Monday, 31 December 2012

Karen writes: End of 2012

I'm pretty happy to see the end of 2012, it's had some high points and they have been pretty high, its had its low points, nuf said.  

2013, the important question of course is not whether or not we will be Ironmen, but where to put the tattoo afterwards?

Anyway, the normally outside dog has snuck inside and is quivering under the sofa so fireworks celebrations must started. I hope everyone has an excellent New Year and cant say thankyou enough for all the support, advice, and good thoughts in 2012.

Karen writes: Starting points

Now it is a difficult sort of decision I am faced with right now.  Do I get serious today, Monday, first day of a new week, or tomorrow, Tuesday, first day of the new year?   Being an expert procrastinator I find no real resolution works for me unless it starts on a Monday, but...its New years day tomorrow, doesn't that mean I  should take advantage of today being the last slack day of the old year?  I read Kate's blog, she is being serious about her training, but then her coach is tougher on her than mine is on me...well, my coach is me...I'm notoriously soft.

I was actually quite pleased with myself having done a pleasant 50km ride in the wind this morning, until I read that Kate had done twice that.  But in my defence I did have an equipment failure, I was riding through Clevedon on the way out on the only patch of smooth tarseal in the district and I became aware of a funny kerthump (technical term) sensation coming from the back of the bike, I stopped and had a look, couldn't see anything so kept going.  Then I hit the rough new tarseal again and I was so busy getting the grdgrdgrdgrd (another technical term) feeling from the whole bike that I no longer noticed the kerthump... so I stopped worrying about it.   On the way back, the kerthump was much stronger, and I wondered about a flat tyre, it turned out there was a big bulge out the side of the rear tyre.  Hmmm, roadside tube change?  Nope, the tyre was still fully inflated and I was a bit worried that if I interfered I might find I couldn't get the tyre to sit right again so I let some air out and mentally chewed my nails for the 15km ride home.  Home, tube ok, tyre knackered, an urgent trip into the bikeshop in Botany was needed as I couldn't face the idea of not cycling for days as I know I am already behind with bike training.  Verdict from the bike-shop man...knackered, funny that. So I now have a very smart looking new bike tyre.

As it is crunch time tomorrow for resolutions, I will most definitely-probably-possibly-maybe start training properly again then.  The programme for Tuesday 1 January 2013 says AM Swim and PM run....oh...actually I feel like a bikeride, perhaps I could start properly next Monday?

Sunday, 30 December 2012

kate writes: things we buy when out on the bike

My Challenge this week was to meet my targets with training. Sunday was a 4hour bike ride! the Daughter woke me at 5.30, as she was off to work to say it was not raining and I should get on my bike. 10 minutes later the heavens opened and down came the rain so I just pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep. When I woke at 8am it was a lovely day and so a quick breakfast and off to Waiuku for a ride.
I have a nice route that I like that takes in the back roads of Waiuku, about 20k into the ride I turn off to Otaua, long straight road. Saw a lady riding in an orange jumper. I thought that would be nice if it was my friend Barbara, who is also doing Ironman and it was. Great to have company and off we went. Much more fun with a friend. We went down to the mine with the wind behind us and then back up to Patamahoe.
By this time we had run out of water. So the shopping in the corner shop was- 2 bottles of coke, 1 bottle of water, 1 bottle of power aid, bag of lollies a banana and a tub of Vaseline! we did look like a funny pair. Barbara was doing 140k and I only had to do 4 hours so off home I went completing the ride in 4hrs 15minutes and 92 k under my belt. wow I'm tired, I have a lot more training to do :)

Friday, 28 December 2012

Karen writes: Defeated the Lion range again

I headed off for my Christmas hike over the Lion range (from Bream Head to Busby Head) then a run back to Mt Manaia with a degree of trepidation.  I’m carrying several injuries, the knee was worrying me most, I was planning around 5 hours with some very serious climbing, I kept asking myself was that a silly thing to do, or was I just getting on with what needed to be done?

Anyway, headed along Ocean beach with the sun just bathing the ocean, the surfers were up early and out sitting on their boards waiting to catch a wave.  Up the hill towards the WW2 radar station is a slow slog, before I got there though I found myself climbing into the low cloud, what clammy enervating stuff that was, I stayed wet for another 2 hours of up and down and couldn’t see more than a few meters ahead.  I must have been the first person along the track, my face and arms collected the spider webs strung across the track and I kept expecting to catch the spiders too but fortunately didn't, perhaps they were still asleep.  I could feel my worries dropping away as I hiked, there were stunningly beautiful sights, like the lush ferns, soft mosses on the rocks, and streaks of sunlight catching...yes...those spider webs.

At Peach cove the sun at last came out, but almost as quickly went away as I climbed up the next hill, here came the cloud again.  Standing on the ridges, not being able to see what I knew were massive drops to the sea, with the streaky white stuff blowing past made me feel like I was alone in a very strange world.

The last hill heading for Smugglers cove turned out to be hot, it was also dry underfoot which was a nice change.  It was also a bit of an obstacle course with work being done on the track, the path was blocked by building supplies for constructing steps which must have been dropped by helicopter, and I got myself into trouble trying to go around a big bag of bits. I went between two small trees down a steep slope, and planning on using them to swing around the obstacle, instead my feet slid out from under me and I ended up with the trees catching me under the arms.  I lay on the ground getting my breath back, hung up on these two dratted trees and cried.  It hurt and with my existing shoulder problem, I had a few moments of terror that I might have done more damage.
But I got up, stretched and went on, no more accidents, no more spider webs, no more clouds, but lots of heat, the temperature got up to 27 degrees in Whangarei today and I related to that as I plodded out one step after another on the hot tarseal back to my parents place.

I’ve been putting ice on my shoulder and protesting knee, they feel a little stressed but they did have to work hard today.  I feel like I’m probably as fit as I was this time last year, that bit of reassurance gives me more confidence, but unlike last year I do to be more careful with these injuries.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Kate writes: Christmas presents

Its been a different Christmas for many reasons, but what is always good about Christmas is the presents :) . There was a theme this year. From my nieces a bedside light with tinker bell in it that lights up and from my friend Karen fairy lights. They both have special meanings and I cried when I opened them both. My daughter gave me a charm for my bracelet with a pink ribbon on, symbolising breast Cancer awareness. My Mum has been recently diagnosed with Cancer and its a reminder to enjoy every day. My Sister , who is away in the UK seeing mum, also gave me a charm of a heart with a koru on it.   Friends and family are very special and we need to let them know.
I was out on my bike this morning in the rain! and 2 little boys shouted at me did you get your bike for Christmas, so I shouted back of course Santa was good to me. They laughed and told me that they also had new bikes. Its amazing what conversations you have even when out on your bike.
Karen said that she was not doing much trainning whilst away up north, but I've just read her blog... better get out and do some serious training, after all its not long to go now!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Karen writes: The spectre of last year

Up north for Christmas with the whanau.  As usual it has been lovely to spend time with the my folks, brother, the niece and nephew.  Of course I have eaten far too much, not as bad as Christmas celebrations can be, but that little bit of trifle, a little bit of pav, a little bit of jelly, a little bit of cream...a little bit of each different type of chocolate revealed in everyone's presents...fresh plums, cherries, several khaki coloured cupcakes with splodges of green icing which were put together by the girls as this years version of a Christmas cake, all this can stack up on top of the healthiest of dinners.  And if you don't eat everything, there are leftovers to come so you just shift the problem.

When I am here I like to run up my mum and dad's garden ornament, a small mountain called Manaia.  Usually I do it most days and push a bit, but this time I am pacing myself, my dodgy knee keeps reminding me that I should be a bit careful on the hills, both up and down.  Especially since I have the high point of my training year coming up, a hike from Bream Head to Urquharts bay, which takes me well over 3 hours on a good day, then the run back home is another 50 minutes or so. I love this track, Christmas wouldn't seem the same if I couldn't do it.  Ironman has a bit to answer for, usually I would tackle these challenges without worrying too much, this time I'm feeling paranoid, is my knee hurting more than usual?  Is that a twinge somewhere else? What happens if I get the ITB problem back by doing too much hill work? I really dont want to do serious damage with only 9 weeks to go.  There is also the fact that if I cant do as much racing up and down the mountains as I did last year, how do I tell if I am as fit as I was then?

So where I am with training...I took last week off completely after the Rotorua half Ironman.  Sunday I had a pleasant 10km run with the Te Puru runners breaking in new running shoes but feeling a bit sluggish.  Monday a steamy 18km run along the waterfront on the Whangarei heads, Tuesday and today a trip up Mt Manaia (rain one day, hot the next).

Now running is good, its also all I can do without a bike on hand.  I could swim I guess, but there is my unreasonable reluctance to go in the big water which I see as being host to too many things with teeth.  The trouble is that I know that the cycle and swim are where I would better invest my limited time and energy, and sadly that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Kate Writes: Holidays

Its my first break from work in a long time. What shall I do? Train of course! but the storms coming so I can not go out on the bike. So off I went to see Norma for my feet and eyebrows to be done. I mean to say I must go faster with red toe nails. Training will start tomorrow :)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Kate writes: Poker run !

I had never been on a poker run before, so it was a new experience for me. We could run or bike. Well its only 4 days since the half, so I thought biking would be the best option. There were only 4 of us on the ride and about 10 runners. The bikers were fast or me that's slow. We rode for 10k and picked up a card, then again another 10 k and another card. the last two stops were with the run group so were not very far. It was a fun way to spend a few hours and took away the pain of the legs. But today the legs feel better so maybe it was for the best.
I did not win anything at the poker though.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Karen writes: Don't!

DON'T... put a banana skin in a cycle shirt pocket on a hot day while bike-riding, then leave the shirt in a plastic box in the sun for hours, then pack the box into a car for a day, then get home and leave the box to be sorted out later...just don't!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Kate writes: trials and tribulations of a half

Well what can I write about the weekend. It was Hard, Hot and Hilly.

Swim: the water was still the buoys were big and I had a great swim. 48 mins a minute slower than last year but no panic attacks felt good.

Bike: Weather hot, had a nice ride out, thought I was doing OK at 24k an hour for the first part out around the lake, then the hills and lack of energy. I had gels and sandwiches but no caffeine, maybe that's the problem!  Came over a hill and loads of little rocks on the road, thought I was going to fall but no, still on the bike. There were 10 bikes behind me but no one in front. It can be quite lonely out there. I averaged 22k on the way home. But it was hilly! Not happy with that, need to work on food intake and drink and keep the speed up. 4 hrs and 9 mins - 11 mins slower than last year.

Run: By now the sun was up. I had drunk all my water 3 bottles and had a 4th bottle of hot water to drink at transition. I really did not want to run! I walked up the first hill, drank more water, had caffeine gel. Ran into the bush, that was nice and cooling. I was at the back of the pack but there were people in front of me, people to catch and pass! But had I missed the turn off. No worries I thought, I will just go around the lake 4 times if that's the case. But no, I had not missed it and off I went downhill!  Not expecting that, a very long down hill run. Found my running streak and off I went. The road went on and on. I had lost my Hanky and had to sniff the rest of the race. I love my Hanky I hate the uncouth people that do not use one! But still the run must continue. The views were amazing, I had time to stop and look. I was wondering how I could get out of doing this run! It was hot and I was tired. I know I thought to myself if someone else collapses in front of me I will have to do the nursey thing and stop and look after them! Well the next thing I knew was severe pain in my left ankle as I rolled it. I was in the middle of a desert. Bad language came out of my mouth. It really hurt *#*#.  I tentatively put my foot down and it was OK but if I ran on uneven ground it hurt. OK I will just have to watch out. Serves me right for wishing bad things on others. There was water at the far end of the road and I drank loads. It was a long run to the next water stop. As I ran onto the lakefront again I saw a friend in the ambulance. I stopped to check if she was OK and found two other friends looking after her. Dehydration and a cold had got to her. I'm surprised that there was not more people with dehydration as  it was very hot. Last lap and into the finish with a time of 2 hrs 40 mins - 4 mins FASTER than last year. Well I do not know how that happened, hated the run, well actually the walk,  but still, over all not a bad day.

Total time 7 hrs 39 mins. 9 Mins slower than last year but on a totally different course.

Today I am sore and having a second day off. I did have a bruise on my ankle , battle scar but its gone today. Back to training tomorrow. I promise :)

Karen writes: Surviving the 2012 Rotorua Ironman

Home, washing machine churning, suitcases being unpacked a piece at a time, sports gear box still unopened until I feel much braver.

The event, wow that was so HARD!  The new course turned out to have a few more hills, great big ones and the run was a nice bush track which was also noticeably (read 'hilly')...than previously, and throw in the wonderful sunshine especially down in the still gullys it was a kinda warm, enervating experience.

We stayed in a neat old two story house in the heart of Rotorua as we have in previous years, it has lots of rooms and the kids enjoy the freedom of all that space after living in a shoebox sized house (less housework I always say) for the rest of the year.  Is it my imagination or does Rotorua have a lot of cockroaches? I've been evicting them from various boxes and there was even one which traveled to work with me on the car bonnet this morning.  Anyway, the night before the event we had a lovely Thai dinner, early night, early start, bikes were dismantled and wedged in the back of Kate's tiny car and we headed off into a spectacular misty morning before the rest of the sane world woke up.

Swimming in lake Tikitapu was a dream, how was I ever so nervous last year that I had panic attacks when I put my head in the water?  The 2km went very quickly, I felt like I could have kept on going which is very reassuring since I have done barely any training in this discipline this year because of the shoulder problems.  I struggled to see the marker buoys and probably covered more distance than I needed to, but was pretty happy with a 47 minute swim, better than last year.

Then we get to the bike leg.  Got out of the water, smooth transition, the weather was so nice there was none of the usual worrying about what clothes to wear so it was shirt/hat/arm covers/gloves/socks and shoes/helmet on and off straight into the first big hill.  Then I got down the bottom of the hill to the main road where there is a roundabout and the marshal said "right round the roundabout", I wasn't sure what she was saying so I made a circle gesture and said "RIGHT round the whole thing?" and she said yes.  I thought perhaps I had gotten some sort of penalty (why?) so instead of getting off onto the road to the airport I went completely round till I was going back the way I came and by this time Kate came along and the marshals were yelling at me but eventually I got back to where I was meant to be swearing at myself and muttering about being too early to be thinking straight.

The rest of the ride was lots of grinding, part of the cycle route had changed so we had an out and back along part of the Rotorua marathon route, when you are running up those hills they don't seem nearly as big but cycling them, wow.  Also there was an add-on once we got back to the start, we had to keep on going for another 5km and that took us through more BIG hills. It also got a bit tricky trying to maintain a 10 metre space between you and the next rider when some people slow right down to a crawl on the hills, so you end up really taxing the legs overtaking to maintain that gap otherwise you risk going so slow you fall off. I took 4 hours 4 on the bike ride, nearly 12 minutes slower than last year.  I felt a bit sorry for some of the people who were doing the shorter distance Contact triathlons, you usually expect the courses to be relatively conservative for those, I cant imagine people training for a 20km ride would be doing it in that sort of terrain and I saw some people really struggling.

The run, another quick transition, off on wobbly legs and I was joined by B who we know from work.  It was a challenge that run. I could feel my energy leeching out as I went along and my heart was thudding in my ears and when I let myself have the traditional drink of coke in the last half hour it gave me a pep-up but also made me feel too sick to keep drinking water. B and I talked much of the way and he kindly pretended he needed to slow down too when I gave up on pretty much every rise of more than a few metres long, so it was as social and enjoyable 21km as I have had in a long time. The impressive thing was that B had only decided to do his first half IM a few days previously but you wouldn't be able to tell that, amazing effort and thanks heaps B, the company made a tough half marathon much less onerous!

It is a bit hard to tell if you have done better or worse when a course has changed radically, I am trying to convince myself that the 12 minutes slower than last time was due to the more difficult terrain and the heat, but who can really tell.  I was very happy with the swim, the rest was ok, and I feel a little tired today but nothing hurts so life goes on as normal.  Ironman here we come!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Karen writes: 2 days before Rotorua half IM

I looked at the training plan, I looked at what I did last week, what do you think, was there the remotest bit of resemblance between what I was meant to do and what actually happened? Um, nope.

Last week I took Monday OFF training, Tuesday 1500m swim and 60km bikeride, Wednesday OFF because of an evening meeting (I could have had a morning swim but found excuses not not wanting to smell like a swimming pool and mess my hair up...yes...pathetic), Thursday 50 minute read on the spinbike, Friday OFF, Saturday 2km swim, Sunday 19km run.  Being my own coach I have to ask "where did 3 days off come from, they weren't in the plan?" and "what happened to the 'brick' or back-to-back sessions which were?"

This week, Monday OFF, Tuesday 50km bikeride, Wednesday 8km reluctant run, today...a short sea swim. That makes 3 training sessions out of the scheduled 6 and not one was the right amount.  Oops.

Tonight is is decision making time because for triathlon you need a heap of stuff for the 3 disciplines but there is also the 'this cycleshirt, or that one' aspect, will it be hot (probably), will we hit wind (possibly) or rain (unlikely), who has made off with my favourite socks, to wear tri-shorts or...gulp...penguin suit, oh just pack a variety of everything.

List of essential triathlon equipment to pack:
  • bike
  • pump/tools/chain lube
  • various assorted bike bits like computer, foodbag, underseat bag with spare tubes etc
  • drink bottles x 2 - not my favourites though, they get swapped at drink stations.
  • box with lid to put transition stuff in
  • running shoes and socks (preferably in matched sets)
  • running shirt
  • running hat
  • sunglasses x 2
  • cycle shoes and socks
  • helmet
  • arm covers
  • cycle shirt (this blue one or that blue one?)
  • gloves
  • jacket (because I am paranoid no matter how good the weather forecast is)
  • towel for drying off after swim, try to put tight clothes on when soaking wet and see what I mean
  • fuelbelt with gels, sticking plasters, panadol, and tabs to put race number on
  • drink bottle x 1 - for swim to bike transition and recovery
  • wetsuit
  • swim cap and goggles (x 2)
  • tri-pants (or penguin suit)
  • sports bra - not the grotty one as it will be visible getting changed
  • waterproof watch with lip-dip
  • anti-chafe - chamois cream and wetsuit anti-chafe
  • sunscreen - waterproof, highest protection factor around
  • leg band for transponder
  • breakfast ingredients - rice porridge/rice milk
  • extra nutrition - white bread/marmite/honey, gels
  • entry details for registration
  • roller to prevent/treat tight ITB
Just as well the family isn't any bigger, there wouldn't be any room in the car for them with all my sports junk!

Kate Writes: illness

I have a cold. Its lasted at least a week. Very little training has gone on. I now believe that I can not swim, the bike has disappeared into the garden and running has got to be a joke! Well that's how I feel. But tomorrow I need to pack for Rotorua half Ironman. the brain has got to get back into the I can do mode. The sunshine is helping, but then again will it be too hot! Watch this space.....

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Karen writes: Vegetarian

I am a carnivore.  I have over the years had various 'goes' at being a vegetarian, but having usually taken the easiest route I tended to make my health worse rather than better.  I also came to terms with the fact that not having had the moral or philosophical drive to permanently swap such cultural treasures as bacon, roast beef, and cottage pie for tofu and lentils meant that the non-meat eating discipline was never likely to become a way of life for me.

My most recent effort was a wee while ago now, spurred on by research suggesting that a mainly vegetarian diet has advantages for health generally and...bonus...sporting performance.  I purchased a vegetarian cookbook in a secondhand shop and sat in the car while waiting for an appointment, eagerly perusing the contents for irresistible recipes for meals to put on the family table to start our new healthier life.  Sadly there wasn't anything irresistible, there wasn't anything uncomplicated, there wasn't anything which didn't have a majority of ingredients which I don't hold in the kitchen cupboards.  We had mince for dinner that night.

Enter 9 yo daughter.  A few days ago she announced that she wanted to be vegetarian.  I asked her why and she said "because it's mean to animals".  YES I thought, good for you kid and I gleefully totted up the potential benefits for the rest of us, reasoning that having a strong (sort of) moral stance in the family might be just enough to generate a change in all of our eating habits!  We had a talk about the minor problem of her not actually liking vegetables (I don't either, I force the things in because I should)..that would obviously have to change. We talked about the importance of getting enough of particular nutrients and that meat was the easiest option to get these but we could add...shock horror...beans and pulses and lentils and things. I also negotiated a compromise, I wasn't keen on the idea of strict veganism at this point and would like her to continue to have dairy and eggs, and still have 2 meat meals a week in the short term to see how things go.

The other night the whanau had chicken and the vegetarian reminded us that she had already had a meat meal this week, so she had scrambled eggs.  She ate everything on her plate which included a mountain of spinach/zuchini/carrot which would normally have had to be forced in with bribery at the very least.  She has since been at school camp, I wonder if she announced her new eating preference to them, or whether she forced down a last few sausages.  When she comes home tonight will she still think being carnivorous is mean to animals, or will she think being vegeterian is meaner to her?

I sincerely hope the former, and armed with some practical information from one of the Gardens4Health team at work I really like the idea of exploring this topic further with our big girl.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Karen writes: Anthony the running podiatrist

Anthony from the Whitiora diabetes service visited the team other day while I was out of the office to drum up support for his latest scheme.  Anthony is a specialty podiatrist and he wants to buy a piece of important equipment to help out with providing footcare for patients with diabetes, so he is undertaking an amazing challenge to raise awareness...and money.  When I first heard of his plan I thought I had made a mistake, he wants to run 1000km in 10 days.... no, cant possibly have heard that right!

So I went over to his clinic to buy some of his raffle tickets and just check up on the facts.  Yes, he is running 1000km in 10 days, no, he doesn't think it is a big deal.  From my own perspective I couldn't cycle 1000km in 10 days!  It took me a whole 4 months to run 1000km according to my sportband thingy and I was pretty impressed with that. Some little things to consider...1000km is a long life for a pair of running shoes...running at 5 minutes per km it would be around 8 hours a day of running and the amount of energy burned to run 100km is likely to be in excess of 6000 Calories...every day!!  Yes, I am using a lot of exclamation marks here, its an exclamation mark kind of thing don't you think?

But then Anthony is the kind of guy who when I asked him a few years ago about what was the minimum amount of running needed to maintain half marathon distance fitness, he started talking about what he did which was things like 3 hour runs before breakfast at paces impossible for me to imagine, giving the impression he wouldn't get out of bed for much less than a marathon.  Perspective huh?

So you go Anthony, what a great idea, and good on you for being proactive about improving the care you provide to the patients of South Auckland.  We are behind you all the way, wish you an enjoyable and challenging run and successful fundraising in December...but maybe we aren't too likely to try to emulate you on this one...

Kate writes: Inspiration

Is it inspiration or bl...dy mindedness that gets us through. I think its a bit of both. I am tired after 2 days of hard training. Do I give up or just keep going. I know I feel better for the workouts and I feel like I've done something when I get home and almost too tired to eat, but is it good for you! I think its all in the mind, mental strategy is so important. Believing that you can do it and can finish is so important. I'm having today off as I have a committee meeting to thank the sponsors for the recent Ironmaiden event that we ran in Waiuku last month. A few beers and meat sounds like ideal recovery food. Then back on track ready for the half Ironman.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Karen writes: Swimming pool blues

I loathe the swimming pool.  With my severely cut down swim training I've been putting my effort into a few slow wetsuit swims in the sea, gently putting my dodgy shoulder under pressure to see how it copes with greater time in the water, not worrying about harder work just aiming to achieve the distance with a minimum of stress.  This week I just couldn't see how I could swim in the sea, the tide is way out in the mornings and evenings all week and it wont be possible to swim on the weekend.

So I had to go to the Otara pool before work today.  Older daughter is off to school camp, tenting, so it was a bit muddly getting last minute items packed for her, is there enough sunscreen because its shaping up to be hot outside and what's the plan for the expected torrential rain?  Yep, good old Auckland smorgasbord weather, just pack everything.  Anyway, finally she was ready to go and I was too.  I had my togs under my clothes, wearing jandals, bag with undies/ towel/ toiletries/ shoes/ flippers/ goggles/ water/ snacks, it was almost as complicated getting me to the pool as the girl to camp but I arrived at the recreation centre and claimed a lane to myself which was bliss.  The first bit of a swim always takes so long, one length...two it water trudging.  Then you get up to about 20 lengths and things suddenly start feeling like they are going a bit faster, get to 40 lengths and there is almost no point in stopping.  I made 60 lengths, is my shoulder hurting I asked myself and the answer was yes, not too much, but it was probably sensible to call a halt and do the stretching thing and go to work.

The only good thing about going to the pool is the shower, it is lovely to stand in that hot shower, muscles tingling a little from being well-used, remembering to reach back regularly to push the button to make sure the water doesn't stop, yes. Even that shower though wasn't enough to give me more than a transient feeling of satisfaction, but as I walked out of the changing room I looked at the people in the pool, and then looked again.  Two women were walking up and down one of the lanes, chattering way, enjoying themselves, getting their exercise.  They were wearing t'shirts branded with 'Lets Beat Diabetes' which was a 5 year long project run by the local District Health Board a few years ago, big project, lots of excellent ideas, an effort on the part of a DHB to work in partnership with the community to help stem the rising diabetes problem in South Auckland.  It was a brave attempt and achieved some important things in it's  term, but like many such projects, changes, new directions, different priorities and a few years later who remembers Lets Beat Diabetes and the massively hard work put into it by all sorts of people?

Except today, years after the project finished, I saw these two women in the Otara pool, enthusiastically walking their way to good health wearing their t'shirts.  I smiled then, this was really what Lets Beat Diabetes was all about.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Karen writes: Plan, what plan?

Last week was a funny week, it was recovery from the not-insignificant effort of riding round Lake Taupo, but it was also about ramping up the triathlon aspect of training to get ready for the Rotorua half Ironman which is now just 2 weeks away.  I ended up doing - Monday 20 min sea swim, Tuesday 30 min run, Wednesday 41 min swim/run (event), Thursday off, Friday 90 min hill run/30 min spin, Saturday 2 hr bike-ride, and Sunday 2 1/4 hour bush run. Not enough of the right things would be the way to summarise that effort.

As usual the hardest part is fitting in what you need to do, and last week was a classic, things like meetings, children's activities, inconvenient tides, and trying to separate the longer activities out meant training didn't go as planned.  Take the bikeride on Saturday evening which was shorter than it was meant to be because of available time, it was nice enough but sluggish after a challenging mid-distance run the day before. Then I followed the cycle up with the weekly long run on the following morning, Sunday, and I know that sort of short-change never works, today I am feeling the effects with low energy and lacklustre muscles.

In earlier days with 2 weeks to go before an event this would be time to scale the training back, now we are back on the Ironman track again, the half Ironman is classified as 'training'.  This means there is no excuse for not keeping on building this week and then taking things just a bit easy in the week before the event.  But guess what, meetings, children's school activities, family things, and I am guaranteed that the reality will look NOTHING like the plan.  Again.

And I did have Kate's cycle helmet in the boot of the car.  If she hadn't had a loan one available that could very well have constituted training sabotage...wonder if she would think it was me if her front wheel disappeared?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Kate writes: wheres the helmet?

I have had a busy week, loads of swimming and feeling a lot happier about open water swimming. So Sunday arrived and I though I better get out and have a ride on the bike.I packed the bike into the car got all my stuff together and was just about to leave when I realised I had no hat to wear. I think its in the back of Karen's car, well I will have a look tomorrow. Lucky my brother in law had a spare one so off I went. I had a good ride 2 hours and back to Nicks for coffee.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Karen writes: Penguin suit

The wind was gusting 40km per hour, every time I looked outside the office today it seemed to get worse, so much for the planned bike ride this evening.  Anyway, driving home it was clear that going out on two wheels was just plain stupid, so a run and spin were the substitute.

I got home and changed into the new penguin suit...otherwise known as a sleeveless 'tri-suit', 'onesie' or the "you cant POSSIBLY be wearing that outside can you?".  It consists of lightly padded tri-pants and a form fitting singlet stuck together, sort of like long legged togs, and it was a super bargain from the $20 bin at a bike shop in Cambridge last weekend. I couldn't leave it there, it was the right size, Orca brand which is really good, and down from $180 so it seemed like an excellent way to try out something novel without massive investment.  The first time I wore it was on Wednesday for the Stroke and Stride, it went on under the wetsuit and had the advantage of not threatening to come off like ordinary tri-pants do when you yank the wetsuit down.  The disadvantage of course is needing to be Houdini to get to the toilet but other people seem to manage, I was sure I could too. I wasn't brave enough to wear it by itself though and dragged on a t'shirt for the run to maintain some pride, but it turned out to be so comfortable, no constrictions round the waist, no top riding up, no chafing, a dream.

Today I still wasn't brave enough to wear the penguin suit solo, my jacket got tied around my waist and the fuel-belt over the top helped break up the uninterrupted shoulder to thigh clinging black and white lycra.  I scuttled the few km up the main road before I got onto the bush trails hoping no-one I knew would notice the rather...insubstantial... nature of my attire and that my top and bottom were suspiciously streamlined...but again, it was soooo comfortable.  What a dilemma, supreme comfort versus not wanting to inspire terror in the local populace by wearing something definitely more suited to the young of body rather than young at heart?

Karen writes: Stroke and Stride

With a bit of complicated organisation Kate and me managed to get in to Mission Bay after work on Wednesday to try out one of the long running 'Stroke and Stride' series.  These are regular events through summer, with differing length swim and run distances.  This week we got the 750m swim straight out into the harbour, and a 4km run along the waterfront towards St Helliers.  We had looked at the times for previous events and decided they were all far too fast, pessimistically setting our own targets to be right at the back of the pack.  We also wondered what to wear?  Was it the sort of place you turned up letting it all hang out in a tri-suit, could you strip down to bra and tri-pants getting out of your wetsuit, or were conservative togs/shorts/t-shirt the norm?  Turned out it was all of those, lots of people wonderfully confident in their bodies of all shapes and sizes but as a friend who observed the event did comment afterwards (referring to a popular TV icecream ad)...there were some "togs...togs... undies" moments.

Anyway, we clustered on the beach with a lot of people in wetsuits and red hats for girls and blue hats for boys, and there was an atmosphere of twitchy anticipation waiting for the gun. I put on my favourite purple goggles and recalled belatedly that as was often the case they had been used earlier in the week in the shower by the kids, unfortunately this time it was for treatment of nits with some insecticide which smelled bad enough to destroy entire rainforest insect populations, I observed that it seemed to have made the lenses slightly opaque...sigh.

The swim was very pleasant, I never hurry to get in the water preferring to avoid the washing machine effect of all those bodies, and when I struck out at a steady pace it was in my own nice space, mostly, there was one woman who was a fraction faster but as she tended to veer to the left into me as she passed she then had to re-correct by striking off right and then then she would do it all again, she must have swum a lot longer distance than I did, never quite getting ahead.  I couldn't see the buoys on the way out what with the goggles and all the heads in the way, but it wasn't a problem on the way back with much the field already out of the water by the time I turned around and there were huge orange buoys and a bright light on the beach to aim for.  Got to the beach, Kate was ahead of me and I trotted to the transition area and what do you know, the new wetsuit lubricant I had sneakily put round my ankles and wrists made getting out of the wetsuit a breeze and I was off and running leaving Kate still battling the neoprene...any advantage will do!

The speed of the run was high, as expected.  What wasn't expected was my desire to run fast too, I just don't do that sort of thing.  Everyone was running hard out, you could see the strain on their faces (and the inability to smile) and it was quite amazingly infectious. The Nike sportband gave up tracking the pace reliably as is often the case (I'm out of love with it) so it didn't tell me much, but I could feel the pace was up, and ended up doing the 4km with an average of just off 5 minutes/km which is unheard of for me.

Hot chips with fish and sand with the whanau afterwards on a lovely Auckland evening, didn't win any of the very tempting spot prizes but it was an impressive array for a relatively small event, and I would be keen to have another go and try to beat my 41 minutes sometime soon.  Thoroughly recommend Stroke and Stride for a pleasant summer challenge, if you normally just cruise along like me you might need to be prepared to work though.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Karen writes: Things that go bump in the water

Went for a swim this evening to test out the shoulder before the planned swim/run session in the city on Wednesday night.  No point in turning up I figured if I couldn't manage the 750m so I estimated a half hour session in the sea would be a good trial, Kate has already beaten me soundly in one discipline in the last few days, I would rather minimise the margin by which she does it if I can.

I squeeeezed into the wetsuit, and headed over the road and set off at a good pace in a quiet sea.  As usual it took a little while to find some sort of rhythm, feeling ok, breathing good, no particular pressure on the problem shoulder and then THUNK.

YES, thunk (cue theme from jaws here).  I'd impacted something solid and when I had finished yelling and sinking and came up to see what I  had hit I became aware of two things.  One was the bemused looking shag staring back at me with little beady eyes, his long beak inches from my face... I quickly filtered through my brain to remember if these things were known for devouring swimmers but he didn't seem inclined....the second thing was the laughter from the beach.  Lots of laughter.  This is getting kind-of old getting laughed at while swimming.

I splashed some water at the belligerent bird and he moved away a little, and feeling somewhat paranoid I got back into my swim, jumping at every bit of seaweed I hit or every time the zip ribbon came loose on my wetsuit and swished against exposed skin.

I got 50 metres down the beach, cleared my goggles and looked back, and found myself looking at a shag bobbing along a little way behind me.  Cant be the same bird can it?  The absence of fishing shags on the return swim suggested that it very well might have been.

If I didn't hate the swimming pool so much I might be tempted to get back to indoor training, that sort of unexpected interaction with the local wildlife isn't good for my stress levels.

Kate Writes: to all the men!

Well what a title! I dreamt this one up as I was cycling around lake Taupo. There were just so many men to thank for helping me along. There was John, Paul, Eric, Mathew, Evan, Morris, John so many Johns I can not remember them all. It might seem a bit strange, a bit like a song... 'to all the men I have loved and lost' but it seems like that in a way. Riding around the lake you need friends, drafting helps so much. But you have to pick the person that you are going to draft carefully. They have to know what they are doing, not stopping for a drink or just because they could.

I met Evan just outside Taupo. He had a bronze number on, which meant he had completed 10 + rides. I followed him for some time and then noticed his bottle of gel was leaking down his backside and down his leg. Sticky. I rode up close to him to let him know. I kept seeing him over the next few hours. He was Welsh and had the welsh dragon on his water bottles. You learn alot from looking. He came in a few minutes after me :) .

 John I met about half way round. He was from Manukau, not far from me. It was his first, or as he said a virgin at the race and was struggling. Thought it was a lot harder than expected. I said eat and drink and you will be OK. He drafted in with me at the finish and thanked me for my support. Another John I met had a wonderful shirt on. He belonged to the Fat Bas...d club. They were an eating club with a cycling disorder. That made me laugh. I asked if I could join and he said no, because I was not fat! He made my day.

About half way around I met Morris. I heard this voice behind me, 'Kate you can go faster and catch the next rider up' and so I did. The next 10k went really fast as we drafted off each other with about 4 of us in the group. Morris did most of the work and when we got to the next turn off I asked him how far he was going? he had a C on his bib which meant he could be doing 40k or 80k. He was doing 80k so I thanked him for his help and he said lets do more but you lead. Well I'm not that strong, but these riders were my speed and so off we went and yes I could do it and I could lead the pack. Did have to think about keeping some reserve though. The big hill was to come.

I know this blog is to thank the men but there was one woman that gave me a smile. Her name was Lisa. I met her half way up Hatape Hill. Her team name was 'Impure thoughts'. I asked the sensible question? what impure thoughts do you have? well we talked about all the nice bottoms that we were admiring up the hill. It made us both laugh and helped us up the hill.

At the top of the Hill with 20k to go I looked at my watch to see I had been riding 6 hours and 6 minutes. I could get home in under 7 hours, but how long had I had at Turangi getting coke and chocolate? Could I do this? Yes I could! All I need now was a new man. My prayers were answered and two cyclists came by, I think father and son as the boy was much younger. I slipped into the space behind them and off we went. Wow it was fast, but I had a mission. I took my turn at the front and turned to look for them to find I had lost them for a short time and then they were back. Also John was there from Manukau. 30k an hour we were going fast! Was I going to make it? The clock was ticking. I rode as hard as I could and over the finish line with legs shaking. An iceblock and pineapple were on offer. My bike timer said 6:45 but how long was that stop? My daughter Sophie TXT me to say she had just had a txt to say I had finished. What time I asked 6 Hours 57 minutes and 31sec. Yes I had done it. I would say its the first time I have really pushed myself to get a time I wanted and what a feeling of success.

There were two other great success this weekend. Firstly I bought my first pair of size 12 trousers in probably 20 years (dropped 2 dress sizes since training for Ironman). Secondly I got a B+ for my pharmacology practicum at Auckland University. Highest mark ever. Nurse prescribing here I come.

Karen writes: Another Taupo Cycle down

We only have one more big event before Ironman having on Saturday knocked off the Taupo cycle challenge for another year.  Kate...mutter mutter competition predicted, thrashed me, coming in with an amazing under 7 hour performance of 6 hours 57.  I managed a respectable 7 hours 13, knocking half an hour off last years time.  These times might not sound great to some people, but remember our first effort in 2007 took nearly 10 hours and we have gotten progressively faster and faster each time.

It was an interesting experience in more ways than one.  The anxiety in the week before about the likely impact of the volcanic activity came to nothing, the only real reported impact seemed to be in one of the enduro riders (multiple laps of the lake) pulling out on Thursday night because of ash in the eyes, but otherwise we saw no evidence that something big was going on.  That was in spite of looking hard at the peaks in the distance hoping to see a plume of smoke or something heading skywards (preferably away) to add a bit of drama.

the bikes didnt mind the accommodation
Probably the most dramatic aspect of the event was our accommodation which was memorable for all the wrong reasons.  You know we had an excellent stay at a backpackers last year, well this year we stayed in a different backpacker right in town.  The first sign of trouble was having to leave the car in a distant carpark which was a bit of a downer, hoping that it wasn't going to be subject to vandalism or theft or over zealous parking inspector type people...never mind, we parked in easy view of McDonalds and hoped it would work out did.  The next thing was actually going into the building which was old and dirty and depressing, unlike last years which was old and clean and cheerful...some of that was dealt with with the trusty disinfectant spray, the wearing of jandals in the shower and spending as much time as possible elsewhere.  The last most significant, and least solvable problem, was the proximity of an enormous kitchen air vent outside the window which made airplane noises until 11pm each night. You couldn't just block your ears because then you felt it in your bones, and when it finally went off we could then hear the band playing really cool rock songs...for hours more.  We were actually thankful we got the fan noise and weren't in the rooms directly over the bar with the band.   It wasn't all bad though, there was a huge deck overlooking the main street and we got to watch the criterium cyclists while eating our snacks on Friday night, and cheer the cyclists coming in after us on Saturday afternoon.
Inaugural armed forces criterium from the deck 

The ride itself, we got down earlier than the 9am start time and pretending ignorance ended up in a faster start group which had the advantage of putting us with better cyclists.  It makes such a difference when people are experienced and skilled enough to not pop out in front of you without looking, actively inviting you into a faster moving line of bikes, pointing out hazards or calling out if cars are coming.  It started out cool but the temperature rose quite quickly and there were patches where you could feel the heat from the tarseal but nowhere near like it was a few years ago when the tar was actually melting and sticking to the bike tyres.  I ate pretty much as planned, just not in the right order, for example I had thought to eat my banana early on as they turn to warm slush tucked into the back pocket of a cycle shirt for too long, I paid for that by having to practically drink the thing 5 hours into the ride...yum...warm brown banana soup...but I enjoyed the marmite sandwiches and especially the vanilla coke I treated myself to at Turangi which gave me legs to get up the big hill, Hatepe, and finish the last dash home.  I made a mistake by not taking some sort of electrolyte drink along as my legs threatened to cramp in the later stages, the powerbar sold gels just don't seem to have enough kick to them for me even if I do like the taste.

Hatepe Hill
The most memorable things for me though, I wore a pair of fluorescent (I mean REALLY fluoro!) compression calf sleeves and through the whole ride there was a continuous stream of comments, "go pink socks", "love your legs sock girl", "my wife wanted those", and I even heard kids commenting from the roadside as I rode past.  Every so often someone would wolf whistle and eventually a guy overtook me and said "it was me whistling all the time" and I said back to him "oh no, just you, I thought it was lots of people" which got a laugh.

 Finally, the pain from the shoulder bursitis was manageable, but I had taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatories before on the instruction of the physio which I dont normally do, and being paranoid about these things I stopped regularly for extra water to avoid dehydration which meant more toilet stops too. I couldn't find a comfortable position towards the end except for arm across my chest but today it isn't any worse than it was before the ride so swimming starts tomorrow again.  It was a good weekend away, but it's good to be home with the whanau again too, roll on the half Ironman in 3 weeks!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Kate writes: Sharks

I put a few pictures of the ocean swim on face book.
Summer Swim Series #2. Kohimarama Beach. 15.11.2012 Image © Copyright 2012 HBayard.Photography All Rights Reserved
It seems as I have got lost. But a friend of mine, well is she a friend! did this to them!
I mean to say.......
I'm back swimming tonight! we will have to watch out!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Karen writes: Best laid plans...volcanoes and things

You know how we were worrying about that minor thing...a volcanic eruption...interrupting the planned weekend bike-ride (of ourselves and 10,000 others) around lake Taupo?  Well, apparently the Te Maari crater on Mt Tongariro has just erupted and is busy chucking clouds of ash at the sky just next door to the lake.

The question is...when will the one we were actually expecting, Mt Ruapehu, follow suit?
Photo of Tongariro, today, November 21. 1.30pm
We do keep finding novel ways of sabotaging our endurance careers don't we?  All is not lost however, last report was that the wind was blowing the ash clouds away from Taupo, long may that continue.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Karen writes: All will be well...

If I had been a bit more worried, and obviously acted on the worry, a month ago, would I feel better prepared for Saturday's ride?  It is a bit like preparing for an exam, you know (have always been told?) that if you do a little bit every day in a planned way things WILL GO WELL.  Actually, I'm not sure that is always how things work, the best laid plans have a habit of turning custard-like regardless of the amount of preparation but you do OK on the day anyway.

As I am sure will be the case on Saturday.  The PLAN is...everything packed on Thursday... pleasant trip to Taupo on Friday stopping at Cambridge for a light and nutritious snack...check in to the accommodation, unpack and organise everything...have a leisurely and sensible dinner...check equipment, and retire for an early night.  In the morning have a leisurely breakfast...ensure the carefully calculated type and amount of food for energy is packed in line with the well thought out plan for eating and drinking... head down to the startline and off into the yonder for a fabulous day on the road...all will be well.

The REALITY is more likely to be...cant find what I want on Thursday... struggle to get out the door on Friday morning dealing with last minute things at home... wonder half way up the road if have packed cycle shoes (stop the car and unpack boot to check)... miscellaneous aches and pains mysteriously escalate the further from home you get...traffic jams and road works increase the stress levels...cant resist the croissant with ham and egg at afternoon tea so don't feel like that sensible dinner... when unpacking the bike 'ping' a bungee cord against the rear derailer and worry that it might be damaged... feel sick after the less than sensible dinner which was eaten because the experts say you have to... go up to the shops because forgot the sunscreen... go to bed early and listen to the celebrations at the pub next door to the backpackers and wake up at 3am feeling sure there is a smell sulphur from imminent volcanic eruption.  At breakfast realise that there isn't access to a microwave to make the ritual rice porridge which has been practiced obsessively with before exercise at home...finally notice the black marks on the water bottles arent chain grease but mold... feel traumatised making sandwiches with vegemite because sanitarium still not producing marmite and be sure it wont work anywhere near as well... stand around at the startline getting more and more twitchy and hotter and hotter because we booked into a timing group behind a much bigger group and when we finally get going realise an hour into the race that it is 3 hours since last had anything to eat and all the careful planning is completely out the proverbial window...but you know what...ALL WILL BE WELL!

Roll on Saturday.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Karen writes: Ruapehu

Bike ride on Friday evening, did the hard hills around Whitford, out to Takanini for those long wind blown straights, off to Clevedon then finally out to Kawakawa bay and back. Thinking all the while...the plan says 100km...should I do that or should I do what my body says...go home now.  My shoulder hurt, a bursitis problem from earlier in the year which never really went away, but it was possible to ignore the occasional twinge while I wasn't attempting to strength train or doing much in the way of swimming...hello...triathletes normally what?  Why, the usual, stretch, avoid doing the things that hurt (like sleeping on my favourite side or sitting on a bike for hours at a time), panadol, cold and/or heatpacks, and eventually when I get a bit more worried off to the physio.  On the plus side, the bike is going really well, I'm getting used to it's idiosyncratic but now relatively reliable gear changes, and there are no new strange noises or bits threatening to fall off.

So home after the 97 slow km on the bike I checked the news and read that Mt Ruapehu is poised for an eruption in the near future.  I thought about Kate and me being headed to Taupo on Friday for the round the lake cycle challenge and imagined 20km high ash plumes as there were in 1995...wondering if it is possible to cycle in a mask? Ruapehu makes itself known at several points on the course as you sweat your way to the top a hill and look across at its spectacular snow covered peaks.  Surely...surely we wont be unlucky enough to have another event cancelled...this time for a misbehaving volcano!  On the other hand, if it was cancelled I could hopefully get the shoulder in better shape in the 5 weeks left to the Rotorua half Ironman, and I have to selfishly say that if there is going to be a risk of a volcano I would much rather it now than in March next year at Ironman time.
Ruapehu crater lake
Last weeks training consisted of - Monday off, Tuesday 60min light spin, Wednesday 40km cycle, Thursday 60min light spin, Friday 97km cycle, Saturday off, Sunday 15km run.  The question is not whether I can ride 160km next Saturday, as much as how difficult is it going to be given I haven't put as much effort in as I should have.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Kate writes: ocean swim

One of my fears last year at Ironman was the swim. When asked what the problem was I said I was afraid of the snakes and sharks!  But really I was afraid of swimming on my own. So the plan is to do some ocean swims. Wednesday I was looking at the summer swim series at Kohimarama Beach in Auckland on the web site. Pressed the enter button and that was that, I was entered. 

I turned up on Thursday night, got my hat with my number on and sat and waited for the start. My friend Barbara turned up and it was nice to see a friendly face. The gun went and off we went into the sea. My fears came running back, all the other swimmers were better than me, I was left behind, I could not breathe. Breast stroke and catch my breath, talk my self into being OK. I can swim to the first buoy, its only 250m, I can swim to the next 500m, I can swim to the 750m. OK I'm going to be OK. I looked around and there was no-one behind me so I thought I better turn around. 1500 m I swam in 41 minutes. Not bad, not good. I need to do more ocean swims. Will be back next week.

The funny thing was that I decided to change out of my wet suit next to the car. No problem, I slipped the swim suit off my shoulders and then tried to get my thermal top on, but i was not dry and the top just rolled up. The bottom half was just as hard. I was waiting for a call from the police to say there was a lady indecently exposing herself in the street. Next week i will go to thetoilet block and change.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Karen writes: Tick tick

I drove home after work last night in the extraordinary thunder and lightning (and some hail) and pondered the fact that I had an iron-cast excuse for not getting outside on the lighting-rod with wheels otherwise known as a bicycle.  The weather was so scary that even running or swimming weren't a viable option. You only have these sorts of genuine, impossible to ignore excuses when you actually really really want to be training...when you are aware time is ticking away...its nearly time to taper...and you haven't done anywhere near enough work.

I got home and got on the spin bike and pedaled to nowhere for an hour and read my book.  Backlit e-readers are just great when you are out on the covered deck, the light is fading, and unlike real books you can balance them nicely on the handlebars and adjust the font size depending on whether you are sitting up or leaning forward.  Having decided to try to train myself into the 'spinning' rather than 'grinding' style of pedaling, the bonus is that reading is so much easier, I just set the resistance low, and remind myself to pedal fast and read to my hearts content.  It is still however one of my least favourite training activities, perhaps equal with pool-swimming, and oh, hang on, strength training.

Today we had another novel natural event, a rare solar eclipse, last seen in 1965.  I don't however think this counts as an excuse not to go for a proper ride tonight, neither does the current light rain which was not predicted by the weatherman.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Karen writes: 2 weeks to Taupo

Less than 2 weeks to the Taupo cycle challenge.  The big bikeride with Kate on Friday did lots for my confidence though, 5 really enjoyable hours on the road, circumnavigating the whole of the Hunua ranges and covering 105 spectacular km.  This was the course followed for the SRAM Tour de ranges held in January of each year, or pretty close to it, I forgot the map and relied on the "I'm sure we just keep turning left" style of navigating.

It is so much more enjoyable to do these things in company, picture us starting out by climbing the hills out the back of Clevedon until we were way above the tallest power pylons, stopping for a snack and to take in the view. Then plunging along the rollercoaster roads past Hunua, stopping for a snack and to take in a view.  Next racing along the beautiful coastal road at Kaiaua looking towards the Coromandal, stopping for a snack and to take in the view. At last, grinding up winding (hilly) roads through gorgeous bush before Kawakawa bay, stopping for a snack and to take in the view, then finally racing back to Clevedon again.  I snagged an icecream on the way home (seeing any themes here?), more than happy with the day's efforts, but reflecting that it looks like my time for the 160 km Taupo ride isn't likely to improve any this year.  This ride turned out to have an average of 21km/hour, and it was only that high because Kate had a rush of blood to the head (legs) and set a tough pace for the last 20 or so km.

I was grumpy on Friday afternoon, I apologised to the kids (AFTER they had tidied their bedrooms, picked up their junk in the lounge, got fermenting lunchboxes out of school bags and put dirty uniforms in the wash), they seem to understand that it's part of having a mum in the intensive 'building up' phase of her fitness. Experience says it will pass as I spend more hours on the road and my body and mind get used to the extreme effort again.  Saturday I swam up and down Maraetai beach for half an hour, the water was gorgeous, obviously people from town have come to the same conclusion because the beach was crowded with visitors and there were plenty of heads bobbing up and down in the water for me to practice defensive swimming around.

The Sunday run with the Te Puru runners started out with a sluggish heavy-legged trot from home to Te Puru park, then I ended up running in the bush at a faster than usual pace for me, and felt sensational by the time I came home 2 hours later.  Not so tired (or grumpy) after this effort, nothing hurt, there is hope.

Now, a day after a hard 3 days of effort, I am furiously and unreasonably hungry, so what else is new?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Kate writes:Helping hand

Saturday I helped out at our local clubs annual event: Steel man Iron lady. Now I belong to a Multi-sport club and I think most of them are mad! They road bike, mountain bike, kayak, and run off-road. They really are mad people, but the kindest lot of friends I could have wished for. I've been going through a rough patch and they are just there encouraging me and supporting me. I might be the slowest runner and slowest biker in the club but they will always come back and check that I'm OK. So when they asked me to join the committee I did not hesitate, well I did a little but otherwise it would have looked as if I was too keen.

So yesterday was the big event. loads of bikes, runners and boats. I was helping to run the kids event. We only had 36 kids come but those who did had so much fun. They ran around a field, then had a bikeride and then an obstacle course. There were goody bags to win, shirts, and the top prize a freestyle bike!  Not sure what that was but the kids liked it.

At the end of the day we had prize giving for the adults and I looked around and saw loads of people having fun, after all the work it was worth while doing.

We some times wonder why we do things and its often to help others. Giving back is a good thing, I would like to thank all the volunteers that help out on all the events that I participate in. No event could take place without the volunteers.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Kate writes: Two get lost in Hunua

Well the question is did we get lost or just have fun? Karen and I went off for a long ride today, we followed the route of the SRAM tour de ranges going around the Hunua hills. Well I think we actually went over them, there were some very long and big hills. But at one stage we had a T intersection in the road, one way was to Auckland the other to Tauranga. We could not work out where we were. Luckily there was a shop and help was on hand. A new bottle of water was bought and new directions and off we went. It was a beautiful day and when we came to the top of one hill we were treated to a lovely sight of the sea and the Coramandel hills. We are very lucky to see such amazing sights.

My friend Mark died this week. He had been ill for a short time and we had time to say goodbye. On days like this we are so lucky to be alive and enjoy life. He always commented about my running thing and bike thingy, he said I was the only one he knew that came in from a run and if offered water or wine I always went for the wine. Well I did deserve it!  He was a great friend and will be missed.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Kate Writes: New York Marathon

I was very sad to see that the New York Marathon had been cancelled following on from the big storm they had. It brought back sad memories of our Ironman cancellation. The emotions go away and you have to move on and plan the next event. Its hard but safety has to be the most important thing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Karen writes: Gears at last

It has been a year since the gears on my bike worked properly.  I have over time developed a habit of avoiding changing from high to low on the big cogs at the front because going back from low to high was barely possible, involving lots of clicking of levers and muttered curses and frustrating slow downs and wobbles.  I thought it was me and had gotten embarrassed about complaining at the bike shop...visualise the mechanic looking superior and saying "I took it for a ride and it was fine...and click... it changes perfectly up on the stand...nothing wrong with it".  When I took the trusty scott in for a pre-taupo service I decided to try my luck and have a grizzle to the new people who have taken over the bike shop.  I hoped that they might see something the last lot didn't. This time it was "oh look, see how these bits are worn out" and what do you know, a slightly depressing amount of money later and I have a bike which has nearly double the number of usable gears!  I just have to remember to use them now as I am well out of the habit.  The bikeshop guys even CLEANED the poor thing, turns out it is still white underneath the accumulated dirt and I am told it is fighting fit to take on Taupo.

I just need to work on me now.

And my triathlon times from yesterday are in too, 3 hours 15, fourth out of four in my age/gender group for all three disciplines, but not completely last in the whole field...I take a small amount of comfort in the fact that I was 5 minutes faster than the last time I did this distance a couple of years ago.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Kate writes: Another busy week

Its been another busy week, but quite fun, It started on Tuesday when I said to Karen that I was riding on my own as the bike group was going mountain biking. She said lets go on a 50 k ride from Maraetai, Clevedon and back. It was hard work and I was late for my meeting but a good feeling. The next ride on Thursday I went out with the boys. They are so much faster than me but kept coming back for me and checking that I was OK another 33k and fast, well for me anyway.

Friday I was off to Wellington for work. I worry about flying so I thought why not train in Wellington. So I arrived at 10am and it was cold and wet! Not a good start, but that was what I was there for. I ran along the water front to the pool and then swam for 2k and then ran back to the hotel. It was great I could then get on with work and having done my training there was no worries.

Karen writes: Just another Sunday...not

I've just been online to check my results from this morning's Panasonic standard triathlon and how upsetting, my name isn't on the list!  I hope it is a clerical error, not a case of the transponder not registering.  Anyway, I've just sent off a plaintive email to the organisers...please find me.

So the day started with being up at 6am for breakfast, admittedly feeling a little sluggish after an unplanned buffet dinner last night which was absolutely not my usual idea of a good pre-race meal...but it was seriously nice.  Time to pack the plastic box with all the essential things for a things, run things, anti-chafe...water... handkerchief.  Decisions...what top will I wear, just bra under the wetsuit and the singlet to ride and run in, or is the weather poor enough to put the whole lot on after the swim...singlet, bike shirt, and jacket?  Do I need my neoprene bonnet...or just the yellow swimcap?  What food...not enough time between bike and run to eat solid food, but the plan was to be on the road for over 3 hours so gels were the sensible option.

Over the road for a 9am start, I was wedged into my wetsuit before leaving home.  It is impossible for me to do the thing up by myself and with Kate not doing this event, I wasn't going to rely on there being someone else available to wrestle the zip to hold that recalcitrant rubber together and successfully seal me away inside.

Swimming...yesterday the water was rough but today there was no sign of that.  The fast ones went off, I quickly ended up at the back of the field in a clear space, that's an excellent place to be with no face kicking or flailing arms or risk of beard burn as someone gets over enthusiastic about occupying the exact space you happen to be in, until you get lapped of course.  1500 meters consisting of three trips round the buoys then back to the beach and then out of the water and onto the bike which by this stage stood rather forlornly almost by itself in the transition field.

The ride, everyone races off without apparent effort on their bikes, I felt like I had a good hard ride but I was still at the back, I told myself that these Panasonic races must attract extra-speedy people but the truth is I'm just slow.  Anyway, into the wind on the way to the log cabin before Clevedon, the wind across and behind on the way back, 2 laps for a total of 40km,

And finally running the last leg of 10km along the coast towards Omana. I got a bit grumpy with some sort of dog club, the dogs were more like bears actually and could (and repeatedly did) completely block the path with a swing of a mighty, fluffy black hip, but what got me on the first lap was a woman in the water screaming "help help" and waving her arms.  I looked and looked, no-one else seemed to be paying her any attention, and I stopped worrying too when I finally figured out she wasn't drowning but trying to attract one of the behemoth dogs into the water for some reason.   On the second lap I was feeling hot and bothered with one full lap to go, I'd played doggy dodgems and the solitary water station was a long way off and I rather maliciously wondered what the dog owners would think if I snatched up one of the very tempting bowls of water conveniently left on the side of the track.  Now that was obviously a fleeting thought for my amusement rather than an actual intention, quite unlike on the final lap when they had a barbecue right by the path.  As I salivated my plodding way past, I decided that the aggressive pumping of the divine smell of cooked sausage into the air should be BANNED.

So it was a pretty good day, but I would love to know how long I actually took.  What the day did remind me of though was just how tough triathlons are and that there is an awful lot of work to do for the next triathlon which is roughly twice as long.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Karen writes: Grinding and Spinning

I realise I am completely hooked into triathlon training again, the weeks have suddenly gotten organised with the need to fit extra sessions in and all the extra hours.  Was training this tiring before though?  Yes, actually it was, probably worse when I look back at last year's notes.  Last week I did over 11 hours training, the last 3 days as usual the heaviest, with a 100km ride, a 1.7km sea swim, and a 20km run.  Almost a whole half Ironman.

The bike-ride was good, I was so sick of the mess and the traffic on the roads out by Takanini that I made a spur of the moment decision when I got to Clevedon to head towards KawaKawa bay.  What a nice ride, windy roads, undulating enough to be challenging, lots to see, and I stopped and turned round at the top of the big hill which goes down to the bay itself because I thought I would like to check the elevations before attempting that one.  I did that twice, made up a bit more mileage around Clevedon and came home tired-out after over 4 hours on the road. I had cycled the 100km at a much better pace last week, but that was on the flat, and this time I was trying out a technique I have been reading about, where you get your cadence up to 90-120 rotations of the pedals every minute, which apparently relies on different nerves and muscles.  The book I'm reading (instead of studying for this week's exam) claims this technique is  the ideal for going faster and saving energy as opposed to what I routinely do which is called 'grinding' (less than 80 rpm cadence).  So, I had a go at 'spinning' rather than 'grinding', and found myself going slower and absolutely exhausted, but pleased to be trying something new and also happy that I had found somewhere appealing to ride.  Hopefully those dozen or so very long rides over the next few months should be marginally pleasanter.

The wetsuited sea swim was ok, I just have to remember that any exercise doesn't feel wonderful in the first half hour, and swimming is no different, I was just feeling like the arms and legs had woken up and was getting into some sort of rhythm and it was time to get out, had forgotten however that when you go from threshing away in the water in a horizontal position, to suddenly vertical and attempting to run...there can be a risk of ending up unintentionally horizontal again, face first in the sand, if you aren't concentrating.

Running with the Te Puru runners on a Sunday morning is still the high point of my week exercise-wise.  I would have to be pretty moribund to miss it.  We speculated on all of those poor souls running in the heat in the city for the Auckland marathon, when the other runners met their targets and ran home, I headed for the hills and ran/plodded on the shady trails in the bush, it was still hot enough but not as hot as on tarseal in the city I was sure. The foxgloves are back in bloom, the gorse flowers crackle in the sun, and the mountain bikers straggle past...definitely grinding, not spinning.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Kate writes: Auckland half marathon

I know I've been absent from the blog. Life has been busy and complicated. But Today I was signed up to run the Auckland half. I'm very determined and when I say I'm going to do something I do it. The reason I was doing the run was that my friend Rach said back in April why not and we could train together and go faster! Well I left Rach still in bed this morning as well as Audrey who had a hurt knee and could not run. The morning started at 5am. we had stayed up in town as it was an early start. Looking out of the window you could see party goers coming out of the night clubs very drunk. You could also see the runners walking towards the ferry terminal. Off I went and joined the group of runners. We all looked like little ants converging on the boats.

I got over to Davenport and got a cup of coffee. It was 40 minutes to the start of the race and thousands of people were queuing for the toilets. I got into the race shute looking for the pacers but it was so packed that I could see no one. So I just focused on my run and getting started.

It was a different race than usual. Loads of people every where. You could not run in a straight line, the road was uneven and people and objects just got in the way. No one really talked. I got to the first water point, started walking and getting my gel out, people were just pushing past and not really stopping for water. It was hot by this stage.

I met a friend who I cycle with and we walked up the Harbour bridge and then off again. felling good I pushed a bit faster and finished feeling that I had done a good run. 2hours and 22 mins. not bad but not fast enough. But when I looked at the results I am now in the top 40% of finishers for my age, so that's a lot better than previously.

Another run finished. On to Taupo bike ride. Better get riding.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Karen writes: Old age

Went to the GP yesterday morning, had run out of the thyroid pills and that is not a smart thing to do, especially when the energy levels need to be stable for training.  I tell myself I should be more organised, guess what...I'm not.  Anyway, the blood pressure was checked, the heart sounds listened to, questions were asked, and the last set of lab results were gone over.  All good.  Drat.  Well, not 'drat' actually, I had been having lots of muscle and joint pain, it would come, stay for a few days or a week or two then go away, and it didn't seem to relate to the exercise so tests were in order. Nothing showed in the tests so it IS really good that there was nothing sinister, but not so good that there isn't an obvious reason for the problem.

Except there is an obvious reason...the GP said...very tactfully I thought, "have you considered it might be an age thing?" and said 'normal people' would take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.  Sigh.

Anyway, this old bag was sent off "in good shape", with approval to continue to follow her mad pathway, and with a laughing reference to not having to worry about my heart as I was "doing my own treadmill tests" ringing in my ears.

I can however look back with satisfaction on the 3 day weekend's training efforts - ticking the boxes with the 101km bike ride on Saturday, 20km  run on Sunday, and an 1800m sea swim on Monday.  The swim was really pleasing, I've done so little in the water that I was feeling a bit anxious about it, especially since I have signed up for a Panasonic standard distance triathlon at Maraetai beach in a couple of weeks...which has a 1500m swim.  I am happy that I am on track now, having reassured myself that swimming in the sea encased in a wetsuit is so much easier than pool swimming, and my new neoprene hat keeps my head and ears beautifully warm in the cold water, though with it's funny little chinstrap I did feel like I was wearing a bonnet.