Monday, 20 June 2016

Brain dumps post Lakesman.

Lakesman was originally going to be my iron distance event of 2016. Then my name came out of the hat and it became a perfectly timed training event, 7 weeks prior to Norseman. 

I had taper in the plan, I also had the Leeds ITU Olympic tri in the plan as part of the taper - sadly that didn't happen due to illness - so I went into Lakesman feeling like I hadn't really moved very much for the past 2 weeks. 

Very well rested but with the demon voices telling me I had lost all fitness. 

Because it had become a training event, the plan was, swim as I would on Norse race day - aim to replicate the intensity in the water, then bike at the intensity I was planning to ride at.  If all was well, do a couple of run laps.  Replicate the flat half marathon. then STOP. 

I ride with power, so while the 2 bike course couldn't be more different, profile wise, I would still be able to know how hard I was riding, how much effort I was putting in etc. It was also a chance to test kit and fuel and see how I felt getting off the bike. 

Race day arrived - I had camped the night before to replicate as best I could what it would be like sleeping on the floor of a community hall.

I was TOTALLY calm in transition - ok, my porridge wouldn't go down, but that was more about my body not wanting to eat when it should be sleeping.
My body also ignored the 2 poo rule - it ignored ANY poo rule to be fair. 
It was as though it was in some kind of denial. 
Nerves or Adrenalin would have been helpful. 
Instead, I just had standard issue giddy kipper Rach - and 2 Imodium just in case. 

I was bouncy - dancing like a loon to Olly Murs singing Up. James Bay also created a small hip sway, foot shuffle and bounce. Little did I know that Up would stay with me for most of the day.

Kisses were exchanged, we made our way into the water, not much time for faff and we were off. 
I set off and found myself in a wide pack reasonably close to the front, moving across to get the best racing line was done gradually as I went up the long first straight. 
After an unknown length of time, I had settled into a rhythm and remembered just how much I love swimming, how much I missed racing in open water and actually how little training I had done.
Yes, I have swum, but I haven't done any speed work, strength work, training sets of endurance - possibly since last June. Certainly not with any regularity. 

Bilateral breathing and the direction of the course meant that the view changed regularly - I found myself relaxing in intensity and had to remind myself that I should be racing. 

I bloody love Derwent Water though. 

I came out of the pond after almost missing the last turning buoy, then having to turn back and swim round the inside of the last buoy (stupid moral compass).
There were whispers I was 5th female out of the water as I exited. 
Looking at the results, there was only one female competitor doing the whole race who came out in front of me - the rest were relay swimmers. That'll do. 

1.09 in the water - get out feeling fresh and happy. Tick. 

Quick transition and I was good to go.
I managed to squeeze in a quick squish in transition and was told that I was getting outside assistance - so I kissed the marshal too. Joy of being a relay team! 

The plan for the bike was to settle in and sit at 75% of my FTP. 
Andrew had been data nerding on BestBikeSplit and it was predicted that I should be able to ride the course in 6.20. So that was the goal for the day. 

I settled reasonably quickly, started my fuel strategy and found a rhythm. 
Rob came past me within 20km, we had a quick exchange about the strange noises Alice was making and how the swim was, then he was on his way. 

Everyone who passed me got a loud and cheery 'moooooooorning', as did everyone I passed. 
The marshalls all got a morning and a thank you, accompanied by a beaming me. 
Life was good.

The power data was reading that I was at 80% - then it occurred to me that the numbers on the Garmin hadn't been updated.
The percentage I was riding at wasn't the right number to begin with. 
I tried to do the maths and it didn't work. 

Lesson number 1.
Make sure the numbers you're using are the right ones.

Ah, fuck it. 
Go by feel and use the numbers as a guide. 
It was too late now. 
Fuckety bollocks. 

Every hill I encountered, Demi Lavato sang at me as I climbed. 
It was a good song to keep me in a good head space.

"You gotta hold on
Hold on to what you're feeling
That feeling is the best thing
The best thing, alright
I'm gonna place my bet on us
I know this love is heading in the same direction
That's up"

That combined with the headgehodges singing rude songs......

They weren't hills in the Yorkshire or Norway sense - but they rolled. 
I have a sneaking suspicion I may have over-fueled or under drunk (which is more likely)
The front hydration system had leaked in transition. Alice is so very tiny, that she was left swinging - this meant her front bottle leaked. 
I voted to remove it rather than faff. 

Lesson number 2. 
Have a front feeding bottle that doesn't leak so you remember to drink more. 

My left contact lens had been a pain for most of the week - after approx 50km, it was shouting to be heard - so out it came. I rode with one eye for the remainder of the course.

Lesson number 3.
I can see plenty enough with one contact lens. 

I saw Mel on the bottom of the loop, she was due to over taking me at any moment - I was over whelmed with pride for her. As I went round the roundabout, I was told I was 3rd lady. WTF?!
Me? 3rd lady?

That would change soon enough.

Lee came past and we had a brief chat as we cat and moused backwards and forwards.
Shortly after, Stuart came flying past, slapping my backside as he went!! 
It seemed only fair I returned the favour as I went back past him a few miles down the road. 
(This greeting exchange between myself and Stuart continued onto the run leg as well! I think I had 4 bottom slaps and gave out 3)

The bike leg itself was fairly uneventful - I missed Mel passing me as i nipped into a portaloo at one of the feed stations - I couldn't wee while riding, no matter how hard I tried.

Alice's noises eventually subsided and my thoughts progressively got darker as the miles ticked by.
At approx 80km, my hips were starting to hurt - I went to take some pain killers and dropped them.
Never have I been more gutted. 

My quads were hurting at approx 100km.
Shortly after this, my power dropped out.

Lesson number 4
Change batteries on the Vectors before racking.

I didn't have a clue how hard I was riding - other than I had just under half of the bike left to go, my legs were starting to grump and I was sick to death of headwind. 

After the flat coastal road, being slightly concerned I would be stuck on the loop at the top, unable to get off it and being made to go round and round like scooby-doo riding, when the hills rolled once more, I started to feel like a fraud. 

My legs shouldn't be this tired.
Everyone else seemed to be coming past me.
More women were passing and I was now probably down to 10th female.

I felt like I was going backwards.  
Initially, I managed to keep my head space happy, telling myself that my gearing would be different for Norseman. Different gears would make it easier. 
For all I was still smiling like a loon, I wasn't in a happy head space. 
I was convinced that the time Andrew had predicted was 6.15 and I still had MILES to go - the downhill straight into town felt like it was uphill.  
6 hours ticked by and I was still a long way back - the A66 seemed to go on and on and on. 
The headwind was relentless.

Weaving through town, the traffic was horrific.
Anyone would think that there was a big event going on. 
I pulled up to the dismount line with Cathy marshalling 'bike in' - Sarah was waiting for the chip, originally, I was running a loop with her - I told her to go without me.  

My hips were screamy by this point. 

John came and looked after me, briefly, making sure I had pain relief and recovery drink - he had to go back to wait for Dave coming in on the bike to start his own run. 
Colin followed shortly behind me. 

In the hours that followed, my hips hurt in ways I've never experienced before - not running was the right call.

But I cant do that at Norseman. 
I considered running a loop after resting for a couple of hours - that still counts as a long brick right?
I would've done myself a mischief. 

After a day of beating myself up, I'm ok.
I achieved what I set out to achieve - and I learned important stuff.

I rode to within what I'm capable of and given the wind conditions and lack of data - to produce that result based on feel is OK. 
I need to stop being my own worst critic. 
I rode alright. 
We didn't disgrace ourselves (myself and Alice, although she tried) and we (myself and Dr Sarah) achieved a 11.49 relay. 

I posted a 6.27 bike split. 
I have 6 weeks of solid training left to bank. 
I didn't fail this weekend. 
I achieved exactly what I set out to achieve and BEAMED while doing it.

I was able to spend the weekend with some of the people whom I love dearly and witness amazing people achieving awesome things. 
People pushing themselves beyond previous limits. 
Supporting others unconditionally.

I am VERY lucky to be able to do the things I can do. 
Even if they are ridiculous.