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 :)