Tag Archives: duathlon

189/365 – Day before duathlon number two

Tomorrow I’m meant to be doing my second duathlon and I’m still deciding whether to go for it or not. As I wrote earlier in the week, I wasn’t feeling prepared for it. Since then I’ve taken it easy, excluding a 11.35km run to work during the tube strike. This was to ensure my body had enough rest to feel strong going into the event. But there’s another issue…

I’ve promised Elaine, who is in Ireland this weekend, that I won’t do it unless there is someone to be my support crew/be there in case of emergencies. With the early morning start and the East London location, it’s not the most tempting offer for a friend. I know I could get someone to do this for me, but I’ve been resistant. I didn’t realise why up until now. 

It’s because I’ve not had anyone to get excited about it with. I signed up for it quite late and never thought to ask anyone if they wanted to take part with me. Now I’m regretting that choice. As I wrote in this post about sharing fitness challenges and regimes, it feels much more worthwhile with someone to train with in the build up to the event. 

At the same time, if I decide not to do it tomorrow for whatever reason I’ll only be letting myself down. I’m not putting pressure on myself today and will see how I feel tonight. 

116/365 – First duathlon complete

Well I made it. 

It took my friend and I around two hours and 25 minutes to complete the 4km run, 22km cycle, 4km run challenge and we were both delighted with ourselves. 

When we arrived it became clear pretty quickly that this was an event for ‘competitors’. These people took their performance seriously and, collectively, their bikes must have been worth a small fortune. It was both intimidating and easy to pull ourselves away from that mentality. When we got a row for breaking the rules – using my phone in the transition area, not showing the race number on my top, not dismounting our bike in time etc – we laughed at how anal the organisers were. In the end, when they realised we weren’t the average duathletes taking part in this race, they changed to be  supportive and encouraging. 

The weather was grim – cold and wet – but the setting – quaint Essex parkland and villages – was lovely. Most of all, the physical challenge wasn’t too strenuous and I really enjoyed the near 22km cycle. This came as a bit of a shock as I am used to cycling in the stop-start London environment. The thought of doing that distance uninterrupted was daunting. Aside from a bit of lactic acid on the last hills,    I felt comfortable with the distance and look forward to building on that in the lead up to my 60 mile cycle in September.
When we crossed the final finish line, we were met with cheers. Although we had come in last, we found out afterwards that the person who had won had been disqualified for a technicality. I felt frustrated for that person but also glad that it wasn’t just us breaking the rules. Although I can’t say I’m massively keen on the anal attitude at these events from what I witnessed, I enjoyed the physical challenge and look forward to booking another duathlon soon. Now that I know some triathlons use swimming pools, I’m thinking about signing up for one of those too. 

 
How was my myasthenia affected?

The combination of a poor sleep the night before and a couple of pints after the event meant that my right eye was a little heavy last night. The ptosis had set in. But after a good rest yesterday, I’m feeling great today. I held off taking my steroids down a MG this morning to give my body the best chance to recover, but physically it feels great. There were no shaky legs yesterday and they’ve stayed strong today.

All in all, it feels like another victory over the myasthenia and another triumph for my body working with me. 

115/365 – Day before the duathlon

Tomorrow is a big day for me – my first ever duathlon. Although it is a mini one (4km run, 20km cycle and 4km run) I’m excited, nervous and intrigued about how it will go. 

From my experience of doing running events, the way you behave the day before massively dictates how you find the run. I’ve done events where I’ve been training regularly but the day before I’ve misbehaved (ate the wrong thing, had a few drinks, smoked a lot etc) and I’ve found it a real struggle/been unable to finish. Once I ended up in an ambulance after passing out. There was another time when I didn’t know I was doing a half marathon until the day before but because I rested and ate well on that day, I finished it comfortably. 

At this point I am feeling strong and well rested after a 10 hour sleep. I carbed up last night with spaghetti bolognaise and intend to do so again tonight. I am drinking a lot of water and plan to do so for the rest of the day. I haven’t done any running or cycling since Tuesday and the muscle aches I was feeling earlier in the week have vanished. I’ve done a light run with Elaine and Sarah to loosen up before the journey through to Essex for the event. 

Other than have an early one tonight, have no alcohol and make sure I eat carbs, at this stage it feels like there isn’t anything else that I can do. I turned down a Bermondsey craft beer crawl today which was definitely the right decision although it was difficult at the time. 

We will head through to Essex in the early evening to make sure we’ve got lots of time to wind down before bed. Then it’s game on. 

101/365 – 14 days to my first ever duathlon 

I figured out on Sunday that my first ever duathlon is only two weeks away. Sure it’s a mini one – 4km run, 20km cycle, 4km run – but that doesn’t stop me feeling worried about the distance (particularly cycling distance).

I spoke to my fellow duathlete Sarah during last week about how she is getting on and she’d felt good doing a half version of the distances (something I hadn’t attempted yet).   It’s my first sporting event of the year and the nerves are setting in. I’ve been running and cycling as regularly as possible but decided with the time left I should do a trial version to see how I coped with the distances. 

Stage 1 – 4km run

I set my alarm for bright and early yesterday morning so that I could do a trial run of the distances and still have time to do something else with my Sunday afternoon. Dragging Elaine with me, we set off to do a 4km close to home. Although it was a shorter distance than I was used to doing, I always find running first thing in the morning a challenge. My legs felt heavy, the distance felt much longer than it should have and I could feel that I hadn’t digested my breakfast and morning medication properly. Also, conditions weren’t great. Although the sun was out there was a very strong wind making breathing more of a challenge than it should have been. Part 1 was a bit of a drag and I was dreading the next 24km.  

Stage 2 – 20km cycle

Without a doubt, this is the section I was most concerned about. I had done the same distance a few weeks before but never bookended by runs. It took about five minutes after the run to get all our kit sorted and bikes ready, but once we got going, I started to enjoy myself. The wind that had been challenging during stage 1 had died down and the sun was heating up so that it was even warm in the shade now. 

We took the same busy route through Camden to Regent’s Park with a couple of challenging hills that seemed like they would never end. Once we had reached the park, we raced five 1km laps of the inner park road to see what time we could do it in. I managed in 15 minutes and 20 seconds which I was happy with. We then took a 20 minute break stretching out in the sun (I was craving a caffeine fix) before heading back home. Although I had the traffic lights with me on the way home, I was still overtaken by casual cyclists and a grandad out with his small grandson who was holding onto the front handlebars. Think it’s safe to say I’m not going to be the next Bradley Wiggins. 

We ended up doing 21km by the time we reached home and my legs were starting to feel like jelly as I stepped off the bike and got ready for stage 3. This was the bit I had been waiting for.

  

Stage 3 – 4km run

Within the first few steps I knew I wouldn’t be able to race the last 4km in. The switch between cycling and running made it feel like I had to train my legs how to run again – gradually – or I might fall over. I ran the same route as earlier still lacking any spring in my step – here I was thinking the running part would be easy.

Consciously trying to do a better time than the first 4km, where I was coasting, I managed to shave about three and a half minutes off by sprinting the last half km. The knowledge that I would get to stop at the end driving my tired legs on. 

It took me around two hours (excluding breaks) to complete the duathlon. After I stopped, I had enough energy to do some cleaning and go for a light walk before finding a comfortable armchair to relax in. 

I’m feeling much more comfortable about the duathlon being days away now that I’ve tested myself. As long as I’m feeling good and get enough rest in the week before, I am now confident I’ll be able to cross the finish line which is more than I could say yesterday. 

76/365 – Going the distance

As you can see from the unattractive helmet photo, today I did my first long cycle of 2015. With the mini duathlon around a month away, I had been putting off getting out on my bike for a long haul spin until the weather was a bit warmer (and drier).  I am definitely a fair weather cyclist and have no idea how people can muster the energy in the freezing cold. 

With the sun shining, I decided today was right and Elaine and I managed 21.5kms in under two hours. We cycled to Regent’s Park and did laps on the quiet, scenic roads there. Considering the amount of stopping and starting that cycling in London requires, the time wasn’t too bad at all. 

  

Even more importantly, physically I felt and feel great. While my legs are tired, I think the strength and cycling work I’ve been doing in the gym has paid off. Not to mention the fact that I’ve had a very relaxed weekend. 

Last year when I started doing long cycles, my arms and legs would be shaky for at least a day afterwards. While I’m prepared for the doms (delayed muscle onset soreness) tomorrow, it seems my hard work has paid off.

Although the prospect of doing a 4km run before and after the cycle is still daunting, I feel more comfortable saying I know I can do it now. 

  

67/365 – Shared exercise regime

It seems like a good time for an update on my training and upcoming events. I mentioned it briefly here, but next month one of my best pals and I are taking part in a mini duathlon. The distances are a 4km run, a 20km cycle and a 4km run to finish it/us off. It’ll be a challenge for us as neither of us are keen cyclists, but being challenged is the point. Well that and doing something ‘fun’ together.

After booking it a couple of weekends ago, we have been keeping each other up to date with our latest training schedules and this week we have set ourselves the challenge of following the breakdown in the image below (excuse the pervy images).



 Strength training is important in the build up to any kind of distance sporting event – particularly strengthening the glutes to prevent IT band-related injuries and core strength to give your tired legs a boost when the going gets tough. 

The first outdoor run I did last week surprised me. I thought as I had been training hard in the gym – including lots of treadmill work – I would find it easy. I set off fast, loving the stimulation of running along London’s beautiful streets again, but by around 4.5km I was starting to tire. My legs felt as shaky as they did when I started running again last year – without the intense winter training I’ve done this year. It was clear that I need to get out and clock up the miles before tapering down at the end of April. 

Sharing the pain

Before a couple of years ago I was never really one for sharing events or training plans. I think years of playing in football teams and with a boxing club, where there are always some people you take to more than others,  made training solo new and exciting. I was my own boss and could push myself as hard as I wanted. However, having friends/Elaine taking part with me on each of my ‘staggered triathlon’ events last year, and the year before Michelle and I completed the 26 mile Kilt Walk and E and I did the Royal Parks half marathon, made me realise the benefit of having someone to push you on. 

During any kind of endurance test, having company means finding ways to distract each other and either keeping focused or keeping your minds from the scale of the task ahead. During Elaine’s first half marathon, we kept each other from thinking about the distance by planning, in explicit detail, what we would have for our Sunday lunch. It was kind of like the trick you see prisoners use in TV shows to distract themselves.

Why do distance events if they can feel like torture, you may well be asking? Particularly since the MG diagnosis, testing my body to prove it’s strong enough to cope is important to me. As is having something to train for when my motivation, or mood, dips. But also it’s about the shared memories – I know in years time I’ll still be speaking to my friends about the incidents around the events in the same way I still share stories with my university football team mates about our ‘glory days’.

Although Sarah and I are pushing each other on remotely via Facebook photos and messages, it makes a difference knowing someone is expecting you to be fit enough to do an event with them. It always feels worse letting someone else down and by not being able to complete the duathlon I know it would affect Sarah’s experience (like it did with my friend when I couldn’t complete the overnight London to Brighton cycle last year). Unless things with the MG take a turn for the worse, I will do all I can to cross that finish line.