Monday, July 31, 2023

Bottled It

So last week ended up being my highest mileage run week so far (read, 'of the comeback') and I almost made the month's 7500m ascent (bike) Strava challenge (virtually). I am loving the new Zwift climb portals and thought I might achieve it but fitting that around my primary focus didn't quite pan out, as it turns out.

I was looking to virtually ride the Tourmalet yesterday, to complete the challenge but it's been a heavy week of training and having watched the pro woman climb it in the Tour de France Femme on Saturday, I knew I wasn't man enough for it! and sensibly deferred it for another day.... (Hopefully soon though). So, Sunday ended up being a very tired run and gentle 30minute Zwift. Today has been a rest day, before it all starts again tomorrow, and then up Wednesday is the return of the Zwift Duathlon series where I'm looking to smash some records...

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Moving on Up...

... The Zwift categories. So, I didn't realise I've moved up a Zwift power category. Last year I was down to a D (lowest) from C, where I'd been since I started Zwifting. In all my time as a C, I didn't see any possibility of making it into the B cat. Obviously, I'm scrapping the bottom of the B barrel so guaranteed to be battling it out at the back if I do any races, but do I care? Just getting into the B cat is an achievement I didn't see coming.

The week has been a mix of Zwifting and treadmill intervals followed by a run in the woods today and obviously a Zwift after that, of course. Although I wasn't exactly rested after a solid Zwift Volcano climb PB and a set of intervals on the treadmill yesterday, I decided to have a crack at the hope wood Central Climb Strava segment this morning and took it easy to the start of the segment before hitting the accelerator.

I didn't quite manage the KOM but did at least come away with a PB, beating my time from seven years ago and moved up to equal 4th on the leaderboard, only nine seconds from the top spot. And I slightly ballsed the start, as I didn't quite get where the start of segment was so lost a few seconds there before I increased my effort.

Another run ride day tomorrow to round out the week...



Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Time to Drop Some Pounds...

...and I'm not talking cash. Since last year I have had my appetite back and I've eaten well. Too well and now I am packing... packing way too many extra kilograms. Kilograms that I don't want to be carrying with me when I race. I am (at least) five kilograms over my racing weight. And now I am back out of retirement and racing, that has simply got to go. Operation Portion Control and Operation Stop Snacking are commencing forth-with....

That aside, it has been a surprisingly good week and a bit of training. My legs were shot after the race last Sunday (not the one just gone) and didn't feel too special last Monday (a rest day) but by Tuesday they were only slightly sore, so I cracked on with a semi-gentle Zwift climb portal ride - I say semi-gentle, who am I kidding, I went at the virtual Cote de Domancy hard after watching the pros go at it in the Tour de France. Wednesday, I put in a decent treadmill interval session and Thursday was another virtual climb, the Col du Platzerwasel. I went at that overly ambitious at the bottom but held on over the 7.8km, 600m climb to set a good time but even better, it was long enough a ride to trigger an FTP increase. I knew I was in condition to set new figures; it was just a matter of when. 

Friday was an interval session on the mill, dialled slightly back as my legs were feeling it a tad. It was a semi easy weekend, and I was looking forward to a good run out yesterday, but it rained terrible here and I did a combo steady treadmill and Zwift climb portal and aqueduct KOM, were I set a couple more PBs. Today I decided to have a crack at the local A40 KOM. My legs were not feeling fresh, but I still thought I had a chance. I fell tantalisingly short by just 3seconds, so it is definitely going to be mine. It's a case of when not if. It ended up being a pretty solid 9¹/₂k tempo/threshold run (I never know the difference between those two). Rest day tomorrow.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

I Am Officially Out of Retirement...

Fell running retirement, with the completion of my first fell race since my return. The Waun Fach fell race, 10.6km with in the region of 650m of ascent. I sort of enjoyed it in a suffering sort of way and I was able to run more of it than I thought I would. The steep bits defeated me, but wherever it flattened a little I got running again. I swear I could hear the haunting words, "come on, you can run this bit", drifting in the air... 

I started at the back of the field to prevent me getting carried away on the downhill first kilometre. After that it was into the main climb, probably two thirds of the total ascent is over and done with in the first three and a half kilometres. After that, I tried to push on and during the next section across and up to the Waun Fach summit, I closed in on several runners before picking them off on the flatter section after the summit.

I started the descent down the dragons back almost like my old self but after a kilometre my legs were f*(%ed and I had to steady the reckless descending over the rugged rocks as this ragged rascal ran out of steam. I got down safely though, picked up another couple of places and made it over the line in a time I'm happy with, and a little quicker than I'd targeted.

My legs are proper sore now so it might be a couple of rest days coming up. It'll give me time to plan the next couple of races in my come back...

Friday, July 14, 2023

Made It to the Line on Time

And I made it inside my target time of 50 minutes as well. I didn't go into it off the back of my finest couple of weeks training, what with my dodgy foot an' all, but my marker is down. I am of course talking about my first road race for a long time, yesterday evening's Red Hart Blaisdon 10k. The last time I raced the Blaisdon was back in 2016, and I'm not sure, but that may have been my last road race. There can't be many others I did after that. Seven years ago, I managed a time of 45:36, and I wasn't far off that yesterday, coming home in 47:51. Pleased with that. Gives me something to chip away at but more importantly, my foot held up. It was a little sore on the walk home, but it's been fine today. It still aches slightly, as it did before the race, but nothing to stop me cracking on.

So up tomorrow I'm going to be getting wet marshalling check point two, Fan Llia, at the Four Fans fell race and then Sunday I head to Waun Fach for my first proper fell race for a few years.

Friday, July 07, 2023

Missing the Proper Running....

But I'm almost ready to return to it. And not a minute too soon. I have managed a few sessions on the treadmill this week but it's only really the last one where I've managed to get up to speed and complete the session at full intensity. The left foot is much better but still not 100% so I am being extremely careful. I'd rather the rehab takes a little longer and be clear of it than return too soon and put myself back to square one. That said, I really don't want to cancel this Thursday's Blaisdon 10k (road) but it might end up being a training run rather than a race. I will be a bit gutted though. Then of course there's the weekends fell marshalling and race to look forward to, again, my participation in the race next Sunday is on a knife edge...

So with limited running, the major focus of the weeks training has been Zwift cycling and specifically, climbing. After completing the Ventoux climb for the first-time last Sunday, I've knocked out another 1900m of ascent on various Zwift KOM's and I haven't spared many watts in the process. Every metre of ascent has been on or near the limit. Today's virtual Puy de Dome, another HC graded climb, with its 938m of ascent spread over 12.9km and was as tough as any, with the steepest section coming at the end, weighing in close to 10% for the final 3km. It's been good training though, as I feel strong and my Garmin VO2 score has increased another point, taking it higher than it's been in over a decade.


Sunday, July 02, 2023

Virtually Made it to the Top...

The Ven-Top. Zwift's answer to the epic Mont Ventoux KOM climb. It has a categorisation of HC - which should stand for hard-core but is actually hors cat├ęgorie, which means 'beyond categorisation' - and not at all rude, for those who can't spell. The route is 20.9km long with a gruelling 1534m of climb. It is the hardest climb on Zwift and every Zwifter should complete it at least once. With an average gradient of 7.3% with some sections at between 10-13% for several kilometres at a time. There is almost no respite. It is, quite simply, an absolute bastard.

At around the halfway mark I almost jacked it in as it was so gruellingly hard but got through that bad patch and cracked onwards. It was hard. Very bloody hard. After what seemed an eternity, I got to the virtual summit in 1 hour, 51minutes 33seconds. I've ticked the box but I'm not sure I'm going to ride that again any time soon...

As to the rest of the week, it's been Zwift, Zwift, Zwift, mouse rescue, yet more Zwift and a very gentle 3k on the treadmill today after my efforts up Ven-Top this morning. My foot has not been completely pain free but it is a world away from the pain induced hobbling at the front end of the week. I took it very slowly and built the pace a little bit. I was prepared to hit the stop if I felt any pain. Thankfully it didn't come to that. I had no discomfort.

I'm keeping everything crossed. Hopefully there will be no aftershocks and I can start back with some gentle training and move things forward from there.