Majorca IM 70.3 Race Report

So here we go! My first race report of the 2014 season. A race I have been really looking forward to but at the same time, a little surprised about how quickly it seemed to sneak up on me. It seems only weeks ago that I was winter training and races seemed to be months away but you know if it, your packing and heading of the the airport! 

Packed and Ready to go!

Packed and Ready to go!

I was very lucky to have two close friends racing this with me. Claire and Anna are two of a group of close friends I have made from my local Triathlon club. We decided to make this race a bit of a girls holiday too as we were setting of on Thursday with return flights on the Monday. Unfortunately due to Claire’s son breaking his arm and needed an op, she didn’t make it out with us as originally planed and had to join us on the Friday instead. Luckily though her little boy is well on the mend and she was still able to join us, just a day alter than originally planned. 

My aims for this race;

To practice my new nutrition strategy – following last years issues I have changed my pre race diet for the week leading up to the race to be wheat free and also changed my race nutrition to be wheat free and more natural. One key area of this has been using Advanced Tri Fuel for pre race drink, bike fluids and start of run leg fuel. 

Secondary aim – I needed to feel like I paced my race correctly without blowing up and slowing down at any stage. My coach’s ideal for pacing is to see a very slightly increasing HR over the bike and run legs so that i’m pretty much cycling and running to achieve negative splits. 

Third aim – to achieve a personal best after i was literally destroyed by first Half IM last year at Wimbleball.

New Race kit ready for its Debut!

New Race kit ready for its Debut!

Generally speaking – I loved this race! 

The sea swim was fab. As my coach had advised, I decided to start very near the front, it’s a narrow start funnel only about 15 people wide so I was about 2nd row. I did get bashed about a bit and an elbow to one goggle eye but it didn’t displace them and I swam on through. I was very pleased with my sighting but couldn’t draft as much as I wanted to as some of the feet I tried to get on were drifting off course so I obviously didn’t want to be pulled in the wrong direction. I stayed very close to the buoys so maybe I needed to be a little further from them in order to catch onto some faster feet!!

Swim split  – 32:15Over the moon with this! 

T1 –  05:31.I missed my bike rack (school girl error) so lost time running on and down the crazily long transition area!  

The bike leg was amazing, having spent a week cycling in Majorca this time last year I knew the kind of terrain to expect and was really looking forward to it. This race is the first time I’ve used my race bike properly and my god it felt fast! The bike course is amazing, a massive hill that lasts about 15km and some undulations but lots of long flat sections where I felt I was really tanking it along. There is an amazing long hair pin descent which I loved even though I’m rubbish at technical descents and lost a lot of time in that section. I also lost time trying to drink on the flats as i could reach my bottles whilst on climbs or fast descents so I think some form of speedfil bottle will be a valuable addition to my bike set up in time for my next IM. I finished the bike split feeling good and well fuelled after taking 3 full bottles of ATF, along with some non wheat based solid fuel. 

Bike split – 03:03:00 Again, very happy with this split. 

T2 – 02:35.   I still haven’t learnt the trick of having shoes clipped into pedals and leaving them clipped in after dismount so this slowed me a little too but I’ll be working on this for my next race. 

The run was also great. I started the race with a steady start which allowed me to get another bottle of ATF down me before I picked up the pace. The long out and back was a little boring at times but I had a plan and stuck to it which meant I knew I could ramp up the pace on the second and third and laps. At a point on the third lap when I was questioning if I could keep the pace up until the end, my friend Claire saw me and could see the pain I was in, she simply shouted ‘dig deep Allie’ and I knew I had to if I wanted to stay ahead of some people I had just passed on lap 2! I managed a good negative split with a very strong final 3miles so I was really pleased with how i pushed myself and keep the pace increasing up until i crossed the finish line. 

Run split – 01:46

Overall, I’m over the moon, I didn’t have a time in mind for this race but simply wanted to feel like I had pushed hard and bettered my Wimbleball race of last year. 

This race gave me a PB of nearly and hour and a half so I can’t complain about that. I know Wimbleball is a slower course but I’m set to return there next to settle some unfinished business after it destroyed me last year!!

Thanks to my friends mitten and Claire for being fab holiday / race buddies. It’s lovely to make more than just a race of a trip to somewhere as nice as Majorca.

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Dog tags with sentimental value

Dog tags with sentimental value!

I have carried my dads wedding ring with me for 19 years now as a good luck charm and I’ve worn it for all major events in my life.  As I race ironman triathlon, carrying a chunky wedding ring around my neck was not always comfortable so I decided to have the ring made into something smaller.  As the ring is important to me I did not just want to give this to any jewellers in London where I now work and live and decided to ask Jo from Clusters what she recommend.  I’ve known Jo since she moved to the North East and trusted her to come up with some way of me able to carry my dads ring with me at all times. 

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What she suggested to do was to keep the metal intact rather than melting it down. Her idea was just simply cutting, shaping and polishing the gold ring into dog tags.  She also said this way, the original hallmark of the ring would remain intact on the back of one of the tags.  The hallmark tag was kept as the full width of the ring and engraved on the front with the word ‘Believe’. My dad also told me you can do anything you want with your life if you Believe in yourself, and training for Ironman has given that a whole new meaning.  The second half of the ring was split into to two narrow tags – one of these has been engraved with IMUK 2013, the first ironman race i took part in and it has my finishers time on the reverse.  The third tag is currently blank waiting for my next memorable date to be engraved, whether that be an important qualifying race time or a significant life event.

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I am over the moon with the dog tags and Jo also supplied me with the best chain for such valuable charms.  She recommended a chain made of palladium as this metal is incredibly strong meaning I could have a thin / light chain that was strong enough to take such charms.    

The overall result is perfect. I am very happy and would certainly recommend Jo’s services to anyone wanting some custom jewellery making.  Check out her website for more info.

http://www.clusters-jewellery.co.uk/

Thank Jo and the team at Clusters.

 x

Milton keynes festival of running and another PB!

I went, I had a plan, I stuck to the plan – it hurt!

It had been a very up and down week for me post La Santa and wasn’t at all sure how I would do at this race – I really wanted to improve on my 1:45 from Bedford but being as I had thrashed myself for a week in Lanzarote I wasn’t sure how fresh I would feel, but to be fair, my legs were feeling good again by mid week so I was hopeful of a PB. This was a bit of a last minute race as I was gutted that Wokingham half got cancelled due to flooding last month. I definitely wasn’t feeling as ‘race ready’ as I did pre-Wokingham, I was genuinely gutted that race was canceled as I have never felt fitter and stronger than the couple of days leading up to Wokingham, but hey ho!

I stuck to my race plan 100% and I gave it all I had on the day – straight after the race I thought I had given it 100%, now, i’m doing that umming and ahhing thing, what if I could have pushed a little more here and there… well thats human nature isn’t it? I’m very self critical so i’ll never have a ‘perfect race’… theres always something to learn;

Lesson 1 – a sports bra makes a great place to place to stash your shot blocks even if you do look a bit uneven ;o)

Lesson 2 – when its bottles of water at aid station rather than cups, don’t go over the top – I nearly puked twice because I was guzzling it to greedily

Lesson 3 – prepare for the worst when removing socks after a hard run – I had blood blisters the size of 10pence pieces in several places on both feet!

Other than that – amazing day to be running, great race, fairly flat with a couple of hills and a damn evil long hill at the end that I wasn’t expecting, everyone groaned when saw that one looming around a corner!

Got my PB – 1:42:08, a PB by 3+ minutes. Not bad for 2 months work since Bedford!

Happy? Yes, very! And thank you to Musty who coaches me and helps me on a daily basis! I couldn’t make improvements like this on my own, Musty’s advice and training plans are helping me – a lot!

8 of 145 in category

50 of 860 female, that’s top 5% :o)

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A, B, C………

So now we are about to start the new race season I would like to thank Carvalho custom for agreeing to sponsor me for custom race kit for the 2014.

Carvalho Custom is based in Portugal and is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of custom cycling and triathlon clothing and other team sports kit.  Having raced in Carvalho kit last year I am very happy that are they are supporting me in the 2014 race season as I am already comfortable with the quality and performance of their kit and I’m very excited to have been working with them on the design of my new kit in the last few months.

I would like to thank Sport Pursuit for supporting me with most of my kit requirements last year and having helped me out with trainers, wetsuits, bike equipment and kit etc for the coming year… however, as Sports pursuit are taking a different direction with sponsorship for the new season I was grateful of the offer from Carvalho to work with them for the 2014 season.

That now completes my sponsorship for 2014, Azione for a great race bike and cycling support, Advanced Tri Fuel for my nutritional requirements. Back on track physio continues to support me by providing regular sports massage and lots of useful physio and injury prevention advice and now to complete that package I have my kit coming from Carvalho.

So excited for the coming season……..

carvalho logo

http://www.carvalhocustom.com/

Deserts, wind, and bikes!

La Santa

Having spent a week cycling in Majorca last spring I was well aware of the endurance gains a full week of training away from work and home commitments can make to your early pre season fitness. This year I was very lucky to be treated to a week away to Club La Santa which Is superbly situated on the north west coast of Lanzarote.  The terrain of Lanzarote is best described as undulating. There aren’t so many of the never ending 10% gradient switch back climbs that I experienced in Majorca last year but I have to admit to having never known a place like Lanzarote for its ability to have only up and down – no flat seems to exist there at all!

The scenery out there is amazing.  I’m a huge fan of the lush green mountains you find in Scotland and the French Alps so for me to be completely breath taken by the stunning volcanic, but very baron landscapes of Lanzarote was actually quite a surprise.

Coastal road below Tamanfaya

Coastal road below Tamanfaya

I spent a large amount of the week training alone and this was great training for both the physical and mental aspects of going out on 3hr runs or 6+hr cycles back home as we get into pre season.    One of the rides I really enjoyed and repeated more than once was a ride deep into the Tamanfaya national park and down to seaside village of el Golfo. The route I took, takes in a lot of typical Lanzarote farmland before hitting the vast lava fields of the national park and finally onto some amazing coastal roads around the South West of the Island. I would say of the Ironman man bike leg this has to be the most fascinating scenery.

Tamafaya national park - lava fields were impressive

Tamafaya national park – lava fields were impressive

As for running – I have to admit, la Santa has totally trumped Majorca as far as my preference for off road running is concerned. Around half a mile from club la Santa is a dirt track that takes you up to Cuchillo up a nice steady hill which gradually changes from dirt track to sand.  A small almost hidden fork in this dirt track then heads you out to a road crossing between Soo and Munique. Once you cross the road (I called it the temple of doom road, as it reminded me from a scene from Indiana jones where the sands where blowing over the road from the desert) your into the El Jable desert.

Temple of doom Road!

Temple of doom Road!

Small tracks in the sand fork off in all directions and you can easily run for 2-3hr without seeing another soul (apart from goats and a single goat herder). The desert running here was amazing – I really loved it and will miss that more than the cycling once back home.

Amazing scenery in El Jable desert

Amazing scenery in El Jable desert

The pool at La Santa is 50m which means your average 1hr swim set zooms by. Most of  my swims were before breakfast but I had one mid afternoon and was very Impressed with the facilities and the lack of crowding in lanes. Just had to get used to the fact that everywhere apart from the UK swims anticlockwise in all lanes – unlike our preference for alternating directions in lanes. There is a huge sea lagoon too but this seems to attract more wind surfers and kayakers that open water swimmers so my wetsuit never got unpacked.

Mid afternoon at the 50m pool

Mid afternoon at the 50m pool

If you are new to road cycling or not very confident I would opt for Majorca over Lanzarote for cycling simply as the wind here literally has you swerving all over the road on the windier days. I’m not the most technically proficient cyclist on skinny wheels (as an ex downhill MTB’er I’m more used to jumps and drops than high speed) and riding a Tri bike with very deep section frame meant on 2 days I’m actually not afraid to say I was really scared! One ride in particular the wind seemed to whip up over lunchtime and hit over 12m/sec which doesn’t sound that fast, but when you take into account descending at around 35-40mph between mountains and the funnelling effect of the wind as it’s gusts between mountain peaks and then lulls again this lead to me literally being blown into the wrong side of the road at one point which was very scary but even that didn’t my get my heart racing as much as when a passing bus driving very fast In the opposite direction created a kind of vortex about 20m afterwards and sent me flying into the barrier, luckily it was a glancing touch of the barrier but made me realise, another half inch and i would have been over the barrier and into the ditch which was quite a way down. Even climbing at low speed, there was a section of road with a deep drop over the side and the number of times I was blown to within a inch or so of the barriers there was scary. Needless to say I was very pleased to get home that day in one piece and celebrated with a beer!

The lagoon

The lagoon

Now I’m sat typing this blog on the plane home I feel very sad.  I think getting away from the stresses of home and work and training to that intensity for a week can have quite an emotional effect on you and I’m sad to be leaving Lanzarote but very happy to be heading home to see my little hairy companion Chilli and her friend and my current ‘dog lodger’ Ellie.  I guess I’m very fortunate though, not everyone has the ability to drop everything and jet off for a week training and for that I am truly thankful. I also have to thank Will for inviting me on this holiday and giving me the opportunity to thrash myself for a week. Hopefully this will have given me an extra bit of endurance ready for my ‘warm up’ race in Majorca before the big one of 2014, Ironman Austria.

Roll on May for the next ‘boot camp’ in the like district with my Tri club friends!

Triathlon Bloggers open day @Total Fitness Nottingham

Triathlon Bloggers open day @Total Fitness Nottingham

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Martin at TFN inviting me to an open day at the shop and to have a complimentary bike fit from SpeedHub.  Having had a Retul bike fit transform my riding on my training bike last year, I jumped at the chance to accept this offer as I’ve recently had some changes made to my race bike including a new Adamo attack saddle and wanted to ensure I was going to be racing in a fully aero but sustainable position.

My new race bike - not seen the light of day yet with such a bad winter!

My new race bike – not seen the light of day yet with such a bad winter!

I got to the shop just before noon on saturday and had a nice chat with Martin and he introduced me to the owner of the shop Mark Redwood.  Mark told me a little about the history of TFN, which as a relative newbie to triathlon still I found it very interesting.

TFN opened its doors for the first time in April of 1996, started by 4 like minded friends who had struggled to find anywhere to buy their triathlon kit all in one place. The original premises in Nottingham were small but as the years went on TFN steadily grew and what had started as more of a hobby became a serious business. In 1999 TFN were one of the first shops to get a dedicated e-commerce website. In 2001 they moved to the current Beeston location.

The TFN race team has been influential in local and national races for years, TFN have previously supported up and coming triathletes and over the years such huge names as Jodie Swallow, Andy Tarry and Tom & David Bishop have started their careers with TFN. They have won numerous national titles over the years and intend to keep us this standard.

The whole team and TFN were very friendly and helpful during the day and mid way through the afternoon it was my turn for a full Retul bike fit with Tim from Speedhub.  The retul bike fits takes many measurements using little LED style tags on your body and a camera type gadget to pick up the signals, this paired with Tims experienced eye and knowledge of both road / TT and triathlon riding can give you the best fit for both aerodynamics but also, and more importantly for me, something that is sustainable for the ironman distances I will be covering.

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I about to set off to La Santa for a training week on my race bike, and Tim has kindly offered for me to have a follow up fit after I’ve put some serious miles in to get a feel for the new more aggressive position will be in on my race bike.

Tim setting me up - this was before my position was brought forward

Tim setting me up – this was before my position was brought forward

If you have haven’t already checked out the website for TFN i can highly recommend you do so, and if you live locally, its well worth a visit, they have a huge amount of stock in store to browse and its much as ordering on online is convenient, when it comes to things like wetsuits you cant beat going into a store and trying a load on.  Check out the website for brands and models….

http://www.tfn.uk.com/

http://www.speedhub.co.uk

Thanks to Mark and his team for a great day!

17hours of Darkness and Mud

So this weekend was my second 24hr MTB event. The first one of these I did several years ago was based in the midlands during the peak of summer – very different to what I experienced this weekend!

The event history from their website 

The Strathpuffer started in 2005 – it was meant to be a one off local event but somehow nine years later we have a national event with a legendary status.

Over the years we have had every possible type of weather conditions – gales that blew away our marquee, iced roads, 2ft of snow the week before the event, temperatures down to minus 10 degrees, rain, hail and even sunshine . . . . you get the picture but then if we insist on staging a 24 hour event in the Highlands of Scotland in the middle of winter what do we expect?

We now attract competitors from all over the world – probably because we were included in the US Bike magazines top 10 toughest Mountain Bike events on the planet – and we are widely recognised as the event every decent mountain biker needs on his palmares.

The Race 

My brother lives only a few miles from the race venue so he knows the forest and the trails really well, I’ve ridden part of the puffer trail a couple of times over the last few years but I’ve ran it more often than I’ve ridden it.  My brother and his friends went to pitch the tent and park the transit van (my personal changing room!) on Friday afternoon and then we all went along at 8am on Saturday morning to set up and get ready to race. We had a tent with a stove and a gazebo with bike maintenance stand etc for repairs and brake pad changes etc.

Base camp!

Base camp!

Burt was to take the first lap, then myself, Leigh then finally my brother and the plan was to keep this order for the 24hr period.  The weather was great – for the highlands, first couple of laps were still quite icy but the trails thawed during the day, but the rain started so it got very muddy.  The format of the race means there is 17hrs of darkness – and i haven’t done much night riding at all so I knew my dark laps would be a lot slower.

First lap done - the smiles say it all!

First lap done – the smiles say it all!

My first lap was a 47min, followed by 50mins, 56mins (first one with lights), 57mins, 59mins and a 63mins for my final lap at 4:30am by which point i think i was seeing double and imagining all sorts in the dark….during my 6th lap it was obvious that time wise we would have time for 3 of the members to do a 7th lap – as the only female member, i kindly offered my 7th lap to my brother as he would missed a final lap if i had gone out for my 7th – i pretended i was doing this as i knew he would never hear the end of it if he was the only lad not to do a 7th but in truth i was worried i would have a bad crash if i did another one as i was having all kinds of silly mistakes on my last lap, and my self preservation kicked in!

Returning from second lap on the long fast last descent

Returning from second lap on the long fast last descent

Our teams fastest lap was a 40mins put in my brother, a very respectable lap time.

Me and my brother - thanks  for asking me to join your team Michael.

Me and my brother – thanks for asking me to join your team Michael.

Overall we placed 40th mixed quad team out of 85 – not bad for a mixed ability team doing it for fun.

Congratulations due to my sister in law who took part in an all female team, they placed 2nd out of 4 female teams so came home with some goodies too! Well done Kate and team.

Lady and the Saddle Tramps - placed 40th!

Lady and the Saddle Tramps – placed 40th!

The whole weekend was amazing and i can highly recommend these 24h events – great fun if you can survive 24hrs of no sleep whilst doing a fairly technical MTB 7miler at regular intervals – certainly redefined ‘interval’ training for me!

Been there, done that!

Been there, done that!

The fourth discipline of triathlon….

The Fourth Discipline of Triathlon

I have heard many times as recovery being termed the fourth discipline of triathlon.  Many people talk about recovery runs, swims, rides, stretching, consumption of protein shakes etc. as recovery but what i’m going to discuss here is just plain recovery – i.e., rest and things we can do to speed up the recovery process (although obviously low intensity recovery training does that also).

I decided to write this blog whilst sitting in my cold bath cooling my legs after my long run on Saturday morning. I haven’t partaken in ice baths for about a year, but did so a lot during training for my first marathon and for some reason stopped it during the peak of my ironman training last year and i cant fathom why?  So anyway, after a couple of very hard run sessions in the last week and a couple of very poor sessions on the bike due to unrecovered leg muscles, I decided on Friday night I was going to give ice baths a try again for a couple months and see how it helps my recovery.

What Happens to your Body During Recovery?

Most coaches would say that building recovery time into a training program is crucial because it is in this time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery can also allow the body to replenish energy stores and thus repair some tissue damage. Any form of exercise can causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores in the muscle as well as fluid loss. For these stores to be replenished sufficiently and to allow tissue repair to occur, the body must be allowed to recover. Problems from overtraining can often occur from a lack of recovery time. Signs of overtraining which most of us will have experiences at some point can also include an increased risk of injury, among others.  For me personally, reducing this risk of injury is or prime importance – hence my new found interest in speeding up recovery in any way possible.

So the question / focus of this blog;

Does a post-exercise ice bath help recovery?

I'm sure this is good for us!!

I’m sure this is good for us!!

 

My latest ‘google’ research shows that;

Taking an after exercise plunge in an ice water bath (12 to 15 degrees ice water) is a common practice among many elite athletes as a way to recover faster, and reduce muscle pain and soreness after intense training sessions or competitions. From elite runners like Paula Radcliff to nearly all professional rugby players, the ice bath is a standard routine. In addition to the ice bath, some athletes use and contrast water therapy (alternating between cold water and warmer water) to get the same effect.

So, what’s behind the ice bath and does it really work?

The Science Bit! 

The theory behind ice baths is related the fact that intense exercise actually causes microtrauma, or tiny tears in muscle fibres. This muscle damage not only stimulates muscle cell activity and helps repair the damage and strengthen the muscles but it is also linked with DOMS (delayed onset muscle pain and soreness) which occurs between 24 and 72 hours after exercise.

The ice bath is thought to:

• Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid out of the muscles

• Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes

• Reduce swelling/inflammation and tissue breakdown

Although there is no current protocol regarding the ideal time and temperature for cold immersion routines, most athletes or trainers who use them recommend a water temperature between 12 to 15 degrees Celsius and immersion times of 5 to 10 and sometimes up to 20 minutes.  Again – my personal preference is cold water – not iced water (although I did try using old 2 litre milk bottles of frozen water to chill the bath prior to getting in, I found this was so cold I could barely stay in 2 mins, so my own protocol involves water closer to 8-12degrees (depending on time of year, its pretty chilly at the mo!), and i stay in for 10 minutes (after having a hot shower first to wash)

The Scientific Research

There are loads of peer reviewed studies out there that have tried and tested the hypotheses, a few are listed below in references but I’m not going to bog this blog down in the details – for me, it seems to work, and the evidence shows it does work for a lot of people, some it doesn’t.  The evidence un-equivocally shows there is certainly no negative effects from using cold water therapy, so even if there is only a placebo effect – it it works for me, it works!

Cold Water Therapy – How to Do It

Cold Water Immersion

If you are going to try cool or cold water immersion after exercise, don’t overdo it. Ten minutes immersed in 15 degree Celsius water should be enough time to get the benefit and avoid the risks. I find that getting showered first then wrapping your upper body in a very arm fleece you can sit in a cold bath covering your legs quite comfortably for 10mins. I usually take a hot coffee in with me and my iPhone and before you’ve even finished a couple of emails and looking at twitter, bingo, 10 mins is up!

Whether the science supports the ice bath theory or not, many athletes swear that an ice bath after intense training helps them recover faster, prevent injury and just feel better – and I’m one of them (if you can cal me an athlete) so I’m going to give it the the next few months and see how I get on!

cold-therapy_main

 

References

Vaile, J.; Halson, S.; Gill, N.; Dawson, B., Effect of Hydrotherapy on Recovery from Fatigue. Int’l J. Sports Medicine, July 2008.

Kylie Louise Sellwood, et al. Ice-water immersion and delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomized controlled trial Br. J. Sports Med., Jun 2007.

Vaile JM, Gill ND, Blazevich AJ. The effect of contrast water therapy on symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Aug;21(3):697-702.

Race Force – new partners

I am pleased to announce I will be partnered with Race Force for the coming race season.

“We are active triathletes with a passion for bikes providing a tried & tested bike transport service, race wheels rental & race beds at event locations for all budgets. We’re here to make getting to the start line easier”

http://www.raceforce.co.uk/

 

Raceforce - Logo