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!!