Achievement Unlocked: HALF MARATHON!

I finally did it! I cracked half marathon distance running! WOOHOO!

I had to recruit my good friend John to run along with me in order to have the patience and mental staying power to do it. I would have just gone home at eleven miles rather than running past my house, down the hill and back up again to complete the thirteen.

Map

I completed 13.07 miles in 2:19:55. The last mile was psychologically very difficult, mainly because I was so close to home and therefore it would have been simple to just stop and use the last mile as a walking warm down. Still, I didn’t give up and I managed to push on through that barrier. In my experience it is always hardest to break through significant markers the first time. I consider this just another step on my road to a marathon.

I am proud of my efforts today and the sunshine was lovely too, so I am hoping that my future performances will improve in tandem with the weather.

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Good Friday Push and Interval Swimming

Tomorrow is Good Friday and I have teamed up with a friend to push through the half marathon barrier for a run. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I won’t get sick. Anything else I can work through. I’ve been swimming and cycling regularly, although unlike my previous blogging I won’t be posting maps all the time unless I take on a new course. Anyone genuinely interested in maps of previous runs can view them via the Garmin Connect links posted with my data. The last couple of days are thus:

Data

Cycling

Distance 11.03 mi | Time 47:03 | Speed 14.1 mph | Elev Gain 896 ft

Source: Garmin Connect

Swimming

Distance 1,000 m | Time 40:06 | Pace 1:40 min/100m

Source: Garmin Connect

I have had a week off from swimming so I carried on yesterday from where I left off previously, namely interval swimming. Two sets of 8, 6, 4 and 2 laps, going as quickly as I can with three minutes rests between each interval in order to get my heart rate down to resting as quickly as possible. I could carry on doing 3000 metres three times weekly but this new routine not only breaks up the monotony, but also interval training is recommended for fat burning (calorie burn continues for hours after workouts), building endurance and it allegedly is very good for the heart as it ‘increases the flexibility and elasticity of arteries and veins better than continuous aerobic exercise‘.

I haven’t really done very much interval training in the past so I am keen to explore it, however I worry about it becoming a means to and end in itself. I actually enjoy long runs and bike rides so if I do go further on intervals I will restrict it to the swimming pool for now. I also need to learn a lot more about it before I continue to develop as I know very little other than my own invented interval swim workout.

Evil MSG Scuppers Plans

On Saturday I went for a good ten mile run, only to be scuppered on Sunday. I planned to cycle a good distance but unfortunately  I inadvertently ate monosodium glutamate (MSG), something that makes me so ill that I feel sick just talking about it. Unfortunately the only treatment is to drink water and flush it out of one’s system, so that is what I did. Hence, I lost 24 hours and my cycling was but a figment of my imagination. Still, I had Saturday to run and I cycled this morning. Monday I missed due to a bout of insomnia. All in all it has been a tough weekend health wise so the push was well worth it.

Running Map

It was a good run where I just about hit 11 minute miles (give or take a second or two) and that to me is pretty damned good given that there is a minimum 1000 foot climb involved here.

Cycling Map & Data

Distance 11.02 mi | Time 48:58 | Speed 13.5 mph | Elev Gain 902 ft

Source: Garmin Connect

Catching Up

I haven’t had a lot of time to blog lately so this is more of a catchup post than anything else, covering Tuesday through to today. I’ve been cycling exclusively so I hope I can swim tonight and run at the weekend.

Maps

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

 

Thursday

 

Friday

 

I wish I had had more time to exercise harder and for longer but right now I am preparing for some big things at work so I have had to do the best I could with limited time. I think I managed pretty well all things considered. The changing weather means so much to me. Cycling in the sunshine, even though it is still cold, is joyous.

Back on the Bike

The weather has finally turned and although the temperature is clement at best, the Sun is out and that means one thing: cycling! I was finally able to do the university cycling run. Approximately 44 miles of two-wheeled goodness.

Data and Maps: Outward

Distance 21.64 mi | Time 1:22:46 | Speed 15.7 mph | Elev Gain 988 ft

Source: Gannow Ward Cycling

Data and Maps: Inward

Distance 21.64 mi | Time 1:42:34 | Speed 12.7 mph | Elev Gain 1,076 ft

Source: University Ward Cycling

Numbers can be deceiving. These rides look very similar but the inward trip is alway a lot harder, not just because I am tired from the morning ride and a day of study, but also because once one leaves Preston there is, give or take a half mile of flat road here and here, roughly a fifteen mile climb out to Burnley. You will note that the elevation gain is fairly similar each way but the outward journey has a few short, relatively steep climbs, whereas the aforementioned fifteen mile stretch on the inward ride is a long, energy sapping slog. It is very rewarding to complete and the last mile and a half home is downhill which is such a relief on tired muscles.

I absolutely loved it. The weather was beautiful if cold and the spring daffodils are blooming. God I love to cycle.

Cycling and the Challenge of Interval Swimming

Today I varied things a little. I went for a 14 mile bike ride this morning and then switched up my endurance swimming for some lung busting intervals in the pool. As the weather gets warmer and the evenings get lighter it is getting harder for me to resist the pull of cycling over all other forms of exercise so I am trying to add variation to spice things up.

The ride was 14 miles, and I intended to push to 20 and include a 30 degree climb, however I decided to leave enough in the tank to swim tonight.

Cycling Map and Data

Swim Data

Interval swimming is very challenging. Tonight I did intervals of 8, 6, 4 and 2 laps, although I accidentally did 10 for the first set. I absolutely hammered away as hard as possible, averaging at 1 minute 41 seconds per 100 metres. I thought my heart would explode out of my chest. I worked as hard as I could physically stand. Now that I have hit Iron Man distances for endurance swimming I returned to intervals for the serious business of fat burning and speed.

Distance 1,050 m | Time 40:41 | Pace 1:41 min/100m

Source: Interval Swimming

Pushing on Two Wheels

This morning the weather was slightly improved, probably around 4 or 5 degrees so I decided to go for a decent length cycle ride.

Map

Data

13.38 mi • 58:20 • 4:22 min/mi • 13.8 mph • 1,099 ft

Source: Garmin Connect

Cycling feels to me as though it costs me nothing in terms of energy. Unless I really cane myself and do 40-50 miles I am rarely too tired as a result of doing it and it brings me great joy. If I could only do one sport for the rest of my life then it would be cycling.

There were two climbs on this ride and I am proud that I now almost never use the easier gears when cycling now, even when climbing. One reason for this, aside from having achieved a certain level of fitness, is learning to bonk properly. Bonking as riding whilst standing up, off the saddle. It makes for much more efficient climbing but it is very difficult to keep up for any length of time when first learning to do it. I have been doing it for ages and climbing is much more efficient this way rather than sitting down on the saddle. I recommend that all cyclists learn and assimilate this technique.

Aside from my thrilling cycling skills, I think I should have plenty left in the tank today to do a 3000 metre swim tonight.

Catching Up

I forgot to blog yesterday. I cycled a short 11 mile ride with a good 760 foot climb. The weather is still too wintery to cycle much further but it should change soon. It was unbelievably cold but Crown Point is also undeniably beautiful in the snow.

Data

11.00 mi • 50:07 • 4:33 min/mi • 13.2 mph • 760 ft

Source: Cycling

Today I ran, but it was only a short distance, some 2.43 miles. The reason for this was that I wanted to pick up speed, something I did successfully, pushing my time down to an average 9.32 minute miles. I have said before that I am not  a strong runner so I think it might well be wise for me to run short distances at speed as well as to go for longer runs. Distance comes relatively easily to me whereas improvements in speed and technique are things I find much more challenging. Since pushing further and further is unlikely to improve my times I figured that the variation would mix things up a little and help me improve things. I should have the energy to swim tonight as well.

Map

Onward we go…

Achievement Unlocked: Personal Best

Today’s trip to the pool was a big deal. Having achieved a swim of Iron Man distance I am now turning my attention to improving my times rather than logging ever longer workouts in the pool, and today I achieved two significant milestones. First of all I logged a personal best of 3000 metres in 59:33, and second of all this is my first 3000 metre swim to come in under an hour. I feel very pleased with myself indeed. I returned to swimming on February 3rd this year, meaning that I have gone from a swim of 600 metres divided into six drills of four laps to this in just over a month. I am also pleased to have pushed my average time per 100 metres to under two minutes at 1:59.

Data

3,000 m • 59:33 • 1:59 min/100 m • 30.2 100m/hour •

Source: Lap Swimming: Personal Best Achieved

This is a good day and a good feeling. I hope I can keep improving and driving those overall times and lap times down. Small victories are where it’s at. When pushing oneself to be better the margins are fine and the triumphs relatively small so it is important to acknowledge them when they are achieved.

Achievement Unlocked: GUTTED

Today I did it! I cracked the Iron Man distance of 2.4 miles in the pool!

Except I’m gutted. I had to get out at 2900 metres for a quick poo. I resisted for as long as possible but after two dangerous farts in there water I couldn’t risk leaving a butterscotch slipstream in the water so I got out and availed myself of the facilities. This means that I did not complete the distance without stopping. As a result this swim is divided into two strange drills of 2900 and 1100 metres. GUTTED.

Data

4,000 m • 1:29:44 • 2:04 min/100 m • 28.9 100m/hour •

Source: Iron Man distance broken

At least I did it, albeit not in a way I didn’t quite want. Still, I’ll take it as progress. I have now proven that I can do the cycling and swimming legs of an Iron Man triathlon. All that remains is the marathon.