Friday, 28 February 2014

Karen writes: Waiting waiting waiting

Everyone else is resting.  I'm meant to be resting but my brain is going at a hundred miles an hour and pre-event paranoia is in full swing.  This morning we got up early for the Ironkids race, that was great as the girls had Sam Warriner to lead their warm-up and inspire them.
Then it was time for a swim with Kate, and later we went down to the venue to drop off my bike which had to be inspected, and I had to hand over my transition bags.  Of course we then had to explore the expo.  It was the second trip for me to pick up things I had forgotten, like the neoprene thingy to attach the timing transponder onto my ankle, new goggles, more anti-chafe, and a few extra items I really didn't need at all. Then we filled in competitions to win entry to next years Ironman, and had to stop at the nutrigrain stand where they had been handing out vast quantities of cereal and nitrigrain bars.   Tomorrow it all happens, outside it is sunny and windy, not a thunderstorm or volcanic eruption in sight to get me out of this one.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Karen writes: Odd things

Packing....seem to have a surplus of odd socks, odd gloves, odd other things.  I cant find my favourite hanky, I think I'm catching a cold and I stepped on a piece of lego left on the floor and my foot hurts!

Sheesh.  3 days to survive.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Kate writes: East Coast

I've not been on holiday for a long time so when I got an invite to go to the East Coast with one of my running mates, I jumped at the idea. I've never been to the East Coast so why not. I packed my tent, bike, swimming gear and running gear and off I went. The instruction I had was get to Tauranga and turn right and keep going for 3 hours and then you will be there. The Hills were big and I thought why am I riding my bike down here. Well the first day I went fishing. That was great but I had had enough of that so the next day I road off to hicks bay, about 45k from the house. No phone coverage. I had a puncture at 20k, no problems I can change a tube, but a bit of an anxious time. Then my derailleur had a big noise come out of it and I could not change down a gear.   I had to get off bike and manually change down a gear. The consolation was the views. we are so lucky here to have such beautiful places to visit and see.

The logging trucks passed me on the other side of the roads, they even stopped at one way bridges for me to pass. The next day off for another ride. 5k from home another puncture. Changed tube and then bang I caught it in the tyre. I had no spares and I was away from home. Luckily I got a lift home and found a spare in the back of the car and was ready for another days riding.


As you might know running is not my favourite thing, but I thought I would run along the coast to the White Church. Not sure how far it was but a lovely run. It was 8k from the house. Well why not add a few more ks in and do 21k? I felt very pleased with myself as I did it twice during the week.

A great Holiday was had and a bit of training. Oh and by the way -  no swimming as the boys caught a very big shark on the first day and that put me off :(

Karen writes: Taper

Taper is a confusing sort of thing if you read the advice of the experts, some recommend anything from 5 weeks of taper down to none at all.  Some deliver dire warnings about overtraining and poor performances because of not enough rest, others suggest that you lose condition for every day off you have.  I struggle with knowing what to do, especially since according to some plans, my peak is equivalent to what others do in their final week of taper.

I've never followed the official plan I got off the coach back in 2012 for taper, I lean towards the less is more style.  I instinctively felt that having the longest run and ride at 2 weeks out wasn't good for me, so I split them up and moved them to 3 and 4 weeks out.  Peak weekly hours of 16.5 was a month out, and things have been on a gradual decline since.  In the final two weeks I cut time by 30% then a further 50%. Yesterday, Friday I had my last proper bikeride, 80km.  Today I've had my last swim of 3km and tomorrow is the final run, 15km. The final week of taper starts with spin on Monday, nothing Tuesday...who knows after that, it wont be much.

Today's swim wasn't my best.  It was a high tide in the afternoon, conditions were perfect and I struck out along the beach feeling quite warm in my wetsuit.  It took an hour 40 to complete the 3 km, I stopped lots and was bored and wanted swim to the beach and walk home.  I wasn't even inspired when an elderly lady doing something that looked like a breast-stroke/dog paddle hybrid kept pace with me. She held her head high, hair immaculate, I'd pass her then stop, she would pass me, so depressing!

Perhaps my sluggishness was because I ate too much cake at the daughter's 8th birthday party.  She took a group of her friends to a trampolining place in East Tamaki called Jump.  What a fantastic way to party, imagine a huge building with a great space made up of joined together trampoline mats and what seemed like 100's of yelling kids (big and small) leaping all over the place. I doled out urgently purchased bottles of water to panting children and felt the need to explain to their mothers that their children were red-faced and sweating because of exertion not that we'd been mean to them.  Water and cake, the stuff miracle recoveries are made of.

Anyway, 4 days until packing the whanau into the car and heading south.  4 days to finalise equipment for race day, wash essential clothes, organise the necessities to keep 4 people happy while away from home over an extended weekend.  Just 4 days till we go away!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Karen writes: A week to go to IM 2014

Started this blog entry a couple of days ago, at that point, I had 10 days to go before I line up with a couple of thousand others for the 30th NZ Ironman. 10 days where no further fitness gains could be made. 10 days where injury could occur or bugs could be caught. 10 days to marinate in anxiety about whether or not all that training was 'enough'.  The Ironman people have had a countdown going on since 30 days out, each day of the countdown representing 1 year in the 30 year history of the event in either Auckland or Taupo.  Some excellent stories, all, no doubt, to generate enthusiasm and excitement.

I'm yet to start feeling excited, but I do have a need to keeping going over and over what I have done to try to figure out how ready I am, it's about reassurance to prevent panic (I'm NOT ready!!). I'm spending time (still) poring over my training records and adding up hours from this year, comparing them to last year, and the year before.  Do the averages look better than for this week in previous years?  Has the 2013 total been overtaken yet? Did I meet my aim of improving on the cycle training?

For the final 10 weeks of training the figures look like this....

2012 IM - Total cycle km: 1064, run km: 266, Swim km: 34.1, Spin min: 421.  Average hours/week 11.8 hours.
2013 IM - Total cycle km: 1250, run km: 276, Swim km: 20.4, Spin min: 150. Average hours/week 11.3 hours.
2014 IM (incomplete, missing final week) - Total cycle km 1030, run km: 289, Swim km 20.7, Spin min: 595. Average hours/week 12.5 hours.

Now it should be noted that lots of other people do way more than this, but here's the thing, its a mistake to try to compare what you do with what other people do.  I'm lucky enough now having done this more than once to be able to compare with my own past experience, but the numbers don't tell the full story. Forgetting that the 2014 numbers are incomplete, there has to be consideration of quality as well as distance.  Some things I've figured out about those numbers include the fact that the lower cycling hours in 2014 actually aren't (such) a worry. I might be down on bike hours but spin hours are way up in quantity, and more importantly quality, perhaps equivalent to another 250km on the road.  Of concern though, I've been up in running km this time, but the quality has been poor, runs have been slow and difficult.  Swimming km may be slightly higher than last year, but again quality has been poor with no drills or pool work, and average distances of individual swims are lower.  Average hours per week increased by over 10% however this has been due to taking longer to do the distance.  And of course the elephant, or should I say Athena athlete in the room, I'm carrying all that extra weight. Still, I can look at the situation overall, add in the factor of a new bike and think yes, catastrophes allowing, I'm going to finish, but maybe take a bit longer.

So now I am now officially in taper time and taking it easy, 10 hours of training planned this week and I am not going to be too stressed if I don't achieve that, next week will involve very little effort. Just as well I dont need too much time to train right now though, things are busy with organising an 8yo's birthday party, evening meetings, and extra work to get ready to shift the whanau away to the lake for a few days.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Karen writes: Bugs

Bugs are causing me problems.

I was sailing along on my bike, mouth must have been open. Instant decision, do I swallow whatever flew in since it went to the back of my throat then wash it down quickly in the hopes that it drowns quickly, or stop and ....well, stop and what? Of course after the immediate panic and relief that the shock didn't result in a close-up encounter with the drain on the side of the road, and after swallowing, there is always the period of wondering if whatever it was, was a) was poisonous, b) had a stinger, and c) had just come out of the cow paddock. Oops.

I had been swimming along in the tide, in my wetsuit and didn't realise until afterwards that I had somehow picked up some sealice.  Can I really blame the little things for being disturbed enough to turn my neck into an itchy red mess while they were firmly compressed against my skin by the wetsuit collar? Oops.

The ubiquitous croc shoes live on the doorstep at home.  These are essential to the sport-minded wardrobe, being ideal wear to the beach before a swim, or put on to get down to the road with the bike before putting on cycle shoes, or just comfortable enough to give punished feet a bit of a break.  What is it about the pale green pair that ensures cicadas really want to attach themselves in order to shed their skins?  Crunch.  Oops.

Don' t get me started on the cockroach that tried to take up residence in my on-bike food bag.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Karen writes: On bears and gazelles

I try to go twice a week to spin cycling class at the gym at Formosa. I do have a spin bike at home, it is my emergency backstop for the times when I need to train and cant get out of the house.  I hate it.  I never work hard on it, even when I use one of those grueling Spinerval DVD's.  More often I do things to sabotage any training benefit from pedaling like read a book or daydream.  You cant read books or daydream in a spin class and while the class only lasts for 45 minutes I am sure it is more beneficial than 90 minutes of sitting on the deck with legs turning lackadaisically on my own bike.  My reading suggests that hard spin is also likely to be beneficial in a different way from meandering round the countryside on the roadbike as I am wont to do.

Some days I run to spin and back home, an 11-15km round trip, other days I cycle, usually adding on some extra miles. I pretend these are some sort of 'brick' sessions, and use them as an excuse for not running after the big bike rides like I am meant to.  I mean, I am going for a run after a hard ride...sort of.

While I still feel behind in my bike fitness, I am definitely doing better at spin class than when I first turned up some-time last year. Back then it felt pretty tough and I minimised my effort so as to not impact on the rest of my training schedule, now I am taking pretty much what the instructor throws at us.  Us.  I have to admit that I feel like the odd one out in these classes, the rest of the 'us' is made up of, in most cases, much younger women, they work hard on their bikes, look beautiful and fitly fabulously as they generate a glow with their Nike or Asics or whatever clad legs flashing at higher cadence than I could possibly expect to reach. I thrash away at my pretend bike wearing the old clothes too worn out to use on the road bike. Sweat drips inelegantly down my nose, I huff and gasp. Half the time my shoulders are up around my ears and I'm hunched over not bent from the hips and I forget to pedal 'smoothly in circular motion'. I misjudge the resistance on the bike and can come to a grinding halt occasionally when going from standing to sitting.

I feel like a slow, lumbering old bear among the gazelles.  Ha...Ironbear.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Karen writes: Peak Ironman week - Stocktake time

Here's the thing, you think when you sign up, nearly a year out, that you have plenty of time to get the super-fit, super-lean, super-ready body.  But you don't.  Well, I don't anyway, and I can now claim to have had a bit of practice, being as it's the third time I have reached this point of peak training for Ironman.  Last week was my heaviest training week, I had the longest bike-ride of 165km, the longest run so far of 28km, plus the other stuff which meant that over 17 hours were spent in pursuit of Ironman fitness.  Now three weeks out it is time for a stocktake of how things are going.

So how do I compare fitness wise to previous years?  First of all, I'm 6kg heavier.  That is a real anxiety trigger, 8% extra mass must mean it will be harder to drag myself around the course. Next, my training hours per week over the last 2 months were on average about half an hour down when compared to last year, except for last week which was the highest I had ever done.  I've looked at this in several ways, always trying to figure out the angle to make it seem better, but actually it may not be the problem it appears anyway. Where I wasted hours last year sitting on the spin bike just turning over the wheels, this year the spin sessions have been shorter but all about real hard work.  Looking at balance between disciplines, cycling/spinning may be just a tiny bit higher in terms of time spent, hopefully this will translate into an easier bike-ride which was where I identified I needed to improve last year.  Swimming hours are down, I haven't been in a pool once, instead swimming at least weekly in the sea, just one lengthening distance a week, this is not the recommended training but it will be interesting to see how it has worked out.  Running, I have covered about the same distance, but considerably slower, see first comment.  Strength training...I managed a month of a core challenge doing daily planks and push-ups, which is probably better than what I did last year. On balance, I predict a slower event, but still well within the cut-off times.

Equipment - the new red Scott bike has two rides under it's wheels and now over 200km on the odometer, and I'm falling in love. The wetsuit is looking pretty battered, the zip is dodgy, but it should just get me through this race, not bad for something that cost me $70 off Trademe, it has lasted a year and several events.  Race gear, have plenty that will do the trick, I may be tempted by a new top for the ride and run.  Cycle shoes need new cleats and a bit has fallen off one heel but they will be fine.  Running shoes, pretty new, and to tell the truth I doubt I will be doing a whole lot of actually running on the day.

So the next thing to do is write up the plan.  THE plan. This is about minimising screw-ups, I make lists, visualise how things will go, write down intentions at each key point for the event.  When I actually get round to doing that it will make Ironman seem awfully close...wait...it is close!
From Ironman NZ - its less than 30 days now!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Kate writes: long time

Its been a few weeks since I last wrote. It took me ages to firstly find the blog and then remember the password! I do have a new computer or at least I had wiped all its memory recently.

Well I'm training for a half Ironman. Haha. Its actually really good as it gets me up in the morning and out. Yesterday I was going for a run. Well it actually ended up more of a walk but I had a lovely time. At the end I ended on a beach and started house hunting. Then coffee with one neighbour and then another. It was a hard morning.