Friday, 8 June 2018

Riding Three Counties and Starlight Swimming

After writing about struggling so much with my positive mental attitude last time, I'm happy to say that I'm in a much better place now. There have been a few things that have been instrumental in this change...

I was still suffering with my outlook up until Wednesday last week, when I met Cathy for lunch and a catch up. No matter what's going on in her life, she always seems to have something encouraging to say to me; I'm lucky to have people like that in my life. She also has very good ideas that really I should have thought myself but sometimes I just can't see the wood for the trees. Boredom has been a big limiting factor recently so Cathy suggested that it might be worth the effort to travel to somewhere different for some of my runs and rides. A change is as good as a rest, so they say and this proved to be excellent advice. That very day I drove to Thames Valley Park to run 5k along the canal and felt all the better for it. I have also run around the lake we swim at and returned to Bracknell parkrun for the first time in ages. It beats running around the roads of Crowthorne!
That Wednesday also featured my final appointment with my osteopath before Lakesman. We talked about the emotions I'd been feeling as physically I've been doing quite well. Some time was spent releasing my neck and shoulders, she did some cranial work and stuck needles in my shoulder again. She also suggested that I try and find time for some mindfulness or meditation, something I've done in the past but hadn't occurred to me to do recently. So I've re-subscribed to Headspace and have been working through their "motivation" pack. I've also been writing down my race strategy, my motivations and packing lists, all of which have helped me to focus and feel calmer.
All the big training sessions are now firmly ticked off! If you read my last blog you'll remember I wrote about my failed 100 mile attempt and how I was planning another attempt at the 3 Counties Cycle Ride... well I did it! Dean and I set out on Sunday morning, loaded with peanut M&M's and flapjack, to cycle to Garth College in Bracknell to ride the 54 mile loop of the event. It's a low key affair run by the Rotary Club but is always popular and well spoken of. I'd not ridden it before but had been keen to so it was a happy coincidence that it fitted with plans this year. It was a beautiful day, we saw lots of our club mates and friends there and rather enjoyed the route. Although there were some hills, it was nothing like the sportive I'd attempted the week before! All marshals on the route were great and the water stations well placed and stocked.

When we arrived back at the start we were given medals, a certificate, water and a mars bar. I spoke to the organiser to check when they would be packing up, letting slip that we were heading back out to do the short loop again. I figured out that we had enough time, knew that one water station would be closed but the other should be open long enough for us to make it there. It was a hot day and we were needing to top up bottles on the way round. So we set out on the 33 mile loop. Some early signs had been taken down but all the marshals were still in place and we were making good time. However the water station we had expected to be open had closed about an hour earlier than advertised! Luckily the first aiders were still at the stop and were kind enough to give us some water, which we were very grateful for. We certainly amazed a few people when we arrived back at the start for the second time. Our photo was taken and we were topped up with more water before a gentle trundle home again. All in all we covered about 98 miles, close enough to the 100 for me and a breakthrough in how I'm feeling about the cycle leg of Lakesman!
Breaking the distance down certainly helped, as did having the company. I was able to test my nutrition again, practice hydrating on the go and workout which devices would last the course for recording or at least keeping track of my time at Lakesman.

This week things are starting to ease off a fraction. A little voice has been suggesting that whatever I do now will make precious little difference to how I perform at lakes man, which hasn't always been helpful in getting myself out of the door. I've resorted to inviting peer pressure on days like that, posting on Facebook that I don't want to train and then hauling myself out when several people tell me to suck it up and get on with it. My favourite training sessions recently have been my swim/run days. These have been 8x400m in the lake (fast/slow) plus 2 laps running round the lake, 6x400m in the lake (fast/slow) plus 1 lap running round the lake and a couple of running laps of Black Swan Lake at Dinton Pastures followed by the 1500m Starlight Swim.
I took part in this last year and loved it. I mean what's not to like about swimming in a lake as it gets dark, the only light coming from glowsticks, helium balloons and fairy lights? These are still small events but I hope they grow. I wasn't best pleased with my performance, feeling sluggish after the run and coming in 15th out of 24 with my slowest swim in the last three weeks, only just beating a lady doing breaststroke. But it was a great experience and I've something to improve on next time.
This weekend I'll be doing the Secret Gin Run in London with my mum for some light relief before starting to make final preparations for Lakesman. Tapering will be in full effect. I will be rolling, stretching and meditating daily, reviewing my strategy, packing (not just for the event but the spa afterwards too) and looking forward to a floatation session I've booked for Thursday. I'm starting to get excited!!

Week beginning 28th May
Swim : 3,200m
Bike :133 miles
Run : 22 miles
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