Race Reappraisal

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Race Reappraisal

The first question you get asked after a race? Your time. But is that the only reason you are there? To PB?

A personal best may offer some immediate gratification but in the quest for happiness and more consistent motivation is it worth reassessing why you were there in the first place? Runners in particular are heavily target driven but we should make a distinction between onward progress and staying restless vs. winding up perpetually dissatisfied. 

Ask yourself how was the atmosphere, competitors and spectators? Did you travel somewhere new or try something different? Did you learn something about yourself? Did you forget the stress of work? Were you inspired by your team mates or fellow athletes? 

Did you inspire somebody? 

Almost certainly yes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wimble-ballin'

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Wimble-ballin'

Stealing a phrase from Juliet Elliott 'if there's fun lurking in the pain', you almost certainly find it in spades at Wimbleball. Having grown up on Dartmoor, the extreme nature of this Ironman event had always appealed.

I had shied away from such corporate branded events for sometime. They seemed too much about the commerce and not enough about the individuals. Preferring less obvious events such as Cotswold 113 & Monster Racing where you find enthusiasm for personal triumphs at all levels. A club mate concerned she wouldn't make a cut off time at Cotswolds emailed an enquiry recently  and received an atypical response from a race director - 'as long as you don't stop for a Sunday lunch we'll be here for your finish'. Happy to say I am returning with almost half the Hoddesdon Tri Club in 2016.

So why Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball? Fear & curiousity. Mention entering this race and you get 'Oh' in response. Followed by - you have been to Exmoor?! Answer yes, the Endurance Life Coastal Race and I still have vertigo. But that is often what I am looking for, a race that I will fear and respect in order to knuckle down and get the best out of the training. Doing something you didn't think you would be capable of.

In an abject failure of my pledge to stay upright, a crash at London Triathlon wiped out a few weeks of swim training (I ran out of talent on a damp corner, hit the tarmac and gained an extra stamp on my St Johns loyalty card.) It also knocked my confidence back on descents, corners in fact anything but climbing in the wet. So Wimbleball delivered on 50% good times! 

So I approached the race trying to avoid the IRONMAN tents, hype, athlete swagger and keep a lid on my nerves at lack of preparation. But I admit the atmosphere was electric and infectious. It was clear the respect for the course, and I knew how good it would feel if I could make it. And god it delivered.

The torrential rain I had feared came, and at least that encouraged me into the lake. Mass swim start was scrappy but I kept out of trouble. And straight out of the 1.9km swim and 'Welcome to Exmoor' it's the 400m sprint to T1! The bike was twitchy due my previous crash - I got a few sympathetic cheers of encouragement on the steep descents and was never so keen for the crushing climbs. My hands froze nervously to the handlebars in the wild conditions. 56 miles of some serious internal dialogue to woman the f up. But it was all possible knowing that my club would be online stalking - just waiting for that timing chip to show I was in safe off the bike leg. And thanks to hanging back on the bike my legs were grateful for it on the run. And here I defrosted. There were some dark times on this half marathon but pretty sure I made one guys' race handing him a spare Jaffa Cake. Yep I was damn happy with the fuelling strategy - Ella's fruit pouches to start, coconut water, flat coke, bounce balls, cliff shot blocks and then the long chain short chain complex carb beauty that is the Jaffa.

And the atmosphere as we raced into 6 hours+ was awesome. Different to all my recent racing this was all about finishing, and nothing about personal bests. And it was a huge tonic. I came in just over 7 hours, and over 1h30+ a regular half ironman but ecstatic. This race hurt, and I loved it. 

Now what the hell do I find to replace this? Or am I going to have to go back?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eden

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Eden

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.

Yogi was my 5 year old Springer Spaniel, who we lost 1 month ago, leaving muddy paw prints on many hearts. My ultimate daily motivation, he taught me all the right priorities - regardless of weather or mood, to get outside, run, bounce, swim or just sit (albeit in freezing cold lakes). He never stopped exploring, never questioned, never garmin measured, just said GO.

 

A companion that can remind you of the simple joy in life, sky, trees, grass and to stop still and simply be, is a real luxury. My every daily routine, a constant shadow, he will be never forgotten. I can only hope to honour him by hitting his trails and spending time with good friends with whom I can just sit, laugh and explore more.

 

 

 

 

 

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Is napping a session?

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Is napping a session?

Recovery. A concept so many of us struggle to grasp, and yet without sufficient downtime you will never improve as a rider. 

An essential component of the principles of conditioning, it may seem counterintuitive but it is during the downtime that you allow your body to adapt to the training load and you get the real benefits of the training.  

An excellent article from Huw Williams explains here via the overcompensation model.

http://roadcyclinguk.com/riding/training-for-results-train-hard-recover-stronger.html#SpPRdcoxZVeR3fwe.97

How many of us train 'quite hard' all the time, plateau or hit burn out? Prioritising recovery means you can hit the intense sessions hard, and use the gentler efforts to be sociable, explore and remember why you love riding in the first place. Note, if you spend the rest of your life in a whirlwind you'll want to make time to nap, actually stop still. Trust me, people will be glad for the improved mood!

From now on I'll be using my heart rate monitor alongside a healthy dose of realism when planning intense sessions around work and social commitments. Adapting my training around my real calendar is smarter, and far more achievable. 

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A mind stretched

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A mind stretched

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions

Thanks to a tip off from Nikki at Senova Cycles, last weekend I dipped my toes into race training, with Womens Eastern Racing League at Redbridge Cycling Centre. With a typical reaction to a new experience, I arrived full of self doubt, anxious and clumsy. What was I thinking that I could get into road racing when I could stick to Triathlon, Time Trials, solo efforts and limited cornering! 

All this quickly faded away as we got stuck in with such a motivated, game bunch of women. Ably led by British Cycling's Huw Williams, we were gently nudged through warm up, simple drills, chain gang, and before we realised moving through a bunch of 30 other cyclists. After 3 hours on track we were straight into mock races - with no room for nerves the group pulled off some impressive breaks and bunch sprints. Result - a massive rush.

We also gained a insight into principles of conditioning for racing, licences and what to expect. More on recovery later - but turns out napping is not a session!

I had expected the quality coaching, but I was quite disarmed by the passion and dedication of the whole team. Here was a group (coach, expert riders, photographers..) efficiently and selflessly putting the stepping stones in place to dramatically increase both the no. and standard of women racing. Tanya Griff looked rightfully proud, and it clearly rubbed off on the participants. The camaraderie continues with a good proportion now signed up to race this coming weekend, including, incredibly myself at my first Cat 4 - Crit race.

More sessions will be released, and you can get involved in the league via http://www.womenseasternracingleague.co.uk

Twitter @WERLeague

I know I will be calling on this experience in seasons to come, but for now first objective - finish race, stay upright! 

Photo Credit: Neutral Service/John Orbea

neutralservice.cc

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About A Girl

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About A Girl

The thisgirlcan campaign launched in the Coronation St ad break, full on, unapologetic, sweat, jiggle, gurning on prime commercial TV – and it never looked so attractive. Sweating like a pig, to look like a fox struck a perfect note. 

Less attractive is the backlash from a few women I follow and subsequently unfollowed on Twitter, who choose to bitch about the term girl or how it clearly wasn’t aimed at them as it wasn’t cool or as accomplished as they were. 

I admit that for a while I also avoided everything ‘girl’. Despised the lazy ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach of the bike industry to women’s clothing (choice and attention to fit people!) and therefore everything pink. I was first proud to be considered one of the ‘boys’ if I wasn’t dropped on a ride. I soon got over myself, and found the perfect cure in my triathlon club.

Having the privilege to train alongside some kickass women in a club where girls rock pink, purple, blue - accessorised with sweat, mud and tears is a daily tonic. We value each others personal triumphs and treasure images of mud soaked adventures over duck face selfies.

I’ve cleansed my Twitter feed, and suggest you follow these real inspirational girls too. Here’s an 

introduction http://vimeo.com/117906344.

@LucyAnneCharles

@BrinkleyAnita

@Kim_eKuiLibriuM 

@Hannah_Bates

@HoddTri

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