Sunday, 29 July 2007

Time to work...

Seeing as I think H will pretty much cover this weekend's Tough Guy adventure in her post I'll let you read all about it over there ;) Suffice to say it was a brilliant event and yet again reminded me of the value of working as a team to achieve a common goal... in this case, to get everyone round alive!!

Back to this week's picture and my current athletic inspiration... Lance Armstrong. I wanted to choose a picture which captured how I want to train (and live) over the next few weeks and one which was also fairly topical (I'm sure some of you will have doubts as to whether LA achieved his seven straight Tour de France victories without the aid of illegal substances but if you could for the purposes of this post assume he was clean I would be grateful). For those looking to maximise their potential within endurance sport there is no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work and following last week's return to 'reality' I was keen this week to remind myself what it was like to graft... hard. A few years ago, during Lance's domination of the Tour, I heard a quote that he won number six on the Sunday and was training for number seven on the Monday! Although this is likely to be somewhat of an exaggeration for me it defines what made him the greatest endurance athlete of his generation, the fact that he applied himself with focus, drive and belief like no other. Those of you who have followed the Tour over the last few weeks will have seen both the best and worst side of sport with the likes of Alexandre Vinokourov and Michael Rasmussen hailed as heroes one day only to be exposed as villains the next. In the subject of our photo, and as of today Alberto Contador, we have two 'heroes' who (in the absence of evidence to the contrary) inspire and motivate by reminding us not only of what is possible but why we should look to test ourselves and strive to achieve beyond our perceived limitations.

So... has this week been tough? Following the usual 'recovery Monday' of easy technique swim in the morning and easy bike/run brick in the evening it was time to get busy. Tuesday saw a tough weights session with AKJ in the morning and a tougher 8 x 2 min run intervals with H in the evening. Wednesday became an impromptu rest day when H's work over-ran and we missed the Pool Triangle, although we recreated the session on the turbo at 6 o'clock on Thursday morning. Nothing like 35 minutes of all-out race pace effort to start the day and get you ready for breakfast! Thursday evening became a steady ten mile run at 8 minute miles and Friday morning soon followed with 15 x 50m efforts in the pool and the second tough weights session of the week. Friday evening's session was the clincher though as I popped over to Selby for a 75 mile ride with Ben G from our tri club. Ben's just under three weeks away from Ironman UK and is in solid form on the bike. A joint training session therefore seemed like just the thing to blow the post Ironman cobwebs from my lazy legs. I was pretty pleased to hang on to his pace to about 70 miles before a final ten minute effort left me clinging on to his back wheel for dear life. A couple of swift corners saw the six inch gap from my front wheel to his back wheel increase to about six feet which those of you who ride will know meant I was instantly history and within a few hard minutes I'd lost a good half mile! Still, if you're going to work to your limits you must first find them and Friday was a good marker as to my current condition. Saturday brought a nice 2k open water swim with LBT and an 11 mile run back home for breakfast before the week was rounded off in style with four and a half hours of Tough Guy suffering. Was this a hard week? Yes... but with only five training weeks and a taper week until the Vitruvian there is plenty of work to do.

My planned reflection session never materialised this week and I hope to sit down with my thoughts sometime over the next seven days. Without this happening it is impossible to define clear goals for the coming months and it will therefore become my priority this week. In the short term I'll no doubt be looking to inject some speed in to all three disciplines with the aim of posting a decent time a the Vit which I can use as a springboard to start the new year in great shape.

"This is my body and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I'm on? I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?" - Lance

speak soon,


Tough week, Tough Guy...

I've had a strange old week this week. I worried before Ironman that having such a huge run up would inevitably result in me suffering form Post-Ironman blues. I've certainly suffered from marathon blues and really struggled to get back into my training. However, I'm pleased to say that having such a huge goal for next year & also because I'm looking forward to the rest of this season, that I think I'm going to get away without getting the blues.

This week has been tough though. I've been tired & a bit heavy legged. I've had late nights at work which have meant late nights at home & to bed which is fatal for recovery & also greatly affects the quality of my training. Today I completed Tough Guy, which is basically the most crazy, mad event out there. It makes Ironman look normal! I was in a team with four other girs - Hannah Spanner Corne, Alison, Hannah (Paris Hilton) & Clare- we all run together in our running club. We also cajoled some of the boys into a 'Girls against boys' bout and today we all threw ourselves into a million smelly quagmires, climbed high cargo netting, ducked our heads under the stinkiest, muddiest water & slid down treacherous slides. It has to be seen to be believed but we all loved it. We were all brilliant, girls & boys, such a team effort. It was great to get out there being really active but with such fantastic team spirit.

Training for Ironman can get a bit lonely, which actually I don't mind a single bit. I like to switch off when I'm running long & think about the day, my future or in fact if I'll ever make it to Kona. When I ride I like to be on my own as I can't put untold amounts of pressure on myself and worry that I'm just too slow for everyone else. And when I swim I'm in a pool counting lengths or chasing time. Today we raced with no pressure what so ever and no clock...lovely... and a refreshing change. Don't think for a second that it was a walk in the park though. Let me put you straight... it's described as... "8 cross country miles before you descend into a pit of sadism" and I think that does actually do it justice. I think I'll be cleaning the filth out of my ears for months and as for the clothes we wore, they're ruined and in a smelly heap in the back garden! The memories are ones I'll hold onto forever. I thought I was going to shiver myself to death I was so cold & Alison nearly killed herself in a spectacular fall from the cargo netting. Spanner kept her cool & kept up the team spirit. Paris didn't break a nail and was brilliant & Clare, well she was ace, no challenge too big or small & she led the way, if Clare did it, we all did it! Thanks guys. I'm also hoping that I've convinced my brother Jonny to enter next Summer's Tough Guy, yes you brother, get the entry form in or 'Go to Jail, Go directly to Jail, Do not pass Go, Do not collect £200!!! You'll love it & we'll be there to hold the coats & the hot chocolate!

So, back to reality tomorrow (although our pool isn't working) and we'll have to fit the missed swim session in on another day. This week I'm hoping will see me more like my old self. We have our club 10mile TT on Thursday eve in Boroughbridge and I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't got a 10 mile TT time so it's a line in the sand for me & it'll be good to compare myself to some of the better girls to see how I'm faring.

I'm also planning to have a review of the next coming months with my coach Martin Yelling. I'd like to sit down with him and really go through what the rest of the season holds for me & how we're going to approach my next few races, the training I need to do for it & then the big one... what next years training plans are for Germany & hopefully...Kona!

These past few weeks I've really reflected on how I did in Austria, what I did well, what & where I can improve & what I should expect for next year, all of this I will also discuss with Martin very soon.

So, here we go, only 48 weeks left already! Let the training commence.

"Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement" Brian Tracy

H. x

Sunday, 22 July 2007


If there was one image that sums up how you recover from an Ironman than this one is testimony to how it feels to have just finished!!!

I can't believe Austria was a mere two weeks ago, it feels like it could have been years ago. I'm still in my recovery period and I guess although I feel fine & dandy that my body is still dealing with the 11 hours and 57 minutes of constant exercise.

My training sessions have been light and relatively short and I've enjoyed the sessions for what they are, i.e recovery, as opposed to the last 20 weeks of focused and long endurance sets.

I've been back in the pool and clocked a few km's to keep my swimming ticking over and on Saturday I ran 11 miles to our open water swim session in Otley which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately the weather has stopped me getting out on my bike & I've had to make do with a couple of turbo sessions. Where has our Summer gone? And will we ever get one? I'm loathed to spend the rest of Summer & Winter on the turbo in the garage!

Tom & I did a 3hr turbo session together today & I loved it. My heart rate was normal today for the first time since Austria and I felt great.

Prior to my first run with Run Club on Tuesday I had felt tired & wasn't really looking forward to it as I thought my legs wouldn't behave. I'm so glad I went, it was a beautiful evening & I had some great chats with friends on the way round. A good social run was exactly what I needed to get my legs turning over & I love a good gossip! It's been great to see everyone at work & at the gym and to finally say...' hey, I'm an Ironman!'

So, week three of my recovery & I can start to pick up the speed a little. Hopefully on Wednesday I'll be able to make the Pool Triangle (a 20km time trial held every week by our local bike shop) and get myself back in the mix with the girls.

Once I'm fully recovered it's full steam ahead for The Vitruvian on September 8th which is more-or-less Half Ironman distance and I can't wait. I'm going to avoid caffeinated products at all costs (I think this is what upset my stomach in Austria) and hopefully keep my nutrition in my stomach where my body needs it, not on the pavement or in a Farmers Field!!!

Time to pack my bag for an early morning swim and another week of great training ;)

H. x

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true" LEON J. SUENES

Back to reality...

Well, after three weeks of eating just about as much junk food as possible and sitting on my arse all day... 5am on Monday morning was a pretty big shock to the system. It's hard to believe something which was a daily occurrence that I took in my stride a little under two months ago pretty much wiped me out for the entire week! I'm always the same following a big race such as an Ironman or marathon... no sooner have I crossed the finish line than months of discipline go out the door and I turn into Ronald McDonald's number one customer. Following Ironman Austria (last summer) I didn't really get back in to serious training for about six months and subsequently started the new year more than a stone over my ideal race weight (68kgs) which in turn made January and February a real slog. In an attempt to avoid this late season slump H and I entered the Vitruvian Half Ironman on September the 8th which, as it's the national middle distance championships, should provide the motivation required to go hard over the next seven weeks.

Although it wouldn't be sensible to try and train hard from now until the 6th of July and the real build up wont start until midway through January, the plan is for every single day from now to then to be in someway focused toward success next summer. This week was the first of what I hope will be the 50 most focused weeks of my life so far. It certainly started with a bang!

Setting my alarm this time last week I was looking forward to getting back in to the flow of regular training... a few hours later when I was trying to work out what that strange noise coming out of my phone was at what seemed like the middle of the night it didn't seem so sensible. Anyway, managed to hit the pool for 6am and knock out 100 lengths in five 500m technique based intervals and backed it up with a great weights session with Andy KJ before breakfast. That evening an easy 60 minute turbo (static bike) session followed by a light four mile jog finished off a great first day of training and things were looking good. Tuesday brought me back to reality however and what would normally be a pretty straightforward treadmill session of 10 x two minute intervals saw me hanging on desperately and took my heart rate higher than it's been in several years at 188 bpm!! An unusually high heart rate in the weeks following a big event is a sure sign that you haven't recovered fully so I binned the idea of riding in our club 12.5 mile time trial (the Pool Triangle) on Wednesday and took the rest of the week pretty steady. (I'm hoping to stick my training diary on-line in the near future.)

Going into week two I'm already starting to feel good and watching the Tour de France on TV is really adding to my motivation to get out on the bike. Hopefully the rain will stop sometime soon and August can be spent flying round the Yorkshire Dales :) This coming week will see a return to racing of some sort on Wednesday at the Pool Triangle (my last two efforts have been just under 31 minutes but I think I'll be happy with anything under 32 this week) and hopefully a long bike ride (80-100 miles) on Saturday before legging it round Tough Guy on Sunday morning with our running club. The main focus however will be to keep disciplined and effectively manage the non-training aspects of my life. Without adequate sleep, rest and nutrition then productive training is impossible and illness & injury soon follow. I've lost less than five days training over the last two years through either of these two issues which I am sure is largely down to placing sleep before training.

On that note it's off to bed with a little under eight hours until it all starts again,


Sunday, 15 July 2007

Who would have thought...

With eyes as dodgy as that from such a small age you can see why A) I never did get a taste for ironing and B) why I'm accident prone!!!

Look at me, age 4, blissfully unaware that I was going to train my body within an inch of it's life to throw myself round an Ironman course in Austria 28years later.

Anyway, here I am now, 32 and I've been an Ironman for a whole week, wuhoo!!! Since I signed up on July17th 2006 I spent every day thinking, eating, sleeping & training Ironman. For the last week I've been eating, sleeping and training chocolate & chips!!!

Tomorrow it all begins again. Before I'd even completed Austria Ironman I had to enter Ironman Germany as these events now fill up in less than 24hrs. The world has gone triathlon and Ironman mad.

Light pool sessions, light bike & turbo sessions and very easy, light running for the rest of the week, nothing hard at all. I think it will take me at least a month to shake off the fatigue and effects that an Ironman has on your body. I've even learned the art of a lie in & this weekend (being the first in a whole year where neither I or Tom have been training) I slept until 8.45am, usually my little eyes open at about 6.30/7am. I must still be tired!

So, 50 weeks until IM Germany and I can't wait. I've learned an incredible amount this year & still have a huge amount of learning to go, hopefully that learning will manifest itself into improvement.

In 7 weeks I'm racing The Vitruvian. This was my first middle distance triathlon last year, I'm really looking forward to going this year, a lighter, stronger, more improved version of last year (and hopefully my bike brake cables will stay intact). Fingers crossed for a new pb on the course!!!

Tom's first post...

Welcome to my first ever post on our new blog. This photo was taken at the finish line of the Lanzarote Ironman 2005 and little did we know that in just over two years Sam (one from left), H and I (far right) would all have earned our very own mdot medals! The four of us (including our mate John - far left) had been in the middle of a surf trip to Famara when we noticed that there was an Ironman race on the other side of the island. Seeing as the swell had disappeared we had nothing better to do than check out all these crazy fools who were attempting to cover 140.6 hot and windy miles by swimming (2.4 miles), biking (112 miles) and running (26.2 miles).

If you've ever watched an Ironman live you'll know all too well what an inspirational experience it can be and seeing nearly a thousand athletes cross one of the most exclusive finish lines in the world was just the lightbulb moment I was looking for... flying home from that holiday I knew it wouldn't be long before I was on the start line.

Later that year we watched our good friend Ian at Ironman UK (his first) and with a week I'd signed up for Ironman Austria on July the 16th 2006. Having never owned a road bike or been taught how to swim (properly) it was time to enlist some help. I'm not sure what Jack (my coach Jack Maitland - thought of our first ever meeting in September 2005 but it was certainly an eye opener for me... apparently I needed to be swimming 160 lengths of the pool in single training sessions, not to mention riding for 5-6 hours in a Yorkshire Dales winter! A long hard winter of training followed but thanks to fantastic support from H, my friends and family and a bit of financial help from the best office interior company in England ( I came out the other side and in to the summer feeling great. Another trip to Lanzarote to watch Ian do his (second) Ironman topped up the motivation a little and I was good to go and two months later crossed the finish line of Ironman Austria in 10 hours and 34 minutes.

At the time crossing that finish line was probably the greatest moment of my life and I had finally achieved something that for a very long time I thought was reserved for super-human elite athletes. The more time I spend around Ironman however, the more I realise that with enough determination and drive anyone can do it. That isn't meant to devalue the achievement but just my way of explaining how once you free your mind anything is possible.

Anyway, here I am another year and another Ironman later. Crossing the finish line in Austria was something that for a long time I though impossible but as soon as I did I wondered what other 'impossible' things were actually within my potential?? Ironman is probably the ultimate single-day test of human endurance and the Hawaii Ironman as the world championship is the pinnacle... but you have to qualify and that is a big challenge... but impossible??? Every Ironman race has a small number of 'slots' for the world championship which are allocated to each age group, my age group 30-34 men is probably the most competitive and will normall require a time under 9 hours and 30 mins. In Switzerland three weeks ago I managed to dip under ten hours (9:56) which has given me the belief that just maybe, with a bit of luck and a good tail wind, I could secure myself a coveted world championship slot at Ironman Germany on July the 6th 2008.

The next 50 weeks will need to be the most focused, motivated and driven of my life. Once I've sat down with Jack I'll let you know a little more about the kind of training volume I'll be targeting but 5am starts and cold winter bike rides will no doubt once again become the norm. Since Switzerland I've had three weeks of laziness and junk food, tonight H and I had our 'final' chip butties and tomorrow it's hammer time. The alarm is set and 100 lengths of the pool followed by a weights session with AKJ await. The goal is to be sat in the awards ceremony in Frankfurt on July the 7th 2008 with a chance of hearing my name but as long as I give it my absolute best I can only win.

As the great Mark Allen said - "when you go for it 100% without the fear of 'what if I fail' that's when you learn. That's when you're really living".