Monday, February 25, 2013

Into the Taupo Sandpit...

As I've been busy winding down, St Pete has been busy composing a special ditty, which he presented to me last week.  I loved it so much I don't want to lose it, and so here it will sit so that I can easily find it.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did...

Irongirl 2nd March 2013

Soon it will be time to play.
In the Taupo sandpit for part of day. 

The day will begin with an early start.
Even before the sparrow’s first fart. 

We will drive to transition.
Finding a park, maybe a mission. 

Then off to check black beauty we will go.
A quick chat, to check that she will not race slow. 

Then on goes the wetsuit snug and tight.
With cap and goggles she’ll be right.

Then off goes Irongirl into the dawn light.
Ready for her own iron fight. 

The gun goes off, and Irongirl starts the swim.
To the cheers and applause it’s really quite a din. 

From Lake Taupo a murmur is heard.
A group of clown fish, or is it a herd? 

Singing as one, “Just keep swimming.” 

Out of the water in double quick time.
It was so fast there was no time to rhyme. 

Running up to transition, passing the walkers.
Not looking around to chat to the talkers.

Yes this version of Irongirl likes to run.
In the rain or in the sun, it is always fun.

Now on to Black Beauty, passing all who dared get ahead
For aqua and black pass them like they are walking dead.

Soon 2 laps of fun are now at an end.
And Black Beauty is parked next to a friend. 

On to the marathon, Irongirl does go.
Smiling as she passes all who are slow. 

For now it’s on like Donkey Kong.
Knowing she will be well finished well before the midnight gong. 

Now smiling and happy running up the finish chute.
Even though that course was a bit of a brute. 

After the finish she reflects it was good to take part.
Relieved are the sparrows that can now safely fart.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Head is in the Right Space...

Last night I got home from work and, after the usual greetings, St Pete showed me the weather forecast for the weekend, pointing out to me what it was looking like for tomorrow (Saturday).

Rain.  And lots of it.

I spent a couple of seconds running through in my mind, all the possible implications.

Black Beauty and her box get taken to the bike shop tomorrow so the boys at Jet Cycles can show me how to pack her up properly.  Biggest concern, then, was getting the bike and box wet.  (Yep, I'm still in that "new" paranoia phase!).  I mentally ran through the route to Jet Cycles - maybe 100m in the rain between home and the train station, then undercover, then maybe 200m from Wynyard to the shop.

OK, that won't be too bad.  I'm sure we'll cope, and if we're lucky, we'll catch it in between downpours.....

I shrugged my shoulders for Pete's benefit and thought nothing more of it.

Until about an hour later.

The weather comes on at the end of the news and Pete makes a comment that had me suddenly giggling away like a schoolgirl.  His earlier concern with showing me the weather forecast for tomorrow had nothing to do with poor little Black Beauty getting a few drops of rain on her.  He had brought it to my attention for a far more important reason, which I suddenly realised as he said;

"Our movie might get cancelled tomorrow night..."

Doh! - of course .... we're going to the open air cinema at Bondi for a treat tomorrow night and Pete was worried it might be cancelled as the weather forecast for tomorrow is cyclonic!

Ah well, at least we all know my head is in the right space for next week....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sun Run: Fitter, Stronger, Faster

Spot the undone shoelace - bad words were said...
The first weekend in February is becoming a bit of a tradition in the irongirl household.  It's a double-header of events with the Sun Run on Saturday followed up by the Cole Classic on Sunday.  Both held in the northern beaches, the Sun Run is a 6.5km "fun" run from Dee Why to Manly while the Cole Classic provides 1km and 2km ocean swim options at Manly.

St Pete and I enjoy doing the run together - it might be short but it's a good bit of speed work in the final month before ironman and then St Pete gets to put up with my mental doubts in the lead up to the following day's swim - sigh...

So, the run.  As with my Cole Classic entry, here is my report to Coach Dave, where I get all analytical - yes, this tortoise is getting fitter, stronger and (surprise, surprise), faster!

"Good day out this morning with the Sun Run and some really interesting stats...

Weather conditions were shocking - raining and pretty cold as well.  More like winter than summer.  As such I wasn't expecting a stellar performance but still planned on a solidly paced effort.  The course was also apparently longer than last year - the finish line was moved further down the road and we were told it would be 7km rather than last year's 6.45km.

Anyway, official finish time was 40mins dead, for a distance measured by the Garmin of 6.8km.  Average pace 5:52 min/km.

Last year's average pace was 5.59 min/km, so happy with that improvement, especially as I did pull it back slightly going downhill as conditions were potentially slippery in the rain.

Comparing the kilometre splits from last year, I started out slower this time around with the first two kms paced at 6:20 and 5:44 (vs 6:03 and 5:39).  After that, though, all my splits were faster this year and I managed a negative split.  Here they are:

2013:  6:20 / 5:44 / 5:53 / 6:06 / 5:58 / 5:33 / 5:29
2012:  6:03 / 5:39 / 5:54 / 6:34 / 6:18 / 5:37 / 5:38

So, I think I got the pacing sorted out better this time and it felt like a stronger effort throughout.

But wait, there's more!

Even more striking is the heart rate data...

Last year's average heart rate was 163 bpm (88% of max) with a max of 180 (97% of max).
This year my average heart rate was 83 bpm (45% of max) with a max of 148 (80% of max).

So what does that tell you about my level of fitness compared to last year?!"

Cole Classic

One of the great things about tapering for ironman is that I get to catch up on my blog entries!  This one, like the Sun Run, has been sitting in draft form since the beginning of the month and even though time has passed, it's still good to get my thoughts out there and reflect a little more on what ended up being a great day.

Most of the entry that follows is my race report to Coach Dave - this, then, gives you an insight into how I report in and the mental to-ing and fro-ing I tend to do.  I've been coming out the other end OK, though, so that just means these ocean swims have been worthwhile!  As a bit of a prelude and explanation, the weather forecast for the swim had been marginal, with the organisers warning us that they would cancel it if the conditions were deemed to be too unsafe.  In addition, the day before (the day of the Sun Run) it had rained solidly and was simply miserable out at Manly.  As a result, I had gone cold on the idea and figured I had nothing to prove anymore by doing the swim.  If the conditions were miserable then why worry about it - we therefore decided I could take the wetsuit with us and, if it was not a flash day I'd just go and do my own thing at Shelly Beach.

Here, then, is my recount the day after:

"Despite all my trepidation (as usual!) had a good swim yesterday - came out of the water happy with my result and ready to do it again next year!

The weather at Manly had settled down from the previous day in that the rain had pretty much cleared but there were heavy swells coming into the beach making it fab for surfers but crap for swimmers.  So Saturday night the call had been made that the swim would, like last year, start and finish at Shelly Beach.

I was still in two minds about doing it and even though it would be more difficult to do my own thing with the swim returning to Shelly, still took the wetsuit out with us just in case.

Manly - great surf conditions
When we got there the water around the swim course looked calmer than it was last year - sheltered in the bay for the first part and beyond the surf break in the parallel section to Manly.  And compared to conditions in the Bondi to Bronte swim it was a millpond!  So the choppiness wasn't a concern.  I headed down to test the water temperature, though, and that's what got me. I  spent ages getting into the water, it felt freezing!  However once I finally got in and started swimming it felt not so bad and so I figured there was actually nothing stopping me doing the swim - no good excuses!  So I headed back to shore as we had about an hour to wait before my wave started.

When my wave was ready to go the cold was starting to psych me out - I had got into the water again and come out, and was shivering on the start line.  Boy did I want my wetsuit on!  On the start line I was having the mental battle of pulling out but watched the other swimmers finishing and could see that they seemed to be fine and so convinced myself to stay there and not be such a wimp.

A bit of self-talk going on...

So, mental battle won, gun goes and we're off.  After all the fuss the swim went great. I was happy with my sighting - didn't break stroke to look up.  Found someone's feet to follow at one point but she kept swimming off course so I gave up following pretty quickly. There was no breast stroking and only one micro pause to get directed by the lifeguards - one of the buoys had been removed as it had been pulled out to sea by a rip and so the lifeguards were having to keep us heading in the right direction until we could see the next buoy.  A real difference with these ocean swims compared to ironman is the lack of buoys!

I got back to shore and ran up to the finish feeling pretty good - not shattered and not cold!

Time was 14mins quicker than last year, so that was good, but the removed buoy meant the course ended up shorter, 1.8km whereas I swam 2.2km last year.  However, still an improvement  on last year as my pace has improved by 2min/km (went from 26min/km to 24min/km) and my placing in the field also improved on last year.

As to whether to do it again next year - immediately before the race I was thinking I wouldn't. Surely I would be better focusing on doing some wetsuit swims. During and after I'm thinking I loved it as it is giving me more race experience, pack swimming experience and sighting practice. The conditions also help maintain my confidence in all conditions and if it weren't for the ocean swim events I probably wouldn't get any decent swimming in outside the pool - which wouldn't be ideal. And it gives me that little mental boost going into the swim leg at Taupo.  So I'm back to thinking that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages!

And next time I come up with piss weak excuses as to why I can't do an ocean swim I give you full permission to tell me to harden up!"

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Reading from the Book of St Pete: Chapter 4 - Is Irongirl ready?

It’s about time I wrote another entry.  My last one was over a year ago, and it has been a busy year. It’s actually hard work being awesome, because I have to find new ways to become more awesome!!!

But I digress.

After Toni’s (aka Irongirl) adventure to Taupo last year, where we encountered the now famous weather bomb, and the refocus on Ironman Cairns (which isn’t a bad spot to be support crew - 26 degrees in the middle of winter, yes I can cope with that), we now find ourselves less than 20 days out from a return trip to Taupo, (no one mention the weather) and a new improved Irongirl - rebuilt fitter, stronger and faster than before. This may have something to do with the new 2013 Shiv ProDi2 tri bike that arrived just before Christmas and only in the last week has found a home in the garage (before that the bike had pride of place in the lounge). 

But part of the improvement is also the new mental toughness that Irongirl is displaying, be it doing bootcamp twice a week, mammoth 4 and 5 km swim sessions, or long 5 hour bike rides.  

But then again Irongirl does love the Shiv, aka Black Beauty (yes she is black), and may even panic a little at the thought of her getting wet.  It had better not rain in Taupo - or does that only apply to salt water? (lol)  

Or lastly the run sessions that we do.  It should be noted that on these sessions I mainly carry the heavier water pack, extra gels and things like keys etc, just to keep my awesomeness increasing (have I mentioned that I’m awesome?). The run sessions have been getting longer and faster all year, one result of this was the Sydney Marathon where Irongirl set a new PB, or for some it’s a PR :). But that was a few months ago now, and so last year.  This March, who knows what may happen...okay I have a fair idea, but you’ll have to follow me on Facebook on race day for updates.. 

As per Irongirl’s upcoming blog entries, she is now a lean mean racing machine, which is also part of her focus to be lighter on race day than ever before.  Another target that has been met and this has meant a new aqua race kit, which is now complete with cycle vest and running cap.  So all the parts are falling into place.  We only have to get some new tyres for the race wheels and it will be all on like donkey kong.

We depart for Taupo on the Wednesday before the race and, as it will be the third time Irongirl has raced there, it will be an easy trip.  Yes this will be ironman number 4 and, once completed, a third of the way to the ultimate aim of a starting spot at Kona.  And yes, I am already budgeting for the Black Beauty replacement for that event!

So Irongirl is as ready as she can be and I’m ready to step out of the kitchen for the 17 day block once we get back home (refer to Toni’s previous blog entry).  This year I plan to let Toni wild in the kitchen for a whole two weeks. I’m sure she is more excited about this than actually finishing the race!!

For those of you who are going to be in Taupo on race day and not competing, don’t worry. I have the day planned for you.   Support Bootcamp will be in effect from 30 minutes before race start until Irongirl finishes.  Have a few coffees and a good meal beforehand because the next break you will get will be once Irongirl has finished.  I already know who is going to be in Taupo (you know who you are) and, yes, I will find you - especially if you think you will sneak away for a coffee or 4... (no names need to be mentioned – aye coach :)

But whatever happens on race day Irongirl will be ready.


Because St Pete said so.  :)