End of the summer (but not the sun – or the endurance)… Monday 27th August–Tuesday 4th September (& that’s taken me into the final countdown!)
Six weeks to go and with the shoulder healed, I’ve been able to train properly – and that’s meant, I’ve been knackered as I continue to test my endurance, and my mettle!
On Bank Holiday Monday I was at my sister’s house and nipped out pre-party for a 3.1K in the local pool. I hadn’t planned the session, so decided to try and work on breathing on my left side. Not only is this my now slightly less mobile side, it’s also a side I don’t use when breathing! So I made myself do a length of breathing on the left, a length on the right, and then mixed up the breathing (every three, four, five, six, and seven strokes), and then tried kicking hard on every fourth length. It helped pass the time.
On Tuesday I was supposed to ride two hours easy outside, but got too into work (after four days off) and opted for the Turbo at 8pm! I managed 1’20 on Zwift.
On Wednesday I felt tired but made myself go through the motions on the turbo (inside as it was raining), then a bric run with some ‘fartlek’, 10 laps lasting between 34 seconds and three minutes! I managed 45 seconds at 6 min mile pace – a short-term goal is to get back under six for those shorter reps.
By Thursday with a Turbo session and long two-hour bric run planned, I had to dig in mentally. I decided not to get up super-early. Being self-employed, I can structure my day how I like, and work later in the day – which I did, and stayed awake! Friday was a lovely long sea swim of 2.1K, by myself, and then Saturday was the big bike ride…
The Big Bike Ride
The plan was a big endurance session, 4.5 to 5 hours on the bike a 20-30 min bric run and I had hoped to do a swim too, (but ran out of time for that). I was tense from the off, still feeling nervous (visions of being flung over the handlebars) about the TT bike and long rides, as well as tired. But I decided to grin and bear it, and just do it.
One thing that was bothering was the time it takes to do a long ride. I’m very inpatient and hate wasting time. I’m also a slow cyclist and the idea of being out all day didn’t feel me with glee, especially as I had to drive to Watford for a big family do straight after. As Marianne reminded me after, ‘if you are tense and rigid on the bike it is really hard to pedal fluidly and efficiently. ‘
Early into the ride, as we headed out of Brighton I looked down to check my pace, I was feeling more relaxed and pedalling well at this point. No Garmin Edge! I rode to catch up Chris and we spent the next half hour looking in vain for the missing gadget.
This was a 50th birthday present from my family. Losing it, and time, sent me into a negative spiral. A meltdown of industrial-sized freezer with door left open all night proportions kicked in. I told Chris, ‘I f**kin hate cycling and I’m not doing the Ironman.’ He suggested going back and trying out the turbo, and then when I started to calm down reminded me it’s called Ironman for a reason. I pulled myself together and off we went at a reasonable pace.
In gritting my teeth and just doing it I think I’d tensed up my entire upper body. On the downhills I kept my right hand held onto the bars and my left arm in TT tuck position. I’m quick to recover from bad moods and broken bones, but I hadn’t noticed that I was still holding the tension in my body!
After the ride I managed a 2.5 mile bric (how am I going to do a marathon?) and more searching for the lost Garmin, then I was in and out and on the M25 for a long car journey up to London. A brilliant family do with dancing followed and I got to bed at 3am. It wasn’t difficult to take Sunday off!
Five weeks to go
At the start of this week I was understandably tired. Sleep-deprived I still woke up at 5am and got on with Monday. Training was good, a 4.1K swim, followed by an hour on the Watt bike. However, I noticed in the pool that my right hand which had been feeling a bit numb and tingly now had a renegade little finger, which wouldn’t move back and join the rest of the hand, making my swim interesting.
A bit of googling and I found exactly what I had – cycling hand palsy. It can be down to bad set up of the bike, but as I had a professional fit, I believe it’s because of bad posture and positioning due to my tension. I said to coach Marianne that I think the wavy finger is symbolic – reminding me that I need to stay tuned in and listen to my own mantra, relaxed, controlled, smooth and fast… As I was cycling on Saturday I had realised that the negative spiral was all about fear and it was up to me to control that, not the bike.
Triathlon has forced me out of a decade long comfort zone of identifying as a marathon runner, I even made my work as a content & communications specialist reflect all of this (She Runs She Writes, Running PR, The Running Ed). But change is growth and sometimes a bit uncomfortable, with unexpected hurdles (broken bones and stray fingers). I love trying new things, and I have fallen for triathlon, but I’m reminded that commitment is the bit that counts. A quote from a programme on Radio 4 on Monday morning (Morality in the 21st Century) stood out for me:
‘My favourite definition of commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behaviour around it for the moment when love falters.’ Training, eating well, staying positive, and sticking with it!
P.S. Tuesday was another unplanned day off and so now I’m swapping my training around. This was partly due to a disjointed day including a chunk of time out to go to the hospital for my X-Ray. Check out the before and after pics: no wonder it hurt.