Monday, 27 December 2010

The End of 2010

Christmas has been and gone and I have become rather slack..... ummm no swimming since the end of November and no cycling for much longer than that. In my defence (!) I have been distracted by Christmas and all things, sorting, toy removal, present buying and wrapping.. bla bla bla...... And it has been blummin' cold out there, just the weather for sitting in from of the TV/laptop and eat mince pies in front of the fire.....

But as January approaches, I am starting to get back into the frame of mind required to cycle, swim, get fit, lose fat, get strong.

My husband has bought me the best Christmas present (and it was a complete surprise), a road bike! I have been after one for a while but had written it off as I have a decent mountain bike and frankly, they are expensive. So I am over the moon. Here it is:
It is a Specialized Dolce Sport 2010 in extra small. I took it out for a test-ride today; felt very odd - I have never ridden a road bike before! There is no suspension, so I quickly learnt to avoid pot holes. The handle bars feel very strange, even though I had extenders on my MTB. The gears are changed by a small tab next to the brakes... and to change back the other way, it is the gear lever itself which is used. Oh and I could *really* feel that I haven't cycled for a while. My legs felt heavy and I felt heavy.. I guess there's only one way to remedy that!

But all in all, I am pleased with it and have a renewed enthusiasm for getting out there on two wheels. I have found an Evan's Ride-It event which takes place in April, near Leeds and I think I will enter this to give me a goal throughout the Spring. 30 miles, on-road.

My eldest daughter also received a new bike for Christmas, an Islabike, which is a company who specialise and enthuse over decent bikes for children, designed with them in mind, to allow them to take biking seriously. This is the bike we chose for her. Looks and feels very grown up!

As for swimming, it is likely to be another week before I get back to the pool, but I will update as soon as I get there.

I also intend to concentrate on my diet in January. I am going to challenge myself with something different each month, to keep me interested. Focus being on healthy eating, avoiding processed foods and changing the wobbly bits to muscle to make me ride faster! I haven't yet decided what to do in January, but I may well simply calorie count to kick start the New Year. Later in the year I plan to have months without wheat, without dairy, without alcohol/caffeine .. but not all at once. Theory being.... by changing the focus regularly, it won't get boring and I can hopefully stay focused.

Friday, 26 November 2010

End of November

I have been to Rothwell Pool twice more since I last updated (and yes I am down to swimming once per week at the moment), and I still haven't managed 50m of crawl without stopping. My distance has improved though and I am nearly capable of swimming the 1 mile distance I need to finish The Great Swim Series distances next year.


Pool: Rothwell
Distance: 50 lengths
Stroke: breaststroke, crawl and some backstroke.
Time: Approx 40 minutes.
Notes: Felt strong swimming through lengths 35-45, and this is an improvement from when I first started when I seemed to peak at about length 22-25. Crawl is becoming faster and more confident.

I am still going to a Pilates class once per week, but time to swim is down to a minimum due to lots of Christmas and kitchen stuff taking up time!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Swimming Update (into November). And Build a Tri-Bike....

I have had a little break from my intensive swimming routine, following a week's holiday at half term and then minor upheaval to family life while our kitchen was put back together after being ripped out and re-fitted.

I have swam twice this week and feel I am not back into things. Last night:

Pool: Rothwell, Leeds.
Lengths: 36
Stroke: Breaststroke, plus 7 lengths of front crawl and two lengths on my back.
Time: 30 minutes (approx)
Notes: I felt restricted by time, realising it was 8pm and I had better get back home (my youngest child relying on me to go to sleep.....), so I had only been swimming for 30 minutes, though I felt I had another easy 20 minutes in me. Next time I will go earlier. First time I have swum so many crawl lengths in one go, though not yet done two consecutive crawl lengths (ie 50 metres).

I have been to Rothwell on a Friday night a few times now and it is definitely the favourite swimming session I have found so far. It is lane swimming, split up, dependent on how fast you are swimming (so I can choose a lane where I can rest a lot if needed, or choose a faster lane if I don't want to avoid slower swimmers on other occasions.......) and it is always pretty quiet.

I am also pleased with my progress with my crawl stroke (this being, for me, a sprint stroke, leaving me panting for breath!) and I am hoping to manage a 50m sprint next Friday.

I have also order a THIRD pair of goggles, still in search of the perfect pair, that are comfy and don't fog! (Good job they are inexpensive!). I borrowed my husband's goggles which are similar to these (different brand though!) And they didn't fog. The Kayenne's should be better for fitting as they are aimed at women (smaller!).

Cycling... hmmm, cycling. Well, with winter here, I had hoped to cycle once per week. But to be frank, I dislike cycling in cold, windy, wet, dark conditions. My only daylight option is Sunday, and I keep finding reasons not to go.... so I am admitting defeat on this front and I will pick it up in early Spring (March).

So I am in search of a more aerobic fitness class to try and keep me vaguely fit over winter (I have made Pilates a regular weekly thing, but it is hardly aerobic/cardiovascular...).

I met up with and had a chat with a friend this week, who goes to a weekly step aerobic class. Not hugely my thing, but knowing someone at a class where you are the newbie is a huge motivator in ensuring you do go... so I plan to do step aerobics for the first time ever, on Monday!!

On a side note, my lovely husband has decided to embark on a new bike project so I thought I would blog on his progress. He already has a bike capable of being adapted for off-road, or modified to cope with road/race/triathlon conditions.. but he yearns over a tri-specific road bike. (They cost several thousands of pounds.)

So he is buying the bits and building one (and as far as I can tell, so far, it also costs several thousand pounds.....)

He bought a carbon fiber frame and forks/stem this week, plus wheels, tyres and a group set (all the metal bits, such as chain-set, cogs, chain etc). Never seen a carbon fiber bike in real life bfore (well I have, but not handled one!) and WOW it is so amazingly light! Picture of The Tri Bike so far, (and yes, the cat approves!) Click the pictures to see it in all it's carbon fiber loveliness:

Thursday, 21 October 2010

What Inspires You?

Everyone has something that inspires them, or drives them to achieve a fitness goal. Some people enter long distance running races, to earn sponsorship for a charity close to their hearts, having never run further than the end of their gardens before. Some people have weight-loss goals, and find a love of fitness this way.

The latter is vaguely true for myself, but I am also inspired by the people around me. I have several friends who have found a love of running, since becoming parents and wanting to do something for themselves again.

My husband is a very big inspiration. He has always kept fit, going to the gym several times per week and commuting to work on his mountain bike, fifteen miles each way, even in inches of snow!

This year, I made a bit of a light-heated comment to him; while we watched the triathlon events on channel 4, about how great he would be at triathlons. He took me seriously and started running for the first time in his life and swimming. He has never been a natural swimmer and still can't swim front crawl.

In September 2010, he entered his first Olympic-distance triathlon, in Roundhay Park in Leeds. He swam 1500 metres in the lake, which also happened to be his first ever open water swim and the first time he had worn a wetsuit. He swam the full mile using breaststroke. He completed the 40k cycle (which to be fair, was a walk in the park to him). And then he ran 10k. He finished about 160th out of 300 competitors. I should point out he works full time and is a full time father to four, so his achievements are extremely impressive!

Since the race, he has taken to running in his lunch hour, at work, to simply keep fit, now the triathlon season is over. He regularly runs 15 miles over lunchtime, having cycled 15 miles to work that morning, and later cycling 15 miles home again.

So yeah..... I don't have to look far to find my inspiration....

I took a few photo's of the triathlon, thought I would share some here. (Taking photo's at such an amazing event inspired me further to consider pursuing my newly found interest in capturing the action at amateur sporting events.. but that's an entirely different story ;-)

Oh and he intends to enter the Great Swim Series with me in 2011 :-D

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, the full set of photo's are available there... what an amazing day... it will stay with me for a long time for many reasons. One of those being that I came away from it, knowing I would *do* something else. At first i thought it was along the lines of photography, and most likely, this will follow. In fact, I decided not too long afterwards, that I would cycle more next year and I would swim. My hubby is a huge inspiration, but one day at a triathlon event (that he happened to be competing in!) also inspired me in many ways.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Lane Swimming, Pilates and Crawl.

Today I went to a 'lane' swimming session, rather than a 'general' swim. I have avoided the lane sessions in the past, in case I looked foolish and far too unfit to be swimming amongst real swimmers!

In fact, it was so much easier, not having to avoid the people not swimming and having some guidance to direction, by the lane divides made things easier. There were four lanes, 'chatter' lane, 'slow' lane, 'jogger' lane and 'fast' lane. I chose to swim in the slow lane, where I found I was swimming at a similar speed as those in the jogger lane, but as I tended to pause in between lengths, it felt more appropriate to swim in the slower lane and overtake people. (There were only two others swimmers in my lane.)

I managed to swim four non-consecutive laps of front crawl. Felt like a huge achievement!. Started off with full bi-lateral breathing (stroke-stroke-stroke/breath) but by the end of the length I had to revert to breathing every second stroke, as I was quite out of breath. And I have no doubt the stroke was quite sloppy and inefficient. I remembered to use the tiles on the bottom of the pool to keep my line as I had been nervous about bumping into, or swimming out of my lane, but I had no problem with this.

I need to buy a swimming cap though. Had forgotten how difficult it is to swim crawl with longer hair (and it was tied up!)

So statistics for today:

Pool: Rothwell
Distance: 36 lengths
Stroke: Breaststroke and four lengths of front crawl.
Time: Approx half hour (wasn't really time keeping).

I also added a class of Pilates into my regime this week. It was quite a large class (17 of us) at the local leisure centre, and wasn't as good as the Pilates I have attended in the past, but it was free (or at least covered by my 'fitness and swim card'), and although my core muscles were quite weak, I remembered a lot of the things I have learnt in the past, and felt I had a good workout. Hoping to continue with this once per week.....

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Cycling AND swimming!

I did both today! I went out this morning on my bike and cycled to the local pool and back, 13 miles in total, to see if it is feasible for me to cycle to the pool for my swim.

It was a difficult ride; Kippax is a very hilly village, I was reminded of the pain in my legs after cycling in the Lake District, but with none of the attractive scenery. It took me 20 minutes to cycle there, but 35 minutes to cycle back (downhill there, uphill back!), so in terms of the amount of time it took, it is still better for me to drive at the moment (because I am often exercising in the evening, when Family Stuff Needs Doing too).

In the pool this evening, I swam my usual 30 lengths and vaguely thought about stretching myself to 36 lengths. But remembering the punishment my legs had had this morning, I decided against.

I did however attempt to swim front crawl, just for half a length. Physically, I felt fine. Bit of water pressure in my sinus's which I had forgotten happens when you swim a sprint stroke. Had the pool been empty of non-lane-swimming youngsters, I might have tried a full length, but it wasn't. But it's a start. The difference between breaststroke and front crawl (once you can competently swim breaststroke), is like the difference between walking and jogging. It is a huge step, especially if you are considering swimming crawl over a longer number of lengths.

All in all a great day for achieving fitness goals.

Friday, 8 October 2010

90 lengths in 5 days!

I went for my third swim today, that's the third in 5 days .. in fact the fourth if you count the splash-about I had with my two year old this afternoon!

I completed another 30 lengths breaststroke, making a total of 90 lengths in 5 days. I am hoping to be able to do 90 lengths in one session by Spring, though I have no idea how long it will take me, or if I will be able to do much of that in front crawl.

I found the 30 length distance came quite easily today, so I am going to start focusing on improving my stroke (thanks to You Tube!) and maybe next month buying a book with training plans; I am in need of goals....

I am feeling a little anxious about swimming front crawl and haven't tried it yet. Mostly I am anxious because as a teenager, I always swam crawl as a sprint, ie for short, fast distances. And often, I swam crawl during swimming club sessions, so there was no need to worry about other people and bumping into them. Public swimming sessions at the local pool can be busy, and tonight for example, was full of teenagers, who I kept having to swim around. I will perhaps go on Sunday morning when it should be quite quiet and give it a go then, but I don't expect to be able to swim more than half a length in crawl.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

New Swimming Gear

I ordered and received a new swimsuit today, as my previous tankini, was more practical for being by the pool, rather than swimming in.

I went for a legsuit as it looks practical and nicely aerodynamic. Was a bit unsure about the fit at first as I am quite short and it is clearly for a normal length/longer body, but it was comfortable to swim in, no flapping material and no danger anything might fall out! I also ordered some goggles, as my eyes were starting to mist up and sting last time.

So I went for a swim today (second free swim courtesy of British Gas!) at Wetherby:

Pool: Wetherby
Lengths: 30
Stroke: Breaststroke
Time: 30 minutes (approx)
Notes: Similar swim to my first one last week. Felt slightly easier because I was wearing a better swimsuit and goggles made it easier. No cramp/twinges. Still feeling enthusiastic!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Back in the Saddle

I have had two weeks off from cycling after my Big Race in the Lakes.

I was bought some winter cycling clothing for my birthday, so I put in on tonight, and went out, borrowing hubby's lights.

Hmmm. Only managed 6 miles and I felt every single metre, quite painfully! I think my legs were struggling because of the swim yesterday (ok, not a long swim, but very new to me!) and because I have been recovering from a cold, and I am unsure of cycling in the dark, weird doing it in so many clothes, and because it has been two weeks afterball!

But still, I got out and I cycled.

Anyhow, to remind myself of how well we did a fortnight ago, here is a picture of Dylan and I after we cycled 25 miles up mountains and back, in pouring rain. (Was it only a fortnight ago?!!!)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

First Swim

It is Sunday 3rd October and I just went swimming for the first time in years. (Excluding many pool sessions with a variety of my children, where very little swimming can take place!)

Feeling quite exhilarated and definitely up for the challenge of entering the Great Swim Series next year.

Pool: Wetherby
Lengths: 30 (approx.... need to figure out a way of reliably keeping count!)
Stroke: Breaststroke
Time: 30 minutes (approx)
Notes: Paused at end of each 25 metre length to catch breath. Had cramp in hands/fingers after about 20 lengths and twinges in tendons at back of knees. Felt good in the water, but not confident enough to do front crawl. Legs felt VERY heavy when I got out of the pool!

I also need to buy some goggles and a new swimsuit as mine isn't really suitable for longer swims and was a bit uncomfortable. Am also considering a device which you wear on your wrist which counts your laps for you, eg: Pool Mate. Expensive but could share ownership with my husband who trains at different times to me.

I think the distance is achievable for me, 1 mile is approximately 64 laps of the pool and I have done half the distance today. I aim to train up to 100 laps, as you tend to swim further when you swim in open water because it is very easy to deviate off course, and there are often currents to contend with.

I was also bought some new cycling clothes for the winter yesterday, so I am thinking about going out for a ride later. But is is rather wet and windy out there.....

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Start

In 2010, I unknowingly started a journey to Get Fit and stop worrying about calories and weight. I DO still worry about them, but they take second place. I worry more about how far I can go, for how long and if I have taken on enough calories to get there.

In April 2010 I replaced my Halford's £70 mountain bike (MTB) with a new shiny Specialized women's MTB (cost £400). I enjoyed cycling between 8-10 miles every few days.

In May, I entered a bike event to cycle 30 miles in the Lake District, through my employer, while raising money for the charity Make A Wish.

The event took place in September and during the summer, I raised my fitness, cycling 15 miles 3-4 times every week and cycling 25 miles every couple of weeks.

The event took place in the pouring rain and was hilly to say the least (on a level of 1-4, the organisers rated it a 4 for difficulty). I completed it, nonetheless, with the help of my superfit triathlete husband and it felt good.

Over the course of the summer, my bike/cycling evolved. My husband put semi-slicks on it, and I started to look like a cyclist (smart helmet, cycling jerseys, padded cycling shorts, cycling gloves, an on-bike computer....) and started to Be Interested in cycling in general.

I also went as a spectator to my first Triathlon (which my hubby took part in as a first time competitor) and this furthered my enthusiasm for ANY kind of amateur sport.

It is now October. I am feeling a little lost as my goal has passed and met. I am not sure I am keen to continue cycling in winter. In the dark, wet, cold. I have just received some expensive cycling gear as a birthday present to keep me more comfortable in the cold/wet.. but I am not sure i will continue to train to the same extent.

I needed another goal. Something new to keep me focused throughout the long dark months.

Swimming. I was good at it once.

The Great North Swim. 1 mile in open water. Events take place at Windermere and Salford Quays (as well as 4 other Uk locations.)

I have so far inspired a few of my friends to do it too, and my hubby will be taking part as it will aid him with his tri training.

So tomorrow, I go to the pool. I haven't swam without a child attached for 6 years. Bit nervous I will be rubbish. But all this cycling has to have done something for my fitness.

The Great Swim takes part in August/September 2011 (location dependent). This is my blog about my training to get there and swim 1 mile in open water. (I have never swam in open water, or in a wetsuit). I have approximately 12 months. I don't just want to compete, I want to finish it, respectably.

Oh and as the year turns to Spring again, I want to cycle at least 50 miles per week and enter at least one 30 mile event. Maybe a 60 miler.

This is how I do it.