Friday, 28 December 2012

Race report: Boxing Day run (4.16 miles/6.7km)

So amidst the festivities and overindulgence of the last week was the small matter of the Boxing Day run. However, as I have mentioned previously, this was the second year running I've taken part in the event so had a time of 45 minutes to beat. Since last year's race there had been a change in land ownership meaning a slight change in route, so in the interests of transparency I have it on good authority that it was 0.21 miles/330 metres shorter. However the incessant rain over the last couple of weeks meant that the route was incredibly slippery and a lot more of a quagmire than normal.

Trying to stay on my feet as I walk to the start
Luckily the rain held off for the actual run which meant that Toddler Trihard and grandparents Trihard were happy to accompany me to the start. However after slipping and sliding along the fields to the start of the race I think they may have begun to regret their decision. When I mentioned we'd then be running cross country so there wasn't really a decent fixed spot to spectate for the duration of the race Granny Trihard then asked, with fear in her eyes and a tremble in her voice, "Does this mean we have to run along with you?!"

Chatting with some real athletes
 I assured her this wasn't the case and that I was content for them to just see me off. However I hope Mrs Trihard notes the dedication my mummy was prepared to put in to watch me run.The fact that there was an exceptionally good turn out from EGTC meant that there was plenty of support during the race anyway.

And they're off
So at 11am on Boxing Day morning we set off. Being an out and back course - out to a certain point and back again a few dips aside the majority of the route is downhill at the start, a flat in the middle and a gruelling uphill finish. I was therefore trying extremely hard to pace myself so that I had enough left in the tank to get up the final hills. However by the time I'd made it on to the flat middle section of the course I was wondering if I had over exerted myself. While I was relatively restrained on Christmas day, with just a few glasses of wine with lunch, I have to say the excesses of the holiday season did feel like they were catching up with me.

Then the serious runners started passing in the other direction. I was delighted to see that this included several of my fellow EGTC members. "Well done Richard, good running!" I shouted as he passed me by. Then another Richard went passed. "Go on Richard, keep going." I then started to worry that people around me might think I had a strange condition, (similar to Father Jack in Father Ted) that I was compelled to shout "Come on Richard!" at random strangers. Luckily I then saw Vince, Kelly, Jackie, Louise and Claire so it might have then looked like I did actually know these people.

By that time I had passed the half way point myself so decided to ease up a bit to see how far up the hill I could make it. Whilst I have run this route many times I have still never made it all the way to the highest point without stopping. With the incredibly muddy conditions it was looking unlikely I would this time. But I was still going to give it a damn good go so slowed right down. Which was when the man with the prosthetic leg went ahead of me. I'd seen him earlier and felt incredibly humbled that he was running in such treacherous conditions. But now he was ahead of me it was a different matter! The temptation was to speed up again but knowing how tough the incline was at the best of times thought I'd be able to take him on the hill. But no, when I'd reached the point where I always have to admit defeat and walk for a while this amazing man kept on going.

Anyway, after a minute I had recovered enough to run again on a section that was relatively flat before the very final incline. This part I normally can get up without stopping. But alas the gluttony of the previous week got me again and I had to walk for a few seconds again. I then managed to put in a sprint finish and cross the line in 41 minutes 28 seconds.

While I was delighted with my time, more than three and a half minutes quicker than last year, I wasn't sure how much shorter the run was with the changed route. However an EGTC legend said he measured it as being 4.16 miles compared to 4.37 miles last year and agreed that it was a great deal muddier this time round. So I now feel I can legitimately chalk that up as my first personal best of the season! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas time, treadmills and wine

After a strenuous turbo training session on Tuesday night I didn't feel particularly motivated to go running yesterday. As you'd expect this close to Christmas the weather was particulalry seasonal - torrential rain. I don't know where he hailed from but Bing Crosby certainly wasn't from West Sussex. Or any other part of the UK.

So with the Boxing Day run less than a week away, and several Christmas shindigs to contend with, I knew I would have to subject myself to a session on the treadmill. One of the things I hate more than getting on the treadmill is shopping in the supermarket. This is particularly unpleasant when Toddler Trihard is in tow as she wants to get in the trolley, then out the trolley, then hang on the side of the trolley, then walk, have a scream, get back in the trolley and repeat.

Even before becoming a father I have been known to be sent into a violent rage by the general public whilst shopping at any time of the year, so being accompanied Toddler Trihard at this time of the year is a potentially explosive combination. As a result I came up with a cunning plan of splitting our epic Yuletide shop into two halves where I go on my own, at a time when the supermarket is likely to be quiet, followed by a further sortie by Mrs Trihard in a few days time.

As the gym is en route to one of the supermarkets in the area I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. On the way to the gym I cursed myself for forgetting the shopping bags. Obviously I care deeply for the environment but also as I was buying a lot of heavy goods I also didn't want to be reliant on flimsy carrier bags. I then realised I hadn't packed my running shoes (again!) but thought I could get away with it in my casual trainers. As I walked up to the gym I realised I didn't have my gym card, which was in my wallet at home. Which meant I couldn't do the shopping. So I went home and got the shopping bags and wallet but thought I'd leave the treadmill until today.

Concerned my motivation would have depleted further today (especially as I have the club swimming session tonight) last night I decided to plan a session that would keep me more inclined to stay on the treadmill for at least half an hour.

So this is what I came up with:

5 minute warm up at an easy pace

45 seconds hard sprint

3 minutes 15 seconds easy pace recovery

45 seconds at slightly harder pace at a high incline

3 minutes 15 seconds easy pace recovery.

Repeat 4 times.

I'm pleased to say that I managed to get through the set, stayed on the treadmill for a good 40 minutes and did around 6km.

As I said, tonight is the first of several Christmas knees ups with various neighbours so I feel rather pleased with myself for getting this run session in and as a result will be able to fully enjoy this evening's cheese and wine evening. I have also have this carefully planned: wine, cheese; repeat until exhaustion.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

T'is the season for training folly

So this time next week I'll be trying my damnedest to drink in moderation in preparation for the Boxing Day run. Unfortunately my training regime has already been slightly disrupted by festive cheer. With Mrs Trihard's Christmas work do on Saturday and the annual Yuletide meet up with my Uni friends this Sunday (both of which are traditionally rather boozy affairs and, what can I say, I'm a stickler for tradition) yesterday was a complete write off for any exercise.

This obviously followed last week when I was struggling with a bad back and therefore wasn't able to run and missed the club turbo training session on Tuesday. Luckily I was feeling better by the Friday so I was able to do the turbo session in the comfort of my own home. But I then shot myself in the foot by forgetting my running shoes, and therefore missing the club run on Saturday.

Yes this sounds like a pitiful excuse for a 34 year old man but there have been some changes to the swim sessions EGTC recently. As a result, if  you so desire, you can now do the core training session every week before the run. My midriff needs all the help it can get so I am trying to get as many core sessions as possible. Unfortunately this means you now have to be in the pool by 6.30am, which means being out of bed by 5.40am. Mrs Trihard was out Friday evening and Baby Trihard had decided this was an excuse to stay up and party until midnight. By party I mean refusing to go to sleep and screaming unless he was being walked around over my shoulder. So after five hours sleep I wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders and hadn't picked up my trainers. Obviously I told myself (and several members of the club) that this wasn't a major issue as I'd just go for a run when I got home. But that didn't happen.

So am I going to be able to turn things around in time for Boxing Day? I have already been for a swim today and will be Turbo training with the club tonight but I do need to get some quality runs in before next Wednesday. We're due a good club hill running session on Saturday and theoretically speaking I should be able to fit one in on my own. However myself and Mrs Trihard are hosting a cheese and wine evening on Thursday and we've also been invited to drinks with one set of neighbours on Friday and another set on Sunday. And I also have a tradition of going to the local for a few pints on a Saturday evening. It would be sacrilege for me not to grace the Red Lion this weekend so close to Christmas. Jesus Christ, you have a lot to answer for.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

In at the deep end

Just a couple of weeks ago I was whining about the fact that I may have to run through a small ford during the Crowborough 10k. A few people commented that I should man up and that during cross country races you can encounter a lot worse. A very fair comment.

So I was delighted to see that my good friend Smug Running Guy had actually manned up himself and taken part in a cross country event this past weekend.

To quote his brother's Facebook comment: "Not so smug now."
And he's gone!
Looks like he might be struggling a bit there. Perhaps we'll have to get him down for a swim set one Saturday.

His back!

This week has been rather a quiet one for training, mainly due to the fact that I have been suffering from problems with my back. I have been to the chiropractor to be cracked into shape and it is now feeling better.

So how did I suffer my latest misfortune? Was it during the extremely intensive swimming time trial which was sprung on us at 6.30am last Saturday? No. Was it the challenging core session we had after the swimming? No. Was it the testing hill run sessions we did after that? No. Was it my frenetic, inebriated dancing I subjected to my fellow members at the Tri Club Christmas dinner? No.

It was in fact bending down from the car passenger seat to pick up a water bottle from the footwell. As a result my exercise regime has been rather quiet this week. No running or turbo training, just a swim on my own on Tuesday and one tonight with the club.

Luckily to spare my blushes a training email was sent round the club this week reminding us that every fourth week should be a more restful week to allow your body to recover. Our head coach suggests that the "rest" week should consist of around half or two thirds of your usual training volume.

This rest period is essential for the body to recover and is the time when it adapts and benefits from the previous training workload. It also helps reduce the risk of overtraining, fatigue, illness and injury. Well, better luck next time I guess.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Let's off road!

The first multi-sport event I ever took part in was an off-road duathlon (10km run, 18km cycle, 5km run) on an army training ground for a tank division. I'd entered it purely because it was being held in January so the theory was I wouldn't let my fitness go over the Christmas period. This was back in 2010, when I was training for the ill fated Brighton Marathon.

As I enjoyed mountain biking (well cycling round Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park) and had now got up to about 10 miles with my running, I didn't think it would be much of a chore. I'd heard that it took a bit out of your legs running straight off the bike so I spent a couple of weekends cycling to Richmond Park, through Wimbledon Common (which was about 8km), and then having a run around the park before cycling home. Job done.

However about a week or so before the event it suddenly occurred to me that this was going to be a proper off road race. Not the pleasant cycle tracks around Richmond Park. I started wondering if I should pull out. It was obvious I'd be making a complete fool of myself. After watching a video of similar events on the organisers website I decided that it wouldn't be too bad, and if worst came to the worst there was no shame in admitting defeat during the event.

So race day arrived. As I say it was my first multi-sport event and the first thing I became aware of was the amount of bike porn on display. Mrs Trihard had often chastised me on the amount of money I spent on bikes but this was something else. I made a mental note that next time I was preparing to purchase a new set of wheels I'd add at least an extra nought on the price range. The second thing I became aware of was how friendly everyone was. While it appeared I was the only person who had not competed in such an event before several people were saying they weren't sure if they were going to make it round. I felt in good company.

I won't be smiling for long
So we set off, some faster than others but I was comfortable with my pace and certainly wasn't running last, which I expected to be. It was muddy, very hilly with a few logs to clamber over but I made it round the course. Right - on to the easy job of cycling, the part I was best at.

Getting my leg over - Sorry, couldn't resist
I set off at quite a pace, thinking that I would be able to make up a bit of time on the bike. However realisation soon set in that I had been right all along - this was nothing like cycling round Richmond Park. As well as steep inclines that a mountain goat would struggle to get up there were boggy sections where the wheels would spin like crazy, meaning it didn't matter how hard you pedalled you weren't getting anywhere. But not many other competitors seemed to be having the same problem as they charged past. Rather than moving up the pack, as I thought I would, I was dropping down the field. And worst of all it was a three lap course, so I had to do this all again - twice.

The unadulterated joy of off road cycling
Once I'd completed the three laps I trudged off for the final run. I didn't have much left in the legs and had to walk most of it. However I did pass one chap who'd twisted his ankle so I wasn't last. When I made it to the finishing line the event organisers were packing everything up however I was pleased to see there were perhaps five bikes that hadn't yet been taken so not only had I beaten the injured guy I'd also finished before a few other able bodied competitors.

Finally there

So why am I mentioning all this now? Well yesterday I entered a caption competition on the Facebook page of Human Race, the organisers of this event. And guess what? I won! So what did I win? Free entry to another off road duathlon...

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Learn from your mistakes

As you may recall after the Brighton 10k I struggled to get back into training. While I hadn't been getting the best of sleep I did wonder whether my slow recovery was down to the fact that I hadn't got some decent nutrition inside me immediately after the race.

After Sunday's Crowborough run, following the advice I had read last month, I managed to pick up a sandwich and some chocolate milk from a supermarket, well within half an hour of finishing the race. While I felt a little stiff yesterday, today I have not been feeling lethargic at all and even felt energised enough to have a swim this morning. By the time it gets to Turbo Training tonight I may feel differently but so far it looks like the BLT and chocolate milk have done the trick. You live and learn.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Race report: Crowborough 10k

Legend has it that it was customary for EGTC to have it's Christmas party the Saturday before the Crowborough 10k and then run off their hangovers the following day. While I hadn't spent the night boozing Baby Trihard, suffering from a cold, had done his best to ensure I didn't get much sleep so as a result I wasn't feeling quite as motivated as I had been for the Brighton 10k.

After the superb support I enjoyed in Brighton normal service was resumed with Mrs Trihard declaring it was too frosty for the family to be hanging around for an hour or more. So after scraping off the car I headed over to Crowborough on my own trying not to think about the freezing cold ford I'd soon be running through.

On arrival I was buoyed by the fact that I bumped into several EGTC members so had someone to chat to and warm up with. Obviously once the race started they were long gone! As I've mentioned before when I'm running on my own I tend to rely on music from my iPod to keep me motivated. However when it comes to actual events I prefer to soak up the atmosphere generated by other runners and spectators which is enough to spur me on. I have to confess I was slightly perturbed by the competition who all looked like pretty serious runners and, other than mine, not a beer belly in sight. Knowing that there was a very long, steep hill involved I honestly began to think that I could be facing the prospect of finishing well behind the pack, if not last.

As a result I decided to plug in the tunes. However as the race started I soon realised that for once S Club Seven's Reach for the Stars wasn't firing me up as normal and I was actually finding the music rather distracting. Once I ditched the headphones I actually, NEWS FLASH, started to enjoy the race. The first few kilometres were all downhill but as I knew I had an epic climb ahead of me I took it rather easy, certainly a lot slower than I had in Brighton. I've learnt from bitter experience that it's tempting to charge down hills at top speed only to find you've got nothing left in the tank for the remaining 75% of the run.

Once I reached the ford we were directed over the tiny bridge so I didn't have to get my delicate tootsies wet in the near freezing water. So far, so good. Then it was time to scale, what one EGTC member had described the previous day as, the cliff. I didn't quite make it to the top but I am proud to say that there were plenty of other competitors who resorted to walking before I did. In your faces non beer belly runners!

According to my magical heart rate monitor this was a climb of 196 metres. After a bit of a plateau it was then downhill again and I was already half way round. Perhaps I wasn't going to finish last after all.

Once again I paced myself on the descent and managed to get a considerable distance up the cliff before having to take it a bit easier. Once at the top there was only a couple of kilometres to go. A little while later after rounding a bend, one of the many extremely friendly and supportive marshals said there wasn't far to go, so I picked up my pace a little.

Then another marshal cheerfully announced: "Just one more small hill to go." What?! Another flipping hill?! I was concerned I'd mistimed my final surge and wouldn't be able to maintain my pace. Luckily as I rounded the corner I could see the finish line and compared to the cliff this last hill was more of a slight incline. My official (gun) time was 1hr and a 14th of a second but considering I was toward the back of the starting pack I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I must finished a good few seconds under an hour.

In retrospect I probably could have pushed myself a bit harder on the descents but at the end of the day I'm happy with the limited walking time scaling the cliff. This 10k was always going to be part of my training for the Boxing Day run and I can tell that my running fitness has massively improved in the last six weeks.  Maybe next year I'll push myself harder but for now I'm more than happy with the result. Anyway a big thank you to all the Crowborough marshals who had to stand in the cold but didn't wavour in their support and friendliness. And I didn't come last, I finished 327th out of 386.