Friday, 15 June 2018

Preparing To Eat The Elephant

Have you ever been faced with a huge (perhaps mammoth - ahem) task, the size of which leaves you paralysed with anxiety over how on earth to even BEGIN such a thing? Has some bright spark then asked how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! The idea being that rather than look at the overall task, you focus on one little piece of it, get that done, and keep doing that until the whole thing is complete.
And that's how I'm going to approach Lakesman at the weekend. I can't quite believe it's finally here. Perhaps I'm sort of hoping it's all a mistake, a dream, that I don't actually have to put myself through it, but on the other hand I'm kinda excited about it. The past week has been a week of lists. Packing lists. Household chore lists. Class cancellation and notification lists. Race strategy. The last of the training sessions are being ticked off one by one. Most of them anyway. Last week I had a bit of a wobble with a couple that I ended up skipping. It all looked perfectly reasonable three weeks ago when it was set but I was tired, I'd run out of time and they didn't feel very "taper-y". I reasoned that any sessions I do now will do very little to improve my performance and it's the only time I've really questioned what my coach has set for me.
This week has felt like a proper taper with a pool swim plus a couple of gentle runs and bike rides. In preparation for event day I've cut out caffeine and alcohol and I'm trying to eat more fruit and veg. The meditations are still a regular feature and I booked myself in for a floatation session on Thursday. I'm reading over my race strategy each day and trying very hard not to fret about my seemingly slowing swim times. Each section of the race, and indeed the night before, morning or and night after, has it's own section in my race strategy. By reading through it regularly I hope to fix it in my mind so although I will only be thinking about the "bit of a swim" on race morning, all the other sections will come to the fore of my mind as I get to them. There's no reason why I can't complete the event but as ever there are elements I won't be able to control, like the weather, so I just have to prepare as best I can, keep a positive mental attitude, remember my training, and keep fuelled and hydrated!
We're travelling up to Keswick today where we'll check into our guest house before finding some food. Tomorrow we will register, drive the bike course, rack our kit and attend the race briefing. The evening will feature kit sorting, a pasta dinner and an early night. We'll be starting the swim at 6am (fog permitting) and trundling on through to the end.

Week beginning 4th June
Swim : 3,200m
Bike : 31 miles
Run : 13 miles

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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Friday, 1 June 2018

I Would Ride 100 Miles...

And I would ride 100 more, if only my head and legs would get in the game at the same time. My last big milestone before Lakesman is the 100 mile bike ride. I've done 82 miles... how hard can 100 be? Um, very, as it turns out. I had signed up to the Surrey Hills Cyclone Sportive, epic distance (102 miles) on Saturday 26th May. The benefits of this were that I would have a route planned out for me, people to ride with, aid stations along the way and a medal at the end. The downsides were that although I could plan my own route and save myself £40, I would have had to borrow a bike computer again and potentially have no one to ride with. I could have tagged on to a social ride that day, there are plenty about at the moment, and added more miles to the end but I have very poor will power when it comes to these sorts of things and usually slope off home instead.
Ready for the off!
So it was that at 7am on Saturday morning, I slipped out of the house whilst everyone else slept (even the cat) and drove down to Lingfield race course, the start of the event. Dean and I had taken part in this event last year, at the 30mile distance, which at the time I thought was pretty tough, and so I was a little apprehensive about the "hills" aspect, but nothing ventured nothing gained and I'm much stronger this year than last. If I could do this, then Lakesman should be a breeze and at the very least I would get to practice my nutrition strategy. Registration was satisfyingly easy and at 8:30am I was on my way.

There had been threats of rain so I was carrying my rain jacket in my back pocket, my arm warmers were on and I had on the bike and about my person an array of energy bars, peanut M&M's, flapjacks and cheese sandwiches in bite sized pieces, dates and energy gels. I was NOT going to "bonk". There were three feed stations on my route and I intended to make use of them all to top up on flapjack, energy drinks and tortilla chips.
I would have had more flapjack with me had the cat not taken a liking to them!
The first major hill happened at about 12 miles. It was the biggest on the course and boy was it a killer. I managed to cycle up around half of it and joined others in pushing my bike the rest of the way. A few hardy souls made it all the way up but they looked like pros. The downhill was epic! I think I got up to around 34mph without freaking out. But the hills just kept coming; a mile or two of uphill grinds at a time, which scenery just didn't help to distract from. I managed to get up all the other hills I encountered without getting off and pushing but it was energy sapping. I was doing relatively well at eating little and often but as I found I needed to pay more attention to the roads, so the frequency of my eating slowed.
Looking bright at feed station 1
I was hyperventilating my way up one hill when a fellow rider, who looked remarkably better than I did, announced it was only 3 miles to feed station two. Hurrah!! I pulled in, dismounted rather inelegantly, and promptly started sobbing into the fig rolls. A lovely chap, Jez, who was helping to man the feed station, sat me down, topped up my water bottle and had a little chat with me about how I was doing and what my options were. I hadn't realised I was feeling quite so depleted, and the thought that I was only half way filled me with despair. We talked through the elevation. I'd done the worst of it, nothing was as bad now, but I had options. I could get a lift to the finish now if I wanted, or set out to feed station 3 and call for a pick up if needed, or get "bumped" to feed station 3 and carry on from there. Reader, I could have hugged Jez.
The specs hide (some of) the emotion at feed station 2
I mentioned my poor will power earlier and I'm afraid it came into play here. I felt absolutely certain that I wouldn't make the remainder or the route under my own steam. I wasn't even sure I could ride the 30 miles to feed station 3, and the indignity of getting a lift to the finish was just unthinkable, so I opted for option 3... get a lift part of the way. At least then I could ride over that finish line and still have 70 miles in the legs, effectively the standard distance route. And that is what happened. I waited about half an hour for a lift, during which time I ate a lot of snacks and regained my composure. I crossed the line, got my medal and collapsed on the grass. I had not done 100 miles, but I had done a lot of hills, spent several hours in the saddle and learned a lot about my mind can completely sabotage things.
Another medal but not for 100 miles.
The day after my 100 mile attempt I had a review with Ellie. We talked about how I'd been feeling, physically and emotionally, what the last few weeks might have in store and my strategy for Lakesman. I explained how tired I was, how the training was a chore, how I wasn't enjoying anything much any more and I just wanted it all to be over. Apparently all perfectly normal. Next on the agenda... was I going to attempt the 100 miles again? Apparently yes... by signing up to the 3 Counties Cycle Ride, doing the 54 miles distance, then sneaking back on to the 33 miles and tagging on miles by riding to the start and home again. Although a flatter course there are some hills, but I've already done them on other rides so I know I'm capable. Dean will also be with me to haul me out of those dark moments and I also get a certificate!

Otherwise most of my sessions now are much more manageable; some swim and run brick sessions and a couple of run-as-you-feel days. I also got a whole day off on Bank Holiday Monday! I specifically asked for this so that Dean and I could spend some much needed quality time together. We did everything on our own terms, no appointments or demands. I didn't train at all but when Dean decided he wanted to swim at the lake I went with him to sit on the bank with a magazine. It was utter bliss.
Throwing in some fun things is so important. Dean and I managed to get out for a run together recently, something we've not done for goodness knows how long, and I ran 5k with my mum recently too. That along with keeping on top of my general well being (the osteopath appintments,  massages, supplements, epsom salts, diet and stretching) is just about keeping me sane.

I WILL be on the start line for Lakesman, but what the day holds, I don't know. What I do know is that this will be my one and only attempt at iron distance triathlon and even when my head has gotten in the way, I have done my best during training. Sometimes that best is a physical best, sometimes a mental, and every session has made me stronger in at least one of those areas.

Week beginning 21st May
Swim : 1,200m
Bike : 92 miles
Run : 7.14 miles

Friday, 25 May 2018

The Good, The Bad and The Outlaw

As I write this it's just a little over three weeks until Lakesman, my "A" race this year, the big event, the grand finale (although there are a couple of encores in the diary). I'm perpetually tired, moody, and full of self doubt. I'm doing my best to be on form for work and telling my classes what I'm working towards when I'm not teaching them has helped a bit. The little voice in my head oscillates between "I don't want to do this anymore" and "It's only three more weeks - then you spa!" I'm constantly reminding myself of my "why" and frankly I'm a big mess. I'm sure everyone close to me will be extremely glad when it's all over!

But it's certainly not all doom and gloom. In the last few weeks there have been some amazing achievements, not least the 82mile bike ride I undertook on my own one sunny Tuesday. I borrowed a bike computer from Ellie, stitched together three routes from Strava, stuffed my pockets with food and set off. Ideally I'd have joined a ride at the weekend for at least part of the distance but work and such put pay to that so it was "now or never". I don't think I understood at the time just how much mental strength it took, especially in the latter half when I was tired, couldn't face food and passed home on my way out to the last loop. Because my posture deteriorated significantly over those 6 hours, I got a very painful knot in my right shoulder so the last few days before Outlaw Half featured lots of stretching, magnesium oil, massage and pilates.

Week beginning 7th May
Swim : 2,000m
Bike : 85.8 miles
Run : 9.73 miles
Ah, Outlaw Half, now we get to it. I'm usually nervous or excited about events but this time I felt a bit... nothing. At least in the week prior to race day. I'd completed swims, bike rides and runs far in excess of what I needed to achieve on race day. I was relatively sure I'd get a PB and I knew the location, having supported there a couple of years back. But I was tense on the drive up to Nottingham, wanting to get registered, checked in to the hotel and kit organised as quickly as possible so as to allow myself some time to relax. My shoulder was still giving me trouble which I think accounts for most of it, but also, in essence this was just another training event. It didn't feel special. Registration was well organised and straight forward. OSB Events have a reputation for being rather slick and I was not disappointed with any aspect of the event organisation.
We spent the evening with a friend who lives in the area, being offered vast amounts of quesadillas and brioche bread and butter pudding and chatting about all sorts of everything. It took my mind off how I had been feeling and I ended the evening far more relaxed and happy than I'd started. I had the sort of night's sleep I've come to realise is normal before bigger events, especially where an early start is involved, and all too soon the alarm clock sounded the 4am alert.
Attempting to quell race nerves
Kit on, sunscreen, coffee, porridge, out the door. I still felt a bit numb about it all but the sun was rising over the water as we reached Holme Pierrepont, looking absolutely glorious. A good day for a swim. Cars were swiftly directed to parking spaces, bikes decanted and novice and elite athletes alike were efficiently funnelled into the transition area for various amounts of faffing.
Kit duly laid out I pottered around, chatting to people I knew, nibbling on a bagel and eventually climbing into my wetsuit before hugging Dean and heading for transition once more. It was time. The elites set off at 6am and were heading out on their bikes before I started at 6:48am. We had 10 minutes or so to get acclimatised in the water before our start. I've only ever experienced deep water starts so thought I knew what to expect but so large was my start wave that I got a little battered and felt hemmed in until about half way round. I had to keep switching to breaststroke, just to see what the swimmers around me were doing, weaving their way down the lake. After what felt like an age I stumbled out of the water, helped by a chain gang of volunteers, one of whom ran with me towards transition, unzipping my wetsuit for me - she was an angel!
T1 took longer than I planned as I got a bit stuck in my bike jersey. I would have worn a trisuit and done away with most elements of changing were it not for the fact I wanted to wear my Anthony Nolan jersey. So after struggling into it and putting my food back into my rear pockets where it had spilled out I was off out on the bike course. I was mindful of eating and drinking regularly but I was only ten miles in when I started to get bad stomach cramps which unfortunately stayed with me for the rest of the day. The bike course is really lovely, only one real hill to speak of (12%) and extremely well marshalled. It was a sunny day and I was making good progress until after the feed station where I caught up with a couple of ambulances I'd seen go past and a large number of other competitors. A couple of cyclists had come off at different times on the same section of road which was now closed for police investigation. An air ambulance was in the neighbouring field and we were held for up to half an hour, depending on when we'd arrived, before being turned around and diverted, taking in an extra two miles. The marshals did a great job to get us diverted and on our way as quickly as they did but any hopes we'd had of achieving a time were forgotten. There was a more social atmosphere for a while and I leapfrogged with a few people almost all the way back. I joined forces with one of my 3CTri team mates towards the end and we endured the gravel, speed bumps and pot holes into transition together.
Final bit, the run! Again, I changed top, from cycling jersey to running vest but was much speedier. As I'd not managed to eat much on the second leg of the bike course due to stomach cramps, I downed a gel and wobbled my way out of transition and past Dean, who had been panicking, the spectators not having been updated about happenings out on the course. The run course is an out and back along the river then around the lake, twice. There are three well stocked feed stations which are placed so that you pass a feed station ten times on the run, no excuses for getting dehydrated! Sponges were available too, which I made use of for once, it being extremely hot by this point.
My guts were in knots. I managed to run at a very respectable speed for a few miles, sipping water and electrolyte drinks as best I could but had to slow to a walk shortly after I passed Dean for my second lap. I tried to force down some food, a jaffa cake, one crisp and two bites of banana. I couldn't face it. I also couldn't face the thought of doing Lakesman. I was not in a happy place. I stopped in the shade at a feed station where I was looked after by another angelic marshal who fed me flat coke, stuffed a gel in my race belt and promised she'd "be here when you come past again". My legs felt strong so it was frustrating to not be able to run. As one of the few people wearing charity colours I got a lot of support from other competitors which was lovely, but hard to take at the time. Eventually I reached the final straight, a mile down the lake into the finish chute. I shuffled. I ran. I smiled! I'd done it!!
My time was slower than what I'd achieved at the 113 last year, but I'd earned my medal. I collected my finishers shirt and slowly made my way to find Dean. We made our way to the food tent, previously the home to registration, where I was able to choose from three mains and two desserts for my post-race meal, included in my entry. Dean urged me to collect a couple of the pints of Erdinger Alkoholfrie that were being handed out liberally to sip on in an attempt to settle my stomach, or at least get some calories in. Eventually I felt able to eat my meal, sat in the shade and chatting to some more team mates. Once I felt steady I collected my kit from transition and even felt up to my customary post-event ice cream on the way back to the car.
Despite all the things that didn't go to plan, it was a great day. The Outlaw Half is a well-organised and friendly event. I would do it again in a heartbeat and suggest it as a reasonable choice for a first half iron-distance triathlon.

So onward... I've not suffered any aches or pains since the event, just tiredness. I'm trying my best to complete my last big training sessions, remembering why I'm doing this in the first place; to raise funds for Anthony Nolan. Please, please, if you haven't donated already, I'd be so grateful if you could, to support me in this huge challenge and to support a very worthy charity.

Week beginning 14th May
Swim : 5,600m
Bike : 140.8 miles
Run : 19.2 miles

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

What I Eat In A Week

With the significant increase in training, my appetite has been yo-yoing like crazy. I've been making more effort to match my diet to my training needs, more carbs on days I'm training hard and protein for recovery. I'm not always sure if I'm over eating, and I'm trying not to reward myself with food too often. So I decided to record what I ate for five days.

I don't calorie count at the moment, although I have gone through phases, but the most effective way I've found to track my diet is to take photos. I mean, I just about always have my phone with me, it captures portion sizes and doesn't rely on my having to remember what I've had. MyFitnessPal has been useful in the past but can be a bit of a faff.

So for those of you who wonder what a fledging ironman trainee eats in a week... here you go!

Monday

Breakfast: Waffles, yogurt, nut butter, granola and fruit
Lunch: Cheese and beans on toast
Dinner: Pie and veg
Snacks: Yogurt raisins, protein shake, two brazil nuts, a peak of toblerone
Activity: 1hr turbo session, taught three classes

Tuesday

Breakfast: Carlusscios vegetarian breakfast
Lunch: Quorn ham, cheese and chutney bagel with tomatoes and radishes
Dinner: Omelette and salad
Snacks: Latte, banan, satsuma, two brazil nuts, skyr with nut butter
Activity: 3km swim, taught class

Wednesday

Breakfast: Peanut butter and jam on toast
Lunch: Halloumi and grain salad
Dinner: Dinner out at Zizzi's for mum's birthday, beet balls, wild garlic fetticuni and adffogato
Snacks: Banana, skyr, two brazil nuts, nut mix
Activity: Half hour run
Notes: I certainly didn't match food to activity today but I made some healthier choices and reined in the guilt (oh I do not have an especially healthy relationship with food when I'm training).

Thursday

Breakfast: Granola, banana and skyr
Lunch: Carrot, cheese, cucumber and chutney sandwich with tomatoes and radishes
Dinner: Roasted veg and halloumi on grains
Snacks: Latte, Apple and nut butter pudding, chia charge bar
Activity: 1hr bike, 20 minute run, taught Zumba Gold and three other classes
Notes: I ADORE these little puds. They take about 2 minutes to make with 3-5 ingredients, depending on whether you want to add flavours like cinnamon or chocolate. I don't know who though of blending an apple with nut butter and microwaving it but all hail! Here's the recipe.

Friday

Breakfast: Peanut butter and jam on toast
Lunch:Soup and bread
Dinner: Jamie Oliver's green spaghetti
Snacks: Hot chocolate, Apple and nut butter pudding, two brazil nuts, a peak of toblerone
Activity: Rest day!

So there we have it. I try to eat a balanced diet, with a few treats thrown in. I'm vegetarian so my 5-a-day isn't usually a problem and I eat the brazils to top up my selenium levels. Nut butter features heavily as I adore it and it's healthy fats, good for energy and not bad for recovery either.

Is there anything there you'd tweak? Does your diet change when you're training? What's your favourite recovery food?

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Let Sleeping Cat Owners Lie

"Darling, we need to talk about the cat..." not a conversation I thought I'd be starting with my husband on a Friday morning. We've been accidental cat owners for the last 5 months. Accidental because we never planned to get a cat, it wasn't on our radar at all, until a friend got in touch looking to rehome their gorgeous Bengal who is affectionately known as Fang. Now this little bundle of fluff, who frustrates and charms us in equal measure is part of the family but something has to change.
Fang at rest
You see you don't really own a cat, the cat owns you, and never is this more apparent than at meal times. That is, the meal times that *she* decides upon. In the evenings this can be a bit flexible. It's easier to ignore a cat winding around your legs and meowing when you're trying to cook dinner, less so when you're eating though so we've become strategic with evening feeds. In the morning, however, nothing wakes you up quite like a cat stomping on your bladder or walking across your pillow and sniffing your face to see if you're still alive. This can happen anytime between 5:30am and 6:30am. Ignoring her leads to meowing and knocking over the bedside lamps. Shutting her out of the bedroom results in scrabbling at the door. We've tried an automatic feeder, which opens at a set time and has helped a bit but not entirely and does rely on one of us remembering to set it.
Pretending she's find of me
As I've been struggling with sleep and energy levels recently, Dean volunteered to take responsibility for morning cat feeds for a few days. But somehow, on the days the feeder hasn't been set, I'm still the one waking up to feed her. My husband is a heavy sleeper. So we're now having a conversation about the value of actually doing something if you say you're going to. A plan is in place! Earlier to bed whenever possible (10pm, and no later than 11pm), setting the feeder *every* night and an elbow in the ribs if he's forgotten to set it and isn't waking up. I can't cope with my current work load and training volumes on 6-7 hours sleep a night.
Longest ride this year
And boy is training ramping up now! I've been feeling tired almost every day which is why quality sleep is SO important. Just two days after Swimathon I was back in the pool for almost 3km and this week heralded my first OW swim of the year (brrrrr). After a frank conversation with Ellie about my cycling, speed, confidence and aborted sportives, it's clear that things need to change and quickly. So instead of a 20 mile time trial this week I spent an hour at a disused runway with Ellie practicing my stops, starts and manoeuvring and getting some tweaks to my bike fit from Ian. All of which made my second brick session of the week *much* more comfortable and confident.
Getting an informal bike fit
It's now just two weeks until Outlaw and six weeks until Lakesman. My cycling has improved in terms of skill, confidence and endurance in just this week alone which is reassuring. I'm feeling ready for Outlaw but there's still work to be done before I feel similarly ready for Lakesman. I'm not sure I will feel ready for it actually but I a few days of double training sessions, longer rides, tired running and some cold swims are going to put me in the best shape I can be on that start line. Provided I get some more sleep too!
Week beginning 30th April
Swim : 3,700m
Bike : 97.14miles
Run : 15.34 miles

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Swimathon, Sportive, Slumps

The last two weeks have been a bit of a mixed bag. The euphoria of Brighton carried me through a few days. Training was meant to recommence on the Tuesday but I felt I needed an extra rest day, so I took it, sacrificing a track/interval session, and felt no remorse. Instead I got pummelled by the lovely Georgina under the guise of a sports massage. My poor thighs!
Wings for my trainers! A celebratory gift from the lovely Cathy.
I actually enjoyed doing a few big swims and I even got out on the roads for a 40 mile bike ride on a sunny Friday afternoon, meeting a friend at Dinton Pastures for some of it.  It felt like a bit of a breakthrough session. Being the slightly more confident of the two of us somehow made me step up a bit so together with being familiar with the route and not having to navigate many junctions, it was a delight. The ice cream at half way probably also helped!
Halfway ice cream at Dinton Pastures
Week beginning 16th April 
Swim : 7,650m
Bike : 73.43 miles
Run : 2.08 miles

It seemed as though I had more time in my days. I was able to read, to go to the cinema and meet friends for breakfast as well as do my training. I was feeling more energetic and investing time in looking after myself. Iron supplements and magnesium spray now feature in my daily routine. There was another visit to the osteopath which was all very positive too. Saturday saw Dean and I take part in Swimathon for the fourth year in a row. It was my second attempt at the 5km distance and I was aiming to improve on my 2017 time of 2:08:11. Under two hours was the aim and I was delighted to complete the distance this year in 1:54:17! Another PB! Training looked to be paying off and I can only thank Ellie Gosling for that.
So where are the negative parts? Well I suppose there are only two dark spots in the last two weeks, one of which has only come to pass this afternoon. The first was on Friday. Ellie had uploaded my next four weeks of training plan into Training Peaks on Thursday night and asked me to take a look. There were some big numbers in there... 75, 90, 100 mile bike rides, and all cycling to be completed on the roads from now on. One swim a week will now be in the lake and I saw many days swallowed up with training. I wasn't wholly unprepared for this, I know what I need to be building up to, but I wasn't prepared for how much this played on my mind all through Thursday night, leaving me tired and overwhelmed on Friday. I tried and tried to turn it around. In the end a sob, a big bowl of pasta, a glass of wine and a resolution to only think a few days ahead seemed to work.
Wise words from Des'ree
The second dark spot has crept up on me this afternoon. Following on from Swimathon yesterday Dean and I were both signed up to an Evans Cycles RIDE IT event today. We'd booked the medium distance or 60 miles to fit in with my training plan and dutifully landed bikes into the car and set off for Pangbourne just after 8am. It was cold and the skies threatened rain that came to pass quite early on. We got to around 10 miles with numb toes, rain covered glasses and an intense desire to go home. We'd layered up but it wasn't enough against the headwinds and side winds (no tailwinds of course). A niggle in my arms picked up on the swim the day before was making itself known too. At the feed stop at 19 miles we decided to drop down to the short route of 34 miles. Not what I'd set out to achieve but I reasoned with myself that it was still time in the saddle, I'd been stronger on the hills, better with gears and fuelling and so not all was wasted. In those last 15 miles I got panicked in slow moving traffic, almost came off my bike on a hill, was less than sensible at junctions just to avoid having to stop and unclip to the point where Dean has threatened to swap my cleats back to toe cage pedals. And so I got back to the car feeling it had been the right thing to do. I'd made my peace with not completing 60 miles.
The route map. 
Then we reviewed our training diaries from 2017. This time last year Dean and I had done parkrun *and* Swimathon on the Saturday followed by a 65 mile sportive in the New Forest on the Sunday. Suddenly I felt as though I was so far behind where I was a year ago, wondering whether I should be giving up on Lakesman. But my overall training volumes are bigger. My times have improved left right and centre. And I remember how different it felt on the bike in the sun just last week, to in the rain and wind today. The weather makes such a huge difference, not only to effort involved but mental state. So I will be resting for the remainder of the day and carrying on tomorrow. New day, new achievements. I've been very honest about how I'm feeling in this post, but there's no point hiding it. This is what Ironman training is like, ups and downs, doubts and euphoria, and it has to be just one step at a time.
A medal. Not wholly earned?
Week beginning 23rd April
Swim : 8,000m
Bike : 59.63 miles
Run : 5.2 miles

I've raised a total of £592.48 so far - thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. There's still a way to go but I appreciate all the support for me and Anthony Nolan.I'm lucky to be able to do what I do, not everyone can.