The Final weeks (6-7) In which I…
Asked myself the important questions
Went the distance
Weeks six and seven I have started to find my stride, in running especially I’ve made some leaps and bounds! Literally and figuratively. I’ve also started to ask the big questions, such as, do triathletes wear socks?! And feel those twinges of excitement mingled with fear.
Bricking it (combining running and cycling in short bursts) it turns out, is knackering – but over the course of the last few weeks I’ve learned it’s knackering because I’ve been going at it full tilt. It’s not sustainable! And it’s miserable slowing down each time I complete a segment when I feel like I should be speeding up. I’m learning that it’s a mental game as well as a physical one, and to just keep going at it and get the segments done – not on speed.
The Brick sessions have also helped me feel more logistically prepared. I’ve been practicing coping with the infamous ‘jelly legs’ as well as changing shoes, which I’ve decided now makes sense for me despite the cost in time, as I feel so much more confident and stable on the bike when I’m clipped in. I’ve been running with them in a little bag on my back. I’ve just got to make sure I don’t forget to leave my trainers in transition and end up with only my cycle shoes or bare feet to run in! Nightmare.
The running the last couple of weeks, is where I have really begun to see the biggest improvements. The 8k in Week 5 gave me the confidence to get up and go for 10k by the end of week 8, and to my astonishment I’ve achieved it! Following the programme which slowly slowly added 5 minutes to my run every week, I decided to set a 50 minute run marker on Nike Run Club for week 6 (5 mins more than the max that the Her Spirit plan actually set… but it’s the same increment) When I completed it, I had run just 400 metres shy of 10k! So the next week I went out and smashed it in 52 minutes 46 secs!! I don’t have a medal round my neck, but I’m so proud to have reached this milestone. I’ve doubled the distance of any timed run I have ever done in just a matter of weeks. I’ve started eyeing up the next significantly milestone now… The half marathon. Could I double it again before winter kicks in..? The Her Spirit training approach has seen me work at running with small increments that have been not only manageable, but helped me achieve something I had no idea I would get out of this training when I entered it! An unexpected surprise! Worthy of a happy, sweaty selfie…
I was able to meet my Her Spirit-er friend Lisa to swim at Shepperton again this week which was fab. I’ve been struggling to get over the initial shock of the physical effort, on lap one I was once again struggling with those weighty negative thoughts… Why am I bothering… I’m not getting any better… I’m so slow… This is pointless… but then when I made it round the first 400 and had a chat with Lisa in the shallows, I felt so much calmer and went on to do another three laps.
Finally, I made it out on the mountain bike this week for a few hours. I love the road bike, but nothing compares to being out in the forest for getting some much-needed head space. It felt really odd after the narrowness and sensitivity of Sylvia the road bike to return to the broadness and stability of my beloved mountain bike, Rolo.
I’m feeling prepared physically at this point, at the fittest I’ve ever been in my life to be honest! Those 6am starts have been paying off. But I’m nervous about the logistics! The kit list is helpful, but extensive. I am not quite clear on what is an essential and what is a desirable. Chat about elastic laces and wetsuit lube makes me anxious! I don’t have these things. I am also nervous that my goggles still leak – I have never found a pair that don’t. I found out this week the water will be slightly salty which had not even occurred to me. I hope I can still carry on with salty water in my eyes if it comes to that. I know it’s silly but I also think about looking the part… I try and picture the other competitors, I try and picture the finish line and me crossing it. I have an intense desire not to look silly. I treated myself to some fun new socks for running and riding in – then realised short distance triathletes don’t wear them! It’s just more time in transition! I decided I don’t care, they’ve been great for motivating me in my final weeks of training… Sprinkles all the way.