Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How Crossfit turned me into a better triathlete.

Crossfitting triathlete @ Challenge Regensberg 

Challenge Regensberg was to be my 4th long distance triathlon. I have always followed a strength and conditioning program seeing I am a personal trainer and sports massage therapist, I am only too aware of its benefits.  Every year I would take on at least a 24 week training program but after opening my own gym, my training time reduced considerably and if I am entirely honest all those long hours of cycling and running became boring when I discovered Crossfit.  I became totally obsessed with it and in 3 months I found I was fitter, stronger and more flexible than ever with an increased mental attitude towards life and training.

Then I realised that I only had 8 weeks left before the race.  With hardly any triathlon training I entered straight into a middle distance race the Immortal and totally smashed it and third in my age cat, 3 weeks later I completed the Bosk man which is a little more than a middle distance.  In the few weeks that followed I squeezed in two 100 mile rides and ran no more than 16 miles.  I did however continue to do Crossfit at least 5 times a week.  My posture has improved and made me a faster swimmer and being a triathlon coach  I  know that swimming regularly does improve swimming so how did it work that I was swimming only once a week but still getting stronger and fitter.  My core strength had doubled allowing an improved posture in the water with strong arms and shoulders and new strong legs improved my hill climbing. 

The swim didn't go quite as planned, even though it was a small wave of elite, women and men over 60.  I got punched early on in the swim which totally threw me and I ended up with some anxiety issues so rested on the paddle boat for a short while.  It was here that my swim started to go wrong. My googles kept continuously steaming up and it was increasing difficult to sight anything and ended up going of course. Luckily for me there was an Australian exit so I took that time to sort out my googles.  They didn't steam up on the second loop but they were leaking and I was shocked to find that I still managed a PB on the swim course.  It made me think what I could have done if the swim had gone a lot more smoothly.  

The bike course was a little cheeky, a nice flat start and then hills started. It wasn't just one hill it was a constant climb but you were rewarded with some nice fast descents especially on the second loop when you knew the road.  Most of the roads had been closed and there were bands and huge support on the hills.  I was so glad to be off the bike as my ass was numb. 

So just a marathon to complete.  I ran the first 2 loops so about 12 miles and the temperatures soared.  It was over 28 degrees and energy levels were fading.  What I noticed in the last stages of the marathon was the odd body shapes that people were displaying as they ran, torsos pointing one way and leg another.  My posture however remained strong and I started a run walk  plan. I ran 100 steps and walked 25.  This increased my min mileage considerably and started to cover a lot of ground.  
When I finally saw the finish line I literally walked down it milking my finish and enjoying it.  My total time 13.35.   I was really pleased with this time off a 8 week training program and without a shadow of doubt I know that Crossfit made me a stronger, faster athlete without all those junk miles.  The short intense workouts in Crossfit kept my aerobic levels there and the renewed flexibility and strength increased my performance.  
Another factor I noticed was my recovery.  After Lanzarote last year I felt fatigued for few months.  This year after weeks recovery I was back on it and feeling fine.  

Now I know Crossfit is a personal thing  but after doing regular strength and conditioning programs for couple of years trying to make myself stronger did help to a point but Crossfit changed my body like nothing had before.  

I am proud to be a Crossfitting triathlete and it worked for me.  Why not give it a go 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Long run in the meadow 24 hour solo run 2015

I have no idea why I decided to enter a 24 hour solo run especially running around a loop that was only 1.66 miles long.  I had taken part in a team 24 hour race and had no sleep there and how knew it could affect you mentally and  I had also seen how much the solo runners had suffered.  I like challenges and this was certainly a challenge that I had never done.  

I turned up at the race location and was physically shaking as I got out the car. I had packed enough food to last a week and about 5 changes of clothes with 3 pairs of trainers and plenty of socks and Vaseline.  I had a plan run 2 laps and walk 1 lap and come in after 3 hours to change and take refreshment.  I had got 11 hours sleep before this race so felt refreshed and ready to rock n roll.

My plan went totally out of the window as I ran the first 10 laps with a remarkable woman  called Marie who had fought breast cancer.  She told me all about her journey and all the ultras she had done  and I was  amazed by her courage and determination. I love the people I meet at endurance events everyone has a story to tell. After my 10 laps I decided just to walk one just to loosen off the legs and this is  where I met up with Ben Smith who is doing 401 marathons in 401 days for anti bullying campaign. What a great guy.  I then went on to run few more laps before the first support crew arrived. Charlotte arrived at 5pm with warm chips which went downs well.  Char, Leigh and I then ran a few more laps before the next support crew turned up.  By this time I had started to feel really sick so Louise walked around with us whilst we played silly alphabet games.  We got a few extra laps in before  Nick turned up with pizza... Great shout.  We then  walked a few more to digest the pizza. During the night  we had heard a voice from the hedge saying "is that Michelle?" and as I wasn't expecting it it did freak me out a little and replied "whose asking?" Before my brother jumped out of the bushes!!!! By this time I had stupid amount of layers on and I was really feeling the cold.

I still wasn't feeling right and really just wanted to puke up and get rid of the horrid sickness feeling that I had felt for the last few hours and it got slowly worse.  Tom and Vicky turned up for the night shift at 11 and we walked a couple of laps together. I felt really bad as they had given up their time to come and help me and all I wanted to do was to lie down and die.  Tom and vicky went early as I slithered to my car for some down time.  I couldn't pull myself together to do anything.... It took an eternity to try and plug in my phone to charge and I kept setting off my car alarm.  I lay there shivering in all my sweaty clothes wrapped up in a kingsize quilt where EVERYTHING was just throbbing.  I couldn't sleep , I couldn't get comfortable... I was a MESS.  I just lay there for about two hours trying to relax and let my body recover. I couldn't sleep I was in too much pain. 

I set my alarm just in case I slept for 2.15 and once the alarm went off I was back on it. I went back down to HQ wolfed down a pot noodle and beast mode was well and truly switched on.  I plugged in my music and went on to run 5 really fast laps singing my heart away in the misty cold air.  I am not sure where this energy came from but it was pot noodle magic.  Something very euphoric about running at this time of night singing my little heart away. 

After this Teresa and Duncan had arrived so we went off and ran a few more laps together and then fatigue started to set in again or pot noodle had worn off.  By the time 5.30 am arrived I was well and truly done.  I said goodbye to Teresa and Duncan and on verge of emotional breakdown I headed for the comfort of my quilt.  I knew my fried breakfast was coming at 6 so I just wanted to lie down for 30 mins and try and get warm again.  When Dave turned up with my sauages and scrambled egg he found me in my car hidden away. Seriously this was my lowest point... I sobbed like a baby.  I couldn't even eat the food he brought because it made me feel sick.  

Sunrise had started so I walked three laps with Dave eating babybels and Pringles.  Watching the sun come up gives you a mental boost and although I was still cold I did start to feel better.  It was going to be a gorgeous day.  Melissa was taking over at 8 and I managed to run walk a few laps with her.  Every time I ran my pulse rate shot high sky so I decided walking was the safest bet. Chrissie turned up for her shift and it was nice to see my mum turn up on the course so we all walked together in the sun.  

There was only few hours to go and my ankles were swollen and my knees ached, in fact there wasn't one part of my body that didn't ache. The laps started to get very slow and I almost felt like I was shuffling along.  I entered HQ at about 11am and decided that that was enough.  I wanted to cry, I did cry and my whole body was on fire.  First aid guys had ice on my feet and on my knees and I sat in a whole world of pain watching all the people coming through to the finish line and then realised I hadn't had a finishers pic.  Chrissie was brilliant at this point and gave me the much needed determination to do one more lap so I could get that finishers pic.  That last loop after a pot noodle and armed with a big bag of M and M's we went to complete one more lap.  

The finish line loomed and I managed to run the last 100 metres across that line.  Oh my god the relief that I felt. 46 laps and 76.36 miles.  I was third lady in and 8th overall.  This was a low key event and I thought the laps would drive me insane but actually it didn't.  That is without doubt the hardest challenge I have done and the lack of sleep puts a whole different challenge on it altogether. 

Nick had cycled into Taunton to drive my car back and we had stopped at tesco as I needed a bottle of something.  I literally crawled on my hands and knees  with no shoes on through the shop to buy some sparkling wine.  I was a total mess.  The car journey seemed like an eternity and I was gripping my IT band to stop it aching.  

I would like to thank each and every single person who gave up their time to help me along this journey.  At times I wanted to give up and the thought of those friends putting themselves on the line for me gave me the determination to carry on. The support of those people were the only thing that kept me going and I owe my success to them. The support received from everyone in any shape or form was most appreciated. 

I have learnt a few things from this exeperience
1) I have the bestest friends EVER.
2) never underestimate the power of a pot noodle.
3) lack of sleep makes you really emotional and I am glad that I did the team event earlier in the year as that did help to prepare me mentally.
4) did I mention I have the best friends ever. 

That big question would I do it again

Yes I think I would. I gained valuable experience doing this endurance event and here's to a 100 miles 



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cotswolds 24 hr team race 2015



We entered the Cotswolds 24 hr race as a team of 4.  The plan was to run in relay for 24 hours.  We arrived sat morning and set up camp.  This was the first time this event had been held and none of our team had ever done this kind of event before.  Each lap was 5.5 miles of mixed terrain on private property of Bathhurst estate at Circenster Polo park.  

Leigh started us off and I was second runner.  We had to swap a wrap around band in transition area after each lap.  First two laps went really well and we were placed second in our cat for most of the night. We had agreed as a team that we would run two single loops each and each do two doubles giving other team members a longer sleep.  Leigh did his first double and hated it and oh boy when I did mine the first one was good but the second was horrific.   I don't know why it hurt so much but I remember coming into transition bursting into tears and saying that there is no way on earth I was repeating that. I hid myself in a sleeping bag for 10 mins and shut my tired self away.  Rob and Nick had no problem with theirs so we thought it must have been the rest time in between that affected these laps. 

As the hours ticked exhaustion started to kick in.  I did try to sleep but the campsite was so noisy that I found it impossible.  I was feeling quite grumpy  and remember having a complete break down about 4am.  I lost it and shouted quite loudly in the tent for people to be quiet although it wasn't that polite. I do remember having at least one hour and then be rudely awakened by my alarm to get back up for my next stint.  This was so disorientating I literally would come in from a run straight into sleeping bag trying to get some rest but never got any.  There is definitely a danger time which I would say is 1 to 430 am.  

It was quite a spectacular sight waiting in the dark seeing all the head torches coming towards you in the night and people blinding you as they came into transition.  The night lap was scary not because I was scared of animals or the dark because I felt really safe it was scary making sure that you didn't fall in any holes as the terrain was quite mixed and there were wooded areas with very uneven paths.  
I visited a very dark place for a while but after my lap at 4.30am  and watching the sun come up it gave me a lift.  I knew Nick was suffering from lack of sleep so I woke him up with pot noodle and black coffee before his next stint.  I had gone past the point of exhaustion  and was just waiting for the time to go down.. We had lost our 2nd place lead and was close to go down to 4th as the team had gained on us.  Somehow we pulled back a lead of 18 mins in 3 laps, I guess everyone was feeling fatigued. 

At 8 am the rain started not just rain but complete downfalls and I remember sitting in Nick's van and not wanting to go out on my 7th lap. As I started my last lap the rain inspired me somehow it was quite exhilarating and I was bringing my times back down and actually the last lap was just awesome. Whether I was spurned on because I knew it was my last.  We all managed 7 laps in the time but Leigh had time to go back for his 8th. We ran 38.5 miles each with Leigh adding on that extra 5.5 miles. 

We secured 3rd place in our cat which was pretty remarkable as all the teams in our category had 5 members so we really did hold our own.  We were 14th team out of 119.  I think that is a great achievement. 
Many highs and lows during that race and mixture of emotions and great team work.  There is a danger spot that needs to be respected and after going through it I know how to deal with it.  

So the question is how do I feel about my 24 hour solo stint? A lot of the solos walked a great deal, many of them struggled and I think if I do it regular breaks are essential. After coming out the other side of literally staying up 24 hours I think it's possible.  

Well done to team mendip maulers.  We really did this race justice and it was an real  experience. Thank you for your support and well done for keeping going when times were tough. I would high recommend this race to everyone. 

Before picture
After pic.