Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Fun don't start till 4am (Diamond Creek parkrun)

I'm a competitive guy, if you don't already know. Not always against other people, but certainly within myself. And I think training for triathlons makes you look inwards more than outwards due to the solo training rides & runs.

The Challenge was put out on the wires earlier in the week, my unofficial training mentor the Captain of Sommerville Sports Ivan had accepted a challenge from a former National Duathlon Champion from1996, but don't worry Celine Hepworth has plenty still in the tank! To pace and punch out a fast if not PB run at Diamond Creek parkrun, a flat course that is prime for running hard; I'm pushing to break 20 minutes and knowing Ivan & Celine would go under 19 minutes this was a great opportunity to run with champions and push myself. Quick chat with Super Wife and I had planned to swap the pram for a free set of running feet for a Saturday morning.

I used to walk the paths this run takes with Super Wife back in the old dating days, taking the walk from Eltham (her home town) to Diamond Creek and back; having grown up in the area it was a good chance to return to my old stomping grounds.

With any training in my situation the night/day before is the key preparing running gear, packing car, etc. Z-Girl is in a bad habit of waking at 2am & 4am and struggles to settle, early days we gave her a small feed to calm her but now it means she just doesn't settle without it. Breaking the habit means loud noises and no sleep. Working together we looked to try and break the habit, the poor little Z just didn't like the situation crying and crying, I got up to help at 4am and taking her downstairs just couldn't stop the tears, exhausted the poor thing finally feel asleep in our bed cuddled by Mum at 5am, but an alarm at 6:30am to get ready for our morning run was not what Super Wife needed.

In fact no amount of motivational speeches were going to fix this one; a terrible nights rest and a case of the Mothering Blues meant time was needed without Z-Girl; I had already made the commitment to Ivan and Little Z was all giggles at 6:30am ready for an adventure, so I would watch this running battle from the back of the pack with the pram.

Diamond Creek parkrun is a great setting by the bridge and with a 2.5km up and back route it gives you a great opportunity to see the leading runners heading to the finish line, problem also being for a guy like me that likes to run 4:30-5:00 min/km it was hard to get going with the morning joggers and a thin path made overtaking difficult.

Watching Ivan coming back the other way, considering he was running naked (without his Garmin, not real naked ain't nobody need to see that!) I was surprised at his good pace but concerned he might burn the match out, Celine was in hot pursuit and only a few paces back. I was still trying to pick my way to some space to stretch the legs out, Z-Girl was happy after her standard 1km grizzle and had now fallen asleep.

After the turn around point I started to get a little room and picked up the pace dramatically, even catching another pram runner (DC had a few today, maybe 6-7) I might not of been able to take on the challenge that was set during the week, but I did want to be the first pram over the line and pushed myself to keep going and get clear, with a respectable time and a very sleepy Z-Girl.

That's the catch I'm discovering as a Dadathlete; you got to be adjustable. Don't let a bad nights sleep get you down and just change it up. Ivan ran ahead of Celine and was happy with his time, Celine comes across like she is never happy and a perfectionist but always looking for the next challenge and I like that in a person, and me and Z-Girl well we proved we had plenty in the legs after a late night of nappy parties!

It's hard, that's the truth. It's hard to be a Triathlete, Dad & Husband and I won't ever say it's easy. But if I didn't have anyone of those things life would be even harder. All 3 make up big important parts of who I am and sometimes they clash but that morning I felt like we meshed them together in the face of adversity; the Triathlete needed a training run, the Dad needed to look after his Daughter and the Husband needed to give his Super Wife the opportunity to relax and recoup. That's a Dadathlon hat-trick if ever I've seen one!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Going the distance

I love a piece of Cake at the best of times, in fact listening to it again, I still love it. 

Right now it's about gaining confidence in my body to carry me further; I know I can run fast and cover 5km but can I cover double, triple, quadruple that? Can I bounce back and ride or swim off the front or back of that distance?

The weekend that passed I wanted to test my body; see how it would react. I went all mad scientist and stretched my training numbers up, in fact I went further than I'd been before, not faster but further. 

It started Friday night; my new swimming/ sauna night. I punched out some endurance laps of 500m, including using my new hand paddles to assist with getting better arm strength and technique and finished with some sprints. I felt confident in the pool in only my second session, feeling natural rolling the arms and body. I happened to get chatting to a nice local guy in the sauna and started explaining my quest, he didn't laugh at it or question it but admired my single mindedness to do laps at 9pm on a Friday Night while my daughter slept soundly and my friends chased pints. 

That conversation had me thinking. I need to be the influence and make people see that its not just 5km runs and walking to work; and sometimes you've got to get the coffee grinder going a bit earlier or sacrifice the comforts of a warm bed if you want something so badly.

A friends BBQ / Housewarming was a good opportunity to push a little further. A 16km trail unveiled itself to me when looked at how I would run to the party, with super wife and Z-Girl in the car ahead and me testing some home made rice cakes for some extra energy along the Yarra River. Swimming had recovered my legs from the week's riding and I felt good when I started running, telling myself a new mantra - 'the further I go, the easier it gets.' Weaving my way from walking path to skinny single tracks, I got to the party ahead of super wife and Z-Girl. A part of me wanted to keep going, the legs weren't showing any signs of weakness and my mind was asking the question of more kilometers.

Then came Sunday morning, I ride in most weather to work rain, hail or shine. And as my major mode of transport I have conditioned myself just to get pedaling and the weather will sort itself out. So Sunday I headed for Humevale, a beautiful gradual climb outside Whittlesea. The only catch, it takes 35kms to ride this beautiful 7km climb (crazy I know) but the lead into Whittlesea rolling past farmland is just perfect for a lonely moment turning the pedals.

6am coffee sucked down and a gut full of porridge I headed out, a light weight jacket and a thick pair of gloves. At the 25km I hear the friendly honk and its the Sommerville Crew heading out on my path but starting a little closer!! Some words of encouragement from the Captain and a quick Happy snap kept the legs moving. 

The pace wasn't my best as my loneliness had got me thinking. Legs ticking, light pedals strokes, tempo, tempo, dammit I'm hungry. But knocking back another sweet rice cake (will give away the recipe soon) hitting the base of Humevale Rd I just still felt stronger like I could ride across the state! The endorphins had me feeling invincible and endless in my energy.

But then I think I've always had this. As a junior swimmer I broke age old school records but always preferred the long distance races and my heroes were Kerian Perkins & Daniel Kowalski that summer of 1996. I preferred the long ones, the 400m individual medley, 800m freestyle and the mother of all 1500m is what got me excited. It wasn't about being the quickest but can you be consistent.

Outlasting my rivals with my ability to stay at a consistent high pace for the whole race rather than surging efforts, I built my lead lap after lap feeling stronger the more strokes I took. And it's this I'm starting to get back, the freedom within the grind, the joy in the movement. I'm finding my distance legs and feeling happier when the activity lasts longer than an hour; the only real draw back to wanting more distance is finding the time; and setting early on weekend and weekday isn't everyones cup of tea (or strong coffee) but then if everyone did, nobody would say I was crazy.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The lost art of recovery

Let's face it working 5 days a week, training 6 days a week, loving my wife and family everyday of the week (Husband Bonus Points) doesn't leave much time for much else, in fact I'm starting to have to meet my friends either while running or riding so that just about shows you the amount of 'free time' I have.

So lets add something else to the schedule. Recovery.

First things first, listen to your body, if you can't hear your body you're not listening well enough as it tells you when it needs more recovery. That tightness in the calf, the tired eyes, the blurred thinking all these add up to moments when you know you need to take a step back, ease off and maybe look at your recovery.

Plan a day off. Nobody likes a rest day, if you're a ball of energy like me rest days suck! Getting the train to work and getting off a stop early to walk helps with taking the stress of training off the body.

Foam Roll. I'm guilty of not doing this enough, and hit home when I when I got a massage from Physiohealth to be asked "Do you foam roll?" and when I said I did sometimes, they said you need to all the time as my calves were rock hard and in need of some TLC. I find a couple of minutes a night, in fact I have my routine down to 1 min per body part making it no more than 10 minutes! That's perfect 5 nights a week or after a heavy session of running/ riding on the weekend.

Have an easy day. Sometimes I just don't go so fast, maybe I take the less hilly way to work on the bike, or I dial back the km/min ratio to 6 minutes instead of 4:30. I'm still moving, I'm still working but I'm not smashing it out. Active recovery they call it, recovery ride/ run. These usually follow my hard runs.

Find your Zen. In my early 20's I messed around with meditation & yoga, in my mid-twenties I went to the pub too much, in my late twenties I forgot everything and now in my 30's I'm trying to find my sweet spot. Take a few minutes to smell the roses. I have been adding in a Sauna session for 10 minutes after my swim, it's silent and calming to close my eyes for a moment. Take the nice way home on the bike and watch the sun go down, or even just go to your library in your lunch break for 15 minutes and read a book. Embrace the calmness and moments of silence, you can find it without looking at your facebook!

Fuel your recovery. This I'm becoming more in tune with than ever before, having been inspired by Eat & Run by Scott Jurek (the great Scott Jurek) I'm not just examining closer what I eat after an event, which lets face it most of the time we are good at this, grabbing our protein shake or having a fresh salad with chicken for dinner after a workout, but then 6 hours later we're knee deep in Fish & Chips or a Pizza. Our recovery food is much more than just than first hour after a workout, it's the whole day, the whole week in fact. Check that item as you take it off the shelf, think is this fuel or fire? Can I chose something the same but better, great example the other night I got a hankering for some Chocolate, I'm staring down the barrel of a sweet Cadbury Dairy Milk bar, then I look around and I see an organic chocolate, and next to that a antioxidant boosting dark chocolate so I reach left instead of straight.

Recovery is important, and the more I train and follow my path the more I see the need for it. Training back to back days requires recovery, and we're all one step away from an injury but the prevention is better than cure statement couldn't ring truer in this instance.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hip to be square

Training is starting to consume more of my life; it is taking over in areas I haven't even thought it would matter. I find I'm checking weather reports on Sunday afternoons planning my riding and running for the week, my evenings taken up with prep for the next day whether that's laying out cycling gear or finding a fresh towel for the kit bag. And I'm becoming more conscious of what I'm putting in my mouth, questioning if it's going fuel me positively or negatively, but more and more I'm starting to question my motives.

Why am I getting up at 5:30am every morning; I have no doubt it's for the thrill of it. I love the training the effort required and the endorphin's it's produces, but why train? I'm being asked it more & more by those outside of my training circle. 

The reality is I don't think I'm going to win an event, at 33 those young kids have got 10 years of training on me, I don't even think I could win my age group, I will sure as hell try but the reality is a Top 10 finish would be an amazing result and just finishing without dying is a bonus. I enjoy beating my PB and the personal goals, the games within a game is sometimes the driving factor. Can I ride faster this week than the last, can I run under 20 mins for 5km and still last till the end of the race.

But why do all the effort for a few minutes when it's only you keeping score? 

And that's when I started to dig a little deeper; when I started to think further into the hidden factors to rolling my pedals over and over again at 6am, pushing myself faster and faster to get home from work while leaning into a headwind and a little rain mixed in that makes your teeth clench and your jaw numb. 

It's her. Z-Girl. Otherwise known as Zara. I'm running, riding and cycling all while creating positive change in our family life for her, for us. Maybe when she is older we will enjoy running and cycling together, no doubt at 12 she will find my obsession with lyrca & french mountains embarrassing. At the moment she has no idea and the mornings spent speeding along running tracks will be only memories from a photo, but I think your mind can remember more than that, I think it stores experiences.

And then there is the frustration of her hips, she has had Hip Dysplasia pretty much from birth; with the Maternal Health nurse first picking up on her lopsided legs and the scans at the Royal Childrens Hospital confirming it. Z-Girl has been in a brace now for longer than she has been out of one, and I know it's not the end of the world and in due time she will be able to hopefully have it removed.

The brace pins her legs back into a curve, similar to that of an old style western cowboy and requires it to be on for 23hrs a day. She doesn't know why. And for most part it hasn't effected her too much, it makes changing her difficult, a lot of her clothes we got as gifts from nice friends stopped fitting her as they can't stretch over the brace, as she hits the solid eating phase it's difficult to get her to fit into the high chair as her legs don't slide in correctly, she struggles no matter how much she wants to sit up to keep her balance with a plastic bar under her backside rocking her forward, and when she lays down on her play mat she can only rock side to side and can't roll onto her stomach and finally where the brace grips her legs its clamped her muscles in her thighs so now her leg is skinny in one section and over sized in another so even with it removed you're reminded where it is.

It's my evenings when I speed home taking the shortest least traffic light ride home so as to see her for bath time, it's the best moment when we can take the brace off for a fleeting hour. Her face lights up, her legs jiggle about, and the first thing she does is roll over and over trying to put her foot in her mouth (why not you would if you could) But the brace always returns in the end, the legs pinned back, and then she tries to sleep waking up frustrated in the night because she can't stretch them out, it can't be comfortable sleeping with your legs entrapped. 

When I run to work I think about how frustrated I would be if my legs were in a brace, if I was told I only had 1 hour of activity a day to which I can move my legs and what would I do with that precious little time. 

Now don't get me wrong there are people out there with worse issues with their kids, children with little to be happy about, and having stopped playing rugby this year and hear of Maciu's injury certainly gave give goose bumps as to those days stuck in the scrums.

I'm moving because of those that can't move, I'm moving so I don't ever take for granted what is not always a given ability, I'm moving to remind myself that movement & endurance is what made us evolve to the species we are, it allowed us to live longer than those before us. When I use my body to propel myself, instead of to propel a ball I'm directly connected to my body and to my surroundings a connection that we take for granted as we run for the bus or walk to the shops. 

So as I searched for the answer deeper and deeper I start to contemplate it, my heart rate thudding against my chest cavity as I climb up the hill one foot in front of the other on my way to work. I'm riding, running and swimming because I don't want to stop moving! that one day a doctor, a hamstring or the big man upstairs will tap me on the shoulder and tell me .....

"That's enough Oliver time to sit down" 

And when I do sit down I will always remember all those movements, all those efforts, no doubt my memory will fade but my experiences won't leave me, so when Z-Girl get's asked what her Dad does she'll say

"He moves, he moves a lot"

#dadathlon #forher #Geelong2016 #running #cycling #swimming #tritraining

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Turning Negatives to Positives; Duathlon Race 2

I just didn't feel it this week leading in, I didn't really time my nutrition to factor with race day, I forgot to foam roll during the week due to being tired and a little lazy, the weather kept me off the bike, backed out of parkrun due to morning rain, so didn't stretch my legs pre-race and I did my long run for the week just 48 hours out from the race leaving me a little tight and sore. It wasn't a good week.

Feeling all out of sorts on Saturday night as I prepared my race bag I chose to watch a movie Wolf of Wall Street; which by the way is a crap film! Why I wanted to watch it I won't know, but I kept thinking about cocky Jordan Belfort and how much I hate power & money for at least the first 2km of the run leg.

Making the walk to the check in desk had a different element this time around, with Super Wife turned Super Supporter having to dash back to get her sweater she left in the car I walked Z-Girl in the pram,  with my kit bag and Bike myself. It was a almost quiet moment where I forgot about performance pressure and how she won't care where I finish, or remember this run other than the cuddle she gets pre race and the one she gets post race.

Even with the sinking feeling of being out of sorts I still felt better prepared than previous races, I had a Sommerville Sports teammate with me which was a comfort having someone to chat to and warm-up with pre-race. And worked on my improvement areas of my warm-up routine, still work in progress but getting a rub down from the Physiohealth pre-race loosened out my already tight calves.

Lining up I let that doubt cloud sneak into my head; I started out hard and fast making the classic mistake of not running to my race plan, my Sommerville Sports guru Ivan is/was/can be a hell of a runner/ cyclist/ triathlete and has historical form in this department, on training runs I've stuck with him to beat PB's but I'm not so sure this was a good idea. Hammering hard on his tail drove me into the early red zone by the 3km mark, and as he drifted off into the distance and around the final turning point I could feel that I may of blown my engine early. I slowed down a little in the final kilometer and recovered heading into the transition area.

To my surprise post race I had come close to running a sub 20 5km, something I thought I couldn't do, so now I'm more confident I can get that sucker next time.

The bike leg started better, I got out in a good rhythm and my gearing was in the right place, but my legs were getting heavy as the ride wore on and my energy levels started to fade. My race plan was to hit up my energy gel on lap 3 heading into the final lap and run, giving me a boost. But this was an emergency so I turned to the back pocket on lap 2 instead.

Bringing my pace back up and pulling in a few other riders gave me some confidence and seeing Ivan on each turn certainly helped as we encouraged each other to keep pushing. I tried to find more power, but felt that I just didn't have anything else in the legs and settled for consistent pace instead of surging movements. Heading into the transition I remembered my slow change from last race and already had my shoes unzipped and made a quick change by a whole 15 secs from previous.

That final run was harder than I ever felt, running out of the transition area tailing another athlete that looked like they had more than me in the tank gave me a running goal to try and stick with them, I kept up for about 1km and then they too started to push further and further away. I shorten my stride as my legs were now burning and tried to keep the steps short but fast, this felt better but it didn't feel faster.

Running on an island is what I call when you're stuck in a race or group run on your own, when you're not at the front, not at the back, and have no one around you. That's the island, and it makes you start to over think things. I needed to get off the island and to do that I needed to find something to challenge me, and there he was Mr Hawthorn Tri-Club (due to his outfit he gets this name) He looked about 50-100 metres in front of me, so I wheeled the legs a little quicker and got to his tail.

A quick check of the watch suddenly had me thinking with 1.5km to go that I might be able to post a PB, in fact if I get a move on I could beat it by almost a minute! But I was stuck! Stuck behind Mr Hawthorn, and on the skinny running track it was hard to find energy & room to overtake, best bet was on the left hand turn into the trail to the finish, so I jumped out to his right, my legs hated me for it and edged my way in front using the down hill section to gain a little space.

The legs wobbled the brain was cooked, in fact the body was fried. I had that contorted face of pain at the finishing line rather than a smile of relief, but I had beaten my previous time by 1min 20 secs; considering my negative thoughts early and getting caught trying to pace with Ivan like a training run, it may of worked in my favour!

With nicer weather meant better athletes turned up, but better weather also meant more crowd support. Was great to have Ivan's wife and in-laws along cheering with Super Wife & Z-Girl, all of them giving you a little boost as you came up the main straight of the race. Family is what I like about Triathlons/ Running events, it's a family event where the kids can join in, Mum & Dad can compete, a friendly atmosphere compared to a rugby ground where half the supporters don't like you or your team.

Everyone is cheering for Everyone there is no booing, and with the week that professional sport has had in Australia around crowds and attitudes, it was nice to say I'm involved in this positive movement of people and fitness. I remember a friend saying to me Triathlon is more a lifestyle than an event, it's a not a season you turn off at the final whistle; you go home and live and breath its positive impact into your life. I'm starting to agree with them.

#dadathlon #trilife #islandrunning #duathlon #forher #IM70

Here comes the sun, August Training

Here comes the doo doo doo, here comes the sun and I say  it's alright  .....

Just thinking of my favorite little Beatles track as I wake to some August sunshine, make no mistake its a little chilly still and that wind can threaten rain clouds, but the evenings at 5:30pm when I jump on the bike to get home aren't pitch black straight away. And the weekends are offering more opportunity to get out on some longer less soggy rides without every thermal product I own on.

August is the beginning of the Ironman 70 Training EEK!

With a perfect 6 months out from the event in the first week in February 2016. It also means it's time to get back in the pool. I like swimming, in fact I'm pretty proud of my swimming exploits as a youngster, even to the point that I wish I had stayed on the black line in the pool more than I did chasing hoop dreams in the USA.

Now adding in another session without losing one is going to up the effort levels, and will require a late night swim to begin with until Z-Girl is joining us in pool. The initial plan was to start her in swimming lessons and that then gives me a chance to swim while Super Wife & Z-Girl paddle about, rotating every two weeks so I get to have some fun as well, and was part of another family training session.

Swimming lessons are popular for little ones so it seems and with all the bookings taken till September I'm going to have to start training without my No.1 Sidekick.

Last month I added in longer runs, no booze and better recovery techniques; I'm happy to say that I'm 5-6 weeks (I lost count) and still no booze it's now starting to feel normal waking up fresh without a fuzz on a Saturday & Sunday morning, so much so I don't even feel like a beer on a Friday.

The longer runs have built up my endurance levels; but they do take a little longer to recover from if I don't foam roll and eat clean foods afterwards. Been a bit slack with foam rolling and it's resulted in some soar weekend efforts. Running is becoming a friend more than an enemy, and even has me thinking bigger and badder trail runs this Spring.

This month will be about keeping the routine going; I think I have developed the plan well but now need to look at what surrounds it, diet! I got a bio-signature done by my good friend and super-dooper Personal Trainer at Fitness First QV shel (Thanks Ria) and it showed me a lot of what I knew and now need to fix. The results gave me 10% body fat, so in the elite range but I lacked protein and my sugar/carb levels were a little high.

I'm a sweet tooth guy and I chew up pasta for fun! So it's going to be tough getting cleaner, I'm not a dirty eater but I dabble in late night chocolates, biscuits from the tin at work with my coffee and maybe the odd muffin mid morning. I like sugar what can I say, with my carbs I think I'm conditioned in this area so need to just look at my in take and try not to double up with carbs for lunch and dinner.

August Training Plan:

Mon - Rest Day *
Tues - Ride to Work ^
Wed - Long Run 10km
Thurs - Ride to Work
Fri - Long Ride 35km - Swim Session Evening (8pm)
Sat - Running Group 5-8km
Sun - Group Ride 35km

* Might look to add in a AM swim if I can't make the Friday night swim session
^ I've changed my route to work, so my normal commute round trip is up from 20km to 25km

Events in August
Duathlon   Race 2 with Team Physiohealth
Arthurs Seat Ride with Sommerville Crew

#dadathlon #tridad #triathlontraining #forher #geelong70 #ironman