Tuesday, 20 January 2009
2 weeks in New Seal Land
So, almost 2 weeks in and we're developing a routine.
It's easy with the swimming - turn up at 6am, which means a 5:15 wake up call, to join the triathletes swim squad session. It transpires that the session starting at 7am is mainly for masters (i.e 'proper') swimmers and a few elite, or at least damn good triathletes. The earlier session is divided into 2 groups - 'proper' triathletes who can swim, and remedials/losers who would like to think that someday they will swim. This puts me in a difficult situation - not being fast enough to cope with the real training, but requiring more structure and yardage than we get given in the second group. It is frustrating, but i'm resolved to make the best of it - work hard when the session requires pace, and add on reps to make up a minimum 4k per session. The sessions are 4 days/week, 2 of these are in a 50m pool and there is a lot of emphasis on use of paddles and pull bouy. With an additional sessioon of my own each week 20km is acheivable and so even if i'm not getting pushed to swim to target times, time in the water will improve my stroke, stamina and strength.
The riding here is great with several obvious loops around town of varying length and topography, and it'll be a while before we have exhausted all the possibilities of places to explore with new routes of our own. Then there are al the link-ups between these routes....so i ride 3 days as: tues - hilly 50 -60miler, wed - long flat fast pace with intervals, thurs- mixed 70-80mile easy take a day off the bike for a long run in the hills then ride the weekend as: sat - hill reps, sun- over distance tourist ride with Steven. This format gives about 350 miles and some variety and the sunday tourist ride gives us a chance to see a bit of the area, and sample some of the excellent coffee and confectionary that NZ has to offer ( yes, i know that its time to be careful with the diet in preparation for the race, but when i see those savoury scones or the amazing variety of candies I really AM prepared to carry them around the course at Taupo with me!!!). Last week we headed out south east to Akoroa - a coastal/harbour town on the edge of asubmerged volcanic mountain rim. The ride is around 60miles each way - similar to London-Brighton - and presents soem pretty challenging climbs after about half way. Similar to London-Brighton, though as far as i can recall, Ditchling Beacon has never taken 45 minutes to climb ;o).
On our return, just having departed our 3rd snack stop and decided on the flat and direct route back into own rather than adding 2 further significant climbs over the 'port hills' for a more scenic route, we experienced a sudden thunder and hail storm. One minute wwe were commenting that the sky ahead looked a bit ominus, the next we were stopping to put on shower proofs against the start of a little rain and next thing we'd flung our bikes in a ditch and were desperatly trying to scramble through a hedge for refuge against the grape-sized hails stones which were being flung at us at 60 mph!! A sign of how bad these storms can be is that 2 vehicles stopped when they saw us to let us get in and sit it out. We really would have been quite done in had it not been for this kindness - even though the storm passed withing about 20 minutes, we would have been hyperthermic by the time that it had. It turns out that the folk who had seen us and actully turned around to drive back and rescue us was the family of former All-Black prop forward, Mark Hammetts, international rugby star who now coaches the Canterbury Crusaders!
With all of this riding my running has somewhat taken a back-seat, being a sort of slow paced fill-in sort of thing to and from swimming and into the city centre with a brick runs thrown in. The plan for this phase of my training does call for a bit more pace and tempo work, however, and I'm in a bit of a dilemma here as to whether to ease off on the volume and allow my legs to function like this and get some 'quality' running sessions done, or to maintain my focus on cycling load whilst the riding opportunities are so great, just maintaining a reasonable run volume at easy pace. Afterall, the last few months back in the UK have been run focused and riding limited, but on the other hand - there is a race looming on the not very distant horizon.
That's what makes being a multi sport-er so interesting!
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