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Training update - 25 weeks to go

Number of training hours (done/planned)

Swim: 3.5/3
Bike: 0.75/2.25
Run: 1.25/1.75
Core/weights: 0.0/0.5
Total: 5.55/7.5

What went well

Set up my fundraising page to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust. Went running in the dark twice after work to ensure I kept up a reasonable schedule. Three good length swims are always an achievement to be happy with.

What didn't go well

Turned into an epic week at work, particularly the weekend, so didn't make all planned exercise sessions. Bike suffered as usual.

Thoughts for next week's plan

Will take some time off in lieu assuming work is not as disastrous, and make up training. It's still early in the build-up so I can afford a quieter week, and a rest week may well be beneficial, so I shouldn't feel the urge to make it all up next week. A good couple of long runs and bikes are my major goals for next week, time and work permitting.

Training update - 26 weeks to go

Number of training hours (done/planned)

Swim: 3.25/3
Bike: 2.66/3
Run: 3/3
Core/weights: 0.5/0.5
Total: 9.4/9.5

What went well

Had my bikefit session. Managed to cope with a schedule rearranged because of last Sunday's illness - took Monday as a rest day and so all my swims had to move by a day, and everything else had to slot in with that. Very close to my planned weekly hours, just a roller session short really. Starting to feel good in the water, the extra sessions and extra distances may be paying off. I think yesterday's session confirms that my first CSS test was more accurate than my second one. CSS = 31s/25m

What didn't go well

Fitting two biggish sessions in on the Saturday meant I didn't have much time or energy to do anything else during the day - it felt like a bit of a rush and I neglected Peta. I think one four hour session would have been easier!

My nutritional planning (or lack of) at weekends is starting to show. I need to be better organised so that I can plan eating better.

Navigation on the bike ride, even with the GPS, was a bit of a chore. Next time I'll try less ambitious routes - this one had a few too many turns (as with every turn is the potential to go the wrong way)

Thoughts for next week's plan

I'm oncall this week, which limits my training. My goal is to do three swims, three indoor bikes and two runs, with the long run in the Monday of the week after. Might do more in the gym as a result next weekend.

My first bikefit

If I'm going to go long, I want to do so in as much comfort as the rules allow (so a limo is not an option). As such I'm prepared to invest in things that will improve my efficiency, such as my recent Swim Smooth clinic, improve my running technique (my new Newton Sir Isaacs) and now a proper bike fit.

After some searching around, I came across The Bike Whisperer based nearby in Ealing, run by Scherrit and Corinne. There sessions can be as long as 3 hours, with the last session at 7pm - in the end evenings are enough of a premium at the moment so I decided to cash in some time off in lieu and take an afternoon off.

I was given the promised great cup of coffee, and Scherrit took my history of cycling and niggles, and measured my bike. After this I popped on the turbo and we went through a cycle of pedalling, tweaking, more pedalling and more tweaking. My cleats were reoriented to reduce the niggle in my right medial ligament, and my saddle moved forward and lowered slightly. Apparently I'm not very leggy and am mostly torso-ey.

The great news was that the guys at GB Cycles had done a fantastic job of fitting my bike for me in terms of the stuff that couldn't be changed - frame size, handlebar width and stem length were all deemed perfect.

One other great result was the guarantee - the payment was for one bike and one pair of shoes - so if I have any problems with the fitting I can go back and get readjusted at no extra cost.

Had a fun ride home in the dark, was the first time I'd ridden at night in months. I had all my reflective gear on, although I did borrow a light from Scherrit which I'll post back as soon as I can (I found my back light next to where I'd been packing my bag ready to go out).

Map of my run on 12/10/2010

What I'm about to show here might just look like the standard output from e.g. mapmyrun or similar. It's not. It's a map taken from exported Ascent CSV data and converted to a Google Map using a ruby script.

Script is still a work in progress, but it's reasonably well modularised - the code that turns a training session into a google map is totally separate to the bit that creates a training session from an Ascent CSV file. Meaning that I can make a new parser that creates a training session from a TCX file, or create a graph from a training session.

Just need to automate it better or work out how to integrate it with drupal better- at the moment it just loads an iframe.

Training update - 27 weeks to go

Number of training hours (done/planned)

Swim: 3/3
Bike: 1/2
Run: 3/3.25
Core/weights: 0.25/1.25
Total: 7.25/9.5

What went well

Managed to swim three times this week, involving two 7am starts (and I'm not a morning person). Also exercised twice on two days, which is also good practice. Arranged my bikefit session, to ensure that cycling is soft on the knees - would have been on Thursday just gone, but got moved to this Tuesday coming. Went running today in spite of feeling under the weather, although given I'm still not feeling any better, not convinced that was an entirely sensible plan. Will have to play this week by ear now.

What didn't go well

I did very little core this week. I always seem to be planning it for just after a long session, so haven't felt like it, and it's still the sacrificial lamb.

Didn't go for a long bike yesterday as planned - the weather was lousy and by the time I felt ready there wasn't much daylight left. Overheated on the rollers, so only managed 30 mins in total, not great.

Thoughts for next week's plan

I'm happy with my session planning for this week - any shortcomings were due to length of time I was willing to put into a session, not the number of sessions. So I will attempt the same again this week, and perhaps go for a more realistic level of core (three * 1/4 hour). I need to use evenings better too - before work and lunchtime are a little constrained (although before work is constrained only by what time I get up).

Next week I will go outside on the bike unless it is snowy or icy - rain is not a sufficient excuse!

On the rollers

Had another go at the rollers tonight - just 30 mins, but felt long enough. The main reasons I bought the rollers is that I think that they will improve my balance and handling, and also be slightly more interesting than the turbo.

I've now done an hour, and I'm definitely improving - I'm going minutes without bumping off the door frame, I'm cycling clipped in, and I only occasionally nearly cycle off it. Today I tried drinking from the bottle, taking a hand off handlebars, changing gears, shifting between hoods, drops and tops. Also tried some standing up.

ln future I'd like all of these to be more normal, and also add in eating, more shifting positions, more standing, more high cadence (today was around 70 rpm) and more hands off (at least one hand comfortably, perhaps both in the long distance future to prove that I control my balance). Oh, and I'd like to move out from the doorframe! Bouncing off it occasionally is fine but I aim to be fully independent in future!

Snowy Sunday afternoon run

I was in two minds whether it was sensible to run today - certainly if the recent ice hadn't improved I'd have had to look to some kind of indoor training. However, it looked like it had thawed a bit, so I set out for my planned 90 mins run.

My plan was to run up to Richmond Park and then head back after 45 minutes - wasn't quite sure where this would be. At the start of the route just after Colet Court finally runs out of land, there was a fork in the path. Normally I stick to the river but the left hand fork was so snowy and inviting, I decided to explore. After not too far I came to a gate, and this took me onto a more elevated path - to my left, probably 10 feet below, was a totally icy lake. I was able to run along the path by the lake for a good while, before it finally ended - and then I got to the sign - it was in fact the Leg O' Mutton Nature Reserve. Carrying on towards Barnes, I noticed I was running through Small Profit Dock Gardens - what a fantastic name. I've been running that route for 18 months now, and this was the first time I'd been through either. Just goes to show what a little snow can do.

Much of the rest of the run was uneventful, although Richmond Park itself was gorgeous, very snowy. I stuck to the road past the White Lodge, and then onto the Tamsin Trail to get the most of the run. Saw a few deer at the Robin Hood Gate end, and then headed back out of Roehampton Gate, down past the Priory, across to Barnes Station then along Castelnau back to Hammersmith.

In the end it was a 16km run in 1:35, which is as fast as I normally manage in normal conditions. The snow was reasonably fun to run in (not too deep, mostly not too icy), thankfully.

Training update - 28 weeks to go

Number of training hours (done/planned)

Swim: 2/3
Bike: 1/1
Run: 2.75/2.75
Core/weights: 0.1/0.75
Total: 5.85/7.5

What went well

Went on SwimSmooth's training clinic all of Saturday - so while that worked out at a bit under 1 training hour, I actually spent 9 hours swimming or thinking about swimming. I now know what the major faults in my swim are (and they're not too bad - exhalation timing, initial catch and pacing) so hopefully I can start to make real improvements. I also realised that while technique is an issue, it's no longer as big a deal as just working harder to get faster (not at the expense of technique)

I started using my rollers - only for half an hour, and probably didn't get particularly effective pedalling technique session but hopefully the extra work to maintain balance will pay off in technique elsewhere. I plan to stick at the rollers, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to do hour long sessions or longer in future.

I managed to go running on three occasions in spite of the snow and ice.

What didn't go well

I did no core this week. I did very little weights (although weights will continue to be the sacrificial lamb when short on time).

Bike was planned to be very short, but it does mean I'm not working hard enough on it - it should be probably around half of my weekly effort.

Thoughts for next week's plan

I'd like to do three sessions of each discipline per week, but with a rest day that would mean two sessions on three days per week. That seems like quite a lot of additional effort, particularly as the big sessions at the weekend would mean I'd be less likely to want to do it then, which would mean one week day being a rest day, one week day being a one session day and the other three days being two session days. Maybe I'll build up to that!

Main thoughts are to do more on the bike (difficult in this weather but not impossible with rollers and turbo) and to concentrate on the weaknesses identified in the swim clinic.

New Year, new training plan, new blog entry!

Over the last month I've been indulging in the typical December pastimes of eating and drinking too much, and training too little. With the New Year, and now just 29 weeks to Ironman, my new training plan has started. I'm starting at week 2 of Don Fink's Intermediate 30 week programme (hence the need to skip week 1). It starts off quite gently, although I've already had to do two workouts in a day. My plan today of doing swim and gym was foiled by too long a swim. However, in all cases of conflict, gym will always be the first thing to go, as specific training is better. Still want to work on my core though.

To that avail, I unboxed my latest gadget today - a new set of Elite Ghibli Parabolic rollers. I even gave them a quick go in a doorway - they're ludicrously difficult at first - I even managed to go off the side at one point, but that was probably a function of going too slow. I can see I'm going to get a great workout from them just trying to keep upright, and apparently the challenge makes time pass more quickly (guess I'll believe that one when I see it).

In other gadget news, I got a Garmin Edge 705 for Christmas - very shiny, and should make for more interesting bike rides. Once I've upgraded the maps. I figured the default map wouldn't be amazing, but might suffice. How wrong could I be - it didn't even recognise the road on which I live! A bit of research needed before I commit to buying a map, but I have been given very thorough advice on the matter - just need to weigh up the pros and cons of a couple of choices contained within.

Grand Union Canal Half Marathon

It's nice to be prepared for a run for once. I've been concentrating on my running fairly solidly for the last few weeks, even going so far as to work on my technique. I accidentally managed a 25km run three weeks ago, after I chose a route without thinking about just how far it would be. My tapering in the last week has been reasonable, with a 13km run last weekend and an 8.5km run mid-week.

I got up in good time, had breakfast and got to the tube at the planned time. Apparently you can get to Uxbridge in 40mins from Hammersmith on a Sunday morning, but not on the trains I got - I had to change twice. I arrived in Uxbridge half an hour before the race, and so did the 2km to the race start as a run/walk. On arrival at the site, I took off my jacket, pinned my number on and then put my bag into the van taking bags from start to finish, and was ready to go.

After a short wait to allow everyone to get their bags onto the truck, there was a minute's silence and we were off. A quick lap of Cowley Recreation Ground preceded the run along the towpath (I guess in the hope that it would thin out the crowd a little). I started off quite deep in crowd, and there was a lot of movement for position, and a few stops as we all milled through the bottlenecks, but I was quite happy with a gentle start off, my first km was around 5:45.

I found the traffic reasonable after the first kilometre, I was still passing and being passed, and my pace soon settled into a steady rhythm. I chose people who seemed to be going at a reasonable and steady pace, and followed them until I was feeling strong and passed them, moving through the field slowly but surely.

I greatly enjoyed the scenery, I love running by water, and the many bridges and locks along the way broke it up sufficiently. As we were running up-river, all of the locks were uphill, so I used those as attacking points to pass other runners.

I was very pleased that I was overtaken by just one person in the second half of the race, and not because my pace deteriorated, so I'm not sure where he came from - a late starter, or a loo break? My pace seemed to improve towards the end of the race - indeed my final three kms were the fastest of the day!

The last kilometre was a killer - a small hill going into Cassiobury Park, certainly took a lot of effort to maintain a decent pace, but I managed to pass a couple of people walking going up the hill, and two more at the top. As I rounded the final corner about 300m from the finish, the person I was just about to pass noticed me and picked up his pace - we didn't quite have a sprint finish but it was much faster than the rest of the race! I couldn't quite take him in the end. I noticed Peta as I was coming into the final straight, but I was in the shadow of the other runner and so she saw me quite late, but it was great to see her there in support.

I picked up my medal, had some water, had a hug and then we waited for the bags to turn up - I'd beaten the luggage, go me! Luckily didn't have to wait too long before we could get my bag and catch the train home again.

This was probably my favourite running race yet (difficult to compare it against a triathlon), perhaps mostly due to the autumnal weather - I only used one water stop in the end as I just didn't need more. It was very picturesque, an interesting course (my off-road shoes probably helped - it wasn't tricky terrain, just muddy and a bit slippery in places) with bridges, locks etc, and in conditions that suited me very well.

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