Over the Easter Break, I headed out to the Loire Valley in France for a training weekend with a few of the other guys training for IM Zurich, we were lucky enough to stay with some friends in their holiday apartments, opposite her family's amazing Chateau! What a view to wake up to each morning!
We had the perfect hosts and got to live like athletes for the weekend with all our meals catered for, which was such a welcome treat returning from a long session!
If you are looking for a destination that’s not too expensive to get to for triathlon training, I would definitely recommend the Loire valley as there are lots of scenic, quiet and most importantly FLAT cycle and running routes so if you are hill shy like me it's perfect! (Check out one of the ride routes on Strava) As well as some super lakes for swimming (if a little cold in early April!) and beautiful old Chateau’s to view on your travels.
Our training log looked like this:
Good Friday – 105k bike followed by 10k run (It was supposed to be 6k but turned into 10 for me due to my horrible sense of direction!) We then went for a very brief swim in the lake as it can't have been more than 8 degrees!
Saturday – 95k bike - Time Trial along the river for 50k to add a bit of race pace and competitiveness to the training. Guess who went the wrong way...again! 13.1k run off the bike, with less jelly legs than Friday!
Easter Sunday - 140k bike – a glorious ride in the sunshine, even if the legs were a little heavy! Then a short sharp 4k run off the bike.
Then it was time for Easter dinner and EGGS! Yum! What a weekend, great fun and although hard work it felt satisfying to get all those miles in the bank. It also felt amazing to give my new Felt AR5 a proper and extended run out over the 3 days, it really is a beast of a bike and just cuts through the air on the flat – where pushing along in the wind used to be a chore, it’s a pleasure to have such a responsive bike and get up to a much faster top speed without as much effort. I LOVE IT! However, I was slightly concerned as I seemed to have picked up a niggly pain in my left Achilles, which had become pretty red and swollen...with 1 week to go until Brighton marathon! Whoops!
A visit to the physio
A sports physio appointment made me feel confident enough to run at Brighton and although it was a bit painful, not so much so that I couldn’t run, so I went for it and trotted round the seaside course in the sun. Brighton marathon really is a wonderful event, such a unique and buzzing atmosphere that I haven't experienced at any other race. Kudos to those Brighton-ians for their energetic support and amazing carnival feel! It wasn’t a day for a PB unfortunately, but I was happy with 3.49 considering my ankle was now 3 times the size and a funky shade of purple, not good news!
I had a feeling that the Achilles injury had stemmed from my position on the bike rather than running as pain had started on the training weekend…the marathon had just made it much worse. I felt like my saddle was a probably too high and that I was over stretching in a TT position - having come from riding a female specific road bike, which even with tri bars on still wasn't particularly aerodynamic, moving to a much more aggressive aero-road frame which is specifically designed for getting low, it felt like my position wasn't quite there yet. I decided to visit a specialist who had been recommended to me for a physio / cycling assessment. The specialist Nichola was very thorough in examining both my injury and riding position to get to the root cause and set me on the path to getting back on my bike comfortably and injury free. This involved a couple of sessions of moving things around on the bike and recommending strength exercises. I now feel much more comfortable and powerful on the bike in the new position! Thank you Nichola!
So, after sorting my bike position and LOTS of staring at the bottom of a swimming pool (at least my swim leg will be stronger as a result) I am delighted that my favourite lake, Shepperton Open Water Swim (UK) has just opened so I have had the chance to try out my new Orca Predator wetsuit. Now this thing is a beauty of innovation!! The arms and upper body are 0.88mm neoprene which feels ridiculously thin when you take it out of the box but brings a whole new level of freedom once in the water – you can barely feel the wetsuit on your arms and have a much better range of movement, completely unrestrictive. And the fit feels incredible, don’t get me wrong it takes at least 10 minutes to get INTO the suit, especially as you need to be careful with the thinner areas of neoprene, but once on it fits like a glove!
My old wetsuit was fairly basic, and its clear how much better the fit and technology gets as you upgrade – not only is your movement less restricted but it also feels super supportive and buoyant in the right places. Here’s to some speedy swimming wearing the Predator!
I am now back fighting fit (ish!) and just about to head off on another training weekend, this time to the Isle of Arran. Similar crew attending this time around, so should be just as fun but the training will be longer and harder, and HOPEFULLY we won't have typically Scottish weather to contend with!
8 weeks and counting to Ironman Zurich…!