeted me were amazing and literally undressed and dressed me – while I tried not to think about having to get on a bicycle!

I did my very very best to smile as I exited T1. I looked like shit but I was actually feeling positive by now. This was something that simply had to be done. I got on my bike thinking that I would just settle into a ‘regular’ pace and give my body a little chance to get itself together. I tried unsuccessfully to drink a little water. I figured that even if I had to play catch-up later it was more important initially to give my stomach time to settle so that I could then focus on the job in hand. I pedalled, remembered to look up and absorb the beautiful coastal scenery, I tried to relax and tell my body all was ok. Body wasn’t in listening mood.

Cut a long story short, hills felt like mountains and I watched my average bike time go down and down and down as the inclines went up and up and up. By the time I’d reached the first turnaround and beginning of the second loop I’d thrown up half an energy bar and avoided the energy drink I had because it was making me feel really queasy – which I wouldn’t have minded had it actually reached my blood stream and given me some ENERGY!! I was so desperate for energy. My legs felt great, my head was still battling with positives and ignoring little voices and I was simply praying for a hit of energy – even a small one!

As I made my way back up to Port Douglas on the second loop I was accompanied by the sweeper bike. I’m sure he was lovely but I feel I must apologise for the names I was secretly calling him. Eventually, he couldn’t sweep slowly enough and he buggered off for a while haha

Coming into Port Douglas for the second time the marshall chugged up alongside me and told me I had four and a half minutes to reach the turnaround. I did my best. With the help of the marshall on the microphone and the crowd – who were all counting down for me – I made it! I actually laughed. It was quite funny. My stomach didn’t appreciate the humour. I came out of Port Douglas and thought ‘Come on! All the way home!’ … Mr Sweeper was at the roundabout on his phone doing various calculations. ‘Twenty minutes to the next aid station cut-off’, he said. ‘Come on! Keep that pace and you’ll make it!’ he said. ‘And drink more!’ he said – as he whipped my water bottle out of the cage, pootled off on his moped and returned five minutes later with a full bottle. Bless them all, they did everything they possibly could to get me through this course bar getting on the bike and cycling it themselves.

A fairly brutal headwind thwarted my efforts to make that 20-minute cut-off. I felt like I was cycling backwards – and the cramps in my feet were UNREAL!! I don’t know where the cramps came from but they were agonising. I have a completely amateurish theory (I know NOTHING about cycling) that they might have been a result of my using the aero bars that I’d originally had no intention of using? In actual fact I used my aero bars for a LOT of the bike course. They were easy, comfortable and the position suited my stomach. I just wonder if the position then altered the pressure on my feet – maybe changed the position my cleats should’ve been in? I could be totally making this up in my head, but ……………….. it passed the time!

I was escorted into the wagon of shame at that 75-mile mark – having missed the cut-off by 6 minutes. I finally had time to feel sorry for myself and notice how upset and uphappy my stomach was – and it was the longest journey ever – brightened up only by the man sitting opposite, who informed me that he’d been BEHIND ME IN THE SWIM!! Oh My God! I didn’t come last!! Lol

I don’t think I need to detail the meltdowns. Unfathomable thanks to my beautiful daughter, who mopped up endless tears and annoyingly kept saying ALL the right things (love you)!!

Massive congratulations to all the athletes who DID finish. I’m very proud of ALL of you (special mention for Keith Jackson and Chris Stainer) … even if I didn’t applaud and smile and jump up and down as ‘XXX YOU ARE AN IRONMAN’ wafted up endlessly into my hotel room, which was directly over the finish line. I was not going to be allowed to forget!! Haha

But don’t think I begrudge you any teensy weensy millisecond of your incredible achievements! You are both just incredible athletes and I am so SO happy that I WAS able to see you both across the finish.

As for me ………………….. hey, I’m uninjured. That can only mean one thing. It’s time to fight back.

Message from Rebecca

 

Let the Adventure begin …

8 p.m. on June 8th and I’m sitting in the First Class (yes – gift from my amazing husband!!) lounge at Heathrow with a couple of hours to go before the adventure really and truly begins. It’s a little hard to relax when realisation keeps invading my dreams and sending my stomach lurching in fleeting moments of absolute terror – but hey, I’m trying! My new friend Mimosa (1 part orange juice, 4 parts champagne) is helping!

This is IT! If I squint I can just make out the start line. Over there … 6 days away. No matter what way I measure it, it’s still getting closer. In fact, it’s excruciatingly close – so close that it no longer matters what I do in terms of swimming, biking or running. In 6 days I will not learn to swim stronger, to bike faster or to run without swearing. I am where I am and all I can do now is to give it anything over 100% – my minimum effort percentage for anything I do (if not, then what’s the point?).

The final few weeks could perhaps have gone a little better. Training ramped up to 17-18 hours per week, which was more than enough for me – and I still maintain that my coach has been magnificent in bringing about the increases in volume and intensity without injury (permanent key objective). I’ve finished every session feeling proud, if occasionally it was tough getting out there because I was just ti-i-i-i-i-r-r-e-d!!

I’ve maintained all along that I wished to stand at the start line knowing that no matter what happened I had trained to my absolute best; that if things didn’t go my way it would not be because I missed out a few key sessions or had a few extra easy weeks. Unfortunately, the final two weeks didn’t really go as planned but I think that if there was ever a time to be forced to ease up a bit, then surely the final couple of weeks (taper weeks, in actual fact) must be the best choice? A migraine simply floored me for almost 4 days and I could NOT face my training sessions for love nor money, so that’s been a bit tricky to get my head around because I felt I’d ‘missed’ key workouts. Add to that my having to be fished out of the sea (again) due to a seeming inability to be able to stand up and walk out of that damned water (cue ‘shore dumps extraordinaire)! Well – ‘extraordinaire enough to lift my feet clean off the pebbles and send me into an undignified face plant … only to be caught by the next mischievous, evil bully of a wave which thought it was hilarious to see me frantically try to save myself by clutching a pebble! Cue the ‘fishing out’ bit … all of which resulted in damage to pecs and lats. Typical! Grrr! In short – that put paid to a few more sessions but I did manage a few catch-ups so everything has been ticking over. And, more importantly, I still maintain that I can stand on the start line confident that I never missed a session – because in my head (yes, that’s MY head … not a ‘general’ head) I’m not counting the missed sets of the last couple of weeks because I know in my heart of hearts I simply could not physically do them. Had I voluntarily taken a few lazy options, that would’ve been another matter altogether.

All that is very important for me – for my headspace. It has got me to where I am now – confident that I’ve given my training 100% attention and commitment. Whatever happens now, it will not be because I failed to prepare. And it certainly won’t be because I gave up!

Giving up is not an option. But I’m pretty good at not giving up – and where there’s not-giving-up, there’s hope!

Here’s hoping.

And through all this, never once did I hear a grumble along the lines of ‘Training AGAIN?’ or ‘Seriously? You’re going to be gone for how long?’ from my husband or any of my family. They’ve been magnificent and so incredibly supportive and inspiring. And speaking of inspiration, this journey would not have been so enjoyable and exciting and challenging without the help of so many friends beside me, behind me and – in the case of Jody East and most of BTRS Race Series triathletes – in front of me!

Thank you all for your unfathomable confidence. I won’t let you down.

6 days.

Eek.

Nothing more I can do.

‘Excuse me … yes, … could I have another glass of champagne, please?’

Aspergers snapshot

The scene: Pile of clean towels on the bannister at the bottom of the stairs. They’ve just toppled over. Now lying at the bottom of the stairs. I’m on my way down. Son is about to come up.
Me: Oi! Don’t you dare just step over those towels.
Son: What do you mean?
Me: I mean don’t even think about stepping OVER the towels.
Son (totally confused) … stands both feet carefully ON the towels.

Note to self: Aspergers: very literal. Pedantic. Little understanding of nuances.

I think I nearly pee’d I laughed so much. I should’ve known better. Bless him. Fabulous.

THE ULTIMATE 7 DAY MEAL PLAN

7 DAY MEAL PLAN

It’s out. It’s ready and it’s waiting for you. For just £2.99 a complete 7-day ready-made, balanced, fabulously varied weight loss plan can be in your inbox. Then all you have to do is stick to it. IT’S JUST SEVEN DAYS. How hard can it be?

Well – not THAT hard. My testers, my husband and myself have all continued with the same plan for several weeks, it’s still working AND it’s getting easier and easier every week. Here’s what one of my testers had to say the other day:

‘Just to say Amanda Hyatt it’s the weekend of my daughters christening and thanks to you and almost 4 weeks on your amazing 7 day meal plan hubby and I are well over 2 stone lighter and a dress size or 2 smaller. It’s been the easiest and most enjoyable way to lose weight ever and has totally changed the way we look at food. X’

I have to say I am THRILLED with this plan – with the layout, the options and most of all the results. The plan caters for all ‘weights’ so you choose one of three calorie ranges and the rest is laid out for you. The shopping lists are done, the recipes are there, the pictures are colourful and reflect exactly what the meals look like (even when I cook them – which is a first!). Success, however, lies very much in the planning side of this programme. No ready meals on this menu. Everything is fresh and I warn you that for the first week it seems like a LOT of work (so plan your days and get the basics all done early!). We all agreed, however, that somehow by the time we got to a second week everything already seemed so much easier – perhaps because we were now familiar with the main recipes? If I was to give you a few tips – I would say, firstly, to plan at least 3 days in advance and check out any lunches that require cooking and prepare those the evening before (when making dinner) or while you’re making breakfast. This cuts out cooking in the middle of the day. The other thing I would say would be to bake both sets of protein bars and make up a few jellies right at the beginning of the week, so that’s all done and dusted, too. After that, it’s a breeze!

Yes, there’s room for options but really not many. You want this to work, then do what it says. You start playing around with options, you’re messing with the balance, with the calorie counts and you may well be disappointed at the end of the week. Logical, right? Of course, if you have any major issues, then let me know. We can always come up with an alternative somehow that’s going to work for YOU.

That’s it, really. Do email me with any questions at [email protected] OR find the YCF 7 Day Meal Plan page on Facebook – specifically set up for this plan and everything related to it.

If you are interested in buying it, please email me or find me on Facebook. Payment can be via Paypal or directly into the You Choose Fitness business account.

Are you ready to get your weight loss journey off to a fantastic start …. OR to leap right off that weight loss plateau?

FOUR WEEKS TO IRONMAN …

Been an interesting three weeks since I last posted. Training building building building – with one or two hiccups, but what would training be without hiccups, right?

Weeks 7-to-go and 6-to-go were interesting and devastating at the same time. Basically, … remember when I said that if everything went pear-shaped on race day, that my goal was to know that I could never say ‘It’s all because I missed that one workout’? Well, that little goal went to pot somewhat as I received the most devastating family news that knocked me for six – and threw my headspace right out of the game. A 2-hour run turned into a 2-hour walk (token gesture) to try and get some perspective. Having said that, looking at my diary, I muddled blindly through all the other sessions that week – culminating in Steyning Tri (http://rawenergypursuits.co.uk/) on the Sunday.

The tri was not officially on my training plan but was, I think, constructive – just as a learning curve. Certainly it was that! I road tested my precise Ironman clothing once again – and am happy with all of that! The weather was bloomin’ awful – wind, rain, yuk, yuk. I certainly learned some valuable lessons!

Lesson 1: When you set out your transition gear, cover all with a bin bag so you don’t come out of the swim and be greeted with sopping socks, water-logged cycle shoes – and that thermal hat you were going to wear under your helmet to ensure warmth? Yep – that was soggy, too!

Lesson 2: When you set out your transition gear, cover all with a bing bag so you don’t come off the bike and be greeted with an optional pair of sopping socks and WATER-LOGGED TRAINERS! At the very least, put your trainers upside down! I actually had a second pair of trainers in the bottom of my transition bag and I pulled those out (because running in wet Hokas is like a weight-training session!) – but I also had to then run in bare feet, which culminated in unwanted blisters!!

Hey ho – can’t complain. Every day’s a school day and this was GREAT in terms of education!! I fought my hardest and still came in last overall (no surprise there – that’s my usual spot, anyway).

Swim was slow but slightly thwarted by the man in front who hadn’t read the rules that said ‘if your feet are touched by the swimmer behind, stop at the end of that length and leg them past’. After three lengths of swimming practically on top of him and tapping his feet and being ignored, that last little straw broke (stress week (see above)) and I grabbed both ankles and pulled him backwards – and overtook! #lanerage Sorry haha

Swim: 19:45 (800m)
T1: FOUR MINUTES (4:04) And no – I STILL wouldn’t come last. Did make me laugh, though – serious clothing issues and time wasted being pissed off that all my clothes were soggy
Bike: 1:25:59 (40km) – actually quite pleased with this – not the average speed I was looking for but considering the weather and my state of mind I was very happy with this.
T2: TWO MINUTES (2:12) – still far too long (should’ve been about 30 secs) but I really wasn’t chasing times (as you can tell)
Run: 46:52 (8km) – Yeah – I was ok with this. The run was actually quite hard but I didn’t walk anywhere so happy! Just one niggle: my new, favourite and absolutely my Ironman Cairns choise of shoe – the most fabulous On Clouds – https://www.on-running.com/en-gb/shop – they SQUEAK when the surface is wet!!!! Annoying beyond belief!! (Now got ‘dry weather’ shoe choice and ‘wet weather’ shoe choice because they nearly drove me mad!! haha. Oh well … all in all:

TOTAL TIME: 2:38:55 

Six weeks to go

That thing I mentioned about devastating news and my headspace? Yup, this was the week it sank in – and I sank with it. Decent swim set on Wednesday and forced a respectable brick session on Thursday but the rest of the week was, unfortunately, a right-off. This’ll be the week that comes back to bite me. Having said that, I’m not going to look with regret. It wasn’t laziness or apathy …. I just could not emotionally get in the game and I’m going to accept that what it is and move on.

Five weeks to go – BIG WEEK!

Big training week. And yes, I’m BACK!! So much out of my control, concentrate on the things that ARE under my control, e.g. my training.
And indeed, a big week it is. 2 x 5+ hour bike rides, interval sessions, bricks, Iron distance swim … and a long run (which I’m about to do soon as I’ve finished writing this!)

Great week – and plenty more learning going on. Hit a big wall on my bike on Wednesday, which sent me back to Mark Laithwaite’s AMAZING series of articles on raceday nutrition – a must-read for any endurance athlete. Read the latest one here – and link to the previous ones (http://iancorless.org/2015/05/06/race-day-nutrition-part-seven-marc-laithwaite/)

I’ve learned to stop stressing about my speed on the bike. I need to settle down and just enjoy the race day that’s coming. Don’t make the cut-off? Sod it, I’ll do the run anyway and still cross the finish line. I need to just keep training, keep the consistency and know that I’ve done all I can do.

Back in open water again – what an amazing feeling – but how hard is it to swim in a wetsuit!!! Argh! Am I the only one who just finds this HARD?? Oh well – just got to suck it up and get on with it. I’ve tried once again to focus on increasing my stroke rate these last couple of weeks – but when I look at the stats afterwards it appears I am going NO faster. Now, this might defy logic, but I guess that when I increase my stroke rate I’m reducing something else somewhere. Technically, I’m doing something wrong. Conclusion: When I increase my stroke rate I don’t go any faster BUT I get tired more easily so I’m going to stick with what’s working with my lower stroke rate for now (too late to be changing technique – need to just focus on distance now).

Long bike on Monday was lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng. But it got done. Long bike on Saturday with the BTRS group  –http://brightontriathlonraceseries.co.uk/ – was FABULOUS. 40 miles on a mostly beautiful route in and around the South Downs, lovely company and very useful race day chatter (thank you Steve McMenamim – https://www.facebook.com/steve.mcmenamin.9. Dropped the group back at base and continued on with Keith Jackson for a further couple of hours. Is this guy strong on his bike or WHAT!! The first half an hour I was getting very frustrating because I was struggling so hard with the headwind and could NOT keep up no matter what I did. Why have I just got NO POWER in my legs? It just will not happen. Does my head in. Anyway, after half an hour – and making it clear to Keith that he should power ahead and not get frustrated waiting for me (would meet him at the end) … I decided to quit stressing and just focus. Had a great ride after that – apart from a tumble off my bike. Case of miscommunication. Came to a fork, I knew I needed to turn left, then had a last-minute change of thought and decided perhaps it was a right turn? Didn’t quite manage to communicate this to my bike, which continued left, while I turned right!! Interesting! Desperately tried a slow-motion uncleating of my right foot, followed by a roundhouse kick to an imaginary head to set up my impressive midair flip which would result in me landing lightly on my feet before my bike hit the ground. I think it needs more practice. I didn’t quite make it. Scraped and bruised knee and a pulled calf muscle from the failed uncleating business *sigh*.

**Wee note to car drivers** When you see a cyclist falling into the middle of the road it would be very much appreciated if you would take a sec to roll down the window and yell a quick (even if insincere) ‘You allright’? – rather than merely driving AROUND ME!! Is this a good time to be grateful you didn’t just drive over me?

OK. That’s all the news for now. That’s it. I think this is kind of the official countdown now – FOUR WEEKS TO GO!

Is it time to pack yet?

SEVEN WEEKS TO GO – EEEEK!

In exactly seven weeks’ time I will be mid cycle, or mid run or even waiting to start the swim (I can’t work out the time difference but you get my drift)! So ….. now that I’m officially into single-figure countdown mode, what are my thoughts on the impending challenge?

Training …

Wow! I’ve never been so out of my depth. I can honestly say I have no idea what I’m doing. By that I mean that if I was putting together a training plan for a sprint tri, I could probably put it all together pretty well following basic personal training and programme planning rules and guidelines. Ironman distance, however, leaves me flummoxed and I have never been so so SO happy to have complete and utter confidence in my trainer. I am like putty in his hands, to be honest. He tells me what to do. I do. And apart from a bruised forehead from frequently falling asleep at the table and waking up only when my head has collided violently with it, I am LOVING the challenge. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s tough but it’s never boring. I might be training 12-15 hours per week (oops – think I hit 17 the last 2 weeks lol) but it’s always different and, a bonus for us 50-plussers, it’s so much easier on the joints as a result of the variety of sports and different muscle groups being used for each. Increases in volume and intensity have also been very carefully structured so I have always been able to manage and best of all I always know that every workout has a purpose. I’ve found it incredibly comforting knowing when I go to the pool, or go running or cycling that whatever I’m doing is the right thing to do = the bliss of having a great trainer, thank you Ian (http://iancorless.org/)! I’ve got a pile of triathlon books, all with training schedules in them – and I just don’t know what I’d do had I had to resort to them as they are ALL DIFFERENT! Wow, it really is a minefield! I’m feeling very lucky and relieved.

Learning and improving …

I’m learning all the time. I’ve kept records of every workout and logged all my times. I think this has been a really good tactic. It’s fantastically motivating to look at this past week’s timed swim or 400s or 100s … and compare them to similar swims of two months ago and yes, all times have improved. The process has been fascinating, too – and I’m still playing around with high-catch techniques and flow-swimming techniques and working out which one is best for ‘me’ for the long swim. The stats have been very interesting.

In terms of running, well, I haven’t been too worried about the running side of things since I enjoy ultras. However, I’ve been thrilled to dispel any myths that correct training for running long does not translate into shorter distances. After 4 years, I’ve come closest to my 5k PB and currently chasing it – and at the recent Brighton Half Marathon I was aiming for a fast 2:15 (that’s fast for me) … but running on cadence alone I managed to break the 2 hours! Run training is still ‘different’, though – with a great mix of threshold running, easy running and runs with a specific target of ‘slower than race pace’ to teach the body to deal with ‘every’ kind of pace and, in the case of Zone 1 running and biking, to teach the body hugely important lessons in nutrition!

Cycling is definitely my biggest worry but I am quickly seeing the effect of a winter of turbo and indoor bike hours! Yes, that HAS been dull at times but I’ve escaped with the help of a great gym which has decent TV screens to keep me going for those 2-hour + bike sessions. Getting outdoors on my bike has been scary. I’m not very confident at all, but that’s picked up loads in just the last couple of weeks. A proper bike fit, followed by a good weekend with 7 hours in the saddle, some TT sessions and plenty of cadence work has all led to improvement. Still learning! Two days ago I decided to throw in half an hour of bike before my long run. I cycled up and down the same short hill for the half an hour. It might seem like nothing but during that focussed session I learned how a slight adjustment to my posture on those hills made all the difference. The little things all count. It’s also been intriguing how bike sessions are designed to target specific fuel sources. The understanding of this has helped me a lot in terms of race day nutrition-planning.

Mindset …

I’m in a mild to middling state of panic. The ‘Will-I-Make-The-CutOffs’ Monster is lurking continuously and is slightly terrifying but is kept somewhat subdued by the knowledge that if it all goes pear-shaped it will be because I simply wasn’t able to do it. It will NOT be because I missed a bunch of training sessions, had too many days off or did too much of my own thing when I didn’t fancy what my training plan said (oh so so so tempting at times!). I know it sounds rather narrow-minded but I just have not waivered from my training plan once. Nerdy? Oh well. If nerdy works for me, then I’ll go with that haha

Preparations …

Yes, they’ve started. Too early? Well, there’s just so much to think about training-wise that I’ve started ticking off little things here and there so I’m not overwhelmed at the last minute. I’ve been flustered about what ‘exactly’ to wear and I had a few girlie-specific questions so I sent a big hug and a list of said questions to Ironlady and Friend Extraordinaire Sarah Danning and within one message reply my clothing issues were sorted. I could’ve been worrying about that for the next seven weeks so early prep is suiting me just fine! Thank you, my friend. You made a bundle of nonsensical worries go away and transformed them into the easiest format! Love you. So … I now know what I’m wearing. Phew! And I also know what I’m going to eat/drink and when. My liquid fuel is sorted, my solid fuel is … nearly! I’m still a tossing around a couple of options. I know the laps of all the courses and roughly the distances with landmarks that might help me (can only confirm these when I’m there). I’ve got strategies for the swim, the bike and the run and have designed bike ‘bands’ and wristbands (for the run) with key focus points to act as reminders. I have more. I know. Panicking!!! Too much? Pah! Who cares! It’s fun, too, it’s keeping me focussed on my challenge and I think the more I prepare now, the better I’ll be able to cope with inevitable surprises!!

Support …

My beautiful eldest daughter will be there to see me off and pick up the remains at the end. Still got fingers crossed that friend Sara will also make it along. Pre-race and race day all sorted, then. BUT …. and that’s a very big BUT … I think that all of the above would mean absolutely NOTHING without the constant and unwaivering support, guidance and help from the most amazing family, incredible friends, fantastic Facebook group BOSH Tri (https://www.facebook.com/groups/380633181991688) and my more recently adopted ‘large’ and spectacular sporting family that is BTRS (http://brightontriathlonraceseries.co.uk) . You know who you are and I could never have got to this point without you. You are AMAZING and I am truly TRULY grateful. I am the luckiest person on Earth. I don’t say it enough but I am very very aware that this would never have happened without your support. Thank you.

OK. That about sums it all up. Conclusion? Panic has set in!

Jeez! Just imagine what the NEXT blog is going to be like!!!!!

I will start my diet when the time is right!

Ah yes … when the time is right. Tell me, when IS that exactly? Is there a perfect time? Well, perhaps, sometimes, occasionally, just by chance … something happens at ‘the’ perfect time – but meanwhile, just how much time are you wasting while waiting for yours? Read through this little story and you will realise just how pointless it is to sit and wait for that ‘perfect time’. It’s a brilliant eye opener and needs to be shared (all credit to Weight Watchers who use this regularly in meetings).

In reality, if you’ve got targets to hit and/or dreams to chase then the only time to start chasing them is right now. And when it comes to weight loss goals, the only perfect time there is is right now! Own up! How many times have you decided to diet (ugh – what a ghastly word!) – but no point starting Easter week – or before your birthday – or until after the weekend? Anything there ringing true? Let’s face it – if that’s the case then you don’t really REALLY want to lose weight, do you? Because you’re waiting for some ‘perfect time’ to come along – in which case you’d best go hide in a little bubble on another planet where there is no ‘reality’ – because there are only 365 days in a year, of which 104 are weekend days and one can’t diet at weekends, can one?? That leaves 261 days to diet. But weekends start on Friday, don’t they? Well, that’s another 52 days gone. Never mind – still another 209 days to lose weight – except for your wedding anniversary (God forbid you should ‘diet’ on your anniversary!!) – or Christmas and New Year! Impossible, right? And with parties etc. etc. Christmas and New Year basically last a month – and Easter takes up another week but hey, still 170 days to lose that target of a stone/2 stone/3 stone …
Oops! Hang on! Bank holiday coming up … best wait till that’s over, then … (another 8 days lost) … and I am sooooooooooooooooooo not going to diet while I’m on holiday (besides, hols only take up four weeks out of every year – that’s not much!) … (134 days left)!
PAHAHAHAHA You think I’m going to lose any weight when it’s ‘that time of the month?’ DON’T BE RIDICULOUS!!! And in case you haven’t added that up, ‘those’ days come to roughly 84!!!
Holy crap – only 50 days left!
Ten days of birthdays (at least) – between family and friends?
And Mother’s Day.
And Father’s Day.
And another 12 days to take into account Halloween, bonfire night, barbecues etc. – eeek!
26 days left.
But I go out AT LEAST 26 nights in a year! What? You think I don’t deserve a social life? I’ll start my diet at the perfect time – when there’s nothing coming up. Oh. Oops.
Yes! Think about that for mo. You’ve just come up with 365 perfectly plausible reasons to put off that diet.

Of course, it’s a slight exaggeration but it’s not massively far from the truth, is it? There really IS an excuse for every single day of the year so if you want to lose weight, quit waiting for a perfect time. It will never happen because you’re alive and ‘life’ happens and weight loss is not about sacrificing 365 days a year. It’s about dealing with them, coping when the going gets tough, living life and enjoying it and simply being the person you want to be.

So don’t put off your weight loss journey because something’s there, around the corner, waiting to sabotage your efforts. The only person who’s going to sabotage anything is YOU. Don’t be afraid. Don’t fear falling. The greatest champions fall. The difference between success and failure is not the number of times you fall but the speed at which you pick yourself back up and carry on. Life is supposed to get in the way. Don’t hide from it or try and push it away. Embrace it, deal with it, find ways around it, challenge it, live it.

The only perfect time to start a journey is RIGHT NOW.

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