1800k in May challenge

I have just looked at my calendar and have seen that in May there are 3 bank holidays and I have 4 extra days off work.  There are also 10 days of weekend, meaning I have 17 full days off work.

That seems like a lot to me, so I started thinking about how much I can cycle in May.  I remember when I was training for la Marmotte in 2013 I had a big month in May, including a week in Mallorca.  I checked on Strava and found that I cycled 1600km that month, not bad, but also beatable!

So I decided to set myself a little challenge, I am going to aim to cycle 1800km in May 2015.

1) Cycling to work does not count (5km each way)
2) Cycling to the pool does count (11km each way)
3) Cycling into town or to the football etc does not count.
4) For it to count, it has to go on Strava.

I liked the sound of 1800k in May, so that will be my challenge name.  May 1st is a holiday here, so I will be after a flying start to the challenge!
I am off work for the week of the 25th of May, so will be able to pick up a lot of Ks in the last week.
To end the month I have a 43.5km TT in Wörrstadt.  It would be good if I could arrange it that I break through 1800km on that day, without having to do too much the day before to allow me a better chance of doing a good time!

Start of week 19 – Let the cycling begin!

May Day or Tag der Arbeit is this week on Friday, so I have a 3 day weekend.  I aim to cycle 300km over those 3 days and 400km this week total.
I will be running my first leg of the Wingertscup running series on Saturday in Framersheim.  It's a hilly 14.3km route with the winning time usually being 55m or so.  I should be quite close to the front.  I will cycle there and back, so that will be 70km, so Friday and Sunday will have to be 230km at least, not too crazy.

I will swim at least twice, three times would be better.  Running is slightly less important at the moment as I have the running fitness and need to improve my cycling and swimming.  I will run this evening (monday), probably 15km or so, as the weather forecast looks a bit crappy, so it's not ideal for cycling.

Possible week plan:
Monday – run 15km
Tuesday – Cycle 30km (+22km) and swim 2km
Wednesday – Cycle 60km
Thursday – Run 11.6km before work, Swim after work (22km cycle)
Friday – Cycle 130km
Saturday – Cycle 70km, run 14.3km
Sunday – 100km, maybe swim

My powermeter should arrive this week – I'm excited!  I plan to just cycle with it to start with and see what numbers it spits out, then next week I can look at setting some zones!

End of week 18 – Post marathon

Strangely enough the week started out for me with me having pretty heavy legs, possibly something to do with the Marathon on Sunday.  I wanted to get things moving though so I cycled 30km on Monday evening.  Pretty much everything hurt, I couldn't hold aero position, my legs wouldn't really push the pedals, and slight inclines were like mountains, but I did my 30km and it probably helped the recovery a bit too.

On Tuesday I went swimming in Mombach.  There was only me and one other in the lane, so it was pretty clear water to swim in.  I did my 2000m, with more 200m intervals than normal.  I actually quite enjoyed the longer intervals, I have pretty much been doing 100m intervals all the time this year, I need to get into a rhythm more and improve endurance too.  I cycled there and back too, so chalk on another 22km cycling.

Wednesday I cycled again.  This time my legs were in much better shape and I did just over 60km at about 31km/h.  The wind was a bit weird, I guess it was a cross wind most of the time, but I felt like it was a head wind both south and north!  That's usually a bad sign, but it was still a decent speed for me, so no complaints.

On Thursday I wanted to try my first run after the marathon.  I went out with Katja to run, but she had picked up an injury running in Bonn, so had to turn back after less than 1km.  I ran off feel, but that feel was probably too fast, so I was at 4:45 pace.  My quads weren't feeling too happy, but the 10.7km run was still nice, and my 3km loop near Marienborn now has 3 portaloos on the route, perfect, even though they weren't needed.

I was feeling tired on Friday.  I hadn't slept too well and was a bit worn out, so I took it as a rest day.  I had planned to swim, but couldn't be bothered to go to the pool!

On Saturday I had to get to Köln for Sunday's Bike and Run.  I decided to cycle to Koblenz, which is 100km away, then get the train the other 100km or so.  The weather forecast had said that the northerly head wind would flip and become a friendly southerly blowing me towards Koblenz.  I thought that if that was the case, I might go further than Koblenz, but it wasn't so 100km was enough for me, especially with a rucksack on.  Again my average was 31km/h, but along the flat Rhein without  much wind, I was nearer 33km/h, which is good for me.

Sunday was the Bike and Run.  I did't do any run warm up, but I did cycle for 20 mins, so I will give myself 50km cycling and 10km running.
I was feeling pretty good in the evening, so I cycled to Nieder-Olm on the mountain bike and swam 2km.  It started off pretty badly, but ended well.  I noticed the pool was closing soon, so started doing longer intervals, and ended with a 5:30 300m.  It's not really fast or anything, but as my last 300m from 1700-2000m, it is fast enough.  That would give me a 35min split in a half iron-distance race, which would be awesome!  The cycle to and from the pool counts as another 20km, so 70km for the day.

Running: 20.7km (873.6km YTD)
Cycling: 283km (1922km YTD)
Swimming: 4km (34.25km YTD)

Pretty good week all-round.

Race Report – Bike and Run Köln – Team Sprint

This isn't going to be a long race report, but it was a race, so there is a report!

This was my second year of doing Bike and Run Köln in the team event.  We cycle 42km then run 10km, there are four in a team and the clock stops after the 3rd person crosses the line.  Last year we were pretty good, but I struggled to keep up on the bike, and was the 3rd fastest runner, making it a hard day for me!  This year I fancied that I would be able to run much faster and hopefully ride better too, though that was less certain.

Dimi doesn't run too much and has been actively telling us that he won't be able to keep up on the run for a while now.  He is a strong cyclist though, so we were dropping hints that he could put in more work on the bike so that we are fresher on the run!  Christian was our best cyclist and best runner last year, but he told me that he hasn't run at all since January, so he wouldn't be strong on the run.  Jochen is an all-rounder, if he was our weak link, we would be doing ok!

Last year we went out of the blocks like a bunch of idiots, only to have to slow down gradually over the 42km, this year in slightly damp, but not wet weather, we started off quite controlled, much better.  We were pushing about 40km/h which was the same as last year, with the speed gradually increasing.  Last year my pulls were short and I was really struggling to stay on the back of our train, this year it felt 100 times easier, I could push the pace and get back on a really rest.  After 3 loops surprisingly Dimi started to struggle, he wasn't coming through to take his pulls very strongly, then he would fall of the back after the corners, I shouted for him to take shorter pulls, and he skipped a few too, and we continued on at about the same pace.  After 4.5 of the 5 loops, he couldn't keep up anymore, and me, Jochen and Christian pushed on for the last 4km or so.  We didn't want to break up on the ride, but as Dimi had said he wouldn't run fast, it seemed a waste to wait for him on the bike.

We got into transition and I was incredibly slow.  I don't know why exactly but the others were ready before I had my first shoe on!  I was shouting for them to run as I felt confident that I could catch up, but they waited not sure if we had to leave transition together or not.  After about 500m, it was clear that Christian's lack of run training was going to make him our number 3 for the day.  He wasn't slow, but in comparison to last year, he didn't have his edge.  One team had passed us on the bike (we had passed 2) and after about 3km another team came past us.  There was nothing we could do about it, it was more a matter of getting to the end now!  I noticed that the team that overtook us was pushing one of their runners, I offered to do the same with Christian, which I then did for 6km.  It was new experience for me and quite hard work!  It means you have to work harder and you can't swing one arm, quite a strange feeling.  The next 2 loops of 3.3km went by and we ran in a respectable 44min or so 10km.  That was about 2 mins slower than last year, but our bike was about 1 min faster, so we were 1 minute slower overall.  Unfortunately there were 3 real triathlon teams in the race this year, and they were all minutes ahead of us, so we were 4th.  I'm not sure that we could have been top 3 on our best day…

Dimi came in a few minutes later and we enjoyed our well earned alcohol free beers and cake!

I think a big difference this year was that me, Christian and Jochen all had tri-bars on our bikes, with me and Jochen having TT bikes.  Dimi is a strong rider, but without the tri-bars, he was giving himself extra work to do, which caught up with him.  I know that next time we climb a steep hill, he'll still be racing off up the road!  It was a shame that Christian hadn't trained for the run, but he has a new job and where he lives now isn't great for running.  I would have like to see what I could have done, I had the feeling I could have gone sub40, maybe even more.  It isn't too important anyway, it was a great brick workout and I'd be keen to do the solo version next year if we can't get the team back together.

End of week 17

Ok I'll make this quick just to keep everything up to date.

Monday: 2km swim, went quite well, no cramps, not as bad as I had feared swimming in the bigger TCEC group.
Tuesday: Ran straight after work 11.6km at 4:34/km felt very easy and nice in the sun, probably too fast though.  Ate then rode 30km at about 31km/h also quite easy.
Wednesday: I did a 60km evening ride.  The wind was blowing from the south, so I attacked the strava segments on the way home. 2 new segment PBs blowing my old 2013 PBs away, still more to do though to get nearer the KOMs!
Thursday: Another 11.6km at 70% HR 4:58/km, could almost sleep but it was a nice run.

Friday and Saturday I took off before Bonn Marathon
Sunday: 42.2km in 3:00:15!

Running 65.8km (852.9km YTD)
Cycling 112km (1639km YTD)
Swimming: 2km (30.25km YTD)

Review of my 2015 Running Season

Last week I looked on this very blog, and clicked on the Race Reports tag and read through the 4 races I have done this year.  I started this blog at the end of December and wrote what I thought were realistic but really hard goals for the year:

18:30 for 5km – well I haven't done this one, but I think I might have done it as a 5km split in a 10km race!  I can run 18:30 for 5k
38:00 for 10km – done and then some.  My PB is 37:22 and I think I could be in sub37 form now.
1:25 for HM – done and another 3:10 more off! I didn't even dream of a sub1:22 at Christmas, but it's done now!
London Good for Age time – done – Goal creep led to 3h being the true goal, but I did my original goal, and 3 is just a number, I'll do it some other time.

So all in all, I can't complain!
I obviously need to keep running, but I will take some down time, then I think I might try the Jack Daniels 5 week cycles, but skip all of the easy runs as they will be replaced by cycling.

I still have a 10k run in the Köln bike and run to do, a 14.3km run in 2 weeks as part of the Wingerts Cup (maybe a chance to win too) and Mannheim relay marathon, but now I have learned that it is unofficial distances, it somehow doesn't seem as important anymore!

After Mannheim I might take a month or so of just easy running, then start on the 5 week cycles.

I hope the cycling season goes as well as the running season did.  It's a lot harder to quantify things in cycling (until my power meter arrives anyway) but a 5:30 bike split is required in Köln, 5h would be even better obviously!

Race Report – Bonn Marathon – Goal Achieved (kind of)

So the big day was upon me, I had travelled up to Bonn on the Saturday and spent a bit too much time wondering around, but had a nice day.  I wasn't feeling overly stressed, mainly because Katja was stressed enough for the both of us! I got up and ate some bread and cereal bars for breakfast, not much else was available.  Katja’s half marathon started at 8:30 or 8:45, it wasn't really clear, but it meant we were up at 6am and ate breakfast well in advance of the race.

We went to the start area, it was really cold but sunny.  I was well wrapped up and watched as Katja started the race, I went to the bridge that is about 600m into the race and watched her come back over it at the 8km mark, and then saw her again at about 9.5km.  As the HM started late, it was already 9:55 when I had seen her a second time, so I went to check in my bag and get ready.  I decided for a minimalist warm up, mainly just wanting to be sure I was done with the toilet and have a very short jog.

I got to the front of the race corral by 10:20, the 3h pacers were basically at the very front of the race, barring the few Africans who were there.  The race started and I had no issues with people around me, so tucked into the 3h group where I intended to stay.  After only 2km I noticed that I had to pee, I wasn't desperate, but I needed to go.  I decided to run a bit more before going, so that no 2nd stop would be needed.  I stopped, peed and started off in pursuit of the group.  I caught them back up after maybe 1.5km, maybe a bit too quick but not a crazy sprint either.

The group running skills of people was pretty bad, lots of trips and one guy was swinging his elbows everywhere and hit me about 5 times, later after he hit someone else the person he hit got really annoyed and shouted at him.  A 3rd person had a chat with him, and he immediately apologised profusely.  5 minutes later elbows man hit into me, so I moved to the side, where he followed and hit me again, I said "come on man! FFS" or words to that effect, then realised that he had a disability, not good…

After 10km we were almost perfectly on pace, so I stopped checking my watch.  my heart rate started rising over the next 10km, which was worrying to me, but I still felt good.  After 20km I realised that we were way ahead of 3h pace, the 3h group went through the half in 1:28:30, I went through in 1:28:45 having noticed and slowed my pace.  I was happy to have a cushion, but worried that it could be too fast..

After 24km I noticed that I would need a portaloo, this wasn't a simple run to a tree problem.  I got to the drinks station at 25km and quickly got everything done and started off again.  It cost me very little time, maybe 15-20 seconds, and I could run in comfort to the end.  I finally got to see Katja after 29km on the bridge, she looked very worried, but i reassured her that everything was ok, it was going to be close, but it was ok.  I reckoned I had about 50 seconds "lead" over a 3h pace at that point, though I wasn't gaining anymore, I wasn't losing too much either.

In retrospect and looking at Strava, the next 6km are where it all went wrong.  It felt hard and it had warmed up quite a bit.  I didn't have any idea of my pace, expect for the KM markers but at this point all I could work out was that it was really tight.  In the last 5km I gave up the ghost of getting a sub3 about 10 times, each time then thinking of how much I wanted it and surging on.  I had decided that I could do the last 1.2km in 5 minutes, but faster would be a push. I came around the corner to see the 41km sign and passed it with about 4:45 to spare for a 3h run.  Again my head dropped, but I knew I had to give it my all. A slight downhill made me think I might do it, but the km dragged on until eventually I could see the finishing line ahead of me and my watch read 2:59:45.  The finishing line as more than 15 seconds away though, so with the crowd screaming me on, I crossed the line in 3:00:15.

I wrote at the start of the year that a London good for age time of 3:05 was the goal, but it hasn't been my real goal for quite some time.  It was so close that I could only laugh after the race, that is laugh and almost cry from the pain of my legs!

My excuses:
1) Strava shows my running time as 2:59:33, without the toilet stops I would have broken 3, almost no doubt.
2) The 3h pacers went out 90 seconds fast, in fact they ran the 11.1km between 10km and 21.1km about 75 seconds fast.  It doesn't sound a lot, but I am 95% sure that if they had run an even race, I would have broken 3h with or without toilet breaks.
3) It was a touch warm in the 2nd half of the race. I don't know why they start the marathon at 10:30am, thus ending at 13:30ish for me, but the last few km were getting pretty warm, especially as there was not a cloud in the sky.  I think on a cloudy day I would probably have run sub3.

It doesn't matter now anyway.  I can hopefully run London next year off real marathon training and I am sure I will smash 3h, I want to be looking more at 2:50 really.  Now the next part of my training season starts, cycling season.

Week 17 – Bonn Marathon Week

The first really big race of the year is only 6 days away now, and I am nervous, but quietly confident too!
I have run 2 marathons before, the first was in Istanbul only 16 weeks or so after I started running for the first time.  I thought everything went well in training and I aimed for a 3:30, but I blew in completely and ended up limping in a painful 3:57.  My second marathon was Frankfurt in October 2014.  Training was more consistent, but plagued by my iron problems leading to low haemoglobin in the late summer.  I never really got on track to reach my original goal of sub3, on race day I was aiming for 3:15 and I ran in a not dreadful 3:18:xx.  It was definitely better than Istanbul, but still not ideal.

I think that my under-performance in my marathons is down to my tapering.  I had done long runs that were faster than my marathon pace last year, and with a much lower heart rate, but come race day I couldn't do any more.  That's why I have decided to keep Bonn as close to being the end of a normal running week as possible.  I'm not going to be stupid, but I am going to train fairly normally thins week up until Thursday.  I don't want to have heavy legs on Sunday, but unless I go crazy or do short intervals on Thursday (I won't), I expect my legs will have recovered by Sunday.

The weather is looking a bit warm and sunny for my liking, though 15 is better than the 22 they were predicting last week.  If it clouds over then 15 would be pretty much perfect.  I start at 10:30am, which is a bit late for my liking, it means that I will be running until 13:30 or so, which will be the warmest part of the day.  I can't do anything about it though, so I will just run and see what happens.

I plan to run with the 3h pace group, and this time I will forget my HR and just run with them (I ran to HR in Frankfurt).  It is a "do it or go out in a ball of flames" tactic, so if my HR is 170 after 15km, it could be a painful day, but that shouldn't be the case.  The way I see it, I have 23s/km spare from my HM pace to my marathon goal pace, that's quite a lot!  Hopefully I can cruise the first half, then after 30km or so start to move ahead of the pace group.  My prediction is a 2:57:30.  I'll write a race report, hopefully titled Bonn Marathon – Sub3 – Goal Achieved!

End of week 16 – Duathlon training

As it was Easter, I had Monday off work.  I wanted to really utilise this extra free day, especially as the weather was great, but my legs weren't playing ball.  I ended up going for an evening spin of 57km, so it was better than nothing, but not really the best use of a bank holiday.  It was a fairly good example of going too hard the day before meaning I couldn't train the day after, I won't make the same mistake again in a hurry.

On Tuesday I was really tired, I went to the gym and did some strength work, then went onto the treadmill thinking I would do a hilly run, but it wasn't worth it with my legs feeling so heavy, so I ran about 3km easy and left it at that.
Wednesday was a lovely evening after work, so in shorts and t-shirt I went for an outdoor 11.6km loop.  It was really nice, and felt easy but ended up being 4:44 pace which was faster than expected.  I definitely sweat more than I have been, I'll have to be careful with nutrition in Bonn if it is warm for my marathon.
Thursday was a good one.  I worked until about 17:45, but instead of binning training as I may have felt like doing, I ate quickly then headed out for a cycle.  I did give a little bit more effort, but not 100%.  I was very happy to see that I had averaged 31.9km/h at the end of the 53km ride.  It was my first ride of the year in shorts and short arms, I really enjoyed it, even if I could have picked a better route.
Friday was another lovely evening, so I ran my extended 15.5km route at easy tempo.  I didn't push at any point but I ran a 4:48 pace with a 144bpm average (75% of max HR).  That is a pretty good pace for me whilst running easy and in the warm, so I was happy with that.  On Saturday I was a bit time crunched and wasn't too sure of what to do.  I decided on an intervals session at Willy Wacker running track.  I don't want to over do it and injure myself a week before Bonn, so I ran at 3:45/km for my km repeats.  That would have been crazy fast not too long ago, but the first 6 repeats all felt quite easy.  The last 2 were a bit tougher, but still fine, I ended with 8x1km all between 3:39 and 3:44, the run was 13km total in just under an hour, it's possibly my last intervals before Bonn, not sure yet though.

On Sunday I went for a solo bike ride.  I freestyled the route a bit, and it ended up being pretty flat, but it was 118km at 31.2km/h and 800m of climbing at the end of the day.  I am getting used to my TT bike a bit more now and feel like my position is pretty good.  My shoulders/neck do get quite tight though.  I have decided to try to power through and get used to the aero-position, hopefully it will pay dividends later in the season.  Last year in Wasserstadt I was out of aero-position a lot of the time due to my neck/shoulders, I don't want that to happen again.

And that was that, a good week of training no doubt, but again no swimming.  I was thinking about it yesterday on the bike, I will swim 2+ times a week after Bonn.  That is not a promise, but I will really try to do it.  Freibad season starts soon which will make it easier for me to get to a good swimming pool, I can also swim before work in Nieder-Olm if I ever feel obliged.  It is getting a bit ridiculous with my lack of swimming at the moment though, I will be happy with another 38m swim in Wasserstadt, but I don't want to convert that to a 90m swim in Köln like Jochen did.

Running: 43.1km (787.1kmYTD)
Cycling: 228km (1527km YTD)
Swimming: 0km (28.25km YTD)

End of week 14 (distant memories)

Right, here is what I remember, along with what strava/movescount say I did!
Monday I did my 7x1km intervals, I did the last 2 faster and the last 1.5km in one interval instead of 1km.
Tuesday Swimming 2km in Mombach, so 22km cycling there and back too.  I seem to remember it being better than I had feared after a long lay off from swimming.
Wednesday: I did some 400m intervals but my calves were feeling dead tight after a few in the Kinvaras, so I went and did some general km repeats instead.  Mainly pretty quick, like 3:45 or so pace.  was 12.5km at the end at 4:26 pace, not sure the GPS is right with that though.

Thursday: I ran before work my 11.6km route.  I noticed that my feet were hurting afterwards, day 1 of Plantar Fasciitis!  I decided not to run my planned long run on Friday because of that.  If it wasn't called Plantar Fasciitis, I wouldn't have been worried, but it is and I have heard lots of horror stories about it, so I was being cautious!  Arne telling me in seminar that my running career is over but i just hadn't realised it yet was too comforting either for some reason!

I went to Hamburg for a weekend of drinking on Friday.  I don't think bowling or pool count as exercise, though I did swim 2km and run a single 1km on the treadmill, just to do something and not hurt my feet.  That was it for the weekend, not a big training weekend.

Running 35km (702.1km)
Cycling 0km (no chances 1083km YTD)
Swimming 4km (28.25km YTD)