Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oh, I forgot something...

...setting an alarm for 6:00 am on my works phone, which hasn't been used since the beginning of October and not had the clock changed. Woke up at 5:00 am!

Whinlatter Offroad Duathlon

Ouch, that hurt a bit! Overall time 2:41 so a bit more than I was expecting to be out there in the wind and rain. A tough course.

The Good:

My Ti 456 - it seemed to fly along the singletrack, felt fantastic.
My singletrack riding, gained a lot of places on the bike leg.
The Altura trail - need to go back on a less busy day, the traffic sometimes made the technical bits difficult.
The organisation and encouraging marshalls.
The other competitors - everyone cheery, happy to pull over, etc.
The occasional stunning views.

The Bad:

Losing over 5 minutes in transition, partly due to big faff with my gloves.
Setting off on the second run still wearing my helmet! (A lovely marshall, held onto it for me until I came back, he already had someone else's).
My slow climbing - bike or run, always lets me down.
My front brake jamming on hard, thankfully loosened off but rode the last few sections using back brake only.
Not paying any attention at all to how long I had been out there.
Seeing the lead man out on the second run when I think I was about half way through the bike leg.
The peeing rain!

The Ugly:

The guy going OTB in front of me on the bike leg, I stopped to make sure he was ok.
The guy sat at the side of the track on the second run in the throes of a complete bonk, gutted I had no gels on me to give him.
The second run in general, I was verging on bonking myself....which leads nicely onto:
Having a litre of energy drink to try to get through on the bike but have arrived home with....about a litre - I was saved by having a gel in transition.

Overall, I would do it again, but need to learn some lessons!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A lunchtime run in glorious sunshine.

Yesterday I headed out at lunchtime for an interval session. Now, I moan that the prom is the only place in St Annes to get some decent uninterrupted running and it is. There really isn't much else, getting to the prom is a big faff as St Annes is jam packed with houses so that you have to stop constantly to cross roads etc. I can find it hard to motivate myself to do the same old run, same old streets, even though it really is good to get out in the daylight over the winter months.

However, occasionally a gorgeous day comes along and I can't wait to get down there, yesterday was one of those days. I then realise that I am actually very lucky to be able to get the chance to run on the beach at luchtime, I love the feeling of wide open space.

I had an interval session planned, 2 sets of 5 x 400 metres, 1 minute recovery. Before that I took it steady to the beach, then faffed around a bit taking in the sunshine before getting to the hard work. I have a new ickle bumbag which is to carry, gloves, tissues, lip balm 20p for the loos etc but also fits my camera in. Some jogging about taking photos before heading up onto the prom itself for the intervals. Not surprisingly there was a lot of people around but it just seemed to add to the good vibe.

The intervals went well, I did them at the correct pace, 4 out of 5 of the first set were at 1.49, the other was 1.48. I did have a slight muppet moment in that I thought I had longer to rest between the sets than I did and set off on the first one of the second set 40 seconds late......

The next 4 were all around 1.49 too. Legs felt good and I could have done more. I then tootled along the bottom of the sea wall for ages before realising that it was 1:40 pm and I really should drag myself away and get back to work.

My legs felt good all the way back to work so I think last week's rest has done them some good after all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Red Rose XC Bury

I picked a good week weather wise to be taking it easy, though the rain meant I didn't get any cycling in at all. Saturday I headed over to Bury to do another XC race. I somehow managed to get myself there without ending up lost in Bury centre but once again I found myself thinking a Sat Nav may be useful.

The course was laps around a sodden field, no real climbs or downs just constant shoe sucking mud and standing water. My feet were freezing from my short warm up and didn't warm up until I got in a hot shower at home.

Considering my legs had had most of the week off they didn't feel as sprightly as I thought they should, maybe the answer is to do a long MTB ride the day before? On the first lap I started suffering from a stitch, then I realised for reasons best known to myself that I had been practically holding my breath up the incline. Whoops.

3.5 miles in 31.01. I was totally covered in mud, I was less muddy the last time I fell in a bog.

The next XC is on the 21st of this month, however I have just realised I have races planned on the next three weekends which isn't going to leave me much time to do some miles, either bike or run. Depending on the weather I may not do the XC on the 21st.

Some "Racing" Advice Required: MTB

So, the duathlon looms this coming weekend. Starting to think about the logistics, what to wear etc.

I think I should stick a bottle cage and bottle on the on one (as fortunately it will take one, Titus will not) and put puncture stuff etc in a saddle pack so I can ditch a camelbak when riding, not have to wriggle it on/off. Jez reckons I should take a small back pack.

I have never tried to race on a bike before so any advice accepted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dead Legs

I postd a comment on Kate's blog recently about resigning myself to permanently dead legs combining running and cycling....if anyone else had said that I'd be advising them to take it easy for a bit.

I had a look back at what I have been up to over the last month, my rough goals are to do 200 miles of biking and 50 miles of running to keep on target for the year (2000 miles and 750 miles respectively). I did 239 bike miles and just squeaked in 50 running miles, not huge volume really.

I also had a good few days off here and there but the big change was the reintroduction of running speedwork, the dreaded intervals and tempo runs are back! I have done sets of 400's. 800's and 1600's (set off too fast and they so, so hurt)- forgot to do 1200's! Two miles worth of fast stuff, and two runs with 4 miles at 8:30 mm which is just slower than my 10K pace.

This is the only way I will keep running at lunchtimes over the winter, I have no real choice of route so I have to break the run up into chunks. Its been a big increase in intensity so I've backed off this week, quite a lot due to the blooming weather! Nothing more than four miles (if this rain ever stops).

Next week, start again with 400's and 2.5 miles of fast stuff. I am not looking forward to those mile ones again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ti 456 first ride

I got out for an afternoon spin on the ti 456 last Friday. It took a while to actually get out the door, idly flicking though BBC iPlayer is not conducive to removing oneself from the sofa to go ride in strong winds.

As it was my last Friday off I eventually crowbarred myself out about 1pm ish. I decided on just a short ride, didn't want to end up too far in case things weren't ok, though my bike mechanic is usually pretty reliable! I also chucked a pair of running shoes in as I should do at least one brick before this month's looming duathlon. So, was aiming for no more than about two hours out total, run included, back well before dark. Except it didn't quite pan out like that....

Legs felt tired and heavy on the initial climb out (running speedwork), this was partly helped by increasing saddle height, which was the only faffing I had to do. As lots of people on the main track decided to do the fence track which looked quite dry. It wasn't, it was really stodgy, standing water further on but it had a covering of deceptive dry leaves. Bike was filthy within ten minutes, as it should be.

Off up the long climb to the tower, thought I was out of the wind but no it swirled round the hill so it was a bit of a grind. Along the top and the sun was out, just for a change:

Arriving at the tower and effectively on the other side of the hill I realised that what I thought was a headwind was just a slight breeze! Strong winds made the rutty descent difficult. I decided to try out a new track which started off well but got a bit rocky/droppy/rutty for me. It's the kind of track that needs a bit of knowledge as sometimes what looks like a good line suddenly gets a bit dodgy. I could also have done with lowering my saddle and having someone to follow (and a big dose of bravery).

Will be fun to run though! Back up towards the tower again, blown up by the wind then back to the top of the long climb I did where I had a bit of a think about where I wanted to go next. As I wasn't riding fast I thought a bit of exploring was worthwhile.

I keep meaning to ride across the top of Darwen moor. I've done one of the tracks (the straightest one) on a very dry day a good while ago but I actually prefer running on the other one as its not quite so rutty. The ruts are vehicle tyre ruts so I find them hard work running. The other track also has a great deal of hard pack on it too.

It wasn't too bad at all on a bike, only a few little bits where I had to get off bike and jump over stuff, though it was pretty soft in other places and is probably best avoided after a big downpour. I would say its more rideable than the other one, especially at this time of year. I was the only person on that part of the moor, which was just lovely after the busy tower area.

As I was enjoying myself on the windswept empty moor I thought I would continue down the Witton Weavers Way to the A666, ride briefly on the A666 then turn off and pick up the Catherine Edge bridleway back, which would give me a nice tailwind.

Started dropping down the track, it has some stones/cobbles and as I was going over them I remember thinking that it was much more comfortable on my steel frame. Then I realised that due to the headwind I was actually sat down pedalling downhill not stood up flying over them!

Some considerable time ago I rode down this track behind a group of lads who then did a short hike a bike onto another parallel track which eventually ended up at the A666 as well. I had no map with me but thought I would try to find a way to get up to the other track.

Rolling down I keep an eye out for likely places to try. A broken fence had me having a look but it ended with a large concrete drainage channel too wide for me to jump. I could see a footbridge further down and did briefly entertain the idea of climbing onto one of the concrete walls and shuffling along carrying my bike. Realising it was a reasonable distance to shuffle and I'd probably fall off I pushed back up to the main track.

I rolled down a bit further and a stile appeared, so over it and down to the footbridge and:

Hmm, there is a bit of a track off to the left so follow it up and round shouldering my bike onto a grassy plateau. See the where I want to get to and start riding, then have to get off and start yomping through marsh grass, which was hiding a nice (not) mossy bog.

Most of the grass is up above my shoulder height, a couple of times as I step into a deep bit of slop it goes over my head. I realise that at times I am probably invisible, in the unlikely event anyone heads down the main track anyway. I entertain myself with thoughts of being stuck out on the moor, waving my bike at the helicopter as it searches for me...hee hee.

I get there eventually, no idea how long it took but realise those lads didn't come the way I just did! I walk along the track I've just arrived at, heading back up the hill to see what's what. There is a stile, so there is obviously another cut through. I gave up after a short while as the track degenerated to stinking slop, oozing the stench of sheep poo:

More pedalling down hill against the wind, get to the A666 and realise its a bit gloomy so try to ride as fast as possible to the turn off before I get flattened. Get to the gate at the start of the Catherine Edge bridleway and realise I am really hungry. I chucked in a Chorley cake just in case so fished it out and sat down for some food. At some point around here I realised that the red lights on the Winter Hill mast were really bright...... which means light is fading fast. The time was well past 4pm, oops no wonder I'm hungry.

Luckily, I had thrown my joystick into my bag so I had a front light but the rear light is still on the Titus. I flew back along that bridleway due to the wind, a lot better than the last time I crawled along it. I was riding at least four gears higher!

I rode to Slipper Lowe car park and took the descent down through the woods. It was very murky and the leaf cover made things slippy but it wasn't dark enough for a light. I got to the ford at the bottom and there seemed to be loads of people around so rather than slalom through them I headed for the road, it would get me back quicker in the gloom.

Got near the road, it was indeed very gloomy, car headlights very bright, remembered about the rear light not being on the bike. Had a vague memory of buying a little emergency LED on a cord a month or two ago and chucking it in the Camelbak, had a rummage and found it (sometimes I amaze myself with moments of sense). Hung it off the LED loop, set it to flashy, got on the road and hoped no one flattened me.

A fast whizz down the road to the car, packed up while briefly entertain the idea of getting running shoes on but it was now pretty dark so I chucked the bike on top of the shoes so I couldn't get at them.

A fun ride, the ti frame definitely accelerates better than the steel one, bursts of power (the few there were) we rewarded with an immediate jump forward. Need to get it out on a long ride, that will be the true test.