Sunday, 27 November 2011

This is it...

Taper week used to always make me feel a bit uneasy. With the significantly lighter workload, one can feel really anxious as to whether any more hard sessions should be squeezed in just to make us feel a bit more confident, better in our minds. I admit that I have been compulsively checking my weight this week, glad to see that I'm still keeping under 60kgs despite not cranking up the long training hours. But I also have faith in the training plan that Bill has set out for me, so I stuck to it and didn't do anything extra, as that can be counter productive.

The taper did make me feel a lot fresher. Saturday's long ride was only 2.5 hours. I rode from UWA to Shelley Reserve and back, and did a loop in Dalkeith towards Christchurch Grammar School. I had my race wheels, including the rear disc on, and I tested the aero helmet. I probably looked like an idiot riding in these on the road, but I had to test them out to put my mind on ease. I met a few familiar faces on the ride, including Bill himself (twice) and John Cooke who was already doing his brick run on Mounts Bay road. The winds were reasonably strong and despite having to slow down at the many U-turns and tight corners, I still managed the same average pace as I would if I have ridden on the freeway path.

On Sunday, I had a 70 minute run on the program. I was planning to do a 4:30 average pace but the moment I started, I felt I had it in me to drop it down to 4:20. After the first 4.35km lap around the neighbourhood, I surprised how well my legs were holding up, so I pushed a bit harder but not crossing the red zone. In the end, I covered 16.35km, an average of 4:17 pace. Pretty satisfied with myself :) And I guess the magpies must have really missed me not going back to the freeway bike path, as this one in our neighbourhood came swooping down on me on each lap! I think my heart rate went up 10 beats each time I pass by that particular place.

The bike's been sent to Phil at Runner's World for a service. And I had a full body massage at Central Tafe massage clinic. Li-Ann's back from her trip to the USA, she has pretty much gotten over her jet lag. I get to eat a decent home cooked meal this weekend. We also attended a house warming with our friends, there were plenty of food, so my stomach is well taken care of, and there were plenty of laughter too, good for my soul.

Not long now, everyone... I'm as ready as I ever could be. My next blog post shall be the race report. Let's hope it'll be a good one! ;)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The final countdown

It's two weeks time to race day. I did my final week of hard work and now it's time to taper. I couldn't have asked for a better finish to the big training load.

I felt strong on Saturday's 5 hour ride, of course the tailwind on the way back helped. I had my first encounter with a snake right in the middle of the freeway bike path. Luckily the cyclist in front threw some pebbles to get it moving out of the way. I was attacked by a magpie again on the way back, I was in aero position and it pecked my back this time, instead of my helmet. Fortunately, there weren't any scratches or wounds. Well, it would be a while before I pay another visit to the freeway bike path, so there won't be any more standoffs with magpies for some time (or so I thought...)

I was surprised with how my legs held up for the 30 minute brick run. I ran along Mounts Bay Road foreshore, passing the Swan Brewery towards UWA Boatshed and back. I think it has been more than 6 months since I last ran on that path and it was good to bring back some memories, as it used to be my ONLY running route. I did 6.8km with an average pace of 4:25.

On Sunday morning, I had a run of 1 hour 55 minutes in the books. I started off well, just under 4:30 pace. With about 35 minutes left to go, I slowed down to a 5 minute pace jog. Ended up logging 25.1km, which was part of my initial plan to do at least 25kms. The magpies wouldn't give me a break, I had one swooping down on me towards the final few minutes of my run. This is the first time I've experienced a magpie attack in our neighbourhood.

To say that I'm better prepared than last year is a bit of an understatement. With Bill's guidance, I've been training injury free. I have logged over 300kms of riding for 4 weeks of my training, with many weeks in excess of 270kms. Last year I only did a couple of weeks of riding over 200kms. Last year I was bogged down with shin splints and could barely do any running, I was only running one hour per week, even in the final weeks leading up to the race. Whereas this year, I've clocked over 40kms every week apart from the easy weeks, with a few in the 50s and one just over 60km.

Of course all this doesn't count as what matters is how I pull up on race day. The next two weeks of taper will be crucial, to keep myself healthy, eating right and getting as much recovery as possible. Good luck everyone!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Long week

It's been less than a week since Li-Ann has arrived in Washington DC. She will be spending about another two weeks in the States, including a trip to New York. I have to say, that the time difference has made it a bit difficult for us to communicate. At the moment, we are updating each other through Facebook messages, and quite often there is a lag before one of us would receive the message and reply.

My days have become longer as I now have too cook my own dinner. Of course, Li-Ann does much more than feed me, but it's one of the things I take for granted while she's around. I'm so used to coming home from work, have a shower and dinner is all prepared for me. I guess I'm really lucky that way. So the past few meals have been sausages and pasta if I could be bothered to cook. On other occasions, I have succumbed to take-away.

This week is also my last long week of training. I did a 6 hour ride on Saturday, Sam and Dennis kept me company for 5 hours on the Freeway, and then I headed back out and did a loop around the Shelley reserve. The weather was favourable, southerly winds made it easier on our way back and the headwinds were pretty gentle earlier in the morning when we were heading out. I clocked 183.9km, average pace of 30.6kph, that's a training PB for me.

On Sunday, the plan was to do a 2.5 hour run. You guessed it, it didn't go according to plan! I started off well, running consistently at 4:38 pace for up to about 1 hour 20 minutes, when suddenly I felt weak and slowed down to a jog. To make matters worse, about 10 minutes after that, I had some pretty severe stitches that even jogging was a big struggle, so I decided to stop. I did 19.7km in 1 hour 32 minutes.

But I was keen to make up the hours in the afternoon. After taking a few naps during the day, I felt refreshed and was able to run at a quicker pace. I did 13km in 56:31, an average pace of 4:21. This brings total running mileage this week to just under 57km. I'm looking forward to when it drops to 40s next week! Only 3 weeks out from Ironman WA, train safe and rest well everyone!

Monday, 7 November 2011

BYL training camp

This is the 5th BYL camp organized, but the first ever that I've attended.

To be honest, after clocking two rides over 70km each and a long run just over 29km, I wasn't sure how my legs will pull up for another weekend of big training. But I was looking forward to the fun in Busselton.

And I wasn't disappointed.

Our first session was a swim at the Busselton jetty. We did a few practice swim starts and a short run up the beach. I tried out my new wetsuit Orca Apex 2, which I got for a steal from the clearance section of the Orca website. It felt a bit hot inside, but it will definitely make me feel a lot more comfortable when I get to the bike. Plus, with sleeves, it's meant to make me swim faster than my old sleeveless one... but that has yet to be tested.

Then, onto the ride for a lap of the race bike course. We were asked to do a couple of race efforts at Ironman pace but I'm pretty sure many in the group did faster than that! I had trouble keeping up but we re-grouped after each set.

In the afternoon, we did a 20km run in the trails of Cowaramup. It was probably a mistake to start off with the fast guns in the likes of Bill, Tom and Steve. I found myself slowing down to a jog just after 35 minutes but managed to finish in one piece.

The next day, we did a long ride from Busselton to Margaret River, via Dunsborough. Really glad that I was riding in good company, I barely did any work and they pulled me through most of the ride. Thanks guys! We rode for just over 5 hours, and because I drafted most of the ride, my legs were pretty fresh for the 20 minute brick run after.

Our camp ended with a fun game of ultimate frisbee, which I managed to score a goal... surprising myself more than anyone else! In between all these sessions, we shared plenty of laughs and had loads of fun.

Many thanks to Bill and Ray for their time and organizing this camp. Zoe and Tegan, who did the pilates and stretch sessions in between our big workouts. Though it was excrutiatingly painful, it definitely helped me recover quicker. And it was just great to have everyone there, great company! Thank you all!

*Photos taken from the BYL Facebook page*