Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tour of Wessex 2011

My first sportive.  I have never ridden over 57.2 miles to be exact so I was thinking this was going to be one LONG day.  I decided to take Whoopie as she fits me like a comfy old slipper but has turbo power.

Stu, Fluff and Roo all waited nervously at the start line, there was loads of cyclists and I have never ridden in a group larger than 6.  When we were told to go it was really daunting and you had to really keep your wits about you.  We rode down out of Somerton and onto the main road.  As we turned left into Castle Cary we approached the first hill.  I kept checking that they were all behind me and then WHOOSH the big boys start flying by, not just one but like 15 to 20 bikers speeding past.  I kept looking round but by this time I couldn't see Fluff or Roo.  I tried to concentrate on the forthcoming hill and tried not to feel intimated by all the people overtaking me.  The ride was good, we were on roads that I cycle all the time and I knew them well which made it better. I had decided to wear my coat but by the time we got to the gorge I was regretting it. 

The gorge was the worst hill that I knew of and I tried to smile for the camera man perched on the bend of the hill but I think he probably got more of a grimace.  The first feed station was at the top of the gorge.  Lots of goodies so I filled my pockets.  It got really cold quick once you  stopped so we didn't stay long and we were up and away.  This was when I decided that I wasn't going to be overtaken anymore and I was going to play with the big boys.  A group came whizzing past and I decided to get down on the aero bars and tuck in behind them.  Once I'm down on the aero bars I seem to power up. I stayed with these guys for a while and one bloke did turn around and see me tucked in and had to look twice it was quite funny. I stayed with them as long as I could but once we got on an incline I lost the pack...... but it was good whilst it lasted.

The second feed station was a total surprise and we nearly went straight past it.  Here we could have hot tea which was nice and lots rolls and sausage rolls and a toilet break.  They had loads jelly beans so between me and Stu we got enough jelly beans to fill my nutrition bag.  WE started off again and was short lived as within 2 metres I had my first puncture.  Good ole Stu he fixed it for me in double quick time ( I would have taken ages to do it) whilst I stood at the side of the road watching all the bikes go by.  Those little C02 gas canisters are brill and they certainly go pop when you take the adapter off..... I thought that for a split second Stu had been shot!!

Off we went again.... I was feeling quite good we had gone past the point of 57.2 miles and the rolls and hot tea had made me feel human again.  This is where I started popping those magic jelly beans.  They were lush and I got hit by a massive sugar rush.  I couldn't help myself and I was cycling down the road with one arm extended super hero style shouting I am the JELLY BEAN HERO OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!

This high was to be short lived because with about 15 miles to go I started to get very grumpy.  Weather it was a come down of those jelly beans or tiredness I couldn't tell but I was started to wish it was all over.  We had 9 miles to go and the wind was awful.  It battered you relentlessly and even though I have started to embrace the wind lately this was getting to me. 
I must take this moment to apologise to Stu for the last 5 miles where I totally threw my toys outta the pram and I was very close to throwing my bike into the ditch and running off in a sulk.  I was swearing alot at everything, everyone who went past me, cars, bikes, leaves..... I was MAD!!! I swore at the wind and how much I hated cycling.  That last hill into Somerton seemed like an eternity but there it was the FINISH LINE.  I decided I wanted the finishing photo with my hands extended punching the air but instead I side swiped Stu and nearly took us both out....... OOOOPSIE. 

Yay it was over, thew swearing could stop. My quads were pretty sore. The first 50 miles I had properly caned it and I think that by the end that started to show.  I couldn't maintain the speed that I had and our average speed went right down.

So 75.53 miles in 5 hours and 17 minutes and 4 seconds.  Average speed 14.29

I nearly had a fatal meeting with the recovery soup and luckily I found out it had mushrooms in it before I ate any.

I was impressed with the food and the service at the feed stations and everyone was really friendly.  I did enjoy it really!!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

confidence on the up....... 28 days to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My confidence with river swimming has gone up and down like a roller coaster.  The more confident I became the longer I swam, which in turn made me sicker!!!!! After a visit to the local hospital to see an out of hours doctor (who was the best doctor EVER!!) Turns out I kinda get sea sick whilst swimming.  That nasty cold water from the river was going in my ears and shrinking my brain (I know what your all thinking here) so I was armed with my anti dizzy spells and earplugs as advised.

Friday came and I entered the river in anticipation........OH MY GOD!!!!!!! What a difference the earplugs made.  Normally I get so breathless and everyone said I was getting panic attacks and I fobbed them off and put it down to the cold but you know what, I think it was sub conscious panic attacks.  I put my head under the water within minutes and was expecting to stop any second due to the shortness of breath but it just didn't happen.  I swam about 800m up the river stopping once to clear goggles.  I turned around and swam the whole distance back again only stopping once as I tend to drift across the river and end up in the bank.  You cant imagine how fantastic I felt about that.  I had been so worried about completely the swim time in an hour when I spent most of the time trying to breathe.

Today I was supposed to conquer the wimbleball course and finally do 2 laps. The wind was unbelievable and some of the riders pulled out and I cant say I blame them.  The wind was horrific.  Every time you went past a gate way you had to hold on for grim death because you knew you would be side swiped.  The worst moment was when I cycled past a cross roads and the wind unexpectedly picked me up made me swerve into the verge and I completely flipped upside down.  It must have been a funny sight be lying there on the floor with my bike stuck up at ninety degrees still attached to my feet.  Apart from being a bit shaken I was ok and more importantly so was Whoopie.  On with the ride.  I have to say that on that first hill the wind actually became our friend and pushed me up that first big hill that was a nice feeling and I could almost forgive the wind for being in my face all day!  The ride was almost over, it was agreed that one lap in extreme wind conditions would be enough, I felt like I had cycled 2 anyway.  Cycling across the bridge next to the lake was pretty nerve racking, the wind completely side swiped me right across the road and I ended up on the other side, good job no cars were there. 

A tough ride today... shoulders ache more than my legs just from holding on for my life.  Nothing like a few brushes with death to make you thankful for your life!!!  The time was 2.17 beating my fastest lap by 3 minutes but considering the wind, I think that was a good result.  I think on race day and the adrenalin is going and the course will have 1500 bikers on it, I will pull it outta the bag. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Taunton Deane Sprint Triathlon

Taunton Deane Triathlon held at Wellington.....bit confusing.  I was really looking forward to this tri.  There was 27 members of West Country Triathletes taking part and it was to be held in my old haunting ground.  It made a big difference knowing that course like the back of my hand.

My wave started at 11.40, normally I start at a really early time so I was quite pleased about that.  My swim went really well.  There was no hassle of people all starting at the same time and feeling harassed.  This was def my faster swim to date at 400m.  The time was 8.38 and that included trying to get out of the pool (very high sides) and getting to the transition mat.  The bike racks had been colour coded with balloons which made it really easy to spot.  My first transition was pretty fast well under a minute and I was off.  I feel like I went off like a bullet and overtook ! lady right at the start.  I headed out and as I approached the first hill... disaster struck and my chain came off...... I quickly dismounted put that chain back on the lady I had overtook went sailing past me.  That's all I needed, back on bike, I sought her out, locked down the target and off I went.  Head down power up and went whizzing past her again.  I set my sights on my next target and off I charged.  I felt really strong throughout the whole course, even when I hit the by-pass and the head wind was pretty mental.  Another target on the horizon..... I felt like a battle ship blasting my way through the cyclists.  Once I reached Wiveliscombe roundabout and saw my mum and the boys cheering me on, I felt a renewed sense of energy. I knew the wind would be behind me and I just totally went for it.  I overtook some pretty fit looking guys and that just increased my confidence.  My mum unknown to me had followed me down the by-pass and the kids were in front of me waving through the car window.  On this piece of flat road I got up to 36.6 mph... the fastest I have ever been on a straight.  There was a few hills back but I stayed in the big cog and just flew up them.  I really enjoyed the bike. 

The run however was a different matter, my transition was slightly slower due to putting on my knee straps and I had this silly feeling of my legs going round faster than I can actually run.  Its a very bizarre feeling.  The run consists of 2 laps and there was a hill.  I have to say I did walk part of this hill the first time round as my legs still didnt quite get the fact that the rest of my body couldn't keep up. But still averaging 8.19 minute miles despite a short walk(makes me wonder what time I would have if I had ran that bit).  The finish was in site and Mike our coach was doing the commentary so we got a nice welcome home.  Finish time 1.23.31.  I was totally happy with that, I feel I smashed that bike route and beginning to think that actually I'm pretty strong on the bike.

It was great seeing so many of our club doing the race, our suits are quite easy to spot and all around the course you get shouts of encouragement.  We even all got free massage at the end which is a bonus.  Enjoyed this race a lot, Barry only beat me my 4 minutes which I am even happier about.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exe Valley Sprint triathlon.

This was the first triathlon of the year and my first tri as a West Country Triathlete.  It was quite a late start but good to get there with plenty of time to socialise with some of the other members of the group.  There was some really nice bikes there and when I could I had my picture taken with some nice bikes whilst their owners were well outta sight..........

My wave started at 12.10.  This was slightly different to other tris as you only had 2 people per lane and you kept to one side.  But as luck would have it I had a lane to myself.  That's a bonus I always feel harassed when theres a few of you and I tend to go off to fast and lose it.   The 16 lengths (400m) went really quite quickly.  I decided to take the first 4 really slow and just warm up.  This was a good plan and I started to speed up naturally without having to gasp for breath and panic.  My swim time was 8.55 but that did include 10 second walk to the timing mat ( no running due to a fatal accident earlier). 

I felt pretty good, on with the helmet, race belt and grabbed Whoppie and off we went.  The bike course is nice smooth flattish route with a few gradual hills following a river.  I overtook 2 ladies straight away and set my sights on the guy up front.  I caught him I overtook him...... this was to be the start of a cat and mouse game. The course allows you to get down on those aero bars and blast it!!! I caught this bloke up and stayed in front for a while and then he caught me and overtook me.  I locked the target back down on him and overtook him again.  This continued 4 or 5 times and the banter was really friendly, as he overtook me he said "I'll see you in a bit " I love this kinda game really spurs you on and gives you someone to chase.  There are times when you end up in "no mans land" no one chasing you and no one to chase. The bike course seemed to go by pretty quickly too and I was back before I knew it.  I had no idea how I was doing as I forgot to put the garmin on. I completed the cycle in 47.39.

I entered transition, put on my trainers and had a few problems.  The tongue of my trainers got caught up and even though I had sorted my trainers out just to slip them on I ended up undoing one and having to do it up again... not easy task when your hands are shaking from pure adrenalin.  The run route looked hilly but actually once out on it, it didn't seem so bad. I did have stitch for the entire run but not enough to stop me. I passed Caroline hoping for a high five but got a high fist instead, she wasn't letting go of those jelly beans.  The run route means you double back and you can always see whose behind you and how far they are.  I kept seeing the guy from the cat and mouse game on the bike and we had a little chuckle each time we passed..... but he was in front darn it!!! The run was completed in 25.51.

I enjoyed this tri , was great seeing other members of the group out on the course and I felt like part of a team even though triathlon is a one man race.  I felt strong on the bike but I do feel like I've neglected my running a bit, but when your used to marathon training I guess it would feel like that. 

So total time...including transitions was 1.24.34.  When I last checked I was 4th in my age cat but there was still a few people coming in..... you know those super fast people who do the latest wave as they are so super fit so that might change.  But at the end of the day I enjoyed the race, I felt strong was in good company and had fun!  No medal or t-shirt but a really good goodie bag with a spare tube and lots food in.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Glastonbury 10k run around the tor

I had first thought that this was going to be a really hilly 10 k but I drove the course before the start and there was only 3 hills in it. 
The town seemed in good spirits and a big cheer before the gun went off.  The first 100 m is a sharp hill and it certainly warms you up.  The road then levels out and takes you down a nice long hill, time to take a breather and get into your stride.  I had chosen Slamming vinyl to listen to on my way around but as we started up a incline, the beat seemed a little too much and I had to take my earphones out.  I did start to regret cycling 41 very hilly miles the day before and my legs didn't feel good at all. 
I had to zip up my man suit.... when I do Ironman 70.3 I will be cycling 56 hilly miles and then running a half marathon on the same day, at least I got a nights sleep in between.   I didn't really get into my stride until mile 5 it took a long time to settle into this one.

The highlight of the whole race was the finish.  I had overtaken Barry at mile 1 and stayed in front of him for the whole race.  Unknown to me as I ambled up to the finish line he had seen me and had started a very fast sprint to catch me up.  I was totally unaware of this until I saw him shoot past me with less than 5 metres to the finish line.  Now I have to say here , Barry and myself have a little tally chart of all our wins ageist each other.  To be quite frank when Barry is fit and on the case he will beat me hands down but he lacks commitment and motivation sometimes.... I guess I'm saying he actually has a life (unlike me). So I like to take full advantage of when he's not.  Anyway back to the story, I saw him pass me and shouted something quite unlady like and took off like a rocket after him.  I have never ran that fast in my life and it was a bit of a wrestle and a tumble to the line but I have it on good authority that I did beat him by a whisker.  I sprinted so fast at the last minute that the marshals at the finish line had to put their arms out and stop me, I don't think they were so impressed.  Barry and I did shake hands and declare a draw but I have the knowledge I beat him.  I will be watching my back Mr Williams especially if you are behind me.  Don't you just love a bit of healthy competition.  Well done to Stuart as well completing in first ever 10 k in 40.30 or something, I wish I had legs as long as him.