Tag Archives: love the rain

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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

Never try, never fail…

Training for a big event is a journey, and along the way we learn a lot about ourselves. This year I have got myself a coach, having coached myself for the past few years I felt I needed a bit of a push so that I had the best chance of achieving my goals. It has been interesting, and I have definitely been pushed harder than ever before, it has also made me aware that I don’t like to fail. I like to see progress and do sessions right. However although its great when we do those “hero workouts” and we feel like we have hit all the targets, that is only part of the story.

When training for a big event you will get tired and there will be days when you don’t hit the times, or goals that you want from that session, it doesn’t mean it was wasted. There are times when you need to recover, and times when you need to accept that you are tired and you didn’t do such a great job on that session, its ok. Part of training for something big is finding out where your limits are and pushing the boundaries, and if we do it in training it gets easier in races.

There is a great article by Siri Lindley about pushing her boundaries here. I’m not advocating no recovery or digging yourself into an overtrained hole, but being aware of the fact that you are not going to smash it every day, we are human and have stuff going on in our lives that affects our training, and as a coach I always make sure I look at the whole picture, to ensure that athletes feel positive about their training.

So sometimes we will fail in training and in races, its inevitable. There are many ways that we protect ourselves from failure, some examples are shown in this article. You may identify with some of these examples, and if you do, well done for recognising it. Recognising that you have a fear is the most important step, once you know about a fear you can do something about it. Another article here deals with strategies for coping with fear of failure, and gives advice for dealing with fears. If you can implement some of these ideas in to your life and training then you will reap the rewards!

Pembrokeshire Coast Path final stage

Day 18  Moylegrove to Poppit Sands

5.6 miles. Elevation gain 1227ft.

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The final stage seemed like a bit of a short run. The plan was, to all go up North (my mum, Patrick, the boys, and myself) and have Sunday lunch afterwards. We arrived at Moylegrove to heavy rain, but it soon cleared, and I checked out the oystercatchers in the bay. The terrain on this section was hard going, as it has been raining practically non stop, the path was very wet and slippery. My pace was the slowest so far on the first 3 miles, (there are also a lot of short but steep up and downs)

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After 3 miles it started to get a bit easier underfoot with some more rock rather than field on the path, and the terrain levelled out to a lovely path where I could see Cardigan bay ahead.

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A flat bit!!

After turning the corner, the path turned to road for the last 15 minutes. As I was running down the hill to Poppit Sands I saw a familiar figure, in a hat, running uphill, it was Carwyn Phillips, who organises The Preseli Beast we stopped for a chat,  and I have just discovered that he has run the path in just over 4 days!!

I arrived at the car park and got a picture of the coast path sign, then met my family, and a friend on the beach who told me that the end was in St Dogmaels (ARGHH!) and sure enough as I returned to the car park to get changed I saw the sign one and a third miles to St Dogmaels. I decided not to run there as everyone was on the beach and I was getting changed. I may do the run the other way round some day, then I can complete the whole path!

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My driver.

It is great to have this path on our doorstep, and I really enjoyed running it. My mum and I had fun driving around Pembrokeshire, and she enjoyed running parts of the path too. I know there are some other people running it at the moment I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Pembrokeshire Coast Path December

Day 14  Porthgain to Pwll Deri

11 miles. Elevation gain 1634ft.

Strava data

I had no lift today, as my mum was away, so Patrick came up with the idea of leaving my bike at the end of the run and then cycling back to the car. Having checked the forecast I thought I would give it a go, only 20mph winds for today rather than the 40-50 gusts that we have been used to.

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It was actually dry on the north coast when I got there, and I left my bike attached to some wooden railings at a viewpoint. The road was a single track dead end, so I figured it would be safe; however there is always a little bit of worry when leaving your bike chained up! I then drove to Porthgain and started the run. This is another unfamiliar part of the path, I spotted geese, and a sheep with its head stuck in the fence, which I tried unsuccessfully to free. I spoke to a couple of local dog walkers further down the track to let them know and if they knew the farmer to let him know. I really enjoyed the last bit of path from Abermawr to Pwll Deri, a bit like moorland, very rugged and lots of rocks. I arrived back at my bike, and bag which had drink and snack in and then cycled back to Porthgain into the headwind, feeling a bit tired after that one!

 

Day 15 Pwll Deri to Fishguard viewpoint

11.2 miles. Elevation gain 1444ft.

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This was a long one, the path is quite twisty with lots of little ups and downs. There was nowhere really that you could stride out and get into a rhythm, and I managed quite a spectacular fall, landing superman style in the mud, but no damage done, I stopped quite a few times for photos, and saw a load of seals relaxing on the beach.

I decided to meet my mum at the viewpoint outside Fishguard so I wouldn’t have to run up it at the start of the next section, however I wished I had asked her to meet me in Goodwick when I arrived there. Often seem to have that feeling! When I arrived back we stopped off for coffee in Fishguard and we discussed the next few sections. (There are only 3 more runs left and I was hoping to get it finished before the end of the year,) but after a few calculations realised that my mum would be away on the last run. She has done most of the driving to drop me off and pick me up at various points so she was quite keen to have a little celebration at the end of the challenge! So it looks like my last run will have to be after New Year, so we can celebrate together.

Day 16 Fishguard viewpoint to Newport.

11 miles. Elevation gain 1601ft.

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I mapped this run on Map my ride the night before and it came up as 9.8 miles so I was expecting a shorter run than last week, my mistake! It was 11 miles of slippery path with a couple of ankle deep bogs thrown in. Luckily it was pretty dry and not too windy, but by the end I was longing for a path with some friction. I finished running on the welcome gravel path from the Parrog up to Newport so I got my wish eventually. After meeting my mum in the car park we went for a coffee and toast at the newly opened VicNorth cafe, which was lovely.

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Day 17 Newport to Moylgrove

8 miles. Elevation gain 1375ft.

Strava data

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I ran this section on Christmas eve, the weather was windy and it was quite hard going. There were some really boggy sections again, and I caught the culprits trying to look cute around a gateway. There were about 8 ponies who had been churning up the path and making it difficult to run on!  When I mapped this run I had mapped it at 7 miles so when I got to 7 miles I was at an inlet and not sure if it was Moylgrove or not. I dithered a bit then carried on as I had thought the road would be more visible, luckily my senses were correct as I found Patrick and the boys at the next inlet a mile away. Next run is the last section which I have planned for January so we can all enjoy the occasion! Looking forward to it but also will be sad to have finished.

December creativity

The last 2 posts have been about staying consistent with your training and eating habits over Christmas. To be consistent sometimes you have to be a little bit creative with how you plan things. Its easy to have a plan and follow it when you are in your usual routine, but over Christmas your usual  routine goes out of the window for a while, so we have to let go of what we expect to do. It’s totally fine to do this, remember your family are your team, and if you work together then everyone can be happy and do what they need to do. If you need to prioritise time with your family that is a valuable thing, as they will support you when you need it. In this post I will give you some ideas for getting creative with your training. They are not new ideas and I’m sure that you have done similar things in the past. These are some of the things I have done so that I can train and still keep everyone happy!

Taking the boys to rugby while Patrick surfed, then cycling home. We both got our fix that day.

Getting up early and running, sometimes in the dark with a head torch.

Cycling to a friends house for a barbecue.

Getting dropped off and running to meet my family/friends.

Taking the kids to the pool and having a bit of a swim myself.

Doing turbo while the kids and I watch a DVD together.

 

There are many other ways to be creative with your training, I’d love to hear what you do, and remember you can shorten sessions if you need to. Its better to do little and often than to try catching up. Remember your reasons for training  and keep those priorities in mind. Wishing you all Merry Christmas and a great New Year.

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.