Friday, 28 September 2012

Karen writes: Swim peril for the unwary triathlete with kids

I went for a swim in the Otara pool.  For 2 weeks now I have been setting my alarm early in order to get up for a weekly set of lengths before work, all my good intentions come to nothing though when I repeatedly hit the snooze button thinking "I will do it tomorrow..."

I'm not really too worried about the swim, after all, the next important challenge is the 160km round lake Taupo cycle ride in 8 weeks. The event after that is the Rotorua half ironman and I figure I can flounder out a 2km swim without too much preparation if I really have to for that.  That rather slack attitude will obviously have to change early next year to achieve double that swimming distance for the full Ironman.

Anyway, I got in the water this morning, adjusted and wet the pair of goggles I had snatched out of the bathroom on the way out the door, and pushed off from the end of the pool.  I pulled up short, what was the matter with my eyes!   They stung and watered, I wrenched the goggles off and....oh, I remember, my smallest daughter doesn't like shampooing her hair, the way around this resistance to normal hygiene is for her to wear goggles in the shower.  Shampoo...MY goggles...not a good combination.  I must remember that one, and hide my good goggles better in future.

I did get in a relatively pleasant 1.25km freestyle effort. I wondered why I always find it so hard to get out of bed and to the pool, which actually turned out to be pleasantly quiet on a Friday morning so I might consider changing my swim day to Friday in future. Now if I could only figure out where my flippers and paddles are?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Karen writes: Tri-bar story continues

The bike went into the bike shop yesterday to be re-setup for tri-bars.  Yes, I succumbed and decided to give them another go, my bike was at last going to lose her near unique status as one of a handful of triathlon steeds not bearing the torture implements.  I turned up at the workshop in my work tights and a tunic, and was asked where my bike clothes were.  Um, these?  I did bring my bike shoes though, and with them clear evidence that I sometimes walked in them...cant deny dried mud on the carpet.

Complicated video cameras were set up, red lasery looking lines bisected the walls and the poor old Scott was installed in a windtrainer.  I was instructed to get on and ride, yep, my favourite thing, riding no-where indoors, at least there was a nice landscape covering the whole wall, hang on, there was also ME on a big TV screen, oh bleep, do I really look like that on my bike?

Anyway, after coming to terms with that bit of trauma, I watched with interest all measuring of angles, shifting this and that, and replacing and re-replacing of bits.  I just tried to look like it meant something to me, nodded when it seemed a response was needed and tried not to make 'kerchiing' noises when something new and expensive looking was suggested. Apparently, the seat was too far back (seat post replaced from angled to straight), the handlebars were too far forward, too high, and at the wrong angle so the handlebar stem was replaced.  Shifting the handlebars meant the brake cables were kinked, the brakes themselves were on the wrong angle...the list went on.  My cycling shoes were inspected, my sore feet apparently aren't just because I'm wimpy, the lack of arch support meant that my feet were fighting the stiff soles...kerchiing...inserts recommended.  There was comment made about me hanging onto the handlebars for grim life...relax I was told, let your core do the work.   Core...not sure I've got one, it is not as though you can flex something and point to it saying "look at the core".  More than one person has mentioned how important a core is, I'm doing specially recommended 'core work', but me and my core are yet to be properly introduced.

I came out of the shop, purse lighter and assured by the smiling mechanic that the more efficient set-up would make my cycling faster and hopefully provide less in the way of sore backs and grumpy shoulders. The squeaky seat had been fixed as a happy side effect...YES!  I also came out with no tri-bars.  NO tri-bars, I was delighted, more than happy to agree that it was sensible to try out the new setup before adding anything else new into the mix.

Anyway, just been for a lovely ride, instead of perching on top of my bike straining forwards I felt like I was installed in a little cockpit and the bike was much more part of me.  My leg muscles grizzled from working in an unaccustomed position, that should go away with more time in the saddle. It was too windy to decide if I was much faster, but I remain ever optimistic.  The Tri-bars, well...maybe next time.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Kate writes: crossbow

I'm sorry its been a little while since I last wrote. Life has been a little busy and I'm trying to train! I have a new plan with my coach and it started last Monday, unfortunately I did not look at it until Tuesday so missed a swim. But the rest of the week I have almost been good. I have done everything that was written in the plan but not necessarily the right amount of time. I mean to say I was out riding today and the rain clouds came over and it started to rain, so the decision was shall I ride for another 10 k or go to the cafe.  Well it did not take long to get back to Nick's cafe and I was sitting warmly inside when the rain came. Good decision.

Now I might have talked about this before but there are some strange places around. As I was riding down the road today I saw this man fishing. Strange as I was miles from the sea. He had in his hand a cross bow, you know like the ones Robin Hood used. Lying next to him was a large fish that he had got out of the creek. I nodded good morning and rode very fast down the road.

They say you have to watch the runners as they are the ones that find the bodies, but I think its just that when you are out running or biking you just see everything and there are some very strange things out there! What was the saying from Hill Street Blues - take care out there!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Karen writes: Antidote to birthday cake

It was my dad's birthday, well not quite, but the presence of the Whangarei running festival on this weekend made it convenient to move the birthday celebration forwards.   Birthday cake, decorated by loving grandchildren with copious quantities of chocolate fish, pineapple lumps and gummy lollies, is hard to resist at the best of times, but running a half marathon is a good way of ensuring there is no guilt for indulging.

And I did my best time ever, a PB or Personal Best as the jargon goes.  2 hours 8 minutes and 49 seconds put me actually in the top half of the field!  It must have been that cake, or possibly the fact that the field looked like it had been reduced by at least a quarter, probably the rainy weather and predicted winds.

Still running uphill in Onerahi
It was a lovely run actually, worth getting out of bed for.  We went along the waterside heading towards the Whangarei heads, a diversion along bush trails around the Onerahi peninsular and then back by the main road down a big hill and along the flat.  I met a couple of interesting people, in particular running with a very experienced endurance athlete who after we had been running for a few km admitted the pace was just a little too fast (my pace???) and I had to laugh and say I was thinking the same thing but was enjoying talking too much to drop back.  We talked about some of the amazing events he had done, including his coast to coast experiences, ultra marathons and local races, and we stopped to help a runner who had taken a spill on an uneven bush trail, taking an arm each and scooting her along to the next water station where fortunately there was an ambulance able to fix the lost skin and hopefully send her on her way again.  We ran past three young army guys in far too many clothes and wearing army boots (why boots??), then I pulled away on a final hill but we had a chat at the finish-line. It was one of those times unique to running where you are like old friends without even knowing each others names and then go back to real life at the end.

Its good for a runner to have her mum there
The whanau were there at intervals along the road to cheer me on which meant I didn't dare stop and walk.  I felt like I had put a bit of effort into the run but wasn't too tired afterwards so the 4 hour trip back to Auckland was ok, but I admit to running out of energy when I walked in the door at home, refused to move for half an hour before putting cereal and fruit salad on the table for dinner.  No-one seemed terribly worried about the quality of the dinner though, they had all had too much leftover birthday cake for lunch.  Excellent run, would like to do the full marathon there next year.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Karen writes: I'm a duathlete

I am no longer primarily a 'runner'.  The bike came out of the shed on Saturday.  It was dirty, the tyres were flat, and the old oil on the chain had soaked up the dust and it made a thick coating on the links.  Yuck, sad case of equipment neglect. 

A couple of km up the road I realised I had forgotten…gloves, arm coverings, speedometer, leg-warmers, and how to change gears without thinking about it.  This last was probably a good thing, by practicing changing the chain from big to small front cog and back again I figured out a way of making it work most of the time, which hadn’t been the case before I put the bike away (or at Taupo Ironman), when I had big problems getting from low to high gears.

There were a heap of runners out with their fuel-belts, camelpaks and terribly serious expressions, that reminded me that the Auckland marathon is only five weeks away.  I saw a man and a woman running together when I rode towards Clevedon, then when I came back they were still plodding along the road towards Duder’s Beach.  I slowed and had a chat, they were on a 36km run and before I thought I muttered something about not going much above 30km myself, which wasn’t very tactful, but they didn’t push me off my bike as I deserved so I wished them luck and headed off up the hill.

It was only a 40km ride, but I came home pleasantly tired, a little daunted thinking about how that distance would treble over the coming weeks and if I am to stick to my resolution to ‘train harder not longer’ it should be much more demanding.

Sunday morning off running, legs a bit tired from the unaccustomed cycling the day before, and I didn’t have a hope of keeping up with the two runners of the speedy variety who turned up for the Te Puru running group.  Some of it might have been me deciding I didn’t need breakfast for ‘just’ a 16km run, I had only grabbed a banana on the way out the door.  Anyway, the guys loped along ahead of me…and I gave up and  said “go on ahead” because I couldn’t even pretend to maintain their pace.  I then cheated and slowed down when they were out of sight, but it was a good run and I am ready for a slow steady performance at the Whangarei half marathon next weekend.

Today I have faithfully promised to do half an hour of strength training.  I would rather…much rather…do almost anything else...except perhaps swim (or use the spin bike, or interval train or do hill repeats).  Hmmm...attitude in need of adjustment, especially since Kate is all inspired from her weekend away.  Will see how I feel tomorrow after the first proper 'programmed' swim, then I will graduate from being duathlete to triathlete.  Hey, Triathlon time!

Kate writes : What a weekend

My coach Gerrard Smith had organised a weekend camp to jump start our Ironman campaign. It was only 10 days since my marathon and my last run had ended with sore knees, but I had booked and paid my money so off to Taupo I went.

Friday I arrived at the house to find 10 other mad ironman athletes. We went off for an 8k run from the AC Baths to Huka   falls. It was a lovely run along the river climbing up high with great views of the river. The knees felt fine so I was happy with that.
Saturday we were up early and at the pools by 7am.  Gerrard forgot to tell us that the main pool was closed and we were in the outside pool. Luckily it was heated and as long as my shoulders were under water it was OK. We did some work on drafting and sighting.
Back to the house for breakfast and then out on the bike.  The weather was looking to be a problem with wind and rain forecast. We found a flat straight road and were shown some spin routines with high cadence. Then off to a large hill and some hill repeats. Back to the house for lunch. I had not eaten very much and lost the plot at lunch and went to bed for an hour.
After a quick sleep we were out doing a run session, looking at cadence and hill repeats, before back to the house and a sit down session looking at gap analysis. Lots of stuff for me to work on. Out to dinner at a local pub and to watch the All Blacks win, thank goodness.
Sunday morning we were up at 7am. Again we were lucky with the weather. No rain or wind so off for a quick ride. 60k a bit slow but the wind did pick up. It was good to be back out on the bike again, but loads to remember.
It was a great weekend. I’m now ready to get going.  Thank you Gerrard for all your hard work and the team of mad people that helped to make it fun – Pete, Daniel, Paul, Saul, Bret, Merjan, Emilia, Jen and of course Camp Mother Brandon (hope you get better soon). See you all again next year.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Karen writes: Pre Ironman stocktake

Kate is off at Ironman camp, its time for me to start getting ready too.  I decided to do a stocktake of what I have to do, what I've got and where I am in the process.

I started by looking at the 2011-2012 training plan.  According to when I started last year, my full-on 6 month triathlon training programme kicks in on the 17th of this month.  This is straight after the Whangarei half marathon next weekend, so the first two days of the first week of the programme I automatically ignore instructions and will probably rest instead.  That's a good start. I counted up the weeks to go to Ironman, there just doesn’t seem to be enough.  But then, would there ever be?

I looked at the increasing number of sessions on the plan, often twice a day, more swim, spin, cycle, oh, and those dratted strength training sessions.  I counted up the hours I am doing at the moment….hmmm…roughly 4 hours a week, oh great, training will get to around four times the current amount.  Where did I find the time to do that many hours of exercise? But then I looked at what I actually did last year rather than what was on the plan, that was a very different story, all I can say is there sure is plenty of room for improvement, in fact and I think I topped 16 hours only once and most of the time it looks like I was trundling along at about 10-12 hours.

Looking at my old notes on nutrition... I used to have WHAT for afternoon tea every day?!  I ate THAT much?   Out of curiosity I checked the pantry, a lonely jar of banana flavoured high-protein meal replacement powder rattled suspiciously when I shook it.  Some wrinkled sachets of energy gel obviously retrieved from some bag or other looked forlornly at me, time to use up or chuck out the expired stuff.  You can tell what flavours I don’t like, that solitary vanilla gel for example, has probably been carried hundreds of km and the writing has worn off, I remember it tastes like a sort of thick, sticky wallpaper paste. I bought a heap of my favourite solid gels cheap a while back, they all expire in November, better get on with using them too, after the wallpaper paste of course.

A stocktake of me.  I’m relatively run-fit, but worried about swimming upsetting the dodgy shoulder, and feeling trepidation about long cycle hours on the road battling with trucks and trailers and heat and grumpy drivers.  My weight is up, and experience tells me it is likely to go up some more with the heavier training.  A comment has been made that I should focus on some core work, yes, sadly I agree.  My arms wobble too, eek.

Feeling increasingly pessimistic here. I've had a look at equipment, the good news there are lots of clothes, some even useful, some not.  A surplus of swim goggles and I cant remember which ones the kids have worn and which ones are ok, the only way to find out will be trial and error. Lurking in the shed the poor old scott bike still has gear-change problems, I wonder if it will have magically healed while it has been languishing in the dark over winter?  

Do I need to buy anything? Actually no, I have no excuse at all to go shopping for anything to start the next phase of training, it is time perhaps to save up for another pair of running shoes.  Shame I can’t buy some motivation though, I could do with a dose of that right now. I'm sure when Kate gets back from camp she will be all enthusiastic, and tell me how much hard work she did, and while there is definitely no competition between us(!), I might just feel a tiny bit obligated to try to catch up.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Karen writes: Home again, did last week happen?

We ran a marathon in Queensland Australia a week ago.  Sounds strange to say that, because life feels exactly the same as it was beforehand except for a little piece of the mind still trying to argue "but it was a marathon". There is no evidence we ran that overheated 42km apart from a few pictures, some memories, and a bit more wear on the latest pair of shoes.  I look at those relatively new shoes and rather wistfully think that I will probably go through another two pairs before Ironman.

So I rested from training all last week apart from walking, I walked up and down Surfers Paradise beaches and to and from the ADS/ADEA diabetes conference.  I must have been still sufficiently endorphined-up and the Thursday presentation came and went without too much stress. The crowd of Australian health professionals got a taste of kiwi-style community gardening as a suggested way of helping prevent some of the lifestyle factors associated with type 2 diabetes, they seemed to cope with that ok and I fielded some interest in the idea afterwards.

Then it was all over and we flew home to Auckland, I arrived safely back in Maraetai in the early hours of Saturday morning and gave myself that day off  to just be mum (translated as early wake-up to hand over eagerly awaited presents and do washing).  Sunday morning I left the whanau for an early run, was a little tired to start off but ended up running an enjoyable 13km without thinking too much about it.  This seems crazy, but I have just signed up for a half marathon in 2 weeks in Whangarei, it's part of the Sport Northland run/walk series and looks like a nice little course and a chance to explore parts of the area I don't normally see when I just drive through to visit my parents.  There is actually method in the madness, I figure if I commit to this there is less chance of me doing something really insane like signing up for another full marathon in the near future (I was worryingly tempted by an Auckland marathon ticket someone wanted to on-sell).

That then will be the official start of my Ironman  programme as far as I am concerned.  I can enjoy running until the 16th of September, then cycling will be the priority as the Taupo cycle challenge is looming at the end of November.  Kate thrashed me last year, and because she hasn't actually stopped cycling and spinning since Ironman she is likely to do the same thing again.  My aim will be to improve my last year's time a little, she can head off into the distance and do her own thing...but I will do some work, I don't want to be left too far behind!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Kate writes: luxury

Its Sunday morning and I should be out on my bike! The wind is blowing a gale so it is unsafe to go out. I went to see my friend Norma instead. As you can see from the picture I now have red toe nails. All my nails survived the marathon. I bought larger shoes and now wear a 43.5. It made such a difference. Roll on summer and I can show off my nails again. Training will start tomorrow I promise!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Kate writes:home

Its Saturday morning and I'm back home. Another Marathon under my belt. I had a look at my sports band calculations and see that I got slower over the run. But saying that I did 21k in 2hours 20 and the second in 2hours 30. Not bad considering it was so hot. No aches or pains now, but I am looking at my training calender and thinking do I really need to go out for a bike ride tomorrow? maybe another day off is what I need. I will start again on Monday! I have a training camp coming up next week end so that should be fun!
It is a strange feeling after an event as I have lost motivation, I think that's why its good to have a coach to kick me back into doing my training.