Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Kate: I'm packed

Its 9:30 on Wednesday morning. I have packed the car with everything I might need. Even party clothes for Sunday evening. Well actually 3 different outfits as I'm not sure what to wear. Its time to start the journey :) .

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Kate writes: finished work

We only have 4 more sleeps! I had a long hard day at work and got 2 abstracts off for a conference that I want to present at, sort out most of my staffing issues and where people are going to sit in the office. I have staff coming back from maternity leave and staff not yet going on leave and new staff starting and old staff not left yet. All very confusing but I think we have got it right and no one is upset! Not bad for a days work. I'm now home. I have washed the car! washed the clothes and about to have dinner. I need to finish off IM plan of action and then start packing the car. OMG I leave tomorrow! I will be in Taupo this time tomorrow! Yippy its coming.

Karen writes: Weather for Saturday looks FINE

More than fine actually.  Note to pack warm gear for the swim, cool clothes for the bikeride, and cool and warm clothes for the run.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Karen writes: IM Hypochondria and Paranoia

Sometimes getting close to the culmination of something as life consuming as Ironman, you are not paranoid enough, like I wore a pair of nice slides with a slight heel out shopping with the kids on Saturday and got blisters.  Other times you think the world is out to stop you getting there, I think there should be an official disorder, Ironman Hypochondria and Paranoia or IMHP for short.

On Sunday I was running along a bush trail, talking (what else) and my right foot hit a rough patch and I lurched off to the side and twisted my ankle.  The runner I was with said "good save" when I corrected and kept on running, I made some throwaway comment, trying to sound casual, but I really wasn't feeling casual at all.  So much goes through your head in a short time, have I done damage, how bad, will I be ok for Ironman, can I even get home?  I kept running and the pain went away, sometimes that happens with a twisted ankle, if the pain wont let you keep running, or doesn't go away quickly, then you know it's more serous than a twist.  Then I was thinking about what would have happened if it had been a sprain or a break, Ironman dreams over, Kate would KILL me, all due to a moment of inattention and too much talking.

I'm in the grip of IMHP again now, except this time I am sure my throat hurts.  I suspect that the swim I just had in the choppy sea, swallowing all that salty water probably has something to do with both the sore throat (and nose) and lack of desire for dinner, but IMHP insists that it should at least be early flu but could just as easily be a rare and sinister tropical disease.

And what about that hip twinge when I stretched in the shower? Are my knees creaking more than usual?  I haven't had a massage for months, don't they really recommend massages?  I ate a heap of salmon for dinner, what about that thing I read about mercury in fish?  IMHP again.  Sadly the only cure is Ironman, one large dose to be taken in one long go on an empty stomach, the main contra-indication is sanity, and side effects guaranteed to occur.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Karen writes: Oh, less than a week to go

Yeah.  Less than a week.  I looked on facebook and saw a post from the Ironman people with a picture of a big number 8 saying "8 more sleeps to go" and felt happy.  Then realised I hadn't checked facebook for days and that it had been posted on Friday.

Went for a run this morning, 18km, less than what was on the plan, but I couldn't see the point in making myself feel more tired than I already do, why do I feel so tired and my legs so prickly and sluggish when I have gone from a peak of 15 hours training down to less than 10?  I'm waiting for the promised excess of energy to kick in from tapering, when am I going to start pinging off the wall with surplus enthusiasm I ask myself.  This morning's run was pleasant, I went lighter on the breakfast and felt better, I've tried several times but the advice to have a huge early breakfast before Ironman obviously isn't going to work for me.  It got hot, there were lots of cyclists and runners around, and swimmers charging up and down the bay, I saw a woman wearing a pink swimcap from last year's Ironman, I understood the impulse.

So I've been packing in advance.  I packed my wetsuit which I had taken into a repair place last week to get some of the bigger holes repaired, including the rather annoying one in the crotch which allows rather distracting boluses of cold water in at intervals. The quote was more than I paid for the thing off Trademe last year (it was only expected to last for ONE Ironman), so I brought it home again and I got out the sewing kit and if I say so myself did quite a neat job.  Must remember to be careful putting it on in case I pull the stitches out right before the main event, but it seemed quite strong as I mainly sewed the fabric stuff on the inside.  My important clothes are washed and dried and put away, found the supporters T'shirts from last year, and I'm now feeling twitchy because it seems much more real.

Real.  Work tomorrow and Tuesday, The girls go to school on Wednesday morning then they get picked up at lunchtime and we hit the road. It's real alright.

Kate Writes: the good the bad and the ugly

I lost my new goggles a few weeks ago when some young lads wanted to sink the RB I was in. So I had to go and buy some new ones. I went to Kohi Beach to swim my usual Thursday swim and went back to the Blue seventy hut to get another pair. Well they had sold out of the pair I wanted and had sold them all to the organiser of the event. Go and have a chat with him they said. So off I went and asked him if I could buy a pair off him. Do you want them now he asked. Yes please. He had to drive home to get them for me. I was very impressed by his help. whilst waiting for him to return I talked to the photographer and commented on the awful photo she had taken of me the previous week and she promised me a better one. Which I did get. I thought yes this is a good day. But then the swim started. I was set to do 2k swim but it was a bit choppy and I was struggling, but I was going to persevere. The next thing  that happened was that I was grabbed by the ankle and abused verbally that I had swam over this girl. Well I was in front but no way had I swam over her. It shock me up and took a little bit of time to settled back into the swim. It was a good to experience before the big event,but not one that I want to experience again.
Last Thursday was my last Ocean swim. I was concerned if it was going to be a bad experience would that by OK or not, so I was a little concerned getting down to the beach, but then the water was almost flat. So Yes I was going to do 2k swim and complete it. I had a great swim, it got a bit choppy towards the 2k marker but I managed it well and when I got home I turned around and watched the rest of the swimmers coming in. I was not last and had a good swim.
Roll on next week!  

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Karen writes: Unfinished pie business

Yesterday about 75km into our 110km ride I was mortified when I dropped the last bit of my bar of fruit and nut chocolate on the road along the coast at Kaiaua, and such was the state of my head at the time that if I'd thought there was any chance I could have applied the brakes and turned around and gone back for it before it turned into a little puddle of brown slush and soaked into the tarseal I would have, sad huh.  Instead I pedalled away in the sun and grieved for my last bit of delicious sugary, fatty, fruity, nutty energy until we made an emergency food and drink stop 15km later at the Kawakawa bay dairy.  As I came out of the shop clutching my treasure I made some sort of throwaway comment to Kate about the fact that what I really wanted was a pie and the guys on motorbikes who were there also having a break laughed and said something about my choice and how it might hamper efforts to pedal up the next big hill.

The chocolate was a lifesaver, and I went home after the ride and had proper recovery nutrition - v8 vegetable juice, banana, and milk drink, but that pie stayed in my head.  This morning I got up, I was a bit tired and had that drained feeling and realised I had no desire for my usual breakfast, so I headed off to work and stopped at the Whitford bakery, you guessed it, I had a steak and cheese PIE.

I enjoyed it.  Immensely.  Some might call that a poor nutritional choice.  I call it unfinished pie business.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Karen writes: Lost again...

Kate and myself took a day of annual leave and did our last long ride before Ironman.  We headed off from Clevedon to Hunua, with the intention of taking on that challenging 100+km ride out to the coast and back to Clevedon via Kawakawa bay.  Except, me with my rather arbitrary sense of direction, had us heading down down down a steep narrow winding hill which neither of us recognised, oops, several kilometers later with the brakes on full, a dance with a tractor (which actually went slower than me down the hill) and a quad bike, and we reached a dead end, we had arrived at the Hunua Falls.  Kate says "I'm walking up", and I thought "if Kate thinks its so steep she will walk, then I can't do it either" but we made it back up the hill, it wasn't as bad as it first seemed (just bad to the mind), and Kate kindly didn't yell at me when we re-read the sign and saw the 'no exit' in small writing.  In my defence, it was really small!

For me it was a hard ride, I do well on uphills, but get into a state of fear on the downhill and cling feverishly to my brakes, a hangover from a head over handlebars on a motorbike years ago.  I also don't go very fast on the flats, but Kate does.  She rocketed off ahead of me, I could see her look back every so often to make sure I hadn't disappeared completely though.

For a change the traffic was pretty good, we did hear some motorbikes approaching really fast up one of the narrower stretches of steep hill, one with lots of blind corners, but when they saw us they throttled off and went sensibly wide, we caught up with those riders at the Kawakawa bay shops and had a chat, we let them know we were happy that they had been careful going round us and they said they were just as vulnerable as us on the road.  They passed us again as we slogged up another hill, waved, that sort of thing is so nice.

There were sheep on the road at one point, what do you do on a push-bike when there are sheep trotting along in front of you?  I couldn't get fast enough to pass them and didn't want to drive them into the path of oncoming traffic, eventually they found a bit where a fence dipped in and I got past.  It has been a sheepy couple of days for me, yesterday, when I was running early in the morning, someone had left a gate open at Omana park and there were sheep on the track so I ended up in the surreal situation of jogging as quietly and non-threateningly as I could in a sea of the creatures until they got to the fence at the end of the track and turned back again and then I was going against the tide.

12 days out from Ironman it was good to get that last ride done, but I'm not sure it was the wisest decision to have such a challenging ride the day after a 25km run.  My legs felt tired and I was low in energy and not interested in food which meant I wasn't keen on the sensible options (marmite sandwiches/banana) and ignored my food plan.  I ended up having extra flavoured milk, 2 bars of fruit and nut chocolate to supplement the gels and extra water so as to not disgrace myself by making a phonecall to "come and get me, I am stuck at Kaiaua".  On the good side, my bike went well, I was happy with my clothing choices given it was so hot, and since the chocolate didn't upset my stomach I might have to just add it to my food plan...

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Karen writes: Vegetarian part 2

I wrote some time ago, nearly 3 months ago in fact, that the 9yo had decided to become vegetarian.  We negotiated that she would continue to have eggs, fish and dairy, and that 2 meals a week would be meat, particularly given she still doesn't voluntarily consume much in the way of such essential  non-meat eater foods as vegetables, cheese, and most fruits.  She is still working hard at this and being very patient with being thrown a vege-burger out of a box because I have forgotten and cooked meat for the whanau for a 3rd time in the 7 day period. I have to say I am proud of her continued commitment to her belief that eating animals "isn't fair".

C's stance has subtly, but painlessly changed how we eat in our house, and meat has become if not a rarity, much less common. I actually think now that we would be unlikely to go back to daily meat, for one thing I don't think it could fit in our budget any more, but also we don't seem to have missed it. The only real issue is that I didn't grow up with such vegetarian staples as lentils, pulses etc, so they aren't what I reach for when I want to cook a routine meal, I now wish I had more knowledge (and the time) to explore more imaginative ways of preparing meatless meals and perhaps after things settle a bit after IM this might actually happen. At the moment for our protein supplies we are heavy on the eggs, cheese, baked beans, fish, and in a fit of mutual delusion the daughter and myself declared bacon to be a vegetable (so we can continue to make bacon and egg pie of course), I'm sure we will continue to do better.

I have recently found a blog about a woman who did her first Ironman in 2010, and apart from saying that she enjoyed the experience which I was absolutely delighted to see and haven't seen expressed by anyone else, she is a vegetarian and writes posts on an excellent site called 'no meat athlete' encouraging and inspiring vegetarian or want-to-be vegetarian athletes.  It was good for me to read, this topic isn't going away for me I suspect and I might have to experiment after IM with the more plant-based lifestyle, of course supplemented by such vegetable delights as bacon flower, and the occasional steak leaf.

Kate writes: the same as Karen

It's interesting how often I want to write the same information as Karen. My Zoot shorts have fallen apart too. I had to ask a friend were they decent or not as they were rather stretched over the bottom. She said they would be OK to run in but not bike. So out they have gone and now I'm trying another pair.

This morning I was up at 6am, out the door and running. It was quite a shock. It was dark, but as the sun was rising I thought what a beautiful day it was going to be and how lucky I was to be able to do it. I left the best part of the run until last and that was a small bush run at the Awhitu Regional Park. As I was running along I broke the new spider webs that were stretched across the path and listened the birds singing. Wow we are lucky to be doing this. 

Karen writes: Why don't I run every morning?

Tuesday morning seems to be run morning, with a swim later in the day, tide permitting.  This morning I was out of bed before 6am, it was dark (when did that happen?) and I hit the road feeling thoroughly righteous. What surprised me as I headed along the beach was the number of other people also out, runners going this way and that and a big group over on the beach I could barely make out in the gloom performing some sort of stretching exercise.  There were even children out jabbering away as they trotted along with their parents, that was impressive, mine were still unmoving lumps under the bedclothes.

The sun was just coming up as I got to the wharf at Magazine bay making everything I saw look spectacular, whether it was the silhouettes of birds standing on a wall against the light, or the first rays of sun filtered by the pohutukawa trees...can anything look as wonderful as the sun coming up over the water behind the distinctive shape of pohutukawa?

On the way back the lone paddle boarder and his dog left a trail on the perfectly flat water, cyclists started to appear chattering back and forth as they hurtled along, and the early workmotorists complete with coffee cups in their hands hit the road.

My legs had been working fine for nearly an hour and I felt like I was on holiday...briefly...then I went home, and went to work.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Karen writes: Tapering now for IM

I've taken to heart the endurance writers who recommend taper for Ironman being at least 3 weeks long (other events might be 2 weeks or none at all if you haven't been training very hard) and am now reducing my workload by 20% for the next 2 weeks, and will probably do very little in the final week.  Last week was therefore the last of the hard(ish) work, I had my longest swim, 3rd longest ride, and 2nd equal longest run.  When I go out for training sessions now I am trying to think about race-day, so yesterday for example before the 27km run I had a 4am 'race breakfast' (rice porridge made with milk, sultanas, fruit salad), and tried to follow my planned run nutrition using solid gels, electrolyte capsules and drinking water at what I estimated were likely to be water-stop intervals.  I wore the running clothes I expect to wear on the day, including my new Zoot tri-shorts which I am pleased to report look set to become firm favourites, I put them on and forgot about them which is always a good sign.

I'm at the point of stashing things away.  My pink compression legwarmers (after a marginally successful scrub to get rid of  at least some of the black chain grease) have been put in a bag, I will collect my best bike and run socks when they have dried on the line and pack them, and I'm back to hoarding things like drink bottles, chafe cream pottles, sunscreen and blister plasters so as to have enough for each of the 3 transition bags.  The brand new goggles I bought last week have been tried and seem to work well, so they will be worn one more time to make sure that the silicone sits properly around my eyes and then they will be put aside too, must organise a spare as well so it might be another trip over to the Otara pool shop for another pair of $15 Spanks which seem to be as good for me as the more expensive ones.

Kate was in my office this morning, she talked about her training and it is always hard to think "oh no, I'm not doing that", but at the end of the day your training is your own and you cant compare with someone else.  Also, what is done is now DONE, getting fitter isn't an option with less than 3 weeks to go, it's time to just keep the legs ticking over, work on the head, plan and rest.

Speaking of which, time to dust off the old plan, I'm guessing things might have changed since it was written a whole year and an awful lot of miles ago.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Kate Writes: lung buster

Friday is swim squad. Not been for a bit as its been school holidays. Back into the group and off we went. Lots of hard push and interval training. The last interval was a lung buster where u swim under water for the whole length. Well I managed to do it! I've never done that before. I think that shows me where my fitness is and how much fitter I am. Its hard to think that I have only one more Friday squad left before the big day! OMG!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Karen writes: Wandering on the bike

Well, wandering with a purpose, but it was still wandering, out towards Kawakawa bay where the cars with boat trailers play dodgems, to Takanini where the trucks and trailer units rock along the roads, and everywhere in between where motorists must have taken silly pills today.  I was brushed by dried palm fronds overhanging a trailer as it raced past, I stared with my mouth open as the woman in the white 4WD moved into my lane and overtook directly towards me, I swore with great inventiveness (when my heartrate slowed enough to allow me to find my voice) when the free end of a tiedown strap with a metal hook on it swung behind a boat on a trailer like a lethal scythe back and forth just missing me.

I did get to do a memorial lap of Ardmore airport as a private farewell to broadcaster Paul Holmes, actually Sir Paul Holmes, who was having his funeral in Parnell today, he was a big contributor to how me and many of my contemporaries viewed the world for years, I wonder if he ever knew how many managers used the "how would it be on the Holmes show?" as a crucial yardstick to make business decisions.  There is nothing on the current scene that can elicit quite the same response..."how would it look on 7 Sharp", RIP Sir Paul.

So the last real 'long' ride got done, a mere 5 hours 15 on the road, I mucked up the run-off-bike afterwards though by stopping and talking to the neighbour. Didn't do that well with the nutrition either, ran out of energy with 20km to go and couldn't be bothered sticking to my plan.  Not smart.

Its 21 days, 11 hours, 4 minutes and 22 seconds to go according to the Ironman website.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Karen writes: The big swim

There is so much differing opinion about swim training, some saying don't worry, its the least important triathlon leg and as long as you can reasonably thrash out the distance you are alright, others saying it is a vital stage and recommending putting lots of effort into swim training so you are fresh for the rest of the event.  Obviously I have barely done any swim training because I'm trying to preserve my dodgy shoulder so I have to wholeheartedly believe the first opinion is right for me.

Anyway, it is important before I get in the water at Taupo in about 3 weeks to be in the right state of mind and completely confident that I can achieve the 4km, so Kate and me headed off after work yesterday for the near high tide to tackle the full IM swim distance.  After driving over the hill and seeing the whitecaps out in the harbour it was a relief to find it calm and sunny at the main beach at Maraetai, we went quickly over the road in our neoprene finery and swum up and down the beach for about an hour 50 and achieved our goal.  Well, I achieved 4km, I figure Kate did a lot more.  I looked up at one point to see her heading out to sea, knowing she usually checked where she was at least every 50 strokes I figured she would notice before she got to Waiheke island, and sure enough, back she came, this time heading for the beach swimming very strongly....then out to sea again, then back to the beach.  I was in awe of the powerful and speedy swimming, literally swimming rings around me, I wondered what she was thinking about, turned out she was worrying about the photocopier at work, try as I might that didn't work as a motivator for me!

Waitangi day today, I'm glad we had our swim yesterday, there was a Tsunami warning at about the best swim tide today but you wouldn't have known it from the number of people on the beach.  Anyway, I had an excellent time out on the bike this morning, the aerobars are starting to feel like friends, the ride was followed by a 45 minute run which went well too.  My new aerobar water bottle means I'm drinking more than usual, that might be contributing to why I'm feeling good in spite of the current heat, or it could mean I'm almost ready for IM, and I should be, it's nearly the end of the last official week of training with taper proper starting next week and that feels completely unreal.  Again.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Karen writes: Farewell favourite tri-shorts

I have lots of 'gear' but few favourite items of training clothing. If you asked me what is the best designed, most reliable, least problematic, most comfortable piece of gear I would have to say my old Zoot tri-shorts.  Of course they don't make the particular model anymore, and even if they did I have no idea of what size my old ones are, or even if they are men's or women's. These shorts never chafe, pull, rub, compress or allow wobbles in the wrong places, they don't ride up, roll down, pinch, or punish me if I pull them up crooked after a quick toilet stop in a race.  If ever I was running in tricky conditions I was usually wearing those particular shorts, they might not have been the prettiest or newest technology but I could always guarantee they would never cause me any grief.

Last night I retrieved these shorts from the clean washing pile, then paused, looked at them a bit harder, and felt irretrievably sad.  The silicone strips round the bottoms of the legs had long since perished but that didn't really matter. The hole at the back which had been carefully sewn up after an altercation with a splinter on a wooden seat has marred the smooth surface for a long time but was possible to ignore too.  I now saw that the fabric had gone thin on the edges of the chamois and in other random places, and there were pulls up the side seams, and rubs on the inside favourite running pants just suddenly look really, really ugly.

I tried to put them in the bin, but couldn't make myself let them go so shut the bin lid and decided that one last run would be the thing, then I could throw them out when they were dirty as it can be hard to do that when when things are washed and dried and ready for use.  So this morning I went for a good run, a very pleasant 8km along the coast towards Duders beach, through patches of sun as it came up, patches of mist and drizzle and then rain for a bit, finally on the way back there was a double rainbow calling me home.  It was a fitting farewell run for such an excellent pair of old running faithfuls.

Mad rush to get showered, fed, get the kids out of bed, and finally me off to work and now I am thinking about what I did with those shorts...why I put them in the washing machine of course!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Kate writes: the tale of new goggles

I was at camp a few weeks ago and someone said their goggles were old after 4 months, well mine were a lot older than that so I thought I better get a new pair for Ironman. I was at Kohi beach on Thursday for the summer swim series and there is a Blue Seventy van selling wetsuits and goggles so I went and had a chat with them. We settled on a new white pair of goggles very similar to my old pair so off I went for a swim. Now it was a bit windy and choppy in the water so I decided not to race but have a little swim around the flags. The problem was that the goggles did not work and just leaked. So off back to the Blue Seventy van, how was that said the man, dreadful I said they leaked. That's no good he said, let's swap them. So after 4 different tries I found a pair that sucked to my face. Yippee I was all set. I got $5 back as they were a cheaper model. Excellent service from the boys at Blue Seventy.

I used the goggles the next day at swimming and they were great. Sunday I had a river swim! Well when I got in the RB to cross the river I had my hat and goggles in my hand. The boys, naughty ones, were in the boat with me and they all started moving forward and the next thing I knew was the whole boat was under water, I thought we were going to sink and dropped the goggles and hat and that was the last I saw of my new goggles. Nobody told me that the RB can not sink!

Next week I'm back to kohi beach for another pair of goggles. :)

Kate writes: swimming across the river!

Yesterday I was invited by my friend Jacky to swim across the river at Port Waikato. Everyone looked at me as if I was a bit mad when I said this is what I'm going to do. But it was with the Surf lifesavers annual swim across the river. It took about 20 minutes to cross and we had to stop half way across as there was a sand bank in the way. It was great fun. You never know what you can do until you have a go.

Karen writes: Longest week...again

Longest bike-ride of 160km, that was a hard one on a hot, dry and windy day. I didn't stick to the nutrition plan, stopping for flavoured milk and extra water twice, and not being able to resist some date/nut balls the lady at the fruit and vege shop outside Clevedon handed me.  Using the salt capsules instead of electrolyte drink seemed to work, at least I didn't feel sick like I can after a while drinking the sweet stuff.  Anyway the ride was ticked off, am on the downward training slope to Ironman now...if you can call two more rides of 140km really going down.  One thing to break up the ride was offered by my usual trick of finding strange things on the side of the road.  I found a pair of clamps that builders use, each about 2 feet long, I couldn't leave them there.  A bit of manoeuvring and inventive use of my jacket and I ended up with something that looked like a parcel rack over the back wheel, I couldn't ride like that for long though, the metal bashed the back of my legs so the clamps got dropped off via a detour to the Clevedon police station, much to the amusement of the lady behind the counter.

Longest run on Sunday of 31km, on legs that should have felt tired but strangely enough didn't, the brain was the stumbling block, that and finding enough water to keep going on such a hot day. The run was a lesson in exercising in the hot weather, I made my first mistake by deciding that I wanted to run in the cooler bush so I headed for the Whitford forest, initially straggling along the main road with the hot surface and the dust and cars and I got there the two gates were padlocked and there was a sign saying "forest closed, fire danger".  Oh.  A lady was there waiting for some mountain bikers to come out, "oh just go in round the edge of the gates" she said, I thought "do I really want to a) get accused of putting the forestry at risk by going where I'm told not to, or b) risk myself in the event of some mountain biker striking a spark in the tinder dry undergrowth?".  That was easy, I turned around and made my second mistake of the day, I headed back to the road, up a hill, down a big hill, up another hill, over the stile, along the cow track to the Maraetai forest and found a sign, this one hand painted, saying "forest closed".  Ok.  Then it was a long and dry trek back to the main road to make up the full distance on the unlovely tarseal but I eventually did, and there were a surprising number of other mad people out running in the heat too.  Then it was off to the Clevedon jazz, wine and food festival for a few more hours in the hot sun and a good excuse to eat icecream with not the slightest feeling of guilt!

I need to do a big swim, I mean a really big one.  I am happy with the cycling, just need to be more strict with myself about practising nutrition for the day, I'm pretty happy with the running on the theory that I can always walk, but I have barely done any swimming, less than one swim a week and the longest was just under 3km.  If I can get a good long swim in this week I am sure I will feel like I am almost ready...just over 3 weeks to go!