Well I must say thus far the triathlon training has been much more enjoyable than anticipated. And I think this is due mostly to the fact that we have joined a club. And I say ‘we’ because in fact Paul and I have both embarked on this feat together which I think has also helped enormously – how unusual for us to have a joint interest!! We have joined the Glasgow Triathlon Club as I mentioned in the previous blog – and what a lovely welcoming bunch of people they are. Whilst there are many terribly marvellous triathletes in the club, there are also enough people more of our ilk (quite old, should probably know better, but filled with enthusiasm, if not a great deal of speed or stamina) to make us feel not entirely out of place. Their Facebook forum has been a great source of information (more of that later), chat and encouragement and their coaches are lovely, patient and encouraging.
And so to the training. I thought fitting in enough running was challenging before, but now trying to do running, cycling and swimming every week is nigh on impossible. This is where we have got to so far…..
- Swimming. I mentioned we’d started going to the Tri club swimming lessons on a Sunday night. I really can’t enthuse about these enough. We’ve been to about six now and what a difference in our swimming already. I have somehow been promoted out of lane 1 into the terrifyingly dizzy heights of lane 2. This made me initially enormously anxious but actually secretly thrilled after being last in everything last year. That said, I’m still really slow, but I think maybe slow with a moderately nice technique. As well as our Sunday night lessons, we have tried to fit in a couple of other swims through the week to practise our newly learned skills and I am managing to get faster I think – I even managed to not stop between lengths for the first time this week (this is quite an achievement for me). My main problem with swimming however is that my sinuses seem to fill entirely with water throughout the swim. Whilst this is not a problem at the time, I spend the next 24-36 hours essentially emptying them, which makes me appear to have a terribly secretory viral illness most of the time. Not quite sure what to do about this. People with nose clips always look a little odd.
2. Running. I remain very slow at this. I’ve always been a solitary runner and resisted clubs, mostly because I’m so slow and feel quite pressured when running with someone else that I can’t keep up with. But I’ve noticed two interesting things recently about my running;
- If I run after doing some other exercise (I’ve started trying to go for runs after getting off the turbo trainer), although it feels like I’m running through mud, I actually run a lot faster. I think this is due to being much more warmed up.
- For the first time today, the whole family (me, Paul, Jamie and Holly) all did Park Run together. Usually Jamie and Holly do junior Park Run on a Sunday morning but we decided to all do the 5K full run today. And I ran a good bit faster, and for longer, than usual. This was partly because I was trying to keep up with Holly – even my 9 year old daughter is faster than me now – but also because I think running in a big group keeps you going for longer.
So I’m now re-thinking my always-running-on-my-own policy.
3. Cycling. This now I think is my weakest bit. It’s also the longest bit of every triathlon. And indeed the Etape is about a month away. Eek. Hopefully the lengthening days will help – I think getting out cycling is the most tricky when it’s cold and wet and dark. But I have been kindly lent a turbo trainer which I have managed to attach my bike to and after an initial shaky start (fell off) I have got this set up in front of the TV so am hoping to get on this regularly to improve my bike legs.
4. Actual Triathlon Practise. On Good Friday Paul, Jamie and I did a practise triathlon. We took all our stuff up to the gym and persuaded them to let us set up for trial triathlon. We put our bikes and towels etc outside the fire escape of the swimming pool so we could try doing the actual lengths we would need to do of each discipline, in the correct order, without a break, and also practise doing transitions too. I made the first two rookie mistakes immediately. Firstly, I wore up to the gym what I needed to change into for the cycle. So I had to undress (at least I had my swimming costume on underneath) outside at our designated transition area much to the amusement of the golfers on the adjacent putting green. Secondly, I forgot to bring my second pair of shoes, so after leaving my trainers at the transition point, I had to tiptoe barefoot to the swimming pool. Any seasoned triathlete would have been quite rightly tutting at my display. Lessons learned. After leaving the rest of our stuff in the changing rooms, we started our swim. I was going flat out and therefore a little disgruntled that Jamie had to stop a couple of times to ‘check I was OK’. After our 400m swim we shot through the fire escape, threw on our bike/running gear (I’d even bought stretchy laces) and jumped on our bikes to set off up to the reservoir. This seemed to go quite well.
I would say the only problem about our 13 km cycle around the reservoir was our timing. It was one of the first nice days of the year so half of Glasgow had gone up for a walk. And it was also blowing a hoolie. So we couldn’t really go flat out, but the wind I think made up for the fact that there were no hills to contend with. Having finished our cycle, we jumped back off our bikes and started our final run round the larger loop of the reservoir. This was the first time I’ve run straight after cycling and it felt as though I was running slower than I ever have before, but later transpired that it was faster than my usual pace. I learnt my next very important lesson at this point. Running in a swimming costume is not comfortable. At all. I had not thought about this and in fact sparked a rather entertaining forum discussion in the tri club site later that night. Apparently the answer is sports bra under your swimming costume. Who knew?
But we finished in one piece. Not terribly fast, but finished nonetheless.
And so the countdown to our first actual triathlon starts in earnest. Rather than plunge straight in to the open water event in Loch Lomond in July, we thought it might be wise to try a pool swim triathlon first, so we’ve signed up for the Isle of Bute Novice triathlon on May 15th. Paul and I are both doing it and we’ll let you know how it goes. Next week we’re off to La Santa in Lanzarote for some triathlon training in the sun (what happened to holidays involving relaxing in the sun drinking wine………)