Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rotorua Half 2009 – The Report (a very long, probably boring, one at that...)

That was tough. Last year was tough because I'd never done a half before; I was super sore for days afterward. This year was tough because of the conditions, which were a lot harder than last year, and because I really pushed myself. I wasn't all that sore after the race (in the overall scheme of things) but I was exhausted.

The morning of the race was cold. Really cold. When we got down to the Blue Lake, there was a noticeable (and cold) wind. Everyone was walking around wrapped up, or getting into their wetsuits early, to keep warm. When Hooksie gave the race briefing, he said this was isolated, and there would be a tailwind home; I wasn't sure how that could be the case, but I hoped he was telling the truth...

After fixing Kate's back wheel, I got wetsuited up, only managed a short warm-up I'm never that well organised at Rotorua), said goodbye to my honey, swam as far forward as a could (but not with the stupid fast people), and then there was a (not that noticeable) whistle, and we were off.

The swim

My swimming has not been great this year; various shoulder injuries, and no squad, have limited my swimming time. But I tend to race better than I swim, and I did surprisingly well at last year's race, so thought I might be ok. The wind had made the lake really choppy; it certainly wasn't glass like, as I'd come to expect. The buoys were a lot smaller this year too; combined with the chop, it was very hard to navigate. I headed out hardish, and then tried to draft where I could. There was one guy who I couldn't quite get ahead of, so I decided to draft off him. He was kicking like a mad person, so was easy to follow, so I stuck with him for about 2/3 of the swim. On the way back, it was nigh on impossible to work out where to go (in fact, the second and third fastest swimmers completely missed a buoy), so I kept with my friend until I was sure he was going a bit off track. I couldn't really find people to draft off, so I swam the last third on my own. I got to the end and felt quite good (I had saved a lot of energy by drafting the dude), and then ran to transition, where Paul said I was about 39. Actually, I was 40:40 – about 4 minutes slower than last year (I was 39, but that included T1). So not great. However, I saved a lot of energy, the conditions were a heck of a lot tougher, there were far fewer people racing this year (so fewer people to draft off/get sucked along by), and the swim times in general were up a lot – only two individuals, men and women, were sub 30 – which is pretty damn slow for a Half swim.

The bike

I had a quickish T1 (only slowed by needing to put the Garmin on), and headed off. I have been practicing getting on my bike in one go, but one rubber band moved, and I nearly fell over when I got on (which would have been embarrassing) – but I sorted myself out, and I was off. I used the Powertap to pace myself – the aim, apart from hills, which to stay between about 200 and 220 watts, which I mostly managed. I didn't go crazy on the first half like last year, and while I was consistently passing people, I did not play silly games. I was feeling good, and feeling comfortable (a few months in the aero position made a difference). I felt like I had a bit of a tailwind on occasion, but swore there were also headwinds, and I wondered if I might get a tailwind home. I did the first 45k in 1:15 – I was surprised at how well I'd gone, and thought I might go sub 2:40 on the bike; boy was I wrong.

As soon as I turned around, it became apparent why the first half was so quick – I had the headwind from 'Nam on the way home, and it was going to be there pretty much the whole way. It was hard, way harder than last year. Where I had been going over 40 on the way out, I was now going 23. But I kept on pacing myself (perhaps allowing myself to work a little harder). There were a lot of annoying people on the way back – I'd go at a relatively consistent pace; they'd smash themselves down or up hill, just pass me, then sit up on the flat, and force me to pass them again. I didn't get any drafting penalties, but if I had, it would not have been my fault. Hell's gate was a b*itch on the way back – it's not only steep, but the wind was so strong I had a headwind climbing. But at the top of the hill I caught the woman who was coming second, and I pushed away from most of the annoying people. I got to the turn back to Rotorua, had a slight respite from the wind, and just pushed home. Tarawera seemed to come quicker than last year (I died along the airport straight last year, this time I was still feeling strong, albeit that the wind was making it hard). At the start of Tarawera I thought there might still be a chance of 2:45, but I forgot how long it takes to get back to transition after you get to the top. I paced up Tarawera, passed a number of people, and headed home. Finished with about 2:48 (2:52 official – but that includes T1 and T2 – compared to 2:54 last year, which only included T2) in much tougher conditions than last year is not too bad at all. If I'd properly appreciated the conditions, I would have gone harder on the way out, but I may have blown up, so you never know. Again, the bike times were down from last year. I averaged 193 watts, normalized power of 207, so I kept my watts about where they needed to be, which is good. Also, there weren't a whole heap of power surges, which meant I was able to conserve energy.

The run

A quick T2, and I was off and running, and feeling pretty good. Until about 10 minutes in, and my ankle started hurting. I occasionally get this strange twinge in my ankle – it seems to come and go; but today it decided to come, and it was making things quite uncomfortable. I even wondered if I might have to walk or stop altogether. And then my tummy started feeling a bit gross (not bad, but just a bit gross), so there was a lot to be negative about. There were also way fewer people about to pass, which is normally what I do to keep myself focused. I had a friend for a short while (we'd ridden 'together' for a bit, and had a moan about a dude who'd been drafting), and he started pulling away, so I decided to keep him in my sights. Out of the forest, and man it was hot. I remember last year being hotter, but this year I was desperate to drink at every drink station, and pour a cup of water over my head just to keep cool.

The gun club was stonking as usual, and on the way back, I got passed by the woman in second. So I decided to just follow her, which I did for over 10k. When she picked up the pace, so did I. I started feeling a bit better, and my ankle stopped being stupidly painful. We kept on passing people, and I kept on running a consistent pace. Not as fast as I'd hoped, but the bike (and the heat) were obviously taking it out of me. At the top of the lake track )after struggling up the hill – my hammies and butt were shot) we passed a guy who beat me last year, made the 24 – 29 Age Group National team last year, and who had beaten me at both Contact and Tinman (for former by about 10 minutes, the latter by 5). The we passed my friend, who had slowed a lot. The woman started pushing towards the finish, and I did too. Until my right hammie started cramping – not badly, but cramping nonetheless. So I slowed a little bit, to make sure I could finish well. I still passed a few people n the way to the finish, and I ended up with a 1:40 (faster than last year, but not much, but I think the heat really took it out of me). Out of interest, my normalized pace was 4:36 mins/km (my heart rate strap doesn't play nice with the tri top, so I decided not to wear it).

The result

Total time 5:13. 5 minutes faster than last year, in much tougher conditions. So not the sub 5 I was hoping for, but hand on heart, if the conditions were like last year, I am certain I'd have been somewhere between about 5:00 and 5:05, maybe a bit faster, which in Rotorua is a pretty damn respectable time. I was nowhere near as sore after, but totally exhausted – I had no sprint at the finish, and I just wanted to lay down. I even had to have a nap later.

All in all, I'm pretty happy. I didn't die on the bike like last year, and was faster in tougher conditions. I didn't feel great on the run, and had some issues, but I pushed through them. I also completely spent myself.

The thanks

Thanks heaps to Jenn and Damian (sister-in-law and her fiance); having gophers for the day (as well as supporters) made things go a lot smoother. Thanks also to Mike and Paul for their on course/of course support, respectively.

Big thanks to Paul W – I was a lot stronger this year, and I feel like I have a much 'deeper' fitness than last year. You have been a massive help, and I'm looking forward to getting back into it when we return.

To Kate - because she is wonderful =)

The reflection

Things to work on:

  • Swimming! Kate and I are going to visit Ally Boggs to get our techniques critiqued. I also just need to swim more. Having Kate around will also help push me harder (which I need for swimming).
  • Cycling – I'm getting better, but I need to get stronger. I think a good year of consistent riding (with a big focus, I've decided, on Mountain Biking, which I enjoy more than the on-road stuff) will help.
  • Running – just keep doing what I've been doing. It's what I'm best at, and I'm getting faster. I think any issues are more bike related – basically, I need to get stronger on the bike so I run better off it, if that makes sense.
  • Nutrition – pretty good. I probably needed more electrolytes on the run, so should have had more heed (rather than Coke at every aid station), but it was a lot hotter than I'm used to, so it's no biggie.
The rest of the season

European holiday aside, I'll be able to keep training consistently. I have another goal race to focus on this season (Xterra – heck yeah, I'm really looking forward to this, and not just because the swim is only 1k...), and I will not have 6 months off again, so I have a good base to work from.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

June to the Half Ironman, a comparison

All my workouts are logged in Buckeye Outdoors, and I can do nifty things like total up my workouts.

I know it's not entirely accurate, because I'm a week out, but between 1 June and the Half last year I did the following:
  • 43 runs, total time 29:42:13, total distance 205.2 km;
  • 68 bikes, total time 88:28:21, total distance 1519.9 km; and
  • 87 swims, total time 69:55:27; total distance 98.7 km.
This year, I have done the following:
  • 70 runs, total time 51:23:05, total distance 547.2 km;
  • 78 bikes, total time 111:40:03, total distance 2284.9; and
  • 39 swims, total time 31:05:35, total distance 53.6 km.
So, compared to last year, I have:
  • Run 73% more time, and 167% more distance;
  • Biked 26% more time, and 50% more distance; and
  • Swum 55% less time, and 46% less distance.
Overall, I'm really happy with this. I've seen solid improvements in my cycling, and bigger ones on the run (not surprising, given I've managed to run a whole heap more). My average heart rates for both have been dropping consistently, and my power on the bike seems to have been increasing of late.

The swimming is a disappointment, and the shoulder obviously didn't help. I've been feeling a lot better lately, so hopefully I'm not embarrassingly slow at Rotorua. I should note, that last year I swam up to five times a week, because I often couldn't run, and in the overall scheme of things, I'd much rather be running.

I'm really looking forward to the weekend. I know I can do the race, and in a reasonably respectable time. I'm confident I'll do better than last year, and I'm feeling fitter.

Last year was 5:18, with a 39 (incl transition) swim, 2:54 (incl transition bike) and 1:43 run. The aim this year is sub 40 swim, 2:45 bike and 1:35 run, for a sub 5 hour finish time. Doable? Maybe; it's hard to tell, really. I never know what the conditions will be like, how I'll feel on the day, etc. Will I be crushed if I don't do that? Not really, as long as I go as hard as I can. Will I be thrashing myself to get there? Damn straight.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A really enjoyable race (report)

Tinman a pretty damn rad race. It was choice to do a 'big' race, where I actually had people to race with (well, sort of, I still spend the whole race time trialing...). Feeling happy with the result too.

Swim

The water was a lot warmer than the preceding evening, and there were a lot of people around! The tide was quite strong too, and was pushing us out to sea. We took off, and for the first couple of buoys, I was barely swimming, I was basically sucked along with a mass of people (actually, I did swim, and swam reasonably hard, to try and get in a pack of reasonable swimmers). I was constantly trying to draft, and did an OK job, but I kept on losing people, and having to find new ones (easy enough with the number of people). So the lesson is to work harder at staying with the people you are with after the first couple of hundred metres. I missed the timing board, but when I got to my bike (almost as far as you can get in transition - being as I was number 33) I saw it was 8:25, so knew I must have done OK. I had a reasonably quick transition - given I have to put the Garmin on, the aero helmet is harder to get on, and I had to pack the back pocket - and I was out of T1 in 26:30, which I'm pretty happy with, given the swim at Rotorua a couple of weeks ago (it must have been a lot shorter mind!). Maybe it's the new wetsuit... (swam in it for the first time the day before the race - I'd started getting some nicks in my old one, which was annoying).

Bike

On the bike I settled into a good rhythm, and tried to hold a constant power output. I was passed by a few people, mostly team and a couple of sprint cyclists, but other than one guy, I had no one to pace (not draft) off for the bike. I stayed with him for about a third of the race, but lost contact, and finished on my own. I should perhaps have pushed harder, but I wanted to have something in reserve for the run. Averaged 199 watts (normalized 203) - should really be higher than that. AHR 171, max 183. 1:10:50, which is a little annoying, because I wanted sub 1:10, but then the course was 42km, not 40, so I'll live. The aero helmet and disc cover were both good (and the disc looks hot, albeit that the covers don't make the same sound as a proper disc wheel), as was the newly build up rear wheel (I got Tristan, from Wheelworks, to re-build my Powertap into a light, stiff, semi-aero wheelset, with bladed spokes, which is an improvement on wheel the hub came built up in).

Run

I had a fairly quick transition, and I was off. I was feeling pretty good off the bike, and quickly got into a decent rhythm (and very quickly passed my friend from the bike). I was passing people left, right and centre, and holding sub 4:00 minute k's, although the average pace was slowly dropping. I did the first 5 km in 20:20 (normalized pace of 4:02), and was feeling good. After the turnaround, I got a slight stitch, and my left ankle was feeling odd, but I was still going well, but a tiny bit slower. Then I got to the base track. Which was hard. And slowed me a lot. I still kept passing people, but it was not a comfortable run. I had one guy in my sights, and I kept pushing, and pushed the last straight really hard (I did the last 600 metres in 3:40 k's), and was spent at the end. Oddly enough, my normalized pace for the last 5.568 km (the run was long) was 4:03 km, so I did pace myself fairly evenly effort wise. AHR first 5K 174, max 177; rest of run AHR 175, max 188.

Overall

All in all, pretty happy. I was able to actually run well(ish). I was only a couple of minutes down on two guys who were in the NZ Age Group team for the standard distance champs (and one also in the long distance team), the main difference being the swim, when I was more than 10 down on them at Contact. In fact, if I could get a bit faster on the swim and bike (and hold or get better or the run), I would have been competitive (in a slightly upper level, non elite, age grouper sort of way...). That's not to say I'm completely satisfied; I want to get better, and I know I can. Just that I'm happy with my effort yesterday.

So, with the combination of the Contact race and Tinman, I've had pretty damn good prep for the Rotorua Half. I'm feeling good, and think I'll do better than last year. I dunno whether I can go sub 5, but I'll be going out to try =)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A fairly disappointing race - but I've had time to reflect

Yesterday I had the first round of the Contact Trophy at the Blue Lake, in Rotorua. I did this race last year prior to the Half, so it should be a good measure of my progress.

It's fair to say that I'm not particularly happy with how I went. Having said that, there are some positives, and on reflection, some good reasons why things didn't go as well as I might have wished.

There were fewer people than last year, and not many people of my ability, so I pretty much did the whole race on my own. The conditions were worse than last year, with the wind in particularly a lot stronger.

The swim

Last year I took 27 minutes including transition. This year, 34. Transition was quite a bit longer, but still.

I did swim appallingly slow, and try as I might, couldn't get on anyone's feet. Not entirely surprising, given how little I've been able to swim. Then again, the race was clearly longer than last year, and the swim times are slower across the board. I didn't feel too bad, apart from being conscious that I was slow, so that's a positive.

The bike

I hoped to have some really good power data - but somehow the data hot wiped before I could download it, which is very annoying!

I know that I averaged more than 200 watts, and given the hills, the normalized power would have been a lot higher than that, but unfortunately, I don't have the data! Feck it!!! Very, very annoying! (Then again, apart from the interest value, the race is such that the data would not necessarily be that helpful in working out pacing for Rotorua).

I felt pretty good on the bike this year. I was a few minutes quicker than last year (1:29 vs 1:31, but again with a longer transition), but I felt a lot stronger throughout. Last year, in about the 4th lap, I died. I couldn't get my HR up and push any harder. This year I could have, had I wanted. So I was quicker, felt stronger, even though the wind was up, and I was able to push consistently hard on the flats.

So, all in all, fairly happy with the bike.

The run

Where it all started going wrong. Last year I was absolutely dead at the end of the bike, but once I go onto the run, I was able to push. I was under instruction to take the first lap easy last year, then push hard. I took 52 minutes last year.

This year, I got off the bike feeling a lot stronger than last year. And I know I am running better than last year. I had a good result in the Auckland Half Marathon recently, and I've been running quicker for the same HR than last year.

So I headed off from transition, and the legs felt good, I got into a decent rhythm. I felt a bit blah along the beach, but then the sand is very hard to run on. Then I got to the first hill, saw a dude ahead of me, and I went to start pushing up the hill, which I normally can. But I couldn't. In fact, I could barely keep up with him. I really had to push myself hard to stay in touch, and while I passed him on the downhill on the other side of the lake, I couldn't get that far ahead of him.

I started felling a bit better after 5k, but was not actually able to run any faster (in fact, my average pace went down). I passed a few more people, but just didn't feel right.

54 minutes. 2 minutes slower than last year, and I was not happy.

I couldn't understand it. But then I started thinking (and Kate made me start thinking). A week ago I took the week off training because I was sick. The week before the race I got back into it, and while I was feeling ok, I was still not 100% (some times I found it hard to breathe while swimming, and I was coughing up some gunk - albeit clear gunk - every now and then).

So, I think (and hope) that I just hadn't fully recovered, and despite riding better, and feeling better off the bike, I just didn't have the energy to do the run I know I'm capable of. And hopefully I'll be 100% soon.

Some positives
  • I rode better than last year, and at no stage felt like I was about to die.
  • I seem to have recovered quite well. Last year I was super sore after the race, and took a few days to recover. This year I'm not that sore at all, and am hardly feeling it today (I suspect that's partly because I was not able to run anywhere near as fast as I can).
  • My knee did not get too sore at all.
  • My shoulders didn't hurt at all during the swim.
So while I was not a happy camper afterwards, I've had some time to reflect, and there are definite positives. There are also good reasons for the negatives - I'm not making excuses, I think they genuinely explain what went wrong.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sick. Again. Damn it.

While we were down in Wellington a couple of weekends ago, I picked up a nasty cold. Over the course of last week, my lungs have filled up with gunk and for a couple of days I had almost no energy.

So, no training for me at all last week, which sucks. Particularly because I've been feeling (swimming aside) increasingly fit.

What doubly sucks is that I was going to be doing the bike as part of a team (with Mike and my lovely wife) at the Karapiro Half. I was really looking forward to a good, long, TT; not only for the training, but also to get some really good power data. Fortunately, Paul was able to step into the breach, which was really appreciated!

I'm feeling a heap better, apart from my lungs, which still have a wee bit of gunk in them. I'm going for an easy run tonight, and I'll be in Auckland tomorrow, so will ride in the morning with Kate.

Hopefully I'm right in time foe the Contact race in Rotorua this weekend!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

1:26:31 (sorry, it's been a while)

Yep, that was my time for the Auckland Half, and I'm stoked. It's a fantastic race, and I'm really pleased with the time. It was cool to compete in such a big race, with supporters everywhere.

It was an early start (4:00), so we had enough time to wake up, eat breakfast, and wander down to the ferry terminal. We'd mucked around a bit at Devonport (read - I waited forever to go to the toilet - and luckily there was one roll of paper left), so the start line was rather full. But I found a small gap near the front, and jumped the fence, which was good, because my gun time was only 10 seconds more than my clock time.

The race starts off with a few short but steep hills, and is pretty rolling (with a few larger hills) until you get to the Harbour bridge. My plan was to go out at 1:30 pace (so 4:15 mins a km), but I was going a bit quicker than that (not because I was getting caught up in the race start), and was feeling good, so just kept going. At five k I started picking it up a bit more, and then again at 10k.

The bridge was hard - it's steep from the North Shore side, and has a really steep camber for the first 300m or so. But I set my sights on a guy ahead of me (by that stage I was passing slow marathoners) who was clearly doing the half, and pushed to catch him. I got quite close, but he got a bit further ahead on the way down. I had averaged 4:06 mins/k until the bridge, it got up to 4:10 at one stage, and it took me the rest of the race to get it back down again.

After that, I thought it would be mostly flat - but I was wrong. You don't just run around Westhaven, there is an out and back up a steepish hill, which was a little dispiriting. But I pushed hard, then started pushing harder on the way down. I then found a friend, who was pushing pretty hard, and I ran with him for the last 4k. He was going just that little bit faster than I may have been, which was good, because I was able to hold the pace. I then pushed ahead of him in the last 2 k, and thought I'd gotten away, be he held on.

The final stretch is pretty cool, with people lining both sides for the final 300 - 400 m. I thought my friend was done, but then I heard him coming, and I heard the crowd getting excited, so I started sprinting, as did he, with me pipping him at the line. The last 300m I averaged 2:51 min/k, with a fastest of 1:54 mins/k.

So:

Final time - 1:26:31;
Pace - 4:06 mins/k;
Normalized pace - 4:03 mins/k (while not a flat race, you finish only 3 m higher than you start, and I obviously kept a fairly even pace throughout);
Average HR - 182, max 205 (I'm not sure the max is right - that came when I running downhill early in the race, so I suspect it isn't).

Similar lesson to the Legend - while I paced myself well, I perhaps needed to push a little harder a little earlier. I'll just have to let Kate predict my time again (she said she thought I'd do 1:26:?? to 1:27:?? (perhaps the upper end, but still), and pace myself based on that =)

Here are some fun graphs:

Heart rate (apart from the silly stuff early on, nice even effort, increased steadily at the end):


And pace (across my splits - of which there were 19 - I missed a couple of k's):

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Twilight tri/du series, race 2 (first for me though)

Tonight I did my first twilight series race (I did a du - some made people did tris!). Pretty miserable conditions, which made the biking somewhat treacherous (one right turn, 3 left turns and a particularly wet roundabout certainly slowed me down). Quite a few people racing various lengths, despite the conditions. Will obviously have more closer to tri season and when the weather is nicer! I joined the tri club (it's $50, I get trinz membership, and the races are free - as opposed to $7).

Finished 2nd in the du, and 3rd out of people doing the long event (there were a handful of people swimming, which is frankly mad!) Got beaten by a super fit multisporter in the du, and some awesome young dude who did the tri.

Happy with the first run, not particularly happy with the bike (did have a slow down a lot at the various intersections, because of the water), last run ok - got into a decent rhythm reasonably quickly, but didn't push quite enough. That said, quite an undulating run course, so not too bad.

First time I've run/ridden fast for quite a while.
First run: 2.33 km; 8:40; normalized graded pace - 3:44. As I said, happy enough with this, given I haven't run this fast for about 10 months!

T1: 36 seconds.

Bike: 15.967 km; 29.48; AV watts - 223, normalized power 235. Should be able to hold a higher power output on the bike. Disconcertingly, I was matched by a guy on a mountain bike (that is one damn quick effort on a mountain bike!). The conditions did not help, and it was a surprisingly rolling bike course, but still. Then again, I've been injured, and I was watching my VMO/knee, so not silly to have taken it a little easy.

T2: 32 seconds.
Second run: 4.13km; 17.25; normalized graded pace – 4:08. Not too bad, given the course is undulating and I was running off the bike, but didn't push it anywhere near as hard as I should have (well, it is a training race, so perhaps not stupid).

Total time, 56:55.

Reasonably happy. It's hardly a competitive field, but I did have one guy to push me. Should have been faster, but then again, it's a training race, and I've been injured, so not too silly to have left a little in the tank.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And my FTP is...

(Functional Threshold Power, that is).

About 245. That puts me at the lower end of "Good" or "Cat 3" cyclists. Not too bad given I'm a triathlete, not a cyclist, and I haven't been at this sport for super long. Obviously much bigger people will have a higher absolute FTP, but then I'll probably beat them up a hill =)

I didn't do the test quite right (after the initial 20 minute warm up, you're meant to do 3 x 1 minute efforts at 100 rpm, whereas I did them as 3 x 1 min all out), but I'm not sure that would have made a discernible difference.

Now I have that sorted, I can use it to calculate training zones, and then use WKO+ to analyse my workouts.

One of the neat features of the software is that it calculates what it calls normalized power. Normalized power recognises that when you ride with an inconsistent power output (for example, when riding lots of hills), that your average power will likely be a lot lower than the true physiological cost. It therefore "is an estimate of the power that you could have maintained for the same physiological "cost" if your power output had been perfectly constant". This is helpful on a lot of the long rides I've done with Kate, where the average power has been in the 120 watt range (active recovery), but the normalized power has been in the 170s (endurance zone).

I'll have to test again in about 6 weeks, to check whether I've improved - so it's both a good fitness test and a good way of dialling in training.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Felling pretty good (and some new toys)

I had a pretty good week's training last week. I was still feeling a blah at the start of the week, which was a hangover from the previous week and the half marathon. I missed a couple of bikes - partly because of feeling blah, and partly because I picked up a trial at the last minute (8:30 the night before), and that necessitated last minute prep, which was quite tiring.

But, I finished the week strongly, and felt really good on the weekend, particularly after a big day's training on Sunday.

Kate and I also have new toys - some Newton running shoes. The place that distributes them in NZ was selling last season's demo pairs cheap, so we both got some (although only the racing versions were available in our sizes). Thy definitely feel a bit different, although I haven't run in them yet. They recommend taking a few weeks to adjust before running in them properly - look here if you are interested in learning more about them. Best of all, they look hot (in an awesome, retro, sort of way...). They are designed to encourage mid foot/forefoot landing, which I have been working on anyway.



Now for the summary:

T - 2k swim, 55 minutes, did 10 x 100m, all in 1:55 - 2:00, which is better than the 2:00 - 2:05 the previous week.

W - 55 minute trainer ride - "aerobic intervals", which I cut short, because I got the call about the trial. AHR 151, Av Watts 170.

T - 1:05 swim lesson - worked a lot on balance. Pretty good, actually had the drills explained in the context of my stroke, which is a nice change.

F - 30 min run, 5:02 mins/km, 160 AHR. Was quite warm/humid, which I felt. Calf a bit sore.

S - 1:24:09 run - okish long run with Kate. Calf feeling a bit tight, but otherwise felt ok. 15.16 km, AHR 143. Did a 20 minute End2 effort - 4.18 mins/km, 173 AHR, which I'm happy with, because a couple of weeks ago, I ran 4:24 mins/km for the same AHR, and it's not as if I was feeling great today.

S - 4:08 ride, 93.63 km, AHR 134, Av Watts 125. Felt really good. Rode most of the hills (apart from Waitaks) in my big chain ring too. I'm definitely getting stronger.

We later on did a 30 min run, 5.10 km, 135 AHR. Felt great, and calf not at all tight. When compared to the last time we did an evening run after a long ride, felt heaps better.

Monday, September 21, 2009

1:34

This is my time according to the official results, so I'll go with that (particularly given there was no timing mat at the start). Oddly enough, I pressed stop at exactly 21.1 km on my Garmin, which is pretty rad.

What a race! Awesome course. Freakin' hard course (as will be evident from the elevation profile in my previous post). All up, there is about 275 metres elevation gain/loss. Really well managed race, with friendly marshals everywhere. Lots of people got out to support too, which was choice.

I hadn't run a stand alone half marathon before, and this course made working out pacing even tougher. I decided to break the race up in three parts, and make sure I paced myself properly (which is easy enough with the Garmin). The first 8 k is undulating, with a few steepish, but short, climbs. I decided I'd aim to average about 4:30 mins/km for the first part (and hope to maintain something like that up the hill). I did exactly that until the start of Carter's Road (the main climb), and I made sure I had a good conversation with whomever I could along the way (to make sure I wasn't working too hard). I think I did that too well, and perhaps left myself with a bit much to do by the time the climb came.

I ran the climb well, and averaged about 5 mins/km for the 4 k climb. But that took my average pace down to about 4:39 mins/km, and the next few k's were undulating, so I couldn't pick up much pace.

I left myself go on the downhill, and just ran as hard as I could. I obviously gained a lot of time, but the constant, fast, running downhill hammered my legs. I couldn't push much at the end (normally I have a really big sprint), although I still passed a few people. I think this was partly because I paced myself well, and partly because my legs were mashed - I certainly wasn't overly fatigued at the end, just sore!

Apart from running the first part a bit slowly (which was better than running too fast), I paced really well. I passed people consistently throughout the race, and only 1 person passed me. Most people took off to quickly to start with, and I'm glad to have avoided that. I knew I'd beat most people uphill - what surprised me was that I bet most people downhill. People don't know how to let themselves go - although I haven't been specifically training downhills, having a naturally/trained high turnover helps a lot of the downhills.

I finished 35th out of 317 competitors, 31st out of the men. Pretty happy given how I'd been feeling during the week. For anyone who is interested, by AHR was 184, max 192, which indicates that the zones I have been working in have been about right (maybe a little low, but these rates will have been elevated because of the race).

I'll be interested to see how I do in Auckland on a (for the most part) flat course. I'll aim to pace similarly (effort wise), but will head off a little faster than this time. Kate's pretty good at picking how I'll do - she picked sub 1:35 here, and she thinks sub 1:28 for Auckland, which sounds about right.

Now, because I don't have photos, here are some interesting graphs:

Elevation:


Grade:


Heart Rate distribution (which indicates, apart from the early up and downhills, that I've increased my effort steadily, and there's been some heart rate drift):


And pace (I didn't quite take splits every k, but this gives a pretty good indication of how I paced myself):

Friday, September 18, 2009

1:34.06

I'll have a complete report in the fullness of time; however, suffice to say that was tough! Not just because of the ups, but because the downs mashed my legs!

Here is the elevation profile (generated from my Garmin data), just to prove I'm not a complete pansy/over-exaggerater.



Awesome race. Well organised, and heaps of fun.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feeling really good last week (not so much this week)

I won't bore you with the details - if you're interested in what I've been doing, you can check them out on the Buckeye Outdoors plugin.

Last week was a good training week. For various reasons, I missed a swim (and didn't make it up), but I got everything else done, and I did it well.

I commuted again on Wednesday, and was 5 and 8 minutes quicker respectively for the rides to and from work than I was in June (same HR).

I did a 20 minute high end aerobic interval during the long run on Saturday, and I held 4:24 mins a km, which I'm happy with.

I did a long (longer than I was supposed to, but we had a lot of mucking around) ride on Sunday, and although at times the pace was pedestrian, we did some great climbs, and I did a bit of a TT on the way back home around the waterfront, and I was comfortably holding 35 - 40 km/hr while staying aerobic. See Kate's post for a good run down on the ride.

We did a run some 2 hours later, and I was able to hold sub 5 minute km's while staying easily aerobic.

I am feeling good.

Well, sort of. I felt like I might be coming down with something (and having Dad think it's ok to cough all over the house might not be helping), so I have taken the last couple of days off. We have the Legend Half this weekend (my first stand a long half marathon) and I want to be healthy. Plus, after this week, the hours start building up, so I don't want to risk coming down with something nasty. I'm feeling a lot better today, and will see how I feel tomorrow.

On the injury front, everything seems to be going pretty well. I'm feeling strong.

So touch wood (double, in fact)!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A great couple of weeks' training

Yes, I know, it's been a while (and yes, I know, this post has no photos...).

The last couple of weeks have been grand; it's amazing how much better I feel having had a couple of weeks of injury and illness free consistent training (give or take).

Apart from my left calf going into spasm while running down Old Mill Road (upwards of 20% gradient), the running has been going well, and I've had a couple of 4 hour rides. We also went for an awesome 1:30 run in the Waitakere Ranges on Sunday. Basically ran up a hill for 45 minutes, then came down/up/down a rather technical decent. My legs have been sore for a couple of days since - good sore. It's been a while since we've done a good off-road run, and it's amazing how much harder your legs have to work.

Also, I've been able to play with the Powertap. At the moment, I'm just riding as normal, getting a good idea of the sorts of watts I will normally produce, and what different wattage levels feel like. It's also a little scary how inconsistent my power output is.

I'm currently reading Training and Racing with a Power Meter, which is basically the bible on Power Meters. Once I'm done, I'll do a test to establish my FTP (Functional Threshold Power - essentially, the power I can hold over a 1 hr TT) - you can then use that to work out training zones (which are more accurate than using HR), and can track your training using WKO+. So my training will be the same, and I'll be doing what Paul schedules, but I'll be able to do the workouts more accurately/efficiently, and track my workload much better.

Promise I'll have some pretty pictures soon =)

Monday, August 24, 2009

I have a new toy


Thanks Paul M =)

(Oh, and thanks to lovely wife! It is my birthday present afterall...)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Training fail

Not a good week training. I didn't get over my illness; I'm mildly asthmatic, and I was suffering random coughing fits, and waking up coughing a few times during the night.

So I decided (after my run on Monday - 40 minutes, 7.27 kms, 5:30 mins/km), to take the rest of the week off, and I think that was a good idea.

I went for a run tonight, and while I wasn't any faster than last Monday, I definitely felt a lot better, and didn't have a coughing fit as soon as I started. I'll take it easy (effort wise) the rest of the week, and hopefully I'll be back on the horse.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I will have photos from now on

There are none in this post. Apart from this:


This is the second image that came up in a google image search for "awesome hill". And it has a cross country skier roller skating up it. Awesome.

I searched for "awesome hill" because I rode an awesome hill on Sunday; I rode down it twice. It has a 20% gradient in part, no driveways, it's dead straight, and has a hill up the other side to slow you down. Got up to 76 km/hr by the bottom (which is only about 200 - 300 metres). Awesome.

I've realised the difference between my and Kate's blogs. Apart from witty, thought provoking (or at least mildly interesting) posts.

Photos. Hers has them. Mine does not. Mine will from now on (where possible).

Still sick. I have energy, and am mostly feeling ok. But I am sniffly and and coughing lots (although thankfully not while I exercise).

Hopefully this damn thing goes away; I'm looking forward to slowly building up the training. And training consistently for that matter!

The week that was

This is a separate, boring, weekly wrap. Really only for me, my coach, and really, really boring people.

An ok week's training - but I had the sore leg, and then the sickness wouldn't go away. So while I was relatively consistent, I cut back on the volume (and there's not much intensity at the moment anyway).

M - I had my first ever solo trial the following day, and was still a bit under the weather, so took the day off.

T - 30 minute run, 5.17 km, 5.48 mins/k. Ran around Cambridge golf course with my bike lights put on the optional headband I bought. Felt ok.

W - 1 hr on the trainer. Felt a bit gammy - but have worked out that might be because my cleats we a little bit loose and were moving a little.

T - Rest again.

F - 1 hr "aerobic intervals" on trainer. Felt reasonably good.

S - 1:10 off-road run around Waiuku Forest (actually, a lot was on the beach, some through mud flats; no more shiny white shoes for me...)

S - 1:35 ride. Was supposed to be 3 hrs, but just didn't think that was a good idea. Good ride though, rode a number of the local hills, I used biggish gears for all the climbing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Being sick sucks

While Kate has been unwell (and in fact been worse over the last couple of days), I'd been feeling a bit under the weather all last week, but got pretty bad on Friday night.

So I took the weekend off exercising. Which is a shame, but better than getting really, really sick.

I was going to run yesterday, but I found out yesterday afternoon that I had my first solo trial, which was today! So I finished in Court at 4, then had to prepare a trial! (The trial went ok, although the guy got off. I got a lot of constructive criticism from a partner who came and watched how I did, and while that's really valuable, I got a little down on myself).

But I got back into it today. I'm still not feeling 100%, and my left ITB is still pretty sore, but it doesn't seem to be a problem while running. I went for a run after work, but decided to come home first and run around the golf course near my house. So I took my ayup lights (which I have been using for my after work rides around the otherwise pitch black countryside), used the headband, and went for a run. And it was great! Not too heavy at all (even though the battery is on the strap), and meant I could go running somewhere slightly different.

Last week's training was unsurprisingly not super good, but could have been worse. I also had a swimming lesson on Thursday - I did exclusively balance work, but the dude seems good (I have two more sessions).

WARNING - super boring weekly training log:

M - 30 minute recovery ride on the trainer, because I was feeling a bit sore (I'd had my bike fit looked at, but it seems they did more harm than good).

T - 30 minute run, 5.76 kms (5.12 mins/km) - felt a bit gammy to start with, but got back into it and felt good.

W - 1.29.50 ride around the hilly route. I'd had the bike fit put back by someone else, and it seemed better. Not feeling that great, but was still a bit quicker than last week (not that it's a race!).

T - the swimming lesson (about 50 mins all up).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Okoroire Fun Ride Report (plus weekly wrap)

Kate and I headed down to the Okoroire Fun Ride (starts about 6 km from Tirau), which is a 70km ride around the South Waikato area. I know the weather has been bad for previous iterations, but yesterday was gorgeous, the scenery fantastic, the organisation excellent. This is a great little race (which must have had somewhere between 500 and 600 competitors).

I decided I ride with Kate. I think we started a little bit far back, so we lost anyone who'd be riding at our pace, and spend the first half of the ride passing people pretty consistently (or in my case, dragging large groups along).

The first half was great - but as Kate details on her blog, she started fading pretty badly (unsurprisingly, given the couple of weeks she's had at work, and not being able to ride at all during the last two weeks). So she was grumpy with me, and I in turn got a little grumpy.

But we made it through; 72.8 km (based on GPS measurement), in 2:45. Not super fast, but not too bad (given we didn't have the benefit of bunches at all - indeed, the only time we were in any sort of bunch, it's because we were on a busy road, and I wasn't keen to pass an 8 or so rider pace line, so we were significantly slowed down).

I didn't have HR, but I felt very comfortable the whole way, and apart from the one big climb, and when I was purposely trying to slow down on hills, rode most of the way in the big ring (one of the beauties of the compact). While I've previously gotten quite fit on the bike, and could comfortably spin at 100 RPM + for an extended period, I've never felt like I have been that strong. It seems like this is starting (albeit slowly) to change.

Great ride, and Kate and I will definitely be back.

Otherwise, a very good week's training:

M - 1 hour trainer ride (felt pretty good).
T - good 30 min run, 5.74 km, 5:13 min/km, plus 5 x 30 second "pick ups" - felt pretty good; and 45 minute swim, 1.25 km (pretty pathetic I know, but first swim for 5 weeks or so, so felt gammy, and shoulder not 100% yet).
W - great 1:31.57 ride, 39.79 km, changed my loop slightly to add what I thought would be one biggish climb (instead, added five or six - great loop though) - felt really good.
T - okish 30 minute run, felt a but flat, 5.62 km, 5:20 min/km, technique felt good though).
F - 1 hour aerobic intervals on trainer, felt pretty good; and 45 minute swim, 1400 metres, shoulder feeling a bit better.
S - 25 minute race prep ride (the hard ride up College Hill was hard - I haven't pushed like that for a while).
S - Okoroire Fun Ride (detailed above).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The week just been (and a weekend in Wellington)

Ok, so this post will include a rather boring run down of the week's training.

But first I want to say how bl**dy brilliant Wellington was this weekend. I know it's not always amazing on the weather front, but this weekend was. Light southerlies; crisp clear days, amazing views of the snow capped Kaikoura Ranges. Brilliant. And I realised how much I miss hills, real hills that is, particularly for running!

The weather in the 'Tron is generally better: certainly warmer and with much less wind, but there's nothing magical about it, nowhere around here that I'd call breathtaking. Then again, lots of pretty sweet places nearby.

Also great to catch up with friends, even though poor Kate was working like a dog (until 12:30 on Friday night, 11 last night!).

As an aside, my wound is nearly healed, so I'll be back swimming this week - which is good!

M - easy 20 minute run, 149 AHR.
T - great 30 minute run, 151 AHR.
W - 1 hour "aerobic intervals" on the trainer - 147 AHR, felt really good.
T - 1.14.17 ride, same 34.3 km loop, but this time over 5 minutes faster; 154 AHR, so working harder than previous attempts.
S - Great 1 hour run in Wellington, 9.87 km (but included running for over 5 minutes straight up some stairs), AHR 151, but did a faster 20 min interval with Kate, ran 5.11 k's with AHR of 161, so right in the middle of my aerobic zone - I think that's a fairly good pace, and I was about 10 - 15 seconds a k faster at the same HR in November last year, so not long before the Half IM, when I had done a lot more training.
S - fun but odd 1:15 ride, 22.26 km, 128 AHR - rode a too small road bike with annoying toe clips (worse than just flats, because you end up pedaling with your toes!), while Kate rode a hybrid. Did some fun hills and exploring though, and the weather was great.

A good week's training. I definitely feel like I'm getting fitter/stronger/more efficient, all of which I understand to be good things.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A fun day's mountain biking at Woodhill

I've been keen to head out to Woodhill and check it out, and a day mountain biking is a good way to get base miles in.

Woodhill is about 30 minutes north of Auckland, just south of Helensville.

Saturday was wet and windy - perfect weather for mountain biking (particularly compared to road riding). Plus Woodhill is very sandy (and relatively sheltered), so it's a great place to ride when it's wet.

We headed out and did what was supposed to be a 6km beginner's course (Nature's Valley) - not only was it a reasonably difficult introduction, but we must have taken a wrong turn, and took a while to get back. After getting back we had a break and had mountain bike lunch (always rolls, cheese slices and chips).

The we headed out and did the Auckland Eye course, which is 10km. It rocked! Loved it, particularly Spaghetti. Woodhill doesn't have massive climbs, but quite a few short, sharp ones, and lots of fun downhills. I appear to have learnt something at the MTB skills course, because I was heaps better doing downhill, and was gliding over bumps. And I was going over steps and rollovers with ease. I did crash once, but that was on the flat...

Ended up doing about 22km. Kate got heps better, and was never too far behind me.

After cleaning our bikes (and ourselves) and packing up the car, we headed to the Hallertau Brewery, had some fries and a tasting tray (samples of all five of their micro brewed beers) - fantastic end to the day. The weather closed in, so it seems we finished at the right time.

I think I like this mountain biking thing. Once we both live in the Waikato, I can imagine semi-regular trips to Rotorua (particularly if I want to get good enough to qualify for Xterra Worlds one day).

A good week's training

Yes, another boring wrap of the week's training, but I'll post it here for posterity nonetheless.

M - good 40 minute run along the river, 6.95km, 147AHR;
T - easy 20 minute run down to the lake, 3.46 km, 164 AHR; and 45 minute trainer ride, 141 AHR;
W - great outdoor ride after work, same route as last week, 34.3km, 139 AHR;
T - 40 minute run around the lake, 7.16km, 157AHR;
S - 2:30 (or so) worth of mountain biking at Woodhill (see subsequent post); and
S - 52 minute run, 8.08 km, 146 AHR.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekly wrap

No swimming this week (for obvious reasons), but it was a good week training. I took a complete week off after the crash, and eased back into the following week. Back into it properly this week, and felt pretty good.

My running technique is coming along nicely, and I definitely feel like I've got a lighter/quicker stride - I'm trying to focus on a mid-foot landing, and also keeping my feet on the ground for as short a period of time as possible, with a high cadence. Thus far it feels pretty good. And I'm liking the new shoes, which seems to be helping with said running technique.

M - 30 min run (9 mins running, 1 min walking), 4.96 km, 160 AHR (a little bit tough - unsurprising given the time off);

T - 20 min run, 3.49 km, 149 AHR (felt better than Monday's run, included 3 x 1 minute walk breaks)/50 minute trainer ride (getting used to new position), 147 AHR;

W - outdoor ride after work - using my new mountain bike lights (from Ayup), which rocked, 1 hr 22 mins, 34.49 km, 150 AHR (felt great, and was good to ride outdoors);

T - 40 min run (9 mins running/1 min walking, felt good), 6.44 km, 147 AHR;

S - 40 min hillyish run with Kate (continuous), 6.14 km, 149 AHR; and

S - 2 hr 20 min ride up the Waitakere ranges (was quite wet in parts, which made the descent a bit slower than it would normally have been), 52.71 km, 143 AHR.

Still no swimming this week, but I might be able to get back into it the following week.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New shoes! (and I went for a run today)

Went for a 30 minute run today. Was good, nice and easy but with good technique and fast turnover. Not too painful (in fact, the wound is less sore when running than walking, because you don't extend your leg as far when running), which is nice.

And I got some new shoes; a pair of Mizuno Wave Precision 9's. This is exciting for two reasons:
  • I've been interested in these shoes for a while, but was unaware they were even sold in New Zealand (in fact, on Friday I did some Internet searching to find the cheapest place overseas to buy them); and
  • They were $99. Yes, that's right, $99. If I like them, I'll get a second pair.


They are essentially the same as my current shoes (Mizuno Wave Riders), but lighter and with a lower profile. I was keen to try them for this very reason - I love my Riders, but I'm not a big guy, and I'm keen to try lower profile shoes.

In my (fairly uneducated opinion), most modern running shoes are overbuilt, and most podiatrists are too keen to chuck people in orthotics (and pair them up with overbuilt shoes). I think that people should wear the shoe with the least level of support they need, and unless they are a big unit, shouldn't wear massive shoes with too much cushioning. The shoes most people wear disconnect them from the ground, weaken their lower leg muscles and their feet.

The podistraist I saw in Wellington (who works with most top runners/triathletes down there) is very much in the anti-orthotic camp. If people genuinely need them (for example, if they have trouble with plantar faciitis), fine, but he likes to analyse people's running style at the track (treadmills and the short 'tracks' they have at most running shoe shops do not give an accurate indication of someone's gait, and the pressure pads are useless unless you've had about two hours to practice running over them naturally). He then experiments with small wedges in various parts of the shoe until he works out what works, and he sticks with that. He also critiques your running style. He gets excellent results.

I used to overpronate, and wore the Brooks Adrenaline, which was a great shoe. But then I learned not to pronate (somehow; apparently I'm proprioceptive, unlike the majority of people, who are mechanical), and they started making me roll outwards (and, accordingly, I learned to underpronate...). So I started wearing neutral shoes, the Brooks Glycerin (at that stage the lightest neutral trainer Brooks had in the country). I hated them - they were overbuilt (for a neutral shoes) and had a massive great big crash pad, which encouraged me to run with an exaggerated heel strike, which is all bad. I then tried the Riders, which were slightly lighter and with a lower profile, and loved them.

The Precisions aren't a racing flat (although if I weighed 15 kg more or so they'd probably serve that purpose), but a 'performance trainer', so I think I'll be able to do most of my training in them. And because I'm still building my running up (and making a real effort to have a light foot strike), I should be able to adjust to them.

And they look hot/fast, which is not unimportant (not as hot as the bright yellow version I'd have bought from Australia, but red is fast, so they'll do).

Here's hoping they work for me =)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Injury update

Quick update on the wound - it is healing, but slowly, and I still have to keep it covered.

No exercise last week, because it was still too painful. I will start going for easy mountain bike rides tonight (because road bike not fixed yet - waiting to hear from insurance company).

So I'll do some easy exercise this week, and aim to be back into it properly next week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I am sore - WARNING, GORY PHOTO (and a weekly wrap)

Saturday was supposed to be a 90 min ride. In stead, it was a 5 minute ride.

Was going around a sharpish corner at the bottom of a hill. It was a bit wet, I must have hit the paint on the centre line, and my wheels slid out from under me, and I skidded across the road into the verge.

I badly grazed me right hand side (in particular my thigh, which had a good chunk taken out of it, and a couple of actual wounds), broke my rear derailleur hanger, damaged the saddle, right shifter, maybe the pedal (not sure yet).


And now my inner thigh is getting sore???

So probably no swimming for a while, hopefully I can get back to gentle running/cycling relatively soon.

Otherwise, it was a good week!

* Monday: nice run - 30 mins, 5.49 km, 158 AHR;
* Tuesday: another nice (easy) run and easy swim (focused on drills) - 20 min run, 3.01 km, 144 AHR; and 1 hour swim, 1700 m (shoulder getting a bit sore though);
* Wednesday: 2 x commute (felt really good on way in, amazing what a difference not riding in sub zero temperatures makes) - way back is a gradual climb, hence will usually be slower: 56.49 mins, 26.63 km, 150 AHR; 1:01, 26.68 km, 148 AHR;
* Thursday: nice run - 20 mins, 3.52 km, 160 AHR (decided to move swim to weekend to swim with Kate - but for obvious reasons didn't happen).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weekly wrap

Last week I began my training in earnest, and it went reasonably well. And I feel so much better for the regular exercise!

Monday

Was supposed to be a 30 minute run - but it was Queen's birthday, and a lovely (if cold) day, so Kate and I rode to Titirangi and back, which was a blast, and helped me get my cycling mojo back.

1:27.23, 33.05 km, AHR 145.

Tuesday

Supposed to be a swim and 20 minute run - but because I was driving back to Hamilton on Tuesday morning, and didn't want to force things, I just did the swim. Nice and easy, lots of drills and balance exercises/kicking, just trying to ease the shoulder back into it (shoulder is still troubling me, and I still have quite a bit of rehab work to do).

1 hour, 1650 m.

Wednesday

Commute by bike day. Already covered - suffice to say the morning ride was COLD.

59.21, 26.61 km, AHR 152;
1:00:46, 26.32 km, AHR (oddly enough) 152.

Thursday

Again, supposed to swim and bike, but I was feeling a bit tired from the 2 hours' riding the day before, so moved the swim to Friday and did a good 20 min run (non stop!) only. Only problem with runs this short is that I'm only just starting to warm up properly after 15 mins, so moderating the HR is a bit difficult.

20:03, 3.51 km, AHR 162.

Friday

Another nice east swim after work. Shoulder a bit sore on Sunday/today, but that must have something to do with the weekend of mountain biking too.

1:00, 1700 m.

Saturday

A great day of mountain biking in Rotorua. Did about 1:30 worth of fairly easy stuff, helping Kate get comfortable on the trails again (she got comfortable heaps quicker than usual).

Later that day, climbed up Hill road (about 330 metres of elevation gain), and did Split Enz, perhaps the best piece of single track (apparently) in NZ. Awesome climb (hard, but I kept a fairly controlled HR) and even better descent. Kate did a lot of the trail (only second time for her on a grade three trail) - but we had to race back down via a gravel road, and arrived at holiday home in the dark!.

1:59:13, 23.27 km, AHR 132.

Sunday

MTB Skills Course - ran from 10:00 am until about 2:30 pm (scheduled to finish at four, but our group learned quickly). Then did about 45 mins of riding with Damian (Kate's sister's fiance). Probably only about 30 mins - 1 hour worth of exercise during the course.

Fantastic course - we fiddled with setup, learned how to balance properly on the bike, how to descend, go over ruts and steps, and corner. Awesome day, absolutely recommend for anyone wanting to get faster on the mountain bike.

So - all in all, a good week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cold. So very, very cold.

I rode in this morning. All in all it was fairly pleasant. But it was cold. I'm not sure what the temperature was in Cambridge overnight, but it was -4 degrees Celsius in Hamilton, and must have been something like that in Cambridge. Add to that the wind chill, and it was cold. So cold in fact that the top of my drink bottle kept freezing over.

Once I got myself sorted, I headed out at about 6:50 (so not that long before the sun came up). About 3 minutes in, a bolt came loose on my mountain bike light, so I lost one of the lights (not a problem this morning, but possibly more of a problem for the commute home, given it will be darker).

My fingers were cold before I even took off, and didn't get much better. I was wearing polyprop gloves under windproof gloves, but even that wasn't quite warm enough - so next on my shopping list are some hardcore winter gloves. About 30 mins in (after lots of finger wriggling) I started to get a bit of feeling back. My big toes also got cold, but only after about 30 mins (I was wearing Icebreaker tramping socks with windproof booties). Not sure what I can do to make that better (another pair of socks, perhaps - but then I don't know if I'll fit into my cycling shoes!).

So cold. But I enjoyed it. Oddly enough, my torso and head got quite warm (the torso perhaps too warm - maybe I was wearing too many layers...) It took me an hour to do the 26.6 km, so not too terrible given how hard I must have been working to keep my extremities warm. I probably pushed a little too hard, but I had to be in Court at 9:00, so didn't want to be too late.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm now officially training

I have a plan, and I'm relatively pain free, which is all pretty choice really.

I did and 1:35 ride with Kate on Sunday, although I really wasn't feeling it. (If you want the details - 1:34.25, 36.99 km, 133 AHR). We went out and rode from Maraetai towards Kawakawa bay and back (and Kate did an additional 30 mins).

We were going to go for an off-road run on Saturday, but I couldn't find any walking trails in the Woodhill Forest. We eventually did a 20 minute run at Muriwai Beach, which was frickin' freezing, because the southerly storm hit just as we got there (hence the 20 mins).

Yesterday was a cold but gorgeous day, and we rode to Titirangi and back (1:27.23, 33.03 km, 145 AHR). Awesome ride, I absolutely loved it, and I think I've gotten a bit of cycling mojo back. You essentially climb for 16.4 km, then descend back. We stopped at Hardware Cafe in Titirangi and had some awesome brioche, and rode home.

Today I'm back swimming (so hopefully my shoulder is ok). I'm also meant to do a 20 minute run, but because of Queen's birthday was driving back from Auckland this morning, so no chance of a double workout day.

Tomorrow I'm commuting from and to Cambridge (27 km each way) which will be a good use of time and a good way to build up some bike miles. Hopefully the weather's nice to me.

All in all, I'm looking forward to starting to build up a bit of fitness again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Winter/spring race plan (this has got me quite excited)

Kate's planned some races, so I probably should too. I have to start a bit later than her, and also really really really want to do a mountain bike duathlon. So, here's what I've got planned:

1. NDuro off-road duathlon, Rotorua, 12 July 2009, 10:00 am (but only if Paul thinks it's a good idea - might be a bit too soon, and I'm really not keen to injure myself!);
2. Okoroire Mid Winter Fun Ride, Tirau, Sunday 26 July 2009, 9:00 am;
3. Taupo Half Marathon, Taupo, Sunday 2 August 2009, 9:00 am;and
5. Auckland Half Marathon, Auckland, Sunday 1 November 2009, 6:45 am.

Also, I'm doing the Phundamentals MTB Skills Course, Rotorua, Sunday 7 June 2009, 10:00 am with my sister-in-law's fiance, Damian. Not a race, but it will be lots of fun, so thought I'd mention it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick update

For those that care (and I suspect that's a fairly limited readership...), I have been:
  • Riding occasionally, mostly an hour at a time on the trainer, with not too many problems; and
  • Running relatively often - I've been building it up slowly, run walking, and am now running for four minutes walking for 1. On the weekend I managed 30 mins on Saturday and the same on Sunday. Running poses no problems at all thus far, even downhills (which is helping my VMO kick in, it seems).
So, hopefully this keeps up, and I can start training properly in June. On 7 June I'm going to Rotorua to do the Mountain Bike Skills course, which should be lots of fun (and hopefully make me faster on the downhills).

Haven't been back swimming - there's a bit of rehab work still to do on my shoulder.

But (touch wood - yes, again) - I'll be relatively injury free soon enough!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More progress even (and a little geekiness for Mike)

Went for another 20 minute run on Tuesday - 2 minutes walking, 2 minutes running. My right knee a little sore, but not in the same way, more achey than anything else (so more typically patellofemorally).

Wednesday had another massage, which loosened things up a bit more (and he worked on my TFL, which was very tight and painful). The man really is a genius.

Thursday did a 45 minute ride on the trainer with no hassles. I'm going to do an hour on the trainer after work today, a 25 minute walk/run tomorrow, then an hour or so of Kate's Sunday ride.

And, I'm stretching my a** off (not literally, although there is lots of glute/piriformis stretching going on...).

Mike - because I owe you some geekiness - check out the SportTracks software, and what some of the plugins can do. Very, very cool (although a little complicated, given it's all open source designed). I can't get the GPSPower plugin to work properly (can't work out how to set up bike equipment on it) - but it does look cool - a poor man's power meter if you like (well, poor man's to the extent that I own a GPS watch, but not a power meter...).

Once I'm up and training, I'm very interested in getting either WKO+ or Raceday - both of which can take your GPS data, fix the elevation profile, then give you an equivalent 'flat' pace - so you can effectively compare how hard you worked on a hilly, and consequently slow, run.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some progress...

The massage appears to have helped (touch wood), so I am cautiously optimistic.

On Saturday I went for a 20 minute run walk (200 metres walking, 200 metres running) - no pain. Not much, but the last 20 minute run walk I did in early February hurt, so that's good.

On Sunday I did an hour of Kate's three hour ride. I was riding at a steady aerobic pace, on the flat, but no discernible pain (a little when I stood out of the saddle, but I can't expect perfection straight away!).

I'm going for another massage on Wednesday, to have another crack at any residual tightness, then I'll keep building up from there.

So - everyone send me your positive injury recovery vibes - June start here I come (once again, touch wood).

P.S. Kate is rocking the bike - she's looking heaps more comfortable and natural, which rocks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Best. Massage. Ever.

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Massage

I decided that I'd get a massage to help loosen up my legs and fix (*touch wood*) my shoulder, which is, unsurprisingly, also bothering me...

So I'm getting a 90 minute massage on Wednesday night. Oddly enough, it's at the women's health centre. My massage is right after Mahe Drysdale's (that famous female athlete).

The massage therapist is a guy called Stephen Burden, who's the masseuse for the NZ Rowing team, and also a Sports Science lecturer. I've worked out that a good way to find sports medicine providers is to search for accredited providers on the NZ Academy of Sport website.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Injury update

I decided that I should perhaps see a doctor about the knees (and I needed to see one anyway, to get a flu shot).

So I went and saw Mike Bowen - an NZ Academy of Sport accredited doctor who was previously the doctor for the NZ Rowing team, the Chiefs and has also worked with the All Blacks (and who has worked with cyclists).

He thinks my knee injury is not a tendon problem at all, but patellofemoral syndrome, caused by a slight biomechanical problem, with pain referring to the tendon/tibia intersection. He also said that the exercises I have been doing for the problem (lots of squats) will actually have been exacerbating it...

Oddly enough, this is the same problem I had at the start of last year and had to sort out before I could start training properly, albeit that the symptoms were different. In both cases I had a reasonable break from exercise - so, I'm starting to think that while I need an offseason, it cetainly shouldn't be too long.

So, touch wood he's right, because at least that explains why the pain ain't been going away. I also know what I need to do in terms of treatment.

Might be 6 to 8 weeks before it's sorted - in the meantime, lots of flat cycling, and maybe even run/walking. That means I'll aim for June to start training properly - plenty of time for Rotorua, and certainly plenty of time before nationals the following year.

Mike - I'll have the geekiness for you soon...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My maiden post (well, unless you count the guest spots I've had on Kate's blog...)

What should this post be dedicated to? Drills? HR data? GPS Data (now that is cool - but I think I'll save that for my next post. Which will be super mega geeky)?

Nope. Only one thing for it. Injuries.

I am often injured. And it doesn't even matter what type of sport I'm playing. If I play team sports, I get the sort of injuries that people playing team sports get. Endurance sport; yes, the types of injuries endurance sport type folk get.

Now, this is by no means exhaustive list (only ACC will know that - for those from overseas, NZ's no fault accident compensation scheme which provides cover for injuries caused by accident, but which means we can't sue anyone ever); but I've suffered from the following in the last 2 years:
  • Jumper's knee (while training for 'round Taupo);
  • Patellofemoral syndrome (mostly right knee, had to sort it out before I started training with Gene, my then coach, for the Rotorua Half IM last year);
  • Chondromalacia in the left knee, which led to me going and visiting John Sloane, a kick ass podiatrist/biomechanist in Wellington, which resolved that issue, but then caused;
  • ITBS, because it turns out I'm proprioceptive, rather than mechanical, and the usual treatment for supination (which caused the injury above) did not work (this one forced me to pull out of my only attempt at a half marathon);
  • Calf pull;
  • Strange big toe injury (still around since November last year - apparently only ballerinas get this injury...); and
  • Mystery tendon injury in both knees.
The most recent injury is the most frustrating, because unlike all of the others, it doesn't appear to have been caused by anything in particular. My right knee started hurting at the intersection point between the patella tendon and the tibia the day after my stag do. I figured (given we played ball rush) that it must have been caused by something silly. Or perhaps a bad fit on the new bike. Once I moved to Hamilton, I saw a physio (former NZ Olympic cycling team physio), said probably some sort of patella pathology, and that I should be able to ride. I went for a relatively easy 40 minute ride, and the next day, my left knee was sore in exactly the same place (from a 40 minute ride!!!). So, took more time off (I have run once this year, and ridden only a handful of times), got some acupuncture, and while they are getting better (right a lot better), the left is still quite sore.

I'm riding regularly (but easily and for a short period at a time) at the moment, and they seem to be getting better, but the right knee was hurt late January, and the left late February, and it is very frustrating. I got my bike fit looked at by Cyclenutnz (for those who visit Sportzhub, you'll know who I mean) and it seems to have made a significant improvement.

My biggest annoyance is that I'm still not sure what's wrong. It seems wholly unlikely that they are some form of tendinitis, given the limited riding involved; however, no one ever wants to tell me what might actually be the problem. A little web doctoring suggests maybe I've bruised the tibia at the intersection points, and that I just have to wait.

In the meantime, I'm swimming a reasonable amount, riding a bit now, and (touch wood) will be running shortly. I'm really looking forward to training again; I miss it, and I think that if I can get injury free, I can get reasonably quick. So I'm doing a lot of structural work - which is supposed to address the tendon injury - but even if it isn't, should help prevent future injuries. Then I'll ease myself into it. I have nothing planned until the Rotorua Half IM in mid December (when I'll be going sub 5), then the national Olympic distance champs in March 2010 (while it might be a stretch next year, a goal is to eventually qualify for the NZ age group team), so I have a lot of time.

That's it. Touch wood I have no need to mention injuries again (other than the obvious niggles that go with high volumes of training). Having said that, there's a number of sports doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, physios, massage therapists, acupuncturists and the like whose bank balances might not be so rosy without me.

Until next time (when I reveal my inner geek).