Only 3 days to go now

Went out for my final long run on Monday; have been neglecting these a bit the last few weeks whilst trying to get my bike mileage up and it showed.   I was fine until about mile 10 and then it started to get hard work, with me ending up walking the last mile home from 11.5 miles.  I managed to do that with some time to spare though, and if I have to walk/run on the day I shan’t mind so long as I finish! 🙂

The rest of the week has been quiet training wise, just recovering really as I’m a bit achy after Mondays run.  Tonight and tomorrow night will be spent sorting through all the stuff we need to take and making sure I have everything.  Andy laughs that I check everything about a dozen times, but I don’t want to get there and find something important is missing 😮

I guess this will be my last post now until after the Vitruvian itself.  Can’t believe it’s here after all this time; it’s been a long hard road and for much of it it’s all seemed so far away, but now it’s here and suddenly all getting very real. 

So, this is Sarah ‘TST’ aka ‘Gym Bunny’ Robinson signing off and stepping out into the great unknown.  This time on Saturday it’ll all be over. 

Hopefully.

 

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Final long ride

Got up Wednesday morning, all ready to go after changing the inner tube (have to keep resisting the urge to call it changing the tyre!).  Thought the rear tyre seemed a bit flat, so thought I’d put some air in.  All well and good, until I tried to take the pump off and then there was a long ‘ppsssssshhhhhhhht’ noise and the inner tube went down.  Tried putting some air back in it, but to no avial, so called Andy who said that was exactly what had happed with the front one. 😦   And so it was that Wednesday night was spent changing the back inner tube!  This is a little more technical as you’ve got the chain to contend with, but I managed to do it by myself.  Andy watched and gave me a couple of tips, but I was proud to work out how to get the wheel in and the chain back on by myself 😀 

Luckily Andrew, my boss, was fine about me swapping the Wednesday morning off to Thursday afternoon so after a miserable and rainy morning I headed off after lunch for my final long ride.  The weather still looked changeable so I wore my short sleeved cycle top, arm warmers and my running showerproof jacket over the top.  After about 8 miles I’d warmed up a bit so pulled over and took off my arm warmers and stuck them in my cycle top pocket out of the way.  There was a lot of surface water on the roads and I had a couple of hairy moments with puddles, including coming down the hill just out side of Wymondham, charging under the bridge and round the corner to find a very big and deep puddle covering most of my side of the road! 😮  I had a car right behind me that was impatiently trying to overtake, so I couldn’t swerve right out to avoid it, but swung out as far as I could and hit it where it was about 2-3 inches deep, praying I didn’t loose control of the bike and reminding myself not to hit the brakes or I would go over.  Managed to get through it ok and by the time I came round for my second loop it was a lot smaller, although I was prepared for it this time!

The ride felt good and I felt confident despite, or maybe because of, not having been out for a week.  My pace felt good and a bit faster than it had been on the previous rides.  I started to slow a bit half way through the second lap of hilly bits and the last 7-8 miles where a struggle, but that’s to be expected and I only lost about 1mph so more than happy with that.   I managed to push through the last few miles with a combination of pushing myself to work at it, getting tired and slowing down a bit, recovering a bit and then pushing harder again.  My thighs were starting to ache by the time I approached Attleborough and my shoulders where complaining, but I know that’s because I added the extra mileage on and my shoulders weren’t as bad as they have been on some previous runs.  As I pulled down the road to home I’d done 52.5 miles in 3:56 😀  I’m really pleased with this as it’s given me confidence that I could get round on the day.  I know my route doesn’t have the killer hills in that the Vitruvian course has, but I’m made it as uphill as possible with as little downhill or flat as I could manage and I’ve rarely used the easier cog, so I have a good few downwards gears to spare, so to speak. 

Did fall off though when I got back to the house!  Realised that I was in totally the wrong gears for putting the bike away (chain needs to be straight when I’m not riding her) so in a mad panic tried to changed to the easy cog – accomplished – and then to the middle gears, which was accomplished but I then realised I needed to stop or I was going to  hit the neighbours car! 😮  Unfortunately this gave me no time to unclip and over I toppled!   Bashed my elbow and hip a bit and, even though I knew it was coming, was a bit shocked but as I was still clipped in when I hit the ground I acted as a buffer and stopped there being any damage to the bike.  Well apart from a scrape on the pedal, which now means there are scrapes on both sides!  Overall a very good ride though 😀

 

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Back on the road again

After an abysmal week last week with my worst ever run and cycle, I took the advice of the Pirates on Triathlete’s World forum and took a few days off to rest and try and stop stressing myself out.  This ended up sort of being four days off instead of three as we took the bike out of the van on Sunday morning after my last long swim to find I had a flat front tyre.  Andy was out of the pool before me, so had taken the front wheel of to see what the cause of the flat was and there were two splits in the tube where the valve goes in 😦  Unfortunately, being Little Miss Not Really Prepared For Such Situations, we didn’t have any spare inner tubes so couldn’t fix the problem and I missed out on my last long ride.

Back home I got on the internet and ordered some new ones, which I was hoping would arrive pretty quickly.  Thankfully my boss is pretty good and when I went in on Monday morning and asked for a half day at short notice when the inner tubes arrive so I could do the long ride he was fine. 

It was the last of my sessions before the Vitruvian at Wymondham Athletic Club last night as there isn’t a session next Monday because of the bank holiday.   I was quite looking forward to it as it was the last set of 2 x 1 mile timed efforts which we have been doing over the summer and I was hoping to improve on my time from July.   Me and Danielle trotted off on the 1.5 mile run to the start line a little before everyone else so we could do it at our own pace and not be tired out before we started the mile efforts; we’re a little slower than most of the other members and it was nice to run to the start without having to worry about keeping up with everyone else! 🙂   Some of the runners where doing the mile efforts but as recovery runs, which meant they wouldn’t be pushing the pace so much and me and Danielle started off first with them while the others finished their warm up stretches.  It was a really nice evening and we pushed along watching the hot air ballon taking off a way up the road, finding our pace and trying not to charge off too fast and be wiped out by the end.  There was a little confusion about exactly where the 1 mile mark was and we ended up over running it a bit, but I was still happy with my time and for once lots of runners finished after us as we’d started off early! 😀

After a few minutes rest and re-setting of watches we headed back for the return mile, once again setting off with the runners doing it as a recovery session.  On the return leg we tried to keep the pace more consistent and I could feel we were pushing a little harder than we had on the first leg.  By about half way the rest of the runners where catching us up but they didn’t seem to be getting quite so far ahead of us as usual!  Finally we rounded the last corner and could see the end in sight.  Danielle spurred on and gave it a big final push, while I didn’t really have it in me to do that so just kept pushing on has hard as I could.  A quick glance at my watch showed the time was only just past the 9 minute mark, so if I kept pushing it was possible I could get my fastest time yet!  Steve, my coach, started shouting encouragement to both of us and we both ran for home with Danielle pipping my by just under 10 seconds.  Another look at the watch showed I’d finished the mile in 9:23, and gained a new PB! 😀 

I had a look through the previous times and my best time in June was 10:48 and in July was 9:45, so I’ve improved massively over the last two months.   I was really stoked to get a new PB and it was a great way to spend my last session at the club for a few weeks.  On the way back I ran with Steve and we talked about my aim of doing a marathon next year – well, I’m the fittest I’ve ever been so now seems the perfect time to up the run training and do the marathon.  I’ve entered the ballot for the London marathon, although the chances of getting in are very small.  But there is a local event in Suffolk around the same time so I can do that one if I don’t get a place in London.  Plenty of time to sort all that out later though!!

The new inner tubes arrived today though, so tonight I shall be learning how to put them on the bike.  Could be interesting as I don’t think I’ve ever done it before!  Think it may be wise to do a couple of practice runs with the old inner tube first! 😉

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Fame at last?!

I spoke to a reporter today from the local paper, The Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury, for a piece they are going to do about me doing the triathlon!   Doing the interview was rather nerve racking, even though it was over the phone, as I wasn’t really sure what to say.  It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know you just exactly how much effort you’ve had to put in to just get to the point where you can complete the distance on something like this, nevermind have to worry about finishing it within the timescales they have set for each bit, but all I can do is tell him how I see it and hope he writes something good and posititve to remind people to sponsor me!  😀

The photographer also came today so I cycled in so she could take pictures of me on the bike.   It was quite odd getting all dressed up to be on the bike and then cycling about half a mile to get here!   She was lovely and took a load of photos in the garden at work and then some of me cycling on the road.  Be interesting to see what they come out like and which one they use.  She said I will be able to find them on line at the papers website and have a look at them, and I can then buy some if I want to. 

Speaking to the paper about the story has made me realise how suddenly very, very close it all is and that in just over 2 weeks I’ll be at Rutland Water ready to take on this huge challenge.  To be honest I don’t know whether to be scared, excited or something else. 😮

I’ve got my ‘short’ ride tonight, only 26 miles 🙂 but am thinking it’s going to be pretty hard work.  My legs still seem a bit achy from the 47 mile ride on Sunday and running club on Monday was really hard which hasn’t done much to help recovery.  Actually, the session wasn’t any harder than usual, but I just had a terrible run and couldn’t keep up so ended up falling further and further behind the rest of the group to the point where eventually they were right out of sight.  I seem to have had a problem with my sock rubbing or maybe something inside my shoe too as I got up yesterday to find a big blister on my left foot.  This seems to have gone down now, but I’m not sure how it’s going to like it when I run on it.  Still, ever onwards and I shall just see how it goes 🙂

 

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Hard work and tiredness

Now that the bike is properly adjusted it’s been a case of getting out there and working towards the mileage I need to do for the Vitruvian.  So last Monday I headed out for a long cycle with the intention of doing just over 40 miles on the bike.  It was pretty windy when I headed out, but I figured that wind on the hilly bits would be a bit like riding up harder hills! 🙂

I’d planned a route that went out to Wymondham and up the hilly bits, turned off at Hingham and headed back to Wymondham to repeat the hills again then out through Hingham and back through the Rocklands to home.  It was certainly a struggle to get up the hillier bits with the wind blasting into me, but I was pleased to get to the top with only once having to change into the easier cog.  Unfortunately the wind got stronger and stronger as I went round the route – checking the weather when I got home I found it got up to over 20mph with gusts of 32mph 😮   The wind seemed neverending, and my hopes that if I was cycling into the wind one way must mean that I would get it pushing me along when I was headed in a different direction never seemed to come to fruition; it was either a headwind or crosswind from the right all the way round. 

By the time I had done the hills for the second time I was starting to get very tired; my average speed having dropped by several miles an hour from doing the same bit earlier, and I was starting to ache.  By the time I reached Hingham I was starting to get a lot of pain in my right shoulder, which was causing me to periodically take it off the handlebars to get some relive from the pain.  I started to have a discussion with myself – in my head rather than out loud! – about carrying on or whether it was safer to call it a day.  It’s a hard call as there is a chance that it could be that windy on the day and I’d have to put up with it then, but on the other hand I was in pain with no pain killers to take and I was becoming concerned that my right shoulder was getting worse and cycling along with one hand on the handlebar and nowhere near the brakes isn’t really the best safety policy in good weather nevermind when it’s very windy.

A couple of miles out from Hingham for the second time, I pulled over and had a bit of a stretch to see if that would sort my shoulder out in case it was just that I was doing more mileage than I had been rather than the wind.  Unfortunately this seemed to have no effect at all and I pushed on for another mile almost in tears from the pain, before taking the decision to call Andy and get him to come and pick me up.  It wasn’t the easiest decision to make, but I really was starting to feel that I was putting myself in danger with being on the road.  I pulled over and called Andy, telling him where I was and he said he would come and get me.  I told him I’d plod on slowly a bit until I could find somewhere better for him to be able to pull in and then wait there for him.   It was really disappointing to have to call him, but it’s the first time I’ve had to do that, and it was much better than me having an accident or damaging my shoulder so much it put me out of training.   Even more disappointing was the fact that I was probably only about 6 miles from home, but 6 miles or 60 I don’t think I would have made it back safely.

Once I was back at home I took some ibuprophen and then had to consider whether it would be best to skip running club that night.  I do use my arms a bit when running, although the pressure on my shoulder would be minimal.  I was keen to go as it was the last in the Ed Burton 5 mile time trials, held in memory of a long standing club member, and I was hoping I could knock a few minutes off my last time.  I had a few hours to decide though, so thought it was best to see how things went in the afternoon and then make a decision from there.  

By 6pm the ibuprophen had kicked in, the wind seemed to have died down considerably and I decided to take a chance on going. 🙂  I knew the route having done it before, and figured if I got problems I could start walking and get Andy to come and pick me up.  In the end I ran round with a lovely chap from the club called Rodney who is in is 70s and who used to triathlons about 25 years ago! 😀  We had great fun trotting round together enjoying a chat and the evening sunshine wearing the commemorative t-shirts we’d been given to celebrate the last race in the series.  I didn’t achieve the faster time I’d originally hoped for, being about 1:30 minutes slower in the end, but considering I was doing it on tired legs from my cycle I was more than happy with that.  And I really enjoyed the run round with Rodney, who really is a most interesting gentleman! 😀

The next day was a different story though, and I felt achy and tired.  I think this was more from the effects of the wind that having done a cycle and run in one day, as I’ve done that before.  My shoulder still hurt, so I decided to give swimming a miss and gymnastics was definitely out.  In the end I ended up taking a few days off, although how much of that was due to the hard session on the bike on Monday and how much was that I was just shattered and needed some rest is debatable.  

Back to normal now though and managed 47 miles on the bike yesterday 😀  Had been planning on doing just over 50, but it turned out hotter than I expected and I ran out of drink and was starting to get thirsty so cut a few miles off.  Will take a large bottle as my second bottle next time instead of two small ones, but another thing learnt that will help on the day when I do the Vitruvian.  It was the longest ride I’ve done and I tried to eat on the bike as I will on the day and that seemed to be ok so am pleased about that too.  The only thing I’m disappointed about is that I seem to have lost speed since I got the new gears put on the back and currently it’s going to be touch and go if I make the bike cut off 😦  Still a little time to work on it though and it may be a case of still getting used to the gears.  Time will tell and I guess what will be on the day will be so no point in wasting energy worrying about it 😉

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Murky waters and sandy beaches

Andy’s mum, Brenda, came to stay with us on Thursday for a long weekend and was keen to watch me do some of my training while she was here.

Feeding the cheeky goose!

Feeding the cheeky goose!

Friday was rest day so we went to Thetford and had a walk around the ruined priory and then along the river.  Afterwards we stopped for a picnic lunch at a picturesque spot on the river, and feed the ducks, swans and geese that were there too.   They obviously get fed often there as one of the geese got quite friendly and was happily letting me feed it the bread! 😀

Saturday I had planned an open water at Fritton Lake and then we thought we would head over to the coast a few miles away afterwards.  The weather wasn’t too great; a bit grey and overcast and occasionally attempting to rain, but they have some indoor seating and sell hot drinks so Andy and Brenda didn’t have to spend the whole time I was in the water standing around outside.

Brenda at Fritton Lake 'beach'

Brenda at Fritton Lake 'beach'

The water didn’t look too inviting this time, with lots of tiny weed plants growing on top of the water, which hadn’t been there previously.  Or at least not nearly so many if they were.  After getting acclimatised I headed off for my swim and almost immediately wished I hadn’t as the water was much murkier than usual 😦  The visibility at Fritton Lake is not usually that good, but on Saturday it was even worse and I couldn’t really see more than about 1 foot in front of my face through the gloom.  It made me feel very claustrophobic and I struggled a lot not to just take a short cut and get out.  Mainly I stuck it out as it was my last opportunity to do an open water swim before the Vitruvian, so I really needed to do the full swim.  I love swimming and have been very excited about doing the open water swimming – learning to swim in a wet suit and the new techniques needed for sighting have been fun and I’ve looked forward to going, even though it was murky at Fritton Lake – but I can honestly say I’ve never hated a swim so much in my life 😦

Finally getting out.  Was murky and not nice, not the best swim I've ever had.

Finally getting out. Was murky and not nice, not the best swim I've ever had.

I had to fight with myself the whole way round to keep going and by half way round the first lap I had resorted to counting in my head just to keep me going.  Normally I can switch off and just let the swimming take care of itself while my mind wanders off into whatever realms it fancies, but on Saturday the dark and murky water felt oppressive and scary, and I felt in a state of high alert all the time as if some monster could come up from the depths at any second and snatch me away from the surface. 😮  In the end I made it round two laps and then got out, I just couldn’t face the though of another half lap just to make up the distance. It’s the first time I’ve given up on a training session and it wasn’t something I did lightly, but I had to weigh up the balance of completing the session and the potential damage forcing myself to finish when I was really not in a good place in my head would do.  No point in pushing myself to do an extra 400m if it made me nervous and afraid of swimming in the open water.   If I have to swim in those sort of conditions on the day then I could finish the swim, but lots of people have said that Rutland Water is very clear so hopefully it’s not something I will have to worry about 🙂

Gorleston beach

Gorleston beach

After getting showered and changed we headed off to Gorleston beach for a walk along the beach, and the fresh air and open space was much needed after spending 50 minutes face down in the murky water!!

 

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Getting soggy!

It’s not known for being wet here in Norfolk; in fact I’m told we’re classed as ‘arid’.  So when it rained while I was out doing my long cycle on Thursday this week I decided I should take advantage of it 😀  The forecast said showers, but it was warm so I didn’t think I would have a problem with feeling cold if I got wet.

The first 10 miles where dry, although having got to the top of a hill outside Wymondham I could hear a siren coming behind me.  The hill narrows on its way down and bears round to the right at the same time so I was a bit concerned that if it was a fire engine coming up behind me I might get a bit squashed!  I managed to pull into the side where there is a junction off to the left and it turned out it was only a police car so I needn’t have worried.  First time I’ve had to worry about getting over for an emergency vehicle going downhill though, and there was a lot of silt and debris on the sides of the road from the storms the night before.

When I got a couple of miles down the road another police car passed me and then pulled in front and stopped a little in front of me, and the policeman got out to tell me there was an accident ahead but that he thought I might be able to get through.  I cycled with him as he walked up the road, and it turned out he was a cyclist so was happy to try and get me on my way as soon as possible so it didn’t interrupt my training!  As we got round the corner we could see a car had gone into the hedge and apart from the ambulance in attendance the road was clear, so he waved me through and I went merrily on my way.

A little after that it started raining, although not too heavily and the peak on my bike helmet kept it out of my eyes.  I did notice that the lack of a mud guard caused the water to spray up and give me a soggy bum! 😮   The rain picked up a bit more as I went along, and then stopped as I went through the woods although the trees dropped great big blobs on me!  As I got back to Wymondham it really started to come down quite heavily and I pulled in under the bridge that goes under the A11 to let Andy know I was ok and that I’d decided to extend my ride to take advantage of training in the rain! 😀  And the best bit was he didn’t think I was bonkers for wanting to do more training in the wet weather!

Typically it eased off fairly shortly after that but it was still good training to be out on wet roads.  Riding in the wet teaches you better control of the bike and you need to think much further ahead as things like iron workings and road markings are slippery and need to be avoided.  It also takes you longer to brake, so better planning is needed approaching junctions.  As I’ve not really been cycling with the clip in shoes for that long I was glad of the practice of being out in the rainy conditions.  Weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t that good though so looks like I may get some more practice then too!

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