19 Weeks to go – Countdown to IM Austria

Standing Tall

.5lb loss; 28.5lb total; 6.5lb in 2014.

Finally, as this week comes to a close, I feel like I’m walking tall again.  (I can hear you all collectively sigh with relief – I’m there with you).  For the first time in a while, the sun has been shining and I’ve spent time outside today, both on the bike around the Surrey Hills and on foot on Ashtead common.

Co-incidental mood change, or maybe not?

Many people seem to have adopted a siege mentality to deal with the weather bombs exploding weekly since Christmas Eve.  I suspect, right now, people have had enough.  I know we have.  I also know that a lack of Vitamin D can affect mood and as I feel myself relaxing into the couch with content, I ponder how much the weather has had to do with my mood in the last few weeks.

In bed the other night I had a chest muscle spasm that used to occur relatively often but had subsided of late.  Radiating out from the centre of my chest, into my back and up into my jaw.  It is an excruciating cramp and was really bad this time.  It lasted for about 45 minutes before it eased up enough for me to go back to sleep.  The last time I regularly had these symptoms, my Vitamin D levels had dropped through the floor.  I suspect another trip to the doctor and a high dose Vitamin D supplement may be the way forward for both mind and body.

Last week signalled the end phase 1 (Base training) and entry into phase 2 (build phase) of Ironman training.  Build phase as it suggests is the start of adding extra mileage into the weekly training.  Mostly in the form of bike and run miles.  Alan and I tend to work in four week blocks with three weeks of increasing mileage then one week ‘recovery’.  So far, since January 1st, the mileage has looked like this…

19 weeks to go

Which is pretty much where we need it to be.  Although next week, instead of a further increase in miles we have a marathon in Seville.  Traditional marathon training would have a two or three week taper (or reduction in mileage) in the last few weeks before the event.  But because I wanted to have a practice run of a marathon on tired legs to simulate the Ironman marathon, the focus has been on continuing to build mileage in the last couple of weeks.

While Pete and I were out on our ladder threshold run on Thursday, he asked me what my goals were for Seville.  In truth, up to that point, I hadn’t really given it much thought.  But since I only had two minutes to blurt out an answer before the ladder increased enough to render me gasping and speechless, I said the first thing that came into my head:

1. to get to half way in a good condition

2. Sub 5 hours and 30 minutes (roughly 12 minute mile pace) but only if I feel comfortable doing it, as I don’t want to bury myself and need four weeks to recover from it.

Those goals are truthful and instinctive and still hold true after further thought and reflection.  So I’m going to stick by them.

The week actually started much less auspiciously than it finished.  We sacked the first swim session scheduled for Monday and then another for Tuesday, instead opting to catch up on sleep.  A meeting interrupted the normal pre beginners group run and torrential rain and gale force winds postponed a planned evening run on the common.  We got hailed on twice with the beginners and improvers groups and the spin session in Barries shed on Wednesday saw me turn up with the wrong legs.  That ones I took, inspired by the impending tube strike had apparently voted for industrial action.

Oh dear.  Oh deary dear.

The session was supposed to be a lefty/righty, one leg pedalling while the other remained inert and recovered.  But when I tried to do it, I couldn’t push the pedals around because my legs didn’t want to.  So in the end, I had to use both and pretend I was really just using one.  What a terrible confession.

And I still got shouted at by Barrie (AKA the Barrinator or Painmaster) since I couldn’t push the pedals fast enough to get my heart rate up.

After that, I was absolutely dreading the session with Peter.  Although in truth, my only goal I had was to not cry on him again.  Happily, for both of us, I managed to achieve that, but unfortunately we still both got very wet in a torrential deluge of hail (again, sigh) that battered us while we made laps of Overdale.

The evil laugh I heard Peter utter as we made our way to the back of his garden for the weight session, was unusual enough for me to lift my head out of its quiet reverie and cast a questioning eyebrow in his direction.  He nodded towards the, now submerged, mat on the floor which he had laid out earlier.

I swear to God that PT’s have to complete a sadistic bastard module before they become fully qualified.  His laugh was almost gleeful.

Peter increased the weight on the barbell this week.  Only 5kg but blimey it felt heavy.  A good ‘I’m making progress’ kind of heavy, but definitely heavy!  The correlative fatigue in my arms made itself known half way through the second set of reps in a most unexpected way.

I was halfway through pectoral flies while lying on the bench to the side of his garden pond.  Most of the time I focus on coaching points, arms extended, elbows flexed, don’t cheat, don’t drop the weights in the pond, when I found my thoughts drifting towards my facial expression.  I was horrified to discover I was gurning.  Something I imagine like this…


Then I started to giggle.  Between giggles, I explained to Peter why I was laughing and he replied ‘well, it was a good one’, then we both started to giggle.  Giggles became a chortle and then a belly laugh and then I went all weak and feeble and had to put the weights down.

Fortunately, the next exercise was co-lateral limb raises (AKA superman) on the soggy mat which calmed things down a bit.

After a week of weather modelling itself on Armageddon (new garage roof anyone?), the sun finally showed itself this morning.  Once we had the 26.2RRC Valentine 10k done and dusted (we took the shop there as main sponsors of the event), we had a quick bite and got ready for a nice easy ride out.  I opted to take the newly fixed Florence, the cross bike and we headed out towards Sutton to revisit our old stamping ground.

We’ve spent a lot of time recently, waxing lyrical about the benefit of spin classes while the weather’s been so foul.  Our regular group of spinners are also mostly regular cyclists but none have been able to get out properly and test the improvements we’ve all hoped are forthcoming.  Today would be that day.

Oh my, it was marvellous to be outside in sunshine.  I loved being back on the bike again. It was one of those pure and joyous moments in life.  But the most exciting part of it was, I felt so very comfortable being back on the bike.  My legs were like coiled springs or maybe two loaded guns of potential energy.  They felt so powerful, but because the crank had only recently been fixed, I didn’t want to stamp down too hard in case I broke it again.

We weaved and wound our way around the traffic, definitely more Porche than the Austin Allegro I’d become.  The change was phenomenal and very exciting.  I rode, elated and grateful for all the help and support from the Barrinator and the shed of doom.

We were so excited, that Alan and I discussed a slightly longer route home and then a post ride run, our first brick session of the season.  We raced our way back down Craddocks Avenue.  I did him on the incline of the turning from the A24 into Craddocks.  He got me back relatively quickly by taking the racing line and cutting me off as we approached the traffic calming bollard.  He took the victory, dammit!

Once home, we got changed relatively quickly, I headed off to the bumble route to test out a new pair of trail shoes (Brooks Cascadias – very nice) while Alan commenced laps of Overdale.  The plan for the run was to basically run the whole way at target race pace for Seville (12 minute mile pace).  My legs initially felt terrible, but the birds were singing and I could feel the dying warmth of the sun on my back and it spurred me on to keep plodding.

Ashtead woods

The first mile (11.25) was slightly faster than target pace and allowed my legs to loosen up.  I concentrated on maintaining a good cadence, pulling in my abs and running tall.  Mile two involved a long climb up to the Wells estate and some short climbs over fallen trees so I was very surprised to clock 11.12.  I pulled it back a tad and concentrated on relaxing through the third mile and so got very excited when the watch beeped 10.41.  With the bit now between my teeth, I picked up the pace and celebrated by frightening a couple of local dog walkers with a exuberant arm in the air when the fourth mile recorded 9.39 for a sub 11 overall (including the cool down).

There is no doubt, the regular spin sessions have worked absolute wonders.  Not only for cycling but also for running too.  Almost certainly, that is down to the encouragement and support of Barrie, a motivating and engaging instructor.

Next stop, a slightly easier week going into Seville on Sunday.  Keep your fingers crossed.


About PT Nicky

I'm a girl in the world just trying to make 1% improvements everyday. I recently qualified as a Personal Trainer. I certainly don't fit the aesthetic of a PT and I wanted to demonstrate that ordinary people can achieve their hearts desire. Clean eating advocate with paleo leanings.
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