The Scribbler

6 August 2011

Ready…steady…

Filed under: bike,Parkrun,run,swim,training,triathlon — The Scribbler @ 13:31
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I’ve had a lovely end to my week. Thursday morning was glorious at the coast. The sun a bright ball of orange in a misty sky, scattering silvery ripples on an almost glass-like sea. You couldn’t tell where the sky ended and the water began.

As the cool grey of the clouds was burned away by the heat of the sun, it was like the middle of a fine summer’s day and I was enjoying my usual PT session on the sands. Lucky old me and Ian, getting the very best of the day.

As I drove into work the greyness descended and didn’t lift until later in the evening. As I watched the rain hammering down mid-afternoon, I though plans for a bike ride might be a bit ambitious. But we managed to get a clear window and so I met up with Peter, some of his tri club and Penny at Hebburn pool for a recce of the triathlon course.

Now, I can’t say that I’ll be able to remember the route, but just cycling around, not particularly pushing hard but enjoying the sensation of the speedy flats and downhills reminded me of just how much I enjoy time on my bike. I think I’d forgotten some of that in my frustration at getting to grips with the clipless pedals. It was fun cycling in a group too. Although there’s not much chance to chat, it feels like safety in numbers. And my bike, newly tweaked and tightened, felt fantastic.

Friday was a quiet day. A regular morning start, rather than an early one. I realised I was feeling a lot more comfortable in my own skin after a week of making an effort to be ‘good’ with my diet, cutting out the chocolate and cakes that had begun to creep in and watching that boredom didn’t translate into snacking.

I escaped the hometime rush in time to enjoy a sunny drive back to the coast and off to the pool for a quick confidence boosting swim. I really haven’t been in the pool much recently and the swim has been a bit of a pressure point for me in races, although not so much in training. So I just pitched up, jumped in, did three sinking and breathing out breaths and then started to swim front crawl.

Smooth, slow and steady I told myself. Giving myself plenty of time to breathe. There were some other decent swimmers in the pool and I had to tell myself to ignore them, not to try and race them, just swim nice and easy and relaxed. And it worked.

My technique still has plenty of things to work on, but just by concentrating on my breathing I clocked up a nice 400m set, giving it a bit of a kick on the last couple of lengths to notch up 9:05 – which is either very close to or is my fastest 400m swim time.

That was my target for the swim done. I wasn’t even intending to go for a time, but it just came together as the swim was nice and relaxed. As I was in the groove I took a minute’s rest and swam some more. No distance target this time, other than a vague desire to do 200m, but I ended up doing another 400m – this time in 9:09.

I’m so pleased with that. Once again I remembered how I can enjoy a good swim. That’s been missing too recently. I’ve felt for a long time that learning to swim front crawl with bi-lateral breathing and focusing swimming as an exercise session as part of triathlon training did take some of the enjoyment out of it a little. And I’d normally have a few minutes at the end of the swim, just messing about, reminding myself of how much I love being in the water.

On Friday night, I both swam well and enjoyed it. Because I was relaxed and under no pressure. If I can swim like that again on Sunday, I will be very pleased with myself. And really, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. I know I can cover the distance (twice if I need to!). I just need to make sure I control my nerves and adrenaline rush.

This morning I went to Newcastle parkrun. I hadn’t realised they were short of volunteers, or I would have signed up properly. All the jobs were filled when I got there, but I had my camera with me, so said I’d take some photos. As it was, the battery ran flat after a couple of snaps, so I ended up taking pictures with my phone. Think I got some okay shots. And I did have a nice morning catching up with some of the usual crowd. Volunteering is almost as much fun as running.

But I am saving my legs today, ready for the Hebburn sprint tri tomorrow. I want to wish everyone I know that’s doing this all the best, especially Peter who has helped me so much and Penny (doing her first triathlon with a nicely relaxed approach). And to give a shout out to Lesley who is also swim, bike, running in Scotland tomorrow. I shall be thinking of you and trying to channel some of that red peril spirit!

Plus a special thank you as always to Ian, my personal trainer, who got me into all this in the first place. He has planned all my training to get me fit to meet all my challenges, whether that’s running a half marathon or completing a sprint triathlon. Always happy to answer my endless questions and offer advice. And he didn’t demolish my legs during Thursday’s training 😉

As for me. I’m really looking forward to it. No pressure, no goals, just a reminder of how much I enjoy what I do, and also how I do love a race. So there may very well be another grrrr photo at the finish.

I’m focusing my fundraising efforts on the Great North Run, but if you think that swimming 400m, cycling 20km and then running another 5km is a challenge, then I’d appreciate your support to help Sands meet their even bigger challenge of reducing the number of babies that die at birth or soon after every day here in the UK.  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/michelleGNR2011

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