Tag Archives: Cycling

4 up TT and The Titan Triathlon

On Thursday it was the Port Talbot Wheelers 4 up time trial, our team only started with 3 so we had less of a break from riding on the front, but it was a similar team to last year, Mel, Kirsty, and myself. Lats year we had Clair, this year we were meant to have Karina, but she couldn’t make it. We arrived and unpacked, I think we were all a bit nervous and Mel nearly started riding with a piece of insulating foam attached to her bike, then as we were practising we were turning right and slowed down, and Kirsty, who was behind me on her TT bars came off and got some nasty road rash and swellings! Not the best start, and we were a bit twitchy on the first section of the course. We soon settled in though and seemed to work really well together, we were only a few seconds off last years time (with fewer riders) and came second female team, so won £80 between us :-) Results are here

Photo courtesy of Il Mio photography

Photo courtesy of Il Mio photography

The weekend saw us camping at Parc Bryn Bach so that I could compete in the Titan Triathlon. The week before the race I didn’t run at all as my knee had been hurting and locking up after running for more than 40 minutes, so I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete the run anyway.

My diary entry

My diary entry

As it happens I had a mechanical on the bike which took the decision away from me to a certain extent, (its funny how these things happen) You can read my race report here. Things didn’t go to plan but my plan was not really fixed as I was unsure about my knee. I always think there is a reason that these things happen, so I’m thankful that I didn’t complete the run, it could have been a lot worse! Anyway we had a lovely weekend away and ended up climbing spiral staircases in a castle after the race, (this seems to happen frequently, Caernarfon, Dinefwr, and now Caerphilly!) Then the next day we walked up a 500m peak with the boys, and picked bilberries. (not enough recovery for me!)

Tasty pickings!

Tasty pickings!

The highlight of the walk was at the top when Devon found a sock, and announced this to the people who arrived at the top just after us. They didn’t seem too impressed, so he shouted “I bet you won’t find a sock”! We giggled just a little bit 😉

Dragon, and yin.

A bit like Yin and Yang. Its really important to balance your training. As triathletes we are used to pushing ourselves and using yang (masculine energy) but we often overlook the other side of yin (feminine energy) recovering and nurturing ourselves. Recently I have read 2 articles explaining the benefits of stretching and prolonged stretching for injury prevention so I decided to make a video of relaxing stretches that you can do before bed. The first article is about fascia, which is connective tissue in your body. It covers all of our internal parts, and basically holds us together. If you do repetitive exercise/sit at a desk for prolonged periods, your fascia forms adhesions which can limit movement. It does this in order to prevent injury. To look after your fascia you need to stretch, keep hydrated, relax, and massage. (all yin energies). You can read more about fascinating fascia here! The other article I read, was about yin yoga. If you haven’t heard of it, its pretty fashionable right now, and is also used as a balance to those hard and strenuous yoga poses that some people do. Each pose is held for 3-5 mins. It is really interesting to do, as you relax into the pose lots of feelings come up, and part of the yoga is how you respond to those feelings, read more about yin yoga here. So my Yin and Yang videos are below, I hope you enjoy them, and a report from The Dragon ride is here

What is an endurance ride?

Or, riding in Zone 2

An endurance ride or run means different things to different people, and it’s something that a lot of people get wrong, so I thought I’d try and clear up a few misunderstandings and misconceptions.

When I describe an endurance ride I ask someone to ride in Zone 2 for an extended period of time. The way that training works is that your body adapts to the training load that you place on it, so it is important to increase the distance that you ride, and make sure that you plan this well. If you increase your long rides/runs too early you will be at risk of burnout and reach your peak fitness too early. If you don’t increase your long rides/runs enough then your endurance will be compromised.

It is also important to make sure you pace the ride correctly, some mistakes that people make are:

  • Riding too hard on hills, and then recovering on the flats and downs.
  • Not riding consistently on the flats and downs.

If you are using a power meter it is easy to see if you are in the right zone, and I have found I ride more consistently when I use my power meter. If you are using heart rate then you can see from your heart rate graph how consistent you are. If your heart rate graph looks like the one below, then you may not be getting the benefit of an endurance ride.

Heart rate dips and peaks a lot.

Heart rate dips and peaks a lot.

Shown below is a more consistently paced ride where the heart rate remains fairly steady

Heart rate does not dip and peak as much.

Heart rate does not dip and peak as much.

People’s heart rates don’t tend to dip as much when they are running, but it is still important to be aware of your effort level and keep a constant pace. Don’t forget, triathlons are steady state events and you need to be able to swim, bike and run at a steady pace for an extended amount of time.

Yoga, surfing and sun

Sri Lanka

160ft sitting buddha

160ft sitting buddha

I have been back home for just over a week now from a holiday in Sri Lanka, which we booked for a late 60th birthday present for my mum. I left Patrick with the boys and jetted off to sunny Hikkaduwa for 2 weeks of yoga, a bit of surfing and some sightseeing.

Hikkaduwa is a beach resort with lots of surf schools, I was looking forward to surfing in the warm water in board shorts and a rash vest! Arriving on a holiday like that is always a bit strange, wondering what we could possibly do all day, and because it was such a long way away I wanted to see a bit of the country too. The travelling was pretty tiring, I think I’m still recovering from flights, jet lag etc.

Hikkaduwa beach

Hikkaduwa beach

We soon settled in to a rhythm, yoga was in the morning from 7:30 till 9:30, starting with 10-25 minutes meditation, then breakfast took us until about 10:30. We then wandered down to the beach and went in the sea for a surf/swim, some days we walked, and did a bit of shopping, and most days we went to the supermarket to find exciting foods!

A bit of body boarding in small waves.

A bit of body boarding in small waves.

 

We managed to see a great market, and on the last day we got the train to Kandy to see The Temple of the Tooth, an amazing buddhist temple.

So I have come back with a few yoga sequences up my sleeve, a massive amount of rest and recovery, some food inspiration, and inspiring quotes. I also made a resolve to meditate at least once a week, I have managed 2 days this week, which has been positive! And doing something totally unrelated to Triathlon for 2 weeks was a great mental break.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 17.15.55

 

Turning into a film maker

Trip to Resolven

I have been busy at the computer again this week, after an epic ride with 4 of the Pembrokeshire Velos  to receive my plaque for winning the 100 mile time trial. I met them at Kilgetty at 6:30am and rode 71 miles up to Resolven. I managed to hold on to their wheels for most of the way, but during the last hour I kept getting dropped! Considering I hadn’t been out for longer than an hour and a half since Ironman on the bike, I was pretty pleased. They had cycled from Pembroke Dock and ridden 83 miles in total. I was a bit annoyed that my garmin wouldn’t download to Strava afterwards as I’m sure I would have had a few QOM’s!!

The full trip, I was there too honest!

Strength and Conditioning

I have been putting together some videos for my coached athletes, which has taken up quite a bit of my time, I am aiming to show exercises that can be done easily at home without equipment. Hopefully they will find them useful!

A long week and feeling it

Getting to the taper

There comes a point in your training when there is nothing more you can do to increase your fitness and you need to accept that you have done all that you can. Whatever happens on the day will happen, I got back off a long ride feeling pretty negative as my power and speed were low, but thinking about it rationally I had done a 10km (running) Time Trial the night before, and had been building for a while, only having a short recovery after the 100 mile TT, so not surprising really! There is a great post about tapering here which I found helpful and inspiring.

I have been looking at last years taper for Wimbleball and comparing it to my training this year, I had some feedback that my taper may have been a bit drastic, this was because I was ill after a race and then started tapering after I had recovered. This years will not be so drastic and I’ll be nice and ready to race!

This years Performance management chart

This years Performance management chart

Last years Performance management chart. a sharp drop after Slateman

Last years Performance management chart. a sharp drop after Slateman

Time trials and tribulations (garmin data is here, full results here)

I went along to the 10km Time trial organised by Pembrokeshire Triathlon club on Tuesday evening, hoping to better my time from 6 years ago!! I can’t believe how long ago that was. My time in 2008 was 43.23. When I arrived Ian, the timekeeper, decided that I would be fastest and put me last. I was not so sure, but went along with it anyway! Ellie (the only other woman) went off 1 minute ahead of me and I tried to keep her in sight. It soon became apparent that she was flying, as I counted the time from her passing a lamppost, she was already more than a minute ahead within the first few miles. , it was a lovely evening, and nice to have a chat. I got a time of 41.14, so 2 minutes faster than last time. I should be happy with that, but maybe have been feeling a bit negative this week.

The long ride

I decided to ride the whole Ironman course the day after, and was pretty dissapointed in my speed. I may have been tired, and also lacking motivation doing the route on my own. I’m not sure that I really wanted to do it, because I knew that if I was slow it would make me depressed, but Patrick suggested it and I thought the pro’s would outweigh the con’s. Anyway I borrowed his go pro which was quite fun, although I have now spent hours editing the ******* thing.

A bit of geekiness

After I had recovered from the ride, digested my stats, done some more research, and generally got slightly obsessive about numbers, I spotted that my Intensity factor for the ride was based on my old FTP, so with a few calculations I realised that I will be able to go faster on race day, (of course some other factors will come into play too) but if the maths is right then I’m happy !!

Calculating power

Calculating power

 

Bertha and 100 mile TT

 Welsh 100 mile Time Trial Championship 2014

Last year I rode the 50 mile national Time Trial Championship in Abergavenny, and at the end I swore I would never, ever do it again. About 6 months later, and after signing up for Ironman Wales I decided that it would be a good idea to do another long Time Trial as part of my training in the lead up to Ironman. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the only long TT that I could do was the 100. I entered online, thinking I don’t actually have to do it. Aber01 My mum agreed to support me, and we drove up the night before, after checking the weather we decided not to camp. I booked the Premier Inn in Pontypool. My mum was still optimistic about the weather, thinking that it would rain overnight and then be clear for the morning. I was not so optimistic after checking my phone. At least it didn’t look windy!

Rain, and more rain

Rain, and more rain

At 5:30am the alarm went off, and I had a cup of tea, dressed and applied liberal amounts of Sudocrem and Hoo Ha glide to my posterior, (thanks girls for the tips!) Unfortuatley I forgot that I then had to sit in the car. The sudocrem had already seeped through, so I sat on my coat to protect my mums upholstery, ( must remember next time to apply cream at last minute!)

a magical combination

a magical combination

As we drove somberly towards the start in the torrential rain I had mixed feelings, I was really looking forward to doing the TT as I have never ridden 100miles before, but the weather was horrendous, and I could tell my mum was a bit worried, as she asked whether I would be riding along the dual carriageway, and if there would be cars on it. I was also worried that they would cancel, because as we got nearer to HQ there was not the usual hubbub of riders warming up and riding to the start.

We arrived at 6:30, (the first rider was off at 7:09am) I joined the huddle of freaks, sheltering outside HQ who had decided that come rain or shine they were riding 100 miles today. The organiser had not arrived yet so there was some speculation as to whether it was cancelled.  Suddenly the doors were opened and signing on sheets signed. I committed my signature to paper and organised myself, giving my 2 bottles to my mum and explaining where and when to wait. I went out to the car and slung my bag over my shoulder and felt a sharp pain across my back. Now my mind really started playing up, and as I rode to the start my power meter started dropping out, and I could hear a clicking on my front derailler. I was starting to wonder if the gods were trying to tell me something, but I moved my garmin to my handlebars, and realised that the clicking was only the cable knocking against the crank arm, and my back was fine in the TT position.

The ride

I set off behind Tanis Hand (ex Tenby Aces, and the only other woman to ride) The route is 3 laps of the dual carriageway up to Monmouth and back to Abergavenny. At the first turnaround I saw Tanis and she looked a way ahead of me so I just stuck to my plan. When I got out on the second lap I did a quick bit of maths and realised that I was going to be at the lay-by that I told my mum to wait at about 15 minutes before I told her to get there. Happily I spotted her car as I approached ( she likes to be early thankfully) and I stopped to fill up my aero bottle and grab the other bottle from her. I said I was feeling good and got on my way. The photographer was at the next lay-by as globules of snot, spit, and rain dribbled down my chin. I couldn’t really muster a smile!

SIS_6298

Next I saw Jill Coleman who cheered me on, I was averaging 20.8mph so was feeling amazing as I was aiming for 19-20mph. I sang a lovely rendition of Chesney Hawkes I am the one and only (where did that come from?!!) as I was overtaken by one of many men, and I had one of several manic laughing fits as I realised that, yes, I really was doing this, and doing a good time. I had done 50 miles in 2h20 which was faster than I did the 50 mile TT in last year. The rest of the second and third lap was a blur of feeling sorry for lonely, and sodden supporters holding out drinks bottles, marshals waving frantically and pointing, and looking forward to the tunnel near Monmouth for a couple of minutes shelter.

SIS_6119

On the second and third lap I started to pass a few people, including Tanis, and Jill told me that I was on the team now, as Paul had to pull out. About 20 miles from the end I started to watch my power dropping, and had to talk to myself a few times to keep focussed, the last few miles seemed the longest ever. I shouted my number out to the clapping timekeepers and with comedic timing the rain stopped and the sun started to come out.

P1050879

When I got back to HQ my mum told me that there was only 1 other woman who completed the race, so I jokingly said “I may be Welsh Champion then”, to which she replied “you are!” This seemed pretty funny to me and I got inside where Jill, Paul, Dan and Rob told me that we’d won the team prize too. 3 cups of tea later I had warmed up and was presented with my Championship cap, and we had a team photo.

The winning team

The winning team

Race Analysis

A word from the organiser

A word from the organiser

Garmin data here, full results here, more photo’s of bedraggled competitors here

If you are not interested in data look away now 😉

Out of 71 riders 26 started 7 DNF, and 39 DNS

My aim was to keep above 150 watts, and below 180, I had set some alerts on the garmin, but couldn’t really hear them. I also had an auto lap set for 25 miles, but again didn’t hear the first lap. My power did go down at the end, but in comparison to last years 50 mile TT it was not so extreme, so I was happy with my pacing. I could probably have held back more in the beginning, as my average power for each lap shows.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 11.56.03

Below is a comparison between last years 50 and this years 100, you can see how I started way too hard in the 50, and suffered about halfway through! This year I had also prepared myself psychologically and knew what to expect.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 20.21.57

100 mile TT 2014

 

Couldn't take it!

Couldn’t take it!

So overall, I was amazed with my result, I rode about 15-30 minutes quicker than I thought I would, so with some great performances under my belt I feel ready for Ironman Wales!

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.41.11

Long Course weekend

This weekend was the Long Course weekend in Tenby. I entered this after my failed attempt at the Tour of Pembrokeshire 76 mile route, as I wanted to do a longish sportive before Ironman Wales. When I told Patrick that I had entered all 3 events he was a bit surprised, but then he decided to enter the Half Marathon on the Sunday. Luckily for us my mum was on hand to look after the kids so we could both run!

Tenby Harbour with swimmers waiting in the pen on the left hand side

Tenby Harbour with swimmers waiting in the pen on the left hand side

The Swim (2.4 miles) Garmin data here Results here

The swim is a 2 lap course and conditions were pretty perfect, swim starts are always a bit nerve racking, but I am getting more confident now. I have learned not to listen to the stories people tell about the start and just focus on what I’m doing. There were 2 men behind me chatting and saying how it would be a scrum to the first buoy. I decided I didn’t really want to listen to that conversation so moved away from them. It’s one of the things that irritates me when people perpetuate fear and anxiety to make themselves look good! It really isn’t that bad, and telling people how awful something is really doesn’t help anyone. The start was busy and I did get a couple of elbows in my goggles, but I was soon in clear space and feeling great. I stroked a few jellyfish, and was on my second lap. The pace at the end of the second lap around the last buoy picked up so I hitched a ride with a massive group, we were flying, and all scrambled out together.

My mum, surprised that she missed me come in!

My mum, surprised that she missed me come in!

The swim was a bit of a test for Ironman Wales. I was hoping to complete the swim in about 1 hour and 5 to 1 hour 10. I was very surprised, and on a bit of a high when I came out of the water in 57.28. Didn’t sleep very well that night!

The Wales sportive (70 miles) Garmin data here Results here

There is a choice of 40, 70, or 112 mile routes for the sportive. It follows the same route as the Ironman course. If you are doing 112 miles you do both the 40 and 70 mile loops. I chose to do 70 miles because I didn’t want to exhaust myself over the weekend and be unable to train the week after. I decided to park in New Hedges and cycle down to Tenby to avoid the chaos of parking in town. When I arrived I spotted Clair, and we had a quick hello, then I made my way down to the start. I was super early so decided to spend my emergency cash on a macchiato from the teeny tiny coffee van. At the start I shoved in next to Clair, she was meeting Tom (her other half) en route and he was going to pace her on the ride.

power surges at the beginning, then lower when I was in a pack, and dropping as I got tired

power surges at the beginning, then lower when I was in a pack, and dropping as I got tired

At this point I had a bit of a battle going on in my head. I had planned to try and stick to about 150-160 watts the whole way round, but I thought it also may be good to push a bit and see what I could do. When we started I thought I would try and stick with Clair, as it might be easier to have someone to ride with, but it became clear in the first half hour that they were going for it, and I decided to err on the side of caution and drop back! I was on my own then from Lamphey to Castlemartin, where I tried to hang on the back of another group I managed to stay with them until after Angle then got spat out the back. The rest of the ride I was solo, but it was good to see how hard I could push it. I was feeling pretty tired and when a few people passed me that I knew, it was nice to hear a bit of encouragement.

I averaged 156 watts on the course but, for Ironman, my pacing will be a lot different! I was happy with my time though, as I was aiming for about 4 and a half hours. Clair did an amazing time of 3 hours 55, there was no way I could have caught her! Fortunately she was still at the finish when I arrived and she very kindly gave me a lift back up the hill to New Hedges, (very grateful!)

I got home and was about to do my stretching when I had an overwhelming urge to have a sleep so I had a nap for an hour (luxury sleeping during the day :-))

P.S. I was glad of my delicious portables that I had brought! (short blog post about that here).

The Wales Half Marathon (13.1 miles) Garmin data here Results here

When I finished the bike I said I would jog the run on Sunday. Patrick had entered too, and was also planning on taking it steady. The run starts in Pembroke, and you run to Tenby, after a bit of discussion we had decided to take the train from Narberth. When we stopped in Tenby quite a few other runners got on, and we arrived in time to march up the high street with the band to the start. The only problem with the train, was that I had change jangling in my back pocket the whole way to Tenby! (extra weight too ;-))

Feeling good

Feeling good

We were off and I kept an eye on my heart rate, as I know how easy it is to start following people. I kept a steady 152 average which is upper endurance for me ,probably a bit faster than I should have gone, but I was feeling pretty relaxed and strong. I had to tell myself to slow down a few times and let people go that I normally would have chased!

Taking it steady

Taking it steady

Anyway I was very happy with my time, I was 2nd in my age category, and not too exhausted afterwards. Patrick came in 4 minutes after me and I was there to watch his sprint finish, very impressive on only a couple of runs a week! We then headed down to the beach for a BBQ with the boys.

The weekend was fantastic, support on the course is amazing, and there is such a good atmosphere everywhere. The weather was pretty good, and I had a successful testing weekend which will have benefitted my training a lot. No posts for a while now as we’re off to Asturias for a couple of weeks, looking forward to riding in the Picos!

 

 

 

 

Jet setting

Last week was a busy one with the 4 up Time trial on Thursday evening and a wedding in Jersey at the weekend.

4 up TT

The 4 up time trail was on Thursday evening an hour and a half away, so we left Pembrokeshire at about 4pm and were back home at about 10.30pm, which is a late night for me! Our team consisted of Mel, Clair, Kirsty, and myself, and we had practised a couple of times.

I had never done a Time trial like this before, but it was great fun. The first part of the course is mostly down and I think the wind was behind us. I was checking my speed and we averaged about 27.5 mph on that stretch, so I was feeling pretty good. As we approached the turn of I was at the front, and I didn’t want to peel of at the junction, so I stayed at the front for a bit longer than I would have liked and I could feel it on the way back, as I was watching our average speed drop going uphill and into the wind!

spot when I was on the front!

spot when I was on the front!

It is amazing how much easier it is at the back drafting, as you can see from the power graph above. At the beginning I was desperate to get on the front, but by the end I was not looking forward to my turn so much! We beat the women’s Velo’s time by about 4 minutes so everyone was pleased with that.

Results are here, we were the 3rd women’s team.

Checking the times

Checking the times

Jersey wedding

On Friday we flew to Jersey for one of my husband’s friends wedding, we arrived there for a bbq overlooking the beach, the weather was fantastic, and it felt like we were on a holiday abroad, (I suppose Jersey is abroad!) On Saturday before the wedding Patrick and I went for a swim around the headland, although I think we went for a bit too long, as we didn’t warm up until we got back to the hotel, even though the sun was out!

After our swim

After our swim

We then went out for a run, I had planned to do 3 minute anaerobic intervals, and I managed to persuade Patrick to do the same, I went a lot faster than I would have on my own, as I could hear him breathing down my neck!! So I think he will be on fine form for the Long weekend half marathon, and will probably beat me!

Ouch!

Ouch!

Anyway I’ll leave you with a picture of me and a postcard that we found in the pub!

Obviously true!

Obviously true!

 

 

 

Who is Mary Sage?

Mary Sage the phantom strava stalker??

I have had notifications in the past that I have lost my QOM to Mary Sage. I have a theory that this is a phantom Stava user, or maybe a pro who doesn’t want to be known, but after some investigation I don’t think that the latter is the case!

The time that was posted for the Outlaw half run route was the “winning” time in the race. Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 13.01.34

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 13.02.08

Last year I lost some QOM’s on the Ironman Wales course. The time that was posted for the full Ironman loop was the same as the winning bike time on Ironman Wales. Cat Faux won Half Outlaw, and Lucy Gossage won Ironman Wales, and nobody else got the same times as they had on the courses. Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 13.05.46

When I did an athlete search for Mary Sage, this came up…

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 13.08.54

ooh mysterious, I should probably request to follow her, that would be the next stage in my stalking 😉

I suppose what people can take away from this is not to become fixated on Strava, and to just enjoy it, while taking it with a pinch of salt!

I have now solved the mystery and posted about it here!

More analysis and some ideas for my next race

The Half Outlaw results are now finalised and have gender and age group positions for all 3 disciplines, which I find really useful. The positions were as follows:

Swim

Gender position 31st Category position 10th

Bike

Gender position 24th Category position 10th

Run

Gender position 8th Category position 3rd

It shows me that, again, I relied on my strong run to move up some places. I think this is probably something I could learn from. The run is always shorter than the bike so I haven’t got as much time to overtake if people have passed me on the bike, so I think I need to push it more on the bike. This is hard for me psychologically because I still see myself as a runner, and like to do a decent run time.

It is also interesting to see that although I haven’t been doing the run training that I wanted to, my running is still my strength, so I’m not going to worry too much about improving my running! My targets, then, for the next few months are to improve my biking and not hold back as much. Maybe I should have followed those women after all!!

 

1 2