Saturday, 16 July 2011


just sitting down for a quick blog catch-up prior to another round of packing (light) for travels to camp. it feels like i've been on camp for most of the period since wimbleball and my last post. much of this has been camp at home - my favourite kind if the weather is good, and that's not only because i dont need to pack for it! "camp at home" is what i call it when steven's away and although i mostly dont mind him being around ;o) and he never ever asks me to compromise my training at all when he is, when he's not here i do take the opportunity to really optimize my day to suit my training needs. i get to eat what and when i want, work when i need to, have totally undisturbed sleep and usually get bored enough in the evening to get to bed early. i'm really quite a solitary person and when i'm tired can get quite craggy, so being on my own suits me best at times.

that said, there is no substitute for good training partners and having motivational people around. i've learned that the difference between me performing brilliantly and sub-par ,in training or races, comes down mostly to motivation. i set my 10k pb at the end of a 30hr week immediately after a 4km swim set: it was just a small local event but a close race. for a £20 M&S voucher! whilst it's valid that Ironman is a solo sport and you need to learn to overcome your own demons whilst out on the road, an argument that i've heard often as reason to train solo, you also gotta put in a lot of hours. too much time doing that alone, well firstly it can get boring and secondly, for me anyway, doesn't provide a lot of motivation when it gets tough -or even to get tough in the first place. I currently spend around 2/3rd of my training week on sessions with specific pace or intensity. That's not very sociable - but its also not entirely exact. There are times when i know i'm going to need a bit of help to hit my targets and that's when i seek out a training buddy or group. For example, i enjoy riding with a group of local road cyclists each saturday. same time, same route, same tea stop, same faces each week. i initially scoffed at these boys who ride a fast group pace around the lanes, attacking on every hill with a sprint to the tea stop after an hour...and then do the same on the way home, every single week. but now its my favourite session of the week - i have good company, get to keep in touch with the local cycling scene, develop my handling skills, am able to gauge my own riding fitness against the group. having brought my power tap out on a couple of these rides recently, i know that i am achieving an equivalent amount of riding time in my 'target watts' zone as i would during a tough 2hr interval session. what's more - i don't get to dictate where, when and how long my efforts are. Likewise, our flat mate Alex swims at about the same pace as me, i'll switch my planned swim set in order to join him on his sometimes, just because it's more fun that way...and i believe that giving it 100% on his set is better than just 'getting through' my own.

so, this year i have been making a point of seeking out and investing time and money on good training environments and opportunity to hook up with good training partners.

whilst my 'home camp' is great in terms of environment and time to be alone and self -focused, what it lacks a little of is motivational company. so whilst steven was making his way back from austria, i hopped on a train to visit friends in teh yorkshire dales for a few days of getting sorted out on some very steep hills by Emma ( who was a fantastic ride support crew on our pre lanzarote training camp) staying up too late with good compaby and a few wines with the added bonus of a pilteas workshop and physio treatment from Ali ( we also hooked up with one of my athletes (kerri, who recently qualified for kona) to preview the Ironman UK course. although the less said about that the better -a very wet day, some technical problems with the route navigation methods we'd chosen (a faulty garmin, a very small scale and soggy map and my memory), a bust chain and frequent clashes with the manchester to blackpool mass cycle ride (the northern equivalent of london to brighton- i.e endless streams of fluorescent and wobbly cyclists!).
I managed to catch up briefly with my sister in london for a swim the next day, then had a follow up bike check and shoe fitting at Profeet, collect some product from Maxifuel, a very groovy Luis Garneau aero-lid and some Asics pirhana race flats before a massage and train home to catch up with steven and hear about his race at Ironman Austria over a steak and cider. Despite feeling very tired after the trip, i also felt very refreshed and have enjoyed a solid return to my usual routine sessions this week....prior to packing up for my next and final camp before ironman UK.

The pink QR is coming to the Alps. Much deliberation about that, since i have a lovely Litespeed road bike with compact gearing...and there are some lovely climbs to be done around Morzine, but we felt that with only 2 weeks until i race I need to spend a bit of time on the TT bike - especially since i have a few adjustments to make on it and some new saddle options.

when Ali was sticking her acupuncture needles in my rear end, we saw that the irritation was very close to my point of contact with my much-loved ISM adamo saddle. it then dawned on me that the onset of this nerve problem that has been bugging me since april coincided with when i put that saddle fitted to my bike. having had a few days away from that saddle, the accupncture to release a lot of associate dmuscle tension and aslo a good massage treatment from aurelie ( the interaction pathway in my feet and lower legs it seems like now is the perfect time to switch saddle and see if that is the cause.

but - i'd just sold my spare saddle with my old bike!! with only a few days at home before flying out to geneva i thought i was stuffed, and had to borrow steven's dirty old stele italia ( actually superbly comfortable, even if its minging!) for wednesday's session. i'd mentioned my situation to my friend jenny when we met for a ride in london on my way home form the north, she's Freespeed's female team member and partner of Freespeed's founder richard...and mentioned that he had some Cobb demo saddles to work with. a cheeky email and bless him, a Vflow Plus arrives by special delivery friday morning. meanwhile, back in taunton, i was in my local bike shop checking out their range of saddles when one of teh guys that i ride with on saturday (known as "cheesy") pops in. he's the area rep for Fizik, who have just launched a female specific road and tri saddle. would i like to test it out? you betcha! he kindly also lent me a demo to take away for a week or now i have a couple of options to try out next week and hopefully will find a seat that is comfortable and kind to the missus for race day

so ...i digress somewhat ( perhaps i should blog more often and then you'd get all this waffling in smaller doses- this was billed as a 'quick catch up'. advertising standards may have issue with that description) about an hour ago, having completed my training for the day, washed the bike i was about to start packing up for a camp in the mostly- french-but-a-bit-swiss alps with a few of 'the girls' - some very strong british female triathletes - for a great combination of environment and motivational company.