Tag Archives: Triathlon training

Strava made me do it

Two days and two posts! I should probably schedule this to post later to give you a break but this is my year of doing whatever whenever, so here it is.

My local triathlon club held a duathlon recently which was nice for something a bit different (1km run/6km ride/1km run/6km ride/1km run). I ran with another lady who is recovering from an injury which puts her at my pace (except it was pushing me hard). She would leave me behind on the bike then wait for me in transition for the run. She said she wanted to stick with me because I keep a consistent pace and she wouldn’t overdo it if she stayed with me. It was nice to have a bit of a social “race” and someone to chat with along the way.

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After the race, as we were all packing up, I noticed a bike for sale on the roof of someone’s car. A nice bike. A small bike. A looks-like-a-real-cyclist bike. A probably-waaaaaay-out-of-my-price-range-but-I-really-really-like-it bike.

I took it for a quick spin around the carpark wearing sneakers and with the bike still set up for the previous owner. Oh my! It was so comfortable. I didn’t realise how uncomfortable I was on my bike until I sat on that one. I have assumed that is just how cycling is. Uncomfortable. Riding around the carpark I barely had any pressure through my wrists and palms. I’ve had two bike fits done in the past and each one has made me more comfortable than before but this? This was like putting your ugg boots and pyjamas on at the end of a winter day and snuggling up with a doona, a hot milo and a good book or movie. Seriously.

I took the seller’s phone number “just in case”. That afternoon, after a bit of persuasion discussion with hubby, I phoned the seller and arranged to borrow the bike for a week so I could take it for a longer ride and see if it still felt good. Who would want to buy a bike based on a short ride only to find out on the first long ride that it’s not really as nice as it seemed. He was kind and clever enough to put my pedals on it too. (The bike belonged to his son, which is why it’s small enough for me.)

Here are a couple of still shots from video my husband recorded for me to send to my coach for some feedback on whether it looked like a good fit. To be honest, I was going to make my decision based on feel not looks!

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It’s a shame my favourite Smashfest Queen tri kit doesn’t match the bike!
Guess I’ll have to buy a new kit.

On Saturday morning I dropped in to the local bike shop with the love-at-first-sight-dream-bike to ask if it needed any work done to it. I’d be horrified to part with a significant amount of money only to find that I need to spend several hundred more dollars getting it repaired, and I have no idea about such things. That’s why we have bike shops and bike mechanics. I’ll do my part to keep a local business going! The verdict: A new chain and new tyres and I would be good to go, but okay for me to do a 50km-ish ride on Sunday to test it out.

The bike is a full 2kg lighter than my current one (turns out it has a carbon frame – oh so tempting). If I turn too tightly with my feet in the wrong position the front wheel hits my feet which is a bit scary but as long as I’m aware of it, and remember, I can handle it. Apparently that is quite common on smaller bikes – I googled it – and I have now learned about ratchet pedalling.

Sunday morning I met up with some friends who are prepared to ride slowly with me and far enough away from me that I don’t feel freaked out crowded. If I came off, I wanted someone there to be able to call hubby and tell him. Fortunately, they weren’t required to make that call.

And here’s a still shot from some gopro footage courtesy of one of the very patient friends who rode with me. It was very chilly! I recently invested in some shoe bootie cover thingies and some decent gloves but I haven’t bought anything warm for the legs yet. We go out early to beat the traffic, starting in the dark at this time of year.

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The gear sizes are different to my current bike and the gear changing mechanism and process is also different. I am still having trouble with gear selection after 2 and a half years of riding my bike so I didn’t always pick good gears on this ride. I often couldn’t work out how to change between big and small chainrings at the front and I struggled going up the hills.

Despite my inability to select or change gears properly I still managed to nab some personal best records on strava. I bettered my time on one 12km stretch by 3.5 minutes! That is a potential saving of 45 minutes over a 180km race.

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SOLD! I juggled my budget, negotiated a payment plan and bought the bike. It’s now at the shop having its new chain and tyres fitted.

I felt more stable on the downhills and braked less. I was comfortable enough to reposition my hands on the handlebars to adjust my position and give my back or shoulders a break (on the flat anyway). To my surprise and delight, I even managed to put my hands up on the top of the bars going uphill!

What was almost a selling point on its own was that I can wheel the bike by holding the seat like I’ve seen all the super fast triathletes doing at races. I always assumed I couldn’t do it due to my uncoordinated-ness. But maybe, it was the bikes I have owned.

My last race of the season might have been horrendous but I am excited and looking forward to next season with my toy.

My new (to me) pride and joy:

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The bike purchase was the highlight of the weekend. Then I followed up with some 200m run efforts Monday morning. Who would ever have thought my body was physically capable of running at these paces even over short distances? Certainly not I!

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Enough about me, what about you? Have you surprised yourself in training recently? Have you ever made a purchase that reignited your passion for your chosen sport or hobby? What was it?

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I can’t remember exactly when I started a C25K program for the first time. It was most likely about seven years ago. After multiple attempts, I eventually made it to the end and have kept going from there.

Fast forward to today. I finally cracked the 30 minute barrier for a 5km run at my local parkrun. It’s been a long time coming.

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There have been moments of insane jealousy when friends reached this milestone sooner. I know I should have simply been happy for them but the truth is I wasn’t. Not 100% anyway.

The support of the parkrun and triathlon communities is incredible. I would like to send a huge thank you into the universe for every post like, strava kudos, high five and comment, whether in person or online.

And if you are currently where I was, feeling jealous, wanting to “unfriend” people on facebook so you don’t have to see their fast run posts, please tick with it. You’re not alone!

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I am over the moon. This run topped off a pretty awesome couple of weeks for me. I did sneak in a small 30 second walk at 4.3km when I was debating whether I really wanted the sub-30 enough to keep pushing. I gave myself a stern talking to, reminding myself it was only another 5-6 minutes to the finish. Not another 2 hours like last week… so off I trotted.

And yet, I ended up with the least flattering parkrun photo I think I’ve ever had.

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I’m not sure if this was the eye-roll at the photographer for waiting at the top of a small incline, or wondering if I really wanted to keep going. This was just before my walk break.

Usually I manage to smile or wave or at least look like I’m enjoying myself. I always enjoy parkrun. It’s so friendly and encouraging. I see it as more of a social activity rather than part of my training.

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Three years after my first parkrun, I finally cracked the 50% age grading today! I shaved more than a minute off my PB on this course (set last May!) and was almost 2 and 1/2 minutes faster than my best time this year. Such a great start to the weekend. One of the most positive, friendly and encouraging community events I’ve ever been part of.

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Find a parkrun near you and check it out! Despite the name, you don’t have to run – walkers are also accepted and welcomed! And it’s free. All it will cost you is a bit of time and effort to register and print a personalised barcode. After that, all you do is turn up to any parkrun IN THE WORLD with that same barcode for a free, timed, 5km run/walk. Just remember to check local start times as it does vary from one event to another.

068 - 4th March 2017 - Tamworth parkrun 38, New PB Sub 31 50 age grade

I mistimed my wave at the photographer and I think I might have been trying to talk to her as well. Approximately 3.5km into today’s parkrun.

This run was my last “effort” run before the half marathon next weekend. The other runs this week have been a bit tough. They were short but my legs were feeling a bit heavy. I was quite surprised by the result today. I had done a 1km ‘warm up’ before driving to parkrun and that was very slow. I don’t usually do a warm up run so there might be something to that…

The week before last though when I ran my 30 minute 5km also included a 200m swim PB, a local club tri PB and my long run on the Sunday resulted in an unofficial 3 minute half marathon PB as well. I say unofficial because it wasn’t in a race but it’s on my garmin and strava so maybe that’s official after all.

I feel much better prepared going into this race than I did the last one (which wouldn’t really be hard). I am not-so-secretly hoping to crack the 2 hour 30 minute mark for the race. This was my goal for the Gold Coast Half Marathon in 2015 but I haven’t made it yet. I ran 2:35 last weekend on my own so I’m quietly confident that if the weather plays nicely, the race atmosphere will help me get there. (I also won’t have done a triathlon 12 hours before starting the race…) The course is a 3 lap out and back type and I know quite a few people who will be there so it will be nice to see friendly faces. It’ll be like parkrun on a huge scale. And 4 and a bit times as long.

On a completely different note, I also ventured onto the new volcano route in Zwift. The designers for this cycling “game” are so creative. Who would think of riding through a volcano? They’ve released another route up the volcano in the last couple of days which I haven’t tried yet.

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The low wattage outputs (top left) are when I was too busy trying to get
nice screenshots to bother pedalling.

The year so far

I am still saying “no”. Anything that requires me to do something or be somewhere more than once at a particular time is getting a blanket “no”. All year.

Okay, so I thought I might post more often because I’m not as busy but it has been soooooo nice just doing my training, pottering around the flat, reading a huge number of books and basically relaxing.

I had no idea how much pressure I had put myself under. I enjoyed doing all most of things I was doing. That’s why I had said yes to doing them in the first place. Now that I’m NOT doing them, I don’t miss them and I seem to finding the right head space to push harder in my training sessions, hoping for improvement rather than being satisfied if I manage to finish.

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Running in the early morning before the sun comes out certainly suits me better.

The benefits have been multi-faceted. I am losing weight (and more importantly, body fat)! I am feeling stronger on the bike (power to weight ratio improves as weight decreases). I am swimming faster (less drag). I am running further and faster (just as well since my next half marathon is just over two weeks away in lovely Port Macquarie).

I am still seeing the sports dietician every 3 weeks to keep me accountable (okay, that doesn’t count in my “no commitments plan).

One of the main swimming tips I took away from the January camp was breathing out through my nose instead of my mouth. This has made a huge difference. I don’t get out of breath as quickly, I am not as bloated after a swim session and I’m not as ravenously hungry afterward either. I’ve even been surprised sometimes to find that my set is finished rather than struggling to make it through the full plan.

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At Tamworth parkrun recently.

I have been struggling a bit on my Sunday long runs so have opted to volunteer at parkrun from last weekend until the race. Last Sunday I managed to run 16.5km without stopping for a walk. I’ve even learned how to sip water and eat while running. Somewhere in the middle of that run, I ran my fastest ever 10km.

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At Tamworth parkrun again.

On Tuesday I did a 6km run and realised that at some point over the last few months, a 6km run has become a short run. How and when did that happen? About 4km into this run my legs reminded me that I’d run 16.5km two days before. I struggled through the next 2km then had to tackle a small hill back home. I almost turned around to do the last km on the flat but would have had an extra long walk home and I would have been late for work. I trudged up the hill and was surprised to see that I’d actually averaged 6:24 pace for the whole run. Faster than any of my recent runs, even parkrun has been slower than that for 5km. The cooler temperatures early in the morning help. I do not enjoy running in the heat but I’m trying to work through that too. In that run, I did my second fastest 5km ever (31:38). My fastest is 31:16. (At some point I claimed to have done a 30:34 but I realised afterward that my watch hadn’t actually connected to GPS so I think it was averaging something.) And those two tough kilometres? I was running at 6:15-6:20 pace. No wonder my legs were screaming.

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Self-timer through the weeds.

This morning, I set out for an easy 5km. This might sound weird, but for the first time I felt like I looked like a runner. Usually I feel like if anyone looks at me they’d think “oh well, good on you for having a go”. I have no logical basis for this. About 3km in I realised a 30 minute 5km was within my grasp, I was averaging about 5:58 and anything faster than 6:00 would get me under 30 minutes. I scraped the 4th kilometre in at 5:54 but then I needed to walk. And stop and spit (which I NEVER do). Then I sprinted a bit to try to get average pace back under 6:00, then walked, then sprinted and so on. Until I hit 5km with an all-out push and my watch said I averaged 5:59. YAY! But when it uploaded into the app it was 6:00. Strava kindly deducted the time I’d spent trying to spit and wipe dribble and gave me an average pace of 5:58 and a time of 29:56. However, if I add up my 5 km splits from garmin, my time was exactly 30:00, to the second. So, I am claiming today as a 30 minute 5km and will save the sub-30 for another day.

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Thank you strava!

Rest day tomorrow, then local club tri Saturday night before a 21km run on Sunday. I won’t be running either of those at 6:00 pace I don’t think.

New records

I have also decided to go back to running in my Altra zero drop shoes rather than the other shoes the running shoe shop recommended for me. I thought they were great when I first got them, but I do really like the extra toe room in the Altras. I have bought another pair which don’t resemble ten-pin bowling shoes as much as these ones.

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If you’ve made it this far – thank you for persevering.

I passed!

I passed the first test. I was asked to participate in a new women’s group that is starting up. Something I am actually interested in and ordinarily would have said yes. But I said no! I wished them well and said I hope it is still going next year so I can join in then.

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It was my first day back at work today after 3 weeks off. The office was closed that whole time so I had a crazy day working through a backlog of emails and phone messages.

However, I came home, hopped onto Zwift for 30 minutes, had some dinner, and found myself with an entire evening looming ahead with absolutely no obligations, deadlines, must-dos or should-dos.

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The Zwift mountains reminded me of the rides around Jindabyne just two weeks ago. Except I was on the wrong side of the road today!

This feeling of “free time” is WONDERFUL! I’ve known for a long time that something had to give. I’m so glad I finally made it happen and I am excited for what 2017 will bring.

That is all.

Smile

parkrun statistics

On Saturday, I completed my 50th parkrun. It took me over 2 1/2 years to reach this milestone. There were a couple of reasons for this:

1. There were no parkruns within 3 hours drive of home until about 5 months after I did my first parkrun

2. I’ve been heavily involved with getting Tamworth parkrun up and going so I have volunteered a lot more than most parkrunners (although not much more often than the rest of my super-supportive event team).

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If you haven’t yet discovered parkrun (which begin in the UK but has now spread to 14 countries) you should look it up. It’s a free, weekly, timed 5km run (or walk or combination). Every parkrun I’ve been to has been welcoming and friendly. (Check them out here www.parkrun.com or www.parkrun.com.au.)

I visited Darwin parkrun on a recent holiday and another lady there was visiting from Brisbane but I had met her when she used to live here in Tamworth!

Hot and humid at Darwin parkrun:

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My parkrun statistics:

Number of runs 50
Times volunteered 36 (officially)
parkrun PB 31:20 (28th May 2016)
parkruns visited 15
Armidale (3), Cairns (1), Callaghan (1), Campbelltown (1), Darwin (1), Dubbo (1), Hobart (1), Lake Mac (1), Logan River (1), Maitland (1), Newy (2), Port Macquarie (2), Singleton (1), Tamworth (30), Taree(3)
Next parkrun Parramatta parkrun (17th September)

 

Other news:

– “Life” got too crazy and I withdrew from the 70.3 triathlon I was going to do in October. I could not manage the training load with everything else that was going on at the time. It was a difficult decision but I am confident it was the right one to make.

– After 11 years as a volunteer with the NSW SES, I have recently resigned as a member. Priorities and interests have changed over that time (I discovered triathlon!). I will probably join again sometime in the future when my work busy times don’t compete as heavily with SES peak periods.

– I registered for my second half marathon in February (a rematch after the last attempt when I sustained an injury partway into the race). That was supposed to be this coming weekend and until a few weeks ago I was on track for a goal time of 2:25. However, about 1 1/2 weeks ago I was struck down by an unidentified virus and was pretty much bedridden for about 8 days. Under doctor’s orders (but it was a no-brainer really) I have withdrawn. I was able to defer the entry to next year with no penalty. I was back at work today and will do my first short run tomorrow. If it goes well then I may consider entering the 9km race option instead (since I was a cheapskate and purchased non-refundable tickets and no travel insurance). If it’s all too hard then I will attend as a spectator and cheer on the many friends who are running in various events. My last big training weekend was 3 consecutive days of running with a goal pace of 6:45. I nailed the first two (6km run to parkrun followed by parkrun, then a 7km run the next day) and mostly managed the third (another 7km run).

The first two days:

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At the moment, I am goal-less, race-less and restless. My main focus will be getting back to 100% health (and I’m not prepared to risk my health just to run a race this weekend even if it is over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and finishing at the Opera House). Other than that, I’m still working on that sub-30 minute 5km!

Hope to see you at parkrun somewhere! Tamworth parkrun’s second anniversary celebration is coming up on 24th September with a “p” theme. Stay tuned for this year’s costume. At least this year I should be able to run in my outfit – unlike last year’s sumo suit.

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Indoor Cycling

I’ve finally started doing more cycling. From the comfort of my own lounge room. In summary, it’s an online “game” called Zwift which uses the data from your own bike trainer and sensors to move an animated you around an island called Watopia. People from all over the world log in whenever. Or you can prearrange a time to meet friends for a group ride. It costs $10 USD per month but if it means I’m riding my bike, then it’s worth it.

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Let’s face it – where else will I ever get to wear a green sprinter’s jersey??? (Either I’m Lightning McQueen over a 400m distance, or there aren’t many females using Zwift yet at the times that I’ve been online.)

These are some of the reasons I enjoy using Zwift.

  • It’s easy to get caught up in the “race” to not let the person behind catch you (and you don’t have to look over your shoulder to see them), or to catch the person in front of you, or see how long you can draft off someone.
  • I work harder in this game than I do on the road. I think it’s because I don’t have to worry about traffic, potholes, magpies etc. Or being stranded too far from home if I absolutely run out of puff. I can give it all I’ve got.
  • I also work harder in Zwift than I do just cycling on my trainer because if I stop pedalling or slow down, the animated character on screen unclips or sips her drink. It’s a visual reminder that I’ve lost focus whereas on the trainer I find I just drift off and then realise I’ve stopped pedalling and have no idea how long I’ve been off with the fairies.
  • King/Queen of the mountain, green jerseys, yellow jerseys, this game has it all – instant updates and comparisons of PBs on some segments (don’t have to wait for strava upload 🙂 )
  • Group rides are great – it’s not often I get to feel like I can keep up with everyone else. It does wonders for the self esteem. I don’t have to know whether they’re slacking off, I can imagine that they’re sweating and panting as much as I am!
  • The graphics are great, the concept is even better. Seeing where the many different riders online are from (country) and seeing messages flying in French or Spanish makes you feel like  you’re part of something so much bigger than just my lounge room.
  • No cars
  • No helmets
  • No crashes (and even if someone cuts you off you just go through them like a hologram)
  • Fast looking bikes and snazzy cycling clothing
  • Cycling with dolphins, sting rays, whales – where else can you cycle under the ocean?
  • Estimated calories burned are counted as a number of pizza slices!
  • It’s the best excuse for playing computer games and not feeling guilty.
  • It makes me feel like a real cyclist.

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In an hour online it’ll go from day to night with beautiful sunrises, long shadows and spectacular scenery.

My coach told me that getting my cycling done will also help my running. She might be onto something there.

In my previous post (late February), I wrote that “I haven’t run a 30min 5km yet and don’t seem to be getting any closer but my training has been rather erratic.”

I realised today that I haven’t skipped a session on my training program since 3rd March! That’s a whole month with all planned training completed. If only I was that dedicated to my food intake.

Recently, 1km intervals were added to my program – to be done weekly. 6 x 1km run at effort (preferably sub 6:00 pace) with a 2 minute complete rest/stop between each one.

The first time I attempted this, I managed sub 6:00 for one of the six only (5:51 – a new PB). The second time, I had two under 6 minutes. Last weekend had a huge training load due to the public holidays and being able to get some longer sets in. I managed a 10km run/walk (planned 8 minute run/1 minute walk repeated for the whole distance) and averaged 7:10 pace even with the walks. I was over the moon with this. I had another 1km interval set two and FOUR of them were under 6 minutes! A 5:59, 5:47 (new 1km PB), 5:57 and 5:58. The other two were 6:34 and 6:19 – not too shabby either. Considering the first two were done in the dark with a headlamp on unfamiliar paths near my parents’ house, I was thrilled.

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I’m so glad daylight saving has finally ended…IMG_20160325_100231

10km with beautiful coastal scenery

 

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That’s me in the light blue being overtaken by a huge pack of cyclists on Zwift. Would completely freak me out in real life but was strangely pretty cool at the time.

On Easter Saturday I was up at 4.30am to drive 1.5 hours to the nearest parkrun which had a 7.00am start! I was also catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

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Yesterday was another big day – 45 minutes on the bike (which I did on Zwift) then a 10km run. My plan for this was to run the 5km from home to parkrun, then have a few minutes rest during the briefings and continue with the second 5km. The second 5km was much slower than the first because THIS happened quite unexpectedly!

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So, I STILL haven’t run 5km in under 30 minutes but it’s getting closer! This was almost two minutes faster than my previous 5km PB of 32:28 which I ran in December 2014. I hadn’t even gone out with the intention of going hard or getting a PB, I was just running. The last 500m was tough but I’d seen how close I was to a PB so pushed on. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left in the tank for the second 5km so I walked a lot, chatted with other parkrunners and did a leisurely 38 minutes. It doesn’t seem that long ago that 38 minutes would have been a fast 5km for me. It’s odd how our perspective changes over time.

More zwift screenshots – because I can.

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Cycling related architecture

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Spot the whale?

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And the dolphins?

The creators have an incredible imagination. Wonder if they could develop Zwimt for swimming from the comfort of home?

I’m enjoying being on my bike again. (And swimming and running, so that’s got to be good for my triathlon pursuits!)

What’s next? A three-hour intensive swim training session with Effortless Swimming at the end of April, a triathlon in May, a holiday to Broome in June, Sutherland to Surf (11km) in July, Dubbo Stampede in August and the Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon in September (we run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge – I’m reasonably certain I’ll be stopping for a selfie!). So much for my year of spending more time at home. And in amongst all of this, I am determined to shed my excess weight. Imagine how fast I could run if my legs had 5-10 fewer kilograms to cart around!

Is there a gadget or training technique/tool that has reignited your enthusiasm?