Tag: ironman

IM Sweden – A breeze? Nope. It was THE breeze …

Yes. The breeze. It beat me. Brought ‘weatherbeaten’ to a whole new level – and another DNF. That’s a record for me – 2 x DNF in a year. D’ye think someone’s sending me a message?

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this but I promise I haven’t been sulking all the time! Hindsight is a real b**** – packed chock full of thoughts of ‘should have’ and ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ – which are of little benefit when you’re already hiding in a corner with a comfort blanket and sobbing because the rattle you launched across the room has fallen down the gap in the floorboards and is now the property of dust and spiders.

Hrrrrrrrumphhhh!

That eensy-weensy DNF aside, the Kalmar experience was very special and soooooooooo much fun. It was so lovely to be surrounded by friends and family – all supporting, smiling, encouraging, helpful, positive, fun, excited and just, well, magical. Huge thanks – Karim, Caitriona, Kelly, Kurt, Jody, Amy, Fiona and Russ. What an entourage!! You ALL know how special you are and I hope you know how much you contributed to making this trip totally fabulous!!

Not so many thanks go to British Airways – who couldn’t be arsed to put my bike on the plane and caused me untold stresses at Copenhagen Airport. It finally arrived THREE FLIGHTS/SIX HOURS LATER!!

IM Kalmar T1

And the biggest mention and recommendation for ANYONE doing an Ironman event ……….. Two words: NIRVANA EUROPE (http://www.nirvanaeurope.com/). I cannot recommend them enough. Punctual, super-helpful, nothing was too much trouble – they went above and beyond the call of duty and I can only say the service was EXCEPTIONAL! I would seriously urge any competitors to have these guys on your side!

OK. Back to the eensy-weensy DNF thing …

A quote from the official race report said … ‘For the 2,161 athletes lining up at the start, looks ended up being deceiving. Battling the choppy waters of the Baltic Sea, the athletes began racing under challenging conditions ….’, and then … ‘Strong winds whipped through the first 122 kilometers on the island of Öland, making the bike extremely challenging.’

(For the full article see here: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/08/ironman-kalmar-recap.aspx#ixzz3jxkWLFNG)

Ultimately, this meant that even swimmers in the elite category came off the swim 5 or 6 minutes slower than estimated – and came off the bikes up to half an hour over the estimated time. You’ve no idea how happy those statistics made me since it helped me regain a little perspective!!

IM Kalmar start line

Summary: I had an AWESOME swim. I loved it! The sea was wavy and rough and choppy and basically sh** but I loved it because I had no issues to contend with other than the waves and the jellyfish! No banana issues, no retching, no having to stop every 20 strokes. Best swim EVER!! Yes, the course was tricky to follow – I had NO idea which buoys to follow … but I DID have a pack of swimmers to follow (first time ever I’ve been able to keep up!). I was able to draft, I was totally unbothered by the kicking, elbows and knocks throughout the entire swim (not just the start line, as I’d originally thought), I never felt uncomfortable or panicky, I apologise to the jellyfish who got a surprise internal examination – and I even managed to ‘race’ (I use the term loosely) to the finish! I was SO happy – and I can confirm that I am STILL super-chuffed with that swim, regardless of anything to do with the rest of the day!

IM Kalmar swim

On to the bike! Let’s keep this brief. 122km of hell. I can safely say I didn’t enjoy one single second, I’m afraid! I was smiling when I got on my bike and started out on the course. Felt great. Soon as we hit the 6km bridge it was straight into headwind. That was it for the rest of that 122km loop – headwind or side wind – take your pick. Not till we reached the bridge again did we get a 6km tailwind to come across to the mainland – but by then it was too late for me. The first 40km were fine. Tough but I was managing to keep around 24/25 kph and I was pleased with that. About two hours in, though, I suddenly started feeling really really weary. And I don’t mean tired legs. My stomach started cramping and I just felt ‘weary’! Three hours in, I was forced to make a loo stop, which was supposed to be brief and ended up being ten minutes. AAAAAHHHHHH!! Unplanned and took me by surprise. You don’t need details. I emerged after ten minutes, thinking ‘Right! Let’s get back to it!’ I fuelled up, jumped on – and was thereafter beaten by that damn wind. I did everything I could think of – played with every single combination of gears available – but I could NOT gain back the average mileage lost from that loo stop. 22.5 kph is the absolute minimum to reach an 8-hour bike cut-off and the most I could manage was 21.8 kph. FRUSTRATION!! Not only that, but I actually FELL ASLEEP on my bike. That’s how hard it was (for me)! Too much wind to be able to look around and take in views so it was head down, pedal and watch the average mileage, and four times my eyes literally just SHUT!! It was so scary! I mean, how does that happen?

I think the swim took it all out of me – and/or I need to be more aware of the FIFTH triathlon discipline – FOCUS/NOT-FALLING-ASLEEP! I need to re-address this. I think I was just completely wiped!

I’m sure you’re thinking I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough or ‘How can anyone fall asleep on a bike?’ or ‘I should have been pedalling faster or stronger or harder ……?’ WHATEVER!!! That’s how it was. I don’t EVER give less than 100% and I was simply well and truly beaten. Kudos to the wind and to the awesome cyclists out there! I salute you! You inspire me!

I came back across the bridge and did the calculations – 2 hours 10 mins to rack up the final 60km. With nigh on six hours behind me struggling to even keep 21 kph, there was no realistic way I was suddenly going to pull out an extra 10 kph for another two hours. It was not going to happen.

I came down the hill to the roundabout and saw Karim and Caitriona and Kelly screaming there from the side lines and I rolled up and it was all over for me. And not a single teeny-weeny judgmental word from anyone – I LOVE YOU!!!!!

IM Kalmar support

I am gutted to have once again not made the run but I can only be satisfied that I KNOW I did absolutely everything I was capable of on the day – and pulling out was the right decision/the only decision at the right time on that day. Another DNF and once again on the bike, but this time with a FABULOUS swim behind me – it somehow makes it a lot easier to deal with. That’s a whole discipline better than in Cairns. Hey! One step at a time …

Taking six months off now, I think. I am going to kickbox and run trails and climb walls and swing kettle bells.

A final, special word for BOSH TRI and the Facebook NUTTERS – your online support was overwhelming! Big big hugs and thanks to all of you, too.

For now ………………. This is Ironman Hyatt signing off for a wee while. XX

IM Kalmar Post DNF

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

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?

Training starts here!

Uh oh! Here we go! The road to Ironman really and truly started on 1 January 2015! Not that I haven’t ‘kind of’ started. Since registering I’ve taken swimming lessons, been learning to swim in open water, bought a bike and had it fitted, completed a few sprint tris and a half-ironman … but all rather in preparation for the preparation, if that makes any sense? There was no real urgency. Training came under the umbrella ‘getting ready for 2015’! So I’ve done bits of this and bits of that and I know I can swim a 70.3 distance in open water, a full Ironman distance in a pool, I can cycle 56 miles (far too slowly) and I can run/walk 44 miles (just not after swimming and cycling for endless hours!). I worried about starting late but my coach has assured me January is perfect in order to avoid burn-out and make sure I get to the start line with half a chance of ‘enjoying’ my race!

So here goes. The training starts here. Oh. Wait. Training has already started!! Eeek. It is 20 January and I’m into my third week of Ironman training. Loving it. Loving the focus. Loving having such a fantastic goal but …………………………. ai ai ai ai ai ……………………. yes, panicking already. A few negatives have crept in – and so soon!!! I am so rubbish on the bike. How on earth am I going to last 8 hours!!!! My swimming is not very strong – what if, what if, what if ……. And my running? It’s so slow already – can it get any slower without crawling? Probably. And all that adds up to …………….. missing the cut-off!

Jeez! Googling personalised banners. I’m taking my own FINISH LINE ribbon with me – because I might not make that cut-off but I’m going to finish NO MATTER WHAT!!

Hopefully, as training progresses my confidence will grow too. For now, all I have to say is …. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!

 

From Zero to Ironman – and so it begins

And it begins with an unmitigated disaster that was my first sprint tri with the friendliest most wonderful group of triathletes who, I am assured, will be there to see me through my journey from start to finish. I’m already confident that I have found the perfect motivational group – thank you BTRS http://brightontriathlonraceseries.co.uk/. That, however, is where my confidence starts and ends for now. Registration for Cairns Ironman was confirmed last week. After last night’s swim … erm … well, I learned two things. (1) This journey is going to be interesting, to say the least; and (2) The only way is forward.

The swim was around two buoys. I missed the first, made the second – but only after gasping and wheezing my way after the first 20 strokes. I think there was a Boa Constrictor hiding in my wetsuit trying to strangle me from 20 metres in. Oh My God, was it pathetic (my efforts, not the Boa). I was so disappointed in myself – in my swimming (I use the term loosely). The previous day I’d been swimming without a wetsuit and my daughter commented that I looked so graceful!! ‘Grace’ did not look down on me yesterday. The kayak kept suspiciously close … testament to how obvious my struggles were! But I rounded the buoy (any buoy ….) … and then proceeded to retch violently all the way back to shore. Ridiculous. So …. what now?

My sprint tri turned into a salt water retch fest – and finished there! I didn’t have the energy to attempt to unrack my bike and try out my newly beautifully pumped up tyres 🙁

But … every day’s a school day, right? So the upshot of this is:

1. Need to work out why I struggle so much with my wetsuit
2. Need to sort my breathing. I think the retching came not from swallowing water (I CAN actually swim, believe it or not – I didn’t swallow THAT much lol) but from hyperventilating. On reflection I was definitely gulping air in but when I tried to swim I couldn’t get enough air OUT – hence constant gasping. Does that make sense? I need to experiment with that and/or seek advice
3. It’s been suggested that if my wetsuit is affecting me that much it might be in my interest to upgrade
4. There is a big PLUS to being right at the bottom of the triathlon rung … a little work and I’m going to get a real buzz from progress 🙂
5. I now have a benchmark
6. I also have a new goal: do the swim plus at least one lap of bike next time
7. I’ve met some amazing people

To cleat or, in my case, not to UNcleat

All new shiny bike is staring at me from the hallway. This is it! The last of my Ironman excuses unfortunately disappeared with the arrival of that all-important Ironman accessory – the bike! It’s very pretty  And all clean and gorgeous. I’ve been for a proper professional bike fit, too – and tried my best to look like I knew what I was doing but I don’t think he was fooled haha I think it was the two-minutes of failed effort before I managed to engage the cleats that gave me away!!

Never mind. If one is going to do stupid things, then one must put up with these small humiliations. ‘You’ll get used to them,’ the ever-patient Steve of Prestige Cycles tells me. ‘It’ll be worth it … It won’t take long …’

Well, I’ll tell you what didn’t take long: It didn’t take long to realise that my dreams of changing my name by deed poll to Amanda Pendleton Hyatt would have to be put off for a wee while. Cleats, Cleats, Glorious Cleats? Not bloody likely! Cleats! Pah! You lot out there with your ‘it just takes a bit of practice’ and ‘after a couple of tries it’ll become automatic’? You are so full of it!!!

Now, I’ll admit that at the ripe old age of 51 the speed of communication from brain to body is not what it used to be but this was a real wake-up call. I’m grateful to the youtube demo that said ‘Uncleat at least 25 times’ (gave me an initial goal) and I probably owe my life to the advice from many who said ‘Stick to grass until you’ve mastered it’!

25 times? Twenty-five? TWENTY-FIVE? Is it just me? Am I really that useless? I’ll be honest. I stayed on that grass and braked and uncleated 100+ times (in ‘batches’ of 25). All I can think is that millions of people use cleats. I cannot – surely – be the ONLY person on the planet who can’t get it?? Or maybe I am! Jeez, perhaps I AM completely useless. I certainly have the bruises to prove it. The upside is that I entertained MANY dog walkers – not one of whom, I might add, approached me to help me disentangle myself from my frequent prone position. I obviously looked like even more of an eejit than I felt haha

Of course, if you haven’t tried cleats, then you just can’t comment. Go try them! Go on! Dare ya! I mean, what’s the problem, eh? You simply twist your foot to release upon braking, right? But, I ask … BUT … do you uncleat at the bottom or the top? Which way do you lean? Did you remember to lean the direction of the uncleated foot? Every time? Did you uncleat before you braked – or at the same time? Or did you leave it too late? Or did you realise you’d forgotten and then panicked and then uncleated the wrong foot? Do you always uncleat the same side? Is that right or wrong? Should you be able to do both – in case of emergency stops?

Speaking of emergency stops …. Forget it! If my foot isn’t in the right place when I apply the brakes we are ALL totally screwed – no easy way to say it!! (Remember that next time you’re about to ‘sneak’ across the road in front of a cyclist haha)

Enough already! I will not give up. I will not give in. I will never surrender. I will NOT be the first person on the planet to admit to cleat failure! Meanwhile, though – best stay out of my way. Besides … do you really want to be anywhere near somebody who had to scrabble for the instruction booklet combined with google to work out how to change gears??

Road to Ironman? This is going to be one lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g road 

 

** Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter – @hyatt_amanda 

 

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