Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hawkebury Tri Club Race: Redemption

As I left for the race this morning, my head was spinning with the "should I run?" dilemma. I decided that I would see how I felt after the ride, and stick to the right hand side of the road (it seems that when I run with the left leg on the higher part of the road I don't get into trouble.) It was a small field today - many of the regulars were in Port Macquarie for the Half Iron Man, or off training for Forster.

Firstly, the swim: two 250m loops around two bouys with a lane rope between them. I felt much better at the start of the race than last time - I just concentrated on keeping myself flat in the water and doing long slow strokes. The first lap into the current still seemed to take an age, but I did it without assistance, and after the turn, the swim back just flew by. Thesecond lap of the swim followed the same pattern, the swin up took an age, and I battled to keep myself on course - getting tangled in the guide rope a few times and getting a tap from the kayak when I was getting too far away from the rope, but I finally got to the bouy that marked the turnaround. I spent the first ten metres of the trip back just kicking on my back, sucking in the big ones before turning over and pushing on. Again, the swim with the current was no problems. I was getting much encouragement from the two Chris's who were marshalling, and I felt stuffed but very happy as I clambered up the bank and into transition.

I took an age in T1, as I put my socks, runners, heart rate monitor and knee strap on, and towelled off. My bike computer chose this moment to stop working, but this didn't worry me, I prefer to use the HRM to gauge how I am going. The heartrate hovered at about 155, which is where I wanted it, and the 20K ride passed without incident (which was a huge relief, as I had again neglected to bring a spare tube, pump or tyre levers). On the second lapI got more ecouragement from Carla, who I ride with on Saturdays and was marshalling, who said I'd rode a great lap.

Back into transition, and it was crunch time. How would the knee go? It felt OK, but the previous week had been awful. I stuck to the plan, and it seemed to be working. The course was another out and back 2.5K loop done twice. My plan was to do the first lap with a heart rate of 165 and let go after that. This plan was working well for the first lap and the knee felt OK, but when I tried to step it up a bit, the knee didn't want to go along with it, so I just coasted for the first half of the second lap. When I saw that my heartrate had fallen to 160, I intensified the effort a bit, and as I got into the last 300m, I sped up a bit (not quite a kick, but near enough) and stated as I crossed the line "I am a triathlete!"

My splits were:
Swim 17:25
Cycle 1:06:30 (includes both transitions)
Run 1:32:06

This makes it a 25:36 5K run. I'd like to think this is true, but I'd also feel a lot more comfortable if Action had measured the course - I'm not convinced it was the full distance.

At the end of the race, one of the organisers came to me and said "Ben, we didn't realise you aren't a member of triathlon NSW. You're only meant to race the short course!"

I'll join up when I get a job (it costs 92 bucks). For now, this box has been ticked and the unfinished business is dealt with.

Oh, by the way, not that it matters, I came stone, motherless last.

Friday, February 25, 2005

A complete and utter turd of a day

I don't like to sound like a whinger, but today has not been good.

The night was another nil sleep one. I still haven't had a decent sleep in the last month, but most nights I manage a few hours. I'm seriously thinking of going to the doctor about the insomnia, but I've done that before and the chemical solution (sleeping pills) is mostly worse than not sleeping.

I decided against running at 7:00 this morning with the humidity at 99% and the dew thick on the oval I wanted to run on, so I got up there at 11AM. The plan was the same as last weeks run: 5 laps, stretch ITB, 5 laps in the opposite direction. The first five laps (anti-clockwise) went OK - a little niggle, not bad. 100m into the first clockwise lap and the knee was in agony - shooting pains on the outside of the kneecap. I pulled the pin and hobbled home.

When I got home there was a message on my phone telling me that I didn't get the job I went for yesterday.

I then stretched, iced and called the physio. He got me straight up to see him and set to work on a very painful release of the ITB and quads. He made an appointment for me to see the sports physician which he will be available for via phone. This is on March 8.

He said I am to use my own judgement on whether to compete in the triathlon on Sunday. I will definitely do the swim and bike legs, but I am only going to make the call on whether I run after I have done the first two legs, and trust me - I will not be taking risks.

So after all of that I felt like comfort food. I drove straight to the gelato shop on the main street of Penrith and indulged.

Tomorrow is a rest day, not that I need it after 2.1K of running today.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Open water training

I had a job interview at Brookvale this morning, so swim squad was not an option, but when the interview ended at 10:30 I drove straight to Curl Curl beach and swam 24 laps of the pool there. It was great to get some swim practise in the (sort of) open water - no black line to guide me and very, very choppy. I've got a lot more confidence for the swim leg of Sunday's tri now.

Those with a keen eye may have spotted my potential problem. Living in Windsor and working in Brookvale (a 2 hour drive away) is not exactly conducive to training.

The job, needles to say, would suit my perfectly. If it didn't I wouldn't consider it. At the moment I am considering my options should I get the job. Moving is not out of the question, but having recently renovated and turned our cute cottage into our perfect home, it is an ugly option. Anyway, this is beginning to sound suspiciously like chicken counting, so I shall desist immediately. Stay tuned for further updates.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Two steps forward, one step back

Today was the step back.

I got out early to drive to the regatta at Penrith to do my long run on a flat course. I figured the inside running track is about 4.5K, so two laps would make the requisite 9K.

I started way too fast, and did the first 500m at about 5min/k pace. I then calmed down with my HR getting up near 170, to settle into 6 min/K pace. This is still too fast for a long run I reckon. My HR stayed up above 160, and I just wasn't comfortable. I'll talk to the physio about slowing down.

The knee felt a little dodgy at the start of the run, but settled after about 1K when I settled into the right pace. The problem came right at the end of the first lap, where there is a speedhump shaped bridge over a canal - short but steep.

Things went awry as soon as I reached the top. Classic patella femeral pain - and it was intense. No option but to pull the pin and try to stretch it. Whilst stretching I had an encounter with CR Sarge, who runs this track regularly. He told me where I might get some ice, and he was right! I kept the ice on it for twenty minutes, but it still feels a little angry now, 3 hours later. Luckily I plan to swim tomorrow, so with any luck this will not disrupt training too much.

I'm starting to accept that I am just going to have to deal with this crap in the medium term, but if I do it sensibly I will eventually run another marathon. In the meantime I just need to be patient - when I do go sub 4 hours (which is my long term goal) it will be all the sweeter for the amount of hassle it will have taken me to get there.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Midweek Ride

I had a job interview first thing this morning, and I want to do my long run in the morning at Penrith, so I went for my midweek ride today at 1:00, after the interview.

I decided to do three laps of the 10K loop that the trithlon is raced over. It has a hilly section, so it works for the purpose, and the roads are wide enough to make it very safe. I felt good throughout the ride, which I averaged 24Kph over. I'm ready for a good bike leg on Sunday.

I pulled up sore in the shoulders (?), but the legs feel great. I took the bike into the shop to try to ascertain where my tyres need to be inflated to, and discovered that they have been far too flat. Must buy a new footpump (more bucks I aint got).

9K run tomorrow!!!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Oh, boy was I right about the physio hurting me this morning. I know I go on about this but this just bloody hurts. The good news is that he lifted my long run to 9K. 10K here I come.

I had a casual day of work that just absolutely drained me, and turned up at the pool at 6:30 for squad. The Monday squad is focussing on endurance at the moment, and I covered 2.1K today, almost entirely straight freestyle. The bulk of it was a pyramid session (100,200,300,400,300,200,100) with 20 second rests. I reckon I'm looking much better for finishing 500m in the next triathlon this Saturday.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

SMC 5K - The perfect sporting weekend.

After Saturday's ride I sat down in front of the telly at midday to watch the cricket, a hard fought win to the Aussies, then I watched my beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs smash the St George Dragons in the Charity Shield, meanwhile my beloved St Kilda Saints were beating the Hawks.

So how do you top off a string of wins like that? With a PB, of course. My aim in the SMC 5K race on Sunday was to go sub 25. I knew I was a good chance of pissing it in when I reached the 2.5K turnaround in 12:02, but I did slow down a fair bit from there to come home in 24:47. I guess I went out too hard, but I'm not worried about it.

Confession time: I didn't stretch properly after the race, and boy do I regret it now. My knee isn't hurting, but I can feel that my ITB is just too damn tight. I will be punished by the physio tomorrow.

I'm sort of hoping not to be bothering too much with my 5K PB for a while now. If I can lift my maximum run to 10K before the next SMC it will be time to obliterate that piece of PB embarassment.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Pulled the Pin

Saturday morning is tri club ride morning. Only two of us turned up to ride in the early, slow group, so we combined with the later faster group. I knew I was going to blow up after 10K, the pace was just a bit faster than I am comfortable with, and my heartrate was up around 150-155, which is too high for riding for me.

A couple of the blokes stayed back with me at various times, but at 35K, when Bernie's wife drove up (she was acting as his support crew), I asked if I could throw the bike in the back and get a lift to the coffee shop. I may have been able to struggle through, but I wanted to have something left in the tank for tomorrow, and I didn't think there was anything to be gained by riding too hard - it is a training ride.

It's hot outside, the cricket is on the telly and the lounge beckons.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A good kind of soreness

There are bad kinds of soreness. Patella-femeral pain, ITB massage, doing up ones fly to quickly - these things are bad pain. This evening I have earned the pain I am feeling, and I like it. Mildly sore shoulders, legs a tiny bit stiff with almost no pain in that wretched left knee.

The day started with a swim squad. 1500m of various tiring drills and kicks passed without incident. I'm still getting rapid improvement in the pool, and I felt strong today.

I managed to sneak 6K on the treadmill (10 kph) just as the cricket started this afternoon. I still feel that my condition isn't what it should be while I'm running, but the run passed with very little knee pain, and that was in the 2090's so that is a great sign. The treadmill in front of the telly has proved a winner thusfar, and will only prove more useful when I get a job.

As a final note to this post I would like to thank everyone who has been leaving comments, it's good to get advice and feedback from a variety of sources.

I promise I am finished with yesterday's bike course when I am alone. I also promise I will take a rest day tomorrow. Thanks for your concern, Luckylegs.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This ride is gonna kill me

I rode the hilly 32K course I have been doing every week again this afternoon. It was a good ride, but having finally fixed my bike computer, I'm a bit worried by how slow I do the uphills. I get down to 15kph quite regularly.

The knee pain that has dogged my recent rides was not an issue today - I felt a bit tight in the lft quad, but that's about it.

I don't think I'll keep doing this course in the afternoon - a couple of times I just felt myself a bit too close to the passing cars on narrow roads. I bumped into another bloke from the tri club in the last kilometre of the ride and had a chat with him, and he avoids that area for safety concerns in the afternoons. Since I have a dodgy right eye and I'm less stable on the bike than most I reckon I am in no position to be taking risks. I'll find a new course for next weeks midweek ride.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Long Run on the oval

Since I am planning to run the SMC 5K this Sunday I shifted my long run to this morning. I decided that another long run on the treadmill was a bit too much, so I headed for the oval at McQuade Park and did laps of it.

The plan was to do 20 laps @ 6 minute pace. I decided to stretch my ITB every 5 laps and change direction. I can't remember whether it was Horrie or Sarge I was talking to about this, but the changing directions idea came from one of them, as a method of countering the camber effect and the effect of running on a constant curve.

I ended up doing the 8K in 46:30 (counting only the time I ran). I have to admit it feels like cheating when I stop to stretch. I like to do my long runs without stopping for breaks, but for the moment this feels like the right thing to be doing. The knee felt better than the last long run, which is an indication that this is a safer way to train.

I got about 5 hours of sleep last night. Better than previous nights, but I need a good seven hours badly.

I'll take a rest day on Friday, it's the only day that fits to balance the program.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Hard Core Swim Squad

The day started with an early morning physio session after dog-walking. My ITB felt tight while I was driving in, and so I knew I was in for a tough one, and so it was. He released my ITB and my glutes (first time for that, hopefully last too). It's all too much before one's first morning coffee.

I had a shit of a day working on two small jobs that are both taking twice as long as I thought they would / quoted them at, so I couldn't wait to hit the pool for my swim squad. At least that's what I thought until I got there.

I just couldn't get into the zone. It could be the fact it's been ten days since my last rest day, it could be the insomnia that has kept me from sleeping more than four hours any night for the last week, or I could be just whinging.

Anyway - the swim was hard core. 200m warm up, 500m of easy swimming with a hard effort for the middle third of each lap, 400m of drills and 1250m easy adds up to 2350m - the longest I have ever done in one session. And I'm stuffed.

Tonight I will try some Horlicks before bed, and see if I can get that magic six hours.

Sweet dreams.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A weird old treadmill run

After the pain of the last few days, I decided that the treadmill was the safest bet for my long run today - 8K as per physio request.

The knee felt pretty good prior to the run, but for the first 4K it was at the point where I was thinking "if it starts hurting any worse I'll pull the pin."At the same time, I felt ordinary. My cardio system was doing OK - breathing a little heavy, but I just felt bad (could be 5 consecutive sub-four hour sleeps - damn insomnia).

From half-way onwards I still felt bad, but the knee improved to more of a niggling pain. My MP3 player threw up "T-Shirt Weather" by the Lucksmiths for the final 2 minutes of the run, thus giving my something to really sing along to as I finished the 8K off.

The knee feels decidedly ordinary this afternoon. I have physio at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning, where I suspect I am going to rediscover the joy of ITB massage.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Catch Up

Bloody Hell! Didn't realise it was three days. Here goes:

Thursday 10th Feb

Swim Squad. A tough little 1.6K session before I had to bail out early to go to a meeting. I was feeling stuffed by the end of it.

Friday 11th Feb

Treadmill tempo run. Did 400m @ 8kph, 400m @ 10kph 2.5K @ 11kph and 400m @ 10kph. Knee hurt a bit, but not nearly as bad as the last run, but I did take every precaution (Kayanos, treadmill)

Saturday 12th Feb

50K tri-club ride. The pace was much slower this week. I was glad of this, my knee still hurts on the bike, but nowhere near as bad as on the last ride.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My knee sux

OK, I know you're over my whinging about my knee. I'm not.

I went out for my hilly widweek ride this morning, and for virtually the entire ride my knee was is pretty bad pain. It was a pain like it was wrenched, sore at the bottom of the knee. This is quit unlike yesterdays pain, which was on the outside of the kneecap. The ride was 32K, 84 minutes and not much fun. Apart from the knee, the ride was actually pretty good. I'm getting stronger on the bike.

I am developing a terrifying habit of using my front brake to slow myself down. I must break this habit or I will break some bones. I've done the "over the handlebars thing before. I have no desire to do it again.

I rang the physio, and his response was "rest the knee for 48 hours". No problems. Tomorrow was a swim and an afternoon tempo run, which I will shift to the following morning - a planned rest day.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The knee strikes back

ITB's are bastards. Just when you think you're starting to really beat it, it comes back with all of it's mates.

I started the day with a 6K run on the triathlon course, which is very flat.The knee pain started soon after the start, and it was there throughout the run. I did the run in pretty quick time (34:47), and the HR got up to 163 by the end.

This run was the first time I have used my old 2090's in a few weeks, so I'm going to blame them. They are hereby consigned to treadmill running. I'll have a go at a tempo run on Thursday afternoon on the treadmill, but I will use the Kayano's for that run to try to nurse the knee through.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Just a little bit more

I had a physio session that lasted over an hour this morning where he worked my ITB pretty hard, and geez it hurt. He says my core strength is a lot worse than he originally thought and gave me a new excercise to build it. The happy news is that he wants me to up my long run to 8K.

At 6:30 this afternoon I went to swim squad. It was a tough session, 1.6K including 400m of reverse catch-ups which are a pretty hard drill for someone of my limited ability. What happens is that you start with your hands by your side, and you must do a complete stroke with one arm before starting the stroke with the other arm. We also did a litlle butterfly, whereupon I discovered my complete inability to do a butterfly kick.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


If been at the Central Coast this weekend, at my parents place. Went for a nice little run this morning, 6K around Avoca Beach. Did it at around 6 minute K's, getting the HR up to 155. It was the best flat course I could find.

Went swimming at Copacabana Beach in the afternoon and then took a 6K walk in Woy Woy, before heading home in the afternoon.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Tough Ride

Riding with the tri club this morning. Standard ride: 50K. I really struggled today, so I was glad when one of the other blokes told me that"the pace is really on today" (my bike computer is still stuffed, so I had no idea). I was stuffed by the end, and got dropped off the back several times.

The same bloke (an old bloke called Bernie) also gave me some riding tips about my seat being too high, my foot placement being wrong (I will fix this with proper pedals and shoes when I have more money) and my chain not being lubed properly. So I have all that to work on before next week. It's good to get feedback.

Feeling a bit weary this afternoon, but a lot better than yesterday. The day off has helped. I have a 6K run tomorrow and I can't wait.

The foot feels much better now, as does the knee and the ITB. It will take all of my will power to keep building slowly rather than ramping up quickly on running, but I know I have to stick to it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bloodbath at the Oasis

This morning was swim squad. I rode my bike down, as the car was in for service, and had a hard session of about 1.8K in the indoor poolinvolving drills and kicks. Finished it off with a 50m time trial (45.08).

Exiting the pool, I stepped on a broken tile. When I started to stretch my hamstrings I noticed my left foot was covered in blood. I looked back at the pool, and there was a trail of blood leading from the side of the pool to where I was standing, and people standing around talking about it.

The staff at the Oasis took over at this stage, applying first aid. It took a few minutes to stop the blood flow, and there were a couple of ugly little pools of the stuff, but this got cleaned up very quickly. I spent about twenty minutes in the first aid room getting bandaged up, and then went out and got myself a bad flat white. Luckily, a couple from the squad had come in a ute, and they offered to drive me and my borrowed road bike home, which was much appreciated, I was feeling very faint by this stage.

So with a bandage on my foot and a very light head, I have decided not to take my planned run this afternoon, and keep tomorrow as the rest day that was planned. Back for the long bike ride on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Hills of the Hawkesbury

It was pissing down when the alarm went off this morning, so I went back to sleep with the intention of doing an RPM class (stationary cycling) tonight instead of my planned 80 minute ride.

By mid-morning it had cleared and my planned piece of casual work had been delayed. I called my coach and asked him whether I should go for a ride or do the class.

His opinion is that I should ride some hills. I asked him for an appropriate course, and he told me to ride to Wilberforce, cut accross to North Richmond and the ride back to Windsor. I drove the course just to be sure and measured it at 32K of bastard hills and rode it after I got back. My bike computer is on the blink, which is a shame. I'm sure I went faster today than I have ever gone before. My HR was certainly higher than I have had whilst riding before (avge about 146).

Tonight I am again stuffed. This is a slight concern as tomorrow I plan two sessions - swim squad and a 6K run.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Good Treadmill Intervals

Back on the treadmill today for 7x400m intervals. Last time I felt they were a bit soft at 12.5kph. Today I tried 12.8kph, and felt good and stuffed by the end. The intervals were separated by 200m at 8 kph.

Got the HR up to 171. It could go higher I suppose, but I felt like that was about where it should be. At least I donb't have to worry about intervals for another fortnight.