Monday, 31 December 2012

01.01.13 Happy New Year!

4 days to go

Sorry for no blog posts over the last couple of days but nothing much has been happening except for a run yesterday.  Of course it was New Years Eve last night and while most of you may have been partying and enjoying yourselves, I was one of those people who was in bed before midnight, completely sober of course.

I wanted to do a light run the other day but unfortunately my GPS device no longer works after my crash the other week.  Due to that, I wanted to know how far I was going to go so decided to do the same run that I did the other day.  I knew that it was a 12.9km run so would see if there were any major increases in performance.  I woke up and was ready to rugby 7:30am.  While I was getting ready I looked at my running gear and decided to opt for my racing suit instead.  I saw it as another opportunity to get used to the suit and know if I needed to make any adjustments to it before race day.  I put it on, filled up one drink bottle and grabbed a gel on the way out.

As I started to run I was feeling quite good and managed to get into a good rhythm early.  I was on a Americas cup yacht about a month ago and was one of the grinders in a race against another boat.  You rotated your arms around Ian circular motion to grind the sail up and the rhythm and motion I was performing felt very comfortable.  When I felt like my cadence was slowing I focused on my arm rotation and my legs would speed up.

 It was hot already and I was looking forward to seeing how I would go in the heat.  I ran to the turnaround point and was feeling amazingly good.  I was going to take the gel to see how it would impact me for the return 6km but was feeling so god so decided not to use it.  I looked down at my watch and I was flying.  I hit the bottom of the street and was 15 minutes ahead of my time the other day with only a couple of kilometres to go.  I was pushing the last couple of hills and hit the house 3 minutes ahead of my time.  3 minutes doesn't sound like a lot but at my speed, that is about 3/4 of a kilometer in distance which ends up a lot.  Anyway, at the end of it all I felt good.  It also felt good that there was no more exercise to take place until race day.  The preparation had been done and now it was time to relax and get ready with the other elements of the race including a last check of the bike and my nutritional needs.  More about that tomorrow though...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

29.12.12 Morning Swim

7 days to go

This morning I woke to the sun shining through my bedroom window and an absolute cracker of a day. My wish to have a swim this morning was looking good.  I had a light breakfast and then got changed into my racing suit that Santa had given me as I did not want to be wearing it for the first time in the race.  It was looking warm outside but I knew that I had to wear my wetsuit to get used to it for the race. I made sure to grab some Vaseline to stop chaffing around my neck as this has been my issue in the past leaving a sore red rash around the side of my neck that resembles a large hickey...not the best thing to have on your neck whilst at work.

We go down to the beach and I put on the wetsuit.  It is hot and I really don't need it but as mentioned, it is something that I need to prepare for.  I look at the swim cap and decide that it is way too hot to wear that as well.  I put on my goggles after being zipped up and head into the water.  My plan is to swim to the boat ramp, then head to the other end of the beach and back to the ramp and then back to the jetty were my support crew (Victoria, Mum and Lachlan) are waiting on the beach.  I head out and to the boat ramp and I am already warm in the wetsuit.  I am feeling tired in my arms but that is me just warming up.  I hit the boat ramp and then turn around and head towards the rocks at the other end of the beach, an 850 metre swim.  I start heading out and am feeling okay.  My arms have warmed up and I am feeling comfortable.  I continue to swim for what seems like forever and the tree sitting on the edge of the water above the rocks looks no closer.  Eventually I get there and turn around for the return 850 metre swim.  As I start to head back I see a tent on the beach and decide to judge my speed on how quickly I pass it.  I am swimming and don't seem to be getting any closer or looking like I am going to pass the tent.  I keep going and realise that I am in some kind of rip.  I stop swimming swim closer to the beach and then keep going.  I am soon passing the blue tent.  I am now heading to the jetty and feeling quite good.

I eventually hit the jetty and go past it with 200 metres to go to the boat ramp and back.  I start to pick up the pace, I am feeling quite good although the arms are now tired.  I hit the boat ramp and turn around with 200 metres to go until the finish.  I have a big kick going now and have the arm cadence high.  I hit the jetty, turn right towards the beach and before I know it I can see the sand below me.  I make it to the beach and onto the sand.  I quickly remove the wetsuit, head into the water to cool off before heading for a well deserved coffee and a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Friday, 28 December 2012

28.12.12 Morning Ride

8 days to go

There was no post yesterday as nothing much happened apart from me having a relaxing day and then ging on a date with my wife to go and have a nice steak dinner followed by a broadway show (Mary Poppins).  We got home reasonably late and I was shattered but knew that I had to get to bed as a morning ride was in order.

The alarm had not gone off but Lachlan was stirring, the cord on the blinds was smacking against the wall and and a fly was flying around the rooms, all the things that could possibly annoy you and make you want to get I did.  I got dressed and headed out.  The weather was overcast and not looking too bad.  At the last minute I grabbed a Glad Sandwich bag to put my phone in, just in case there was a bit of rain...something I would be thankful later on.

I decided that I would do a shortish ride, around the 50km mark followed by a light jog to warm down.  The start of the ride felt good.  It was nice to be back on the bike again however I was conscious of the fact that this possibly could be another ride riddled with flat tyres as had happened in previous weeks and was hoping that it would not be the case.  The ride was relatively flat to a little town called Clevedon.  I knew it was around 15km from the house to Clevedon, another 10km inland to a place called Whitford followed by another 10km ride back home.  Due to that being a short ride I decided to go past Clevedon by 10km and then turn around so that I could extend the ride by another 20km.  I made it to Clevedon and was feeling good and continued on for another 10km.  I hit a little township and turned around and no sooner had I done so, the weather turned.  It was pouring down, so much so that I had to tilt my head as the rain was hedging straight for my face.  At first I was thinking that this weather sucked but then I realised that it wasn't cold, it wasn't that windy and it was only water so why was I worried.  According to the weather report, these will be the race conditions on the 5th so might as well get used to them.

I was heading into Clevedon and saw the inland road turnoff to Whitford.  I took the road and realised that at least the next 5km was going to be straight up.  As I was pushing up the hills the road that was well used by Dairy Farmers and wet was not allowing my rear tyre to grip as I was coming out of the saddle.  It was happening to the point that I had to slow down my cadence I fear of the rear wheel slipping out and me coming off the bike.  I soon came over the crest of the hill however I remembered the conditions going up so was careful coming back down the other side.  I made it to Whitford and then continued the undulating road back to the house.  I made it home with a ride of 59 km under the belt.  I dropped off the bike and put on the Vibram's and headed out for a jog around the block.  My legs felt good and the 1.5km loop ended fairly quickly.  I probably won't be doing another ride until the race.  The focus will be on the swimming and the running over the next week, particularly an ocean swim tomorrow if the weather is nice.  Below is the link to today's ride and run.
Clevedon Ride

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

26.12.12 Extreme weather

10 days to go

So I woke up this morning with what felt like a hangover.  A monstrous headache.  Of course a hangover is impossible unless the Christmas cake had more brandy in it than I thought! I felt quite lethargic also so the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run.  Looking outside the weather looked worse than yesterday so agin no real motivation to run.  But I got changed, had a glass of juice and off I went.  I was prepared to do a casual 10km run along the beach front but as I got past the 3km mark, I started to feel a lot better.  It was about at time that the weather turned up a notch and the rain came pouring down.  It was warm and humid and was not cold so it didn't bother me.  There was a strong breeze and looking at the weather forecast for Tauranga in ten days time, it made me think that these could be the conditions that I will be running in during the race.  Not much different from Wellington so maybe all those training sessions in Wellington will pay off!  I hit the turnaround point and continued back towards home.  I realised why I had been feeling so much better on the first half of the run, I had been running with a tailwind.  I was now running straight into a head wind and I knew it was going to be a hard slog home.  But it wasn't.  I was feeling quite good despite me being soaked and the wind, to the point where I decided to extend my run a little further.  I got home and 12.8km was complete.

After a nice breakfast I decided to try and figure out how I could upload my training session online.  I have tried a couple of times in the past and had various problems but tried it again using my new work laptop.  After a bit of fiddling around it finally decided to work.  I can now upload my excercise so that you can view what I have been doing.  It also means that I can store the info online rather than on a hard drive meaning I have less chance of losing them as has happened in the past.  Anyway, here is my run this morning for you to view.  Enjoy!

Beachlands Run

25.12.12 Christmas Celebrations

11 days to go

Well if I was worried about the heat on race day in either Tauranga or Auckland, it seems I have little to worry about.  The temperature today was a mild 21 degrees however completely overcast and raining and predicted to stay like that much of the following week.  Of course I looked at the weather in Wellington and it is a stunning day...very frustrating.

It was Christmas Day today and probably the first Christmas that I have not had a drink.  The closest I came was eating some Tiramisu and when I poured the flaming brandy over the Christmas pudding.  I was offered many a sip of wine today and you know what I probably should have at least had a sip as it will hardly do any harm but that is not the point.  What started out as a test for me to lose some wait turned into a battle of will power to make it through to the 5th of January.  That has since been extended with the Auckland race now on the 20th however I am so close to the end now that I can literally taste it!

Christmas was awesome today though and was a really chilled out day which is just what I needed.  I did feel a little lazy eating copious amounts of food and doing no exercise however that is what the next 11 days are going to be about.  Excercise and a focus in my diet.  Plenty of protein and starting to reduce the fibre.  Nothing worse than needing to go to the toilet halfway through a race!  So regardless of weather it was a pleasure to spend this time with my family.  Santa was also good to me this year bringing me a 2xu triathlon racing suit for me to wear for the race.

Time to go and relax with thoe family before heading off to bed as I am getting up for a 10km run before breakfast.  Merry Christmas everybody and see you tomorrow.

Monday, 24 December 2012

24.12.12 Holiday Time

12 days to go

After a busy day at work it was time to go home and finish my packing for my trip to Auckland.  The bike had been packed and it was some last minute things that had to be thrown into the bike box before it was taped up ready to be transported.  Not only was the bike going but anything associated with the bike and from a nutritional perspective so there was nuts, fruits, drink bottles and Gatorade not to mention a bike pump that needed to be included in the box.

I eventually made it to Auckland straight into the festive cheer with bottles of wine opened, beers being offered around and me thinking to myself that not drinking over this period was going to suck!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

23.12.12 Mt Kaukau Run

13 days to go

I had a great sleep last night and woke to the sun rising.  Feeling refreshed after no alarm going off I got dressed into my running gear ready for a run to Mt Kaukau.  Something that I have not done for a while so bring on 14km of hills and awesome views.  As I was filling my drink bottles I thought about taking a gel wi me as it was looking hot outside and I need to get my body used to taking them as you don't want to be heading into a race playing with your nutrition especially taking gels when you have not taken them in your training.  As I am thinking about them a mild panic sets in as I don't recall seeing the gels that I bought when I took my bike in for a service the other week.  Not only that, the spare tyres that I purchased are also missing.  I start looking around the house and can't recall even brining the bag with the items in from the bike shop.  Before I think about calling the bike shop to see if a week ago someone left their purchases on the counter, I decide to check the car.  The car yields no expensive magic shopping bag of goodies.  I am in the back seat and I lean over and check the boot.  There is the bag in the back.  I had put a case in there the other day and did not see it so it must have been covered up in some way but has miraculously uncovered itself.  I grab the bag, decide not to take a gel out and head out for the run.

I start my run and it is warm.  The sun is out and I am thinking to myself that this time in a couple of weeks I will probably be just about to start the run leg.  I run to the bottom of Mt Kaukau and where I would normally stop, I keep running.  It is weird how you can judge your fitness when you do the same routes you used to do but can do the father or with much more ease than in the past.  Based on how I am feeling, I will be running all the way to the top.  I hit the bottom of the winding stairs that means that you are near the top and my lungs are burning.  I keep going knowing I have only a little way to go and finally reach the top.  I am shattered and my heart rate is maxing out.  As much as it hurts it is good to be putting my body through that pain as it will be similar to that in a couple of weeks for around 5.5 hours straight.  I stop and have a short rest before continuing to walk up the track before running again. I am hurting from the run up the stairs it its is more than that and I am starting to realise that the heat is taking its toll.  I am sweating big time and can feel the sun on me.  It is around 21 degrees and no wind, it is only going to be hotter on race day.  As I make it to the top, enjoy the view and the start heading back down home, I begin to wonder if the training that has been completed in the  wind and the hills of Wellington will out way the heat and humidity of Tauranga and Auckland in a months time.  I head home and by the time the 14km and 1:40 minutes is up, I am exhausted.  My calfs are killing me and I am hot.  I cool down with some water and contemplate why I am feeling so rubbish.  I decide that the trip to Auckland will not be as relaxing as I once thought.  Instead it is going to turn into a climatisation camp.  I am going to have to get used to the heat and how it is going to effect me and I only have 13 days to do it.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

22.12.12 Starting the pack

14 days to go

Well today was the start of the great trip north with my wife, my son and the cats making their way up to Auckland for our annual holiday.  I am leaving later in the week to avoid the stress that comes with 3 people travelelling with cases, bike boxes, prams, car seats and well as I need to finish a couple of little things at work.  So I thought I would take advantage of the afternoon by cooking a nice dinner followed by packing the bike away in the bike box.  I was thinking of going for a ride tomorrow but I have decided that I will take up what I said the other day and enjoy a nice cross country run tomorrow morning instead.

So the mission to put the bike in the box began and what a mission that turned out to be.  Of course the spanner that was required to take the pedals could not be found and the neighbours where missing the exact same spanner.  I head on down to the Warehouse and pick up a set that should match the pedals however when I come home and try, the set does not have the right spanner.  I am almost defeated.  Do I put the bike in the car and take it to the bike shop for assistance tomorrow or do I head back down to the shops and spend another $14.99 on another spanner set.  I decide I want the bike in the box tonight so head back down and return.  The spanner fits and I eventually get the pedals off and the bike in the box.  I finally sit down to relax and it is much for that relaxing afternoon.

Tomorrow is meant to be nice so I am looking forward to a mini sleep in and my run tomorrow.  Most of all though, I am looking forward to this break, it is long overdue and well deserved!

Friday, 21 December 2012

21.12.12 End of the World

15 Days to go

Well the world is meant to end tonight or early tomorrow morning and let's hope for my sake that doesn't happen.  118 days with no alcohol, working and training my ass off and it all ends with a fiery ball or massive wave and I have not had a vesper martini, I am not going to be impressed.

I am really looking forward to the break from work.  The last month has been hell and when I was having this conversation with someone today they said that it sounds like I just want to enjoy training again.  I had a think about it and that is exactly what the issue is.  I just want to wake up and go for a run without having to get up ridiculously dry just so I can complete the run or ride before work and then at the end of the day make sure I am not leaving too late so that I get home to spend time with my family.  The fact that I get to have a mini break before the race is a blessing in disguise.  Not only will I get the chance to enjoy the training again but will feel relaxed going into the race.

So bring on the weekend and one more day of work.  Hopefully we all get through tonight so that the I can enjoy that long awaited break.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

20.12.12 99%

16 days to go

When the alarm went off for the third time this morning I really thought about sleeping in rather than swimming.  I was really tired this morning but lying there in bed was only going to make me late for swimming and no more relaxed.  I got on the motorbike and headed to the pool.  When I got there I was told that we would be doing a group set of lays.  To be randomly be picked and put in a lane one person less than the other lanes meant that one of the 4 of us would constantly be doing one more leg than the other teams...not a good start for someone that was tired.  Anyway, we did a bunch of different relays one of which was a breath hold relay whereby I saw the 65 year old women that was in my lane go nearly fifty metres under water and win that particular relay for us.  The rest of the relays where sprints and although it was hard, I am glad that I got up to do it.

As I was getting dressed to head home a mate of mine was walking in to start his session.  We were having a chat about our upcoming races, work and what we were doing over the break.  We were finally talking about my race and how I was not sure how I was going to go when he said to me, "remember that 99% people on the planet can't do what your doing" and walked off for his swim.  Now I am not sure where Brad was getting his statistics from but it did make me think that what I was about to do was something that most people I know had never done or intended to do.  Regardless of the actual statistics, the fact of the matter is that this experience, this 5 months of training, this race is something that not everyone can do and to be able to line up on that start line on the 5th January is going to be a privilege no matter how tired I may be.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

19.12.12 The Movie, Big.

I am not sure if you have seen the movie called Big, where Tom Hanks wants to be big as he is not allowed on a carnival ride.  Well anyway at the end of the movie there is a scene where he is walking back home as a child and his adult clothes are now to big for him.  Well for some reason that is how I have been feeling lately and especially today.  My suit that used to perfectly fit me now is way to big for me.  My shirts also feel way to big and to be honest I feel a little scruffy.  I have not lost anymore weight recently so not sure why I am feeling this way at the moment but only a couple more suit wearing days to go so I will get over it.  The problem then lies with my normal clothes, unfortunately I am having the same issues and having to wear a belt with everything is a little frustrating especially when the belt is on the last notch.

Anyway, my chest is very sore today.  I definitely feel like I gave my whole upper body a work out even to the point where I feel like I have blisters on my palms from the constant pulling of my body out of the water.  I am tired today.  Normally I would have done at least three exercises this week but swimming has been the only exercise so far.  I have probably gone a little early but the tapering has begun.  I am looking forward to a break in a couple of days, being able to run or swim when I like and just enjoying the exercise in the lead up to the race.  It is swimming tomorrow and it is going to be a tough set so early night tonight.  Hopefully the energy levels are back by tomorrow and the swim is a good one.

Monday, 17 December 2012

18.12.12 Power Set

18 days to go
75.7 kilos

When you are about to jump I the pool and you are looking at your set and your coach says that you are going to be stuffed later on and hurting the following day, the motivation slips away...

I woke up this morning and the weekend was taking its toll as I was stuffed.  The alarm went off a couple of times and just when I was about to reset it to a later time, Lachlan woke up.  Then the cats wanted their breakfast and before I knew it I was up.  I had decided that I would have a mini rest day today and take the motorbike rather than ride in.  Lucky I did as the energy levels where very low and my calfs are toight like a toiger.  I got to the pool and was confronted with the following:

Power Set 400 in/out of pool/ 25 fly fins/press ups and sprint etc.

Basically the set involved 400 meters in a 25 minute pool and getting out at each end which meant pulling yourself out of the pool, running around the diving platform, diving in and doing it again at the other end.  400 meters=16 times.  By the end of it, your arms are stuffed and you are still trying to sprint.  Next was fly for 25 minutes and then turning around and sprinting freestyle back.  That was done 6 times.  Last was 50 metre sprints which involved staring on the pool deck, doing 5 press ups and then diving in and sprinting for 50 metres.  Once you had completed the above it was time to do it all again.  Once that was complete, a nice 200 Backstroke warm down.  Needless to say that I was tired today and am not looking forward to how my chest is going to feel tomorrow...

17.12.12 Nineteen days until race day

114 days no alcohol (no not even a sip)
18 days to go until race day
76kg (after dinner and a bottle of water)

I know that I said that I would be more regular with my posts but work continued to be full on for the month of November and to be fair, I don't think I have ever worked so hard in my life.  Add to that me trying to spend time with my family and throw in the hardest month of training so far and you have a pretty busy period.

I am determined though to do a countdown for the last nineteen days before race day so be sure to tune in on a nightly basis.  Here is a quick catchup on what has been going on for the month:

- Bog Challenge:  At the start of November I competed in the bog challenge.  Now if you remember correctly, the bog challenge that I completed in July was when I fractured my foot so I had nervous feelings about this race.  I finished with no injuries except for the normal scrapes and cuts and 14 minutes faster than I have ever completed it.

- 2km swim time trial: About three weeks ago I completed a 2km time trial.  I hate time trials as I seem to always go to hard in them but I was determined on this one to take my time an really see how  I was feeling and the relaxed state seemed to work as I completed it in just over 35 minutes, a new personal best.

- Ocean Swim: As the weather has warmed up slightly we have begun doing our ocean swims again.  This was the first time that I had been back in the sea with my wetsuit on and the 1.5km swim felt good.  Looks like all that training I have been doing is starting to show itself!

- Bike Crash:  Last weekend I wanted to complete a mini half ironman by completing a 3 hour bike ride and then complete a 21km run.  All was going to plan when I got up at 5:00am last Sunday and left home on the bike by 6am.  I would hopefully be back and finish the run by 11:00am and spend the rest of the day with the family.  23 kilometres into the ride I eat a banana and to wash it down I pull my drink bottle out of my drink holder whilst sitting up on the bike with my hands on the top of my tri bars.  As I yank the drink bottle out of the holder it hits the top of one of my tri bars knocking the handlebars.  I lose control of the handlebars, and try to regain but to no avail.  All of a sudden I know that I am going down and before I know it I am slapped on the ground on my back.  I open my eyes and my back is killing me.  As I gather myself, whilst lying on the road, two good Samaritans pull over to assist after seeing me crash.  They help me lift up my bike and check I am okay before heading off.  As I sit on the side of the road I assess the damage.  The bike is fine except for a little bit of damage to tape on the handlebars.  My back is killing me, in fact I have landed square on my tailbone and feel like I have badly bruised my lower back.  I check the rest of my body and find no other damage apart from some damaged equipment including my smashed glasses, broken GPS and a helmet with a big dent in the back of it.  The worst however is the fact that I am 24 kilometres into a 80km ride.  Do I ride home or do I keep going and finish.  I decide to complete the ride with my back killing me.  I make it home and tell my wife what has happened.  I go upstairs and pull back my bike top and find out why my back was hurting so much as shown below.

Unbelievably, that was my only injury and although it actually does not look that bad, the internal pain is still aching as I write this blog.

- Bike and Run (2nd attempt):  Yesterday the long awaited long ride and run that I wanted to do last weekend was planned again.  This time there was no bike crash however there were two flat tyres.  I made it home though feeling pretty good and begun my run into town.  Due to the delay that the two flats had given me I was running a little late so only managed 16 kilometers before finishing up.  I was starting to hurt near the end of the run but on race day including the swim, there would only be an extra hour of pain before it was all over.  I have certainly gone longer than that before so I am not too concerned about what will happen.

Last thing.  I picked up my race suit on the weekend so the last of my kit has been purchased.  Taurange, look out cos here I come.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

30.10.12 Sunday ride...on Monday

As it was a long weekend in Wellington I decided to take advantage of it and take the Sunday off after my long run and swim and do a long ride on the Monday.  I got up early (7am), grabbed some breakfast and then headed out on the bike.  I was going to do the Makara ride similar to the one below and it was going to mean at least 4 hours in the saddle.

On the way I go past Makara cemetery and decided that as it was such a beautiful morning, to go and pay respects to a friend who recently passes away.  I said hello and then jumped on the bike and continued my ride.  As I finally reached the top of Makara hill feeling exceptionally good mind you, I pulled out my drink bottle and felt something hit my leg.  The drink bottle holder was holding on with one screw and I had no idea where the other one was.  I stopped and luckily the screw was still sitting in the holder.  I opened my saddle bag to get my Allen key out only to find that it was missing.  I pulled out every loose Allen key and could not find one to fit.  I tried to do some DIY to at least hold the bottle holder from falling on my leg by wedging my pump in it.  The bottle was going to have to go in my bike top but as I had only started the ride around 40minutes earlier, the pockets where full of food.  I stuffed the drink bottle down my top and decided to head for my local bike shop  to try and borrow an Allen key.  Needless to say I made it to the shop and learnt a valuable lesson about carrying the right gear when riding.  It started to make me think about what needed to be carried during my race in a couple of months time.

The remainder of the ride felt good.  I ensured that I ate plenty and it wasn't until around the 60km mark that I started to get a sore back.  I made it home in about 4 hours flat and quickly said hello to the family before slipping on the five fingers and going for a 2km run.  It was nice to be back training and feeling good again.  Just got to be a little more regular and get that bike time down to a more respectful time.

Monday, 29 October 2012

30.10.12 The week off

Yes, I know it has been a while since my last blog especially after my promises of my previous blog but the work load has not stopped and has led to me having to take the weekend off much to my disappointment.  As I sit here typing this blog whilst in Auckland waiting to fly home, I can now look ahead to what should be an easier period for me to knuckle down and really nail the final months of my training.

Since my last blog I have been pretty consistent in my training with some good sessions in the pool as well as some long rides and runs.  Just last weekend despite the long week at work, I knew I had to take advantage of the long weekend with some serious sessions.  I decided that on the Saturday morning I would attempt the longest single tuning have ever done and run 21km straight.  It was going to be a challenge due to the fact that I was tired from work and knew the following week was going to be just as bad.  I had a little sleep in Saturday (6:30am) before having some breaks and driving to the pool.  I parked the car and started the run.  Immediately I felt really good.  I was running along the coastal road as shown below with some kind of adrenaline running through me and felt like I was flying.

By the time that I started to round the point and was on my way to the turnaround point, I had already completed 8.5 km.  as soon as I hit the turnaround though I realised pretty quickly why I had been feeling so good.  I had been running with a tail wind.  I knew that the next 9km was going to be a bitch. At around the 16km mark the legs and feet were starting to hurt however by this time I could see the airport and knew that I was close to be home.  Maybe 30 minutes worth of pain left!  I got back to the pool and realised that I was short on my 21km run, nothing a couple of laps around the nearby oval could not solve.  The run was over and I had done it in 1 hour 53 minutes and I was happy.  I quickly grabbed my swim gear and jumped in the pool to start the 2km swim.  Surprisingly, I felt good and before I knew it it was time to jump out and have a stretch.  My day was over and it was only 10:20am, time to chill with the family

Saturday, 6 October 2012

09.10.12 Work before play

It has been a while since my last post and I would love to say it is all due to my increased training but instead it is due to a huge workload that I have experienced over the last month.  The training has been happening at the same time and by the time I have come home and had something to eat, the last thing I want to do is jump on a computer and type a blog!  So below is a brief catch up what has been happening over the last 4 weeks:

1) Two days after my blog called 'Size does matter', I ran to work in my new Vibram's.  In my blog I had talked about the fact that the new larger size Vibram's how I had no blisters and the larger size made me run faster.  Well on this day, disaster struck.  I am not sure if it was the fact that I was tight in my legs or the new shoes but 1/4 of the way into the run, I knew something was not right and my feet were rubbing in my shoes.  Half way to work it was starting to really hurt and by the time I got to work and took of my shoes, I could hardly walk.  I looked at the damage and in the middle of my right foot exactly where the Vibram's seemed to have rubbed before in my old pair was a huge blister as well as a couple of blisters near my little toe.  I was now worried that my new shoes were not all they had shown themselves to be and that they may be too big.  Since that day I have not had significant blisters but do get rubbing every now and then.  I have put it down too how tight my legs are and the strike of my foot because when I am warmed up or not feeling tired, all is well.  When it is an early morning run and I am sore from the weekend, I get some blisters.  I have now learnt to deal with it though.  I know many people who get blisters when they run so it is not just related to me.

2) About three weeks ago I decided to really step up the training and do 7 days straight.  I was feeling really good after the weekend's worth of training so instead of taking the Monday off, decided to keep it going.  The training was the below:

Monday - 10km run to work
Tuesday - 13km ride to swimming, 3km swim, 7km ride to work, 10km ride home, 1.5km warm down run after work.
Wednesday - 10km run to work
Thursday - 13km ride to swimming, 3km swim, 7km ride to work, 10km ride home, 1.5km warm down run after work.
Friday - 10km run to work
Saturday - 21km Half Marathon
Sunday - 80km Ride

Total kilometers equalled around 200km and almost 10.5 hours of training.  I was a little tired after it but was ready to go again the next week.  Unfortunately the work schedule did not allow it and it became a mini rest week which felt weird, almost like I had stopped training.

3) As you can see above, as part of the training in the week, I managed to do a half marathon.  I have never run a half marathon in my life before.  Of course I have run long distances in my adventure racing before but never a straight 21km on a flat course.  I was not really sure what it was going to feel like but decided that the best way to find out was to get out and do it.  I decided to run to work which I knew was 10km, then run 5km along the waterfront before turning around and running back.  Whilst I was around 4km into the run and had hit the flat that I would run on for most of the remaining part of the run and was conscious not to go out too hard as I did not want to blow up.  I thought I was running at a slower pace and was surprised to see that I was running at around 11.5km an hour, my normal pace.  I ran to work and was still feeling good as I made my way to the waterfront.  I began to see other runners and slowly but surely I managed to run past them whilst still maintaining a good pace.  I got to around the 14km mark and my right knee suddenly gave way.  It felt like I had torn something in my knee, but I had not tripped over and the pain was immediate, not something that I had felt slowly come on.  I slowed down and the knee felt a little better as the pain slowly went away but it did feel very weak, like it could go at any time.  I ran the 21km and was pleased with my time, 1 hour 45 minutes.  If I could do that time during my race I would be pleased!

4) I came home to look after Lachlan one afternoon and since it was such a cracker of a day, decided to go for a run with the pram.  I have not really had a good run with the pram (we bought the dogs bollocks pram with hand brake, 16 inch wheels and suspension so that I could go for runs with it) so decided that it was time to have a go.  I took Lachlan halfway to work around 6km before visiting some animals at the pet store and then catching the bus back.  Surprisingly, I was running about 1km an hour slower than what I normally run.  Looks like more runs with the pram are in order!

5) Due to work commitments, I have had to leave the bike at work and catch the bus home as it has just been too late to ride home.  It is not an excuse as I would love to ride home but by the time I get home, have a warm down run, shower etc, it is too late to spend time with the family.  Due to this I had to run to work last Saturday to pick up my bike and then ride home.  After I ran to work, I got on my bike and
as I tried to change up gears, it would not work.  I was pushing the change lever but nothing was happening.   I looked up to see that I was riding past a bike store that I go too sometimes.  I took it in and discovered that my lever was broken inside and that to change gears I would have to hold the front lever (brake and big gear change) whilst pushing the smaller leaver (rear gears).  It was a pain in the ass but at least I would be able to get home.  Needless to say the bike was booked in for a service with them two days later.  So how expensive is the sport of Triathlon...very expensive!!  I read somewhere once that triathletes are the best people to buy presents for as you can always buy them something.  New gels or protein bars, bike gear, drink bottles, sunglasses etc.  However there are just some things you can't do without and a working bike is one of them.  The bike is now fixed and has a new front lever, and it is now a 10 speed bike rather than a nine speed so at least I have a few more gears to play with.  The unfortunate thing though is the cost.  Lets just say that you imagine getting a reasonable service on a car...double that cost and you will probably be there with my bike service.  Luckily we have been saving a crap load of money on the non purchase of alcohol in the last 6 weeks, yes 6 WEEKS and I have still not had a drink.

6) Lastly, it was a beautiful morning today and I was all set to go for a nice long ride but my body just said no when I tried to get up.  I have been fighting a mini cold over the last week and I listened to my body and had a sleep in.  There was an orienteering event on today so Vic and I decided to go and do it  and take Lachlan in the pram.  It was nice to be running with the pram again but also to be running as a family.  Before we knew it, 8km had been run followed by a nice sandwich at a cafe whilst sitting in the sun.

So that has caught you up on what I have been doing, again sorry for the delay.  I have now decided that I will do short and more regular posts as they are easy to do rather than wait a month like I have recently.  Just a catch up on the goals so far:

Weight - 77.5kg.  I have lost around 4.5kg since August.  I wanted to be 77kg for the race but now think I have at least 2kg to go and hope to be around 75kg on race day.  Needless to say, I might need to buy some new suit's as the belt normally worn for the look is quickly becoming the only thing stopping my pants from falling down!

Alcohol - As mentioned before, I have not had a drink for 6 weeks.  Bring on January!

Race Day - It is only 89 days to go until race day.  The pressure is on and just like my rejuvenated bike, the training is just kicking into another gear!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

09.09.12 Size does matter.

As I again tried on my new (one size bigger) Vibram's, I accidentally ripped off the label.  I had being trying them on and off again for the last couple of days.  Too worried to wear them outside as I still could not get over the fact that they were a size bigger than my last ones that I wore only a week ago with no issues.  Oh well, the decision had just been made for me, they were now my new shoes.

Running with new shoes that I am not 100% sure are the right size and still not properly healed blisters on my right foot was only going to lead to one result on my run today...but another surprise awaited me.

After still trying to understand the size change of my feet (almost over it now), I decided to google what you would normally google when you have a question; How to run in Vibram's.  I found a link to a youtube video called, How to walk/run in Vibrams.  The link was everything I already knew about running barefoot.  How not to strike your heel, how the shoes work etc.  But it also provided a tip on how to lift your foot off the ground, not push of your foot like you would in normal shoes.  I found it quite interesting as I think I have been pushing off my feet at times and this was a new piece of advice that I was not aware of.

The weather this morning was atrocious but by mid morning it had cleared.  I decided that I would run to work to pick up my motorbike and finally test out the new shoes.  I started the run and everything felt normal.  I ran down the slight incline before reaching the top of the gorge being careful to stay away from the concreted stones that only a week ago caused so many issues.  I don't like running down hill however today it did not seem to be that bad.  I really started to concentrate on lifting my foot rather than focussing on pushing of my foot.  I felt like I was going reasonably fast and looked down to see that I was running at 13km an hour, faster than I have run in a while.  I made it down to the bottom of the gorge and to the flat run all the way to work.  Again, I was concentrating on lifting my foot and by doing that really felt my leg speed increase.  I looked down at my watch to again see that I was doing anything from 12-13km.  I was running at a speed on the flat that I had never run before, but the question was; could I maintain it?  I was two thirds of the way to work and was getting tired, but again focussed on lifting my foot.  I was definitely running slower and was surprised to look down at my watch and again see that I was cruising at over 12km an hour.  I finally made it into the city and to the finish line at work.  I looked down at my watch to see that I had just run 9.6km in 45 minutes, the fastest I have ever run that I can remember.  My legs felt good, my feet were not sore, no blisters had occurred on any of my feet and more importantly the blisters that were there from the other day were still there, unharmed.  Maybe my new shoes were just what I needed...size really does matter!

Attached is the running graph of my run and as you can see there is a pace line showing the consistent pace that I was running at today.  As you can see at the end of the run there was lots of stopping and starting due to crossing roads and traffic lights but overall pace was 4:41. That is a 1 hour 28 minute 20km!!  I might just have to say thank you to those concreted stones when I run past them again tomorrow...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

07.09.12 The Vibram's are back!!

I had dropped my Vibram's off at Gordon's Outdoor Equipment on Monday so they could investigate the issue with the ball in the right hand shoe as well as look at repairing the tear in my left hand shoe.  I was not expecting much but I received a call from them the next day.  They had sent my shoes to the Vibram head office in Wellington and they had agreed that there was an issue with the shoes.  Even though they were past the warranty period, I had two choices.  The first choice was that they had rmoved the ball from the right shoe and could repair the tear and I could have my original shoes back or I could wait for a shipment to come in later in the week and I could get a new replacement pair.  I work in hospitality and I know a thing or two about customer service but the customer service that I have received from Gordon's Outdoor and Vibram is exceptional.  It is not often that a global company will stand behind their product like these guys have and if you are thinking about buying shoes or outdoor equipment in the future, I highly recommend getting it from either of these companies.  Of course I took the second option.

After my crappy day on Thursday due to the poor performance of my swim, I needed a cheering up of some kind.  I received the call that I had been waiting for, my new Vibram's were in-store and ready for me to pick up.  I was glad to finally get them back on my feet as I had not gone for a run since I had handed them back.  I arrived at the shop and there on the back counter were my new shoes.  I couldn't wait to put them on.  I was given the box and went over to seat to slip my toes into them.  They were a new colour rather than the grey black ones that I had previously which was not an issue as I just wanted the shoes back.  As I put them on though, I realised that something was not right.  They felt very tight and my big toes were touching the end.  The sales girl also said that they were too small.  I asked if they were the same size as my other ones which they were.  "Well how can this be" I said, "how could they not fit me?"  Okay, maybe the new design was smaller.  We found a different colour to the ones that I had previously and I tried them on.  Same issue, they were too small.  So I was given a pair to try on the next size up in the old grey and black color. They seemed to big.  No not according to the sales lady, they were too small also.  So I try another size up and they are way too big.  I am now confused about which pair I am meant to be wearing.  I can't understand why all of a sudden I am a size bigger and potentially two sizes bigger!  The sales lady confirms that she does know of other people that have had the same issue where the next pair has been a bigger size.

After much deliberation and trying on about 4 different pairs of shoes I decided to go with the size bigger than what I was already wearing in the original grey and black.  I was told to take them home and wear them around the house to see if they feel okay and if not to bring them back and swap them over.  I am wearing them as I type this, still with the labels on because I still do not understand how I have gone up a size.  Although we have had 140km winds today and it looks like it may be a similar story tomorrow, I think it is time to finally get my new Vibram's dirty.

Friday, 7 September 2012

07.09.12 25 Minutes

10 days no alcohol

On Tuesday morning at swimming the coach decides he wants to do an analysis on my stroke.  The whole session I am being critiqued and we are trying different things to make me more efficient in the water and therefore faster.  My stroke count has always been an issue as I 'glide' too much through the water and therefore there are parts of my stroke where I slow down and almost stop resulting in momentum stopping and me being slower.  We do a verbal breakdown compared to a year ago and determine that I am definitely getting better but do need to focus on stroke speed.   My coach reminds me of the 1.5km time trial that is on Thursday and that he would like to see me go under 25 minutes.  The fastest I have ever been is around 25 minutes 13 seconds so that is a whole 13 seconds off my best time.  It is also around 1:40 per 100 metres which for those non swimmers out there is relatively fast.
Although we are trying new things with my stroke, I am feeling confident that I can break the 25 minute barrier.  Training is going well and diet is good, I just need to feel it on the day.

I wake up on Thursday morning and get changed into my bike gear before the 13km ride to the swimming pool.  I am aiming to warm up on the bike but take my time so as not to fatigue myself before the time trial.  I have eaten some breakfast and jump on the bike.  I am not feeling good.  I feel quite fatigued but enjoy the ride into town non the less.  By the time I make it to the pool it is 5:45am and I am still not feeling good.  I eat a banana and have a drink before jumping in the pool at 6:00am for a warm up swim.  I have a plan for today.  I am going to go out hard for the first 200 metres and then settle into a rhythm before sprinting the last 200 metres.  I start my watch and we are off.

The first 50 metres is good and I am focussing on my stroke speed.  I am feeling okay at this point as I hit the wall and turnaround for my first 100 metres, only 14 to go.  I look up at the clock and have done the first 100 in around 1:30.  I settle into the second 100 but there is no sprint, the energy is just not there.  I get into a good rhythm though and continue through the first 500m with the last 400m done on about 1:40, I am on track and only 1km to go.  The 600m, 700m, 800m and 900m mark passes and I am still on 1:40 pace.  I am feeling okay and know that I only have 600m to go.  I hit the 1km mark and  before I know it I have someone touching my toes, wanting to pass.  I hang on for another 100m before I am passed by one of the guys in the lane and as soon as he passes he is getting further and further ahead of me.  400m to go, only around 7.5 minutes of pain left.  I keep going and hit the last 100m before I begin the sprint home.  I touch the wall, look at my watch to see the time of 23:47 and my coach looking down at me saying "don't you have another 100m to go?".  Shit!!  I push off the wall and sprint the last 100 metres (again) before touching the wall.  I look at the clock and it reads 25:37.  I am gutted.  I have been on track for most of the swim and have lost it somewhere near the end.  I do a warm down and then head over to the coach.  "I don't know what else I could have done today" I say.  "Yes, you looked pretty pissed off when I told you your time" he says.  He has recorded the splits and begins to go through them with me.  At the 1km mark I was on track for a 24:58 swim.  Every 100m after that I have lost around 5 seconds a lap.
"You blew up" he says.
"I would have rather blown up than just gone slow all day.  My lats are killing me so I know I have worked hard".
"Blowing up is good" he says.  "At least you knew that your limit was 1km and now we need to improve that to 1.5km".
I am disheartened.  I really wanted to break 25 minutes but what he has said has made sense and based on the way I was feeling this morning, a 25:37 is not the worst swim in the world.  I put on the bike gear and head to work. Still feeling pissed off and now with even less energy than this morning.

04.09.12 The Vibram's are gone!!!

8 days no alcohol

It is Monday morning and I decide that I will run to work rather than take the motorbike.  I get changed into my running gear, have a quick bite to eat and I am out the door by 6:00am.  I begin my downhill run from my house into a slight down hill before heading down the massive gorge that will take me down to sea level and a flat run all the way to work.  It is a cold morning so I am wearing my long skins, Nike running gloves and of course my Vibram's.  I am feeling really good despite the cold and looking forward to the run.

I am now running down the gorge and see a flashing light coming from behind me.  I know it is a cyclist wanting to go past me on the narrow footpath.  I pull over to the left hand side whilst the cyclist passes me and notice that it is a mountain biker that I see regularly riding home very late at night.  I know it is her because of a orange waterproof jacket she wears.  I usually pass her near my house whilst I am heading home reasonably late on the motorbike and I am impressed that she is riding home so late and have often said to myself "Yeah but I bet she was not up at 6am this morning".  Well, this morning she has proved my wrong.  She goes past me and I make my way back onto the footpath as I step through some loose stones and before I know it I am airborne.  As I head back to ground I put out my hands to reduce the impact and the slide down the steep footpath for another metre or so before coming to a stop.  Owwww I say to myself as I roll over onto my back.  I pull myself up and just stand there for a little while trying to work out what the hell has just happened.  I walk back up to the loose stones only to realise that they are not loose stones, they are stones that for some reason are concreted onto the footpath and I just tripped over them.  My hand starts to sting and I look to see a massive hole in my running gloves, however my hand is only slightly grazed.  I am pissed off though that I have ruined my gloves.  My knee starts to sting.  I look down to see a hole in the right knee of my skins and a badly cut up knee.  I am really pissed off now.  My left hand toe starts to sting and I look down to see a hole in my VIBRAM's!!!  I am super pissed now!!!  The worse thing is that I am 5 minutes from home and still have 40 minutes to run into town.  Now I have to do it with a cut up knee, hand, toe and the feeling that I have just ruined all the equipment I run in.

The run in is a sombre one but I make it in feeling pretty good.  My right foot is hurting a little and I put it down to my knee obviously causing some pain on that side.  It feels more than that though and as I take of my Vibram's I see the reason why.  I have a huge blister on the bottom of my right foot.  I look in the shoe and see that there is a bump under the fabric of the shoe which I have noticed in the past but it has never been an issue.  Today it is bigger and it has given me a huge blister.  I am now even more pissed off.  I can't do much about the rips in anything especially the Vibram's but decide that the bump in the shoe is something that is now an issue.  After having a shower, patching up my knee I decide to call the shop from where I bought the shoes and see what my option are.  They ask my how long ago I bought them and that Vibram have a 90 day return policy for any warranty issues.  I tell them I will go home, get the receipt and bring the shoes in for them to check as I am pretty sure they are past 90 days old.  I get home and sure enough I am 20 days over the 90 day mark.  I decide to take them in anyway and see what they can do about the rip.

The next day at the shop I drop off the shoes and explain the rip as well as the bump in the middle of the right hand shoe that is causing me to blister.  I have noticed it for a while but it has never caused an issue until today.  They tell me they will send off to Vibram and they will let me know the outcome...

Fathers Day 03.09.12

7 days no alcohol

I wake up early on Sunday morning and it is Fathers Day!!  What better way to start Fathers Day (besides a bacon sandwich) than a nice 80km ride up Paekakariki Hill!  I leave early and after last week know that I need to make sure that I have enough food on board.  I am feeling a lot better than i have in previous weeks and the last time I did this ride I was nearly cycling on the spot as I was coming up the second to last hill on my way home.  The ride out is perfect and I have left reasonably early so there is no traffic on the road.  I make my way to the base of Paekakariki hill where I stopped about three weeks ago and continue to ride as I am feeling good.  I begin the climb up to the top of the hill (hill in the middle of the picture below) and get into a good rhythm.  This is shown by two things, the green line being my cadence (speed of pedals per minute) and the speed itself (blue line).  Before I know it I am up at the top of the hill.  I have a little break before and a quick bite to eat and take a photo of the beautiful Kapiti Coast before jumping back on the bike and heading down the hill.

As I head down the hill I pass large groups of riders that are heading up and I think for a second and only a second, do I turn around and do it all over again with not this time.  I hit the flat and begin the long trek home, again ensuring that again I am constantly eating and drinking.  I make it home 17 minutes faster than I have just three weeks ago and put on the Vibram's for a quick 1.25km warm down run before enjoying a nice Fathers day coffee in my Fathers Day mug.

Monday, 27 August 2012

26.08.12 Ride in Windy Wellington

1 Kilo up!
131 Days to race day
1 day no alcohol

So I wake up this morning knowing that I have to leave relatively early so that I can get in a decent ride and then relax for the rest of the day.  I want to do at least 80km so decide that I will do a ride that I first did when I arrived in Wellington to one of the peaks of Makara where I normally go Mountain Biking.  From memory it is around a 65km ride so I will have to extend it somehow when close to home.  I did want to go along the waterfront but being a typical Wellington day, it is windy, very windy!!!.  Wind of 46km/h and gusts of up to 80km/h are going to be a nightmare if I go around the exposed waterfront so will stick to the gullies and hills around Makara.  I begin the ride.  The road to Makara is an inland road that is not well used so there was no cars to worry about which was lucky as the wind was causing havoc with my bike.  I normally stop just before a long climb up to the top of Makara but decided that I was feeling good so would keep going.  As mentioned in my previous blog, I feel that I have now begun my preparation for my half ironman.  There is no stopping in the race so why practice stopping.  I get to the base of the climb and am feeling surprisingly good.  As I start climbing I am looking for more gears however quickly realize I am no longer riding a Mountain Bike and already at the top of the chain ring...the climb is going to be a tough one.  As I start weaving my way to the top, I am still feeling really good and know that the top is not far.  I hit the top and make my quick decent down to Karori road to begin my ride home.

As I am nearing the city, I take same different turns to extend the ride a little more before hitting the main road back home.  As I look down at my watch I realise that I have only achieved 32km.  The ride home will be 15km maximum so it is going to be way short of the 80km ride I wanted to do.  I decide that the only thing to do is turn around, head back into the city and begin the ride around the waterfront all the way to Owhiro Bay, right to the end of the coastal road.  I start riding around the coast and quickly regret the decision to do this due to the horrendous wind but know that I have to get the long rides under control and then start tacking on longer and longer runs after them to get me ready for the 20km run after the 90km bike.  It seems that no matter what direction I am going, the wind seems to be blowing in my face and when I say blowing, I mean virtually stopping any momentum of mine moving forward.  There is a point that I am looking forward to around one of the bays when you hit a Trig Station or some kind of marker just off the road and at this point the wind which has been in your face for around 30 minutes usually stops.  I hit the point and the wind stops...for a second!  Somehow, despite me changing direction the wind is still in my face.  I continue to ride along the bay road before hitting one point that I know is going to be hell.  Just after the airport near a place called Lyall Bay is a straight stretch of road that runs parallel to the runway and on the other side is the surf beach.  It always has a head wind and today did not disappoint.

I continue along the bay and get close to the end of the road before the long climb back into town.  I am starting to feel tired all of a sudden and although I have been eating, I know that I have one banana left and still a long ride home.  I climb up Happy Valley Road which is basically a 4.3km long climb back into town.  I know that there is a bus stop just after the top.  The perfect place to get off the bike, have a drink and my last banana but my thoughts of not stopping for the whole ride hit me and I realise that I will have to keep going.  I am halfway up the long climb and I feel thirsty even though I am drinking regularly and I am now very hungry.  Not good signs, I have not been eating and drinking enough even though I may think that I have.  The second part of my training has just begun...nutrition.  I reach the top of the climb and I am shattered.  I stop at the bus stop and get off the bike.  Forget the no stopping idea.  My back is sore and I am starving.  I eat the banana in no time and take a big drink.  I don't stop for long before I descend back into town.  I finally hit the same point I had been when I turned around, 36km earlier.  I have now completed 68km and will get to around 80km before I am home.  The ride home is going to be tough though, one massive hill, a lot of little hills and of course the hill of death to finish it off.

I begin heading up Ngaio gorge.  A long steep climb that takes you from sea level up around 120 metres.  I am half way up and am starting to really tire.  I reach the top and begin the up and down climb to home. I am past the point of hungry now.  I am starving and know that I am getting to the point of "bonking" which is the cycling term for 'hitting the wall'.  I somehow make it to the base of the hill of death but it has been a struggle.  I know that as soon as I drop off the bike I need to put on the Vibram's and go for a warm down run.  That warm down run was going to be around 5km, but it has just been shortened to 1km.  I hit the base of the "hill of death" and somehow find the strength to pull myself out of the saddle and begin the climb.  All I can think about is food.  I know that we have some fresh rolls at home and so my favorite sandwich is on the cards.  Ham, cheese, cucumber and salad cream.  I begin to worry about the fact that I don't think there is any cucumber at home.  My perfect sandwich will not be perfect but it is food.  I won't eat that before I go for the run so need something instant.  Victoria came home with some Dunkin Donuts that other day.  Is there a chance that the glazed one is still there???  All the thought of food has not only made me even more hungry but it has passed the time and I am now nearly home.  I make it home and Victoria is downstairs.  I come through the door and say to her "I need a favor".  Victoria says "What do you need".  I say "I need you to make me a roll and when I say make me a roll, I mean that you have about 8 minutes to make it".  I open the container where the donuts where and see a glazed donut staring back at me.  Before Victoria can say to me, "that is for your sister in law," it has already been engulfed by some sort of digestive osmosis.  I put on my Vibram's and run around the block.  I am hurting and as I continue to run I begin to think about how the hell I am going to do a 20km run after a 90km bike ride.  But my legs start to loosen and the donut has done its job.  The sugar has been sucked straight into my bloodstream and I am feeling much better.  I come home have lunch and love the fact that I have had a good weekend of training despite the fact that I can no longer move my legs.

Below is the graph of the ride.  The dark points are the hills that I have gone up.  The blue line is the speed and the green line is the cadence (how fast I was peddling).  The important one is the heart rate.  No matter that I was not eating, the base fitness is there and my heart beat is even.  I have also included the Google map showing the ride around Wellington.  Got to love that bay ride, especially when the wind is blowing in Wellington.

25.08.12 Training in full swing

You know those times when you have a really bad sleep, you might have had a couple of glasses of Pinot Gris the night before but you wake up the next morning feeling lethargic and all you want is more SLEEP!!  Well the best thing that I can suggest is go for a 1 hour 32 minute 13km run!

I must admit when I woke up that there was not a chance in hell that I was going to go for a run but I have come to the realization that in only 4 months time, I am competing in a Half Ironman.  With the elements broken down it seems like a relatively easy exercise.  I regularly do 2.5-3.0 km when I swim.  I am doing 80-90 km in the hills on the bike and I am regularly running 13km in the hills.  The flat course around Tauranga should be no issue...yeah right!!

You have to remember that you have to put all of these elements together on the day.  How quickly your day can turn to crap when you have been swum over the top of in the mad rush to get to the first buoy in the swim and you lose your goggles because they have been ripped from your head.  You get a couple of flats on the bike or you don't eat enough food and use all your energy with nothing left for the run.  At the end of the day, you have to put around 2-3 days of solid training together for one race.  Whilst these individual elements are being achieved currently, there are not too many days I complete a 90km bike ride and look forward to a 20km run...but soon that will have to be the case.  I think the biggest issue on the day is going to be the heat.  If there is wind then bring it on as I am used to it living in Wellington.  Cold conditions, I don't even know what hot conditions are any more!  But heat could be the killer.

Needless to say the focus for me at the moment is going to be on working the hills for the next couple of months and then once this base hill fitness is there, I will work on the speed.  To do this I need to also focus on the other elements of the race including getting into the open water again (which I hate) and remembering how to transition from swim to bike and bike to run.  The main aim for me though over the next 4 months is to lose another 3 kilo's.  I would like my ideal weight going into the race to be around 77 kilos and some of my nutritional decisions as well as the occasional drink is not helping this.  So the aim is this, to give up the drink for 4 months to see what happens.  I once gave up beer for a couple of months, changed nothing else in my diet and lost around 3 kilos so giving up all alcohol is the next step.  Good bye Pinot Gris and hello Lemon Lime and Bitters.  Yes, you heard it here first, I am giving up alcohol for 4 months!!!  It is going to be ridiculously hard but I am taking this race seriously.  One good race here and then it is potential ironman in a couple of years time.

So the training has officially begun and all else has just been a warm up to this day.  In the words of Bridget Jones Diary:

0 Kilos down
132 Days to race day
0 day no alcohol

So the start of the serious training has begun and the run to Mt Kaukau all 13km was completed in record time.  The pace is nice and even if when running up the hills.  But the best thing about the run was I felt good during it and I felt a crap load better after it.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

05.08.12 Back on the bike

After my efforts in the past week and the success of my run yesterday, I am keen to dust off my bike and go for a ride.  I have not ridden my road bike for at least 1.5 years.  I commit to going for a ride by dusting the bike off (literally), pumping up the tyres, and getting my gear ready for my ride on Sunday morning.  What better way to stretch my legs out after yesterdays 13.5km run than a nice gentle 80km ride up to the top of Paekakariki Hill!!!

Not the smartest first ride to do I know but the day has turned out to be a cracker and although I live at the same height as the top of the hill and I will basically be coming down my hill, along a long flat and then up to the top of Paekakariki Hill.  I start the ride and am looking forward to the ride.  I get to the base of the hill in around 50 minutes and begin the 35 minute climb to the top.  3/4 of the way up the hill and I am searching for gears that are not there.  It is at this point that I wish I had my mountain bike!!!  I keep climbing and am surprised that my legs feel as well as I do.  Before I know it I come around a corner and see clear blue sky.  I continue along the ridge until the summit where there is a lookout.  The view is amazing up there and so I take the opportunity to take some snaps.  It is hard to see but in the first and the second photos below you can just see the South Island and the snow capped mountains.

After a quick rest, I jump back on the bike and begin my decent.  I start passing people who are making the climb up to the top of the hill and I am glad that I am on my way home.  As I hit the flat ride home, my ass is starting to hurt and when I say hurt, it is bloody killing me.  It has been a while since I have ridden and I am not used to it.  I am a long way from home (about 30km's) and I now realise that this is going to be one uncomfortable ride home.

I am actually looking forward to any hill on my way home because it means that I will at least be able to get out of my seat.  About 10km's later I am getting out of my seat regardless if there is a hill or not.  Around 50 minutes after descending the hill eventually make it through the last town before the long climb back home.  Not only is my bum killing me but my whole body is hurting.  There is a coffee shop that I normally stop at and I start dreaming of a nice latte but the other voice in my head says, "Just end the pain!"  I eventually make it near the top when another rider slowly goes past me and yell's "C'mon".  I look up at him and tell him, "I am gone, and I still have to go up that hill yet," as I point towards the hill of death.  He laughs and I carry on and begin the last climb of the day.  Normally I would not look forward to this hill especially after this long ride but it is at least 10 minutes of not being in the saddle so I am looking forward to it.  I am half way up the Hill of Death and a guy washing his car looks at me and says "You will make it to the next Olympics".  I finally make it home and am absolutely gone but drop the bike off and pull on the Vibram Five Fingers and go for a warm down run to loosen the legs.  I am pretty happy with what I have achieved this weekend, I am seriously back and my journey to my Half Ironman in January has finally begun.
Ride to Paekakariki Hill

Ride home from Paekakariki Hill

04.08.12 That elusive Mt Kaukau Run.

For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while now, you will remember that it has been a dream of mine to run to the top of Mt Kaukau in my Vibram Five Fingers but knew that it was a long way away as I did not want to do a long run too soon and potentially injure myself.  Well I took it slow and got injured anyway, so thought stuff it, I am going to go all out.  I normally do this run with a back pack on with full gear in readiness for my adventure races but today I ran only with a fuel belt on filled with a couple of small bottles of Gatorade.  I felt very light and free especially with my Vibram Five Fingers on and not my usual cross training shoes.  I began the run and felt no pain in the foot or my leg like I had the other day.  It was a good start to the run and the day was perfect.  I made it to the bottom of the mountain in no time and was feeling so good that the spot where I normally stop to rehydrate and have a gel; I ran straight past it.  At the base of Mt Kaukau as you head up to the actual ridge line, you go up a series of tracks and stairs.  I made the conscious decision to run up all the stairs and I was allowed to walk in between them.  I realized pretty quickly that I was able to run with relative ease up the stairs as their was no resistance or weight from heavy cross training shoes.  I was able to increase my cadence with relative ease which was increasing my speed.  I made it up to the ridge in no time and looked up to see the tower as shown below.  To the left of this image is a lookout on another part of the hill and on the right is a trig station.

I now run to the trig station on the right and then back along the ridge to the lookout where I rehydrate and eat.  The ridge line track up to this transmission tower is very rocky and I was always wondering how my Vibram Five Fingers would go considering there is a thin piece of rubber between you and the sharp rocks and not much else.  To my surprise, they did very well.  I still felt rocks but nothing like I thought it may be.  I get to the lookout and have a quick drink and a gel before heading back home.  I am feeling really good as I am running down the track and even though it is wet and slippery my footing is not a problem and I am thinking of when I last ran down this rocky path of how I had fallen over and commando rolled onto my backpack and then SLAP... I am on the ground.  I have slipped and gone down like a sack of crap.  I am on the ground a little stunned but realise that I am fine and get back up.

I head back home and have the option of taking the long way or the short way...I take the long way.  I cannot believe how good I am feeling and even running up the hill of death I am feeling good as my cadence is definitely quicker than it has been before.  I finally make it home after an hour and 40 minutes I am home.  My wife opens the door and without me saying anything say's "You don't even look puffed".  I don't feel puffed and now I don't look it.  My foot is better, my groin does not hurt and I have conquered the elusive Mt Kaukau run.  I am finally back on track for my Half Ironman in January.

Monday, 6 August 2012

29.07.12 Over being injured!

Yes, there has been a long delay since my last posts but there has been nothing to write about.  The stress fracture injury never got better, or felt like it was getting better and for a long time I thought it was never going to be fixed.  I could press my foot where I couldn't in the past without pain however there was still discomfort when I walked especially in my toes.  A funny thing happened though whilst on holiday.  I had got to the stage where I had been drinking for a couple of weeks and eating like a king and I just felt fat.  I woke up one Sunday and decided that I needed to go for a run.  I was at my mums house in Sydney and put on my Vibram's and ran down the street.  I knew a small course that was around 4km that I could do and if there was a problem I would be able to walk back or at least catch a cab (I was that worried about my foot I took cash!!).  I started to run and knew straight away that my foot was still not right.  I was very frustrated however decided to keep going.  I finished the run and my foot hurt and the top of my right thigh felt very tight, almost sore.  I kicked off the Vibram's in frustration and forgot about running again.

Exactly a week later after coming home for a couple of days after my holiday I was getting back on a plane heading to a conference in Auckland.  Whilst packing my bags, I looked at the space in my Suit bag that normally holds my running shoes and thought to myself, why not.  I picked up the Vibram's and put them in the bag...just in case I felt like trying one last time.  Had a nice dinner on the Sunday night in Auckland and did not have a late start so decided that I could get up and go for a run.  I was staying in the same hotel that 4 months ago I had done exactly the same thing in the lead up to my Adventure race.  I got up at 5:50am and put on my running gear.  I headed down to the lobby and walked outside.  I started to run.

Initially the foot felt fine, and then I started running down a steep hill when my foot felt a little tight but not painful.  The loop I was hoping to do was around 7km.  This was a huge jump from the fact that I had basically done nothing in the last 7 weeks except 1 run but I was over being injured.  I thought, I would rather be injured again and know that maybe there was another issue that I needed to fix or test my foot and work out if it really was okay.  The run that I was doing was relatively flat and again if something went wrong I could walk or limp back to the hotel.  I hit the flats and a running squad that looked like they were doing some kind of charity run was in front of me.  They were well in front but gradually without me really trying, I began to take them over.  I hit the waterfront and was feeling really good.  I ran around the waterfront and hit the long stretch of road to the bottom of the hill of the hotel.  My foot began to ache slightly but again was not painful.  The issue was now the tightening in my right upper leg that I had experienced at my mums place.  It was actually starting to hurt, like I had pulled something but I continued on.  I ran along the road and by now not only was my foot sore but my whole body was sore.  I hit the bottom of the hill before the hotel and began to run up the steps but my right leg was killing me and my foot was okay.  I would normally run up a set of stairs up the hill twice but with my right leg I only ran once.  I ran the flat back to the hotel and had a stretch.  By the time that I had stretched, had a shower and got dressed and down to the conference, I was limping not because of my foot but my right leg.  I could not believe that I was injured again.  Getting up during the breaks was a killer and I was over it.

The following day, I woke up and realized that my right leg was feeling okay, but decided not to run just in case.  The Wednesday though, I decided I was going to test the leg and foot once more.  I woke up and put on my gear once more.  I started to run the same route that I had run a couple of days before.  I had not idea how I was going to feel as only two days ago I had been in agony.  I started to run and this time everything felt okay.  I continued to run the same route and felt even more comfortable than the other day.  By the time that I hit the bottom of the hill before heading back to the hotel, I already knew in my head that I would be doing two runs up the stairs.  After the second set up the stairs I was heading back to the hotel and both my foot and leg felt fine.  I was smiling.  I think I had just realized that I was back!!

Auckland Waterfront Monday- First real run back from injury

Auckland Waterfront Wednesday- Feeling good!!

Friday, 6 July 2012

04.07.12 Time to reflect

Forgive me father for I have has been 3 weeks since my last post.

Being injured absolutely sucks.  Not only do I miss putting on the Vibram's and going for a run but I miss feeling fit.  I have this strange sense of understanding my lack of fitness when I don't train, it is almost like you can feel your energy levels start to disappear then your motivation starts to go and before you know it you just can't be bothered anymore.  After 3 weeks of not being able to do  much with this stress fracture injury in my foot, add on top of that a cold with a razor blade sore throat and I am closely approaching the 'can't be bothered' zone.

In the last three weeks since the stress fracture in my left foot stopped my running in my tracks, literally, I have had time to reflect on what exactly has happened to cause my injury.  Was it the Vibram's or is it just coincidence?  The pain that I felt on the bottom of my foot when I took my shoe off after the Brookfield Bog Challenge was certainly like nothing I have felt before however stress fractures happen over time and based on the small amount of running that I have been doing in my Vibram's I very much doubt that they were the sole contributor.  I have been doing non stop training since November last year and my runs have really not ever been shorter than at least 1.5 hours.  I wanted to be super fit for the Adventure Race that was in April and was working pretty hard.  I finished that race with energy still in reserve so I achieved my goal but maybe I had pushed too hard.  After finishing the race I was straight into my barefoot running and it seems my body has decided enough is enough.

So how is the foot you ask.  Well, it is definitely getting better but it is frustrating the hell out of me during the process.  I can virtually walk like a normal person now rather than look like Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame as I half hop and half drag my sore foot as I walk.  Not the best look when you are in a suit and meeting clients...or your new boss!  Below is a photo (don't be grossed out by my unfortunate feet).  You might be able to see that the top of my left foot (on the right of the picture) between my middle toes is still swollen and raised compared to my other foot.
Pressure on this point is painful but most of all when I walk, it feels like I almost have to click my toe, like you would stretch out your hands and click your knuckles.  It is incredibly frustrating and an uncomfortable feeling to have to deal with.  I am hoping that this weekend I might be able to either get out for a short run or a ride on the road bike.  It has been a long week so we will have to see how the foot is feeling and how far into the 'can't be bothered' zone I am in.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

18.06.12 In the Emergency Room

I wake up this morning at 6am and my foot is killing me.  I call work and let them know that I will not be in this morning as I am heading to the hospital hopefully to try and get an x-ray to see if there is something broken in my foot as that is what it feels like.  I get up and try to put pressure on my foot and it feels just like it did when I first took off my shoe...absolute agony!  I get showered (on one foot) and dressed before having something to eat and jumping in the car to the Emergency room.  On Sunday night I have managed to find my old crutches that I inherited when I did my knee in Melbourne.  I went to take them back to the hospital after my operation and because I had rented them for so long I apparently had purchased them.  I check in at the desk and tell my story to the receptionist.  She takes gives me a form to start filling out and I take a seat.  Before I know it the nurse wants to do an assessment on me.  Before he says anything he looks at my crutches.  "Where did you get those crutches from," he says?  "I have not seen crutches like that for ages".  I tell him the story above and he is impressed that I have kept them for so long.  He does a quick examination before telling me to go back outside and wait.

Vic has dropped off Lachlan by now and has gone to get me a coffee when I am called back up to reception.  I now have a problem.  I can't walk and have a baby with me.  A lady who is there with her father quickly realise my predicament and she offers to look after him.  I quickly head back to reception and another lady hands me another form.  "You need to fill this out as you are not a resident of NZ".  "But I live here", I say.  "It doesn't matter you have to be born in NZ".  "But I have an Australian passport so it is the same thing".  "I don't know," she says.  I take the form and head back to my seat.

1 hour goes by, two hours goes by and even three hours goes by.  I am really getting into the book that Brad lent me, Born to Run.  I am in an interesting section of the book where a race that is being organized with the Tarahumara people is about to take place.  There is a guy who is in the race called Barefoot Ted and it talks about his transition to Barefoot Running.  He had a heap of injuries and bought every pair of shoes under the sun to try and find comfort in running.  He paid US$300 for a pair of bouncy shoes that had no impact but ran down the street with them and took them off almost immediately.  As he had no shoes he walked home barefoot and realised he had no pain.  Why not just wear no shoes he thought and the rest is history.  Of course when he was running some rough trails or asphalt, he slipped on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.  

At the start of the 4th hour I am called into see the Doctor.  "Where did you get those crutches from," he asks?  I tell him the same story.  I tell him about what has happened and he gets me up on the bed to have a look.  He touches my toes, the top of my foot, wiggles my toes and asks me if there is any major pain or discomfort.  He then presses under my big toe and asks if this hurts.  "No," I say.  He presses under the next toe and I am waiting for him to press under the middle toe.  "How about here?", as he presses my foot under my middle toe and I nearly fall of the bench.  He consults with his boss and they send me off for an x-ray.  I get this done and am back on the bench waiting for the decision.  The doctor comes over and tells me that there are no breaks.  "Let me guess" I say.  "It is a stress fracture and it doesn't show up on the x-ray?".  "We don't know what it is" he says.  "We will have to wait for a couple of weeks to see if it gets better".  "If it doesn't get better then you will need to see your GP and get another x-ray".  He wants me to start putting weight on it which is bearable and basically to have a nice day.

I guess I am glad that nothing is broken as that could possible mean surgery, but I am also angry as I don't know what has caused it in the first place.  I think it is a culmination of incidents that has lead to this injury stemming from standing on my feet for a long time on Thursday, a late night on the dance floor at Danny Doolan's and a run in my old shoes that my feet were not used to.  Could it also be due to the Vibram's, probably.  Stress fractures in the foot and mainly due to overuse.  Maybe I have been going a little too hard with my barefoot running especially absolute barefoot running.  I make a decision that there is no more absolute barefoot running until my feet are well and truly used to the Vibram's.  The only problem now is, when will that next run be?