Sunday, 19 December 2010

5 passes pics

thanks to Bruce Wilson for the CD of pics from the 5 passes tour back in November.
I've added a few into my blog posts of the race
skip back though the archives to find 'em.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A year without beer?

There's no doubt about it, I do enjoy a couple or three beers. Meeting friends, going out for a meal, or even just in front of the tv on those rare occaisons that I have an evening at home and to myself. Whilst I dont belive alcohol in moderation to be paticulary harmful, there's also no doubt about it - beer ain't a great way to get your carbs in, it is a sure-fire way to pile on extra pounds as well as disrupting sleep and impeding recovery (from training) with a flood of additional toxins.
I can drink a lot for someone of my size, and will tend to do so even if it's not a big 'session'. Drinking in moderation, or a swift half, just isn't my thing. At key times in my year i.e when preparing for a race, I'll steer clear of the stuff altogether. With such a "ban" in place, I am not only saved from the negative effects of the booze, but find the desire to have a drink is very minimal, because i'm feeling good, trim and sleeping well. The more I think about this (it's something that I do tend to ponder upon about 6 days after a big race when the 'booze ban' has been lifted and I've had a couple of bevvies every day for a week straight) it becomes obvious that I'm following a habitual pattern of behaviour rather than making choices based on what I really want. I'll have the "cold ones" becasue I CAN and know that pretty soon, I 'll be back to training and will have to excercIse more disipline. Frankly after a week or so, I really begin to crave a cleaner diet anyway as my body does start to feel pretty lousy as does my mood. But it still always takes that process to get me here! Ok, lets get it in perspective - we're not exactly talking the sort of benders of my early twenties, just a few drinks each night, an additional 500-600 calories in the form of ice cream, cakes or candy and no holds barred on th ingredients that go into creating some nice dinners. A week of this 3 or 4 times a year following a 4 week period of very focused training really isn't harmful. Infact many would argue that it's good to have these periods of freedom - but what's interesting for me is that it isn't really as much a freedom as it is a habit.

I am a very habitual person. It just seems to b the way i work - forming routines and getting easily into habits. This has many advantages when properly focused - it enables me to be very efficient and get a lot done in a short space of time by forming routines and rituals around repetative minor tasks, I rarely forget these important little jobs but can free my attention for other more complex and unique tasks. Anyone who has ever lived with me will be astonished to read that whilst I may appear to be an incredibly messy and cluttered person, there is nothing haphazard about the way that I arrange my stuff around the house. I always know exactly where everything is -most of the time. The occaisions when i dont, it is becasue my 'routine' has been interupted (or yet to be established).

Not all habits are either distinctly good or bad - many of them just "are" - but if we take the view that following habit demonstrates a lack of control, or at least strive to be in control of our habits, then it's important to identify and evaluate them.
So, getting back to those beers and the habitual pattern that can be summarized as a tendancy to drink more beer than I ought to at times when it's "allowed" simply because it's available and/or others are doing so. During periods that I have decided not to drink alchol at all, I very rarely miss it. Whether this is becase these periods I also have plentty of distrction in the form of early morning training and early evening tiredness keeping me form the type of social situation where temptations exist I can say for sure. I have a great deal of admiration, and a certain amount of envy for friends who do not drink at all but still engage in and enjoy this type of social situation and so have decided to test myself out on this. Can I go a year without beer? Will I find that, similary to thsoe 4-6 weeks pr -race dry spells, It's really not something that I miss in my life, or crave - or is it really the short-term objectives also associated with those periods which make abstenance so easy? Note that this is not a pledge to tee-totaldom...so wine with special meals is acceptable as would be holiday cocktails - but will i find a sudden penchance for cooking sherries?? From Janurary, I'll find out.


To add a further dimension to this challenge, I decided to take a look at the other poor dietary habits that i'm guilty of with a view to eliminating one per month. The target is that by the end of the year, I'll be free of most of the things which I percieve to be either poor dietary descisions by virtue of unattural ingredients and processes or at the very least nutritionally worthless excess calories.
With a list of 12, the idea being to knock one thing off the list each month. Hopefully some will stay off for good whilst others are just an excercise in discipline and breaking habits.

Here's the list:

1) Beer
2) Hydrogenated oils/trans fats - this is probably the real baddie on the list, but also requires the most effort to eliminate due to it's prevailance in pre-made foods. Best tack for avoidance will be cutting out the majority of packaged baked goods and dressings, and keeping a watchful eye on ingerdients labels.
3) Candy Confectionary - not a big deal for me unless i'm looking for cheap calories in a garage on a ride, or someone is passing around a packet of sweets.
4) Fizzy drinks /artificial sweenteners - i'm not sure which is the real enemy here, fizzy drink is a simpler catagory to apply, sweetneres is the real baddie tho' so this could include my low-cal hot chocolate or squash
5) Cakes, cookies and pastry - excluding those which I bake myself (or are home- baked for me).
6) Instant coffee - pretty gross substitute for the real thing and is a habit that I only got into since leaving employment
7) Ketchup - mostly sugar, which is why its so nice, but if food doesn't taste good without it, then eat better food!
8) Alcohol (all other)
9) Chocolate- this is late on the list because chocolate is not really one of my habits. I quite like it, and i'll eat it if offered. My preference is for dark choclates which i dont actully think is all that unhealthy if it's good quality. All the crappy type of chocs and bars will have been elimitated under "candy confectionary"
10) Dessert - this is funny one. You might think that the catories preceding this would already rule desserts out BUT most days we will have a fruit salad or yogart or something sweet afetr a meal simply out of habit. Generally Steven needs the extra calories - mostly i dont, but will partake out of habit.
11) Peanut butter - I eat a hell of a lot of the stuff. i dont think it's bad for me - just not really all that healthful ( compared to other types of nut ) and I am slightly allergic to it too.
12) Caffeine - probably the most difficult thing to give up hence why it's last on the list. I do tend to use caffeine as a 'crutch' for training, as well as socially. But I am able to give it up in preparation for races and genrallay feel better forit during my race-week taper after the fist 2-3 days have passed. It's another thing that i really dont miss, but will revert quickly back into the habit, simply because I can, once the race is done.


There are 2 weeks left of this year though so whatch me make the most of it ( 2 strong insatnt coffes and banoffe slice for breakfast today. Diet of champions!)

wish me luck.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

IM WA



6 weeks after racing in Hawaii, with a 4 day cycle race over the 5 major passes of New Zealand's Sourthern Alps and a half marathon during that period, I had mixed feelings about my plans to race in Ironman Western Australia. To complete an active racing summer, extended by our travels around the globe, I was looking forward to a trip to the beautiful location of Bussleton, super-friendly race atmosphere and potential of a PB on the famously flat course. At the same time, memories of the pain of Kona had not yet completely faded, and suspicion that the 'average' race i produced there may simply have been down to late season weariness jabbed at the back of my mind. Recent training has been on and off - 2--3 days of solid training per week but with a lot more emphasis on recovery between these sessions. I found that I was hitting targets and feeling good during my "on" days- but a lot more drained as a result and struggled on the "off" days. However, I told myself that i only needed one more "on" day and that would be it for the year - and it was with high expectations and excitement that I warmed up in the flat calm ocean at 5am on a beautiful race day morning.

There'd be a split start, with the age groupers gun 15 minutes after ours. My experience at Hawaii had taught me that I need to swim like hell off the gun and fight to get in with a good paced group and so i was positioned well in the middle of the field at the start. I'd identified that Kate Bequilava was a 60+ min swimmer also - a bit faster than me and a smart racer, so i'd make an effort to stay with her. Gun went and I was right in there - great! Bubbles all around and i'm feeling ok, head down swimming hard - then suddenly i've swum in too close and am treated to a couple of kicks in the face loosing my goggles. in the time it takes me to compose myself and get my eyes back in their sockets, the group is still in sight but just out of reach. I'm not alone and so swimming hard i the direction of teh receding draft i'm hopeful that the swimmers around me will follow and assist in the chase, but i think that neither of us are quite strong enough - she swims beside but not past me. It's good motivation to keep the pace up though, the water is calm and clear and i'm feeling pretty good aside so that is how we swim all the way to the far buoy. At that point i seem to have chosen a better line and get ahead, notice two sets of arms just ahead and catch up to swimmers who have been dropped from the pack on the way back in with on or two on my toes. As we near the shore i am thinking about whether steven will catch me and the first four age groupers do pass us in the final few hundred meters. Given the open ocean nature of the course and the fact that my swim was entirely unassisted, to be running up the beach in 64 minutes was a decent swim, for me.

T1 was swift and smooth - though unfortunately the same cannot be said for my mount line routine! to start with I tried to get on teh bike to early ...and so had to scoot my way along the exit chute to the mount line...and then it took me several attempts to even get my feet on top of my shoes. I usually hold them in place with rubber bands between the heel of the shoe and the lever on my rear skewer, but my early mounting mistake had broken the band and so both shoes were catching on the ground. Unless I kept my cool, the next thing would be a shoe popping off the pedal altogether, which I avoided, and after what seemed like an age of faff i was on my way up the road.

Legs felt great - as they always do after a nice swim, spinning along at 200W, Hr 170. I've been riding well the last few days and have become well familiar with the 3-lap course so i'm looking forward to doing a little catch-up and am not too concerned about pushing too high a power at this early stage in the race. I also knew that the winds tend to build up through the morning and would potentially become quite strong on the return leg of the later laps, based on the conditions of the previous couple of days. To hit my goal bike split and intended average pace, I figured i'd get ahead of myself whilst the going is good. This is not a strategy that I would recommend to the athletes that i coach, but nonetheless it tends to be how I race
since I do have confidence in my own fitness and tolerance for higher intensity intervals when required. Rhae Shaw who i'd met that morning in transition, came belting past me early in teh first lap and I thought 'great, someone to pace off - i wont be riding on my own today". Not a chance - I lasted about 30 seconds at +200W. i don't yet have confidence in my tolerance for that! She went on to ride the fastest female 180km of the day - though of course i didn't know that at the time and had to focus on staying positive as she disappeared up the road and i saw the gap grow at every turn-around. There were a lot of fast male age groupers also passing me, the road gets a bit congested and it's a bit tricky to maintain a steady pace with the new 12m draft -zone ruling that has been implemented on the course. Its a good move in the name of fairness, but at the same time makes it pretty hard to maintain a constant effort and pace. For fear of the appearance of zone infringement or accusation of blocking there were several occasions where i found either myself slowing or pushing hard to make a short term pass. This effected me for about a lap - by which stage the strongest swim/cyclists had been through. There was a definite head-wind on the way back into town, but i was prepared, felt strong and continued to enjoy the ride for the rest of that lap. By the time we were on the outskirts of town however, i was beginning to feel less strong, however i was able to count the women ahead of me as they came by on the start of their second lap and i made it 6. Regular checks on my power and heart-rate showed that i was still holding a very good intensity and feeling good on it too, which kept me motivated to maintain the effort with 120km still left to see what might happen ahead. I knew it'd be whole lot easier once we began the second lap, with the wind, too and a chance to pick up the average speed again. It was about half way through the next lap that i realized i'd been watching my average heartrate rather than current - and was actually riding at a considerably lower intensity than i'd thought, and a fair way off my target. Those first few miles after transition when i typically record something over 170 had elevated my average....so whilst i'd been thinking i felt reasonably good after 60km of what i knew from training to be a hard effort, and with no real gauge of pace holding back a little, i was actually just doing only just more than a moderate ride. "don't let this throw you, Jo" i told myself "you're on pace for 5hr20 and now you know that you can push harder. You'll probably benefit form a relatively steady start to the day" and got back to the riding. As you'd expect, things started to feel tougher as the km ticked away. The benefit of a course consisting of 3 laps, each with 3 turns is that it breaks the ride into fairly short sections, which was a real help when i found my attention straying harder and harder to focus on holding my power. My heartrate had dropped, and if i failed to concentrate my power very quickly did so too. Believing that I was somehow short on calories, I took on some extra gels at aid stations, despite having no feelings of hunger or the usual signs of low sugar, but the usual 'pick-up' that follows was not forthcoming - i just felt rather sick. I noticed a pro woman not ar behind me at each turnaround and. Knowing that i needed 6th place for a prize, used that as motivation to keep pushing with what little energy i seemed to have in my legs, making the most of the faster sections, and digging in when riding the tough parts into the wind. There was good support along the course and the volunteers at the aid stations were the best i've ever experienced. It helps me a lot if i remove myself form my own experience for a moment and look around the 'scene' - how beautiful a place it is, how cool to be out there doing it, the wonder of everyone's experience, the wonderful positive energy that the volunteers and supporters provide ..and how crazy this whole event is, in the grand scheme of things. i so would have liked one of those cookies that they were handing out on Tuart drive turnaround, and to sit on the side of the road eating it but I wasn't there for that. i could have a cookie when this was all done. I just wanted it done soon, damn it! by the third lap i felt as if i was completely out of steam, and it was a case of continuing the routine of "check power, get shocked at the low numbers, push a bit harder to i achieve target power, ride for a few seconds, focus - no fidgeting for as long as possible ( I think about 20 sconds!) check power about a minute later..." and checking that i'd not lost any of the gap to the woman behind me. At long last it was time to get off the bike, i willed those last km into the headwind by like i have ended so many long training days - looking forward to a change of scene, though i cant say that i was anticipating the run with as much enthusiasm as the thought of a hot shower and cup of tea that i usually get!

T2 was nice and smooth (although the tent volunteers did seem a bit disturbed by my refusal to use the ladies change tent). I promised not to get naked and got a laugh before dashing out into what had turned into a nice sunny afternoon after the cool showers we'd had on the ride. It's a great idea to start the run section with a short loop that passes right by the finish chute in town where there is high energy and a lot of crowds - it really gives a big boost. I did make an effort to start the run easy since i usually find myself running the first couple of km unrealistically fast, I really enjoy the feeling of running after a ride and my legs seem to work straight away. having eased into it with a 4:40 split, I picked up the pace a little on west-bound the Geographe Bay stretch towards the second turnaround which happened to be just outside the home of our wonderful hosts, the Haswells. They had gathered quite a party of family, friends and neighbours around the barbie, so i knew i would have something to look forward to on each of the 4 laps. The wind was blowing east, so the next 7 or 8km after that turn-around point were decent splits of 4:20-25. As a result of my desperate feeding on the bike, my stomach was giving me the signs of an urgent requirement for a port-a-loo, but I was reluctant to break this good pace whilst i was passing so many people. Similar to the design of the bike course the run consisted of 4 x10.5km laps, with 3 turnarounds more or less centered on the main transition area - this meant that at no time were we further than 3.5km from the main bulk of support and activity. I must say that the atmosphere provided by the locals was awesome. Houses along the route all had bbq's and stereos fired up, partying and often fancy dress, on their lawns. It really was an enjoyable spectacle. I made my first loo-stop just before the far turnaround and facing the toughest bit of the course - the 4km return into the wind. I thought that this was a smart move, since I'd feel better for the harder work that was ahead. However, it really was a lot harder than i'd anticipated to get back into a decent pace, and it really was all of a sudden like the switch had been flicked off and my pace was barely under 5min/km now. I just had to keep reminding myself that this certainly was pretty tough running - it wasn't as if anyone was really passing me - and would balance out each lap when we had tail winds. As I made a second loo stop I noticed the deep, all over-body throb that I've experienced at the end of very hard long sessions, shortly before crashing out to sleep in cycle kit! I'd lost a couple of minutes now due to stomache issues, and so took on some caffeinated gel and a ProPlus to help get me through this early bad patch. I was only about 1/5 of the way through! But soon, I told myself, you'll be 1/4 through...and then, once you've done 14km..1/3rd...and so on - breaking the race down into tiny sections and goals and just keep the feet moving. Reaching that 14km mark felt like a huge triumph, I'd focused so hard on getting there! I'd been running for 64minutes, and frankly, I was 'over it'. Still, I had managed 3hr15 pace so far with two toilet breaks, and could see that i'd made up ground on Rhae who was ahead of me. I was also aware of Connie, the woman behind and it didn't seem that she was an entirely safe distance off - which, knowing that i was in the position for a prize, was even more motivation to keep plugging away at it. I reckoned that if i could manage a sub 4:40 pace running east, and under 5min/km on the tough westward kilometers, I'd have a respectable run time and possibly catch someone ahead. Easy, in theory, but turning once again into that wind, i suffered big-time and made an executive decision to walk through the aid station, try to get refreshed and well...have a bit of a rest! Well, from there, that seemed to set a pattern for me and that windy 4km from the far turn around to the centre of the lap was just an drill in willpower. With two aid stations dispensing jelly beans, i discovered that by shoving 2 or 3 in my cheek, the sugary sensation was really lifting my spirits (I avoided thinking about tooth rot!) so i was popping a couple in at every opportunity simply in order to keep moving. Walking didn't really strike me as any easier than jogging along, and now that my pace was over 5min/km although it seemed like it'd take an age to get to the finish, it was an extortionate effort to go any faster than this i was holding my position in the womans' race. Although by no interpretation of reality could it be said hat i was having fun, i did appreciate the great atmosphere amongst the competitors, volunteers and crowd support and by means of breaking the laps into distinct sections, keeping an eye on my splits and my distance from Connie behind, and strategic jelly bean consumption i finally found myself with only a km to go....and THAT's when i started to enjoy the day! good race or bad, that short term feeling of satisfaction is always there. A race like that is tough, and can be disappointing, but it certainly gives plenty of targets and new resolve for training and ideas for better race execution.

although there were a few small mishaps, the reality is that i raced under-par simply down to tiredness - probably i was already suffering this in Hawaii. Of course my coach was right - the timing was lousy and it's not a course that played to my strengths even in the best of circumstances, but it was a good experience and a 6th place finish makes teh podium :o) and rounds off the year nicely. Plus, having ridden and run pretty easy for most of the day, I'm feeling much less sore than usual after a race

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Bussleton revisited


we're back in Busso and it's more lovely than i remember; cloudless blue skies, calm azure ocean, long pale golden sandy beaches without a soul on them. the occasional parrot and crickets buzzing in the otherwise sleepy 36 degree afternoons. it' s really quiet in town at the moment, which our hosts Neil and Lorraine attribute to the heat - and maybe the flies! we're staying with the couple who looked after us so well last year when we were here for a good 2 1/2 week prior to steven's race and we're so pleased to see them again and that they are welcoming us back into their home after the amount that we ate, and piles of laundry that we got through last year!! this seems to be the Aussie way though - the local triathletes remember us and are greeting us like old mates. they really did make us feel very welcome last year too. i guess in a place like this, its great to have visitors. It's quiet startling how barren the area is even just a short way out of town...a few isolate farms and vineyards here and there but huge stretches of just....landscape.

we drove out to visit a friends of Lorraine's daughter who have adopted a little joey who's mother was killed. apparently if you run over an adult kangaroo, which happens surprisingly frequently considering the low volume o traffic on the roads and vast amount of space that the 'roos have to bounce around in, you need to look in her pouch and fish out poor little joey who's in there. maybe most people don't take them home as pets, but if you happen to live on an enormous plot a long way from anywhere, and happen to be just a little zany ...why not. it was so cute! he jumps around the garden and sleeps in a pillowcase hooked over the back of a chair at night ( just like mum's pouch). this one was tiny and had such soft fur - i do wonder how big it'll get though!

my race week prep is going well, i think. not too much work - a little less than Kona because of the greater fatigue that i'm carrying - but enough to get a bit acclimatized to the heat and get a feel for riding that flat, flat course. we swam the full course yesterday -something that i did not do when we were here last year, and was very apprehensive of. On a calm day (which unfortunately is not forecast for sunday!) it was really not as bad as i'd feared, so that's one less thing i'm worried about. the sea is pretty warm though and i'd say borderline for wetsuit optional .... not that i'd have much difficulty making that choice -there's a few stinger out there!

there have been some changes to the course since last year ,which i think improves the event for the athlete and spectators. The bike route is still 3 laps, but by adding on extra out & back section each lap is broken into smaller segments and avoids the state highway. The additional 'branch' of the course may add one more dead turn to each lap, but breaks the ride down into more short sections, which i find helps the time go easier and maintain focus. The run course is now 4 laps - and again each lap is a sort of T shape and so broken into short sections. you're never more than 3.5km from transition - great for support and makes the aid stations more efficient, which when you're relying on volunteers to stand all day in the baking sun, being bothered by flies and having to witness the sort of desperate deterioration of the melting athletes on the run course, is a good call!

The swim still goes around the iconic jetty which is sadly still unfinished!) , but now in the other direction. i don't think that'll make a huge difference, but suits the new placement of transition better. so, really the race is pretty much all-change, except for the fabulous venue, great weather and friendly 'local' vibe. i do hope that the race organization retains that nice low-key feel that it's become known for.

Monday, 22 November 2010

up and down and gettin' around

it's been a while since my last blog (as my winter-ridden family have pointed out) and if i'm perfectly honest the reason for that is that i just haven't been feeling much like "sharing" recently. Post race blues affect everyone, combine that with a reasonably high level of fatigue playing with my nervous system, the massive disappointment of the cancelation of Epic Camp 2011, being broke and a long way from home.... i've been suffering a bit of a low spell. It's off and on and, since we're basically here in New Zealand for a 5 month training camp, hugely influenced by how i'm doing with regards to my training. I don't train so well when i'm feeling psychologically low, so it's easy to get drawn into a negative cycle.

So, to break this spell I've been planning some cool trips and activities - the sort of thing that makes training fun, makes it worth while being in a cool country away from home and enables us to hang out with and get to know other triathletes in the area.

Trips have included a ride up to Hamner Springs and then, with the generous loan of a car for the weekend from our Scotty Brown team-mate, Dave, we were able to ride the old route from Hamner to Kaikora - a brilliant bit fo riding with virtually zero traffic on it. I drove the 120km from Hamner to Kaikora, parked up there and set off back in the direction i'd come, to meet Steven who was riding from Hamner toward me. when we met on the road, i gave him the key so he could go collect the car and meet me in Waiau a couple of hours later. The weather for the weekend was perfect and this trip enabled us both to do some good training, spend some time together and see some more of the beautiful landscape of this country.

The following weekend (which was the weekend just passed) it was a trip to lake Hood for the South Island Half Ironman. This event, which also includes a half marathon race, is organized by Pete and CISport who put on teh 5 passes Tour. I'd been deliberating whether i wanted to do a half ironman 2 weeks out from Ironman, or just run the half marathon (or neither!) when Dave suggested a team entry. He has a British mate, James who's a hot cyclist - has just returned from the Tour of Southlands, keen for a 90km time trial.We got Steven to swim and i'd pitch in for the run. The race was on Saturday, so Friday morning, after my squad swim session, we set off on our bikes to ride an extended route that would take us there via the Rakaia Gorge. Another awesome sunny day and new roads for me. We rode fairly solid but with plenty of stops making it a leisurely day, and covered the 105 miles in just under 6 1/2hrs. Moira, who we'd met on The 5 Passes welcomed us into her lakeside home with a very good coffee, before we reported in for duty helping Pete set up the race. It was really good fun to be involved in, and see behind the scenes of, the organization of such an event. Pete has a very laid back "kiwi" attitude and a great team around him and pulled off a really good event from apparent chaos!

The next day i woke early and headed over to give a hand with body marking - it was really good fun to be involved in the pre -race buzz, have a joke with the competitors, without the pressure of the imminent race start on a very grey day. James, fully kitted out in skin suit, pointy hat, booties, 1080 and disk combo has brought a warm up bike and is already working up a lather an hour before the event! Steven leads the 1.9km swim from the start and leads the first female swimmer ( also in a team) to the exit ramp in 23minutes. she then proceeds to run past him into transition, provoking jokes about his being 'chicked'. He hands over to James who totally dominates the bike course 2hrs and 17min for a 90km - flat but windy and with numerous dead turns. It's bloody cold and i'm wearing as much clothing as i think i can throw off in 10 seconds and jumping around a lot in transition. none of the other team runners are in transition and probably wont need to be there for a good half an hour! James is the first off the bike of course and I fly out onto the run. An 11am start is rather late and its been a long morning, but i'm up for it and with a flat 3 lap course expecting a good run. Wearing my Garmin i can see that my pace is good as i make my way around the first lap at about 4min/km pace i feel fast and pretty comfortable. the surface is varied, which suits me - i like to run on rough ground - but did slow up certain sections of the course. At the first lap i'm still n godo pace and feeling strong, the crowds really giving me a big encouragement to maintain that pace. I'm still feeling good heading back out onto teh second lap, but splits are beginning to get a bit longer. 10km in 41 min seems ok and i'm reckoning on a decent time. My PB is 1:24 and that was definitely on a "sporting" course so this should be at least as quick. In the 3rd lap i could see the leading male half ironman athletes a couple of minutes down. could i hold them off? i knew i had had a 10 min start on them, and Andrew has run a 73min straight out half - assume he does a 1:20-ish run, i should be able to. Bt it was not to be. My pace had dropped more than i'd realized - the back of the course was a combination of rough ground and strong headwinds and i guess i'd not compensated enough for those slower kms to keep the average up. Or perhaps it was the lack of competitors to run with ...anyway i was overtaken by the leader, who I was pleased to see was our housemate/landlord Andrew and second place runner with about 2.5km to go. Slightly disappointing for The British Team as well as posting 1:29 run - a long way off my best, but a good bit of fun.
steven then rode back home. I was cooked....

Despite a very easy day yesterday, am feeling pretty screwed still today. not sore, just damn tired. And hungry and ...well a bit apprehensive to get recovered enough for my last few pre race sessions before we leave for Busselton. Perhaps all this fun and games is really not good for me when trying to get myself ready to race quite soon after Kona, but on the other hand - i feel that it's necessary to keep myself motivated through what i seem to be finding a difficult period.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

5 passes day 4

monday.
despite having enjoyed a few beers in the Wobbly Kea ( a 'Kea' is species of mountain parrot, with an appetite for destruction and an apparent taste for bits of car ) i woke early and headed outside for a run up to the Devils Punchbowl waterfall before breakfast. The sky was perfectly clear the moon and stars shining brightly just before dawn. It was damn cold in the shadow of the mountains, which covered the valley-based village until late morning.
Preparing to ride out at about 8am, everyone was wearing pretty much all of their clothing. Promises that we'd be warm before long as the road 'undulated' somewhat all the way to Porters pass (actually higher than Arthurs but less steep when approached from this direction) were sufficient to convince me to discard my jacket before pedalling out, but hell I was frozen - it really felt too cold to ride to this fair weather cyclist! the air was crisp with the dry taste of snow, finger tips burning with cold and too stiff to apply brakes. Legs numb as i pedaled hard to stick with the group, who were descending faster than i was willing to in my near-cryogenic state. eventually we emerged for the mountain's shadow and into the warmth of another beautiful day. Kim Mary and I spent another hour or so riding together past the snow fields, soaking up the last portion of this epic ride across the country and back, played 'sprint for the line' and had a little dig up Craigieburn Cutting for KOM - an unexpectedly steep little poke in the bum after yesterday's ordeals but fortunately much a shorter climb. Roll over the other side to stage finish. Removal of excessive clothing, it's turned into a nice hot day, though there's still the taste of dry snow in the air up there.

Following stage is Porters Pass, height of about 950m, though we're already pretty high and the climb from this direction is pretty gradual and so the group rides it fast. i'm hanging in, enjoying watching teams work together and maneuver their riders around as they complete the deciding stages of the Tour. It been noted the previous day that the team prize was potentially in the hands of a B-grade team, giving some of the guys in A grade teams reason to ride a bit smarter, but meant that our Grade had good reason to ride hard and work toegther over every stage. The maneuvers of the pack often left me on the front...and i know that's invariably when something is about to happen which will not be of benefit to me! But, from my point of view me it's all good fun so i'm happy to be there and watch the moves. we race up the final steepening of the pass and i roll straight over, knowing that its a very steep descent and i'm pretty nervous about descending on this bike. It's a long time before anyone follows me down which seems a bit odd. Later on at dinner, I learn why - someone is taking what is known as "the Porter's Plunge" and we are treated to video footage of his nude 70kph descent form the top of the pass! Throughout the tour there have been a film crew collecting footage for a documentary for SkySports. They'll have some great, scenic footage and hopefully managed to capture the sense of good spirit and challenges of this event.

The very last item on the adgenda is a 25km TTT along the Old West Coast Road. After my failed attempt to hang in for even a moment of the team time trial on the first day, I was keen to do better and enjoy the very last stage of the tour with my super fast team-mates. By now it's quite clear that Team Scotty Brown were not a realistic threat for the team prize and so, knowing how gutted i was about missing out last time, Steven was keen to try to ride the fastest time as a four (rather than drop the weaker rider for a faster time as three). But, there was another prize at stake - beating Team Rolf Prima would win them the Dan McDonald perpetual TTT trophy and heaps of Kudos. So, it was agreed they'd ride for the fastest time - with me hanging in as long as possible! After all, It was only because i was the last rider and messed up my start that i got dropped last time, so i should be ok on 2nd or 3rd wheel. We were last to start,1 minute behind the fully aero Rolf Prima four. I lead out, hard, and got us started off nice and fast before rolling back, Richard kept the pace steady as he took the front. Once i'd connected to Steven's wheel, i yelled "ON" and the signal was passed forward letting Richard know it was ok to squeeze the pace a bit. After his turn, he rolled out right and his father Dave took over....the pace was fast and exciting, but i was feeling quite comfortable and even looking forward to Steven's turn on the front as i felt i could handle it a bit faster. When that time came though, there was less draft, and possibly a surge of speed for Steven . Either way, I lost a few inches and had to call back " EASE" - he did- "ON" - and he's off again. Too hard. "EASE" i'm shouting as best i can whilst riding 350W but it seems he cant hear me, and is not looking under his wheel to note i'm not there. Too much space and the whole chain would be ruined so i pull right, out of the line, and signal for Richard to come through and gap up to Steven's wheel. Of course that's when Steven does a quick under-the-legs check, sees a wheel and since it appears that I'm back on, pushes the pace. Which makes it impossible for me to get back on the back of the line....and so after 2 min of fun, i'm TT-ing solo into the headwind of the Old West Coast Road for the next 12 miles. The very last rider home. Not my idea of fun, in fact close to my idea of pure hell, but i have done this enough in training last year and so get my head down and push all i have left in my legs, motivated by the idea that, should any of my team mates have a problem and pull out, mine would be that 3rd wheel. I have to admit that as the effort went on and my spirit weakened, and i started to hope for this - that'd show them they should've waited for me!

Well, last rider over the finish i was...and things very quickly seemed to be packed up and moving on in order that everyone could get home, showered and changed and out for the awards evening at Crown Plaza, one of the posh hotels in Christchurch.
A very nice evening to round off a superb cycling experience.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

5 passes day 3


Sunday - I got up early with very tight hip flexors and thought a short run might help loosen me off. We have a pretty leisurely late start to the ride today since it's only 100km. Only 100km maybe, but it will include the BIG climb of the Tour: Arthurs Pass. I'm excited, since for the last 3 years that we've visited Christchurch this legendary climb has become a somewhat of an itch, just that little bit too far a-feild to scratch. Even for steven! With rather sore legs, I'm a more than a little apprehensive too and perhaps others are feeling the same as it's really quiet a relaxed pace as we set off and roll toward Stillwater for a regroup and start of the clock on Open Stage 6.Through the Tour, for each stage we are started in our category group and individually timed across the stage finish by means of an electronic chip on our bikes passing the sensor mat. The yellow jersey is worn by the rider with the shortest total stage times at the end of the previous day - and in this case, each category has their own yellow. The fact that in certain cases lower grade riders have faster total stage times than those in the higher categories reflects the variable nature of bike racing. For example, it may be tactically advantageous for teams to slow the pace of the peloton if they have a rider in a breakaway. On the other hand, riders continually making unsuccessful attempts to breakaway, will tend to increase the general speed of riding in the peloton. All riders finishing with the bunch are awarded the same time regardless of their actual finish order.
Not planning to ride hard this morning whatever the plans of teams in my group happen to be today, I discretely exit the rear of the bunch. I soon catch up to Kim who has made similar move, and we ride together enjoying perfectly clear views of the mountains around us. We're ticking along a good pace - not exactly dawdling, sometimes side by side but mostly sharing the work, so I'm surprised and impressed when Mary, who i'd assumed to have been left long behind us in a slower bunch, appears from nowhere to join us. She'd found the pace of the group too relaxed and decided to reel us in. So we are three again. We cant help but pick it up through two sprints Kim challenging for the second and then laughing at me for rising to it! Then slow it down for a while behind a herd of cows using the road (bulls, actually, warned the farmer) and start climbing gradually as the road turns to the mountains. Did i mention that the scenery here os fantastic?
A stop at Jacksons famous pie shop for coke and Tasti (very) nut bars and steel ourselves for the ordeal ahead. The climb had beed described to me turn by turn - the worst of it apparently being 'the viaduct', 18% with the surface of the road stirruped in order to provide some grip! With pretty aggressive TT geometry and most of the design smarts at QR were committed to the aerodynamic brilliance of the CD.01, little heed was paid to the weight of the bike. Who'd think to ride a time trail bike up a mountain? Bar end shifting it was really just a case of stick it in the 39/25 and heave the pedals around. There were several moments as the road got steep...and remained steep...that it was a case of get that pedal turned, or fall off. I've ridden steeper climbs, and at 9km i've certainly ridden longer climbs, but nothing that steep for that long. I managed to pick off a few of the guys that'd gotten ahead on the more relaxed gradients at the beginning, partly due to the power/weight ratios playing in my favour on this sort of pitch, partly due to having to keep that gear turning at that rate or i'd be at a standstill! Anyway, I think it earned me a little respect - when the road flattened off for the race to the line, there were no serious challenges made and someone said ' go for it Jo, you deserve it'. We rolled down the other side into teh village of Aurthur's Pass, where a BBQ and beers were waiting once again. I did i a token little leg-loosening run off the bike, before getting stuck in!

5 passes day 2


Saturday.
This is a long day, with an early start - 3 stages, 2 KOM, 3 sprints and 214km total riding to Greymouth, so the mood is a little less aggressive as we ride the first neutral section. Once the Stage started and pace picked up, rather than riding hard over the undulating terrain as the bunch geared up getting their team mates in position for the sprint at 49km, I dropped back for a spell on my TT bars. I was soon caught by Mary Jones, the other B-grade woman, and Kim, one of the guys from our grade who is riding with 6 weeks notice after a long spell off the bike with a broken wrist. We enjoyed a rather leisurely social ride enjoying the improved weather and great scenery. Until the sprint, which i admit that i picked my pace up a little for a bit of fun, when thinking i'd left the others a long way back after a hard 400m effort Mary's front wheel comes into view about 2 seconds before the line! No time to respond, it was just luck that she did not 'steal' that from me. She apologized for being sneaky, but i was really pleased that she was showing some competitiveness - and i'd been foolish to underestimate her. That wasn't going to be happening again. The three of use resumed our pleasant riding and conversation as we approached Lewis pass. Keen to get my own back on this competition, when the road started tipping upwards, i made a little effort to get up the road. which then tipped downwards a bit , before more up....were we on the climb or what?? lacking local knowledge and having already put too much distance on the others to wait for them, I rode on with an eye over my shoulder to the top, and rolled into Springs junction a little ahead of my competition for our morning break. There was a small KOM at Rahu's Saddle, marking the end of the 4th stage, after which I made use of a group that i'd caught, or who had caught me and sat in for a few km enjoying the warm day and new surroundings. Frequently i found myself working to the front of the group, tiring of the uneven pace and concentration required in the middle on the bunch, so in the end did several lengthy 'pulls' on the front. keeping a steady effort this position allowed me to rest and relax my shoulders a bit in my aero bars ( much more comfortable on the TT geometry that i ride) and get a good view of the scenery! As we pulled into the lunch stop at Reefton on a steep slope to the domain, i was caught off-balance and made an emergency dismount onto my arse and elbow as i swerved my bike into a heap of gravel to avoid the riders slowing sharply ahead of me. a bit of a hole there now but more damage to my kudos with such a clumsy fall. in my defense, surely the distracting smell of BBQ chicken that they support crew were cooking up was an obviously dangerous distraction?

Post lunch of BBQ chicken sandwiches and muffins (i never want to go home!), stage 5 was net downhill, but apparently a long and somewhat dull grind into a headwind all the way to Greymouth. The first 30km of this ride was neutral, so easy for me to sit in with the B grade until a drink stop at Ikamatua (these frequent drinks were well needed toady with temperatures reaching into the 30s) and teh 'open' racing to Greymouth. This was probably the hardest work of the trip for me ( aside form the climbs) as i hung in there desperate not to be dropped and face the remaining 50k riding into that headwind under my own power. I'm using a Powertap now, and can tell you that the draft of even one other reasonably sized rider can save me 100W in a stiff headwind - so well worth sucking up the hard surges required to stay in this group for that benefit. not to mention the moral support - it's been a long day for all of us! There was a sprint at 189km, which is where the pace picked up beyond my tolerance levels and i did have 15km then to ride solo into town. That sure felt like a long schlep, but it was with huge satisfaction that I arrived to meet the others at Greymouth. Another plush hotel, a lovely meal and a much needed massage before bed.
I'm still wearing yellow, green and the polka dot -though not all at once. There has been a bit of mocking from a few people about the women getting to 'choose their jerseys to match their handbags', whilst the men are fighting hard for their honours. I can't dispute that it feels a little hollow with only two of us in the running, but taking the piss or belittling our achievements like this is hardly going to help encourage women into competition, is it? So, whereas if there had been 20 women to beat i'd be feeling proud, with no disrespect to Mary, tonight it feels a bit worthless.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

5 passes day 1


425 miles as 11 stages in 5 days, over 5 passes and some of the best scenery and great company there's going to be a lot to say. The following entires are written after the event, but broken into seperate posts - otherwise it'd be too daunting to read any of it!
Pictures will not be posted immediately, but hopefully will follow soon.

Friday
5.00 am: Riders arrive, drop off bags, get ready for start with a much needed strong coffee in Coffee Culture, who had opened up at 5am for us!
6:00 am: Start with small time gap between grades as a grizzly day dawns on Christchurch, we ride north out of the city along the uninspiring roads to Amberly. We await the predicted rains, which are good enough to hold off for most of the morning. A neutral start and slightly wobbly bunch as we get used to one another's strengths, stability and pace, the road passes quickly and before we know it we're stopping for snacks in Ashley. Just another 20km until the next refreshment break, but this is the first racing Stage and includes a Sprint. I've been hanging quite happily with the B Grade men up to now, but with several organized teams riding in our group it's not long before the pace surges take their toll and I'm out the back before the Sprint. The race is really well organized with 2km and 500m markers at teh road side, photographers, time keepers and support crew at the sprint finish and timing mats at stage finishes (no sprinting over the 2m wide mats). More Neutral riding, and more chance to chat to other riders, and more refreshments half an hour later at Waipara. Its a pretty shitty day by now so all of these stops are making teh faster riders prety cold. We do have access to our gear bags at most of the stops, though, and the support crew have them all laid out or us to find easily, then pack them up after we've moved off. Tomorrow i'll be putting a lot more warm clothing in that bag! Stage one finishes with a 40km open stage to Culverdon, including a KOM over the Weka Pass. Steven and I had ridden this route previously but i couldn't recall any sort of a pass...and i pretty much failed to notice it this time either - the road just gets a bit lumpy for a while! But we do gain some altitude along the way and this time i loose the bunch quite soon due to the rolling terrain. Its this sort of constant undulations that make it hard for weaker riders to stay with a more powerful group. The 1-2min surges in power that are required to maintain speed over a rise are hardest for those at the back of the bunch, since they are forced into braking close to the bottom of the rise (as the front of the group starts the climb) and then have to accelerate close to the top because the front of the pack is cruising down hill already....so this stage is a solo, wet and cold bit of time spent on my aero bars, which come in very handy, until i finally make contact with a nice guy i've had in my sights up ahead who's wheel i sit on for about 15km into the wind to lunch. We're all totally soaked and so very happy that the crew have got a hot coffee for us!

Stage 2: 40 km Culverden to Hanmer Springs - initially riding neutral, the main event of the day is the TTT - team time trial. I'm riding in Team Scotty Brown, one of the sponsor teams with a good chance of taking the team prize. We have Richard and Dave Dawson - a father and son team: Richard is a teenager who has been cycle racing for a few years (as a junior), gaining strength and is now a very handy cyclist in the senior races. His dad, Dave is also coached by Scott Molina and was recently racing in Kona. Complimented by Steven Lord (aka TGV/the Pain Train), that's a team of 3 strong riders. I'm the 4th member - the weak link (although we'll see which team member will be riding in yellow as the tour gets underway ;o)). TTT times are taken off the 3rd (rear) wheel, the 4th member may be dropped. I was looking forward to this event, having competed in several 2 -ups in the past and spent many training rides glued to the back of the TVG I was looking forward to a fast paced ride with my team for as long as i could hang on, but to my disappointment was dropped without having even contributed a single pedal stroke due to a bungled clipping in on the line. oh well, 7km doesn't take all that long even solo. We finished up in Hamner Springs, the very luxurious Heritage Hotel where we enjoyed a BBQ and several beers before dinner and a movie on Sky. Just like real Tour riders, I'm sure.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

5 passes -prologue

Today was the start of the 5 Passes Tour. In it's 10th year now, this bike race organised by our chum from Epic camp, Pete O Brian for CISport takes a great route from Christchurch, over the Southern Alps to Greymouth taking in 4 major passes en route. with this evening's prologue up one of christchurch's local favourite hills, Evans Pass, that make 5 in 4 and a bit days.

The atmosphere at the race this evening was great - with 90-odd riders and strong support crew this promised to be a long weekend of great scenery, hard riding ( it IS a race and Steven and I are in a team representing Scotty Browns), good camaradarie (and fingers crossed nice weather!)

whilst the rest of my team ride A grade, i'm B grade...which has one other female rider. a pretty sh*t hot 50-year old! i caught her for 30sec on the Time trial up Evans ...but local word is she's one mean rider. should be fun.

with my ride, which produced Hr values in the 190s, took 9 min 2 i'm currently leading the women's B class of two. reckon if i'd not been slowed down in the last 100m by a caught rider that i thought it'd be rude to budge out of the way (given that we'll be spending the next 4 days together!) that'd be 9:15-10.....maybe those seconds will count!

i'll be off line for a while, but you can follow the Tour on twitter (@5PassesTour) and the facebook page

Friday, 22 October 2010

2010 - training numbers


around about this time last year, i included some data from my training log in my review of 2009 - my first year living the dream as a full-time (age group) triathlete.
velojoc.blogspot.com/2009/12/year-that-was-2009.html

"...my average training hours per week was 27 - this figure is scewed by the very light training weeks that precede and follow racing so a better representation is to say that a typical training week is in the range 28-36 hrs.
average (mean) daily training hours was 3.9, with 3-5hrs/day being the most common daily volume and equal number of 1-3 and 5-7hr days. this represents a typical week which includes a lighter day and a long day.

In terms of swim bike run numbers:
mean distance swum /week = 14km - modal range of 12-16km
mean distance cycled/week = 231miles - modal range 200-250mi
mean distance run/week = 40 miles - modal range 42-48.... "

Of course with week 52 ticked off teh 2010 log book, time spent relaxing post race and post season easily turns to thoughts about the year, making comparisons to past practice v's performances, and planning for future improvements. That, beaches and beer...

so the 2010 season 's stats:
with a mean weekly training vol of 28.7hrs slightly more total volume overall, but this year's modal range was 20-28hrs - smaller than in 2009 but closer to the mean value which is indicative of more general consistency. Significant factors in this are the high bike load early in the year enabling me to log some big hours of cycling without the high training stress of running for a 2.5 month period (jan - march) . However, once the injury settled and I got into the racing season, my typical training volume reduced to under 25hr /week through the summer (may-july).

mean distance swum: 15.5km/week (typically 12-16km, though this year there were more weeks of high >20km volume than ever before)
mean distance cycled: 244mi/week (typically 175-225mi)
mean distance run: 28mi/week (typically 36-42miles though 6 weeks of 0 miles, a cautious build back and no long runs over 2hr in the schedule this year produce a lower mean for the whole year.

well, some of us like numbers. some like them a lot, but again after several hours of fiddling with data, performing statistical calculations and making graphs, i sit back and wonder "so what?". I already feel fairly sure that , with a few exceptions not so very far from home, the training hours that i put in is the upper end of the scale compared to most people, including most professional triathletes. I believe that the primary requirement for competition which requires 10hrs of high level aerobic output is the ability to sustain that level of effort for that sort of duration. in other words, endurance - and there is no short cut to building that. luckily i find it enjoyable (mostly), have patience and have constructed a lifestyle and environment which allows me to indulge. however a year on, with 6 professional races and 1500 more hrs under my belt my recent kona (under)performance highlights the fact that i'm still the wrong side of the step up in performance that is required to transform me from top age grouper to "good' pro.

2011 is the season for new ideas!

Monday, 11 October 2010

the what if's

it doesn't take long after a (poor) race before an array of alternative realities start forming in the mind...i'm fine about my results here on saturday,but of course it could have been a different day had i executed differemntly. this gives me something positive to focus on and specifics to work towards.
so..the 'what if's :

the first tactical error of my day was getting caught at the back of the swim. better than my 'worst case scenario of swimming the whole thing on my own - but ony marginally. what happened was that i hung in with a group of 3/4 other slow swimmers - i did have to push a bit initially to keep with it, but after a short while it really settled, and felt a bit too easy. however ,by then there was no sight of anyone within reaching distance ahead. I cruised on feet to the turn about point, then decided to try to encourage a pick up in pace by moving to the front an giving a 2-300m change in pace. there was no response and i found myself either committed to pulling them back to shore, or settling in for an easy and frustrating swim home, clashing arms with legs. actually i was enjoying the swimming, sighting and being guided by paddlers working at a decent effort. however, it resulted in the slowest swim split that i've achieved here to date.
Now, looking at the swim splits for the pro ladies, there were six swims of around 1:07. another splinter group who swam a pace similar to what i had managed last year here. Sure, no tech fabric swim skins, and a much smaller draft...but still a more appropriate pace for me to swim with the benefit of feet to follow. i probably would have had to really bust a gut to get with them initially- and developing a fast start is something i'm going to have to work at.

looking at the bike splits for this bunch, aside from Tyler Stewart and Sandra Wallenhurst, which appear to have ridden off together for a 5:08, these girls did not stay connected on the bike. I'd given Karin Thuerig (4:48 - a course record?) and Helen Bij De Vaate (5:02) and two other sub 5:20 cyclists a tow. did they wait for me? did they fuck. i now understand their urgency to get through transition - it was a sprint to our bikes! I would say that my second tactical error of the day was allowing them to get away around the first loop of the course - but the fact is, i'm just not much of a cyclist to stick at their pace, so in retrospect it probably saved me a serious blow up. However there were others in the 1:07 swim pack who rode the splits that i had been targeting. Hard to compare this race year on year with the conditions being windier than i have previously experienced, but comparing my split with the rest of the field, i was further off the pace of the average of the top 30 bike splits than i had been last year. and i know that this is largely because there were no other female riders in sight to push me along. So, lets conjecture that IF i'd come out the water with this group, i'd have a better chance of company on the bike (of course i don't know how they paced it) and maybe have managed around 5:30.

i did not have any stomach issues, or die as terribly as i had last year on the run, but it was a slower marathon than my target yesterday too. i have no explanation for that. following the above scenario, i'd have been working a lot harder all day and may have run even slower. in fact , there's a chance that i would have cracked completely, but i dont much care for that idea so will exclude it from this analysis!

so...a 1:07:50 swim, 5:30:00 bike and my actual 3:26:47 run and 5min19 transitions = 10:09:56 which would have me in the top 30 and within my target time.

the race


by the time that race morning approached, i no longer felt nervous and as it happened the start was very civilised affair indeed. the cannon rather caught me by surprise but we were off - a fast flurry of foam ( i'd placed myself near, but not right at, the back) i did what i had to do to catch some feet and was pleased with myself for having managed to do so. with a bit of effort i was on the toes of woman who seemed to be swimming a little faster than me, and noticed that i was sharing the draft with another girl. that's even better - as scott had told me the previous day ' you only need one pair of fete to draft' - and two is better than that! before long the group became 4, and the pace settled. it felt pretty easy and the lead changed occasionally in the first quarter o the swim and there was a bit of clashing of arms and legs as .the sea was calm but quite rolling with swell. if i glanced up when we were high, i could see that here was nobody within bridging distance ahead. by the time that we were half way i was feeling just a bit too comfortable and started to get frustrated. however, i'd been getting a tow for 1.8km so i swam to the front and tried to pick up the pace, assuming that these were stronger swimmers than me and would soon swim round and take over again. not so - i actually got the sense that aside forma faster start than i had ,these girls were tiring more than me .so i lead the pack back to shore which was really good fun - i had a paddle border each side of me which i could see underwater, so only had to sight occasionally. mostly i kept my head down and focused on my stroke. it did seem to take a long time to get back..but at last we were helped up the steps and into transition .

now ,i'm usually one of the swiftest mover through transition area, but these girls were really racing to out bike compound! we exited T1 together and they hammered off up the road. i'm working hard to keep them in my sights knowing that there'd be a huge advantage from having some company out there on the Queen K...but the 3 of them had disappeared for view before we got to the kuakahini highway. i now know that the group included Karin Thuerig and Helen Bij De Vaate who went on to ride (4:48 and 5:02 respectively!

riding out and having the queen K to myself was pretty wickid though .i was feeling good and was mentally prepared for this. keeping one eye on HR and the other on cadence, i enjoyed the cheers as i rode past the gathered crowds. a surprising amount of people hanging out in the baking sun on the edge of a highway! i kept my thoughts positive and my legs working. steven and i had been chatting about the likely hood of us finishing together- which of course extended to speculation as to who'd cross the line first. knowing that i'd had a poor swim, i reckoned that he'd already have made up 15 min on me...i thought i might make 10 min back on the run...so couldn't afford to loose more than 25 min on the bike and pushed on to get as far along the course as i could. the figures were kind of hard to work out in the heat of the race...but when the first age grouper passed me only 1:30 into the ride i though i was done for! from that point on there was an increasing stream of strong male riders passing me. as the flow thickened the problem with the different drafting rules that apply to pro's was a bit of an issue - since its perfectly legal for a passing age grouper to slot himself into the 10m gap that i'm holding ( he only needs to be 7m back) ...but i risk a penalty if i don't immediately drop back. most of the guys were pretty understanding. There were very strong cross winds on the way up to Hawi, but they were nothing like those on the way down. absolutely terrifying and i was very glad that i had left the drop attached. all the same, there were several occasions when i was blown right across to the edge of the road and really feared going in the lava. that was a petty miserable 18 miles - potentially fast but not able t ouse it much. i was stunned that age group women were starting to pass me too! no sign of steven yet though..he must be close. and that kept me going through teh tough return part of the ride. it's great that many of my friends are racing here are strong riders as they did all at some point come by , and i was able to get a sense of how peoples races were going .i'd established by now that steven wasn't having a good one - it was only in the last 90 min that he passed me...not riding strong and i passed him back for a further 30 min. until something clicked and he decided to put his head down and motor home! at least i did not have to do so much on the run to beat him though! I could see that i was well short of my target, or even matching last year's bike split but felt i'd worked my legs hard enough that i was not looking forward to a long run. i reminded myself of teh races i've done where i've ridden poorly but run well - Zaratuz half where i ran a 1:24 20km and IM UK where i set my IM run PB last month. i just had to get out and do it.

the first mile went by in under 7 min, the second ditto...over the next 10 things settled to my target pace of 7:30s. I could see the spread of the female pros in front of me, and reckoned that i was within a mile or two of the top 20 and was running well. i 'd somehow passed steven without noticing since i saw him after teh Ali'i drive turn around, behind me, then Scott, then Jenny which really gave me a fright - she'd put 20 min into me if not more. that's just be embarrassing. my feet were already starting to hurt but my pace stayed reasonable until we hit Palani, which i was telling myself is a lot better than i felt at this point last year..then that steep hill really seemed to just sap me. i don't remember if i walked - i think i used an aid station as an excuse to do so for a little and got running again..but my pace just seemed to have dropped off. from then on, mile 11, it was a battle to sustain 8 min miles - i was hitting 8:03, 8:05 and for all the world felt like i was killing myself. i used several stargergies to just keep going - and for the first time ever made use of the special needs bags where i'd stashed a can of Monster .having never tried this before i was quite curious and looking forward to it. in the energy lab it was a picture of carnage. i saw Roger, Richard Hobson, Russ and Yvette all walking and/or looking like death! Somehow that made me feel less retched, determined not to show i was suffering ...and i did my best to encourage them to run too. only 10k to go...that's a long 50 min though! i spent some of it with mark Petrofesa form Epic Camp - he was in a similar condition but wanted to break 10hrs...that was the first time i got a sense of the overall time . it was 4:34. i had 16 min to run 8.2 miles to beat last year's time. it was possible s i pushed on. My feet were balls of blister by then but i know that the magical feeling of running down Ali'i drive was only minutes away ...and i'd survived the (psychologically) toughest race experience so far and felt i'd coped well.

i was disappointed to have posted a slowest race here ever- combining my worst swim and bike (though actually , my fastest run) splits for the course...but considering the number of drop-outs on the day, i'm proud to have finished and proud to have really savoured and enjoyed it. this is more than just an ironman - it's teh mother of all ironman ( literally!) and I look forward to returning next year with some more experience and race savvy.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

race week - friday


The LAST day of race week- it really did creep up and then POUNCE!
but, the bike and bags are now racked in transition, i've just had a late lunch/early tea and relaxing to the sounds of Americam feel-good popular dad-rock blasting out over the race PA system. In this context, it's bearable - helping to create an appropriate atmosphere for a great day of fun that we are all looking forward to tomorrow. Now that all those overwhelming little decisions have been made and committed to in the handing over of the race bags, i feel a real sense of relief and able to put it all into proper perspective. Tomorrow i 'm going to start the day with a swim in the beautiful waters, then i'll go out for a long ride in the sunshine...before a brick run. The run will be tough, but i'll be accompanied by hundreds of others, cheering crowds and the chance to really explore my limits knowing that, if it all goes pear-shaped i'll be taken care of. what a sweet day. and at the end of it, there'll be real sense of achievement that i will be able to share with my friends who have all achieved the same..over a beer!

BRING ON TOMORROW

wishing all the guys and girls i know out here the best possible race tomorrow, and i look forward to catching up and hearing your stories later on.

(oh, christ...now it's "highway to hell'...where's my earplugs?)

Friday, 8 October 2010

race week - thursday


luckily my day got a lot better than it started - a rather panicked early awakening, lots of fears and concerns that i'd been pushing away and realise that now i really do need to start getting my head right for the upcoming race. i've treated it all quite casually, people commenting on how calm i am ( i'm not usually before a race!) and i think that's simply because i've been avoiding thinking about it just because i'm so nervous. of course it's just a lot of unknowns, which are always accompanied with as much fear and doubt as excitement...and i know that the way to deal with it is to be adaptable. to have all my resources at the ready and use my judgement as to which of them to utilise.

I grabbed some time with my coach, Scott Molina, to chat some of it over. of course he's not prepared to tell me how to do this race, but he sure has a lot of experience as pro athlete and having coached and developed pro athletes as well as a real knack of putting things into context. a few of the things he said, kind of casually, really did hit home. At the pro briefing i really did get a sense that i'm not the only one feeling a few nerves!! At least i don't have the pressure of anyone else's expectations on me. i know what i think would constitute a good race, and what i am going to be pleased to have achieved here, but it's not exactly goals that would set the media alight! anyway, rather cruelly, as is human (or at least my own) nature, realising that others - in particular those who i hold in high esteem (regardless of the results in any single race) - are feeling as bad, or worse, than me made me feel a lot better.

i was also quite pleased that, just like me, the other pros are all keen for a free feed! The day kicked off with the Powerbar Breakfast - a very nice buffet in the King Kam Hotel accompanied by a help yourself to Powerbar product buffet. I'm all sorted for race day, and beyond now. i managed to reinforce my reputation as 'the girl who can eat 2x her body weight in a sitting' - despite being quite restrained since i had actually already had my first breakfast! after the briefing , since it was lunchtime, most of us 'drifted' into the hospitality suite for a lunch of cereals, pretzels cookies and coffee......and i've just polished off an afternoon snack of sample cereal snacks that after being distributed at the expo.

well, i do think that its time to start consuming a few extra calories in preparation for the race - i've been careful with my diet since returning from budapest 3 weeks ago and this week, with the reduced training, have really gone for low carb intake; just topping up with limited CHO quickly after each session. I don't have access to scales here ,but i can see indicators of low body-fat right now. it is surprising how quickly that can change though, so after today's deliberate input, and the pre race meal tonight, tomorrow will be a lighter eating day.

for now, since i have a little time here alone, it's time to think through my race, finally decide on what kit to wear and use (one piece suit or two, HR monitor or no, which shoes, gps pacer on on the run??) and put all the labels and stuff on my bike.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

race week - wednesady

wednesday - 3 days to go and its all starting to get a bit crazy here. the number f people, logos, super-bikes, retailers, promotions, compression socks per sq. m has suddenly exploded from being a nice social number to a real pain in the backside!
perhaps this is because my own nerves are really building with the realization that, all of a sudden, race day is close upon us...and all those little 'to do' s before the race are now 'must do now' s.
luckily with the opening of the expo, the QR team arrived and Brett, the tech and design guy sorted out the irritating issues i've been having with my wheels for me..as well as giving some great insight into the development of the CD0.1 and his thoughts on some specific features. being teh wind tunnel guy ( sorry Brett, that's rather understating your expertise!) he was able to advise me on where best to mount bottle etc. he kindly skirted around the issue of my drop bars - clearly a guy who knows what an athlete does NOT need to hear at this point - acknowledging that for comfort and confidence (a lot like BodyForm, wings and all) they could offer on a windy descent it may be worth the drag cost. I do enjoy talking technical with sweaty guys ( it was so hot yesterday, everyone was just dripping!) with beautiful southern american accents so a good start to the day.

Short ride with Jen where we bumped into Tara (Norton, who is out here scoping sme routes for her upcoming Epic Woman Camp) and Richard Hobson. We rode mostly easy until Jen had a few 'pieces' to do. Wow- she can go !! Her 2 min hard /3 min rec meant i was doing 3min hard/2min rec to stay with her! she admitted afterwards that by 'hard' she actually meant 'flat out' ...

next, registration - so now i am official - followed by a snooze great massage, another snooze. tapering has this effect on me -even walking around town seems to drain me. the heat makes it worse. steven went and fetched my tea from the sack'n'save for me and we picniced on teh balcony then went around to Scotts condo for a get together of Epic Campers. Annette from Stormydog Productions is in town doing some coverage and promoting teh documentary that they made on Epic camp NZ 2010, and the get together was a chance for all the 'stars' of the film to see it. It was was a great reminder of a great experience - though its pretty unpleasant seeing yourself on the screen! They di a great job capturing the experience, but o course there's so much more that they did not see! It inspired a lot of fun reminiscing until every one felt tired suddenly very tired (at 9pm)!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

race week - tuesday


Tuesday started as most days, watching star light turn to sunrise from our superbly positioned balcony. as peach/organe skies turn to blue, i can make out the few swimmers already out practicing on the course, going early to avoid the throngs that are gathered there by 7:30am. For me this morning, a pool session. i took the new BlueSeventy suit to give it a whirl. Cat (Morrision) was changing into hers with the same intention. she's got into one a size smaller than mine - she's wee! The pool was packed, with plenty of photographers about too, so we shared a lane Completed a decent session I was pleased to discover that its a lot more comfortable in the water then i felt it would be - didn't cut me like my pointzero3 had occasions. Tommorow i'll try it in the salt water.

Nice leisurely breakfast (notice a theme here?) with Douglas (Scott -our kiwi friend from Epic Camp), Donna and Russ before hooking up with Richard to do a bit of a photoshoot. He's been posting some great pics from the week for the team Freespeed blog and we know he'd really get some professional looking images. it was so good of him to give us an hour of his time, drive us up to a good spot on the highway and apply his creative input.

Felt dead good doing some short reps on the bike - despite being a very hot day. My bike computer is mystifying me though, and today it stopped working altogether halfway through the session, so it was all on HR and just going on feel with the cadence. i'm in a dilemma as to whether to fuss about it or just forget it in the race. I do have the option to borrow steven's computer for time/dist - but i have found that controlling my cadence is really useful for me in long sessions and races. Luckily the QR guys arrived today and have a mechanic on board. a bit embarrassing to ask for help with this, but i suspect that the rear wheel is out of dish - in order that i can run the campag wheel on my shimano set-up...and there's not physically not enough clearance for the magnet to pass the sensor. though that doesn't explain why it worked a bit.....so i believe its the bizarre electromagnetic curse that i carry effecting it as it does every other bit of technology that i have ever owned!

its now feeling very close to race now - there are few opportunities now to test gear out and get stuff adjusted. today i trained in my one-piece race suit. very comfortable actually. (for 2hrs - not sure how it'd feel after 3 or 4) my initial reservation was being able to strip it down quickly in a porta potty situation, but i think the addition of a little chord would fix that. could save some sunburn - unless i decide to roll it down on the run.

Parade of nations in the evening: bit of a disappointing turnout from the brits, and no team shirts this year, but it did give a chance to catch up with a few of the GB guys and girls that we know through various coincidences and races and grab some Powerbar samples for a pre diner snack in the expo.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

race week - monday

the first day of 'race week' and the transformation of the town has begun! Banners , flags and giant inflatables ....official bag check at the pier for the ever increasing crowds of morning swimmers and a lot more faces around. Its been ( another) day for bumping in to and catching up with old acquaintances and new ones that i've made through this year. After a short jog we swam a little later than usual and in the clearest water that we've had so far this week. its was quite amazing - you really do get a sense of depth. bumped into Yvette (Grice) after the swim, who managed to appear both very excited and very relaxed and as usual super friendly. having seen her in most of my races this year, and used her as motivation too, i admit, it's great to see her again in this setting!

after a relaxed breakfast with jenny and richard, i spent the rest of the morning shopping with steven. Dropped into the Blueseventy store to collect the pz3tx swim suit that Ryan had ordered for me, where we met Gina (Crawford) doing the same. she gave us a pretty scary update on the quake situation in Christchurch - apparently worst effected area is on the estuary very close to where we will be lodging over the winter. there have been 1200 quakes in the past 5 weeks - that's bigger than Haititi. struggled into the suit, which looks and feels great once it's on. i'm keen to get in the water in it and assess what sort of rubbing i might get around the arms. Steven bought himself a smart new aero helmet and i was tempted but refrained - for now. then we had a coffee in a nice quiet little arcade looking out to sea and watching the fish play in the surf

my ride today was just an easy spin, so i rode out of town along the Alii Highway. it goes up and up through a road block preventing trucks and mopeds (and apparently bicycles) passing - so its a great quiet road with fantastic veiws. it's blocked at the 'top' - must be a private estate or something. A 'guard' yelled something at me: "you don't belong here". dint know why that amused me so much - just an odd choice of phrase. No, i don't belong here. but its nice to come and check it out.

the town was buzzing this afternoon with more and more athletes checking in and checking out the course. it really is a great buzz and i still find it awesome to think about the fact that these guys and girls ARE the best triathletes in the world - all the super fit, super flash dudes you see one or two of at each race - all here, in one spot. some have been here numerous times, others have been working on qualification for multiple seasons, and finally made it. many of them know one another as long standing competitors, many are friends, the rest are to be checked out surreptitiously from behind a decaf in Lava java and google...

Monday, 4 October 2010

kona day 5 (sunday)




each morning its busier down at the pier now - and so it takes longer to get the swim done by virtue of all the people that we bump into! today i swam with jenny, richard and some of and the Freespeed crew plus Martin Maldoon from serpentine club . We swam together as a pack, which makes a nice change for me since when i swim 'with' steven, rachel and steve, there's so much variation on speed between us that we all usually end up swimming alone and jut regrouping at agreed markers. so i got a swim at decent effort, which was required to stay with the back of group and had company the whole way. Had a chance to catch up with Lou Collins and admire her flouro pink Ceepo after the swim. Friendly as ever, but she seems pretty focused right now - a wee bit of game face on her, quiet understandably. people (in the uk) will have very high expectations of her for saturday, personally i think that those are pretty grounded, but she's sure to feel the pressure of that.

post swim, i headed out for a spin on the Queen K. steven and i dressed in our everydaytraining team kit and Roger kindly took some shots for QR of u on the matching Roos. roger was very enthusiastic about doing this, which we appreciated. when i learned about the bike session that he had ahead of him, i can quite understand his willingness to delay starting it!! He's been a very solid athlete the last few years working without a coach - now that he is working with 'TBear' Sindballe, i;m very excited to see how he races at the weekend.

on my way back into town after my spin, i dropped into teh SLS3 retail stand that has been set up in the temporary Cycle Station store on Ali'i Drive to introduce myself to Sebastian, the UK marketing guy. He gave me a groovy pair of Kona 10 edition compression socks to try out, they're great - i do think that these represent the very top-end of compression. We had a chat about the apparel, the compression habits of the UK market and the amazing Cheetah bike that someone happened to arrive at the store on. The fella just wanted a gas canister, and wound up explaining the features of this minimalist bike crowd of tri geeks that instantly appeared around it! must take him a long time to get anything done, going around on that thing!

Jose Tores from TriGrandPrix showed up - great to see him again, he's such an enthusiastic guy - and invited me along to a concert at The Sheridan hotel where they intend to announce the TriGrandPrix series 2011. I so enjoyed the race at Zarautz that i'm pleased to hear that it will be include again, along with more races in uk, ireland and europe.

finished the day with a 'short, easy run' - along Ali'i drive with nice tunes - which turned into a slightly longer run to the little church on the turnaround (where Stuart and Mette would be married later that evening -congratulations guys!). felt so good running an a beautiful warm evening i really enjoyed it. however it did leave me VERY thirsty and wiped me out for the evening really. not sure it was such a clever addition to the training schedule but you know i think that maybe worthwhile for the phsycological benefit - last year i felt terrible running that section back into town from the church so good to overwrite that memory with a better one.

Dinner at Bongo Bens again..then steven was kicked out onto the balcony to do his work so that i could get to sleep by 9pm!

Kona

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Kona day 4 (and a half)

its 2:30 am and i'm pretty much wide awake. thought that the jet lag situation was improving when i slept through till nearly 5am yesterday...but the thoughts rattling around on a loop in my head, combined with a sunburnt back, wont let me sleep tonight. so, i might as well fill in some time with my 3rd day in Kona post.

so, my last substantial training day before the race: first, a swim out to the (very) far buoy and back. relaxed out, pushing it on the way back. the return felt easier than the swim out, and i enjoyed the swim more than i'd anticipated. treated myself to breakfast in Tante's diner with the rest of the guys, before heading out for a 3hr session on the queen K. Rachel also had an interval session to do, so we set off and rode our warm -up together, having a nice chat on the road. at 20 min i ramped it up for my first effort - giving rachel an extra 10 to warm up. i knew she'd be steaming by me shortly! she did - at the exact moment that my rear wheel punctured and the heavens opened with a 10 min down-pour. just the same amount of time it took me changing the tube! so i got a little unplanned break in that work interval, but some good roadside repair practice. weird thing - it was such a local rain fall that i literally rode out of the cloud - onto a completely bone dry road. And at the end of my session back into it - Kailua Kona was in rian most of eh day. finished the session with a nasty fall from my bike. stupid really and only because i like to ride right into the hotel lobby..which is tiled...and wet. so i had a good audience as my bike disappeared from under me, planting me square onto my back. Luckily strawberry flavoured Powerbar gel broke my fall, though i still sustained a nice bash to my shin and completely winded myself!

A few moments to compose myself in my room before heading out for a 'race pace' transition run on the queen K. well, i HOPE i can race at that pace - i was feeling good today. Seems that the effects of the long flight are out of my system and i'm feeling the benefit of the rest that the journey enforced - i was even able to aise my HR on the bike, something that's been eluding me the last couple of weeks in training at home. So,I just need to get caught up on sleep from now on, and keep ticking over with shorter sessions each day..

Saturday, 2 October 2010

kona diaries 2010




for the next 2 weeks, blog posts should be regular, giving diary updates from kailiua kona as i prepare for the Ironman World Championships. be warned - names will be dropped unashamedly and i will not be censoring weather reports just to make you guys in the uk feel better ;o)

kona day 0
touch down 8:30 pm. that tiny open air airport. bike boxes were there waiting for us having been checked all the way through by a very nice lady in LA (who 'forgot' to charge us the carriage too) i think they got an earlier connection in honululu.
quick, very quite,cab ride to the hotel that we've stayed in the past 4 years, feels like coming home. first thing was get the run kit on and out for a short run, as directed by coach Scott. return to unpack bike. by now i'm beyond tired, but have no trouble sleeping when it's finally time.

kona day 1
wake up at a reasonable time. did we escape jet lag? woken to the sound of a million squwarking birds in the tree outside our room. what is their beef? daylight reveals that we have a great view of the pier, swim start area and section of Ali'i drive which will become the finish line in 10 days time. we can live with the excited avian dawn chorus. head down for a swim in the ocean . that feels so nice! we swim relaxed, and i'm feeling quite good in the water. spy a small pod of dolphins. there's another women is freaking out about this. guess she's not been to kona before ;o) dolphins swim off. the air right there, out in the ocean smells of flowers. have a horrible realization mid swim that i have brought a campag race wheel but only a shimano cassette. luckily steven is carrying a spare! i cant believe my luck (or my stupidity)
breakfast on the balcony then i go for a ride up 'the hill to Captain Cook (it's a town) to shake the jet lag off. just about an hour of riding uphill in the heat, though its kinda overcast today, and i'm retching at the side of the road. don't make it all the way to CC, feel lousy so opt for a soothing 40mph free-wheel home!
short run on Ali'i drive to try loosen the legs - really feeling heavy - so hopefully that's purged the flight out of my system. Meet up with a friend Steve (Moore), head for a nice supper at Bongo Ben's - our favourite for their generous Cob salad.

kona day 2
woke up before dawn had cracked. played on computer until it was reasonable to get up for a swim. big day today - last long one before the race. we met Rachel (Joyce) and Russ (Cox) this morning and all swam together (well, we all got in the water together!) . after that short swim, Steven and i go out for a ride together over the whole course. its not often these days that we do ride together, and though we dont ride side by side for very much of the day, its nice to have some company when we stop for drinks at the Wai'aka store. we have matching green machines too, so it's kinda fun to ride together, too. its a draining ride and the last 2hrs home is sure tough. legs still feeling a bit odd after the flight i guess, they had a hell of an ache in the last 20 miles home, i was suffering. Steven went out for a run of the bike, i lay down! but then he'd had a much easier ride than me at that pace. we covered the 107 miles in just over 6hr - my mate Steve, who headed out early in the morning, did it in 5hr 20. i was impressed. back to Bongo Bens for dinner with Steve, Rachel, Roger and his wife Mary.

kona day 3
slept through till after 4am today, improving. Ocean was choppy today - having rained last night was quite cool. i'm glad that i didn't go with Steven and Roger (Canham) to swim the full course. i was cold! Jenny (Gowans) and Richard (Melik) arrived last night and we hooked up after a swim. great massage with the muscular massage school - i got Gino, the tutor who enjoyed telling me about the triathlon great she'd worked with back in the day whilst working on my gluteus, worked an hour for my half hour fee. bonus. Headed out for a short lunch time ride with jenny, who tends to want to make me work. one point Richard (Hobson) and Stuart (Anderson) came steaming past us- she decides to give chase whilst i'm picking my nose or something and is soon a speck on the horizon. frightening. lunch of papaya ( 7 for $2!) , a few hours working on training schedules and catching up with my athletes at home, then a cruisy 5miles run on the Queen K before tea in front of the telly. so many channels of garbage and adverts. amazing.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

LAX

a short sunrise run around the perimeter fence of LAX preceded an almighty (but healthy) buffet breakfast in the hotel where we are layed-over. we have an hour or so to digest that before embarking on another round of baggage hauling to check-in for teh onward flight to honunlulu. Packing 'light' for 5 month trip in to include 4 races in three different climates still weighs in at about 50kg exc. hand luggage. Still, its been a good journey so far and having a night's break 2/3 through really helps with adjusting to the time difference, and gives the opportunity for a proper sleep, a short run, some stretching, shower and decent meal so we'll arrive in Kona this evening late but in a much fitter state than having done the journey nonstop.

i'm feeling both excited and nervous about our arrival there. this year there will be so many of our triathlete friends there with us - many of them staying in the brilliantly located but lower budget Kona Seaside hotel that we've used each time we have been and recommended to all. but on the other hand its kind of scary to know how great shape everyone is in...when i feel kinda doubtful about myself. i guess everyone feels a little like this once they get to the point where they're on the plane and there really is little that can be actively done now to improve form - one starts recalling those bad training days. and since budapest, there have been a few. i did find it fairly hard to get myself going again after that trip, where i let my hair down a little and at the same time hurt my foot. for the days of that this break provided i think that the foot flare-up reminded my body that she's done a lot already this year and the poor carcass is feeling weary. this is most notable on the bike - all of my riding since Budapest has been on the QR, mostly flat ( as far as you can in somerset) and mostly race specific sessions. For the last year i've been basing my efforts on HR (all change post Kona now that I have a new PowerTap!!) which works fine for me - until i get a bit training weary. and find that i'm just having to operate at HR 5-10 beats off the bottom of my target range. Of course this can be very tough mentally - to keep trying to push the effort for 90 min when it hurts but the little voice is saying 'look, you cant even get close to race HR, you should go home and back to bed...' to which my usual reaction is ' look, little voice, i'll just do the 90 in then we'll have a coffee, see how we feel about the next rep?" it usually works, especially when accompanied by a gob-full of caffeine infused carbs ( chocolate PowerbarGel!) and although not really a tactic that i can use on race-day, it gets me through it. That, my techno sound tracks and the absolutely beautiful september weather that we had doen in teh Southwest.

Strangely, despite this flatness on the bike, my swimming is feeling strong and my running also. I've leaned down a bit and i can feel the difference whenever i run. Sunday i did a local 10k race - the end of a 30hr training week, 5hr bike/run session the day before, i had all my excuses made. But i don't think i have ever run 10k in under 38 min so 38:11 with a sprint finish (HR reached 195bpm, close to my max) was quiet a pleasing time. 25 M&S voucher prize too. hope that keeps till next march :o)

this week will be a bit of fun catching up with people and settling into a routine in Kona - i'll ride the course later in the week, and swim the 3.8km at some point ...I think i may have to be careful about going out training with otehr people too much, just try to stay relaxed and not get caught up in too much of that pre race speculation and anxiety that can spread so easily through a group of competitive people!

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