Saturday, 31 December 2011

Karen writes: New Year, Nightmare, and Knees

Tomorrow it is 2012.  The year of Ironman.   Eek.

I had a nightmare last night, it was one of those nasty ones where the silly detail is horribly clear.   It went like was the morning of the 3rd of March but the fridge needed cleaning so I couldn’t be dropped off to do the Ironman until after the ice (?) had all been scraped out.  The race was due to start at 8.30, my anxiety grew and when it was 5 minutes before the gun I got sick of waiting for transport and decided to run down the road to the start (I did worry that I was burning unnecessary energy).  There were only a few people left, and I didn’t have my race number, so they gave me a new one and a pen (which didn't work) to write my name down.  Then I realised I didn’t have my bike, wasn’t wearing sports gear, and my children were still with me.  Then I woke up, so I don’t know how well I did!   Doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to figure out what that says about my subconscious activity.

Back in the real world (fortunately), my right knee was sore after the Thursday run up Manaia.  I've done this track 4 times in 7 days, it is a good climb, going up around 400m over the distance of about 3.5km, and has 1000+ steps, plus there was the 4 hour effort on Tuesday over the Lion.  I cant really say it was a surprise that it hurt when I poked the muscles on the inner-above knee aspect of each leg (but especially the right).  As a result, yesterday I plastered on the antiflam, strapped the sore joint and did the same route but walking instead of running.  I was lucky to walk with visiting cousin Glenn, and it reminded me of how nice it is to take some time, have a look around and talk for a change, rather than concentrating on pushing pushing pushing.  Today the knee is still sore, so just a walk with my girls, no strenuous uphill work.

Home tomorrow, then I will get serious about following the programme. I've been working really hard running, and doing the hill work but no bike here, and swimming hasn't been practical.  And I see Kate has been doing the hard yards with the swimming too...helloooo down there on the wild West go girl!   

Friday, 30 December 2011

Kate Writes: swimming

Its been blowing a gale here at the Manukau Harbour. I have swum twice this week in the rough sea and feel more confident. But I decided I should do some proper training and push myself, so up to the school pool I went. But the key did not work :( . Borrowed a friends key and that worked, it needed a bit of twiddling. I always worry about swimming on my own, what happens if I knock my head and drown? No one to save me!  But then again I can swim better now and really just have to get over myself. The training this week was 2650m endurance. Wow do I feel tired. Had to come home and have a sleep. I wonder if I can have a sleep on the day of Ironman - He He He!

Its still blowing a gale, hope to get out on bike tomorrow and check those gears.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Karen writes: still playing mountain climbing

Tuesday was the high point of my fitness year.   Up early, big breakfast, then I got dropped off at Ocean beach for my favourite Christmas tramp/run.    Every year I attack the Lion range at the tip of the Whangarei Heads, starting with the steep trail up from the beach at Bream Head, where I pause near the top to say hello to my Grandfather Hill who worked on the 2nd World War radar station there, then it is some serious up and down till I come out 3 hours later at Urquharts bay and run home (another hour). 

I love this route, but there is one part which always reminds me how easy it is to make mistakes, especially when you are by yourself.  An hour into the Lion tramp you get to the top of a steep bush slope and there is the choice of a left turn or a right turn.  The direction you instinctively go in is left, however following that way brings you onto a really skinny track with a drop on either side, then there is a big, but scale-able rock in the way.  The first year I did this I was sure I was going in the right direction, and climbed this rock, then there was another rock.  My anxiety levels were growing at this point, I couldn’t see the trail ahead, just more steep rock masses with these enormous drops to the sea.   My courage gave out (or I got sensible?) and I finally retraced my steps, coming back to the fork where I now took the trail to the right. This seemed to head back the way I had come, but then after a while it turned and became the main trail again.   I realised that the left fork had led only to a lookout, those rocks weren’t meant to be passed.   I have since visited the lookout every year, it has a spectacular view down the coast, but it always makes me think about how close I came to making a big mistake.   
Lookout view - the white dots are boats...
Went up Mt Manaia again this morning, the weather forecast was miserable, and it was drizzling when I left, but if I didn’t go I wouldn’t get any exercise.  I love working through the ‘layers’ of bush, at the bottom there are cabbage trees and it is quite overgrown, further up is a patch where there are ferns and moss and if you bump into a branch you get doused with water, and as you go up the foliage changes again, sometimes open, sometimes overgrown, sometimes dry and windblown.   Today the track was  universally wet and muddy, with the wind getting wilder the higher I got. I was casting a nervous eye above me thinking about how much risk there was of debris falling, then I got nearly to the top and the wind was suddenly just gone.  I was above the howling wind, in the clouds, what a strange place to be.    I didn’t linger at the top though, that fluffy grey white cloud is COLD, and I didn’t trust the wind, sure enough, as I came down the steps from the lookout a huge gust blasted across the rock and I was glad I wasn’t still standing up there daydreaming.

I realise that I feel fit!   It will be interesting next week to get on the bike and see how that feels after what will be 2 weeks off cycling.  Not long to go now...

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Kate Writes:resting?

I was supposed to be off resting for 2 days! But on Christmas day my brother in law took the boat out and I just had to have a go on the sea biscuit. Then I had to have a swim. The water was so still and clear, which is unusual for the Manukau Harbour. The next day the same. I jumped off the boat out in the estuary, very brave I was, I mean to say there are sharks out there, and swam to shore against an out going tide. Today I went for my 1 hour ride and had problems with my gears again, but as my coach says get over it and move on. So I just did a different ride, with hills in it. I went to see a neighbour to get some help and he said there was nothing wrong with the gears, I still think there is so will have to get out and do some more riding.
The tide today was at 1pm so ideal swimming. But there were big waves, just good practise. Rach and myself had a good swim, shes a great encourager and gets me doing more. We tried doing tumble turns in the waves but I just ended upside down swimming the wrong way.  So now its back to resting and I've just made a chocolate cheese cake, so no problems with the carbs.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Karen writes: Giant Christmas present

First thing this morning it was time for a quick trot up my favourite small mountain, then home for a second breakfast, keeping in mind my need for increased carbohydrates!    It was a white gift wrapped mountain today, I walk/ran up in about 35 minutes, paused on the rock platform at its top while the shreds of cold cloud blew past me, and then took 20 minutes to scoot down to the bottom again.   Then off for a walk to get my un-energised children moving, they would much prefer to watch TV.     I kept thinking “this time last week I had finished the half IM swim”, or “this time last week I was half way through the ride”, it seems like it was forever ago though. 

Tomorrow morning is the 25th, I plan on another trip up the mountain. It is my ritual on Christmas morning, I sit at the top for a while and look around, at Whangarei to the East, the Heads just below me, Ocean Beach on the other side, Auckland to the South, then I stand up, close my eyes and spin slowly around, and appreciate just how very lucky I am. 

KateWrites: School pool

I had a txt message from Jacky, that she and Barbara were swimming 8am at school pool. I set the alarm and off I went. I was not looking forward to it, it will be cold, its only 20 meters long its early on my first day of the holidays. Well it was great. The water was not cold, it was clean and wonderful. 2k later i was shattered and ready for a sleep. I'm very lucky to have the facilities around to help. I can see some early morning swimming sessions booked for the holidays. Mind you this morning the sun is shining and the tide is in, so I must go for a swim in the sea. Happy Christmas Eve to all who read this blog today. lol Kate 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Karen writes: Resting

I am resting.  Unusually, I am not feeling in the remotest bit guilty about that, I am not worried about losing my hard-won fitness, I am vaguely worried that my food consumption hasn't dropped to reflect my lack of energy expenditure (party time of course)...but a few days isn't going hurt really...I think...

Anyway, I have in front of me my eating planning from Cate the nutritionist, and it is all terribly sensible. She wants a lot more energy in on heavy training days, particularly high quality carbohydrates and some protein, I'm to be more strategic about eating overall to keep energy levels up, and should be testing new combinations and ramping up what I eat during exercise to get 60-70g carbohydrate in per hour (that is the hard one for me).   That will start, let me see, after Christmas probably!   But this is really scary, there are officially only 9 weeks to go till Ironman, that is probably only SEVEN weeks of real training!

Tomorrow is the trip north to join the children with their grandparents, and my Christmas day treat will be a quick trot up my favorite Mt Manaia, perhaps while everyone else is digesting celebratory lunches in the afternoon.  On the top of that wee mountain is a flat rock, perhaps the size of a small room, and you can stand on that rock and spin slowly around to look at the land spread out below you (or into the clouds on a rainy day) and it makes you feel all is well with the world.   Then a race down to the bottom, gravel paths and steep steps, through flax and native bush tracks with glimpses of sea, back home...for more to eat!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Kate Writes: Bike

After the gear failure on Saturday I thought I better go back to the bike shop. I'm well known in Cycle city, and they are always helpful and a nice cup of coffee is on hand while I wait. Whats wrong with the bike, he said, gear broken, No he said looks OK to me? OH. Then I explained the big bang and crunch and not working. So poor bike was put up on the stand and he managed to get it to jam. There is a fault with the gears. They were made for 3 gear wheels and I only have two. Do I want to ride over Christmas he said? My face dropped, I'm doing Ironman, need to train. Deep breath, I can cope.... The Gear paddle on the handle is being sent back to see if we can get it replaced and I have a second hand one to replace it so I can carry on training.. $140 later I'm out of the shop and off to work. Very relieved that I can train. Its good to have good people around to help and support. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Karen writes: Equipment neglect

This morning I finally felt guilty enough to look after my equipment after Saturday's soaking wet half Ironman event.  The bike workings were liberally sprayed with WD40, the wetsuit got turned properly inside out and the leaves and mud rinsed off it (I figured it was a fresh water swim so I wasn’t too worried), the running shoes are in the shower full of soap and will probably take a couple of days to change back to a mostly white colour, and the sodden clothing migrated from the smelly bag in the boot of the car to the washing machine.  Oh I loathe that bit!   

Kate Writes Half Ironman

Friday we packed up the car with double equipment. Left the daughter home alone for a Christmas party of 18 year olds! Not sure whats most worrying, ironman or teenage daughter! Any way off we went. The sun was shining but that was a pretence.

Registration had moved to the Avanti shop in Rotorua. We took our wetsuits to get them dipped in sunlight washing up liquid. Probably the cleanest its ever been. Met up with Greg, who I swim with and also doing Ironman, swapped a few stories and off home.

5am the alarm went and I forced breakfast down, running late into the car and it was raining. Into wetsuit, could not find my transponder, searched everywhere, do not PANIC. I had put it with my goggles, deep breath and down to the waters edge. I do love my red toe nails, they stood out in the sand.  The horn went and we were off. Loads of people all trying to start together, legs and arms everywhere. I took a deep breath and started. It felt OK, water was clear, no waves. This should be a nice swim. I do find sighting was difficult and kept having to look where I was going. I got to the first lap and the teams had just started that was a good feeling. Round the buoy and off for another lap. I thought I was going slow but as I was coming into the  beach I heard over the speaker " we've been going for 47mins" wow I was coming in at the time I wanted.  My official time was 47mins , 11 Min's faster than last year and I beat my coach Jarrad, he was in the team and started 23 Min's after me, but still I was expecting him to pass me.

By now the rain had started but not too bad. Karen was in transition and off I went. It was great to be out on the bike. Had I put enough clothing on? Not sure but too late to go back. You are not allowed to draft in Ironman, so I tried to keep a distance but its really annoying when people overtake you and then go slower than you. This is something I am going to have to work on. The most interesting thing that happened out on the road was the farmer that thought it was a good idea to take 300 cows across a busy road in the middle of a bike race! I looked on it as a good time to stop and get some food and water in. But there was an accident on the other side of the road, one poor girl was off her bike and on the ground. The cows were all over the place trying to climb over fences. There was a gap in the stream of cows and off we went leaving the carnage behind. Halfway home the rain came down and down, drowned rats we were. I saw my friend Sara, well I saw a car beeping its horn, but the rain was coming down. There are only 2 hills to worry about. The one by Hell's Gate, well named,  is very steep and there was a river coming down it at the same time. I sang Ten green bottles as I went up, not inspiring but it keeps you concentrating. Over the other side I went and a crunch of gears. Thought I would be off the bike, but no it all still worked. The second hill is the last bit to the lake. 5k of uphill. I did not make it last year and had to walk. But this year I knew I would make it. Changed gear down to a low one and nothing happened! I looked and could not see any problem. Stopped and got off. Front gear would not change. What was I to do? There was no way I could get up the hill in top gear. Simple! I leaned over the bike picked up the chain and put it on the lower gear. That worked and off home I went. Later I looked to see the cable had snapped. I finished in 3hours 58mins, 22 min's faster than last year.

I decided to change my clothing. It was only psychological as it was raining hard, but dry socks feel so good. But within 200 meters I was wading through mud and water. The first part of the run is around the lake. I stuck to my plan, walk, but there was some dry areas and so I did a little run and it felt OK, the ankle did not hurt. Got to the road and ran the next 8 k, still felt OK.Very wet. Ran/walked home in a time of 2 hours 44 Min's, 22 Min's faster than last year.

WOW, I finished in 7hours 29minutes    56minutes faster than last year. This training and trainers work is working. Thank you to my trainer Mr Smith and also swim coach Jarrad.  There were a number of great supporters out there, many had come down from the swim club, especially Fiona for running up and giving me a hug. Thank you to Greg who ran along the lake front with me on my last lap as he thought I looked a little lonely. All my friends and Family you lot are assume supporting me.

I am a little stiff today and have just been for a little swim, but I am excited about Ironman.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Karen writes: rain, rain, and did I say rain?

Saturday for the Rotorua Half Ironman was predicted to be rainy, not just 'showers', that forecast stubbornly stuck to 'rain', and for a change the weather boffins were spot-on. The day dawned saturated, we swam in the lake in drizzle, and that was as dry as we were all day. But in spite of constant rain, often torrential, it was a really GOOD day.   I didn't think it was going to be however, I was running late for the start, got stuck in a queue at the 2 stall toilet, and eventually raced to get into my wetsuit just in time.  I'd never worn the replacement secondhand wetsuit in the water, didn't know how it was going to work, but at least Kate managed to get me zipped in so I was fairly optimistic when standing with my toenails digging into the sand, not cheery red like Kates, mine were pretty tame in comparison... then we were away swimming.

I thought I was going to have to give up in the first stretch of the swim.   Every time I put my face in the water I struggled with panic, for no good reason I could think of, except that it was colder than I expected and the worry fed the worry.  I told myself that calling one of the boats over would finish it for me, and I couldn't face coming home and admitting to giving up a few minutes in.   I did breast stroke, thinking even if it took forever, at least there would be the bike and run, but then I got sick of that and tried swimming taking a breath with every second stroke instead of every four or six.   I did that for 1500 metres, which for me is an inefficient way of swimming, but every time I tried to swim normally the panic came back, but then with that last 500 to go I got into my usual rhythm and off I went, coming in at 49 minutes which was the same time as I had last year, so if I had swum normally I would have made a good time which is reassuring.  I really need more practice in the deep water!

The bikeride, wow, that was WET.   3 hours 52 with the rain channeling through the holes in the helmet, barely seeing through the glasses to watch the white lines, and squishing the marmite sandwiches into soggy balls to get them out of the bags.  There are only two hills of consequence in that ride, my feeling is they are worse than Hatepe at Taupo, shorter, but harder.   It was really cool to see Sara on the road as she drove to Rotoiti, it was strangely isolating to be stuck in your own little wet world, and triathlon cycling reinforces that, you arent allowed within 10 metres of someone else unless overtaking on this ride.  Got back and I was really happy to be10 minutes faster than the last time.

Running.   Mud and MUD.   The bush was beautiful, but it was hard to appreciate it when the paths were a thick slurry with puddles deep enough to threaten pulling off a shoe, and there were torrents running down the hills through the trees.  The trot up a gravel sideroad was lovely though, and I couldn't help but run with a smile.  There were other people whose faces lit up in reply, they were obviously those who enjoy the fresh feeling and smell of running in the rain as much as me, perhaps secret puddle splashers too...though I have to admit I usually like to have more clothing on than tri shorts and a singlet!   It was wonderfully encouraging to see the whanau turning up at odd places on the course, the girls hanging out the car window to try to take photographs, it did make me reluctant to stop and walk up any of the hills though in case they caught me slacking off which probably helped my pace.  It turned out that we were lucky to get finished, some people missed their second lap because the track was closed off.  That would have been so disappointing.   I did the run in 2 hours 31, taking 12 minutes off last year.

What an amazing experience, so worth it because it is such a beautiful course, and beating that weather was a real challenge.    The nutrition worked, I didn't fall off the bike exchanging my drink bottles on the move, clothes all fine.  The only problem I had was a chafe under one arm, but that wasn't bad for effectively marinating for 7 hours and 13 minutes... and it was great to get a nearly 30 minute time improvement (Kates improvement was MUCH bigger but that is her story).   Next time we do something like this it will be Ironman, twice the distance, I dont really want to think about that right now because yesterday was really good, but really HARD!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Karen writes: Another event

It's Thursday evening, older daughter is hanging over my shoulder reading out loud as I type.   Another event has arrived, this is the last formal endurance activity before IM.  Tomorrow the dog goes to the kennel (she will be grumpy when she gets home), I shall have to finish off the bags I have half packed, one for the girls, one for the adults, four for sports gear, the chiller with food (mostly for me!), and lastly there is a small Christmas tree which temporarily transplants Christmas from Auckland to Rotorua.

I tell myself as my anxiety goes up that Rotorua has useful things called 'shops', if I forget something, it ISNT a disaster, I can pick up forgotten sunscreen or panadol or anti-chafe or supplements or socks...or perhaps a life-jacket the way the weather is shaping up.
Funny, last week I was fervently hoping that the weather would be fine for Saturday's event, after looking at the dreadful forecasts I now hope for 'just' wind and rain rather than the predicted thunderstorms.   The news is full of the terrible storm damage in Nelson...and I am selfishly thinking about getting chafed on the bike and my marmite sandwiches turning to soup.   However, I have clothing combinations picked out for almost any eventuality, lots of skin stuff, and I shall be so disappointed if the event is cancelled, it's a head thing, if I can do well at this, I shall be fine in 9 or so weeks time for the real thing.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Karen writes: Seem to have run out of time to do things right.

No training tonight AGAIN.  The annual Christmas carols at the beach became Christmas carols in the Hall at another beach because of the awaited heavy rain.   It was an exhausting exercise, probably more so but in a different way from what I was meant to be doing, a 500m swim, a 20km bikeride and a 5km run.  Oops.   So spent the evening sitting on the floor in the gym at Te Puru park with hundreds (it felt like thousands) of sugar fueled primary school children racing and dodging and ducking and diving like some swirling juvenile maelstrom...the band and singers bravely (and sometimes successfully) out-noising the yelling children. Oh joy.  

Anyway, home at last, tired small bodies packed off to bed, and I am contemplating the spin bike as a token gesture towards training.   It is watching me contemplate it, not saying much.  I really don't know that I can face it though!    I seem to have destroyed my wetsuit too, the flexible arm panels have started disintegrating, so that is the excuse for not going for a late evening dip in the tide (yes, pretty poor excuse), actually, its more that I'm worried about the things with teeth which I am told come out at night to eat.

Today was not a nutritional success either, call it the peril of tempting leftovers...not helped of course by the chocolate santas which kept turning up on my desk surreptitiously...not my fault, I suspect sabotage by Kate.

However, I may yet get my revenge, Sara has promised me that she will leave sports bottles filled with wine in her Rotoiti letterbox on the weekend for Kate on her half IM bikeride.  I understand however that she may also have promised Kate to leave chocolate and fruit mince pies for me.  Imagining what a sipper bottle of warm wine might do to a racing Kate is one thing, quite another vision is me pedaling past at a furious wobble, one hand on the handlebars, ripping the pie packet open with my teeth and leaving a trail of little baked products up the road?

Kate writes: out door pool

Monday night was my last training session. We went to the out door pool. I was determined to prove myself as good as the others and pushed myself too hard. I felt out of breath and a tight chest. My coach slowed me down and got me to do 5 strokes to one breath and to empty my lungs, this worked well and I felt much better. I must remember that its my race and not any one's else.
Saturday is looming and only 3 sleeps. The weather forecast shows a big black cloud and lightening. It should be fun! 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Karen writes: 'C' foods

Went to see the nutrition person Cate yesterday.   I carried my little food diary in with trepidation, there were too many items starting with 'c', like chocolate, cake, cookie, cheese and croissant...sadly it is the worst time of the year to watch what you are eating.  Like today was the office party, beautiful healthy food choices (thanks Kates daughter and friends), but it is very hard to say STOP.  I don't do self control very well and it does seem soooo unfair that I burn off so much energy with all the exercise, and cant just replace what I've used with whatever I like.

Anyway, Cate was very helpful, she had obviously thought hard since she first met me ("I'm tired...I don't like vegetables... I want chocolate...and I want to do Ironman").  She had practical suggestions and understood that I wasn't going to turn into a model client overnight...probably not ever.   A permanent ban on the 'c' foods wasn't even mentioned, but the fact that the kinds of fat I was eating weren't a useful fuel was tactfully supplied, and that it looked like I needed more carbohydrates during exercise  More protein was recommended generally, more other essential nutrients which I wasn't getting enough of, and importantly...calcium for those middleaged bones I keep expecting to take the ever-increasing pressure.  Some recommendations were made for supplements, I always live in hope that one day one of these will be the promised nutrition holy grail leaving me zinging with energy and in objectionably robust health.

Keeping the food record has helped already though. I KNOW that if I write down what I am eating I do actually eat more sensibly, and if I avoid writing, then I am avoiding for a reason!   This is a good link for a nutrition/exercise diary,  seems to have lots of common kiwi foods, but I think the calorie consumption rates for the exercise might be a bit high, and some of the user loaded foods may be short on micronutrients, but it is the easiest I have used...and it's free.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Kate Writes: weekend

Rachel and Mazie West coast Beach 
I know its the last week end before the half ironman but I have taken it a little easy.Firstly the long walk turned out to be 2 short walks on west coast beach. But it was beautiful and the dogs enjoyed themselves. I did not huff and puff as I tell my patients it was more of a gentle stroll and a climb over a few rocks. It was a good place to talk and gossip about the world.

The next bit of exercise I did was to go to the beautician, have a pedicure and my eye brows waxed. There was a ton of black sand between the nails, but they look so much better now , painted red ready for the event next week. I mean to say its all about the look. I do not think that Norma, Beautician, was that impressed that I was in a rush to make the mid day tide and a little swim in the sea.

Swimming into the waves with rescue boat
The dead sting ray which I saw yesterday was rotting away nicely. The waves were big and Rachel was surfing well on the waves. I think I need a facial now. Its good training really!

Swimming to Auckland

Karen writes: Too much looking around...not enough cycling

I'm sure you know the tune.

On the tenth day of training, my cycling gave to me...
Ten black clad cyclists
Nine thundering cows
Eight crazy runners
Seven menacing motorists
Six mowers mowing
Five pukeko
Four berry pickers
Three sets of roadworks
Two tired legs,
And a roadcone roosting in a pine tree

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Kate writes: competition

There really isn't any competition between me and Karen. She always blitz me, Taupo lake was a one off. I felt good on the ride and Karen did not. Very simple. I had a great ride yesterday. I went to swim school first and had a hard work out for an hour then lunch with the girls and boy! Then Barbara and me went off for a ride. She was ready for a 2 hour ride I said I wanted to do 4 hours or 90 k, so off we went. We rode the back route to Waiuku and 42k later we were at the shell garage, top up the water but it also has the best toilets in the area. Home we went and finished 84km in 3hours 20mins. I was pleased, Barbara thought it was a bit slow.  24k an hour is really good for me. Felt tired though.
Today the tide is right and Rachael said she would be the rescue boat. The wind is blowing a gale but I need to go out and swim, after all you never know what the conditions will be like on the day. The water was churned up and when I had my face in the water I could not see anything. Very strange feeling swimming blind.Rachael was surfing the waves on the boat, I was trying not to drink too much sea water. Swam for about 20 mins. Better than not doing it. Got out and thanked Rachael as I am a woos, I think that a shark or sting ray will get me. HaHaha, they really are not there!
Walking down the beach there was this huge , I mean at least 2 foot wide sting ray dead on the beach. I KNEW I WAS RIGHT!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Karen writes: Left behind!

I had a swim, admittedly in the fairly energetic swell down at the beach, and a 2km run afterwards to try to get my reluctant legs to work when back in the vertical position.   Thought I had done ok until I got a text from Kate to say she had had a big ride…fast…and a big swim.  Sigh.   

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Karen writes: Sea swim

Good wetsuit swim tonight.   Had been to the end of year school prizegiving for the girls, being a bad mum I turned them over to afterschool care afterwards and selfishly went off to swim (my daughter has since said she doesn't think I'm a 'bad mum').   The tide was half in, the sea flat, my body felt ok and I swam most of the 2.25km without the usual stops to have a rest and muck about.  The local wharf is a bit tricky sometimes though, fishermen cast off the end and not wanting to get tangled up in line with hooks I swim between the poles underneath to avoid them.  It gets a bit scary with the young ones jumping off the wharf and I splash hurriedly through with visions of something heavy landing on me as I emerge on the other side.

I got out of the water and tried to run the 200 metres over the road and back to the house.  It's hard to run in a tight wetsuit in the sun after an hour of horizontal exercise, I was puffing and my legs were so heavy they didn’t want to move, then my arms didn’t want to work to get my wetsuit off.   More practice obviously needed.

Now the girls are down at the roadside waiting for Santa to arrive on the local fire engine, I can hear the siren getting closer. The anticipation will be building up, all the children pour out of the houses and line the roads for the showers of lollies thrown by a volunteer fireman and the bearded man himself complete with the obligatory red outfit, loud speaker, and buckets of sugary junk.  With my focus on food at the moment, I allow myself to wonder what it would be like to have no worries at all about that topic, the more lollies you can eat before mum catches up the better.

Kate writes: Hot Yoga

I do not stretch very much and have an injury. So when there was an offer of a hot yoga session free to the sports club, off I went. There was about 20 of us in a small room and the heat was amazing. The sweat just poured off us. 40degrees someone said. It was an interesting experience. Not sure if I will go back but it did make me stretch for an hour and half.

Karen writes: Training brain...

The recipe to fix tiredness was...get plenty of rest and eat well.   Last night however, was the graduation of a fabulous young woman I have been mentoring (theoretically, I've probably learned more off her truth be known) for the last four years as part of the YWCA Future Leaders Programme.  It involved a trip into town, buffet dinner, of course dessert, and a late night for me, but very worth it to see S graduate from the programme and get a prize for her volunteering work.

She did make me laugh in her thankyou speech, she had to make the comment in front of the nearly 300 strong audience that she thought her mentor was “mad…but in a good way”, making reference to Ironman.   

Things ran late, I was shattered, and I had a long drive home so I left before the finish at about 9.30pm.   I picked up my keys, phone, the bunch of flowers given to mentors, and hung my coat over my arm and left.   I got to the carpark and looked at what I was holding and found I had picked up a fork, how on earth didn't I notice that?  With visions of this just-retired mentor being arrested for 'cutlery theft', I took the fork back to someone in the venue who had a good laugh about it.  I wasn’t so ready to laugh though, my brain wasn’t working, this is usually hidden because I can just crawl off to bed at home when I start to wilt.  Anyway, a drink of coke (I'm meant to be avoiding fizzy and caffeine) got me alert enough to be safe on the road.    Only another 2 months...did I just say that...only TWO months of this left!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Kate writes: out door pool

 I don't usually swim with the squad on Monday nights as it starts at 7pm and I do try to go home and spend time with the family. But it was too tempting to swim in the large 50m out door pool with wet suit on. The Jubilee pool  is 50m long and not open to the public yet, but Jarrad had a key and a trained life guard, so about 15 of us met up on Monday evening and had an assume swim session. Its great having the length and with no lanes we all swam together , with lots of splashes and kicking. I do tend to hold back a little but still got there in the end. It was a good experience in the wet suit too. Mind you I think the wet suit is too large as water seeped in the neck and up the legs. I,m going to try my friends at the week end to see if that is any better. There are disadvantages in losing weight :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Karen writes: Nutrition

I had a 2km wetsuit swim in the good-sized waves down at the beach last Friday,  had a reasonable 70km bike ride on Saturday, and the 19km run on Sunday was OK if uninspiring.  In fact, I almost did the half IM over the 3 days, there is no doubt that I am fit enough, it's just that I don’t feel good right now.   After a discussion with trainer Grant I can be a bit flexible with this week's programme, it asked for 2 training sessions most days but I will be building in a little more rest.  The other thing is to take care of two other neglected areas, the hypothyroid and the food.

So I had the blood tests to make sure that the thyroid thing wasn’t an obvious cause, the levels are not far off where they usually are, and then I asked for help with nutrition.   It turns out the rules we teach in health education-land  aren't always that easy to apply to endurance activity.  It doesn't seem to just be a matter of increasing everything across the board, or if you use the formula 'energy in=energy out', if you burn off 2000 Calories on a ride, you cant simply replace it with the equivalent in cake.

Anyway, after Taupo's poor showing, any solution would do, and I figure it makes sense that I can’t keep my body working as hard as it is without decent fuel (plus I am piling on weight in spite of running huge energy deficits), so I booked time with a nutritionist/naturopath with a sports interest called Cate.  Even before I met up with her though, I wrote down what I ate on a weekend day and realised how bad it must look to someone else, which was a wakeup call.   So this week I am keeping a proper food diary to submit at our next meeting, and if I don't want to have to lie to prevent further embarrassment I had better make some changes!  Starting tomorrow of course, after I have eaten the evidence.

Kate writes: training with good friends

I'm still not really running , so the coach said a 2 hour walk. It had to be undulating and not a granny walk. Sunday morning I had Husbear, Rachael and Audrey come with me and the 2 dogs to West coast beach.
It was only drizzling a little and off we went. We were sandblasted by the sand and all the hairs on our legs were stripped off, we went climbing over the rocks so it was undulating. Had a shower as the waves crashed over us and the rain started pouring down. It was not a granny walk. Its good to have good friends that will encourage you to train. Thanks Guys.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Kate Writes: There are nice people out there!

Friday is my day off work. I had planned to swim and bike. The sun was shining and I was hoping to go for a ride with my friend Barbara. I was feeling a little low and contemplated just going home, but no I'm going to be an Iron man! I do not give up. So off for a swim I went. Barbara was not there so I was going to have to motivate myself. The Swim was good, as long as I concentrated and did not hit the wall at either end. Garrard works us hard and then has a good word for each of us. Fiona had just had a hand op and so filmed us. I thought I was doing ok until I saw the film. Who was that large fat girl with the orange hat on. Oh that's me! I quickly turned it off. Its much better to have an image of your self that's better than real life.  
We go for lunch and coffee after the swim and its a good time to catch up with friends. It started to rain! I hate the rain,but I was in my bike kit and had my new hat, which goes under my bike hat to keep the sun off. I bought it to keep the hair in order. Today it kept my head dry.
I had a great ride. I put the whole worlds problems straight and felt much happier. On my way home, I saw a car turning on to the main road and I thought to myself , he has not seen me! I was right! I think he got a bigger shock than me as he did a big swerve. Well I was ok and he did not hit me so off round the corner I went. There was the truck and a gentleman was standing next to it asking me to stop. He was so apologetic, I felt cared for. There are a few nice people in this world and I would like to thank them for stopping and taking the time to be appreciated.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Karen writes: Playtime is over

Oh boy, I was so wishing for my next training plan to arrive, Kate has got hers and it shows that she has Christmas eve and Christmas day off!  Now I wish my plan hadn’t arrived, nine sessions scheduled during this week and I have already screwed up, it’s Wednesday and only three have been done…two of those weren’t even according to the programme.

I also feel a bit like someone has taken my icecream away, having always enjoyed the luxury of expecting that if I did a big event, I then DESERVED to spend a month (even a week...a day?) eating too much and taking it easy… not this time!   

Actually, its not that bad. I have this little bubble of anticipation growing, this continues to be new territory, with every different challenge teaching something new about how the body copes and bringing its own satisfaction and sense of achievement.  It's a pretty cool feeling to be pushing past all previous limits...or it will be, after I have had another sleep...or three!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Kate writes: life after Taupo!

We spend so much time getting ready for an event, it seems like such a big thing and then its over. I feel almost depressed. One friend said "wish I was as fit as you". I do not feel fit, I feel tired, but also elated. Yes I completed Taupo cycle challenge, but now the half ironman is only in 2 weeks. Back into training. Back into planning the next event. What am I going to wear, how wet and cold is it going to be? Have I got enough time to get all my training done? The training is a mind game you need to be onto it the whole time , I know I can do this, I just need to believe.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Karen writes: Blogging

The journey to Ironman is interesting, but so too it turns out is the whole ‘blog thing’.   For example I love watching the different countries show up on the little map indicating where traffic comes from, some countries I have never heard of apparently have a citizen or two who has stumbled across our ramblings from the bottom of the world.  A surge of interest from Russia did have me stumped though…till I read about the blog spamming phenomenon which originates from this country and others.  So as much as I enjoyed the idea that there were hundreds of Russian people following our every move with avid interest…in a peculiarly co-ordinated way…my research put paid to that idea, these are computer generated hits with nefarious intent.  Makes the numbers of readers look good though.  

Anyway, about the blog, regardless of whether anyone else ever reads the stuff, it is a terrific way of remembering and reviewing our endurance journey and I would thoroughly recommend the act of 'blogging'.   I look back at how much has changed in the last few months, but probably the most telling is the trail of ‘draft’ blog entries I have written.   For one reason or another, usually because I was a bit dubious about accuracy, or about how appropriate the content was for general consumption, I had left these half formed entries to mature in hidden cyberspace and put something else up at the time.   I have just deleted a string of these drafts, amused to find I don’t agree with myself any more!   

Monday, 28 November 2011

Kate Writes: Taupo and the wind

We were all ready for the big trip to Taupo. I had checked the weather out, westerlies it said. That's fine can manage that, no rain. We woke during the night with a gale blowing. Would they cancel? That's all I could think. We rode down to the start line and got to the lake. The wind was so strong I thought I would be blown off my bike. The usual queue of bikes was not there. We were ushered up to the front and waited with the bike riders that were hoping to do it in 6.30 hours. I was very anxious and considered pulling out. One girl near me was crying. But I'm training to be an Ironman, I do not give up, and the wind had stopped around the corner. We started early and that was good, off up the hill we went. I have done a couple of training runs with my multi sports club and they encouraged me to draft and ride in bunches. So into a large bunch I went. Karen was behind but I knew she was OK. Later she caught up and we decided to ride our own ride if we found a good group to ride in. In the end we just kept coming back together and that was fine.    
Lessons learnt:
 Look for the stable bike riders to follow. The ones with good calf mussels are good. Watch out for the ones that wobble. Follow the goods ones and keep up with them.

I followed a chap called Ian into Turangi, he knew where he was going and I was going very fast. I had lost my computer by now so had no idea what speed I was doing. I stopped at the Z garage for a proper toilet and a can of coke. I still had Hatapi Hill to do. I have not managed to get up the hill in 4 years, but I was determined to do it this year. No hill was going to beat me. I got to the hill and said to Karen see you at the top and off we went. I was ready this time. Passed the sign where I had fallen off last time and up I went. No breathing problems I even joked to a group that got too close that I could sprint still. I'm not sure what they thought, Up the hill and over the top I went. I caught Karen up and called out, hey tinker bell ( She has a pink bell on her bike) I made it.

Well I was so excited, home was not that far away. I met Ian again and off I went. He was determined to get past the slow riders and I followed. We got to the hill outside Taupo and I rode up next to him to thank him for his help. He did not even know I was there. Down the hill into Taupo and the WIND hit me again. But there was no stopping me, I peddled as fast as I could passing loads of people. Into the finish line and it was all over. 7hours 39mins. 9mins slower than I wanted with dreadful wind all the way round. It was a great feeling. Met loads of great people, and a few doing Ironman. It is a great sport to be involved with. Thanks To everyone who help look after everyone. We are a great group of people.  

Karen writes: Taupo cycle challenge, what worked and what didn't

You always look back at what you do for any event, but especially the more challenging ones.  Now this is what I did on the day, Kate did something different, and so would every other rider out there on the course, you listen to other people then figure out what works for you.  

Beforehand we talked lots (obviously) about whether we should even go because of the strong winds, and decided on the strategy of forgetting our time goal, putting finishing and safety first.  We committed to not giving up until at least 100km if it was just ‘hard’, because after all, we needed a long ride this weekend, if we missed this one we would just have to go home and do it anyway.  We would have stopped if we thought it was too dangerous however.  Kate had been told that in the wind it is a good idea to keep peddling to improve stability, that seemed to help, as did tucking in with other riders.

I ended up wearing:
whitecaps on the lake!
  • Light singlet made out of one of those moisture wicking sports fabrics under a standard cycle top, never wear cotton or a fabric which keeps moisture near your skin, you will chafe, and more importantly chill.
  • White sun protector arm warmers, these are WONDERFUL 
  • I started out with a cycle rain jacket, the sort I would normally use in wet weather rather than my light wind resistant jacket. I should have taken this off much earlier, but I was worried about getting cold in the wind and I could see Kate in the distance and was too proud (foolish) to stop!   
  • Cycle shorts with moderate padding, plenty of Chafe-Ease.  Make sure the shorts are a firm fit, when they get even slightly loose the edge of the pad digs in and can hook on the seat when you stand up to pedal.   Some shorts work, some don’t, it’s a matter of trial and error.
  • Light cool-dry cycle socks, and checked shoe cleats for excessive wear beforehand.
  • ‘Ear warmer’ which is just a strip of fabric that sits under the helmet covering the ears (might need to take your earrings out if wearing one of these)
  • Heaps of sunscreen, the highest protection factor I could find was 50+, and  ‘sports’ type to minimise the risk of sweating it off. I’ve figured out always to smear plenty under my watch, and put some under the arm warmers at the top in case they slip, pull the cycle shorts legs up and smear it there too.   Don’t forget something for lips, I use a ‘lip-dip’ on my watch strap.
  • Mans handkerchief tucked up sleeve.   
I ate and drank:
  • A good breakfast of weetbix, milk, and a pottle of fruit salad 2 hours before.
  • I packed sandwiches made of 4 slices of white bread spread with marmite and a slice of processed cheese, cut into quarters.  I had one quarter most half hours.
  • 7 solid gel cubes, one to go with each piece of sandwich
  • I carried 2 water bottles with me, and ended up refilling both to drink 4 full bottles of plain water (big swig with each sandwich and when thirsty and before big hills), that was about right for me for the conditions.
  • 1 bottle of full sugar coke over the last 30km, this is rocket fuel to get you through the last bit, wouldn't recommend it any earlier, and wont be using it in the cycle leg of a triathlon.
  • Panadol half an hour before the ride and 4 hours later
  • Didn’t take my usual vitamins and fish-oil supplements till after the ride, you can taste them for hours after.
  • Bike check, tyre check, re-set cycle computer. 
  • Milk drink, fresh fruit, snacks as soon as possible on finishing.  MORE water.
Overall, most things worked OK, I regretted leaving my jacket on as long as I did because I don't cope with heat well, and I felt so much better with it off.     Live and learn...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Karen writes: 2 training events down, one to go

Home safe after a busy weekend.   The trip to Taupo for the annual cycle challenge starts the excitement, there is something about spotting that first car with bikes on the back or inside or as is the case quite often these days, stuck on the roof.  You feel like you are part of some sort of exodus from the city, on a mission.

No problems with the trip itself and we were happy with the accommodation which was a backpackers called Berkenhoff's.  It was clean, friendly, and I don’t know what it’s normally like, but filled with cyclists it was a quiet place to be, especially considering it had it's own bar with plenty of character.   I had to laugh, some people do the backpacker thing as part of miss-spending their youth, I feel like I am taking the opportunity to miss-spend my middleage (not really, I think I have forgotten how to).

The ride.  Hmmm... we woke up at about 1am with the doors and windows banging, the trees whipping and the wind howling round the building.  At daylight it didn’t look good outside, we debated about layers and windproofs and waterproofs and ear-covers, and then riding down to the beach being buffeted about we were thinking about the unthinkable…not riding.   We tucked our anxiety away and kept going and were glad we did.  Down at the startline, instead of having to get into the groups to leave at different times, we were ushered up to nearer the front and left much earlier than we normally would. It turned out the mountain bikers had their race cancelled because of trees falling in the bush, and the lake was covered in whitecaps and looking wild.  There were continuous warnings over the loud speaker about being careful in the wind on the peaks and watching out for debris. It was also obvious that people were pulling out, there were messages being passed about those who had already decided against riding, and it was all a bit scary really, but by then the sun was coming out.   

On the road we got separated pretty quickly, Kate got in the middle of a group of faster riders, and I ended up in the middle of another group, and I didn't take long to realise I wasn’t going to have my best ride.  I was feeling tired and out-of-sorts, and I have to admit each hill was an unusual struggle.   I figure out after a while I was overdressed and then took too long to get bothered enough to stop and take my jacket off, I felt better when I did.  I needed more water than I usually do, those hills and that wind does dry you out.  I caught up with Kate a few times and said "don’t wait",  I really didn’t want to feel under pressure to keep up as she was doing so well, she was racing! 

Anyway, I finished at about 7 hour 43, that knocked over quarter of an hour off last years time, which was pretty good considering the wind.   Nothing hurts today, probably wouldn't want to test out a bike seat for a few days though.

Kate and some of the 10000 new friends
The stories are always the thing that make the event for me, we ran across other people who were signed up for next years Ironman, and always you promise to look out for them at whatever event, who knows, we might recognise a face, but it is so nice how supportive and encouraging these experienced athletes are.

So another event down, I haven't got the next part of my programme taking me through to the Half Ironman, but I don’t think that is an excuse to do nothing tomorrow, Taupo was a training ride after all! 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Karen writes: Trip to Taupo

I have just done a whirlwind rush through the house, the children have clothes for the weekend, the dishwasher is on, the pantry has food in it, and I have several bags in a state of being half packed.  I have fiddled with the bike, debated lithium spray versus ordinary crc for the clattery derailer, and done an emergency wash of my favorite riding gloves.   Camera is charging.  Where did I put my helmet?

The next question is the weather...the forecast for Taupo says 'showers', but that is what it said for today in Auckland, it was more like heavy rain and the sort of wind only the mad would cycle in.  Better take the base layers, the merino skullcap, the light rain jacket, the heavy rain jacket, the winterweight arm and leg warmers, the shoe covers, the...yes, I am packing half the house here.

But it gets worse, not sure what the facilities are where we are staying, will there be towels, cutlery for vital sandwich making, somewhere to store milk for the essential weetbix...

And last but not least, Kate is planning a swim in the lake on Sunday morning before coming home.   Do I dare sabotage this by leaving my wetsuit behind?  Probably not, she is just as likely to make me swim without it!

I must check to see if I have packed the marmite.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Kate Writes: Swimming

As my coach keeps saying to me its time to get out into the open water! So Karen and myself checked the tides and booked the swim . We squeezed into our wetsuits and ran down to the beach, well in my case hobbled, into this perfect calm water, it was cold. I pulled the wet suit up around my neck and let all the water in. Rude words were said. Off we went, it takes a little time to get into the swim and I lose my breath and huff and puff. We swam under the Pier and headed for a rock, then off to the end of the beach.We turned to come back and the wind had picked up and the waves were bigger. Still a good swim back and we were finished.

As we came out of the water there was a lady called Shirley just entering with an ironman wetsuit on. Talking with her she had just done the Sprint tri in Auckland with the big boys and was training for the Ironman. I asked if I could touch her and get good luck off her. She had only just come back into training after breaking her pelvis 2 years ago. So there I am whinging about my ankle! Still its good to talk to others and we will see her at Taupo next week, oh no its this Saturday.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Karen writes: Looking back at 2010 Taupo Cycle Challenge

Got such a full-on week this week.   Lots of work lined up, couple of evening meetings, and plenty to do to get things ready at home so as to leave the whanau to their own devices for a few days.  I really look forward to Taupo, it’s the annual girls weekend away, and a very brief intermission from family responsibilities…well…you never really leave responsibility, that’s what phones are for.   Anyway, every year is different, every year is great, however last year stands out in my mind.  It was great to have an excellent ride, knocking yet another half hour off our time, I also caught up with long unseen relatives and friends who were there for the event too. Last year however was significant because of where we stayed.

We had left our accommodation to the last minute, Kate managed to make a booking and in the car on the way down she said she “hoped it would be ok”, there was good reason for concern, it was suspiciously cheap!  We got there, and drove down a road which ended with crumbling buildings looking like a deserted set for a western movie.  We went into the bar with sinking hearts to get directions, it  We were directed round the back down a gravel drive to some tiny units, there were a few which were derelict with plants growing inside them, but the more modern ones were connected by one long deck.  Once we had a look in our tiny room, which had everything we needed, we then went outside to see the steam rising out of the ditch along-side the driveway, native birds everywhere, beautiful bush with some old fashioned garden plant escapees and we were charmed.   We also looked up close at the derelict buildings, and it turned out that we were in a place with real history, the site had been a spa in the 1800’s and had been stayed at by all sorts of interesting people.   

What was most fun though was when the other cyclists started turning up, people from far away places, people getting ready for other events, even previous placegetters in the Taupo Ride.   I shall always remember sitting around on that deck on plastic chairs with the experts laughing (kindly) at our way of doing things, offering suggestions and encouragement, arguing about the merits of this supplement or that piece of equipment.   There was much merriment occasioned when we said we might stop and take photos, someone said we could stop and go shopping too perhaps and we were happy to report that we intended to do exactly that for our traditional coca cola top-up outside Taupo.  Great fun…then everyone went off to their beds at 9pm and there wasn’t a sound until time to get up in the morning…one of the benefits of staying at a place frequented by other (more serious) cyclists!  After the race the next day we were amused when our dinner was eyed with avarice (we'd stopped at the supermarket), and the glass of wine too, we felt sorry for those who had ‘strict nutritionists’ and were munching on bread rolls, it can be so good to be an amateur!

So we are off again in a couple of days, we left booking too late again so haven’t seen where we are staying this time. Hope it is half as pleasant as last year, whatever, we can be guaranteed we will meet plenty of new people, and usually quite a few we have seen before too.

Karen writes: No brain

Glad to hear I am not alone in suffering from a concentration malfunction.   Obviously especially important not to fall under trucks (PLEASE don't do that Kate!), but I seem to be slipping in other slightly less consequential areas right now.  For example, on the weekend ride I got a few km up the road and couldn't find my favourite handkerchief tucked up my right sleeve where it usually is, oh no, 4 more hours on the road sniffing, yuck.  I did a quick personal audit, did I have anything else I could use like ear warmers, scarf, old tissue in a pocket, money for the shop to stop and buy something?  Sadly no.   A bit further along the road I looked at my left sleeve for some reason, what do you know, handkerchief.   This morning though was a classic, I found I've been washing my hair with a bottle of conditioner instead of shampoo all week, picked it up because it said it would provide extra protection to hair exposed to the elements.  It sure did that.

Here's hoping once this odd mix of training is over for the twin peak of Taupo cycle and Half Ironman the routine might stabilise...yeah right...

Monday, 21 November 2011

Kate writes: concentration

Having been away for a week end I thought a quick bike ride was a good idea. I have taken Monday off work to support the daughter who has 2 more exams this week, but she was up out of bed and studying. So no excuse. The problem is my brain was working overtime. The right side was talking to left side, do this, no don't do that. Most of the time its OK, but when you are going up a steep hill and forget to change gear and come to a grinding stop  it becomes a problem. The ground starts coming up very fast towards you and you know you are in trouble. Luckily my left foot was out of the pedal and I managed to get it to the ground before I fell. This happened 3 times, missed a truck once  and had to re do several hills. Moral of the story, concentrate more on what you are doing.

Kate Writes: Queenstown

In the middle of my training I went to Queenstown to a work conference. It was a great week end. I had a few hours off and went walking up hills and along the lake. I was being very fit and very active. I was going to go mountain biking but the meeting I was in went for too long and all I could do that night was put my feet up. But the place is amazing and fitness is the word. I wish I could have done more activities but that's the way it is and work gets in the way. Anyway, it is a place to revisit and get more active in. One person said it was a place that there was something going on all the time. She had been on a 10k race that morning. Another person was very surprised at my activity levels and very encouraging about my Ironman. One of the talks at the conference was about how Christchurch was coping since the earth quake. It was a good reminder that they are still struggling and how grateful they are for people helping out. So if you are thinking of donating to the appeal, please just press the donation button and help. Thanks

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Karen writes: Pests

I got out of the house for my last long ride before Taupo as soon as it was light enough to see.   I nearly didnt go, my body was sore after yesterdays deep tissue massage, usually I would allow at least 24-36 hours before exercising after something like that.   But I wasn't going to get my ride if I didn't go Saturday morning, so off I headed for the planned 100km.

Got to the bottom of the driveway, left was the flat route, right 'there be hills'.   I went left, but a km along the road I told myself off and turned back the other way.

A little way along the road past Beachlands I saw something grey scoot across the road, it was a large rat.  Now the roads around there have big drains alongside them, this rat was going so fast it leapt the drain but miscalculated and crashed head-first into the the clay bank and rolled inelegantly down.   I just caught a glimpse of the bedraggled rodent having a bit of a wobble and then sprinting off into the scrub as I passed, and thought at least my day is going better than that!

Not for long...then came THE magpie

A cyclist had warned me
Then I saw you on the pole
Surveying your domain, 
You didnt deign to see me

I rode hurriedly past
Pleased to miss the Whitford terror
The sun was behind me, 
Then so were you

A thump on the shoulder
Feather scrape my cheek
When I stopped squealing, 
I heard bird laughter

But don't think you've won
Piebald menace, sky scourge, 
When there's 20k between us, 
I'll call you rude names and wave my fist at you!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Karen writes: Korma

We have discovered a wonderful Indian takeaway over at the Otara Town Centre, Maharajas kitchen.  I've been retrieving the coins from the ashtray and under the mats in the car, and raiding the emergency stash in the mug on the bookshelf in my office.  I am planning on working my way through the entire menu, the trouble is, too many favorites...I dither between ...something new....this favorite...try something new...or that favorite?    Yes, I know curry is probably not on the list of sensible choices for endurance nutrition, even making the assumption that there is sure to be some protein in there...and with rice being a carbohydrate!

I have to say too...there is a small downside.  I've just been for a run. Six hours after lunch I have just korma burped myself around Maraetai, not something I want to repeat in a hurry.

Kate Writes: riding home from the airport

I've had a bit of a quiet week with friends from England staying. So how was I going to fit in my long bike ride? I had a cunning plan... lets drop them off at the airport and ride home. Well anyone who knows where I live will know that is madness. But so what! Off I went on my bike. The computer did not work so I had no idea what I was doing. Then it started to rain and I was only in Manurewa, a long way from home. I did think of ringing the husband up and getting him to pick me up but then Taupo is only next week! The rain stopped and I felt better. 2 hours into the ride I was miserable, I hated riding, what did I think I was doing? 3 hours into the ride the sun was out, I was dry and warm and realised I could ride all the way home. I knew I was mad but hey why not. 90km home and off for a drink with some friends. From my house, which is on the Manukau Harbour I can see the airport, its a long way to ride, but now that I have done it maybe I can ride to work or home from work...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Karen writes: Grumpy customer

The Taupo cycle challenge is next week so it is time for the pre-race sort out of muscles and ligaments and things, try to knock off a few of the aches which accumulate as the training mileage goes I booked (I thought) online for a sports massage.  Now I have been going to these people for a while and love what they do, I don't love their booking service, it seems looking back that almost every appointment I have ever made with them has been messed up by messages being wrongly recorded, something not transferred across from a scrap of paper to the computer, there's been a double-up and I have even managed to make an online booking with a therapist on a day they didn't even work.   I got annoyed (privately) this time, huff...running out of time...grump... thought I had organised my life...whinge....I'd rearranged the training schedule to have time off...grizzle...picking the girls up late...blah blah...and the upshot of it is I need some body maintenance done and it's not happening.

So once I had recovered from my sulking I asked around for recommendations.  I have learned from experience that its not smart to let just anyone to mess around with my muscles when, as currently is the case, they are a tad overstressed.  Importantly too, there isn't much time to recover if anything ends up worse than it started, and that can happen.    I made the phonecall.  Sorry, no can do.   Someone else...nope, full up.   Sports massage people are really busy!

I have had to swallow my pride, and go back to the original crowd and book a session for Friday, hoping I wont be too sore for the 100km bikeride on Saturday morning (and that the ride wont undo any good done by the massage).  I shall be EXTREMELY miffed if an email arrives over the next couple of days to say "sorry, we forgot the clinic does other things on the day you have booked", or "we are getting the roof replaced this Friday".

Perhaps there is more than some inept customer service going on here, I am at the pointy end of one stage of a long training programme, a little tired maybe...this has been going on for a large proportion of a year after all...and I'm ready to take any excuse to throw an enjoyable paddy.  I still feel like finding someone new though...but will most definitely figure that one out with more than 10 days to go before the next race!

Actually, I suspect it is more likely that I shall go to my appointment on Friday with no hitches, come out feeling absolutely wonderful, and forget what I was grumpy about.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Karen writes: We have donations!

Fundraiseonline has safely deposited donations received up to now in the DPT bank account, monies we are collecting for the workers taking care of people with diabetes in earthquake recovering Christchurch.  Thankyou so much to those who have made a donation!  I thought it was pretty brave of Kate to say to her friends and family “please donate in lieu of a birthday present” too, I’m just selfishly glad my birthday doesn’t fall in the timezone so I don’t have to make that decision...with young children I'd end up making donations to myself!

When doing something like this, there are two big fears, one is failing, and we have set ourselves multiple tasks we can potentially fail at right up to the big one on March 3 next year (not that we are going to of course!).  But also we had the fear that we may end up raising a grand total of $12.50 for our colleagues in Christchurch, which was just too awful to think about.  Anyway, I am pleased to say that we have well exceeded $12.50 already thanks to your generosity… we have a way to go however...

What has been nicest though have been the messages of support and encouragement which have come with the donations. It is terrific knowing there are people out there (especially since the comments facility STILL doesn’t work reliably, try if you want to make contact) who are behind us, and sharing our slightly unconventional journey to Ironman.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Kate Writes: wet suit

The time had arrived and the wet suit came out! Had it shrunk, would it still fit? I have lost weight so I was very concerned. It started raining so I put off the swim, then the sun came out , so I just had to go out for a swim. The wet suit fitted perfectly. Got in the water and forgot how to swim! My friend Rachel arrived with the rescue boat, and 2 helpers. I'm sure that there are sharks and sting ray, but with a little help from my friends I had a good swim. Now I have to do more of it.

Karen writes: Whanau Sunday

I took my 8yo daughter for a short run tonight, when she gets a bit fitter she will leave me for dust, right now she is speedy, I'm wily.  One trouble I find with having a heavy training commitment is that it takes extra effort to motivate and encourage the girls, I feel quite guilty about how often I don’t have the energy or time.   Today I was wiped out after yesterday’s big ride so I didn’t get out for my long run this morning, that meant the bonus of having enough energy to take Rose for a short run before dinner… I always enjoy sharing something like that with her, I always promise myself we should do it more regularly.  

So we came home, my girl bright red and huffing and holding her chest after 10 minutes of ducking and diving, big feet, small feet flying through the bush, but she was claiming to want to do it again, I was feeling like a proud mum.   Then it was a feed of scallops and crayfish caught this morning.   I ate the scallops, I listened to the crayfish being crickcracked and no amount of telling myself that I just wont find better protein was going to make me eat that stuff.   Yes, I am an ungrateful philistine.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Kate Writes: training in Rotoura

Well the title sounds good. Sounds like I was at the lake. No I was on holiday with friends. I decided to try and swim in the pool. 10 strokes and I reached the other end. Still I carried on and 100 lengths later I felt I had done something. I also soaked in the hot mineral pools. They must be good for the ankle.

Karen writes: Longest ride before Taupo

128km on the bike this morning, that's the longest ride on the programme before the Taupo challenge which is now 2 weeks away.   Early start, beautiful day.   I took an olfactory tour of the backroads of south-east Auckland.   Funny, I have limited sense of smell, but on the bike I get everything.   Pungent but inoffensive rural tractor, privet flowers, gorse, mown grass, turned dirt.  Past the airport there was avgas, warming tarmac, the fresh smell of light rain.  Closer to Takanini though the deep drains on the side of the road wafted stagnant fumes, with suspicious hints of corruption, I followed the exhaust of too many vehicles, rode through smoke and inhaled unidentified chemical smells.    

Home feeling fine, but the legs might not be up to the usual Sunday run.  Just been up the road to pick up the 5yo from a party.  I talked to some other mums, my conversation is very boring, it usually ends up something to do with the days/weeks exercise efforts or what next planned event is.   But what else to talk about…I’m immersed in the stuff, saturated and marinated in it, inevitably exercise is the thing uppermost in my mind.   

Friday, 11 November 2011

Karen writes: The morning after...

When will I learn?  I need to sneak up on fitness with patience, not leap on it and wrestle it into submission like I did with yesterday’s energetic swim.   I’m seriously stiff this morning, there are muscles protesting which I didn’t even realise I had in my arms and shoulders, and even my stomach and sides hurt!    

But I am pretty happy.  I have no worries now about the swim part of the half Ironman in 5 (!) weeks time.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Karen writes: Think I'm hooked

Oh no, swimming could be my new favourite exercise, I did 2km in the Otara pool this afternoon which was an excellent antidote to a seriously brain draining workday.  In the first 20 minutes I worked with the hand paddles and no kicking, then flippers with no arm use, but then I started on some freestyle, planning on completing a further 10 lengths. Next thing I was powering through the water feeling great for a further 40 lengths.  I didn’t want to get out of the water,  probably would have kept going to see how far I could manage if the girls hadn’t been waiting to be picked up from after-school care…funny that.  Now given my complaint has always been that "swimming is so boring", that is one BIG change for me! 

Tomorrow is another challenging day for work but it is an essential rest day from exercise.  On Saturday I have the dreaded 130km bikeride programmed, and if I can manage, a run on Sunday.    The weekend weather forecast says ‘partly cloudy’, so I can’t look for an excuse to get out of it in that direction.   It will be an early start, lots of water and marmite sandwiches, and over 5 hours on the road…

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Kate Writes:last day at school

Yesterday was the last day at school for my beautiful 17 year old daughter. A little tear was in my eye when she was on the stage singing the school song with all her Heart. This I will not see again.It seems strange how fast time goes by and not that long ago she was a new born. This reminds me of how far I have come. 6 years ago, I think, I started with a special K triathlon, could not swim 300m as it was too shallow and people walked faster than I could swim.I could not run 3 km. Now I say its only 2k swim and its only a half marathon. How life has changed. I  wish all students and their families well over the next few weeks and exam time. May the future hold wonderful exciting things for them all.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Karen writes: I feel like I am at last swimming!

Its not often I say this, but I had an enjoyable pool session this morning.  1500 metres, mostly freestyle (or using flippers/no arms or paddles/no legs).   I had been a bit worried and thinking I would have to do the entire 2km of the half Ironman with my inefficient mishmash of alternating strokes, but I think the 'aha' moment has at last arrived.   Kate…well…she would appear to be part-fish…slicing through that water and leaving me waaay behind.

Now it is unfortunately time to swim self pity as we admit defeat.  Diabetes Projects Trust has lost the coveted Golden Croc with the Mangere Eye clinic people having outdone us on the Feetbeat challenge. We have had to officially hand the trophy over.  Unfortunately Kate and myself have had a bit of a detrimental effect on the team totals, we spend all our long training hours swimming and running and cycling, but not walking which is what counts for Feetbeat.  Next year we will just have to win it back, well done Mangere Eye clinic team!
Kate presents Mangere Eye Clinic Team members with the DPT Trophy for the 2011 Feetbeat Challengee

Monday, 7 November 2011

Karen writes: Problem solving for upset stomach

After a poor start, last week has turned out a success.   On Friday afternoon I had my longest training ride ever, 113km, and followed it up with a pretty good19km run on Sunday morning.  Most importantly, I think I have now figured out what has been upsetting my stomach in recent months, my GP has been testing for everything from Guardia to much more sinister options…but I have done some experimenting this weekend and think I have sorted things.

Anyway, the previous weekend after the 101km ride and 20km run things weren't good, my insides felt dreadful, and I took a few days to recover.  I have felt like this before, but usually only after a big event, like the half ironman last year.   Looking back on the weekend, I had done a few things which were out of the ordinary in order to meet what I had guessed were the needs of the extended training distances.  I had taken a bottle of undiluted sports drink on the bike, and used two different types of energy supplements (bars and gels) over that 4 hours of quite hard riding.   

This weekend I had even greater distances planned, and didn’t want a repeat of the previous experience, so I did some talking and looked for advice online.  There is a heap written about stomach problems, lots of suggestions, for example see what Runners world has to say on ‘runners gut’.   Of course my Coast to Coast friend said..."ditch the V".     In looking at what to eat the day before the planned exercise, ok, I couldnt argue, I had to get rid of the V, and reduce the less digestible foods.   Then on the bikeride itself, the sports drink was replaced with water again and more of it.   I also got rid of the new, nicer flavoured energy supplements in favour of the tried and true, which I had previously given up on because I was so sick of the taste.  This taste thing is actually more important than it sounds, when you are in a long event, getting tired and battling with your mind to keep your body moving, it is a real mission to swallow something which you don’t fancy the taste of, your mouth can be dry and the stuff sticks, the taste lingers, yuck.    On the bike I also had the old favourite, white bread marmite sandwiches instead of the yummy chocolate flavoured bars, and focused on taking more water, I also stopped and stretched occasionally hoping to help blood flow.   Before the run I went back to weetbix which has been my long term pre-running breakfast but I ate it 3 hours beforehand and concentrated on again taking enough water with the supplement during the run.   Voila, longer distance, more hours on the road, no problems this time!

So I have tired legs today, but feeling much relieved that I didn’t manage to duplicate my problems of the week before, it’s a strange and seemingly endless process of fueling, adapting and learning how your body copes with the increasing workload.   I keep thinking about that old science test, if you stick a frog in hot water it dies, if you heat the water up gradually it adapts…I feel just like that frog being slowly heated up!      

Kate Writes: clothing

It is obviously the right topic to talk about equipment. I went to the bike shop, Cycle city in Manukau, to get my bike serviced. We had a good talk about the gears and yes they are the right ones, I already have the go faster ones on! I had a new chain and all cleaned up, ready to go. I spoke to Jess and she helped me out with some new shorts. In the changing room getting loads of different pairs shown to me. All very expensive. One pair came in and I looked at the size. A size 8 !  No they would not fit, but she said try them on. They fitted and I just had to have them. When I started this journey I was a large size 16, I'm not really an 8, more of a 12, but its great fun showing off. I bought 2 new pairs of shorts and was given a good discount. Then we moved on to nutrition and bought a couple of bars and will try some whey drink product. Its about trying new things and seeing if they work.
I went out that night with my new shorts on. They were very shiny and need to be worn in. I went home and put the old ones in the bin. Its hard to let go of good friends.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Karen writes: Being tough on equipment

I couldn’t find my favourite running watch for several days.  I found it yesterday morning when I went to hang the washing out, who knows how it ended up in the washing machine, thank goodness it seems to have lived up to the manufacturers claims of ‘toughness’.   Just had to empty the handy little lipdip thingy out, shows that the stuff is waterproof anyway.   I quickly checked that the girls didn’t see that bit of carelessness, I would be cross with them if they did the same thing!

Looking back at this blog and seeing frequent references to how this or that hasn’t worked, something has been busted, worn-out, or misplaced, it would appear that equipment has a hard life around me.  Of course there was that big failure, the spin bike, then expensive bits needing replacement on the road bike recently, not much I could have done about those.    But on a smaller scale, the everyday cycle clothing ends up with grease on it, running tops get ‘pilled’ from the camel-pac which is also looking battered, my tri-pants usually have a mend somewhere,  socks quickly go from white to brown, shoes don’t stay pristine for long, and yet another set of swim goggles has been consigned to the ‘use in emergency’ category.

I think (in my defense)...drumroll at this point...the shortened lifespan of equipment cant just be blamed on me being unusually rough on it, the fact that so much more distance is being covered these days, at a faster pace, must surely have a part to play.  

So in the quest to be a real endurance athlete, this month’s resolution was made to respect my equipment more.   Getting rid of the grottier items of clothing first off, and better maintaining the good stuff is a start, but most important will be an inspection of the bike before every ride, a lube of the moving parts, and at least occasional cleans.

Anyway, I took a few hours leave yesterday afternoon to go for the 110k cycle ride the training plan specified.   I checked the moving bits on my bike, no, none of them wiggled inappropriately, I greased the chain.   I looked down at my pristine white arm protectors, what do you know, I'd greased them, and my leg too.  Cant win.

The ride was pretty good.   It felt long, very very long.