12 Weeks to go – Countdown to Ironman Austria

Brighton marathon 2014

No weigh in this week (Peter away); 32lb total; 10lb in 2014.

What an interesting week its been.  I’ve learned how to re-attach a crank arm (and perform a tactical dismount when the crank is attached to your foot but not the bicycle you are riding); increased my Max HR by 5bpm; won race night (in the morning); cycled the last four miles of the London marathon (with the Children’s Trust); camped on Penelope Keiths lawn (because she wouldn’t let me into the house); saved Alan from Godzilla and missed him run his fastest marathon ever.

I’ve also realised that I am absolutely and irrevocably in love with cycling.

With only 12 weeks left of training for the Ironman, it’s time to be brave.  I’m planning on a 2 week taper so I just have to hang in for another ten weeks (which in reality will go very quickly – so is really no time at all).  Peter was away on holiday this week and so instead of trying to conserve some energy for his session on Thursday morning.  I decided that I would increase the intensity of all the sessions this week and see what happens.  Since I needed the bike in London on Wednesday for the Children’s Trust (last four miles of the London marathon) run and I intended to ride to Brighton on Sunday to cheer Alan on in the marathon there, it seemed obvious that the focus of this week was definitely the bike.

The week started well with a rest day on Monday 🙂  and by Tuesday and was raring to go with a short spin session ready for a big day on Wednesday.  I was thinking as I walked into the spin shed on Wednesday morning, a nice ‘gentle’ hill session would suit me perfectly.  So I was horrified to hear the ‘race night’ music playing quietly in the background.  It seems that the first week of the month is always race week.  After six months in the spin shed, how could I have missed this?

Once the shed was prepared and ready to go, Barrie confirmed ‘race night’.  I gave myself a little talking to.  Something along the lines of ‘be brave and hope the legs and heart are working together’.

And thank goodness they were.  It took all of about 10 seconds to get into the red zone from the gun and I stayed there for the rest of the session.

race night 100%

I loved it and gave it everything I had.  Including, making the rookie mistake of getting dragged into the highest %age heart rate ‘cancan’ race at the end.  The bloody thing made it to 100% (a theoretical maximum) which means it now had to go up.  From now on, every session in the shed would be that little bit harder.  Dratted competitive streak.

Later on that day I met Laurie for coffee and a meeting in Look Mum No Hands in Central London.  It’s one of my favourite places to hang out in London, primarily for great atmosphere, delicious square mile coffee and a safe place to park my bike.  I took Florence, the cyclo-cross bike, as she’s the easiest to ride through London traffic.  It would also be a fab place to test the newly mended crank ready for the bike ride to Brighton on the Sunday.

Wednesday night was a night of the most bizarre dreams.  Sleeping has been a bit of a struggle lately.  Certainly not helped by having to save Alan from a Godzilla attack, which was a bit bizarre.  It frightened me enough to wake me up thankfully.

Not surprisingly I was tired on Thursday morning.  With no Peter I opted for another rest day and a whole day in the garden.  Since it was now looking accusingly at me every time I glanced into it.  With digging and weeding and raking and lugging and planting it was a whole body workout.  So I didn’t feel too guilty.

Back in the spin shed on Friday for back to back race nights I was feeling a tad apprehensive.  It turned out, I had a right to be.  In the first session I struggled to get my heart rate up sufficiently into the red zone.  It took ages but finally, after grunting it out I got there and managed to keep it there for the remaining ten minute of the session.  And blow me if I didn’t bloody hit 100% again.  But this time, I think it was more down to heart rate belt malfunction than any effort on my behalf :(.  Nevertheless, the maximum heart rate went up again to 182bpm.  (It’s gone up 9 beats in the last week and a half).

By the time I got to the second session I was completely spent.  I spent most of it a sweaty gurning mess but at least Pauline next to me was having a pretty rough session too.  Misery loves company and all that.  The read out from that session could not have been more different than Wednesday’s.

race night dismal%

But I took comfort in the fact I gave it my all and payback will hopefully come on race day.  The weather forecast for Sunday was terrible.  Torrential rain and strong headwinds accompanying us all the way to Brighton (we were off to watch Alan run the marathon there).  The fabulous Penny M and Pauline had agreed to come along for the ride (the boys had made their excuses earlier in the week).

We hatched a plan to leave a change of clothes in the van and for Alan to text us the location of it once he’d parked it up.  It was a cunning plan and one that made the weather a little bit more bearable.  In the end, we agreed it wasn’t as bad as we expected.  In fact, I was very comfortable the whole way down in a lovely Goretex jacket and tights.  Despite my legs picking up what felt like 30lbs worth of water in spray off the roads.  We tried to draft together as much as we could and to be honest, quite a lot of the time felt very comfortable despite the wind.  But there were sections that were a head down, grind out drag.

Florence felt fabulous, she’s such a lovely bike to ride.  The crank was holding up nicely and felt strong as I got out of the saddle for a boost now and again.  I was thoroughly enjoying the ride and we made reasonable time despite the weather.  Once past Steyning the low cloud which completely obscured Chanctonbury Ring lifted.  The sky brightened considerably with hints of blue peeping through.  My heart lifted, we were approaching the roundabout with the right turn to Shoreham and the seaside.

We had made it.

Just then I felt the familiar rocking of the pedals.  Oh dear.  At first I wasn’t sure if it was just my feet feeling a bit weird (they were numb from being wet and cold for so long).  But after a few more strokes, I was sure it was the dodgy crank again.  I eased up to let the ladies know it was acting up and that I was going to have to take it easy and then it fell off.  I coasted along while I debated the softest landing I could find.  Since we were in the outskirts of Shoreham, none of the options looked particularly attractive (ie it was either pavement or road). I opted for the pavement and just hoped I could land my foot, with the crank still attached without having to hit the deck.  Fortunately, with accompanying giggles from behind I managed it while Pauline and Penny picked up the accompanying detritus I had left behind.

We had a conflab and decided to ring Barrie in the hopes he could talk me through how to re-attach it temporarily to at least get me to Brighton (we were about 6 miles away from our final destination).  Fortunately, he answered the phone and between us, we managed to get the crank re-assembled and tightened.  It held true although because I didn’t have much confidence in putting lots of weight through it, I had to one leg drill my way to Brighton.  Huge thanks to the ladies for riding behind me to protect me in case it fell off again.  Happily it held true so no more evasive action was required.

Once we reached Brighton, it was time to find the van.  Alan had text the location earlier that morning.  Unfortunately, it didn’t exist so we did a best fit and headed off to try and find it.  An hour and several spellings of the word ‘Tongdean’ later we found it and changed into clean, dry clothes.  Lovely.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it in time to see Alan finish as he scorched home in a massive PB of 3.16.08.  A ‘good for age’ qualifying time for London and Boston marathon next year.  Although I was gutted to miss him, I am so supremely proud of him.

And for me, 136 hard miles this week, my biggest training week ever.  Happy days.

12 weeks to go

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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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