I’ve had a wonderful weekend …. More on that later!
Firstly…. Just over ELEVEN HOURS of training this week made up of:
1 open water swim, 1 Richmond park cycle (2 laps), 1 long run, 1 pool swim, 1 threshold cycle, 1 strength session, 1 run training session….
I followed my usual cycle of starting off strong, missing a few workouts at the end of the week (due to work and it being so hot I couldn’t sleep) and then maxing it out at the weekend!
My run training session was really interesting – with a triathlete coach I met on the bus back to the airport from Kitzbuhel who offered to give me some help. We met at the Battersea Park stadium and I was like a little kid or a rabbit in the headlines watching all the sprinters on their proper training sessions – I hadn’t been on the track since the nightmares of school sports days! I warmed up and we spent some time videoing my running, before going through lots of drills and exercises with a focus on posture. We ended up with me running 15 minutes around the track as fast as I could. This was really hard – mentally more than anything else! Normally the point of running fast is that you get to the finish quicker and you can stop! So mentally it was hard to pace myself and keep going, especially in the final push to the “line” as it wasn’t a line I could see! Still, I was proud of my effort, especially as it was almost 9pm in the evening.
That was Thursday afternoon and the heat of that night meant James and I barely slept so Friday became a semi-rest day (just cycled home from work). James and I then went to a friends house to enjoy some cold meats, cheese and rosé on her roof terrace until the heavens opened and we ran home in the warm rain.
I was apprehensive about the weekend because after such fantastic weather all week, storms were forecast. Saturday began at 6.30am when I woke up, had breakfast and got in the car to drive out to Ham Lake. I was slightly late and so ended up with the “experienced group”. I thought I’d give it a go but after a 450m warm-up I figured what was to come in the next hour may be too intense for me and slowly swam to the beginners group! This I much preferred as I am now among the fastest in the beginners group which always feels good. We worked a lot on practicing our sighting which I finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of. We finished with both groups all together, a mass start and then a race around a small 350m loop. Great to get some starting practice and I’m enjoying going out hard for the first 10-15 strokes and then settling into my rhythm.
All this time it was a light drizzle, with thunder clouds threatening but nothing to be heard and no lightning to be seen. I dried off after the session and drove the short 5 minutes to Richmond Park where it was time for my “long run” – 1 lap around the park of 12km. I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t think I enjoyed a single moment. It had stopped drizzling but the sky was heavy and the air humid, very quickly my body was shining in a sheen of sweat and my nose was running from the swim. I took off my t-shirt and ran in my sports bra, mopping up my sweat and wiping my nose. I also just felt the scenery was a lot more monotonous than I’d been expecting – the surface of the path was the same the whole way round, even if sometimes I was running through a wooded area and other times next to the thick grasses. And my legs were so heavy, every step a panting, sweaty, sore effort. I managed the 12k in just under 1 hour 15 minutes and couldn’t have been more happy to stop running, collapse on the grass for some stretches, before driving home with the windows down, listening to Ken Livingstone and David Mellor discuss the crisis in Gaza on LBC radio.
Back home and it was time to clean the flat & pop into Brixton for a wonderful lunch at French & Grace (lebanese flatbread with feta, pomegranate and minced lamb – together with a wonderfully refreshing pomegranate lemonade). It was so HOT that we both spent some of the afternoon just collapsed in our living room, me stretched out onto the floor next to the cat, drinking iced water and sweating heavily. A trip to John Lewis ensued only to discover they had sold out of EVERY SINGLE FAN. As had Argos. Probably a good thing as I was so hot there’s a large chance I would have spent £300 on this Dyson one!
The evening came around and it had cooled down slightly – we headed up to Islington for dinner and drinks at the Smokehouse with James’ family who were in London for his sister’s graduation.
Sunday dawned slightly less hot (but still boiling) and quite sunny. We pottered around, went to Lidl to buy our veg for the week, James’ parents arrived and then I set off for my cycle. Two hours out consisting of gentle cycles to and from Richmond Park and two laps of the park as fast as I could. I am getting to know the park and my responses to it so well. I know I will hate the first bit up Sawyers Hill – 2k at an average 2% gradient and with the wind barrelling down at you. My legs ached and complained and I tried to keep going, developing my new mantra “it’s meant to hurt.. It’s meant to hurt…” as I tried to keep in a high gear and fast cadence. At this point I hate Richmond Park, I feel slow and crap and tired and I make excuses for myself, saying that I’ll only do one lap, I’m exhausted for [x] reason, I’m just weak and not strong enough for cycling. Then I get to the crest of the hill where it flattens out, and the rest of the way round is so much better that I start to enjoy myself and think “oh, I can do this!” Then there is a short sharp steep hill later on, which I had to walk up the first time I tried it, so I love powering on up not even in my lowest gear now – real evidence of how far I’ve come in just under a year! I was really pleased with my two laps, because even having to stop at a roundabout twice and slowing down behind cars (behind slower cyclists) ocassionally, I still managed my fastest ever overall speed – 25.8kph (just over 16 mph). Not sure how good my maths is but I think that would give me a 40k bike of just over an hour and a half which I would be happy with for my first Olympic distance! We will see……
Back home and I settled into the very serious business of drinking prosecco and rosé in the garden, chatting to James’ mum and dad, eating the wonderful roast beef James cooked and playing with the cats – another cat seems to have decided to adopt our house and gradually moved further and further in over the course of the weekend until he was curled up on the bed next to our Oscar-cat!