Sunday, May 27, 2012

Insipiration

Sometimes you find yourself inspired when you least expect it and from the least expected source. A friend I had not been in contact with for over 12 months happened to tweet something whilst I was at my computer. This led to a brief Twitter chat and to me heading to her blog. WOW! This girl, someone I really like and respect for a lot of reasons, had hit the training hard, lost a shit load of weight, and found self confidence and self belief. To have not heard from her for so long and to basically find her a whole new person was really exciting and pleasing. Whilst I have inner motivation in my own training currently, I actually felt a little boost inside myself as I was reading her blog and chatting to her via Twitter. Tonight has been the most pleasant surprise. Congratulations, Skye. Find her here - http://skyemj.typepad.com/fit/

The Right Direction

Following the Olympic Distance Tri in Geelong in February I have really struggled for motivation in regards to fitness and exercise. There was sporatic exercise in both March and April but nothing with any consistency or purpose. I needed to set a goal! Without goals I find that I am aimless, disinterested and, to be honest, lazy. So what goal would get me off my arse? I decided it had to involve running; the days were getting shorter and riding during the week is largely impossible. As it turned out my narcicism set my new running regime - Renee and I are going to Bali at the start of July so I decided that I'd run 5 days a week for the eight weeks I had before Bali. So far so good. I've run 5 times in three of the last four weeks and four times in the other week. Happily I have build my distance with a couple of 12km runs and a 15km run. As things improve I am forming some actual running goals (not just vainty goals) and I'm thinking a half marathon is in the offing. So... There's a half in Melbourne on the 15th of July which is a good option other than the fact it is two days after we return from Bali. I'm guessing there's not going to be a shitload of running in Bali - but there will be a shitload of drinking - which means I will have gone backwards a little. It might be an option though. In any case, I see a half marathon in coming months as a fait accompli if my body lets me. After that? Who knows? Do I... dare I say it, have a full marathon in me???

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Geelong Olympic Distance Triathlon.

We are now 10 days on from my first ever triathlon. The soreness has well and truely gone, the newness and excitement of having done my first tri is gone, so what better time to reflect?

Having tentatively set the olympic distance tri as a goal around 5 months ago, I oddly found myself only registering with about 20 minutes to spare. It was a pretty miserable Saturday afternoon in Geelong as I made my way to the waterfront to hand over my entry fee and rack my bike in the transition area - where it would stay overnight in the pouring summer rain. To enter the transition area I had to put on my competitor wristband that told everyone I was number 1659. I wheeled my bike past hundreds of thousands of dollars (literally) of bikes to an empty spot in the rack. I sat on a picnic table for a few moments just looking and taking it all in. The transition compound was to be patrolled overnight but I had no concerns; my bike could be bought 7-8 times over for what most of the bikes there were worth.

I woke before my alarm to the sound of rain really bucketing down outside. The relatively late start time of 8:35 meant I was relaxed and in no hurry. I had some breaky, a coffee and all in all it felt like a fairly normal Sunday morning. After a final tick, tick, tick of my checklist I grabbed my gear, kissed the family goodbye and they wished me luck. I ran to my car in torrential rain.

Happily the sun broke through on the short drive to the Geelong waterfront and the rain eased off. I loitered around a bit looking for Tim (my brother who was also doing the tri) and feeling a bit out of sorts and out of place. I gave up on him and headed into the transition compound to get everything ready. Walkind down the long rack of bikes I saw Tim who was setting his gear out ready for his swim/bike and bike/run transitions. He suggested I get a move on as event staff were saying transition was closing soon. This turned out to be an empty threat presumably designed to get the competitors in and out to avoid congestion. I found my bike and set about laying out my bike and run gear ready for when I came out of the swim. I looked and how other people did it and largely copied them. After the obligitory check that I had everything I left the transition area to wetsuit up. Again with the checks; swim cap, goggles, earplugs, check, check, check, I handed in my bag and stood around chatting to Tim and watching the water.

The race and swim leg started a little behind scheduele to the sound of the starters hooter. I was off. I jogged into the water further than most before I started swimming. The bay was flat and I was hopeful that the 1500 metre swim wouldn't trouble me too much. Initially my chest felt tight in the wetsuit and my breath was short. I was reasonably sure this was excitement and adrenaline that was getting my heartrate up, so I tried my best to just get into a good stroke pattern with a breathe on every third one. It was 600 metres out to the first buoy which I covered fairly easily. The back 500 was where I started thinking 'okay, I've had enough swimming, let's ride!'. Despite wanting to be on the bike, I tried to settle down and just enjoy what I was doing, which I did. My right goggle was half full of water which was kind of annoying but I didn't bother stopping to correct it. Instead I just did a bit of closed eye swimming which was a nice little escape. I rounded the right hand turn on the second buoy and was soon taking a left around the last one and heading to the beach. By now the athletes who had started in the wave behind me were going past; a fact that didn't bother me other than getting literally overrun by them a couple of times. At the end of a 1500 metre swim you don't really need to have people running into and over you! It was hugely satisfying standing up and jogging onto the beach. I instantly felt more tired than I was while swimming and worried about how much energy I had used and how much I still had. I tore off my googgles and cap first then pulled down my wetsuit, all the while running to my bike.

At transition I pulled off the rest off the wetsuit exposing my Zoot trisuit, a one piece outfit designed to be worn through all three disciplines of the tri. I through on one bike shoe, then thought I'd better put my helmet one (helmets must be on at all times your bike is unracked - I was worried I'd forget this, hence I put it on between doing my left and right shoe!). This was followed by my second shoe, my race number belt and my sunnies with clear lenses. It was pouring rain at this stage and the ground was soft underfoot as I ran my bike out of transition. This soft ground probably made running in cleated bike shoes a bit easier. Got to the sign that read 'Bike Mount' and did so without incident. Happily the bike leg went by without incident. The rain desisted after about 15 minutes and the sun slowly broke through. I was by now aware of a decent pain in my stomach and thought it had most likely been a result of taking in the salty water of Corio Bay. I was uncomfortable, but with my heartrate down around 145 it wasn't too much of a problem. The 40km bike ride went by really quickly and after 82 minutes I rode down Ritchie Blvd to the cheers of my 'support team'. I felt GOOD! I dismounted carefully at the prescribed point and ran my bike back into transition.



I racked my bike, helmet off, shoes off, running shoes on, visor on and I was off again. Almost instantly that pain in my stomach became a massive problem. Now that I was running the heartrate went up as did the pain. The legs felt okay though. I was going along a decent pace despite the stomach pain and feeling okay about things. This only lasted about 500 metres though. I could feel hints of cramps in both quads - this was always my biggest concern - and I could now pin point three places in my gut where the pains were coming from. What unfolded over that 10km, 55 minute journy was almost entirely hell. Other than a 'low five' with Tim who was heading in the opposite direction, I got little joy on that run. In fact, I think I could confidently say it was the hardest run I've ever done. I've done a few. Somehow I kept going despite thoughts that vomitting might do me good. I just kept thinking 'try another few hundred mate' and that's what I did. I walked through the drink stations so I could make sure I took on all the fluid (water, electrolytes, cola) that I could get in. I think doing this saved me. I had run through the cramps and after the first four or so kms they never came back.



Running past the finish line at about 7.5kms I could hear all my supports shouting out encouragment. Thet would have only seen a pained expression on my face but on the inside I was absorbing their energy and using it. The final U-turn seemed to take forever to come but eventually it did. I was almost able to enjoy the last few hundred metres. Almost. I did enjoy crossing the line though and finally being able to stop after that hellish run.



I was handed an event towel which I threw over my head and took a couple of drinks off the table. I knew drinking plenty would do me good, but most of all I just wanted to not run. Tim made his way over and we hugged and congratulated each other. He implored me to 'drink a shitload of water', warning I'd get a massive headache if I didn't. We left the area behind the finsh line and caught up with those who were there to see me plod those last few metres.

The wash up was a 2 hour 58 minute finish time. Broken down to 35 for the swim, 82 for the ride, and 55 for the run. Add a few minutes in transitions and you're up to almost three hours. My goal was to compete and complete, and so I was happy to sneak in under 3:00 hrs.



I'm so grateful to my support network. Not just on the day, but in life. Renee, Anzac and Lola (who wore their white plastic gargabe bags with "I love you Dad" and "Team Simesy" in thick black texta on them), Tim, Loz, Isaiah, Scarlett, Josh (thanks for the wetsuit loan!), Megs, Bex, Mim, Mum, Dad. You're all super important to me. Thanks too to those who sent the encouraging texts. I appreciate it all.

Any ideas for my next goal?

With love,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Danger 1000 results.

Results just in and it appears I did do the 22 minute time; 22:26 to be exact.

Results here; http://www.tomatoresults.com.au/MyResults.aspx?CId=16&RId=20027&EId=1&AId=42786

I'm really pleased; that time meant I was onlt 24 seconds slower than the average time for my catergory! Not bad for someone who has only been swimming for a few months!

With love,

Danger 1000

As part of my prep for the USM tri, I did the Danger 1000 in Torquay yesterday. It was my first open-water swim... ever. I have been really happy with my progress with my swimming; doing 1500mts in the pool without too much drama. However, the 1500mts I need to swim for the triathlon is in Corio Bay (Geelong) so swimming in open-water in race conditions was required.

My brother Tim told me about the Danger 1000 and it sounded perfect for my first open-water swim; 1000 meters, reasonably sheltered conditions, and a good sized field of racers without being too big an event.

Thursday night I swam 1700mts in the pool and Friday I rode 60kms. It was only when the starting gun fired on Saturday I ran into the surf that I thought 'maybe I should have had an easier couple of days'. I'd tried a run straight off the bike the night before and cramped in my quads and as I ran into the water they burnt again. The heart rate went up and I was puffing before I even started swimming.

I waded out until it got too deep and then started swimmming. I was completely unprepared for how choppy it was and how difficult that would make swimming. I did some breast stroke for a bit to catch my breath and then did some ugly looking freestyle out to the turning buoy.

It was only now that I was able to start swimming with any sort of rhythym - one, two, breath, one, two, breath, etc. It was hard, but it was nice to get that rhythym going. I took the second and final left turn to toward the beach and by now was tiring. I was struggling to keep a straight line and found my self zig zagging as I corrected and over corrected. It felt like that last straight was long, really long. The beach didn't seem to be getting closer. About half way to the beach I was run into from behind by a swimmer from the group that started after me and I was convinced I was in last place of my group of 'green caps'. Thinking I was ready to stand 75 meters off the beach I was disappointed to find I couldn't! Had to swim some more. Another 25 meters and I was able to stand. Still convinced I was in last place I gently jogged to the finish line on the sand pleased to have finished but thinking the spectators would think mine was a pretty poor effort. I don't think this now, but at the time it crossed my mind.

I crossed the line as the clock ticked 42:24, and according to TJ (my brother, Tim) we started at the 20 minute mark. I'm not convinced I did the swim in 22:24 so I look forward to seeing the official results from my timing tag.


Look! There's green caps behind me! I'm not last!

I'm really pleased to have had the experience. It was good to find that my concerns about thinking about sharks and freaking out about seaweed didn't eventuate. Once I was in the water I was too preoccupied with swimming, breathing and not drowning to worry about that! So I tick a box in preparation for the tri and I move on.

With love,

Training update.

After the Around the Bay ride I took a couple of weeks off all training. A scheduled appointment with the physio got things going again. Having injured my knee in early April I hadn't really done any running since. The physio gave me the okay to start again. As I'd done one or two 3km runs he gave me the all clear to do 4kms and add one kilometer per week. So that's what I did. Over the next month I got up to 8kms, running at about 4:45 pace; a pace I was happy, and very surprised, to be running after six months out. Clearly the riding kept my base fitness in a good place.

As I added kilometers and my knee held up, the idea of doing the Olympic distance triathlon in Feb began to bubble away in my mind. I had some work to do; I've never been a swimmer, and my knee still had to hold up to running. Since then I have learnt how to swim. I have always been a reasonable swimmer - a lap or two of a pool has never been a problem - but swimming lap after lap and breathing on both sides was something I hadn't done and didn't know how to do. Happily, I'm now up to doing 1500mts in a pool reasonably comfortably, and have even done one 1700mt session. Open water swimmming a different proposition.

Having done NOTHING in Decemeber I started the new year the way I intend to live it, with a new year's day run. I did 4kms which was ugly and ended with a vomit on the side of the path. I also finished with a tight hamstring which has severely hampered my runnning in the last couple of weeks. This means I'm way behind in my training for the 10kms I need to run in the triathlon on Feb 12th.

Training for a triathlon is a funny thing. I'm under no illusions that I'm anything but a hack, a plodder, but I am what I am, and I'm the only reference point I need to compare myself to. In saying that, training in three disciplines is fun and challenging, but you feel like you aren't really doing any of them justice. There's only so much time in a week, and even if you can find the time and motivation to train for 5-6 hours, that means you're only giving each discipline a couple of hours. This is barely enough to improve.

Anyway, finally, my new year's resolution is the same as last year; weigh less at the end than I do at the start. Last year I started at about 84.3kgs, and finished at about 81.5ks. Sub 80kg is the goal, hopefully as low as 77kgs. At 77kgs I am technically in the 'overweight' range, 76kgs puts me in 'healthy'. We'll see what happens.

With love,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pride.

It's now a week on from last Sunday's ride Around The Bay. I'm happy to say that I made it. The whole way.

It all began Saturday night when Renee dropped me and my bike off at Marshall station in Geelong. I was catching the 2118hr to Southern Cross Station. There were some young girls catching the train to Geelong for a night out. They were wearing very little and I felt the urge to tell them 'you are not going out in that!?' but resisted. I'm getting old.


The journey begins.

It was nice to be on the train with my bike and riding gear. It was like it was finally happening. I'd done all the preparation I could and now all that was left was to just do it. If it wasn't done, if I didn't have it, at that point it didn't matter. I listened to my iPod, stared at the lights outside the window, and tried not to make eye contact with the bogan skateboarding up and down the carriage.
I arrived in Melbourne, jumped on the bike and in a few minutes I was at Bex's buiding in Kavanagh St. She buzzed me in and I quick ride up the lift and I was in her apartment overlooking the best of Melbourne. Bex had her room ready for me; clean sheets, a towel on the end of the bed, and the doona turned down. All so I could get the best night's sleep possible. What a friend! Giving up her bed so I could be as prepared as possible. Thank you, Bex. I appreciate it, and I love you heaps. I set out the things I would need for the morning, had a brief chat with Bex, and went to bed.

What felt like minutes later I woke to the alarm, jumped out of bed, showered, ate, and left. It was cold and dark. I'd chosen to wear shorts, a shortsleeve top and arm warmers. I knew this would mean I'd be cold for some time but thought it was the best option for the 10 hour trip. Unfortunately, starting took longer than anyone expected with our wave (in the 20-24 km/h average estimate wave) leaving at 7am. It was a stop start first 10kms getting out of Melbourne city and out to St Kilda but once on the bay we were getting some good peddling for some good kilometres.

About 60kms in I started cramping. We had to stop at a set of lights and as soon as I stopped turning the legs around and stood up my quads screamed at me. This was a grave concern. I was barely a quarter of the way into my 210kms and my body was already saying 'no'. I was frustrated as I can ride 60kms with my eyes shut and no issues with my body. I couldn't believe on my biggest day it was going wrong this soon. I decided I'd get to the 75km rest area, get off the bike, take a break, and see what happened from there. I made it to 75km unconvincingly, had a shork rest where I took on fluid, let go of some fluid, and ate a Mars bar. I sent a couple of texts updating some people as to where I was at and my concerns, and got a reply from my brother, Tim that read; 'Just do your best, there is no failure.'


Making my way to Sorrento.

I got back on the bike and latched on to a group. The weather was really turning at this stage and we found ourselves riding into a stiff breeze which meant we'd slowed down. As it turned out, this was a blessing in disguise. The 25kms to Sorrento were a bit slower, a bit easier, and the cramps dissappeared. About 8kms from Sorrento I found myself riding alone at a slow 22km/h. A group went past me like I was standing still and I decided to bust my balls and latch on the back of them. It hurt, but I caught them and stayed with them. Arrived at Sorrento in good shape but with about 600 people ahead of me waiting for the next ferry. I ate everything in the bag I was handed; chicken sandwich, random cake/slice, energy gel, apple. Powerade. It was cold, a bit wet, and windy sitting on the concrete waiting for the next ferry to arrive and I was a bit worried about how I would get the legs moving when I eventually got off the ferry and back on the bike at Queenscliff. The ferry showed up and they began letting riders and bikes on. I was about the 10th last rider to get on the ferry; a fact for which made me most grateful that I'd ridden the last 8kms to Sorrento with that fast group. Here is how my Garmin saw the first leg.


A lot of money laying on the road!

It had been almost exactly two hours since I'd stopped when I rolled off the ferry at Queenscliff and began the 39kms to Renee in Geelong. Happily, and surprisingly, the legs felt great. I stopped briefly in Point Lonsdale just near my work to see Tim, who gave me some new drinks - the water and Gatorade was a much needed change from the Staminade I was getting sick of. The ride into Geelong was okay, I stayed in groups and just kept turning the legs. I saw Mim and Danielle cheering me on in Ocean Grove, Dad in Moolap with a big sign reading 'Simon Davies, you're a legend' and in no time at all I was cruising through the Geelong CBD. Arrived at the Rippleside rest area in awesome shape. At this point I expected to be falling apart, but I was feeling good and as soon as I got off the bike I wanted to be back on it. I had a protien shake, tightened my cleats which had been coming loose, took a selfie with my baby, and set off. My Garmin record of this section is here.


My support team.

The hard work that had been done for the previous 5 or 6 hours on the bike meant we enjoyed a wind on our backs as we turned toward Melbourne. I found myself behind two guys as we belted along the Melbourne Road at a pacey 37-39km/h. We hit Little River rest area in no time and as these guys slowed down to decide if they were stopping I carried on alone. This turned out to be the most enjoyable part of the ride. I had visualised two things in the weeks leading up to the ride; 1) Riding over the West Gate Bridge knowing I couldn't fail, and 2) Sitting on the side of the Melbourne Road waiting for the support vehicle knowing I had failed. As it turned out, I was riding alone up the road to Melbourne absolutely eating up the road at 40-45km/h. I can't stress enough how fast that is for the not-too-serious recreational rider. My Garmin watch was beeping at me every 1min 30secs saying I'd done another kilometre. It was incredible.

Just at the Werribee turnoff I got an intense, powerful, painful cramp on the inside of my right thigh. I immediatly worried that I'd not respected the distance enough and I was going to pay for my last 40kms of pushing hard. I stood up on the pedals, stretched it out as best I good, and tried to ride through it. After a couple of kms I won the fight and the cramp desisted. Made it to the comfort stop in Werribee, had a quick break, and sent off the group text of 'Werribee. 35kms to go.' Tim replied with; 'You're a fucking rock star mate. You can do it!'

And I could. Hitting the highway out of Werribee and seeing Melbourne was awesome. The cramps were gone, the body felt good, and I could see the finish line. I began to get a bit emotional. All this with 35kms still to go. It felt inevitable that I'd finish the ride at this stage and I had to tell myself to cool it, that anything could still happen. I did calm down and settled into the task of getting back to Alexandra Gardens safely. I quickly found myself at the point I'd visualised so many times but been scared to believe would happen; me at the top of the West Gate Bridge. Again, I found myself, not unexpectadley, getting emotional again and actually cried tears of joy as I realised come hell or high water, I was going to finish. I was alone with my thoughts, looking forward to the long descent from the top of the bridge when I heard a car horn. I looked to my right and saw Renee driving past waving to me. It was amazing that by sheer luck she'd been there next to me at my own psycological finish line.

Ten minutes later I turned in to the short finshing straight along the Yarra River having done something that had exhausted mentally in the weeks leading up to it; if not physically on the day. I crossed the line, unclipped my feet from the cleats, leant on my handlebars, and cried tears of relief, joy, pride. See the final leg stats here.


The end.

I sit here now so proud of myself. I set a goal, a very, very difficult goal, and I worked towards it. I registered in July, four days after Cadel triumphed in Paris, and I used that as genuine, actual inspiration. I think about the ride all the time. I think about riding to Sorrento, unable to see the other side of the bay and knowing I had to ride around it. It is crazy but possible. I did it. Go me.



With love,

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tomorrow is my big ride; the BUPA Around The Bay In A Day.

The tension has been building inside me all week. Had some sort of mini anxiety attack yesterday; butterflies, light-headedness and shaky. Today there's just heaps of butterflies messing with my stomach. To try and combat this I'm busying myself prepping my bike. Had a trip to Goldcross Cycles to purchase a few things including a new gel saddle. I'd prefer not to be changing my equipment before such a big ride but my saddle definately isn't made to be sitting in for 8+ hours.
I've also put my 'tri-bars' back on. Not because I'm going to be riding in an aggressive position for speed though! But because I think I'll need a few different positions to rest different parts of my body.



The ride itself will take me from Alexandra Gardens in Melbourne, 100kms to Sorrento. This section doesn't worry me too much. I'll have lunch in Sorrento and catch the ferry to Queenscliff. From there the next leg is 35kms into Rippleside Park in Geelong. I'll see Renee here and hopefully the kids. Renee will have food, gels, drinks and spare clothes in case I need any of that stuff. The final stretch is the part that scares me; the last 75kms from Geelong to Melbourne. If I'm to fail it'll be on this long, boring road. If I can get to Werribee and see Melbourne, I think I'll make it. We'll find out tomorrow, I guess.

This is Cadel's fault. When he won the Tour de France I decided I'd try and do this ride. He made long rides look easy. They aren't.

With Love,