Tag Archives: Cycling

July (The road to Kona)

Before, and after a storm, comes calm. I have been preparing myself for the next storm at the end of the month, when Patrick is booked in for his operation. We have been here before though, and have support to get through, so we are feeling pretty positive about this next chapter.

The beginning of July saw us driving up to the Lake district for Patricks dads 70’th birthday. On the way we were passing the spot where I had left my water bottles from the 100mile TT, I asked Patrick if he thought they’d still be there. He thought they would be but I had my doubts, happily I was wrong! I was really excited about reclaiming my bottles. (its the little things)

IMG_0422

In the Lakes I just took my running kit, and was up at 7am to run both mornings. Its always great to run somewhere new, and do a bit of route finding, however on the second day I found myself quite high up, with just shorts and a running vest, thinking that I probably should have had some extra layers. Its easy to forget how exposed you can be in the mountains.

When we got back I continued with quite a heavy training block, still putting out some good numbers. Towards the middle of the month, I travelled up to Loughborough to visit my coach, and get a bit of swim input. We went out on the bike on the day I arrived, and Mark recorded and went through my swim stroke, correcting a few faults in the afternoon/evening, and then continued in to the next day. It was good to have some time away and focus on myself for a few days. I saw some definite improvements in my swim stroke after spending a couple of days swimming and revising drills.

Screenshot 2017-07-20 15.34.00

When I got back to Pembrokeshire, I needed to start a bit of heat prep to find out how I coped. This involved making the bathroom hot and steamy, then setting up the turbo in there, to do some bike sessions. The first session was on a beautiful sunny day, which made me wonder what the hell I was doing! The 2nd session was horrible, 5 lots of 8 minute efforts at FTP building each set, which needless to say, DID NOT HAPPEN!! The 3rd session felt a little easier, probably because it was, and I ended up faffing around with my garmin for half an hour, as it decided to crash, just as I got on the turbo to do the session, which meant that the bathroom lost a bit of heat! This was all done in-between ferrying children to various birthday parties.

The last Saturday in July was The Wales Triathlon (race report here), a good test of where I was physically before Patricks operation on the Monday.

May and June (The road to Kona)

I have combined May and June, because such lot has happened, in these last 2 months at home. At times it has been very stressful and sad, but I’m hoping that we are through the worst of it now.

The month started with an easy week leading in to Llanelli Half marathon. I was planning on doing a local 10km race, but the date was changed to the week after, so I checked to find another local-(ish) race and found Llanelli. I checked with Patrick to see if I could go, and with my coach, they both said yes, so early on Sunday morning I found myself driving to Llanelli. I was feeling pretty fresh,¬†so hoping to go under 1:30, which was a goal last year at the Cardiff half. I didn’t manage it, I’ll blame the weather! The field was quite small and as I set off there was only one woman in front of me, so I stayed ¬†within around 10 meters behind. When I got to around 10 miles I thought I would have to make a move now or not at all, so I started to speed up to catch her. I remembered to put some pace in, as I passed, and hold on to the pace, so that I could open up a good gap, ¬†I managed to get a fairly good lead. The last few miles were painful (I kept reminding myself it was only 5k!) but I held on to 1st place and went under 1:30 which I was very happy about.

http://labs.strava.com/flyby/viewer/#974748980?c=gcjjbj8g&z=E&t=1P3jG6&a=NH0ZOoyrMTo

The week after, it was back to it, after a couple of easier days. Patrick had a hospital appointment on the Wednesday so I rode out to meet him at Glangwili. When we finally got in we asked our prepared list of questions, and then the consultant dropped the bombshell, that they had found cancer cells in one of the samples that had been sent off, after Patricks prostate operation in February.

We were pretty shocked and didn’t really ask the questions that we wanted to ask, and were sent away with a leaflet and a phone number. Patrick was put on the list for an MRI scan, and given another appointment with the consultant. Since then we have done a lot of reading, and are hoping for the best (that the cancer is localised and has not spread anywhere else.) Obviously there has been a lot of stress and upset associated with the information that we were given. Until Patrick has had the results of the scan we don’t really know what the future holds. I went in to some training sessions wondering what the hell I was doing, but training has also been a way to forget everything, and focus on something else for a while.

As far as training has been going, I have continued improving and breaking PB’s, but it all feels a bit empty at the moment, until we have some more information I suppose it will be like that, and I’m just going through the motions. It didn’t help that we all got ill at the end of the month, and Patrick came down with a kidney infection. Hopefully next month things should become a bit clearer.

June

June started, with a race. The Deva Middle distance Triathlon. You can read the race report here. It was touch and go as to whether I would race or not, as the week leading in was so stressful. Patrick had a kidney infection on Tuesday and was very ill with a high temperature in bed for 2 days. This was during half term, so the kids were off school and everything was a bit harder. Thankfully my mum lives down the road, and has been very supportive, so I could carry on with my planned training, which was a bit lighter anyway. I spent quite a bit of time crying and feeling pretty low during the week.

The week after Deva, Patrick had an MRI scan, followed by an appointment with the urology consultant in Glangwili. We were told that the cancer was T2, and his PSA scores are low which means that it is a low risk prostate cancer. This was a big relief for us. The week after, we had an appointment with a consultant in Cardiff, to discuss this, and a possible operation on Patricks bladder, which may mean that he can stop having to self catheterise. The consultant confirmed our thoughts about the prostate cancer, which is that the cancer cells were found by chance, and that they are no immediate risk, so Patrick has opted for¬†active surveillance.¬†However he will be having abdominal surgery for his bladder problems at the end of July which means that he can’t drive for 4 weeks during the school holidays! Its good to have some positive things happening though and I hope that the operation improves his quality of life. Its been pretty hard for the past few years.

After a couple of easy weeks I travelled up to Llanwrda for the West Wales Cyclists league 100 mile TT. It was looking to be a hot day, so the night before I made up 5 bottles of Skratch labs hydration and put them in the fridge. In the morning I dropped them off in a lay-by near Llandovery for pick up later. After about 10 miles I was already in pain from saddle pressure, which wasn’t a good sign, and for the rest of the ride I was shifting about trying to find a comfortable spot (there wasn’t one!) I pushed fairly hard up to Brecon, then there was a bit more ascending before some great downhill into Llandovery, where I tried to keep up power, but not too much! From Llandovery I know the course, and this was the bit I was dreading, the road surface is horrible in places, and I kept having to lift myself off my saddle to relieve the pain, my head was in bits really, not giving myself very positive self talk! And I just rode it out as best I could to the finish. I came in in a pretty decent time of 4:48:59 and picked up 2nd female. My ¬£20 cash prize was quickly spent on new water bottles, as I left my spares in the lay-by, oops!

Screenshot 2017-06-28 11.36.56

The week after was an easier week, and we had another appointment with another consultant in Swansea, cue, waiting for 2 hours in hospital to be told what we already knew. It was good to go though, as we have more confirmation that we are making the right descision for Patrick.

So next month is the last month before the school holidays, with only 15 weeks until Kona, I’m looking forward to getting a good block of training in.

 

April (The road to Kona)

April started with an FTP test, and a park run in the first week, double fun! and then the Easter holidays started.

My FTP on test day was lower than I thought it should be, but I was feeling a little down on that morning. I redeemed myself, with a  20 minute best power, the week after, at the Redberth 10 mile TT, organised by Milford Tritons. At the weekend I did Colby park run and had a PB, so everything seemed to be going pretty well.

Screenshot 2017-05-02 16.13.56

On the first Sunday of the holidays we travelled over to Northern Ireland to visit my grandad again. We stayed in Coleraine, and luckily there was a pool near the hotel so I was up early both days for a swim. I enjoy visiting different pools¬†as they all have different atmosphere’s! I emailed before we went, to check if I could use fins etc, but they said no. I arrived the first morning for the hour long lane swimming session, and there was a queue of people waiting and only 2 lanes. The rest of the pool was open with people swimming lengths. I decided to go in the lane that looked faster, but it had 4 people in it already, and I was catching one of them up every 50m, so I decided to move into the open part of the pool, and managed to finish my set next to the wall.

The next day I was politely asked if I wanted to join in with the tri club who were using the lane. I finished the set against the wall again! I was too tired and ran out of time to run in the afternoon, as we were spending time with my grandad, which was lovely, and Northern Ireland was a great place to visit with the kids.

When we got back to Pembrokeshire I still had quite heavy training weeks,¬†we¬†managed to plan things to fit in with family time, and what I needed to do. Holidays are difficult because I want to spend time with everyone, but also want to do my training. I don’t get the balance right, but I know that this is a temporary state to be in, so everyone pulls together and I had a great block of training where I felt like I was making really good progress. Patrick took the boys away camping for 1 night so I could do a long ride and so that he could see his brother.

IMG_0276

My last session before going away, and a recovery week.

At the end of the month, (bank holiday weekend) Patrick and I went away for a much needed break to Liverpool, which I had booked as a Christmas present. It was good to get away for a couple of days and we did a lot of talking which we don’t get the opportunity to do with kids around! On the way up we drove past Chester which is where my first race of the season will be. We drove over the river Dee which I will be swimming in, in a few weeks time!¬†We came back refreshed and ready for the next training block.

Change, nobody said it was easy

I was in the pool today and I overheard 2 people having a conversation about somebody who they had been out on a ride with. I didn’t catch the whole of the conversation but I got the gist of it, which was as follows; The person they were riding with was trying to follow a set session and the person that they were riding with wasn’t happy about it. They just wanted to ride as they always did.¬†As I was leaving, I started to think about why this person was unhappy or berating the other person, and it comes down to one thing, change, or fear of change.
When you hire a coach or follow a training plan you are taking the first step towards making a change. You are committing to becoming faster, and fitter, and this can scare people as it can make them look at themselves and start asking questions.

change-management-300x200
One of the hardest things about making a change is making your environment fit that change. For example you will find it hard to eat more healthily if your cupboard is full of unhealthy food, and you will find it hard to cut back on drinking if you have a routine of going to the pub every night and drinking with your friends. You either need to replace the habit with another (better habit) or ditch the habit altogether.
The same goes for your training. If you really want to get faster and fitter then you need to follow a plan. You can’t expect to improve, by doing the same as you have always done, which brings me back to the group ride being discussed at the pool.
Group training sessions have their place, and can be incorporated into your training, especially if they are progressive and aimed at the event that you are training for. But often they are not and this is when you may need to do something different.

As far as group rides go, if you were a pure cyclist they would be a lot more useful, as you would need to ride in a group, but as a triathlete you should be aiming to sustain power without drafting, which is difficult to do in a group setting. You can try to follow a planned session but in my experience you don’t get the quality that you do when you are on your own or with someone who is a similar ability to you.

78106_dra15_wjc_007777

As I said earlier to make a change you need to change your environment and this may mean ditching some of your group sessions, especially if the group is not supportive of your training goals. Its not easy, and thats why not everyone is willing to do it. You can carry on “just getting it done” as my friend at the pool advocated or you can focus on being the best that you can be, at the end of the day its your choice.

December flexibilty

I’m not talking about the flexibility that you get from stretching, (although that is always a useful thing to have!) I’m talking about being flexible and creative with your training.

Depending on when your priority event is, you will probably need, and want to train during the Christmas period.

 

However you will (probably!) also want to spend time with your family and friends. The trick is to get the balance right. Remember it is your Christmas holiday too and you can choose how much pressure to put yourself under, keep the day low key if you want less stress, and enjoy getting out and about when its quiet.

If you need/want to get out for a run for half an hour it doesn’t really have much impact on anyone else, so keep it consistent, its better to do a little something each day than to try and catch up on training after Christmas. You will probably be in a better mood too after your endorphin fix and have more energy for everyone around you.

The next post will be about creative training, and how to think outside the box when trying to fit training in over the holidays.

4 up TT and The Titan Triathlon

On Thursday it was the Port Talbot Wheelers¬†4 up time trial, our team only started with 3 so we had less of a break from riding on the front, but it was a similar¬†team to¬†last year, Mel, Kirsty, and myself. Lats year we had Clair, this year we were meant to have Karina, but she couldn’t make it. We arrived and unpacked, I think we were all a bit nervous and Mel nearly started riding with a piece of insulating foam attached to her bike, then as we were practising we were turning right and slowed down, and Kirsty, who was behind me on her TT bars came off and got some nasty road rash and swellings! Not the best start, and we were a bit twitchy on the first section of the course. We soon settled in though and seemed to work really well together, we were only a few seconds off last years time (with fewer riders) and came second female team, so won ¬£80 between us ūüôā Results are¬†here

Photo courtesy of Il Mio photography

Photo courtesy of Il Mio photography

The weekend saw us camping at¬†Parc Bryn Bach¬†so that I could compete in the¬†Titan Triathlon. The week before the race I didn’t run at all as my knee had been hurting and locking up after¬†running for more than¬†40 minutes, so I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete the run anyway.

My diary entry

My diary entry

As it happens I had a mechanical on the bike which took the decision away from me to a certain extent, (its funny how these things happen) You can read my race report¬†here. Things didn’t go to plan but my plan was not really fixed as I was unsure about my knee. I always think there is a reason that these things happen, so I’m thankful that I didn’t complete the run, it could have been a lot worse! Anyway we had a lovely weekend away and ended up climbing spiral staircases in a castle after the race, (this seems to happen frequently, Caernarfon,¬†Dinefwr, and now Caerphilly!) Then the next day we walked up a 500m peak with the boys, and picked bilberries. (not enough recovery for me!)

Tasty pickings!

Tasty pickings!

The highlight of the walk was at the top when Devon found a sock, and announced this to the people who arrived at the top just after us. They didn’t seem too impressed, so he shouted “I bet you won’t find a sock”! We giggled just a little bit ūüėČ

Dragon, and yin.

A bit like Yin and Yang. Its really important to balance your training. As triathletes we are used to pushing ourselves and using yang (masculine energy) but we often overlook the other side of yin (feminine energy) recovering and nurturing ourselves. Recently I¬†have read 2 articles explaining the benefits of stretching and prolonged stretching for injury prevention so I decided to make a video of relaxing stretches that you can do before bed. The first article is about fascia, which is connective tissue in your body. It covers all of our internal parts, and basically holds us together. If you do repetitive exercise/sit at a desk for prolonged periods, your fascia forms adhesions which can limit movement. It does this in order to prevent injury.¬†To look after your fascia you need to stretch, keep hydrated, relax, and massage. (all yin energies). You can read more about fascinating fascia here! The other article I read, was about yin yoga. If you haven’t heard of it, its pretty fashionable right now, and is also used as a balance to those hard and strenuous yoga poses that some people do. Each pose is held for 3-5 mins. It is really interesting to do, as you relax into the pose lots of feelings come up, and part of the yoga is how you respond to those feelings, read more about yin yoga¬†here. So my Yin and Yang videos are below, I hope you enjoy them, and a report from The Dragon ride is here