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.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Karen writes: Never boring

Had a good ride yesterday,  left early in the morning, and spent over 4 hours slogging on the back roads, round Clevedon, Takanini, and even took on the dreaded Ardmore Quarry road.  For anyone who hasn't been idiotic enough to cycle this road, it is a series of really steep hills, going through beautiful bush, and you end up high enough to get an amazing view over Clevedon and towards the coast. Hard enough as it is to get to that view, for me the worst bit is the steep, windy downhill at the end. The man at the bike-shop had tried to talk me into removing the extra set of brake levers on my handlebars, I was glad I hadn't given in, the brakes were squealing and it took all my strength to hold those extra levers hard enough to slow my descent.

Today I went for a run.  The legs were tired, but I did ok.  Long runs can be hard but I often see the strangest things to distract me, like the woman in the bikini posing for photographs perched on inhospitable rocks out in the sea, in the wind and driving rain.  The most memorable thing however, happened with 18km done, only a couple of km to go.  I rounded a point and was running directly into the wind, I could see straight ahead a group of soberly dressed people on end of the wharf at Magazine Bay.  I watched as one would step forward, do something and step back.  It was only as I got closer I realised that courtesy of the wind blowing in my direction I had likely gotten up too close and personal with someones dearly departed...the family was scattering the ashes in a near gale.  I cant tell you what was going through my mind as I tried to reconcile the solemnity of their situation, and the absurdity of my own but I tried hard not to breathe for a bit and probably ran that last 2 km as fast as I ever have...didn't even stop to say hello to the whanau before leaping in the shower.  Who-ever said training is boring?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Karen writes: Coach...or no coach...that is the question?

I am free-floating at the moment, seem to  have fallen off the radar of the previous coach so I am plugging along for now repeating what I did last year, and I have to say I am finding it a bit hard.  Having the backstop of expert advice, even if you exercise the option to disagree, is handy, and the effect of someone saying "you are doing OK" after a hard week where you haven't felt OK cant be undervalued.  I've made a half-hearted effort to make a new coaching arrangement, it's been interesting. A meeting with a local personal trainer was an education, good guy, very knowledgeable and obviously excellent at what he did but funnily enough he felt I was outside the scope of his business, it seemed that he didnt think he had enough specialist endurance/triathlon expertise to offer me much...except for strength training, ick. Perhaps this relationship was impacted on too by me turning up for my appointment after having run over from the next door town, puffing and sweaty, resplendent in well-worn merinos, woolly hat, headlamp, carrying drink, food, and with a handkerchief and whistle hanging from my fuel belt, enough to frighten anyone off. Anyway, after that rather disillusioning experience I sent a text to Kate to say that I had been "rejected".  Another coach who had been recommended didn't ring me back, someone else seemed to have insurmountable IT communication problems, one coach was so busy that making an appointment to talk was I gave up...

I shall have to see how things go, and worry about if and what professional input I need further down the track, who knows, perhaps the previous trainer will re-emerge.  This week however I am pleased to say I am on track for my own version of training, with Monday off (no-one to tell me off for that), Tuesday 70 minute spin with high cadence/light resistance, Wednesday 40km hard cycle, and Thursday a tired 8km run through the bush.  Of course the hardest stuff for this week is to come, the pool is closed at Otara so I will have to don the wetsuit and catch the midday high tide at the local beach for a 1500m swim, there is a 90km cycle ride to fit in with all the windy rainy weather, and of course Sunday is reserved for the long run.  It will be a busy weekend.

Speaking of wind and rain, I feel for the international athletes who are in Auckland for the World Triathlon Grand Final.  It could be a challenging few days on the roads.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Kate writes: 6 am start

I had a difficult week last week. My friend Mark is dying and its hard to let a friend go. So this week is a new week and back on target, or at least I thought so! I woke up early 6am to go swimming. It was really warm in bed, but no I was going to be good and go swimming. I arrived an hour later at the pool. I have 55 minutes before I have to be at work. The car park was empty! The pool empty of water. It is closed for the next 2 weeks! There goes my good plans.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Karen writes: Weetbix Tryathlon...never disappoints

It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain yesterday, I went to bed thinking about how bad the weather would have to be to cancel the Weetbix Tryathlon in St Heliers.

The whanau woke reluctantly, breakfasted in the dark, we bundled the rather laid back 9yo athlete into the car, and headed for the city.  What do you know, the weather cleared, a 1000 other kids had also extracted themselves and their families from their beds, and I didn't see any sign of anyone regretting it.  I can only say that it doesn't matter what the fitness level of the child, participating is so worth it, and this time it was kind of cool that the finishers ran a gauntlet of triathletes here for the international triathlon series coming up next week, they can feel they were part of something much larger.
Now I am about to make a decision which goes against the grain, I took a beautiful photo of the athlete sound asleep in the back of the car on the way home.  The picture spoke volumes to me, how wonderful to exhaust yourself with a day of friendship, excited cheering, less than ideal food choices and even some exercise...and then crash out with such abandon.  I wish I could do that!  But I'm not going to post it, darling daughter is probably old enough now to not be happy about being a public sleeping-beauty, perhaps I will save the evidence till she is 21.
Oh, and I am still training.  Got a 65km bikeride in on Friday (20km short), spent a reluctant hour on the spin bike on Saturday (the weather was too awful to do anything else), and had a 20km run yesterday afternoon through the bush.  Still waiting for the enthusiasm to kick in though.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Kate writes: Busy lives

I have just read the blog and realised I am being very bad at writing. I am chasing my tail at the moment with lots of work, studying, training and life!   But I am still here. i have just documented my training this week and find that I am way behind. Well that's life,but tomorrow is a long bike ride. I just hope the wind drops as it is blowing a gale with 120km winds. the house is shacking and all the windows are rattling.
I went for a run this morning. It should have been a 2 hour run but i was very wet and turned around and completed 1.20 hrs run, not bad and at least I had run. It was fun running along the beach having to miss the waves as they crashed into the beach.
Any way one reason why I'm busy is my Uni paper. 2 weeks to go, so I must get on and write another case study. Only 6 more to go!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Karen writes: Life is strange

This has not got the remotest thing to do with training for Ironman, but definitely is sports related. The first I'd heard of it was the phonecall from the promoter offering congratulations for the daughter winning "breakfast with the All Blacks".  Turned out the 9 year old had taken advantage of mum being off on her weekend run to enter a competition on the Sunday morning TVNZ kids programme, 'What Now'.  When I heard, I came out of my office perplexed, told the rest of the team, and there were suddenly a whole heap of self-appointed guardians over the age of 21 kindly volunteering to give up their day to go along and help out.

I asked some questions when I got home, like "what did you have to do to enter?".  She said "say why I was the All Blacks biggest supporter".  "And what did you say?".   "Um...that I really, really liked them".  "Do you know anything about rugby darling?".  Silence.  Then, "but I really, really like the All Blacks!".  Good on you girl.

Then I thought about what terms and conditions there might have been, so looked the details up online.  Whew, the promoter is Sanitarium, it could have been more of a problem signing away the "absolute usage of any images or footage" had it been a less health conscious type of business involved.  I could just imagine it, health promotion organisation manager encourages her family to enjoy....yep, I can definitely cope with weetbix.  Funnily enough, it isn't the only Sanitarium related event we are doing this week, enterprising daughter is also doing the weetbix tryathlon thing again on Sunday, amazing event, I've raved about it before.

So tomorrow me and the girls are dressing in black and are off to Eden Park, they are going to have breakfast with the All Blacks and apparently have a "morning of great food, fans, family, photos and fun". How cool is that?

Karen writes: Maintaining the legs

I had planned a swim yesterday morning.  I didn't go.  I would like to say that I woke up very early (I did), I read some of the pre-reading for my next uni day (I did), and then I got up and did something productive and important instead of swimming.  I didn't.

Why didn't I swim?  Completely mundane reason.  Sometimes I think male athletes don't realise just how good they have it, they aren't worried by hormones, or the right clothing, or the need to have smooth legs.  Or in my case, the problem was one non-smooth leg.  I had waxed one leg the previous night and couldn't face doing the other of those..."ouch...I will pull the strip off on the count of three...1...2...3...(long  pause)....1...2..." etc.  How could I possibly turn up at the pool like that?  And what would it have done to the hydrodynamics?

I am now conforming to societal norms as far as the appearance of my legs goes, so did get my swim this morning of 1.5km. There was no choice, the girls are home from their school holiday with Grandma and Grandad later today, and there will be no chance to take to the water for the rest of this week.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Karen writes: Long ride in wind

I'm falling behind with my cycling here, and it didn't look likely that I was going to get a long ride this morning when I got up.  Looking out the window, it was raining, and I could see the trees blowing about in the wind and white-caps on the sea.  Reluctantly I decided to go anyway, even if I only did part of the planned ride it would be better than nothing, so buried in layers of wet weather clothing I got on the bike and pedaled off towards Clevedon.

It was miserable for a little while, but after about half an hour the rain stopped and the sun came out.  It was still gusting, but it was soon hot enough for a couple of layers of the clothes to come off. I found I could start looking around rather than keeping my head down to keep the driving rain out of my eyes and having to concentrate on staying up right and out of trouble.  I found a 12 inch adjustable crescent spanner on the side of the road, that taxed my brain a bit, where to put a foot-long bit of heavy metal on the bike, especially troublesome as I still had several riding hours still to go?   Didn't want to stick it in a pocket in my top, if I fell off I could imagine getting skewered with the thing. Fortunately I keep an elastic tie under my seat, who knows why, that secured the spanner so it didn't bump the bike or me, it probably looked a bit odd but leaving the thing on the side of the road just seemed silly, who knows, you never know when you might need to dismantle something?

I did a couple of laps out the back of Takanini, why I insist on riding out there I don't know, perhaps because the roads are relatively flat compared with closer to the coast... and I'm lazy.  In Takanini the rain was rehydrating the dried out squashed animals, some of the same rubbish I was riding past in February was still lurking, and the nasty drains and nastier drivers made me think that when the distances get longer I need to find other places to ride.

Finally I had done enough, I turned around and the wind was behind me on the way home while the weather got better and better so that by the time I pulled in the driveway, took my cycle shoes of and put my slip-ons on so I could push the bike up the steep slope, I was thinking I could have kept on riding.  Not to be though, got the weekly long run first thing tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Karen writes: Run ON!

I had an excellent run last night, it was a great stress reliever running through the hills in the Maraetai forest.  I made good time according to the sport-band thingy, but something else happened to put a smile on my face...once I had stopped puffing of course.

The story goes, I was running along, 8km of hard work behind me and I got to the bottom of the most challenging hill and started to climb.  A mountain biker shot past me, obviously getting a fair run-up and hitting the steep slope with intent.  He pulled away from me, pulled away from me, but then...I started to catch him back up!  I was so distracted watching him wibble and wobble in the lowest gear that I must have sped up a bit and before I knew it I wasn't that far behind him, close enough to wonder when/if he was going to fall and think would it be kinder to stop and offer sympathy or should I pretend I hadn't seen anything?  Anyway, he struggled his way to the top, looked back and spotted me closer than he expected and very nearly did fall at that point, then he was gone.  I crested the hill a moment later feeling more than satisfied, that sort of thing doesn't happen very often.  Points to the runner!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Kate writes: the boss says....

I have had a busy few weeks with one thing or another. So writing the blog has gone astray. Today Karen, The Boss, said you need to write a blog.
So here I am. I have actually been training well and doing most of what the coach says, even though the time is not always right.  I did have to forgo my long ride on Sunday though. I had an exam, a presentation for my postgraduate practicum that i am doing. It was 25% of the final mark, so on Saturday when I knew that I still had loads of work to do on it, I had to make the call. Riding or studying. The sensible hat was on and i finished my presentation off. It was well worth it when i got an A- for the presentation so that's about 20% towards the final mark.
I still have 4 weeks of work left to do on my paper but it should be OK. So tonight I am off for a run, only 30 Min's should be a piece of cake. I think I will run over the park and onto the beach I will take some photos and put them on my next blog.I promise to write more.