Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Half term

Last week was half term for everyone in my family except me. To be fair, I chose not to go skiing and instead stayed at home (when I wasn't working, of course), watched more movies, played more video games and did a bit more training than I would usually do.

As I was meeting up with the family in Granada at the weekend and taking my bike there was out of the question, I decided to take the Thursday and Friday off work and get my 2 hour brick session in during the morning. It was quite a hectic day in the end, as shortly after my 50 km bike + 8 km run I had to shower, pop in to work for an unmissable meeting, catch a train into town to meet up with a friend visiting from the UK and then catch another (4 and a half hour) train down to Granada. I had to run (literally) from one appointment to the next but it was one of those days I enjoy, having a chance to do a bit of everything and feeling busy.

I went for a couple of runs around Granada. It was quite a challenge to avoid those "annoying hills" but I managed to invent a 50 minute flat course on the fly by following the river (slow moving rivers tend not to go up or down hill). It was drizzling slightly on the Saturday morning and the pavements were slick and slippery: it was a challenge in itself trying to keep upright while not running in to people. With a bit more planning I could have designed a much more picturesque (albeit hilly) route around the Alhambra. Instead, we explored the area with the kids (who are adverse to walking) on Segways which was a lot of fun and surprisingly challenging to navigate the twisty and narrow paths that were laid many years before Man came up with the idea of the Segway.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Brick by brick

It took a surprising amount of time for my tooth (or lack thereof) to stop hurting. Actually, the constant headaches were more annoying than the gum pain and, for over two weeks, were only punctuated by alternating doses of ibuprofen or paracetamol. By judicious timing of these doses, I was able to continue with my training although I have read that the benefits of training are compromised by taking anti-inflammatories.

Next up on the horizon is the non-drafting duathlon in Soria on the 28th of March. I've done a couple of "bricks" (bike + run) so far - one on the turbo trainer and treadmill as the weather was too grim to go outside, and the other one on my road bike, finishing off with a run on the treadmill. I don't have to build up to Ironman or even Half Ironman proportions as the distances involved in the duathlon are a 6 km run followed by a 60 km bike and a 12 km run. For example, the brick I did yesterday consisted of 80 minutes on the bike, (at least) 40 of which I did at medium or Half Ironman intensity (150-155 bpm), followed by a half hour run (10 minutes at 4:27 /km or 13.5 kph and 20 minutes at 3:45 /km or 16 kph). I definitely notice that I am training different muscles! This week my family is skiing in Granada and I said that I didn't want to go (I just find that the fun of skiing is outweighed by the hassle and frustration) but I will be joining them for the apr├Ęs ski on Thursday night (after a 4 and a half hour train journey...) so I will be taking Thursday off work (except for one meeting I can't miss) and try to get my brick of the week in during the morning.

The other thing I have been working on is being able to tolerate the aero position. Now I have ski bend aero extensions, I think it is a lot more tolerable than it used to be, but it is still a pain in the butt, the back, the backs of my legs and particularly my shoulders and forearms... Having said that, after just a few sessions it has become much easier to put up with. The most important thing is to concentrate on as smooth a pedal stroke as possible, so that my arms don't have to take up the slack. It also helps to have a relatively high cadence. I've found that the "2" setting on the turbo trainer seems to more or less lead to the same bike speed I would obtain for a given heart rate out on the road although this depends very much on wind and hills and so forth. On this setting it feels somehow heavier than battling against air resistance but then the "1" setting is too light: I can easily maintain speeds of 55 kph! I reckon that a turbo trainer with an air turbine would feel much more like cycling on the road but it would also make a racket (perhaps no more than the cooling fan I use already though).

Something pretty funny happened last week. I got contacted by someone over a video I uploaded to Youtube about a year ago, taken with my GoPro of me running around London on a spectacular day and taking in all the sights (Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, etc.). In hasn't exactly gone viral in that only 500 people have seen it in that time (of which several were me) but an advertising agency was looking to use a 15 second clip and they were proposing to pay me a nice chunk of cash for it (enough to cover the cost of the GoPro and the flight to London)! Just as well I didn't hand in my notice at work to start a new life of being paid to fly around the world making videos of my runs because they changed their mind at the last minute and went with another clip. They are keeping me "on file" but it sounds a bit too much like "don't call us, we'll call you".