Friday, 14 February 2014

Birthday blowout

As well as being my birthday, last Saturday was the second event in the EGTC Winter GP, which was the 1km swim. This is one of my favourite events in the Winter GP calendar as it doesn’t involve running and you don’t mind getting wet, unlike The Perch.

Last year I was aiming for a time of less than 20 minutes and to my surprise clocked in at 18 minutes 20 secs. This year I was therefore aiming to surpass this with a time of less than 18 minutes. Every three months we have a swim session that involves three 300m swims with a rest in between (which I think is a minute, but could be more. Whatever it is doesn’t feel long enough before you’re churning back up the pool). The point of this is to get a good assessment of your speed over 100m which equates to your hardest sustainable effort.

When you can't sustain the effort
Last Friday I was looking through the results of the last time we did this (in December) to see what my time was over 100 metres - 1 minute 48 seconds. At the time, guess what, I hadn’t been feeling my best so felt that I hadn’t really pushed myself as hard as I could. 

I worked out that over a kilometre 1 minute 48 seconds would bring me in just under 18 minutes. No problem. All I had to do was turn up and a new personal best would be mine.

But unfortunately, you’re never going to believe this, I was feeling a bit under the weather. I’d been suffereing from a sinusy headache and my energy levels felt low. When I woke up on the Saturday I didn’t feel much better, but knew I’d regret it if I didn’t turn up. I dragged myself out of bed, had a good old sniff of Olbas Oil and after some porridge felt a bit better.

Once in the pool I began the warm up. And I was struggling. I considered getting out but soldiered on. I downed an energy gel, thinking that might get the juices flowing. We set off but I wasn’t feeling much better and was struggling to keep up with the others in the lane. After about eight lengths I had to stand aside to let a fellow club member pass me. 

After 12 lengths I was spent, so clambered out of the pool and went home with my tail between my legs to open my birthday presents.  

However you’ll be pleased to know that I have made a recovery and have this week managed a turbo session, a 10 mile run and the Thursday club swim session last night. So now I’m knackered.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Going downhill fast

Whilst I generally stringently observe the day day of rest, this Sunday (as there wasn't vast amounts of water falling from the sky) I decided to get out for a quick cycle. I'm ashamed to admit that this is the first time I've been out on my bike since 17 August 2013.

My eyes!
This is partly due to the fact that in that time I've been trying to focus on my running a bit more (and I've been using the turbo trainer at least once a week since October) but still quite a shocking realisation.

Despite having spent sometime on the turbo I was quite surprised at my lack of cycling fitness. And I was only out for an hour.

There is a lot of snobbery from some cyclists about turbo training (online discussions about winter riding/turbo training will always have a cycling nazi banging on about rule #5) but it did bring home to me that there that there is no substitution for getting out on the open road.

While you have no choice but to get to the top of the hill you also forget how psychologically reserved you can get on the downhills if you haven't been out for a while.  While I certainly wouldn't condone a lackadaisical approach to safety, when you're racing if you've got the cojones to ease off the breaks during a steep descent you can gain some precious seconds.

This is one reason why, if possible, it makes sense to get as familiar as you can with the cycle section of a Tri so you generally know what's round the corner.

So does this mean that I'll be out again this coming Sunday? Probably not. It's my birthday on Saturday so I expect my friends will be forcing me to drink copious amounts of beer.

And last weeks ride reminded me why I have become something of a fair weather cyclist in recent years. It took me another good hour to properly clean my bike.

I checked there wasn't a hosepipe ban on before cleaning my bike