so I can say I TRIed
so I can say I TRIed

The dress rehearsal success

charlieeliseby charlieeliseJul 3rd 2011
You would expect, rightly, that fitting in training is quite difficult right now. I have an already demanding job which involves a fair amount of travel, and on top of this I'm trying to have a life and train for a triathlon.

However I have made it even worse - I recently accepted a new job which requires me to move to London. I move immediately after my triathlon. So I've been trying to organise that as well as everything else. I've been in London for a conference and some other bits and bobs and it's been a washout the past few days. I hung out with friends, I did manage not to drink too much but I definitely did not get enough sleep. So last week wasn't a great one.

However up until Thursday it went really well. Swan on Sunday, and Hecate went in for her service on Monday. And then I was inspired. I emailed with my work colleague Kate on Tuesday. I like Kate a lot. She seems like a pro to me with a season of tri under her belt already, and she looks amazing for it.

It appears I'm very open to suggestion and when she mentioned I should really try a brick session 'dress rehearsal' by doing the full distance and not splitting the cycle, I decided to tackle it that very evening. Then Jamie suggested I really should stop cycling on the flat so much.

And dammit, they were right. I had got scared. The cycle course isn't that hilly, but it is hilly in places and I haven't been doing many steep hills, only long shallow ones.

So I set off, knowing I'd probably find some hills by just heading in one direction for 10km and then coming back. Plus I was less likely to get lost. I have no sense of direction so that's pretty important.

I didn't time the session too much as I wanted to get round rather than panic. Plus, as I soon discovered, the route was hilly. Really hilly. The first hill I had actually tried before but my chain hopped off and I was left comically spinning my legs around until I had the presence of mind to get off. I didn't fall off that time though, an achievement in my book.

This time, I made it up there but there was quickly a downhill, and I had no idea if I would make it back up. Then there were some more up, then a bit more, then a massive drop. I tucked in, tried to relax and was thankful I lost the traffic. I spread my weight evenly, got my feet into a good position and tried to avoid any manholes and dodgy Tarmac and, most importantly, tried not to look at how fast I was going in case I freaked out and spilled.

I couldn't help myself. I looked down. 50km/hr. I stopped looking at the computer, kept my fingers hovering over the brakes and held on to the threads of my nerves as I plummeted. I reminded myself that Tour de France riders hit 70 miles per hour, and then tried not to think about what would happen if I came off and what happens to Tour riders when they do. Then I wondered how I was going to get back up the hill. That sobered me somewhat.

So at the bottom I had my breath back and was spinning onwards. By this time the scenery had changed from chavvy takeaways and bored kids roaming around to chocolate box cottages and bored middle class children roaming around. The onesie was attracting some interest but I was speeding along, except on the climbs where I was sounding rather wheezy, hitting my lowest gears and swearing to myself that I didn't have to do the run afterwards if I didn't want to. I made it up every hill. I didn't go fast while climbing but I made it. My quads were screaming at me.

I had an energy gel and some Adsa isotonic orange with me in case I felt this bonking sensation everyone talks about. I hadn't eaten anything special (or anything since that afternoon, actually) before I left apart from sipping on the energy drink. But I felt ok. Sweaty, yes, but once I'd got up the hills I recovered quickly and chugged down some orange as soon as I had the opportunity. And after a quick downhill and then a short flat I was home, and raring to run. I parked Hecate, took off my gloves and helmet and headed out, drinking the last of the energy drink and opening the gel as I did so.

I'd worked out a route which was harder than the flat grass course I will do later this month. I felt fine as my legs gathered we were having a run and I took it easy for the first minute to avoid any stumbling. Gathering pace I ran the route, annoyingly held back by traffic and crossings, and then by an exchange student who insisted on stopping me to ask for good running routes.

My inference that she could follow me and I'd direct her to the park didn't work out as she couldn't keep up (which surprised me, I always think I'm the slowest in the world) so I waved my arms and went on my way, reluctant to slow down for any longer.

My left hamstring was a little painful but as I continued it seemed to improve. I had monitor my breathing as a stitch threatened most of the way and having no watch on I had no idea how fast I was going.

I just hurried on and sipped my gel. Which was disgusting. Tropical? I was hoping for passionfruit and mango, but it was more banana and lychee. Which I love, but not in an energy gel and not together. I've discovered through my experiments that I prefer a sharper, citrus taste while exercising to a berry or cherry flavour, although I would often choose a sweet berry flavour in other situations.

I washed the gel around my mouth and reluctantly swallowed it on the occasions I felt that feeling in my stomach which I know leads to my muscles losing power. Having lost a lot of weight, and generally strived to under-feed and overtrain to lose calories I think I know what bonking feels like. (And the other week in the heat I definitely bonked on the treadmill.) The gel seemed to help but I only had a bit of it.

I did it and once home I realised I'd run a bit further than 3 miles - 3.5 actually. I stretched as usual. My quads were hurting and I was convinced I'd pay for it the next day. I didn't. My muscles felt a bit tired, but not too much. I expected DOMS to kick in on Thursday but no. I just felt great.

Was it the energy drinks? Did I stretch better?

Or am I just ready now?
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