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.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Kate Writes: Ride out

I was very concerned about a ride out with my spin group. What if they ride too fast for me, what if I look foolish, what if I get left behind. Its all in my mind, I need to believe in myself. It was a glorious evening, sun shining and off we went. 12 riders. I've never ridden in a pack like this before. Up and down rolling country side we went. I was at the back but it did not matter. I was so excited it was so much fun.  We rode down to the Otaua flats and started drafting. Each of us taking it in turn. Clive was very encouraging, shouting at me get on the back of the wheel KATE. After the first 5 minutes I was thoroughly enjoying myself. It was like a cat and mouse game, changing position all the time going so fast. We clocked up 40km. I checked my computer and I had done 24.5km an hour. I was bouncing up and down, I have never ridden that fast before. I'm sitting here in the early morning writing this up. I should be going out for a 5 hour ride today, but the legs feel heavy, I know last night was a good ride and if I only do a few hours today it was well worth missing the long ride for the fun of last night. Thank you to all the riders.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Karen writes: How we started triathlon - Special K

A very long time ago, someone suggested that the Diabetes Projects Trust put a team in for the 2005 Special K women's entry level triathlon held in Auckland.  This was touted as being the biggest event of it's kind in the Southern Hemisphere.   The Special K brand disappeared from the triathlon scene shortly afterwards (there have been other incarnations), but it is I am sure an amazing memory for many women in New Zealand.  I still see the t’shirt around occasionally, obviously being worn for sentimental reasons by people who would appear to have come a long way on their personal endurance journeys from that original event.

For me, it was the first organised event I had participated in in more than 20 years, and certainly my first ever triathlon effort.  I think it was around a 300m swim, a 10km bikeride, and a 3km run along the Auckland city waterfront.    I was overweight, desperately unfit, and as the working mother of an 18 month old daughter I was struggling to keep up with the pace of my life.

The preparation was something we all got caught up in, having a common impossible goal was great.   We had emails going backwards and forwards sharing embarrassing photos, hilarious discussions about trying to buy suitable clothing, we agonised about our training (or lack of), dissected our nutrition (it was Christmas... cake and chocolate featured heavily), monitored our hydration (dietitian Helen did tell us that we had to drink plenty of water before rewarding ourselves with alcohol), and our equipment desires as opposed to what we actually had was cause for much consternation.    It was such a HUGE thing for most of us, we even ended up running a mock event one workday around the streets of Otara which went a long way towards allaying the almost paralysing anxiety some of us were feeling.  

The race day dawned early, we had taken our bikes into town the night before and had our numbers marked on our arms, this was a bit of a mission for some of us who lived outside Auckland.  There were literally thousands of women and their supporters in the same situation, the excitement (and terror) was palpable, every shape, size, level of fitness, and age was represented.  We stood in that cool early morning air, surrounded by others wedged into long-unused swimsuits, clutching unfamiliar goggles, and were released in waves with many walk/swimming the impossibly long seeming 300 metres.  Walkers overtook me while I attempted to swim, I gave up on my inept efforts and swim walked too and can still feel that squishy Mission Bay mud between my toes.  Salty thousands then clambered onto their assorted bikes (mine was an ancient rusty mountain bike with only a few functioning gears) and pedalled off with wobbly gusto.  There were people on the side of the road cheering, children everywhere, and this extraordinary enthusiasm pushed women to extend their own limits.   I remember feeling the same way starting off running (chest closing up, legs feeling funny) after finishing that 10km cycle as I do now after 90km.  One side story of particular note was a team member who only learned to ride a bike in the weeks immediately before the event, she went from hesitant pedalling round the office carpark, to cycling her 10km on the road and she came home a triathlete.
Swim to bike transition, I'm 2nd from the right
Coming over that finish line was massive, probably bigger than anything I have achieved since, even bigger than the first marathon.   I remember us all in a state of fear that someone hadn’t finished, where were they, we were so proud of ourselves but how could we celebrate if one of our own wasn’t sharing it?  Then the relief that we had all finished and shock as it sank in as to what we had achieved.   On the way home, and I have never done this since, I was so shattered I fell asleep in the passenger seat of the car.  After what was less than an hour of exercise in total!

So it is all relative.   To all those DPT team members who started their exercise journey with Special K, some have taken things further, and there are some for whom that event was as far as they wanted to go, but what an extraordinary thing you all did.   I look back at the photos and it seems like such a long time ago now and I certainly didn't even imagine back then that we were on a path to something much larger. Thankyou for that amazing experience, I'm still proud of it today.

2005 DPT Special K Team - Eileen, Gina, Helen, Jennie, Judy, Karen, Kate, Miria, Trish and Sara...and of course their supporters who got them through it!

Kate Writes: lung busters

I swim with a great group on Friday mornings. Last session we were doing lung busters. If you do not know what they are, its when you swim a length of the pool under water. We do it with flippers and can do free style or butterfly legs. I'm a bit of a woos and can only do just over half a length. But Jarrad our coach says to me its all in you head, get you head around it. Believe in your self. Well I waited whilst I watched everyone else do it. Greg, who's also doing Ironman, did 2 and a half lengths... I was just getting ready, deep breath before I pushed off and Greg shouted go iron women! well that was enough of an encouragement, I swam hard out and got to the other end, panting, but no one was watching my great achievement as one of the other girls went further than Greg. I must remember its not all about ME!   

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Kate Writes: what a difference a day makes

Saturday it rained and I went home after 1hour and a half. Sunday I got up to sunshine and off I went for my 4 hour ride. I carefully put sunblock on and up the hill I went. Then down a hill and then what seemed like hill after hill. It was a great day out. Lost the plot after a couple of hours changed direction and started riding with the view of the Manukau harbour. Wow that looked good. Was not concentrating enough and did my 4 hours but not much mileage. At least it was time in the seat. When I got to work the next day everyone commented on the sun burned ankles and the little strip of skin the peeked out from my sleeve. I must be more careful. Roll on next week 5 hours ride...