Monday, 30 May 2011

Week 21 in review

Less than 10 weeks to go, into the peak training phase, crazy.

The week started out tough with a bad stomach on Tuesday but improved from there.  Effort and performance was better through the rest of the week including a 3500m test swim on Friday which I finished in 63mins.  Not bad, needs some improvement, but a good indication that I'm not too far from where I want to be.

Still windy in London, which made for another hard cycling weekend, but this time I was in a better frame of mind.  Neither Saturday or Sunday were a struggle to finish, I felt strong and saw the wind as a new training partner pushing me that much harder.  Like everything else in life, this wind is relative and with the right mental attitude can be turned positive.

Met with Freddy, body comp a bit improved, fat % just below 7%, with no push to go any lower.  If it happens it happens, the important thing is not to lose any weight from here (still fluctuating between 60-62kg depending on hydration and eating).

New favorite weekend snack, smoked salmon and cream cheese.  100g salmon, about 100g full fat cream cheese, 420 calories/ minimal carb/ 30g protein/ 33g fat


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tri 4 Japan

Mike and Reiko Trees whose lives revolve around sport and Mike having won the Kamaishi triathlon 5 times, started Tri4Japan (UK Commission Charity) shortly after the March disaster.

Their goal is to raise as much money as possible by September to help those affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  Donations are being raised through several methods, one of which is t-shirt sale, minimum £10 donation.

For more info, check their website:



Saturday, 28 May 2011

It's been a while: Last week in review

A tough couple of days.

Friday, May 20 - light headed, dizzy, confused stomach
Morning swim was fine, day was good, evening run not good.  Out of the office at a decent time, I was on the Thames path by 5.30.  But shortly after hitting the trail, my head went light with some dizzy spells and stomach felt completely empty but not hungry.  So, I pushed on at a slow pace.  Tough, but I eventually reached 60min and attempted a 10min hard effort.  A weak performance but given the situation, I couldn't be too upset.

I decided to skip core and weights and meet friends for a pint.  Quick shower and post work-out feeding and feeling better.  Rushed to the pub and got myself a Guinness, ahhhh!  30mins later, 3/4 of a pint down, I was standing and chatting and a quick dizzy spell hit me.  Wobbly, but not enough for anyone to notice, I placed the pint on the table and decided that was my sign to go.

Headed home for dinner with Natsuko, but that wasn't enough.  10pm came around and I felt starving.  Within 10mins I had downed over 500 calories of fruit and bread (heavy bread, my comfort food), and it hit me, my first binge of training.  Even this didn't satisfy my hunger, but I could see where this was going, so bed seemed a better idea than 1000 or more unnecessary calories.

Saturday, May 21 - feeling weak
Up for standard 6am start but couldn't get out of bed.  Feeling weak and generally not up for exercise, I laid back down.  90mins later, I realized it was too late to get in the full 5hr session and then spend time with Natsuko (it being her birthday), so I decided to switch Sat and Sun, 3hr session today and 5hr session tomorrow.  Forced myself from bed, out on the bike, easy 100RPM cycle, shook out the cob webs and feeling better.  Run was ok, just happy I got it all in and had time for afternoon picnic in Haggerston Park before heading to Viajante for her b-day dinner.

Sunday, May 22 - wind, wind, wind
Up at a decent time on Sunday, out for 4hr bike and 45min run but mother nature had a different idea.  As I set out down Kingsland Road, she seemed determined to stop me in my place, but I pushed on.  Reaching Richmond Park and hoping for some respite from this relentless foe, I quickly found the open park was a breeding ground for today's wind.  There was one point that a strong gust of wind dropped rpm's from 92 to 84 without warning and without any change in gear, the strain in my legs seemed to double instantly.  Mentally this was tough, 4hrs straining through the weakest gears, the whole time feeling my effort was completely inadequate.

Finally finished and exhausted.  This 4hr 45min felt twice the effort of the one a few weeks ago, and I almost immediately headed for a nap.  Two hours later, I emerged in a good mood but still feeling the effects of the wind (which mentally extended into Monday when I woke up groggy and spent the day internally debating my effort levels).

Tuesday, May 24 - stomach
By Tuesday morning, I had convinced myself ironman is still a great idea, and I've put in a good effort sticking to the program so far.  This mood carried me through a productive work day into the evening run.

75min with 3x6min sprint efforts, two and a half sprints down when my stomach went sour.  Stopped in my tracks, literally, I found the closest pub and slipped through the crowd to the bathroom.  Later emerging and straight back into the run, 5mins went by before it went off again.  I pushed through the on/ off pain for 30mins before reaching the gym again.  With the pain coming and going and spreading to my head, this was enough of a sign to throw in the towel on the core and weights session and head home.  Still feeling ill, Natsuko fixed up Japanese rice porridge (their version of chicken soup) and in bed before 10am.

The rice porridge must have worked because I woke up at 5am feeling ready for some training!  Unfortunately the gym doesn't open until 6, so back to bed for a bit.

While the experience wasn't enjoyable, these few days are all part of the learning process because in a race of 10hrs+, there will be some points where the next stroke, pedal or stride is too difficult and finishing seems an impossibility.  But having conquered these obstacles now will provide the attitude to carry through on race day.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Yes, that's how I feel (and it's everything I hoped for!).

Morning swim was challenging, lats were exhausted and this was the first session beyond 3000m, so I assumed it was the extra distance.

Later came the evening run, and from the first steps I could feel the effects of Sunday's race.  I never thought a super sprint would have such lasting impact.  15min in, legs were as loose as they were going to get, so let the sprints begin.  4x4.5min sprint with 1.5min jog in between.  Given my muscles felt heavy, I thought it would be a good idea to push harder than any previous session.  Off I went, full effort, dodging tourists and school groups meandering along the Thames.  After two sprints, that feeling began to creep into my stomach and throat.  You know, when you work so hard your stomach gets pissed, throws a tantrum and out comes breakfast and lunch.  On I went, thinking this is the best session of my 20 weeks, the only thing that would make it better is the undeniable proof of my extreme effort as evidenced by what I might leave in the closest rubbish bin I could find.

I tried and tried, pushed harder than ever, finished the 4th sprint, pain but held myself together.  A bit let down but happy with the effort, I finished the 60min on the doorstep of the gym for follow-on core and weights.

There is no better feeling than exhaustion screaming from every fiber of your body.  It's proof training was good today and you know tomorrow you'll wake up stronger physically and mentally because of it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Wow, 20 strong

Week 20 started well.  30min morning stretch, 45min post-work stretch and 15min in the sauna and I'm going to need it.  16hrs of SBR this week breaks down as follows:

Tuesday - Swim 3400m, Run 60min w/ 4x4.5min hard effort plus core and upper body weight

Wednesday - Bike 45min transition to Run 30min (missing yoga for a work commitment)

Thursday - Swim 3500m, Bike 90min w/ 8x4min hard effort

Friday - Swim 3400m, Run 75min w/ 1x10min hard effort plus core and legs

Saturday - Bike 240min transition to Run 45min

Sunday - Bike 75min high RPM transition to Run 120min

Going to be a good week, seems the real training begins tomorrow!

1:03:46 - Eton Super Sprint

Swim 400m - 5:24
T1 - 1:33
Bike 20km - 36:26
T2 - 1:19
Run 5km - 19:03

Over the Weekend
Under 30: 8 out of 74
Overall: 59 out of 1,517 finishers

Not quite there, but a good showing.  I'm happy with the race and of course, plenty of takeaways to work on.

The story begins on Saturday evening when I took the bike outside for a scrub down.  Half-way through de-greasing the chain, I ran out of de-greaser.  'No big deal, it's just a training race, bike does not have to be tip-top.'  Removed the wheels, wet the bike and spray on the cleaner.  A few minutes to reflect on Sunday's race, then back to the bike.  Wash off the suds, toothbrush scrub to the grimy bits, wipe it down and wheels back on... 'F&@%!' Axle snapped!  Worried for tomorrow's race? No, I was in too much shock and disbelief at what just happened to think that far in advance.  I mean, my lack of force usually gives me problems locking the axle back in place, and I know I've been consuming lots of whey, but this was just ridiculous.

After the initial shock wore off, yes, anxiety and panic struck: 'Is Cycle Surgery still open at this time?  Maybe Evan's?  They usually close at the same time.  But how would I get the bike down there, walk it down?  That'll take forever.  Maybe I can borrow a bike from a friend?  Alan is out of town, who's next?  No one with clip pedals, what's the point if I can't compete well?  Ok, breath deep, start time is 3.30 in the afternoon, let's head upstairs, relax a bit and worse comes to worst, I can sort it out tomorrow before catching the train.'  The last thought, the most rational, was great because as soon as I got upstairs, I realized there's an extra axle from the turbo trainer, problem solved.

Saturday night was quiet, hanging with Natsuko and in bed before 10.  Sunday morning lie-in, brilliant.  Up just before 8, hung around the flat, sorted out racing kit, some lunch and on the bike to Waterloo for the train to Windsor.

Hour on the train, 20mins on the bike and I arrived at Eton Rowing Lake.  Cloudy, but no rain, good enough for me.  Registration, a bit of time watching prior waves go through their race and finally time to prepare.  Tri-suit, belt with number, racing chip, wet suit, bike racked and set to an easy gear, cycle shoes open, cycle drink ready, run shoes open and run drink in a light, easy to carry bottle, check.

In to the water early, cold, 16C, but not too bad once I got a warm-up going.  The starter called for our attention and quickly directed it to the one guy still standing on the ramp waiting to get in the water.  He had no wet suit.  The lone wolf, crazy and scared, the crowd of wading red caps shouted words of encouragement, or were they jeers?  Either way, he finally got in and the look on his face was priceless, like a punch to the gut from one of the Klitschkos, he just didn't know how to react.  Eventually we re-focused on the race, listened to the race explanation and BANG, we're off.

Typically I shy toward the outside to avoid the crowd and work my to the inside as the number of people up front thins out.  Not this time.  I found myself in an awkward spot, the center of all the action, as we were about to take-off, and I had no time to cower to my normal spot.  So, I sucked it up and swam the first 50m in white water of feet and hands.  By the time we hit 150m, one guy had broken away, 10secs ahead of me and I was alone as number 2.  We finished in the same positions, he pulled further ahead and no one had caught me.

Out of the water second, I saw the first place guy take off from T1 and wouldn't see him again.  Shortly into the first of four bike laps, I was passed, 'uuuhhhh, will my bike ever improve?'  Just above 8min for the first lap, 'not bad, at this pace, I'll be below the 35min target.'  Second lap, the wind was a real smack in the face.  Not sure how I failed to recognize it the first time round, but it felt as though my legs were stuck.  Two more went past, I'm in 5th.  Second half of lap two, with the wind no longer a factor, I caught fourth and was feeling good.  No sooner did the wind pick up again as two more people went past, 6th.  Tried to stay with them but couldn't.  I was tough on myself, won't get into it here, but some choice words were had between my ego and legs.  With a lap and a half to go, the plan was to keep 3rd through 6th in my sight and give them a run like they've never seen.  One last time into the wind, and I fell yet further behind before coming back in the final stretch to match 5th as we dismounted our bikes.

Rack the bike, off with the cycle shoes, runners on (as I slipped these on, took notice of a lonely pair of firey red runners in the next position, 'try and catch me, I dare you' went through my head), lose the helmet grab the drink and my favorite part of tri, running hard off the bike.  Within the first km, I ran myself to 4th and with a most annoying noise in my ears, spent the next 3km wondering if I could meet the 1.03 target and where I sat in the wave.  It came clear as I hit the 1km to go mark, passed 3rd and saw on my watch that 1.03 wasn't going to happen, but sub 1.04 was still on the cards.  A bit more leg speed, I was exhausted in pain but feeling happy with the effort.  200m from the finish, guess who went blazing by?  Those same red running shoes I prodded just 18min earlier.  He was flying, I had no chance.

Across the line, huffing, puffing, maybe sick, maybe not, "What's your number?" 'Huh?' "Um, 55," I replied.  "Oh, your 4th, he just pipped you for 3rd," said clipboard lady before turning to Mr. red shoes to gather his information as the 3rd place finisher.  'Wait a minute, huh?  Pipped?  Was she serious?'  I said nothing and walked to an open patch of grass to pace, gather my breath and thoughts and reflect on the race.  But, the only think I could think about was this lady, "Pipped?  Really?'  I'm not often mad, and in my four plus years in London, I've never once been annoyed by the subtle differences in English vs. American terminology, but this time was different.  'Ahhhhh, what a comment.'  After a few minutes, I gathered myself and as usual, turned my frustration with her on myself, 'Well, had you not blown the last 200m, she never would have been in a position to make the comment,' good point.  That I could accept, and it was time to move on.

We were the last race of the day, so had to gather my stuff quickly as the organizers tore down the transition area.  Short ride back to the train station, hour on the train, 20min bike to the flat, drop my stuff, change into proper cycling gear and back out the door on my trusty steed.  Yes, 2hr cool down on the bike, but I figured with all the riding to and from train stations, I'd complete the day with an hour ride to relax.  Wow, was it worth it, legs feeling much more 'clear' now than when I first arrived home.

- transitions were quick, much better than previous races at this venue
- swam well, just better than expected

Takeaways/ Improvements
- BIKE!  While it was decent, I need more power, plan for this off-season: hills, hills and more hills
- run, hit the gas harder in interval sessions, those red shoes will be a great motivator for years to come

Sorry for the text overload (not sure which was more tiring, the race or writing this post!), pics to be added once available.

Great Sunday, looking forward to tomorrow morning's stretch and the week ahead.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What a week!

Getting my life back.  Work has eased back to 9-10hrs a day and less stressful  which made this week brilliant: 6-7hrs sleep every night, felt awake for morning swims, made it back to the massage therapist for the first time in 10wks and even had time for two trips to the sauna!

Feeling re-energized and ready to take on the last 11 weeks of training.

But first, Eton Super Sprint, goal time:

Swim 400m - 5:30
T1 - 2:30
Bike 20km - 35:00
T2 - 1:30
Run 5km - 18:30

Based on last year's result, this would put me top 10 for under 30's and top 50 overall.  Bold, but hey, why not go for it.

Will let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Officially: I hate it

Marmite (or Vegemite in Aus).  The spread with the "either you love it or hate it" slogan.  I thought I was in the dismissed percentage of the population that is indifferent to the taste.  How wrong I was.  I added it to my protein packed weekend last Saturday and could barely stomach it.

It's a shame because Marmite is such a good source of protein, vitamin B (important for cell metabolism, B12 for formation of blood, fatty acid synthesis, energy production) and low in fat.

I won't give up though.  I've tried a pita, mozzarella and marmite sandwich and no good.  Next up ideas from their website, but if you have any special recipes, I'd be grateful if you could share in the comments section at the bottom of this post.


Monday, 9 May 2011

Week 19

Good training on Sunday, relaxed afternoon and feeling positive for the week ahead.

Reduced work this week given my first training race on Sunday.
Swim - 3 sessions, one 3000m and two easy 30min swims
Bike - total 4hrs including 2hr easy ride Sunday evening after the race
Run - 150mins mix of sprints and Z2 effort
Race - Eton Super-Sprint, swim 400m, cycle 20km, run 5km

I still have to determine a goal time and will post before Sunday (keeps me honest!).

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Trough

Returned from Valencia mid-day on Tuesday and was planning to swim then run then relax.  But work had a different idea.  Thought we were past blogging about work? Uh, no.  Ended up working most of Tuesday afternoon into the evening and missed Tuesday's training, not happy about it.

Wednesday working until midnight, Thursday until 2.30am and Friday until 8.30.  I made the bike/ run on Wed and swim and bike on Thur but missed the swim and half the run on Fri, not a great way to come back to training after lazy-ing my way through the long weekend.

Woke up Saturday in a poor mood and to top it off, for the first Saturday morning in at least 3 months, it was raining.  Supposing I need some practice in the rain, I set-off on the mentality that I'd do the 4hrs but probably not push much.

'By the end of this, the sun will be out and your foul mood will pass.'  This rang through my head as I pedalled along the Thames.  Reached Richmond in a standard time, about 45mins, despite lacking effort, lifted my spirits a bit.

On the first lap, I recognized a fellow cyclist from the gym.  We struck up a conversation which was quite refreshing.  He's from US, also training for triathlon and his weak link is also the bike.  We chatted for a good 30mins before parting and without realizing it, my mental state had lifted, and I was cycling at a decent pace, 22min laps.  One more time around and I bumped into Alan, what a surprise!  Another distraction from my negative thoughts.  By the time we were done catching up, I was just over 3hrs, in good spirits and the clouds were parting (training cures all!).

As I exited the park for home, I could feel my legs were exhausted, done, fin.  They managed to get me home, slip into my runners and jell-o'ed their way out the door.  45min run made the total session 4hr 45mins, my longest single day so far.  I focused on short, quick strides (as recommended in the recent issue of Triathlon Plus) and managed a good pace nearly clearing 10km.

In summary, the week was terrible, 12hrs of sleep, too much work and not enough training.  How to get out of that slump?  Nearly 5hr session covering 125km (78mi) in total, a long stretch and relaxing evening at home.  Positive outlook is back and ready for the next session.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Peak

VALENCIA!  Long weekend with Natsuko: beach, parks, paella, tapas, churros and of course, running.

Parque de la Turia, old river bed converted into
a park running through the center of Valencia,
trails for 20+ km

well-groomed routes

and a bit off-road

Valencia's bike system, the closest I came to cycle training

Penguins at the aquarium, closest I came to swim training

Great trip.  Got all my cycle and one swim session early in the week before leaving for Spain and did all the running in El Parque de la Turia, brilliant trails.  Back pain came back!?!  But chatted with the pharmacist, she gave me some gel and it worked, two days and the pain was gone, PHEWWW!

Came back feeling a bit lazy after over-eating and missing two swim sessions but sometimes a bit of a break is good.