A short rant and a long cycle

Yesterday I was at work for around 5 hours. Yesterday I also spent around 5 hours training for my half Ironman! Guess which 5 hours was more fun?!

The day started with a swim – I arrived at the pool and realised I had left my sheet with my planned workout at home. But I managed a good 1800m of front crawl, kicking and using the pool buoy. I am still not getting any faster. As we are quiet at work I was aiming to get in half an hour later than normal – that half an hour meant the pool was SO much nicer and so much more pleasant.

A couple of hours at work, and then, as its Madrid in August, and I work in the financial markets, there is very, very little work to do. So we took the afternoon to “work from home”. I.e. go out on a 90km cycle ride with my blackberry in my tri-bag, having a quick look every now and then just in case there was anything urgent. And using an email as an excuse to stop for a rest so I could type out a reply.

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And it was really great! Hot, but not too hot (although my entire face tasted of salt when I got home), I drank and fueled better than on my previous 90km ride and cycled faster than ever before. I felt really strong for most of the ride, apart from just under an hour on the way back – I still powered up the short, steep climbs, and kept pedalling hard on the downhills, but sat up a bit on the flats and basically cruised over the top of the climbs to grab a little break rather than immediately speeding on. There is one tiny but almost vertical climb and I almost contemplated getting off and pushing the bike up as I was worried I would fall off but then I had a strong word with myself, clipped my shoes back in and on I went 🙂

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At the half way point, my feet were agony – specifically the tops of my toes. I loosened off my shoes but the pain didn’t go away for a while afterwards. I need to remember for the half ironman not to do my shoes up too tightly!

Overall I cycled 87.5km in 3 hours 42 (a speed of 23.6kph – pretty fast overall for me considering this involved about 45 mins of cycling through traffic / traffic lights in Madrid and 787m of elevation gain). As a comparison, my half ironman is 87.7km, with no city traffic and 555m of elevation gain. And my goal is to finish it in under 4 hours so I still have energy left for the bike. So it’s looking okay at the moment! No reason to slack on the training though of course.

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Exhausted in the lift post-cycle taking my bike back upstairs!

And now for my rant. Once I’m on the bikepath, I like to listen to podcasts (as I’ve said previously, this is only on the bike path, only with one earbud in, and the sound is turned down low – so low I can’t actually hear it when I’m zooming downhill! Plus podcasts are safer than listening to music due to the natural pauses occurring regularly when people speak). Today’s podcast was one of the Trail Runner Nation podcasts, specifically, “The Band is Getting Back Together“. The podcast is a chat with trail runner, Faith Goss, who has just spent the last two years getting into triathlon and Ironman, but is now coming back to trail running.

She was INCREDIBLY NEGATIVE about triathlon and Ironman. She didn’t have one positive thing to say about it. Firstly, this isn’t really surprising – when you are chatting to someone who openly admits they are burnt out by triathlon and Ironman events, they are unlikely to present a balanced viewpoint. She’s done a ridiculous number of Ironman triathlons in one year  – can’t remember the exact figure but it was something like 4. That’s a lot for any person to do so it is no wonder she got burnt out.

She was saying that she had to train for 20 hours every week, and that didn’t leave any time to do anything else. She tried to add it up – 20 hours training a week, plus 40 hours working, plus 7 hours sleeping a night…. Anyway this still left over 8 hours a day so, although difficult, is definitely doable. Plus there is no need to train 20 hours a week EVERY WEEK if you are doing Ironman (note, she kept saying triathlon but was meaning Ironman – Ironman is definitely a whole different kettle of fish – but then so is training for a 100-miler!)

Faith was complaining that she couldn’t just go out and run or train for fun, she had to be thinking “now I need to spend 20 minutes in Zone 3” etc etc and this was a reason she really didn’t like triathlon  I was shouting under my breath at her (yes that’s a thing) “just don’t!!!!!” If doing really structured training was stressing her out and making her not enjoy it, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why she couldn’t just go out for a run and not worry about watch or pace.

And then there was the question “so if you are going to do an iron-distance race, does it have to be an Ironman race?” to which Faith answered yes – which in the UK at least is just a lie. Maybe it’s different in the US.

Argh there was so much else that annoyed me about this. The usual thing about triathletes not being at all friendly – is this just American triathletes? Any US triathletes reading this, why are you letting the side down?! Every race I’ve been to in the UK has been full of friendly people, from the winners to the last-finishers, all congratulating everyone else and respecting the achievement of finishing, all offering advice, all thanking the volunteers. I’ve tagged along at a few of my mum’s tri-club sessions from the very beginning, when I couldn’t even swim one lap of her 33m pool, and her coach gave me one-on-one advice and everyone was so lovely that it pushed me into doing more training and entering more triathlons. I read a joke once about how triathletes are super-competitive and they are even competitive about who can offer the best and the most advice, and who can be the most friendly on a start/finish line – and I have always completely found this to be true!

Anyway, rant done now. I’m glad I’ve got it out of my system 🙂 I will still probably keep listening to the podcast, despite the 5mins of ads at the beginning (the presenters pretending they use and love products like shaving cream and going on and on about them) as in general it is interesting….. but I will just have to avoid any triathlon-related episodes!

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5 comments

  1. I can see why those thoughts would bother you! I think the thing is that some people don’t realise that their experiences are not definitive, but rather they are subjective and just because you don’t warm to a sport it doesn’t mean that the sport itself is inherently unfriendly, for example. I went to a few swim sessions with a tri club when I sustained three stress fractures in 2011 and couldn’t run, and I have to say they were highly competitive and didn’t have much time for me because my swim technique was so awful. They fitted the triathlete stereotype, but I don’t judge all triathletes by their example. I’ve come across some pretty damn rude and uber-competitive runners as well!

    I’m really pleased that your cycling is going so well 🙂

    • Ah yes I remember you saying about your bad experience – I would like to just put this down to a bad experience but maybe I am the odd one out by just having good experiences! As you say, it is about understanding that people’s experiences are subjective and OBVIOUSLY if you take someone who has done 4 Ironmen in the past year, who has trained really hard to have some super-fast times, and who is feeling burnt out is going to have more negative things to say about the sport!

  2. I’m so impressed that you’re doing this event! A half ironman is on my list of things that I would love to do, but I just don’t think it would ever be possible. I can’t swim very well and am terrified of the bike – loving reading about your training though!

    • Ah thank you! Glad you are enjoying reading about it – I am enjoying doing it! (Well most of it) Cycling isn’t for everyone – but the more you do it on nice quiet flat country roads the less scary it gets 🙂

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