Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting back to normal...

...in more ways than one! Managed a 4.1 mile run last night, I say run, I run for a bit then stretch the hamstrings out then run a bit more etc - usually a half mile at a time!

This is my way of building back up to running 3 months after my knee injury raised its ugly head! the run took 42 minutes and after the first mile I felt reasonably comfortable - despite Sunday's ride! the final mile or so I added a couple of thirty second walking sections in order to avoid overloading the knee but finished strongly for the final half mile and under 8 min/mile pace! Altogether very pleasing!

My body in general is so much better than ever before in terms of muscle balance and technique - I guess that comes with stretching and weight loss but it is very noticeable!

I dug out my handheld body fat monitor too which I've not used in a while, set it to my current stats and it came up with 15% fat and a BMI of 25.4 - this still means I'm technically overweight! I don't believe in BMI much!

I then opened up the spreadsheet I used to record all the info on - I coincidentally started on 1st July 2009 (almost exactly a year ago) and have dropped from 17.6% body fat and 107.5 kgs - thats 2.6% body fat lost and 14.5 kgs!

Really pleased with that progress!

So its back to normal after sundays ride and back to normal with my knee (I hope) all good news......now tonight shall I blast the Tri-Bike or run again.....hmmmmm

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dartmoor Classic

This might be quite a long one so bear with me.....I want to note everything down for my own records as much as anything!!

Yesterday I did the Dartmoor Classic, a 105.5 mile sportive with 10,000 - 11,000 feet of climbing (depending on where you look)! It is brutally hard and last year it took me 8 hours 14 minutes in perfect conditions, I had cramp, aches and pains and was sure I was hallucinating at one point! Hence my trepidations at this year!

I'll start at the beginning of the weekend because build-up is key! As you can read in my previous posts I had a little taper leading up to this and on friday night some friends came over for some beers and fajitas which was a relaxing start to the weekend - I didn't sleep great on Friday night due to the heat but after popping to town and preparing my pasta and stuff I spent Saturday morning in front of the rugby relaxing! I ate 8 salad, mayo and sweet-chili sauce wraps between about 9.30 and two o'clock to get some carbs in me and drank water constantly, we left about two and had a hot 2.5 hour drive down to south Devon, I added a nuun tablet to a 1.5 litre water bottle and sipped that all the way down!

When we arrived it was still so so hot, we pitched the tents and registered - had a little wander around the event village and then set the bikes up to check they were good to go! We then took them apart again and put them in the car (forgot a lock)! I ate half my tub of pasta at 6 ish and then some more about 7 - we then had some rice pudding and diet coke in the village! I was a bit worried at this point as I felt pretty bloated and couldn't got to the loo! Anyway a cold shower cooled us down and we chilled out in the evening sun till about 10 before trying to sleep - I struggled at first (I dislike camping) possibly due to the caffeine in the coke! Eventually I fell asleep and got about 7 hours of average sleep! My back was sore when I woke up and I was freezing but soon improved as we got everything together! Still couldn't go the loo, so just decided to worry about it out on the moor....

Before we set out I had about 4 of Tam's amazing flapjacks and a bottle of water with a scoop of infint powder! I wanted to try out different nutrition so I took two 750 ml bottles of 2 scoop infinit, two mule bars, two powerbar gels and a tube of nuun! With infinit - you aren't supposed to need anything else but in 28 degree heat and not having used it before I wasn't risking it! So off we set in the third wave just after 7 am and it was fantastically cool in the morning sun!

The first climb up to the moor went without incident, a bit of drag to get the blood pumping and a nice bit of leg burn, from there we wound on up and down through various villages before the long steep descent to Ashburton, over a bridge and the first killer climb at about 22 miles, this is 14% at its steepest and averages about 11% for 1.8 kms so you know about it! I was really worried about this because last year I had a compact chainst with a 34 tooth front ring and struggled - this year I had a double chainset with a 39........however being a stone lighter and fitter makes an incredible difference, being able to turn a bigger gear meant I was fastest up to the top on most of the hills! My friend, Gully, who I was riding with though wasn't ready and a week of illness meant he got bad cramp as the hill levelled out, he did amazing just to get up and carry on - this was to haunt him for the rest of the day!

From that nasty ol'bugger it was a long 10 miles dragging up to Princetown (one of the highest towns in the UK) and the first feed station at 32 miles! I had already had a gel, and gone through both bottles and although that last 10 miles takes it out the legs, within minutes I was feeling fresh! I filled one bottle with SIS energy drink and the other with water and a Nuun tablet, scoffed a slice of flapjack and was ready to hit the road! We then took the long descent off Princetown to Tavistock and then the steep hill out of Tavistock, once again pushing the big gear I was able to scoot up and blitz it - don't get me wrong it was hurting big time but it was easier to spin the gear faster rather than the slow plod which requires more power! It hurt more to go slowly, there were no heroics involved - believe me!

By this point, 45 odd miles in, my back was pretty sore and Gully was suffering really badly with the cramp in both glutes, quads, hamstrings, one calf and one tricep - he was hydrating well and taking on all the right stuff but couldn't shake it - his grit to keep moving was amazing! Because I was waiting for him at the top of the hills I got a nice rest every now and again - leading to dilemma, I'll explain at the end!

We then trickled on to a water stop at 62 miles, I just filled one bottle up this time with water and a nuun tablet, also polished off a mule bar and a gel - I knew what was up ahead! unfortunately I stopped my Garmin!

We then hit the beastly steep hill (which signals the start of about 10 miles of climbing to princetown) a few miles later which again is 13% steepest and 10% ave. for about 2 kms, I got half way up and there were two cars stuck trying to pass each other so I had to stop - no sooner had I unclipped than they waved me through the little gap....uh oh once stopped, starting again on a steep hill is nigh on impossible! Eventually I clipped in and squeezed pass to cheers and clapping from the cars, this was a really nice touch and spurred me on the the crest of the hill where more spectators were clapping! I rested there for a minute or two for gully (he was returning back to form now) and we carried on, I then realised my Garmin mistake so I'd missed about 5.8 miles and some 2000 odd feet of climbing!

Nevermind - straight away we were in the really nasty Porc hill, its again about 13% steepest and averages about 8% ish I think, but we were out of the leafy shaded lanes and the 28 degree heat was baking the tarmac, this climb was hard and so so hot! I crawled over the top and saw off another bottle waiting for Gully who was only just behind me! We then cruised a bit further to the final tuck up to Princetown - last year I walked this bit for about twenty metres and I remembered why - it is tough after all that climbing but I sat back and spun the pedals, once over the steepest bit I caught up with a guy from Carlisle I'd been bantering with at various points around the course and we chatted up the rest! This was a revelation to me - this time last year I had horrendous cramp and was sure I was hallucinating - this time I was chatting and my muscles felt strong and raring to go! I cruised in to the feed station where Gully joined me. I had a banana, half a flapjack, washed my face and re-filled both bottles - one with Nuun and one slightly more water. Last year I spent about 30 minutes in the feed station trying not to be sick - this time I was ready to go again! I should mention that at every opportunity I was stretching out my hamstrings to ease my back - the back was fine on hills but the long descents tightened it up!

After that feed station there were a couple of nasty drags out of postbridge which really burn the legs and with no shade the heat was building quite nasty, I was feeling a bit sick, but more water kept it down! after that came the long long fast descent to Moretonhampstead - this is so much fun, it is undulating, but the speed you get going down (45 mph plus) rolls you up the otherside - I had a very nervous moment - I hit a steep lefthander at 45 mph which fires you up the slope the otherside, as I hit the apex I got serious speed wobbles and lost control, luckily the slope scrubbed off a heap of speed and I escaped without incident!

The final hill out of Moretonhampstead at 90 miles was the one that finally got me, its full of switchbacks, has little shade and you just don't know when it will end - we'd caught up with the 100k riders, many of whom were walking and the walking was so tempting - it was the heat that got me though - I carried on at my quick speed desperate for every bit of shade I could find and eventually crested it, not feeling good - I couldn't bring myself to stop as wasn't sure my legs would take my weight, so I carried on for a mile or so before waiting for Gully a little further on!

From there on it is the stunning descent through the shady, much cooler Teign Valley, I was hurting big time now, the heat had got to me! Another gel probably would have sorted me out but I couldn't face it so tried to sup as much water as possible, the long descent also caused serious arm and neck ache! At this point Gully came in to his own, he carried me through the next 7-10 miles and through the 100 mile mark and I can't thank him enough, it was good to have him there!

With three miles to go we returned to the flat roads and I took over the lead prepared to give it all - the last three miles of road are like glass and are amazing to ride on - after 103 miles I was able to hold a steady 23-26 mph - road surfaces make such a difference!!

Over the finish line and we were done in 7 hrs 51 minutes start to finish! I felt so good compared to last year and pretty fresh considering how I'd been five miles previously! I picked up my bronze medal, musette and piece of Dartmoor granite and had an SIS recovery sachet we were given - walked straight in to a cold shower in the sports club there too, just to reduce my body temp!

We spoke to some of our friends then packed up and headed home! Stopping off for Macdonalds a little while later (first one in over a year), actually this was really good, the salt was needed and the carbs filled a big whole! I can reccomend it as a post race boost! Back home I was hungry again so had some fishcakes, garlic bread and salad plus more water! This is only relevant because despite eating all that over the weekend and being fully hydrated, this morning I was 96kgs a full 300 grams lighter than on friday!

Today my legs are fine, I can feel the tiredness but no soreness! I have a sore throat for heavy breathing the dry air and the centre of my chest hurts - no idea why but it does! Tonight will be a gentle recovery run/walk with loads of stretching...I definitely will not be cycling to work tomorrow morning!

So I knocked 20 minutes off last years time - as I said before I wasn't going on time because I was riding with a friend it was down to how I felt - and that was amazing - I had no cramp, no hallucinations and was really fresh afterwards - so what time could I have got??? who knows!! I was so strong on the hills that I could have knocked an hour off - but did the waiting at the top allow me to freshen up for the next one, if I pushed on my own may have blown up at 60 miles, who knows and who cares - Gully got me through those hellish five odd miles and it was worth it just for that!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/38386170 - this is the garmin download (copy and paste in to your browser) obviously the time doesn't include stops or the missing 6 miles!

I didn't learn a lot about race nutrition as I ate a bit of everything, except that Nuun stuff really works! I did learn that lots of carbs are good pre-race and not to worry about not going to the loo - it was never an issue all day and I never felt any trouble!

Happy days - the time is not relevant to my Ironman because the course is a lot flatter and I'd be on my tri bike, the important thing is I can do 106 tough and brutal climbing miles and still feel pretty fresh - I couldn't run a marathon but could have knocked out a couple of steady miles (I didn't by the way)!!

Thanks for reading...if you still are!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting there...

Today I am feeling more refreshed...and so I should be! I had a complete rest day and it drove me up the wall - I was shattered and lethargic but still felt horrible not doing anything so I set about some chores to occupy my mind! Haircut, car cleaned in and out, spare room spotless, bank info all shredded and recycled and removed loads of clothes I no longer wear to give to charity! So pretty productive for me! I also fitted my garmin quick release....oh the joys!

Rather alarmingly I did notice, as I was sat in front of the mirror at the hairdresser, how small my arms have got since I stopped rugby - don't get me wrong they were never massive but I was ever so distressed! I think I am at that point of weight loss where I have lost the bulk I once had but still not burnt enough fat to regain any definition in my body - its not good, especially when I am hitting the beach in two weeks for my hols!

The answer to this = gym work! I am going to include two sessions a week in to my training to get some strength back in to my weak and feeble body! Throughout my rest day of reflection and self-loathing I have also decided to add more structure in to my training as opposed to just sticking to the hours for a week - at least up till the sprint tri at the end of July and see how that goes! It will all stick within the hours I set aside for each week though!

So my plan is something along these lines :-

Monday morning = Gym
Monday night = Run
Tuesday cycle to work and back
Wednesday night = gym, swimwise plus (coached sessions)
Thursday = cycle to work and back, run straight off!
Friday - likely rest (swimwise plus is in the evening)
Saturday - swim/cycle/run depending on how I'm feeling
Sunday - review the week and top up where necessary (swimwise plus is in the evening)

This will tire me out pretty much and the sessions will be lengthened where necessary! I don't do huge hours at the moment - 8-10 a week , which many would frown upon but its fine a year out - 6 months out and it will be up towards 15-20 hours!

Anyway - today I'm starting to feel refreshed and really excited about getting down to devon tomorrow, setting up camp (I hate camping but the weather looks great), chilling out in the event village (?!) and then riding on Sunday! I'm making a big deal out of what is just a big cycle ride - but it is without doubt the hardest endurance thing I've ever done - it is a lot of big steep hills! In fact I beleive the climb up to Alpe D'huez is 1130m so this is over three times that (over more distance though)! So for a big guy like me its a toughy!

Anyway enjoy your day/weekend etc and catch up later


Thursday, June 24, 2010


At the risk of sounding like I'm moaning, I am very tired today! Last night I wandered down to a rugby club a mile or so down the road from me, they aren't very good but I find it refreshing to do something different from the normal training every couple of weeks! And as I'm limiting normal running at the moment - this is a good alternative on grass without the constant pounding - it was all rugby based fitness - sprints mixed with handling, then a small touch game at the end! Why is this relevant? - because in the 25 degree heat it was really tough, enjoyable but tough!

Once back home I was rehydrated and fuelled up but very tired....slept like a log! Today is a complete rest day, though I've chores to do later and I may just sit in the pool to relax a bit, nothing strenuous! Then tomorrow night I will spin for twenty minutes....!

I need to replenish my glycogen stores (so I'm told) so lots of porridge over the next couple of days!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Build Up....

So I am fully focussed on the Dartmoor Classic sportive this sunday at the moment! Its 106 miles of serious climbing (11,500 feet) and its quite ridiculously hard! Last year we did it, start to finish 8hrs 17mins - and I am sure I was hallucinating at times!

This year I am fitter, better prepared and know what is coming (might be a disadvantage!) so I hope to match that at least! Three of us are cycling together so my time will be dependent on them - I'll be going on how I feel going round!

This time I'm on a different bike with a double chainset (bigger gears on the front) as opposed to my compact of last year - that will definitely count against me - I'm hoping the stone in weight I've lost will counteract this!

I hit my local 'Hill of Death' on Sunday which used to kill me - this time I went up it in the big ring without any real trouble...a good sign!

As I write this I am bloooody knackered though - three weeks of hard cycling took its toll on me last night as I struggled on my ride home and spent all evening trying to recover! Tonight I will have a run around with a rugby ball to ease the legs off, thursday and saturday will be gentle spins on the bike to remind them whats it like!

My commute is 23 miles each way, which is not that far but add's up on the way home after a long day at work (mentally not physically tiring work)! But last night was awful - I had some bread for lunch to try and boost my energy and then my infinit about an hour before my ride - thinking it would hit as I started....something went wrong though I got that shaky leg tired, dizzy feeling after a couple of miles and couldn't shake it till mile 9.67 - at which point I had a burst and put in some speedy (22 mph) miles until I hit the hills at the end - I died again and struggled to maintain form till I got home! Maybe it was the food or the drink or just tiredness - mini taper from now on I think!

We head down Saturday afternoon and camp over till Sunday morning for the start! I am really excited about it!

Anyway I shall continue to note down my thoughts on this! Hope anyone reading is enjoying!



The first

So this is my first post - I wasn't originally going to do a blog hence why I have my twitter account ( www.twitter.com/IronmanTD2011 ) this was so people could follow my updates etc but I found I couldn't get everything down in 140 characters - so I will update this blog from now on! So I started in January 3rd 2010 and I have so far swam 36.7 miles, cycled 725.4 miles and ran 354 miles! In a total of 133 hours! I also now weigh on average 97kgs, down from 106!

I have suffered injury (knees from running), plenty of colds, nutrition issues and all sorts but..................I love it! Its such a change for me and its been great!

So I hope you enjoy - its my own personal ramblings!!!