Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Sandman

Quite an eventful week…..

Feeling really positive that my head was in the right place and my body had started moving I got an email about marshaling The IAU Trail World Championships at Gwyir Park Llanrwst which led me to Always Aim High Events and The Anglesey Sandman.

Always a believer in fate this looked right up my street and with almost 13 weeks to go I made the fatal mistake of asking the question on Facebook The Sprint or The Standard? The overwhelming response was The Sprint. I was gutted. Lessons to be learned: If it’s a yes/no question and you don’t want to hear no, don’t ask the question and certainly don’t ask the question on Facebook. This got me thinking again that I was spending far too much time on Facebook so I deactivated my account. A proper Teddy out of the pram, drama queen reaction but I needed to give myself headspace.

My wonderful husband, Mark, who dislikes most things triathlon, who has only watched my first event, who never criticises my triathlon dreams, but never actively encourages them either, grew up on Anglesey. He phoned his mates to discuss the bike route and had it confirmed that it’s a 60k up hill all the way loop. I could not for the life of me see how a loop could be all up hill.

I asked Iain from the Coaching Station's advice and he came up with a plan. A horrible plan. Bike, bike, bike and bike some more and the warning that if I didn’t bike he would find me and he would kill me. He nearly didn’t have to.

On Thursday I had a meeting at 5:30pm to discuss the plan. It had poured down all day. I have to travel home over the mountain. The road was flooded. Not sure how a lake forms on the top of a mountain road and the road down turns into a virtual river. When I get into Mold I hit Tesco roundabout, aquaplane and end up facing the wrong way. Bearing in mind this is rush hour I have no idea how I don’t hit anything and nothing hits me. I have this typical frightened rabbit in headlights moment where I do nothing and then realise I’ve actually got to reverse off the roundabout.

I put it to IDM that Bala was 2 weeks earlier and only 38k and flatter. He was having none of it. Stick to the plan. Suck it and see was the verdict. So I will.

Yesterday hubby decides to show me The Sandman bike route so armed with a picnic and my Mother off we trot. Just over the Menai Straights I’m told to look out for a Toll House on the left and that’s where you’ll come out. Great except the climb to the Toll House. Upwards we go through Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch . Onwards and upwards and upwards and more upwards and windy bends and more upwards through Gaerwen, Gwalhmai, Llanfaelog, Aberffraw, Maltraeth with the added commentary from my Mother which sent hubby into total hysterics of
“You should have done this when you were 21.”

“It’s not as if you’re a spring chicken.”

“There’s a history of heart failure in your Dad’s side of the family.”

“There’s not even a pavement to run on here” (after the 20th time I stopped correcting her that this was the bike route!) “You’re the wrong side of 30 you know.”

“Mark will you follow her in the car to make sure she’s ok?”

“It would kill me if I had to bury you.” (and you wonder where I get my Drama Queen tendencies from?!?!)

Then Morgan pipes up with the “Are we nearly there yet?” as we turn into Newborough Forest. Absolutely beautiful. We had our picnic on one o the numerous picnic benches and headed off to the beach. I’ve been to Newborough once before when I was 9 or 10. I cannot remember it being so absolutely stunning. We walked along the beach collecting shells and stones and walked, or should I say scrambled back through the dunes. There were lots of people but it’s so vast there wasn’t a chance of overcrowding. Great to see a kite surfer, a little chappie flying a kite, families playing cricket and football and everyone having a general fantastic outdoor time on a rather windy, grey late June day.

The last part of the bike route took us upwards through Brynsiecyn, past Plas Newydd and one of Mark’s old houses at Plas Coch.

So the verdict. It’s long. Very long for a Standard. It’s less than a 112 mile IM though and Bala Middle’s 80k both of which I should have done by now. The Jury’s still out but we do have higher, steeper and longer hills around here. It’s “Summer” adverse weather conditions should not interrupt training! Light mornings. Light evenings. It’s all down to how much I want it and how much I’m prepared to give it and sacrifice to get there.

On the way back we called at Llandudno and were fortunate enough to watch Rhian Roxburgh win the women’s Standard race and Rhian and Simon claim the female and male Welsh Championship medals. Nice also to see Julian, Chris and Shane from Wrecsam Tri all set to dismantle the scaffolding.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bank of Lynne

Big warnings folks this is very long (unlike Richard Harris' and Chris De Ryke's)To by regulars you can skip the middle bit as it's a potted history of my triathlon "career"

A while ago I posted on Facebook “5k in the bank but not quite sure what I’m saving for yet.”

This got me thinking on yesterday’s 5K . You don’t just go and open a bank account do you? Well you might have done years ago when all current accounts were the same and gave you a cheque book, cheque card and a slap on the wrist fine for going overdrawn. (When I joined Midland Bank in 1980 there were no such things as cash cards but we did have this machine that had to be filled with 10 X £1 notes in a plastic container. If you drew the £10 out you had to post your plastic container back!!)

So what kind of bank account to open? Let’s be honest, I have very little to invest. How do you get the best returns? By depositing little and often? Then I have to consider what exactly I’m saving for, and what I am prepared to sacrifice short, medium and long term to reap the reward?

I started my triathlon journey on 4 November 2007. I can be very precise about this because I know it was 2 weeks before my 44th birthday. I’d read a blog in the local paper by a sports reporter who’d done Llanrwst. Before this I’d always thought Triathlons were Iron distance and you’d have to be certifiable to even contemplate such a feat. On discovering there were Sprint events (it had never occurred to me the fact that they were called sprint meant you were supposed to do it fast!) I thought “I can do that.” Bearing in mind I weighed 16 ½ stone and had done no exercise for 20+ years. I mean I could swim, I could ride a bike, although I didn’t own one and I used to be able to run.

I entered Chirk which was 27 April 2008 and enlisted the help of the amazing Iain Davies Moore.

My first run session revealed I couldn't even run the short side of a football pitch. Not to be deterred I walked the long sides and ran the short sides and gradually built up. Because of the time of year running around a football field at 7 in the morning soon became a no, no – it was too dark and I didn’t know of the existence of head torches in those days so into the gym it was.
I worked really hard on the treadmill and the gym bikes and lost a stone and a half in the 6 weeks up to Christmas. I swam once a week too and thought I was doing ok until I spoke to the leisure centre manager who suggested I turn up for an early morning Master’s session. The Coach, although he tried to disguise it I could tell was mortified. He said if I hadn’t been so buoyant, and I’m still not sure if he was referring to my boobs or blubber, I would sink. Apparently I was pushing forward with my arms and dragging back with my legs. One to one lessons it was then. Convinced I’d never be able to swim crawl we worked on perfecting my breaststroke technique.

In the middle of all of this I discovered Tritalk, from where I have gained a wealth of knowledge and met, either personally or virtually some amazing people, the most important has to be Sue. She removed “can’t” and “won’t” from my vocabulary for a long time and has the patience of a saint running with me and encouraging every step of the way. I also befriended the amazing Sally from Chester Tri who was always available at the end of an email to encourage, cajole and shout where necessary.

My Mum was totally horrified when I told her I was doing a triathlon. Her immediate lament was “You can’t. You’ll have a heart attack!” My immediate response was “If I don’t do something about this weight I WILL have a heart attack.” Once she realised I was serious she persuaded me to raise money for Hope House Hospice. This too was a wonderful decision as in the weeks and days leading up to Chirk when the doubts crept in I knew I couldn’t not do it because there was almost £1,000 riding on the fact I had to do it.

Crossing the finish line was, after giving birth to the kids, the best moment of my life. I’d worked hard and I’d done it, obviously with a great deal of help. Mark, Morgan, Mum, Dad, Iain, Sue and my lovely friend Lesley were all there to greet me on the finish line. It was amazing. I also met Sally from Chester Tri later. And I wasn’t even last!

The next event Deva Divas 20.7.2008 750m open water swim 20k bike 5k run. Piece of cake except I’d never swum open water and didn’t own a wetsuit. Andy Smith from Tri Talk to the rescue. Posted me his old one – sorted. First open water ok. Not pleasurable but tolerable. Second session horrendous. I felt as if I couldn’t breath so decided to knock this event on the head. When you have a support team like mine that’s impossible. Cerys, a Mum of my eldest former football team mates was not only doing the event but is a qualified swimming teacher. She agreed to give me one to one lessons on the strict understanding that she would teach me to breath correctly and I would swim crawl. Big tick. Sue suggested my wetsuit may be too tight so I invested in a £30 Tesco Direct men’s XL surf suit and cut the legs off. She then dragged me to Bala one beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning and made me swim. Sally wouldn’t let me pull out until the final training session. She said she’d swim with me and would give me an honest critique of whether she thought I’d make it or not. I swam with her no problem and knowing Sally the way I know her now even if I’d sunk like a brick she would still have made me do it.

The race was Fantastic. Fabulously organised. Lots of fun. Swim was great, bike was fine, pulled my back on the run but did run most of it. Super finishers photo what can I say?

Llanrwst 31.08.2008 400m pool swim (20m pool) 25k bike (hilly) 5k (hilly) run. I dragged the kids on a picnic to reccee the course. Well I know it said hilly but… the hill went up and up and then when it flattened there was another one just around the corner. What goes up must come down. The descents were spectacular. In fact the whole bike course was pretty spectacular. The run was in the Gwydyr Forest and the hill went up, and up, and up and flattened into a fabulous trail run through the forest.
A week before I pulled my back and emailed the organisers to pull out and offered to marshal. The night before, high as a kite on tramadol, diclofenac and red wine (I know naughty, naughty) I decided sod it I’m doing it anyway. I had to get off the bike twice and push and I had to walk the hill of the run but got a spectacular reception from Wrecsam Tri at the finish. I was last and I still hold the slowest course record. Talking to Paul “Willy” Williams at the finish who was the male winner (Rhian, the goddess, Roxburgh was the overall winner on the day) I was bemoaning my pathetic performance. He turned around to me and said “99.9% of the population couldn’t do what you’ve done today. You turned up and you finished.”

2009 passed pretty uneventfully Chirk 26.04.2009 4 minutes quicker

2010 Chirk 25.04.2010 10 minutes slower (last and a slowest course record)and an absolutely awful DNF in the Deva Diva’s. I’d done the practice swim the week before easily and come race morning was reasonably confident. Looked at the swim and thought that’s way longer than last week and that’s when the wheels came off the wagon. My head went into a tail spin and that was the start of my DNF. Was off in the first wave. Kept to the back and just plugged away. Negative head was not how far I’d swum but my God look how far I’ve got to go. Was soon caught by the second wave they swam all over me and I hated it and wanted to ask the Kayak to pull me out there and then but was too afraid of sinking it. Eventually finished but was incredibly dizzy getting out. By now I’d got a reasonable road bike which I fell off loads clipping in and out. I was terrified of falling off on the mount line. I didn’t. Weather was wet, warm and windy. The roads were filthy. I was passed and passed and covered in mud splatters. I had to get off and push up a hill which I hadn’t two years previous. I cursed the bike. I cursed the weather. I cursed myself and then I was joined by the bloke from Chester Tri who rides with you to let you know you’re really last. I decided to quit after the bike. I saw Sian from Wrecsam Tri come in and screamed at her and then Deb another Wrecsam lady. The marshal pointed out that if I’d got enough energy to scream at them then I had enough energy to do the run so I set out. It’s out and back twice. I ran the whole of the out and back and sneaked into transition. I’d given up. The worst decision of my Tri life. I could easily have finished. I had no problem with coming last my head wouldn’t let me suffer the humiliation of being out there on my own for 20 minutes. Everyone was fantastic with their well dones and not far to gos but I knew I wouldn’t finish. I just cried. Well dones coming from everywhere. No it’s not well done. I quit.

Sally appeared with her congratulations and just hugged me and let me cry she even offered to walk the last lap with me. It wasn’t about walking. If I’d have done the second lap I’d have run it. I quit not because I couldn’t do it but because I was ashamed. She said if she’d seen me quitting she would have forced me back out there. She was right.

From when I finished Chirk in 2008 the “Grande” plan had always been to complete an Ironman before I was 50. This, given it was a 5 year plan was very doable. Even if I only lost a stone a year I wouldn’t be overweight and building on my sprint training I could certainly achieve the Iron distance.

My Dad passed away in April 2011 and whilst I’d like to blame this for lack of consistency it’s not true. My Dad was incredibly proud of my triathlon achievements and he’d be mortified if he knew I’d let them slide.

I’ve never stopped training I just haven’t done very much. I formulate a plan, go hell for leather for a few weeks, miss a session, then two and I’m back to square one again.

I will only ever be competing against myself and the clock so is there actually any point in entering events? I can work on improving my 10K time, increase my run to 13.1 miles and reduce that time and eventually run 26.2 miles. I can cycle more, and more, and more and learn to swim more efficiently and for longer. I won’t though. It’s not the competition of the race I need it’s the focus.

So what do I want out of this bank account and more importantly what am I prepared to put in?
“Do something for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week” is Andy Smith’s suggestion and a mighty fine suggestion it is too. I’d be making small regular deposits into the bank which will mount up and yield a tidy reward.

I could commit to the 60 minutes 6 times a week account that would probably yield me a get around marathon, an Olympic distance tri and a pretty solid base to start IM training for 2014 but, the problem with these kind of accounts is they come with the warning the price of investments may go up or down and whilst you may be allowed one or two withdrawals over the period if you fail to make a payment your home could be at risk (ok I’ve always been a bit of a drama queen!)

There’s another option of opening the Andy Smith account and trying to pay more into it when I can and when I can’t don’t worry as it’s about reaching the goal safely and not when or how quickly. I can easily save up for Llanrwyst in September with the goal being bike all the bike and run all the run and the Flintshire 10K in October. I could even add to the mix and say Flintshire 10K in under an hour. Part of the no obligation plan could also be to build up to a 3 hour long bike which will prepare me for Bala Middle 2013 and IM Wales 2014.

19th November 2013 is my 50th birthday. Bank of Lynne will register fitter and less heavy body and a mind that has erased the words “can’t” and “won’t”

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

What Can be Achieved in 23 Weeks?

"Think you can't do 100 pushups...or complete a hard workout...or lose weight...or build muscle? Anything can be accomplished if you take it one day, one workout, one rep at a time without quitting! Make new goals and find a way to accomplish matter rep at a time!" ~Marsha

So we’re almost half way through 2013 and I have done precisely nothing. Well actually that’s a tiny exaggeration but I’ve done nothing worth talking about.

My “A” race was to be Bala Middle. Fantastic event. Glorious weather. Left home at 6am. Helped in registration (no body marking boo hoo!). Counted the swim out. Marshaled all day on the run. Factor 30 sunscreen liberally applied every hour. Burned to a crisp. One competitor suggested we cook burgers on my chest rather than the BBQ. This is my favourite event. Sunday was my favourite ever running of the event. We were thanked by nearly every competitor which made it even more special.

I’m 50 in November and the “Bucket List” was to be an Ironman by then. That won’t happen but with 23 weeks to go there’s a lot that can be achieved. Llanrwst and Bala Standard in September? With a hell of a lot of work possibly Chester Marathon in October? This was a definite up to a couple of weeks ago when I fell marshalling The Big Welsh Trail 10K and half, I twisted my left ankle and right knee. I digress…

Not only have I lost my fitness, I’ve lost my ability to write.

Start again. High expectations. Go hell for leather. Watch the wheels come off the wagon. Do nothing. Beat myself up for doing nothing. Start again. High expectations….

I’m going to run, cycle and swim as much as I can, build a solid base and when I’m 50 I will be an Ironman.