Sunday, 25 May 2008


It's been another tough week with some painful training sessions, but today reminded me in several different ways why every single training heartbeat is worth it.

Today was always going to be a big day... for H and I it was our first triathlon of the season, for out mate Pauly P it was his first ever Olympic distance triathlon on his journey to Ironman (in Klagenfurt later this year) and my personal tutee and friend Alistair Brownlee was
competing in the Madrid round of the triathlon World Cup where the top three Brits would earn selection for the Beijing Olympic team.

So, how did my race go? H and I had done a seriously tough brick (bike & run) session on Friday where we did (separately) a 42 mile bike followed by an 18 mile run and with UK 70.3 and Ironman Germany looming large it was time to get specific. UK 70.3 boasts one of the toughest half ironman courses in the world and although the bike is pretty hardcore the run is just crazy, in fact I've never seen such a hilly half marathon. Although this isn't our 'A' race we would like to do well and with Germany only three weeks later it's vital that our legs can handle the hills so where possible we're including hills in our long runs and runs off the bike. One of my favourite and most intense run sessions is a four mile route with 17 hills in it that starts by Kirkstall leisure centre and finishes by the gym so we decided to stick it in our 18 miler... twice! I realised that this would compromise today's race somewhat but, training for an Ironman, that's the game ;) Yesterday became a total rest day, but even so my legs felt pretty tired this morning and I wasn't expecting too much on the bike and run... I was hopeful however of a good swim as I've worked super hard over the winter, am swimming well in the pool...

Frustratingly however I never really got hold of the swim today, it was pretty hard to navigate with loads of tight turns and some seriously shallow sections and I struggled a little to find my rhythm. Despite a great race with H at one point (unfortunately for her she decided to take the scenic route with about 300m to go which probably cost her the win) I exited the water in 24:25 and 23rd out of about 140 (official results aren't up yet) which at about 90 seconds slower and 10 places lower than my target had me pretty concerned in T1, especially with H and a load of my club mates breathing down my neck. From the start of the bike it was super windy and as an 'out and back' I knew I had about 35 minutes of headwind ahead of me... fortunately though my legs surprised me, were feeling great and although I still struggled to get my heart rate up to race pace (probably due to fatigue from Friday) I was up to 13th by the turn point and 10th in to T2 and the start of the run. I was convinced that I'd emptied my already tired legs but once the first mile or so was out of the way I began to feel good and was gradually catching the 9th placed athlete, who'd started the run about 400 metres ahead of me. Like the bike, the run was an out and back and pushing to the turn I managed to get to 8th place with a little under 5k to go (reckon the run was a bit short, maybe 9.3k?). Picking the pace up over the final couple of miles and running a strong negative split I overtook two more athletes and crossed the finish line in 6th... I think. Overall, a great race that I really enjoyed and feeling strong all the way through was a fantastic confidence booster with only six weeks to go!!!

I'll let H tell you all about her day, but she also had a great race and had she been able to use sat-nav for the swim would have undoubtedly beaten me in to T1 for the first time! Above all she's really starting to get hold of the bike and once she can bring that up to the standard of her already solid swim and run ability then she'll really be flying!

As for Paul... he's currently experiencing the amazing journey that takes you from first time triathlete to Ironman in less than two months! In fact he's following almost the same path as I did in 2006 with Eton as his first ever sprint, Bala will be his first half ironman in two weeks time and then on the 13th of July he'll be standing on the same Ironman start line as I did in '06 and H did in '07. It's a ridiculously steep learning curve and after every training session or race you can't help but be daunted by how much further 140.6 miles is but he's done brilliantly so far and is well on course to earn the ultimate in endurance sport 'bling' ;) Today he had a great race, overcame some serious pre-race nerves and confidently stepped up to the Olympic distance plate...

And finally, talking of the Olympics... the title of today's entry is 'timing' and the subject of today's photo is Alistair on his way to bronze in Madrid as the top Brit and almost certain selection for the British Olympic team for Beijing. At the end of last year he was flying and with a silver medal in only his second senior world cup race was looking great and feeling confident. Unfortunately, early season races this year in Australia and New Zealand had not gone so well and sneaking in to today's event as the 6th and final British athlete he was going to need a serious performance. It's all about timing though and with everything geared towards today he delivered big time, leaving everyone in his wake to stake his place on the plane.

Hopefully I can step up to the mark in a similar (but not quite so talented) way in Germany on July the 6th... surrounded by all these inspirational people it will be hard not to ;)

"citius, altius, fortius"


It's all coming together...

I've had a great week of uber quality training this week. It's been the best feeling to be training without the physical and mental fatigue that has been slowly creeping in over the last few weeks and slowly chipping away at my swimming, cycling and running times. It's very hard to get the balance right & I still believe that you have to teeter on the edge and sometimes tip over it to find your limits. I found mine, I went over them and now I'm back and I feel all the better for having been on that journey.

As last weeks jubilant post said, I survived the Etape Du Dales and I'm really proud of that. It's all so easy to dismiss races that become 'just' part of the training when actually they're huge achievements in themselves especially for someone like me who was a complete non cyclist only two & a half years ago. So with tired legs on Monday I rested instead of the usual 5km swim and hours easy run. Tipping over the edge has made taking a step back easier to do and I can feel the benefit from it already.

So with renewed vigour this week I set myself some goals. The Pool Triangle (our local 20km Time Trial) was going to be approached with new attitude. I was going to hammer it all of the way round, go on my heart rate and stop letting my legs tell my brain they hurt too much. Time to over-rule the legs and give it some welly. I missed last weeks through being ill and the week before was so atrocious after having a very hard day of training and no time to recover. So, I stepped up to the plate hammered myself all of the way round and on a windy night with the Etap very much still in my legs I clawed back a respectable time. Not close to my pb but far enough away from the time I did two weeks ago and that was the goal. Tick!

The next goal for this week was to keep my head on when out cycling, particularily when I'm out on my own and have every opportunity to bimble. Thursdays session after the early morning swim set was a 50 mile ride. Strong, focused, not pushing it but working and maintaining an even heart rate when possible... tick!

Friday's session had been worrying me for a while. It was a big brick, 40 mile ride/18 mile run. The bike was short enough not to concern me but the run did as I haven't done anything longer than 13 miles since the London Marathon about 6 weeks ago. The idea was to work hard on the bike and to run off it at Ironman pace. The sting in the tail was that in the middle of the 18 miles was a hill session taking in Kirkstall Hills not only once, but twice! (Kirkstall Hills is a series of 17 streets in quick succession, each street on a hill, our local running clubs use them regularily as hill sessions.) Looking at the profile of the run on the Garmin afterwards it showed I took in 2000ft of climbing and boy did I know it. I felt good though and got into a nice rhythm tapping up and down each hill (35 times!!!) I averaged 8.48 min miles which is well under my 9 min mile target for race day and with a good taper and no hills I'd like to think that I could run a sub 4hr marathon.

Saturday was another rest day and Sunday was hammer time again with the first triathlon of the season, Wetherby Tri. When I woke up on Saturday my legs didn't work at all. The quad smashing on the up hills and down hills had taken it's toll and I was thankful for the rest day but not sure my legs were going to be fixed for today's race. When I got up this morning my legs weren't much better but I was looking forward to putting all of the disciplines together so I had to ignore the pain and get on with the task in hand.

Today it all came together. I swam well nearly beating Tom but my female sense of direction thwarted me at the last minute :( and for the first time we were in T1 together (see above pic.) That was a great feeling because that never happens. Out onto the bike and time to see what was left in my legs. I worked hard, over-ruled my legs begging me for mercy and pushed on, I was enjoying the day too much to let mere quad pain get in the way! The worry was whether or not when I got off my bike I would just fall over like a weeble. Consequently my legs didn't appear to be in any working order for at least 2km and they were very very painful. Kirkstall Hills very much still in them I ploughed on and just got used to the feeling and actually felt strong (don't get that mixed up with fast though!) Jubilantly crossing the line 5th girl and in a respectable 2.29 my last goal of the week was achieved and I feel great (that's me not my legs, they're still not speaking to me.)

One of the best weeks of quality training to date and I'm looking forward to next weeks before flying out to Vancouver for the World Championships on Saturday.

Before I sign off I just want to say well done to Pauly P who conquered his first Olympic distance tri today and a big thank you to our on course supporters Ben, Lies and the very beautiful Charlie. Loads of our tri club (Leeds & Bradford) were racing today, well done one and all it's great having such great team spirit out there on the course. And a huge well done to Alison, Alan and Nathan who all raced well, hope the season goes well for you all, see you in the pool soon ;)

Time for bed to prepare for another quality week of hammer time before Germany pokes it's nose close enough into the training and the taper starts.

Night night. H. x

Sunday, 18 May 2008

I survived...

My legs are mashed. I think that sums up my top achievement for this whole week. In fact after my treadmill session on Tuesday which went very well I came down with the same chest infection that Tom's had and so coughed, spluttered & snotted my way through Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday. I made all of these days complete rest days to try and get rid of it sharpish as for some sadistic reason I was eager to ride the Etape Du Dales today. Had I felt the way I did yesterday then I wouldn't have ridden today but the excitement of trashing my legs on some of Yorkshire's hilliest hills for 110 miles appears to have allowed me to wake up this morning (at 4am) feeling so much better than I had done.

I've been scared about this race since the day we entered it many moons ago. As you know cycling isn't my strongest discipline and hills aren't my friend either. So in a bid to make me feel a little more comfortable in the lead up to this we had originally planned to ride it in training first...


I think had I ridden this in training there's the distinct possibility that I would have feigned prolongued illness to get out of it.

The picture at the top is of me & my mate Ady at Race HQ at 7am this morning, minutes before we set off on what was a long day in the saddle. The smiles are clearly signs of oblivion as neither of us really had any idea what lay before us. I rode with a load of our club members and they really kept my spirits up, although I only really saw them at the aid stations as they were much too strong for me to stay with them. A few of the guys I'd not met before but as we've seen with a lot of cycling events everyone is so inclusive and friendly it's great. One of the lads Nigel was an absolute trooper and chivvied me along when the going got tough. He dusted me on the down hills (it's frightening just how fast people can let themselves go) and waited for me to catch up then we'd ride together until the down hills took him away again. At every aid station (there were four) we'd all meet up as one big group and start the next section together then the terrain would seperate us until the next station.

So, what's the actual ride like? I've spent all week as each day got closer asking people who've done it what it's really like and the response was generally a very truthful "hard". I've been on TriTalk (a triathlon forum) asking people on there what the climbs were like, was I going to cry and would I have to walk. When we were at the local Time Trial on Wednesday I chewed the ears off Carl Saint (a fantastic cyclist) and Steve Woodrupp (who runs the TT and owns our local bike shop.) Was I going to be able to do it? Would I fall off on the hills was I going to be okay on the descents? The truth of the matter is, if I didn't know how I was going to do how on earth could somebody else know. I was told the climbs are hard but do-able, the descents are fast and dangerous but at the end of the day I had to just get out there and see for myself.

If my legs could talk they would tell you that today I worked them as hard as I do when I run a marathon. My arms are sore from pulling on the bars to get up the steep climbs and my wrists are sore from the weird position I put them in to keep my fingers on the brakes on the descents. That was almost certainly a challenge but I did it. I didn't walk a single climb, and I survived the descents, although there was one particular hairy moment on some hideous hair pin bends which went on forever when I really thought I was a gonner. If I could have got off I would have but it was so steep if I'd tried to come to a complete standstill I would have gone over the handlebars and that's a scary feeling, in fact that was the worst section of the day and now I see why at the bottom of every bad descent there was an ambulance.

Today 110 miles took me 8hrs 21 mins, actual riding time without the stops would have made it 7hrs 52mins. In Ironman the ride is 112 miles (and don't forget I'll have just swum 2.4 miles) and have to get off the bike feeling fresh enough to run a marathon. Today was great training, not just for my legs but for my head too. In Germany I'm hoping to beat my bike split from Austria (5hrs 48mins) and get as close to 5hrs 30mins as possible. Today I was in the saddle for over 8hrs and the terrain was a million miles more challenging so that's got to stand me in good stead. Today I also conquered some big fears. That's not to say that had I to do it all again I wouldn't still be scared but now I know I'm capable, I can do it, the proof is in the weathered look on my face and the desperate need for sleep.

Just before I climb into my loudly calling bed I'd like to say a huge big thank you particularily to Ady and Nigel who I rode with for most of the day but also to the two Simons and Andy & Rob & John & Kev (most of whom I met for the first time today) who had great course info and team spirit it's a day I won't (nor will my legs) forget and one that I'll be drawing on in the tough times in Germany because nothing will seem so bad having ridden round that course today. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't possibly leave Tom out of this thank you because although we didn't ride together (he had a fantastic super speedy ride) I would never have done it without his belief in
me. I push that comfort zone because you're there to help me and when I don't make it you're always there to catch me when I fall. x

So on that note me and my tired weary body are off to sleep and tomorrow's a rest day!

"Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary line and adding to one's liberty." HENRI FREDERIC AMIEL

H. x

I'm back...

Having spent the last week desperately trying to recover from a serious attack of over training, which saw me performing at personal worst levels in all three disciplines before finally going under with a half-decent chest infection, my confidence had been at an all-time low. By the time I recorded, for the second week running, my slowest ever Pool Triangle time on Wednesday this week I was super worried that a) I'd neglected my bike far too much over the winter and b) I'd completely fried myself anyway and wouldn't be able to recover in time for Germany. On Thursday I was on the phone to my coach Jack Maitland who, as always, managed to convince me that the end of the world really wasn't nigh but I still needed some decent results to get me smiling again...

Today was a great day... I'm sitting here typing this having spent the day being dragged round the hardest bike race in the Yorkshire Dales by ex-professional mountain biker Rob Thackray and his equally speedy mates. Setting out from Grassington at 7.30 this morning for my first ever Cycle Sportive I really didn't know what to expect... 30 minutes of hammer time later and I was wondering what I'd let myself in for. Fortunately the first big climb, at about 12 miles in, split the pack of about 40 riders and things settled down a little. Unfortunately, out of the group of six that I was part of I was the weakest rider and regularly found myself having to put in max efforts just to stay on the wheels of the other five. By 70 miles I was experiencing some real low points, as you do during such a long and challenging session, and with the final climb coming at 90 miles and lasting to about 94 there was still a lot of work to come... not to mention the hilly ten mile run I had planned for straight after! Fortunately I'd found myself amongst a great group of lads (without whom I would've been home quite some time later) and their support truly made all the difference on the most challenging day of my cycling life... particularly over the last 15 miles where I was running on empty and sat at the back of their 'peloton' whilst being towed across the finish line in six hours and 39 minutes, a full 20 minutes ahead of my target and enough to earn a 'Gold Award' for going under seven hours :)

As I've already said, this had been the most challenging session I'd ever done on a bike and my legs were hurting like never before... fortunately Rob agreed to join me for the first five miles of my run (2.5 out and 2.5 back) and 39 minutes later I set off on my own for one last effort in this eight hour and 8,000 calorie session... 38 minutes later and I was finally done.

So, has my confidence returned? Am I back on track? YES and YES!!

Although pleased with my time for the ride a large part of that was down to the boys... what was great though was how strong I felt all (most) of the way and how when called on for some serious effort my legs responded every time... I've not felt that strong on a long ride since last year. The bike course in Germany, although two miles longer, isn't anything like as challenging... a fact that will be at the front of my mind on the morning of July the 6th. Also, I pushed my legs harder than ever before today and as long as I pace it right during the Ironman I should start the run feeling considerably fresher, however I ran the first five miles at my target Ironman pace (7.45 per mile) and my second five faster at 7.40s... all of which was pretty comfortable. Factor in two hours less on the bike, nowhere near as much climbing, a significantly flatter run course and a three week taper and my 3.20-3.25 run target is looking good.

So, what have I learnt from the last few weeks? I'm not superhuman and big training volume requires big recovery volume... normally I'd feel so motivated by a session like today's that I'd be itching for my alarm to go off at 5am the following morning so that I could knock out a quick 200 lengths before tacking on an 8 mile run in the evening. However, my body has experienced serious stress today and now that I am so much more aware of this (learnt the hard way) tomorrow morning will be breakfast in bed for H and I and tomorrow night will be steamed veg and an early night ;)

See you next week,


For a more informed view of over training I recommend you read THIS and THIS by Clas Bjorling but if you're anything like me you'll need to find your own path anyway ;)

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Living on the edge...

Well... after 24 weeks of hard training where I've been pretty close to the edge, I finally found it on Friday morning at 4am but hopefully took evasive action quickly enough to avoid a similar fate to the subject of today's picture.

Since the success of London I've been extra motivated and keen to get out on the bike at every opportunity, with swimming still around 600 lengths per week (15k) and running building back up that's meant some serious hours. I seem to have been able to control my fatigue quite well this year and although I've noticed it affecting me a few times (particularly during the Ballbuster duathlon and the Circuit of the Dales) I've managed to keep it in check and build my fitness consistently over the whole six months.

This week though had been epic, even before I got to Friday morning... as you know, last Sunday H and I rode an incredibly hilly 106 miles in the Dales which coupled with huge hours done with Jevon on Wednesday (see H's entry) meant that when my alarm went off at 4am on Friday so that I could sneak in a 100 mile ride before work I had banked 30 hours training in the previous six days! Needless to say I had nothing in the tank from pretty much the start, struggling up the road with a seriously sore throat (which had been bothering me for a week or so) I was questioning my sanity before even getting out of Headingley... six lethergic hours later I was back home, feeling sorry for myself and had canned the idea of a nice 13 mile run straight off the bike.

In seven crazy days with nearly 40 hours of training I'd managed to completely blow myself up and put myself in a pretty decent state of over training! Because the two biggest days of the week had been at a relatively low intensity I didn't think they'd had much effect but finishing Friday's ride almost 50 minutes slower than the same session last year demonstrated otherwise. To be honest I'd had the signs for a while... hadn't been sleeping well (which I'd put down to being over excited about training), had been struggling to get rid of a head cold, both my knees were giving me pain and my times in the pool were just a bit off the pace. All classic signs of over training...

As H has already said, we quickly restructured this weekend to become two days of total and complete rest, tomorrow will be easy and I'll only train on Tuesday if I feel completely recharged.
Hopefully then, the Pool Triangle on Wednesday evening will be a chance to test my condition when I'll have had a complete day of rest... as opposed to this week where I'd already swam over 5k, cycled 50 miles and run a hilly 13 in some serious heat wih only an hour between finishing the run and starting the 20k time trial (although at the time I was quite pleased to only be 90 seconds off pb 32:25 v 30:43).

Sitting here writing this I'm still somewhat knackered but hopefully caught it just in time to avoid any significant damage and by the time you hear from me again I'll be celebrating a solid performance at next Sunday's super hilly Etape Du Dales Sportive Ride (110 miles over some of the steepest climbs in the Dales).

For the moment though... sleep is king, so I'll leave you with this great quote from somewhere I can't remember...

"You could always avoid overtraining by undertraining... but then you wouldn't win anything"

See you in seven,


p.s. to echo what H has already said, well done to Ek for winning the european age group (25-29) champs today, not sure of splits as yet but it sounds like she won by a country mile :)

Love is...

This weekend Tom & I had some serious time out, not a pool, a bike or a pair of trainers in sight. Originally it wasn't planned that way but after two hard, heavy weeks of training it was definitely time to take a step back from it all and just take our feet off the gas. This weekend we have spent two glorious sunny days in Robyn Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire at the wedding of our good friends Pete and Kim.

I managed to clock some heavy hours up this week and last and got some good swim, bike and run volume in. Wednesday gone our fellow Ironmate companion Jevon came to play and boy did we make the most of it. We met Jevon in the pool at 7.30am for a 5,250km swim straight off and then we popped home for a slice of toast before hopping on our bikes and rambling for 50miles around the back roads of Harrogate, Otley & Ilkley stopping for an infamous Betty's Fat Rascal. When we got home we ran straight off the bike and took Jevon on the not so scenic Leeds Half marathon route. By the time we got home we were spent but after re-fuelling we had 15mins before getting ourselves ready for the first Pool Triangle (20km Time Trial) of the season. Not expecting much out of my legs I rode like I expected (not disimilar to a donkey without legs) but it was good to get back onto the course and I'm ready to nail it next week. Spending time with Jevon was brilliant and we all talked non stop Ironman. Jevon's heading back to Klagenfurt and tackling Austria again the week after we do Germany so we can't wait to be standing by the road side, ice-cream in hand having done our 'A' race and screaming Jevon and a few other friends of ours on. Wuhooo it's nearly here!!!
Consequently having such a hard Wednesday meant that Thursday was a sluggish day, we all swam in the morning and then in the afternoon I bimbled out in the sun for an 8 mile run. The big tell of how hard I've been working was when I did my 100 miler on Friday. There was just no way I could get my heart rate up at all and that's a common sign of fatigue. Time for the step back.

Pete and Kim's wedding was always in our diary as a rest day but the Sunday was going to be a longish run. In fact what we did do was REST. It's no good flogging an already dead horse and had I ran long this morning I think I would have only been fit for the knackers yard. Instead we had an amazing time at the wedding, spending quality time with each other and enjoying life away from triathlon.

This weeks photo sums up two very important things that I've seen this and friendship. The little boy is Pete and Kim's youngest, Finlay playing with his friend. Spending the day with his bum out, running around in the sun and playing with his mates. It just doesn't get better than that. And this week Tom & I have spent some quality time with our mates both in the triathlon world and out and also spending that non-exercise time together doing 'normal' things like lying in and wandering round shops and gardening. I hear a few people choking on their morning tea at the gardening line. Alright Yve & Jackie Barlow not quite the kind of gardening that those really 'normal, clever' people do but the kind that Tom and I are good at. I mowed the lawns and pulled the weeds out of the ground and ignored the bushes at the back of the house trying to make a bid for freedom. But basically we pottered in the sun and it was lovely. Two full days of rest and I'm already looking forward to getting into the pool tomorrow.

The time is ticking away far too fast and it's scarily close having seen all of our weekends taken up with races that are going to sharpen and prepare us for Germany. This weekend I'm riding a cycling sportif in the Dales called Etape Du Dales, a 110 mile very hilly ride. Then the weekend after it's Wetherby triathlon, the weekend after that we fly to Vancouver where we'll be for the following weekend. we get back from Canada and race ni UK 70.3 then we have one weekend before we leave for Germany... holy cow!

So kiddie winkles Summer's finally here and Germany is peeping round the corner :)

H. x

P.s Huge congrats to the Eekster, Emma Kate who raced like a demon in the European Champs this weekend in Portugal and won by a country mile, go on girl!!!


Sunday, 4 May 2008

One thousand miles in May...

So... here we go... the London marathon is rapidly disappearing in to the distance and we really are beginning the final push towards Frankfurt. Nine weeks from now the race will be over (hopefully) and all we'll be able to do is sit and wait for our Hawaiian fate to be decided at the Ironman Germany awards ceremony on the Monday lunchtime... unless of course either of us have performed well enough to secure and automatic slot and therefore avoid the nervous wait that is the 'roll-down'. The way it works is that there are three world championship slots in H's category and 16 in mine. In order to gain automatic qualification therefore H needs to finish in the top three female 30-34 and I would need to finish in the top 16 male 30-34. Sounds easy... until you remember that Frankfurt is the European Ironman championships and probably has the highest standard of Ironman athlete outside of Hawaii. In 2007 these positions would have required 10:19 and 9:18 from H and I respectively and both of which are probably a little ahead of where we'll be this July. However, if an athlete has either already qualified or elects not to take their slot it automatically rolls down to the next person... and this is where we come in ;) Although I do believe that we both have the potential to secure automatic qualification it's probably more realistic for 2009... nine weeks tomorrow then we are likely to be on the edge of our proverbial seats!

With relatively little time to go the majority of our training is done... but the most important sessions are only just beginning. We both have a great base fitness, built up over the last six months of high volume training but with an Ironman race in early July it's all about the month of May. In order to help with the motivation over the next few weeks therefore, Ben G (who's doing Switzerland on the 1th of July) and I have set ourselves the grand target of covering a total of 1000 training miles (swim, bike and run) between the 1st and 1st of May.

So far...

1st - 1.5 mile swim, 50 mile bike
2nd - 3 mile swim
3rd - 45 mile bike, 14 imle run
4th - 106 mile bike, 2 mile run

Total so far - 221.5 miles and over 20% there in only four days :)

I would like to hit 1000 miles on the bike alone but it's not all about volume and with some serious intensity sessions included (pool triangle starts next week) that may be difficult.

The next three weeks are scheduled to be the hardest of the whole programme, and also therefore the hardest of our entire athletic life... if we can be sitting on the plane to Vancouver on the 31st of May in something resembling one piece we'll have just five weeks to cross the t's and dot the i's...

watch this space,

T ;)

I'm fried...

All week I wasn't sure what I was going to write about in this blog entry. After a tough week and an even tougher weekend culminating in todays' session I have decided to tell you about today!

For three weeks Tom & I have tried to get out to ride the Etape Du Dales ( a 110 mile hilly cycling sportif in the Dales.) We were so determined to do it last Sunday that we got up at 5am, drove to Grassington where it starts, got out of the car and then got promptly back in the car!! Yet again the weather put a stop to our ride and instead we had to make do with a 4hr turbo and an 8 mile run. Yesterday (Sat) we finally got a glimpse of Summer and the sun popped into Leeds for the day and we enjoyed a 3hr ride with intervals and then I endured a 14 mile run of hell, with no water (silly me.) Avidly watching the weather for todays forecast showed rain (light) but warmth. Not wanting to waste an hour of riding time by driving to Grassington we decided to just get on our bikes and Tom was going to take me on his new 100 miler (with hills.)

Cycling has definitely not come easy to me (actually it's still a slog) but today I actually enjoyed the whole ride, even the last 56 miles in the rain. It's so easy to write that we covered 106 miles today but it's an epic journey and I will never be able to describe the kind of places we visited, the scenery we saw, the birds we heard singing and the loneliness of some of the places we visited. You can cover so much ground on a bike, it's amazing. The hills were hideous, I can't pretend that even though I got over them that I have a huge sense of achievement over them as they still fill me with dread and anxiety. I envy the cyclists out there who climb like they're not even on a hill, how does that work? We had a great ride, and I'm pleased with how I managed, it appears my days of bimbling along are slowly disappearing. I had my moments, particularily when I was in need of more food but overall I seem to have grasped the concepts of pushing on the bloody pedals!

We left the house at 7am this morning and by 1pm this afternoon I felt like the morning session had happened on another day and we still had over 2hrs of riding left. It's 5.45pm now and I'm absolutely smashed. We dumped the bikes in the hall and did a 2 mile run off it, I tell you if you'd told me I had to go off and run a marathon I'd have crumbled into tiny pieces on the floor. Today was a HARD HARD day but a GREAT day and Tom was amazing keeping me going. I'm in awe of his cycling ability and envious!

Now I've lost the ability to think straight so I apologise for the shoddiness of this post but 106 miles round the hilliest parts of Yorkshire and a 2mile run appear to have scrambled my brain!

H. x