dimanche 15 décembre 2013

Girls v Boys

Esther was redecorating the walls at home, unbeknown to me, and so i came back to find this typically estheresque expression on the stairs :
Esther a refait les murs à la casa, à mon insu, et donc je rentre la semaine dernière et je trouve ce joli mot, tout expressif, et typiquement 'esther' :

Esther then came back a little later to find :
Et puis un peu plus tard, Esther revient et elle trouve :

I am laughing a bit less now though - i saw a sports doctor on Friday 13th Dec who ordered me to rest for a month : a tendon problem in my right shoulder, and my left achilles and a tightening right calf muscle = what he calls 'over-reaching', going too far and not resting and recovering in between training sessions and competitions. When he saw my face drop he said, "you can pedal,  a bit, but on your own, not in a group, i know triathletes, always competing with each other,  and only in the small crank; or on the Turbo trainer, just to turn the legs." So it's not quite the end of the world but there'll be no KOMs on Strava for a while for me, but at least i have a valid reason now.
As i put my feet up and rest i never realised how long a Saturday could be - as i'm normally swimming in the morning and cycling in the afternoon...;and today is Sunday ! How long is today going to last ???? Who said Friday 13th was lucky ?

Je rigole un peu moins aujourd'hui néanmoins, car un médecin de sport m'a mis au repos complet pendant un mois - et oui, je l'ai vu le vendredi 13 !! J'ai un tendinite à l'épaule droit, au tendon d'achille gauche, et un mollet droit qui serre....je suis un exemple classique de 'surentrainement' - je ne laisse pas assez de temps de récupération entre les entrainements et compétitions. Lorque le médecin a vu le changement sur e visage il m'a dit- 'ok tu peux pédaler un peu, mais seul, et sans forcer, et surtout pas en groupe de triathlète car vous êtes tous toujours en compétition; ou bien sur le Home Trainer, en douceur, histoire de faire tourner les jambes." Donc pas de KOMs sur starva pour l'instant pour moi - je me repose; mais qu'est-ce que c'est long un samedi sans piscine et vélo !! Aujourd'hui, on est dimanche, qu'est-ce que ca traine !!! et qui a dit que le vendredi 13 est un jour de chance ?

mercredi 27 novembre 2013

End of one season...start of a new // La saison est morte, vive la saison !

Complete or Compete ? That is a question...

As 2013 comes to an end with its all too common wave of cold wintery weather, my mind is already turning towards the warmer spring days 6 months hence .

Having said that i really wanted to reflect briefly on the end of this mixed bag of a year.

After the étape in July i'd planned to do the Ironman/XXL Barcelona Challenge again - but it was not to be. Persistently niggling calf injuries kept me from running throughout the summer, meaning i had little training, if any at all, on my feet. I even pulled out of a 10km in Malgrat de Mar, Spain in August, knowing that i wouldn't be able to compete in the state it was in. So the thought of a marathon after a 180km bike-ride wasn't as tempting as it could be.
"Compete" was a big word this year. I wanted to compete in rather than just complete any race i was in.One such was my very first cyclo-sportif : the Ronde Picardie, Senior event (132km),  September 14,  which really was something else compared to any run or triathlon. I'd trained well over the summer on the bike and was ready to have a go. It rained all Friday and the Saturday morning as i drove the 90km to Abbeville, but come the start at 8am, the rain had stopped, leaving a very deep-grey sky, more reminsicent of my Manchester home town.. Victorian-lead colour springs to mind. Anyway, I managed to latch on to a fairly fast group, which included Jimmy Casper, a recently retired pro rider, and finished the course in 4h04, 123rd overall (of 560 finishers), 20th in my category age (of 134 finishers) - 8 places and 45 secs behind Jimmy, who was probably just out to stretch his legs !
Even more impressive for me, my brother Mike, who'd made a cross-channel jaunt, and his Pinarello Prince were only 2 places and 18 seconds in front... mind you, he had lost a lot of time with a puncture and ridden most of the course on his own....still, the result is there. Same with Jon - a flat had also pegged him back to just two places (my age category)and 3 minutes in front; Phil's race ended with two flats - a long way to come for that - but 'c'est la vie'... and although i was still a good 35 mins back behind the winner, i was more than satisfied with my effort.
A great rolling, albeit very windy course, made for very interesting riding. It was a fantastic experience and brought that question back to mind -  why hadn't i discovered cycling before now ? - 30 years ago, i could have been a contender :)
Here's the Strava info : La ROnde Picardie 2013
Never mind, i still got a Gold category medal - bigger than my front wheel....well almost.

La Ronde Picardie v L'Étape du Tour 2013 - biggest medal i've won

With the decision to not compete in Barcelona i was somewhat at a loss come October. So, as two years ago, i registered for the local Bois Guillaume semi-marathon. Two years ago i ran this a)because it was the French championship event b)i had been forced to pull out of the Barcelona Olympic Distance triathlon. That day I ran round the course in 1h41. In1999 i had run the same in 1h30.
This time i really wanted to run, and really try and make an effort but not having any real time objective other than as well as i could do. Kick-off was 14h30, and the rain and wind were at the meeting. It was cold too...hailstone began to fall as i made my way to the start. I found myself in a small group of my age-group runners, as well as some who were quite a bit younger. It was very windy as we made our way into the forest area, and again up-hill into the commercial zone. It was a nice pace and probably around the 1h35. I was quite surprised as we passed the half way point (start line) in exactly 46 minutes. The group stuck together until km16 when i passed in front, alone,  feeling we were slowing slightly. I paid the price though as a strong headwind was blowing from km18-19,5 and i was without any shelter.  This meant i had little left coming to the final km false-flat (1%) run-in. I finished in 1h33m08secs. I felt i'd given it a go. So i was happy enough :117th (of 735 finishers); 6th (of around 130) in my age category. I was close enough to my time of 14 years ago to keep me happy - plus the split time was 46mins-47mins, again indicating a steady pace.  The effort demanded though was much higher than the past - so i conclude that age does take its toll, and the achilles tendon trouble i've had since this race only proves the point further. So rest for me for a few weeks... he says. yeah !

rolling along

So i turn to 2014. Already penned into the diary are the Étape du Tour, July 20th (Pau-Hautacam via the legendary Tourmalet) and Challenge Barcelona XXL Ironman on October 5th. So it looks like it'll be a competitive 2014.

mercredi 17 juillet 2013

L'Étape du Tour 2013 Annecy-Annecy-Semnoz

Yes, always one for going a bit further, I came back for more after last years gruelling slog over the Madeleine, Glandon and La Toussuire.  L'étape du Tour for  worldwide cyclist-lovers was to begin on July 7 2013 in the fantastic town of Annecy which sits paisibly at the top of the Lac d'Annecy. It is an absolutely stunning, postcard scene for what is to be the penultimate stage of the real TDF 2013.
Toujours prêt de me pousser un peu plus loin, je suis revenu faire une étape du tour de France après l'édition suicidaire 2012 sur les cols de la madeleine, Glandon et La Toussuire. L'édition 2013 pour les amateurs internationaux de vélo partait de la ville pittoresque d'Annecy, paisiblement situé sur le nord du lac, le 7 juillet. Le vrai Tour prendra le même parcours le 20 juillet, l'avant-dernier étape.
hotel on the lake - 19° swim to begin the day :)

In the 2012 étape we cycled over 150 km over some of France's legendary cols, and so the announced 128km for 2013 edition seemed like  a picnic in comparison. What was i thinking ? Granted, there wasn't as much climbing - only (only!) 3600m - compared to the 5000+ in 2012 - but the final ascent of the Semnoz (10.5km at 8.7%, with long passages at 12, 11, 10%) was nothing to be sniffed at - as i was to find out.
L'étape l'an dernier était 152km, et donc quand on a révélé le parcours choisi pour cette année - 128km - on faisait le commentaire que ce serait un pique-nique par comparaison. Quelle blague ! D'accord, il n'y aura que 3600m de montée à faire (comparé aux 5000m+ en 2012), mais la montée finale du Semnoz serait plutôt un voyage au bout de l'enfer.
the route
The summer had finally arrived in France on the Friday 5 July, when i took a TGV eastwards from Paris. Sunday was no exception to the soaring temperatures and endless blue skies.
The first wave set off at 7.00 and my wave at 7h45, the last at 8h30 - 11,500 of the 13,500 registered had turned up.
L'été était finalement arrivé en France le vendredi 5 juillet, le jour de mon départ de Paris en train vers l'est.  Dimanche se présentait sous les mêmes cieux bleus et températures élevés. Les premeirs coureurs partait à 7h, et mon sas (numeros 4000-5999) à 7h45. - on était en tout 11,500 (sur 13500 inscrits).
The start was a  nice easy first 20km, and effortless climb to the cols du Puget et de Leschaux.... and the nice rolling countryside was really enjoyable. The long descent and rolling climb to the des Prés went by quickly and without incident - everyone relaxed and going at a reasonable speed for me. The fast descent to the foot of the Revard was a different story - i passed quite a few accidents, one in particular looked nasty with one rider immobile in a pool of blood, surrounded by security and medics (checking the admin later i was relieved that there were no fatalities) - this is the other side of cycling, the danger when the slightest error on a hairpin descent can be fatal - a tyre blowout, a small rock, gravel, another faller.... anything unforeseen. SO arriving at the half way point the riders were all a bit more cautious and solemn - the fatigue beginning to set in and the sight of blood ! Jon, who'd come along with my brother, Mike, had a blow out and was forced to abandon as the tyre was split...he was not happy at this, but puts it down to bad luck and a philosophical "well, it happens".
Le début de la course était assez simple et avec des montées régulières (cols du Puget et de Leschaux)..et avec un paysage très agréable. La longue descente et montée roulante vers le col des Près passait assez rapidement et sans incident - tout le mode détendu et roulant bien. La descente vers le Révard était une autre histoire, avec les premiers virages en épingle à cheveux - j'ai passé à coté des plusieurs accidents, dont un assez grave - le cycliste allongé immobile par terre entouré du sang, un soigneur appelant les secours à la radio - il avait l'air grave, mais je suis rassuré de savoir que la course s'est terminé sans fatalité...j'avais bien peur ! Ceci révèle l'autre face du cyclisme - le danger - la sensation de la vitesse en descente mais il suffit de quelques graviers, une pierre, une crevaison, au mauvais moment, et c'est la fin. Donc, j'approchais le mi-point de la course, prudent et un peu inquiet pour ce cycliste. Jon, qui est venu avec mon frère, s'est trouvé avec un pneu éclaté sur la descente du Revard, et a été obligé d'abandonner - "ca arrive", il disait. Il vaut mieux être philosophe lorsqu'on est cycliste !

Putting that aside, the climb to the top of the Revard was slow but steady - some steep gradients, but nothing insurmountable. Although the sun was beginning to beat down, the forest-lined route gave some shelter. The roads were quite full here which allowed for a bit of cyclist banter and chit chat which helped pass the time and take the mind off the effort. The descent from the top of the Revard was spectacular and very quick - i was cautious but managed to not overuse the brakes - i really enjoyed leaning into the bends and letting the wheels roll round...brilliant.

Ceci dit, la montée du Col de Revard était lent mais sans difficulté, il n'y avait que le soleil et la chaleur qui pesait mais les arbres au bord de route nous protégeaient bien pendant des longues périodes. Le fait que ca montait voulait dire qu'on se trouvait très nombreux sur la route, ce qui permettait beaucoup d'échanges et de discussion...plutôt sympa quand il y avait des nationalités de partout :) La descente était très très vite te spectaculaire, une route large et lisse, me permettant de bien avancer - et même avec une priorité sur la prudence, je suis resté économique avec les freins.
My brother, Mike, who had set off with the first wave, wearing the 276 number, told me to make sure i was in a group from Montcel to the foot of the Semnoz - and avoid finding myself alone because it would be quite windy. He was dead right.  With this in mind i fought my way on to the back of a group before looking round to see an empty road - lucky me - i hung on and soon felt the advantage of the peloton effect.... which meant i felt fine as we rolled through the town of Gruffy and over the bridge to the foot of the Semnoz.
Mon frère, Mike, qui est parti à 7h portant le dossard n° 276 m'avait conseillé de rester en groupe de Montcel au pied du Semnoz, et d'éviter à tout prix d'être seul car il y aura du vent...il avait raison. Je suis resté avec un groupe d'une vingtaine de coureurs et heureusement car en me retournant, je constate que si je ralentis, je suis seul..l'effet du peloton est vraiment sympa car on économise énormément...et arrivant au village de Gruffy je me sentais prêt à affronter le Semnoz.
This was important - the course really started here. I knew the Semnoz was going to be tough - it's only 11km, but with an average gradient of 8.7% - this means that every flat, easy bit would be paid for with an equally hard section. There are no hairpins like on the Alpe d'Huez, which give a regular breathing space and a chance to recover and relaunch, the road simply winds straight up - 8%, 9%, 12%, 14%, 10%.... relentless, with the sun beating down.
Ceci était très important car c'était à partir d'ici que la course commençait pour du vrai - être fatigué là, il n'y avait pas d'espoir...même si le Semnoz ne fait que 11 km, la pente moyenne est de 8.7%.....ce qui veut dire que pour chaque partie à 5%, il y a la même à 12-13%....et c'est là que ça fait mal, et sans les épingles à cheveux, comme sur l'alpe d'huez, ce qui te permet à respirer quelques secondes avant de te relancer..ici c'est sans arrêt et sans pitié, et en plein soleil.
The side of the road was littered with people standing resting, heads down wondering why they were here, very probably, others were lying exhausted - one covered with a silver security cover and an ambulance nearby. It was like a funeral procession going up - sharply contrasted with the finishers coming down whizzing by towards Annecy, smiling and happy to have survived. Stories filtered after the race - one person had fallen, cleated into the pedals and when asked if he needed help quipped, "no, leave me to die!". I laugh now, but i was digging deeper than ever before - 5 km to the top, 11% reading on the Garmin, and the gradient wasn't flattening out - I was counting down the 100m passed, rather than the kilometers... ironman was tough, but nowhere near the sheer physical effort required by  this climb.
Les 2 premiers km sont à 12%, et le bord de route était déjà plein de cyclistes en marchant, ou assis, même allongé et épuisé - un enveloppé  avec une couverture de survie..ça rassemblait à une procession funéraire - silencieux et solennelle, ce qui était en fort contraste avec la descente des "finishers",  en vitesse et en sourire, vers Annecy.  Il y a eu des histoires qui circulaient après la course : de celui qui est tombé, toujours accroché au vélo, et à qui on a demandé, "tu as besoin de l'aide?" et qui a répondu, "non, laisse moi mourir là" me faisait rire après...mais là sur la côte, décomptant plutôt les mètres que les kilomètres , sur mon Garmin, j'aurai pu le comprendre ! L'effort que j'ai  fourni pour terminer le distance Ironman 
n'a rien à voir !

alléééééé martaing !! c dur l'arrivée !!!

dur la fin
Finally the 1km red flame appeared, and passing under i actually wondered whether i could make it to the end..... i resisted, resisted hard, to not stop - but 500m from the finish i just had to put my foot on the floor and breathe hard - just for 15 seconds. Others were walking passed me towards the end - so i pushed myself up once more and let the momentum carry me to the finish line. What a course - i needed to sit, to eat, to drink, to die !!! What really struck me at the summit was the lack of smiles - nobody seemed happy to have finished - it was more relief than anything, a die-hard attitude of survival.

Enfin la flamme rouge et le dernier km, mais en passant en-dessous, j eme demandais si je pouvais vraiment arriver au bout...j'ai poussé et j'ai résisté, mais 500m plus loin j'ai été obligé de poser mon pied par terre, et de respirer pendant 15 seconds...15 longs seconds...avant de me remonter et de me repousser à la ligne d'arrivée...j'avais besoin de m'allonger, de boire, de dormir, de manger....ce qui m'a frappé aussi était l'absence de bonheur - personne ne souriait - je pense que tout le monde était épuisé, comme moi et l'effort d'une sourire était vraiment trop.
je veux de l'oxygène !!!

Several drinks and energy bars, bananas, salty biscuits later i looked up to see an older man, 60+ leaning on the cross bar of his bike immobile. "Are you ok?" i asked. He moved his head and smiled before dropping the head back again - immobile once more. An Irish rider next to me asked whether a certain "steed" was mine, nodding to a bike against a fence nearby - "no," i said, "but it's a nice bike so i wouldn't mind if it was mine.... "yes," he said, "so nice it'll have ridden itself up." Only the Irish could have come up with that quip :)))
Ha ha - i wish my bike had done that !!!!
Plusieurs verres de coca, d'eau, des gâteaux salés plus tard je me suis levé la tête pour voir un vieux homme (60-65 + ans), la tête immobile, reposant sur le bras, qui tenait le cadre de son vélo. "Ca va," je demandais. Il m'a regardé et il a souri, et puis a laissé sa tête retomber sur son bras....immobile à nouveau.
Un jeune irlandais assis à côté de moi m'a demandé si un certain "cheval" m'appartenait, indiquant un vélo à côté d'une barrière..."non, " je lui ai répondu, mais c'est un beau vélo..."; "oui, il dit, tellement beau qu'il serait monté le col tout seul".... et comment j'ai rit !!!! Il n'y a qu'un irlandais qui pourrait dire çà... :))

I'll be back next year for more, having sworn that all endurance sport was over for me, that i was selling the bike and taking up chess  - but that was on the final KM of the Semnoz, a monster of a climb.
je reviendrai l'année prochaine, malgré le fait que j'allais abandonner toute épreuve d'endurance, vendre mon vélo et commencer à jouer aux échecs ! - mais ca c'était sur le Semnoz !!

Some numbers Quelques chiffres :
13500 registered
11465 starters
10623 finishers
My time : 6h52 :
4800 Gen. Class.
1053/2432 category
My brother, Mike
410 Gen Class
130 category
way faster than me, but his bike rides itself up, being a Pinerello Prince :)
Mon frère est beaucoup plus rapide que moi, mais lui il a un vélo, un Pinerello Prince, qui monte tout seul !

dimanche 26 mai 2013

too long in France - trop de temps en France

The weather has been so mixed this past week that i don't know if i'm coming or going, if it's spring or winter, autumn or summer.... it hasn't stopped my training as the record shows (right), but it has made me turn into a French person. How ?
To put things into context - May is not a month in France, it is an extended holiday. May1, May 8, May 9, May 20 are all Bank Holidays.. but more interestingly, when these days fall on a Tuesday, the preceding Monday becomes the bridge - so a long weekend; if it falls on a Thursday, it's the friday that is bridged to the weekend, and every so often it's on a Wednesday, like May 8 - and because the Thursday is also a holiday, the Friday is also a holiday = a two day work week, which means lots of running, cycling and swimming !! yeaaaah

So yesterday, May 9th, i went for an early morning run in the warm sunshine, and although the air was a bit chilly, it was a lovely spring day. Ideal. I stopped and took a panoramic photo aiming to capture my happiness...i felt so good that i ran the near 20km hilly course, which i normally run in around 1h45-1h50, in 1h36m24secs.
It was never going to last though, was it - this is Normandy after all.
Today, May 10th, i'd planned a long ride on the bike but  on waking at 7h10, was unhappy to see the grey sky, the rain, and worst of all, the swaying trees , which meant wind ! The worst kind of weather for riding - cold, rain, wind. I still got up and got out - dressed like it was December, with shoe covers, gloves and beany hat under the helmet.... It was this weather which made me turn into a French person - the video i shot riding up the hill made me laugh when i realized it ! Here i was, not at work, enjoying a ride out in the Normandy countryside, albeit wet and windy, but still managing to complain about it all - the eternal French complainer, always moaning about something.

Having said that, i have been training well, and thoroughly enjoying it all - an dhave managed to do quite a lot of brick sessions, meaning i'm getting used to running off the bike. So hopefully, i'll get a better time at the Half Ironman tri next week in Barcelona. The bike leg is going to be tough, with a bit of climbing, but if i can run faster than my previous LD attempts, i'll be happy.

vendredi 24 mai 2013

Barcelona LD Challenge

After a good 12-week preparation the Barcelona-Calella LD Tri could not come quickly enough.
12 semaines de préparation, le jour-j n'arrivait pas assez vite :)

To keep this brief :
Friday 17 was a windy, stormy day - i went for a sea-temp-check swim but it was impossible to swim in the heavily wavy sea. Plus it was very cold - sub 14°.
Saturday 18 : picked up the number and race info. The wind was unrelenting and the sea very stormy. As this was a European Championship we were told that the swim had to go ahead, whatever the conditions, which was a relief because it's the part i both dread and look forward to :)
We bumped into Javier Gomez very briefly, he was looking very relaxed and cheerful. He would be happier later when he crossed the finishing line first in 4h05.

Je vais essayer de rester bref :
Vendredi 17 : un vent très fort soufflait sur la cote, et la mer était complètement déchainée - et c'était impossible de nager (j'ai bien essayé) - et à 14° - froid !
Samedi 18 : je suis allé chercher mon dossard et les derniers infos sur la course - malgré la météo orageuse, on nous annonce que la natation ne serait pas annulé, vu que c'est le championnat d'Europe. Je me sentais rassuré car c'est la partie natation que je crains et aime le plus ici.
On a croisé Javier Gomez - détendu et souriant - mais il souriait plus lorsqu'il traverse la ligne d'arrivée en premier après 4h05 de course.

Sunday 19 : chilly morning, but the wind had dropped off, and the sky seemed clear. The sea was far from still though - the waves were strong enough to knock you over, which happened to me as i warmed up :))
Dimanche 19 : matin frais, mais le vent ne soufflait plus, et le ciel s'était dégagé - mais la mer restait mouvementée et les vagues assez fortes - je me suis fait écrasé en me réchauffant :)

My age-group set off at 7h24, 24 minutes after the Gomez and McCormack group, and 2 minutes before the final relay group. I had some work to do if i wanted to catch them :)
Strategy - straight line to the first buoy at 200m, then stick as close to any group as possible for the 1500m straight line parallel to the coast, and as fast as possible for the final 200m back to the  beach.
Reality - Difficult to get beyond the first strong waves, but i managed to get a straight line, without any bumps. I latched onto a group, feeling for feet ahead of me, quickly enough. Only problem was that we were swimming into the rising sun, and what with the swell of the sea, it was impossible to catch sight of the marker buoys ahead. So i stayed close to the group, but after a while i hear a whistle and a referee in a boat indicating "the yellow buoy" over to the right. Yes, we'd strayed off course... which added a good 100m+ to get back on track... pity because we were going well.
Getting to the final turn back to the beach, i don't know how but i got a hard kick in the face - stunned me for a second..ouch ! But what can stop an Ironman ??
38mins - a bit disappointing, but at least i came out running, and not tired. More efficient, not quicker.

On est sorti à 7h24, 24 minutes après les élites (Gomez et McCormack...), donc j'avais du travail si j'allais les rattraper !! ( :°) )
La stratégie - suivre une ligne droite jusqu'à la première bouée à 200m..comme d'habitude, et puis essayer de rester avec un groupe jusqu'au dernier virage à 1700m, avant d'aller le plus vite que possible jusqu'à la plage (les derniers 200m).
La réalité - les premières vagues étaient fortes, donc difficile à passer, mais ceci fait j'arrivais sans coup au virage, et ensuite, je cherche les pieds d'autres nageurs et je m'accroche à un groupe; le seul problème - le soleil se levait droit devant, et avec le mouvement de la mer, c'était difficile de reperer les bouées... et 10 minutes plus tard un arbitre en bateau nous siffle pour nous signaler qu'il fallait aller vers le droit - eh oui ! on s'était égaré du parcours - bien ! 100m de plus pour nous... Ensuite, au dernier virage je reçois un coup de peid dans l'oeil - un vrai..je suis un peu assommé, mais je me rappelle que je suis un ironman, et j'arrive bien à la plage, et sors en courant vers T1
38mins, un peu décevant, même temps qu'avant, plus ou moins, mais je me sens pas du tout fatigué. Je nage pas plus vite, mais je nage sans doute avec plus d'efficacité.

The new course had 3 steady climbs and i was looking forward to it. The sun was out, the air was a bit chilly...the first climb came quickly, from km9 to 20, a steady 4-5-6% but without any real difficulty. The second - from around km30 to 42, was more testing with some higher gradients (flirting 8-9% at times), which brought back memories of the Col de la Madeleine...but i was going well, and passing a lot of riders. This descent was fantastic, with some really tight bends. The final climb was shorter and easier, but i could start to feel the fatigue - which meant i quickly ate a gel !! The final descent before the final 15km back to the coast was quick, with easy bends. Right at the end there was a sharp right turn and an steep uphill (10%), just as i started up this the rear tyre exploded - literally making a huge banging noise...yes, it was mine !! This is my first ever flat on a course - so i quickly started getting things together for a change - wheel off, tyre off, inner tube out, new one out, on, tyre on, air bottle in, attached..no air gets in teh tyre - another attempt - nothing !! aaargh - pump - is air going in ? yes, wheel on, back on bike - the rear is still flat - start again - new inner - ok - the referees are with me now watching every move - but they kindly push me back up the hill. I've lost at least 15 minutes here - and the sight of all the cyclists whizzing by is a killer for the morale.
Still, i got back to transition and felt good getting into the running shoes.
Time : 3h23 (i in fact lost 13 minutes with the punctures).

j'avais très envie de faire ce parcours. Le soleil brillait, mais l'air restait frais.. la première montée (de km9 au 20) arrivait vite mais était sans difficulté (4-5-6%). Le deuxième (du km30 à 42) me rappelait le col de la Madeleine, avec des pentes de 8 et 9%, mais j'avançais bien et dépassais beaucoup de coureurs  . La descente était magnifique avec des virage très serrés, et assez technique. La dernière montée était assez court, et sans difficulté encore, avec une descente assez vite, sans difficulté...mais à la fin, en arrivant dans un virage et une montée assez raide, j'entends une explosion - eh oui, c'est mon pneu arrière - complètement éclaté. C'est la première fois que ca m'arrive, mais je réagis vite - je sors les changes, mais l'air ne rentre pas - la bombe ne marche pas ou quoi ? une autre - pareil... ggggrrrr. La pompe marche, mais en partant, le pneu est à nouveau à plat - je recommence - sous la surveillance des arbitres, car il ne faut rien laissé, et on n'a pas le droit d'aide...on me pousse pour remonter la pente, c'est le bienvenu. C'est terrible de voir et entendre tous les coureurs te dépassent...mais je fais les 15 derniers km sans pépin, et arrive à la transition assez bien - sans fatigue.
Chrono : 3h23 - avec 13 mins perdu avec les crevaisons.

The sun was higher now and the air warmer, around 19-20°c max,  so nowhere near the 30°c+ temperatures of previous years here. I have trained well for the run, adding many faster sessions to the schedule, and it felt like it had paid off by the end of the first 1500m - i felt i was really running, rather than trying to complete the course.
Also, mentally this was only a 21km, and not 42km - so i know i have the endurance, i just needed to up the tempo. I took a Gel at 5km, and i was soon at the Pineda station and km 7, heading back to the Calella beach front.  My main preoccupation was when to take a second gel - and a 3rd if needed. This came at km 12 - a red tonic menthol flavour - yum ! I was passing many runners, all of whom had probably whizzed past me as i struggled with the punctures - this made me feel good, and i was still feeling strong, even if the legs were beginning to burn - but that's supposed to happen, right ? I finished passing more than 300 in this run).Turn round at the end of the Pineda beach came quickly and the the station again - km 17 - 4 to go. I tried to up the tempo again, there was still something in the legs... 18, 19, bike zone, drink zone, 20km, Calella bridge, the cliff and the Catalunia flag hanging proudly... the end - final sprint. No time to stop - Esther is there, but i see her too late - i sprint to the finish line and the medal is hung around my neck - it's big and shiny and heavy :)
run time : 1h47, which is more than 15 minutes quicker than all my attempts here on the Half course.

La CàP
Le soleil était plus haut dans le ciel, mais les températures élevées des années précédentes - 30°c+ - étaient bien absentes. On était à 19-20° max. J'ai augmenté mes séances càp avant la course, avec beaucoup plus de travail de vitesse, car je voulais vraiment améliorer mon temps. Au bout de 1500m c'était certain que ce travail avait payé. J'avais la sensation, pour la première fois ici, de vraiment courir, plutôt que simplement avoir l'objectif de terminer. Psychologiquement, ce n'était que 21km, et non pas le marathon...J'ai pris un gel tonic à km5, et bientôt j'étais devant la gare de Pineda (7km) et sur le retour vers Calella - combien de fois ai-je fait ce parcours...? aie! Ma pensée préoccupante ? Quand est-ce que j'allais reprendre un 2° gel, ou un 3°, si besoin - et d'un coup j'étais à l'arrivée et au début des derniers 9km - j'ai pris un red tonic gel au menthol - mmmm délicieux ! et continuais à dépasser beaucoup de coureurs (j'ai fini par gagner plus de 300places sur la càp). Je me sentais vraiment bien, même si les cuisses commençaient à bruler - mais c'est normal ça! Encore à Pineda, km 17, le petit pont à 18, puis le transition et 19, puis 20, le pont sur la plage, le drapeau catalan tournait avec le vent sur la falaise à la fin de la plage,  et puis le dernier km en vitesse, avec un sprint à la fin...j'ai vu esther trop tard, donc je n'ai pas pu m'arrêter....et là - l'arrivée et la médaille est au tour de mon cou, grande, lourde et brillante...
1h47 - plus que 15 minutes plus rapide que mes derniers efforts ici - donc je suis plus que content :)

5h58 - 496 out of 1050 men in the open race
Swim -
i'm not a great swimmer, and i don't think i ever will be - although i am getting more efficient.
je ne suis pas un bon nageur, et je ne pense pas que j'y arriverai; mais je me sentais plus fort à la fin, donc pas plus rapide, mais plus efficace.
Bike -
i felt really good on this much tougher, more interesting course - disappointed with the time i lost  with the flats.
je me sentais vraiment fort sur ce parcours, plus intéressant et technique, mais je suis super déçu avec le temps que j'ai perdu en crevant...
Run - very happy, as my main objective was to run faster and better - both achieved, and i felt i could have continued....
très content avec la càp -  mon objectif de courir plus vite est bien atteint.

Thursday i took part in a "run against cancer" and covered 13+km in an hour....feeling good 
Jeudi j'ai participé à une "course contre le cancer" sur le campus de mon école, j'ai couru 13+km en une heure.....ca va bien...

Molt bé

Back for the Full in October ? Probably, and looking forward to improving everywhere :)
Je reviens pour le Full distance IM au mois d'octobre, je pense...avec le but d'améliorer mes performances de l'an dernier...

the fan club :  Léa, Iaia, Tété, Esther :)

vendredi 29 mars 2013

Typical me.... ! Ca c'est bien moi !

No sooner have i drawn up a plan, i go and change it !

Dès que le plan est établi, je dois le changer.

My planned Sprint triathlon end of March - cancelled : it was too cold, i haven't trained for running fast, iron levels still not high enough. Yes, this winter is not going to go away soon - it is still near freezing temps with a bitingly cold wind; my running has been more about getting in the kms at whatever pace, with one or two faster sessions - but nothing i could call sprinting... ; i am feeling better with the iron treatment, but not back to normal yet - from time to time i am too easily out of breath.
Le triathlon sprint prévu fin mars - annulé : non seulement a-t-il fait trop froid, mais je ne le suis pas entrainé pour un tel événement, et de plus, mon niveau de fer reste faible. L'hiver a bien du mal à nous quitter, et les températures restent près du 0°c accompagné d'un vent glacial. Je cours bien, et je compte des kms, mais sans vitesse. Je me sens mieux, c'est sûr, mais de temps en temps je me trouve vite essoufflé. 

And i have registered for the Barcelona Half Challenge, again, for the 4th time  :) I couldn't resist the change in the bike course, and the thought of running alongside (well, ok, behind) Macca and Javier Gomez, to name but two of the favourite triathletes  :)

Mais, je me suis inscrit, pour la 4ème fois, au HalfChallenge Barcelona : impossible de résister à l'opportunité de courir avec, ou bien derrière, les athlètes comme Macca et Javier Gomez...

Other than that - the training is coming along nicely - some very good sessions in March which i'll be building on in April with more brick and back-to-back sessions...can't wait - and if the sun actually starts putting in an appearance, all the better.

Sinon, l'entrainement progresse bien - beaucoup de petites sessions de qualité, et je vais commencer à ajouter des sessions double (bike-run etc) pendant le mois d'avril. Et si le soleil me rejoint, tant mieux :))

vendredi 8 mars 2013

The irony of an ironman without iron ! L'ironie d'un Ironman en carence de fer !!

I wasn't sure i'd be continuing the blog after the Ironman objective was reached, but like so many other things it's not so easy to just give up....
I had a fantastic week in Mexico with Esther at the end of November to celebrate my 50th birthday, which helped rejuvenate my aging limbs, although my very first treadmill session in the hotel gym ended with a strained calf muscle... i won't be renewing this experience. Although i can understand the Home-trainer / turbo bike sessions - when the weather just won't allow for effective cycling, i can't imagine any weather condition forcing me to stay home and "run" on the machine.

Ce n'était pas sûr que je continue avec ce blog une fois mon objective Ironman atteint. Mais, c'est difficile de simplement arrêter, comme beaucoup de choses, je crois... 
j'ai passé une semaine formidable au Méxique avec Esther pour fêter mes 50 ans,  une remède incroyable pour remettre du gaz dans mes jambes fatiguées...ceci dit, j'ai fait un essai sur une machine à courir et au bout de 20 minutes j'ai arreté avec un mollet blessé ! Je peux comprendre qu'on se sert d'un Home Trainer en vélo, je le fais, et j'aime bien, surtout quand la météo n'est pas idéale, mais je ne peux pas me voir éviter le froid ou la pluie pour courir et opter pour une session sur cette machine !!

Since this fantastic break my training has had its ups and downs - injury, tiredness, and a new one, ionically for an Ironman,  iron-deficiency - possibly due to my physical exertions and added to my vegetarian diet. I haven't eaten meat (red or white) since the mid 1980s, and have never had a problem, but a recent blood test has shown a poorly inadequate level of this essential oxygen carrying mineral.... i've read that this is common among endurance athletes, of which i have to consider myself. The symptoms i've had - tiredness, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping...and obviously i've not been paying enough attention to my diet. So it's been lentils, beans, dried apricots, broccoli for me recently !

Depuis ce séjour mexicain mon entrainement se passe avec des hauts et des bas - blessure, fatigue, et maintenant : carence de fer ! Pas mal pour un homme de fer / Ironman ! Le fait d'être végétarien ne facilite pas la situation non plus. Je ne mange pas de viande depuis les années 80, sans aucun problème, j'ajoute, mais une analyse de sang récente indique une carence importante de fer, assez commun parmi des athlètes d'endurance, apparemment. Les symptômes : fatigue, être à bout de souffle, difficulté à m'endormir... et sans doute, je ne fais pas assez d'attention à ce que je mange. Donc, un régime de lentilles, haricots, abricots secs, et brocoli pour moi !!

On the training front, i've been swimming well and feel i've made a breakthrough in terms of technique - discovering how sliding through the water makes the activity more fun and less tiring - it's been a lot of work and although i'm not necessarily any faster, i am less tired after a good 2-hour/4km+ session. I have found a more effective and efficient technique - that's what i wanted to say !

Sur le front de l'entrainement,  je crois que j'ai fait enfin des progrès en natation - j'ai découvert que c'est un sport de glisse, et j'ai trouvé la sensation de glisser plus loin dans l'eau - je ne nage pas plus rapidement, mais je suis beaucoup moins fatigué après une session de 2 heures/4km+. Oui, c'est ça, j'ai trouvé une technique plus efficace.

On the bike, my Turbo Trainer has been on overdrive in the garage - where i've been trying to increase my cadence and improve my technique. I'll be going for a complete bike-fit soon - to help gain maximum efficiency through positioning on the bike. I should have done this a long time ago. 'll be doing a write up here on this as soon as..

À vélo tout va bien, le Home Trainer a fait beaucoup d'heures supp dans la garage dans le but d'augmenter mon travail de cadence et de technique - et je vais m'offrir une session d'ergonomie cycliste afin de trouver un positionnement parfait et donc améliorer l'efficacité  et le confort. Un rapport ici dès que...

Running has been on and off due to recurring calf/achilles problems, but after a 3-week break i am back on track and enjoying the pleasures of the forest trails again. I was doing hill sprints this week and really felt the effects of my lack of iron - out of breath very quickly - gasping like a 20 a day smoker at the top of each hill !! I've never smoked in my life, and i am so glad because i can't imagine what this session would have been like !!

La CàP - oui et non - quelques petits problèmes de mollet, rien de grave, et un arrêt total de 3 semaines au mois de janvier  m'a fait beaucoup de bien. Là je retrouve les trails de la forêt verte avec beaucoup de plaisir. Cette semaine j'ai fait une session de fractionnés sur côte, et j'étais à bout de souffle comme un fumeur de vingt par jour, dû à la carence de fer bien sûr ! Je n'ai jamais fumé de ma vie, et heureusement, car je ne peux pas imaginer mon état autrement !!

So it's on towards another Ironman event in October, a half distance in June (Deauville), the étape du tour in July, and warming up with a sprint distance at the end of March.

Donc j'ai en vue un deuxième IM pour le moisi d'octobre, un Half au mois de juin à Deauville, l'étape du tour au mois de juillet, et un tri sprint fin mars.

Run, bike, swim.. and eat well :0)
Cours, pédale, nage...et mange bien :))