Saturday, January 25, 2020

One week and counting

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In a week’s time from now (as I write), I should hopefully be sat at home reflecting on a successful first attempt at a middle-distance race, the Swashbuckler being held in the New Forest on Sunday 13th May.

At this point, however, I’m having to consider what ‘success’ will mean for me in this particular race.  I’m used to aiming at top-ten age group finishes, or qualifying for the GB age group team, so to be heading into my first longer race on the back of two weeks of illness is somewhat alien territory.

Since my last update, I took the doctor’s advice to return to the surgery if I didn’t feel any better a week after my first appointment. So on Wednesday morning I went back (the flu-like symptoms had abated, but the chest tightness and coughing had persisted) and this time saw a different doctor.  The same tests were conducted again (my peak flow test showed some improvement) but on examination of my chest the doctor pronounced that I had a ‘lot of crackling going on in there, which means you definitely have an infection’.  Well, better second time round than never, I guess!

A course of Clarithromycin (sp?!) was prescribed and it seems to be working.  I’m still feeling a little constricted if I take a really deep breath, but aerobically the system seems to be returning to normal.

My coach and I rolled the dice a little on Wednesday evening and I made a guest appearance at the Newbury 10/3 10-mile TT.  Conditions were dry but with a fairly stiff breeze (not unusual on this course).  I started well (perhaps a little too well in hindsight) and caught my minute-man within about 4km.  A good sign was that my Heart Rate was back into the high 160s (something I had been struggling to achieve in the last few weeks) and apart from fatigue in my left quad, I felt pretty strong. I passed my two-minute man going the other way just before the 5-mile turnaround.  To be honest, I completely forgot I’d also passed my one-minute man, so mistook the two-minute guy for him and was a little surprised I wasn’t closer.  Around seven or eight miles, I could see him in the distance, so I was definitely catching.  I don’t really remember too much of the second half of the ride – not because I was zoned-out, but I think it was a pretty unremarkable ride on my part.  I finally crossed the 10-mile line about 20-25 seconds down on the two-minute guy and in a time of 24:29.  Quite a ways off my PB on that course, but no too disappointing given sub-100% health and prevailing weather conditions.

The rest of the week was spent in London, so I managed to fit in a couple of runs around Hyde Park; always good fun for people watching – middle-aged male execs with toy dogs, skinny WAGs in their Gucci running outfits, personal trainers with TRX systems hanging off every other tree in the park…!

Today I did a 60 minute turbo straight into a 30 minute Brick run.  Actually felt quite good and had to force myself to slow down on the run, which I’m hoping is a good sign for next week.  Now, though, comes a problem of a very ‘personal’ nature.  I confess I’m endowed with a bladder about the size of a walnut! 

This, as you can imagine, does not bode well for long-distance racing.  I can usually have a little wee (sorry, but couldn’t find a way of putting it politely!) in my wetsuit before a standard-distance race and then just about last till the finish line.  I’m pretty convinced, however, I won’t last the full distance of the Swashbuckler without some kind of pee action.  Now although I have no pretences of winning my age group (or even top-ten in AG!), I don’t really want to throw away a minute or more by visiting a portaloo. 

So the only option really is to pee on the bike and/or run.

And herein lies the problem: I can’t!!!  I’ve been trying for weeks now to ‘let go’ on cycles or runs (all part of the training, you see!) but it just won’t happen for me.  I don’t know if it’s a psychological or physical thing – or even both – but I’m worried it’s going to become a problem.  If anyone has any constructive advice on how to train yourself to pee when cycling or running, I’m all ears!

A swim this afternoon at the pool confirmed my fears somewhat; two weeks enforced absence from the water has pretty much screwed my chances of being competitive in the swim next week.  It’s going to be a damage-limitation exercise, try to get in from the swim in under 30 minutes and then make up lost time on the bike and run.

And so I return, in a very drawn-out and convoluted way(!), to defining what will constitute ‘success’ in the race next Sunday.  I’ve set myself some time goals that I believe will be challenging but achievable given my current fitness and preparedness.  Just finishing will, of course, be an achievement but I hereby prmise that if I meet the time goals I’ve set myself, I will not come on here and whinge in a week’s time!

For now, I need to fight the urge to try to make up for lost training time by over-doing it this week.  Although it feels like I’ve already been tapering for two weeks, I must not go silly this week and will follow the coach’s plan (then I can blame it all on him, right?!).

Till next time – and don’t forget I need your pee advice!

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs