16 Weeks to go – IM Austria 2015

Leith hill tower

3lb loss. 42lb in total, 9.5lb in 2015.

In the last few weeks I’ve felt a real shift both in mindset and in body strength.  The Whole 30 through January has kick started another batch of weight loss (after languishing in the latter part of last year) and the work I’m doing with Peter is really starting to transfer into functional strength through the sessions I’m completing.

Last Saturday I was back to Banstead parkrun with the beginners group.  Jean generously agreed to take my place with the beginners allowing me to run my own race.  It would be the first time I’ve ran an accurate 5k ‘in anger’ for a while.

The last recorded time at parkrun was 16 Feb 2013 where I ran 32.33 at Nonsuch, a much flatter course than Banstead (although I’m not convinced it’s any faster!)  One of my goals for 2015 is a sub 60 10k.  It stands to reason to be able to do that, I need to comfortably cover 5k in under 30 minutes.  So, although anything under 32.33 would be fab, the sub 30 was my real target.

After talking through the route with the beginners I made my way a bit further up the field and ready to go.  The course at Banstead is essentially a squashed rectangle.  It starts at the top of the ‘hill’ which then carries on for some way before turning left onto a much flatter, shorter section.  Another left turn leads to the start of a long descent before a hard left back past the finish and the start of the climb incorporating the hill.  So, one long up, one long down and a couple of shorter flatter bits.

Despite double spin the night before, my legs felt quite strong and I fell into a pace that felt comfortable and I was confident I could maintain.  The course was muddy as expected, but had a lot of hard packed trail under the surface mud.  I had my inov-8’s on but as long as one kept to the middle, it wasn’t too bad.

Cliff and Grant had to come along to help out with the beginners.  We had some really fast ones in the group, so despite sneaking ahead, I expected them to come past me at some point.

Taking it steady, I was really surprised to clock 9.17 for the first mile.  The sub 30 was on, well on, as long as I could keep my head.  Pulling back as I headed down the hill, I figured I could welly it next time around if I needed to.  I just wanted to keep within myself and run a tactical race.   Those tactics included walking up the steep short section of the hill and then running strong off the top.  I frog marched up the hill and was just setting my mind again when Grant popped up on my right hand side.  I had enough to say to him ‘I’m still on target’ and then took off again focussing on getting back into a nice rhythm.

The middle mile clocked 9.27 (including the walk up the hill).  I was confident the sub 30 now should be comfortable and that I wouldn’t have to trash myself running down the hill.  With that thought I relaxed and just tried to focus on the moment and enjoy it.  As we started to head back downhill, Grant pulled along side again and we fell into a rhythm until we got to the bottom and then he took off like his arse was on fire!

Today was not the day for heroics, so I let him go and ran steady to the finish.  As I crossed the line, I looked down at my watch and could barely believe it showed 28.03 (and a last mile of 8.45, blimey!)  Oh my word.  Amazing.  I was so, so happy.  I had just recorded the fastest 5k since July 2008 and was just 18 seconds off my all time PB.


I headed into the unknown in Wednesdays spin.  For the first time ever, we were about to face a triple session.  I was really nervous.  I’ve been doing doubles on Wednesdays and Fridays for a little while now but knowing how I feel after them, had no idea what would happen.  Barrie has a twinkle in his eye as we set up.  He announced the sets for the morning, we would start with ‘Race Night’ followed by hills and would complete the third session with the hardest of them all, the dreaded threshold session.

As we started to warm up, the nerves turned into excitement.  Happily I was feeling up for it, after all, I could only do my best.  The plan was to break it down just like I would a marathon or Ironman.  Just take it one session at a time, one song at a time.

Race night went well. It only took about 10 seconds to get up into the red, first there (woohoo) and managed to hold it mostly above 85% HRM for the 40 minutes.  I love the sound track and know it reasonably well which really helped.  Next up hills, easily my favourite track list and my favourite (ie strongest) session.  It went well with a nice easy build in and I managed to hit the required 90% through ‘Love in an Elevator’ and ‘Livin’ on a prayer’.  Phew!

Two down then, just threshold to go. We dispensed with the warm up to go straight into the hover track followed by the first 10 minute threshold.  It was ok but I struggled to get the heart rate over 86%, that done, a quick recovery track back to bring the heart rate down to 80% and then the start of the main session. 15 minutes of incremental rises from 80 to 95%.  I held onto for the first 5% or so ok and then really struggled to get it higher.  I watched my heart rate waver between 85-86% until the rest of the class were on 90.

5 minutes left.

I thought fuck it, the chance of me being here again is slim.  This is the only opportunity to nail it.  So I ramped up the resistence, followed it with a quick stint out of the saddle to get the legs moving then closed my eyes and pedelled like my life depended on it.

The heart rate quickly went up to 90 (thank God) and then remained only 1 % behind until we reached 95% where a last minute surge (1 minute left give it everything you’ve got) and finally that glorious 95% popped up.  I had done it.

What a great session. It took about 5 minutes of dry heaving to get the breathing back down and I could leave with my head high.

In the second spin of the week, the double on Friday, Pauline and I were once again ready to take on race night (she had also done the triple on the Wednesday).

Thankfully and to my surprise my legs played ball (it probably helped that I couldn’t feel them!) and I absolutely nailed this session too.  (I know pride comes before a fall so I’m expecting to be absolutely rubbish this week! 😉


Sunday was the final session of the week.  A return to the (hills are friends) Leith Hill half marathon after a seven year absence.  After such an intense week, Pauline and I agreed we would use this solely as a training run.  And indeed we watched the field run away from us up the first hill as we walked up.

I remember this race being a climb to the Nower, a descent back to the A25 then a long climb up to Leith Hill tower.  The course is out and back, meaning we would get to see the front runners and give them a hearty cheer as they headed back home.

We both complained of legs being a little tight in places but not as bad as we feared.  We settled into ‘scouts pace’ to run as much of the up as we could, only resolving to walk when the pace dropped to walking pace.  Paloma Faith provided a lovely little ear worm ‘Changing’, and as we relished the views, we steadily made progress.

The race is a great mix of terrain and much drier than previous years.  Most of the hills were runable so we only stopped to walk a few times.  I had set no agenda for this race other than to enjoy it and so was pleasantly surprised to reach the half way point at the tower in around 1.30.  We high fived Amanda at the turnaround and then set back to enjoy a bit of downhill.

With the hard work behind us, and the route nice and quiet, the earworm changed to the Goo Goo dolls combined with the stead thump, thump of my heart in my ears.  I was completely relaxed and having a marvellous time in the countryside, just trying to relish being in the moment.  The speed had obviously increased as we picked our way back down the hill but in what seemed no time at all, we were climbing back up to the Nower and getting ready for the run in to the finish.

After a quick cup of tea, I donned my helmet and got back on Florence to cycle home.  It’s been an amazing week and with the warmth of the early spring sun on my back, I felt blessed that I have the opportunity to fulfil my hearts desires.


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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1 Response to 16 Weeks to go – IM Austria 2015

  1. lcwaller says:

    Seeing the progress you’re making is just brilliant 🙂 well done!

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