Monday, May 19, 2008

Ever Fallen in Love with Someone (you shouldn't have fallen in love with...) ?

I love that song. Used to play it at home when I was younger - in my punk days - hard to imagine I'm that old, isn't it.

Isn't it?

Anyway... like I was saying, I love that song - as far as pop songs go I reckon it's pretty much perfect. John Peel may have had 'Teenage Kicks' but I have 'Ever Fallen in Love' by The Buzzcocks. Now John Peel knew a lot more about music than me, granted, but I reckon I know a bit more about bikes than John (rest his soul) ever did, even if I have been cycling for only twenty months or so.

My Specialized Allez has served me well. I've used it for all my triathlons, it's seen me through two winters of training and it's been slapped on and off the turbo more times than coach Kleanthous has laced up his running shoes. It has well over five thousand miles on the clock (excluding the aforesaid turbo miles) and it's been nigh on time that the bike cavalry came charging over the hill to the rescue.

Cue the hero of the piece - my Audie Murphy - pictured above. Namely a Cervelo P2C. A fine piece of kit, I'm sure you'll agree. It's pretty much all carbon and I've invested in a set of HED wheels which certainly look the business. Coach K and I set it up last week and I've been out on it a few times to tweak the arrangements. The idea is that I'll be able to get some serious miles on it before IronMan Austria to get used to the new aggressive position. As most of you who know me can vouch for, I'm a reasonably laid back guy, not used to aggressive positions, so fingers crossed that I get used to it in time. I'll report back but, in the meantime, let's just say I'm a happy bunny.

Actually, the photo you see above wasn't the original photo until my pedantic Ironmates Mark K, Colin B and Tom W pointed out that I'd photographed it incorrectly - the bike was facing the wrong way, the cranks weren't level, the chaing wasn't in the big ring yadda, yadda, yadda. What are you guys? The bike police? I mean, really... is this so different than the one above. Anyway, I guess you've saved me from ridicule on so thanks.

So... to the week that was. Coach K had sent me two key swim, two key bike and three key run sessions to work into my schedule this week and I'm pleased to say I managed six of them. I started slowly and the weather hampered my long ride plans but I managed to get one in on Thursday. I rode for 20 minutes warm up, then 20 minutes at 10 mile TT pace, followed by 10 minutes spinning, followed by 20 minutes more at 10 mile TT pace, followed by the rest of my long bike. In windy, wintery conditions, with my bike in winter mode, I rode 84 miles at 18.8mph average which is faster than my IronMan average in Austria last year (albeit for a distance of 112 miles). But the cycling is certainly heading in the right direction.

I also completed my first race of the season, the Merchant Taylors Olympic Triathlon. In reality this was a C race for me, to get me used to stitching the three disciplines together. I enjoyed the event and came home in 2 hours 31 mins which, given the hilly nature of the bike course, was a very creditable time. Pro's were that I felt strong in the bike and run and, compared to last year, had tons more energy in the bank at the end of the race. Cons were that my transitions weren't slick enough and my swim stroke wasn't as smooth as I'd have liked. Still, a good day at a well run new tri.

Last week's training was as follows:

Monday - 60 minutes cycling with seated climbing

Tuesday - 45 minutes swimming with 2 x 800m Ironman pace efforts plus warm ups and downs, 2km total. Temp run, 50 minutes, including 30 minutes at 6:45 min mile pace.

Weds - 45 minute swim, 75 minute run at slow 8:15 min mile pace

Thurs - One hour cycling, new bike technique and set up

Friday - Long bike as detailed above. 4 hours 30 mins. 15 minutes run off the bike.

Saturday - 1 hour open water swim, easy 2.25 km including open water acclimatisation

Sunday - Olympic triathlon - 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run. 2.5 hours

Total training time this week - 13 hours 50 mins

Last week's film quote was spoken by Robin Williams in DEAD POETS SOCIETY.

Any ideas on this one?


Come on, folks... you have to know that one...

I remember seeing The Buzzcocks in concert at Blackpool Tiffany's Ballroom in 1979. Great concert. Tonight we're off to see Roger Waters perform 'Dark Side of The Moon' at the 02 Arena (a concert we saw a year ago at the Birmingham NEC but just HAD to go back and see again). I shall return home knowing that the one I shouldn't have fallen for will still be waiting for me. :-)

Have fun out there...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Plot Point...

I’ve started up a film society at home. On an occasional basis I’ll get together with a group of mates and we’ll watch a movie in the cinema, discussing it afterwards – all washed down by a few ales and buckets of popcorn, of course. Sounds most un-Ironman like I know, but there were five of us present on Friday night and we had eight Ironmen between us – so I guess we’re allowed a night off once in a while!

Anyway, our film on Friday was ‘CIDADE DE DEUS’ (CITY OF GOD), the brilliant Brazilian gangster movie. It’s labyrinthine script gave rise to my explaining to the boys that every film is made up of three acts, essentially a beginning, a middle and an end and that to change acts, a ‘plot point’ must occur.

What is a plot point, do I hear you say? Well, put simply, a plot point is an action or event which turns the current action on its head and propels the action into the next phase.

Here’s an example. A kld called Peter Parker is a bit of a nerd. Picked on at school etc. We see all of this – him being bullied, him being shy, him going un-noticed by girls etc. Then… whaddya know… Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider. Wham. Plot point one. And, Act One of Peter Parker becomes Act Two of Spiderman.

Interesting, huh?

Anyway, this week I had a BIG DAY. Many of you will have followed the link on the right of this page - or just click here - to Tom and Helen's Ironman Blog (and if you haven’t you should). T and H are going at it big time in an event to qualify for the Ironman world champs in Hawaii at the end of the year. This necessitates being a serious athlete and these guys don’t disappoint. Tom did sub 10 hours at Switzerland Ironman last year and is looking to go sub 9:30 at Germany this year, whilst Helen is looking to go sub 10:30 at the same event. We’ve kept in touch since meeting at Ironman Austria last year and they invited me up to their home in Leeds for a training day.

As it happens we didn’t stay at home for any length of time!

The day began with me rising at 4.30 am and driving up to Leeds, meeting T and H at their gym before 0800. We swam 5.35 km (214 lenghts of the 25m pool) at a steady pace in 1 hour 45 minutes. From there we drove back home and got onto the bikes where we cycled into the hilly Yorkshire Dales for a 48 mile ride, stopping off at Betty’s Tearooms in Ilkley for a legendary Fat Rascal scone.

Once back at the house (or rather the garage which had been converted to Transition) we slipped on our running shoes and took off to run the Leeds half marathon route, coming home in 1 hour 50 mins – a strong pace considering what we’d already done and the heat of the day. A brief respite for some much needed food and we packed the bikes into the cars and drove to the Pool 20km bike Time Trial where – amazingly there was a little something left in the legs.

Bed at 2200 and the next thing I know the alarm is going off at 0500. We’re in the pool by 0600 doing a series of swimming sprints for an hour, followed by a weights session for another hour. They left me bloodied and beaten in the cafĂ© (this week’s photo), wandering off and talking of doing a 100 mile bike ride the next day…

In all seriousness it was a fantastic 24 hours, part of my plan to occasionally surround myself with better athletes to take myself out of any comfort zone I may be slipping into. I felt I turned a corner with Tom and Helen and, in some small way, may well look back at that day as one of my own personal ‘plot points’ that has taken my training to a new stage.

Thanks for a great time and wonderful hospitality guys. I’m looking forward to hosting you here in the summer and I’ve NO DOUBTS that you’re going to go large in Germany.

So, without further ado… let’s begin Act Three of this blog – the summary:

Monday – 53 mile bike ride at 18.8 mph average including Dunstable Downs and Bison Hills. 2 hrs 45 mins.

Tuesday – 55 minutes swimming

Wednesday – 1 hr 45 mins, 5.35km swim, 48 mile bike easy bike ride, 3 hrs 20 mins, 13.1 mile run, 1 hour 50 mins, 20km Bike Time Trial, 40 mins including warm ups and downs.

Thursday – 60 minutes swim sprint set. 60 minutes weights session.

Friday – 60 minutes recovery bike

Saturday – 45 minutes tempo 5.6 mile run

Sunday – Complete Rest Day

Total training this week 15 hours.

Last week’s film quote was:

"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported."

And was spoken by David St Hubbins from Rob Reiner’s THIS IS SPINAL TAP.

Answers in the comments box to this (easy) one please:

“They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

And finally – a word for my coach, Mark Kleanthous, who gave me a mild bollocking following my 24 hour training frenzy in Leeds. Mark, you’re playing a blinder this year. I feel terrific and it’s down to your sessions. I’m looking forward to this next month of key sessions you’ve given me.

For anyone who hasn’t visited Mark’s site, do so… NOW…. Just click here.

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Must have Sleep...

Since arriving back from my golf weekend I've been incredibly tired. As my mate, and three times Ironman, Colin Bradley succinctly put it... "you've been training like a nutter".

And he's right. For me... I have... not only have I been training long but I've been training smart and training hard. Gone are the days of junk hours which I don't mind admitting I succumbed to last year. In their place have been structured sessions, each designed to elicit some improvement from my creaking body.

So I decided to have an easy week this week and not be afraid of bringing it all down a notch or two. I did what I wanted and no more and, most importantly, I decided to try and catch up on my sleep.

For too long now I've neglected this aspect of training. An athlete is only as good as their body allows them to be and, when you're training every day, recovery is as important a factor as the sessions themselves. And the finest recovery aid known is, of course, sleep. For many monthis, when I should really have been in bed at ten o'clock, I've been hanging around watching crap TV with a bottle of beer until midnight. And that's not good. So for several nights this week I've forced myself up and got at least eight to nine hours sleep per night for three or four nights.

I'm noticing the difference. Energy seems to be slowly returning and I'm sleeping better and stronger over longer hours than I was over shorter. I think, frankly, I've been a little over trained and under slept. But hopefully I can turn that round.

Another reason for 'easing back' is that I don't want to peak too early. I feel that for last year's Ironman I was 'over the hill' and that I was ready for the event a month or so before. I don't want that to be the case this time. So a week or so with a quieter agenda will give me the rest I need to push on to the final stages of my training.

That said, when I counted my hours this week I was extremely surprised to see how long I'd trained. Take a look yourselves:

Monday - 60 minutes swim 2.4km swim (6 x 400m with rests), 45 mins 5.6 mile run with 35 mins at 80% Heart Rate pace.

Tuesday - Olympic Tuesday (part of my quest to do at least an Olympic distance every Tuesday) 55 minutes swim ( 2.6km made up of broken speed 150m sprints), 1 hour 45 mins very windy bike (29 miles) 45 minutes 5.6 mile run (back to back with bike ride at 7:32 minute miles average).

Wednesday - 50 minute 2.1km swim (including a broken speed 1500m), 70 mins 8 mile cross country hilly run

Thursday - complete rest day

Friday - Olympic Friday (God knows how I ended up doing another Olympic day?!) 45 minutes 2.2km swim, 82 minutes 25 mile bike with Colin and Joe, back to back 10km run with Colin 50 minutes at 8.15 min miles and 130 bpm avg HR

Saturday - 2 hours 45 mins solo bike. 50 miles at 18mph and 122 bpm HR average. 26 minutes off the bike run at 8.14 min miles and 136 bpm Average.

Sunday - complete rest day.

Total training this week 13 hours 18 mins.

I suspect many of you got last week's film quote.

"I could hardly piss straight with fear. He was a man with 3/4 of an inch of brain who'd taken a dislike to me. What had I done to offend him? I don't consciously offend big men like this. And this one's a decided imbalance of hormone in him. Get any more masculine than that and you'd have to live up a tree. "...

was spoken by Paul McGann's character, Marwood, the 'I' in WITHNAIL AND I.

Remember, no internet allowed in searching out these quotes...

This week we're staying with comedies:

Who said (and in what film)

"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported."

I'm off for a bike ride. Have fun... :-)