Monday, 30 August 2010

Flatness

As is the case so regularly in my life, plans have changed last minute. We had to postpone the hike due to unforeseen circumstances so now I have four days off and lots of ideas of how to fill them.

Today I headed into the New Forest for a spot of mountain biking. I feel I have deserted Roxy since I first got her and when the opportunity to go out with Lyndal from the Tri Club arose I grabbed the chance. I asked her how long the ride would be and she said it was around 14km. "Is that all?!" I thought. Always keen to get out and do as much as possible I said to her maybe we could add on some extra if we're both feeling lively. She agreed.

Despite being keen to get out and spend some time in the saddle, I was still filled with nervous anticipation. I'm really not at all confident on the MTB, but Lyndal reassured me we wouldn't be doing anything technical, just a nice friendly loop with a few hills.

We set off and were grinding uphill almost immediately, my thighs were burning within ten minutes. Probably wasn't a great idea to do a spinning class this morning before heading out.. you live and learn.

At the crest of the first hill and gasping for air I forgot for a moment how scared I was about the downhill and I flew down the first bit, absolutely crapping myself when I hit a few bumps. However, after that I started to ease up. The thing with the New Forest is that loads of the paths are very gravelly, so you can't brake when you're going down unless you want to skid out of control. You have to just let gravity do it's thing and try your very hardest to avoid anything that might launch you into a concussion.

After some more heavy undulations and a hellish hill of sand that required hardcore spinning action just to keep from sinking into the depths we had done our loop. Brilliant! It was all going so well! We decided to do a little bit extra.

In that little bit extra I managed to hit the deck twice. The second time hurt. I made a very ridiculous decision to cross from the path I was on to the path that Lyndal was on via many dead bits of tree. Roxy wasn't keen on the idea and she threw me down into a little patch of thorns. A bit winded, I got up and dusted myself off, pulling a thorn or two out of my battered limbs.

We went on, and I suddenly felt like it was really hard going. Whenever this happens to me on a bike I never think "ooh maybe I'm tired". Like a bad workman blames his tools I always think there must be a problem with the bike or I must have a flat. In this instance, I was sure I was looking flatter than normal. Lyndal had a peek and assured me my tyres looked fine - bugger, it was just me then.

The last part of the trail was full of muddy puddles which I thoroughly enjoyed. You always feel like a rugged, hardcore mountain biker when you're caked in mud. Knackered, we got back to the car. At the other end when we got the bike out, guess what? My front tyre was as flat as a pancake. A closer inspection revealed a massive thorn, meaning I had in fact been riding deflated since the dead tree incident. Part of me was a bit annoyed that I hadto sort out a flat, but most of me was actually pretty happy that I wasn't just weak and tired for the last bit of the ride!

I patched her up and with aching calves, headed to Tesco where they are doing a ridiculous offer of half price Ben and Jerrys!! Quite frankly it would have been sheer stupidity not to stock up. Here's a major success story for you though, it's been in the freezer all afternoon and I haven't even unwrapped the plastic.

I'm a health queen!

Friday, 27 August 2010

August Blues


I have been very aware over the last few weeks that my training and healthy living regime has dwindled. What with moving house and all the stuff that comes with it, sorting out my new job, getting generally sorted career-wise and being very sociable, the Egg-Goes-Healthy motivation has been put on the back-burner. A friend of mine very sensibly said yesterday "Egg, it's called 'life' and that's ok".. wise words indeed.

However, I'm not sure it is just life. I think I have discovered what the problem really is, and it's been sneaking up on me like a ninja in the shadows.

Wine.

You see I've been doing a lot of celebrating in August. The month started with a very heavy week and I don't think I've fully recovered since then. It was as I scoffed down a curry with all the trimmings last night and polished off a bottle of wine that I realised what I'd been doing. From being almost teetotal for a couple of months I've somehow gone on a wine binge without even noticing it was happening. Maybe this is how alcoholism starts?!

Luckily now I have spotted the problem and will cease all my celebratory activities with immediate effect. Maybe that's a bit too harsh, maybe I'll just continue to celebrate but do it with some lovely fresh juice instead - much better idea. I'm not even sure what I'm celebrating to be honest. Maybe tonight I shall celebrate not drinking wine.

In addition to the wine I will also make a confession. I have been a the cookies. I've had maybe four packets throughout the month thus far, Tesco keep putting their Finest range on offer and I am merely a weak-willed cookie-munching monster. Today I picked some up on the way to the fruit section, then I realised they were a very unneccessary addition to my shopping basket, so I put them back. Then the whole way round the supermarket my mind kept drifting back to Belgian chocolate chunks. I caved and had to go back and get some. I hid them under the nectarines.

My current goals have gone by the wayside a bit. I put this down to not running at first but I can't keep using that as an excuse. I am chuffed to bits with the 5k I did last weekend at the Relays, not quite the sub 24-minute I was aiming for but a good time nonetheless considering I have done no running in the past few weeks. The 400m swim time is getting there, I managed an 8:33 in the lake yesterday morning but the real test will be in the pool. Eating and sleeping-wise I have really been slack, but now that I am in my new place I can really start putting these into action.

What I need to do is write August off completely. Start afresh. I will be going away with a friend on Monday to walk the 101 miles of the South Downs Way in four days, whilst carrying hefty rucksacks. This is the perfect fresh start I need and I shall return in September to my new house, start my new job and get into a new routine. Lovely.

Might start celebrating my fresh start!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

DOMS

Muscles are back-stabbing little monkeys. You finish a great workout (or in this particular case, a great day of racing) and you feel awesome; endorphins are flowing, mind is buzzing and if it was reeally good you get that slightly twitchy uncontrolled mini muscle spasm thing going on just after - brilliant.

Even the next day, you feel surprisingly fresh and lively so you might throw in the odd lunge here and there to celebrate.

Then it gets you. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Yesterday at work, two days after racing, my legs were screaming every time I used the stairs. Usually I appreciate the three flights we have and all the stair-climbing action throughout the day, any extra exercise is a bonus! Yesterday however, I just wanted to sit downstairs in a bath of frozen peas.

I will accept some responsibility. Normally I am religious about stretching after exercise and in all the excitement of the weekend I did completely forget. Not only that but because we had time to rest between each bit, you end up cooling down and then suddenly shocking your muscles into firing up again.

I've found in the past that if you're a bit sore muscle-wise a bit of gentle exercise and a good stretch tends to relieve it, but my quads are not currently keen to engage in gentle exercise at all. I think I shall be able to manage a swim and leave these useless limbs trailing behind!

Lessons for next time: Remember to warm up, remember to stay warm and remember to stretch afterwards... and keep frozen peas in the house.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Triathlon Club Relays 2010

We'd been talking about the National Triathlon Club Relays for months. I'd been enticed in to take part by the promise of a "fun, social triathlon with loads of time to rest". The idea is that you enter in teams of four and you all swim, bike and run. Some sort of baton is handed over as you tag your team mates and you get to chill out between your three disciplines - easy! How you were going to swim with a baton I was not sure, but I was planning on putting the cleavage to good use.

As it turns out it wasn't quite as simple as I had envisaged. With what felt like ten million other triathletes over four completely different transition areas there really is only one word that comes close to describing it: carnage. Even when we had started racing I had no clue whatsoever how it was all going to work, all I knew is that I was third and I had to wear the blue hat and make sure I was there ready when Nicky (number 2) came out of the water.

The "baton" turned out to be a rubber strap that goes around your wrist, which I was very relieved about. The idea of hundreds of people swimming with what was effectively a weapon had been striking fear into my heart but a rubber band I reckon I could handle.

This was also my first race in open water and was mentally prepared to get swum over, kicked in the face and generally battered. Fortunately I didn't have much time to think about that because I was focused on elbowing my way to the front of the neoprene-covered pack and being ready to scream out when Nicky came out of the water. Now I may not be a great swimmer but I can shout loudly with the best of them and she saw me straight away, before I knew it the band was on my wrist, I was barging through the masses and leaping fearlessly into the water. I use the word water fairly loosely, what we were actually swimming in was some kind of scientific pond-weed growth project. Every stroke involved handfuls of slimy greenery and every breath involved facefuls of it, deeelicious! Moments later I got kicked square in the face, my goggles were pushed so hard onto me I thought I might end up sucking my eye out if I tried to remove them - but I risked it and got them back into position. It was time to get aggressive, so I kicked harder and pushed past people whenever I could, the whole open-water argy-bargy business was actually quite enjoyable. My technique went completely out the window but I was having a good time! I got to the end and pegged it as fast as I could to find Sue, our number 4. A quick handover and she was away.  

Now I needed to figure out where to go with the bike and what to do next. Helmeted, gloved and very excited I went over to the bike transition area. It was not as complex as I expected, as soon as Nicky was out on the bike I could go and rack mine and then wait for her to hand over the baton once she'd done her three laps. It was a much smaller barrier to make the handover and therefore a lot more pushing was required, this is where being small comes good. I squeezed my way to the front, glad to be wearing my helmet as people with ridiculously large aerodynamic hetlmets were taking out their competitors with mere turns of their heads.

The handover was made and I ran my bike out of the transition area, as soon I was pedalling past the spectator crowd I heard someone screaming " Go Egggggg". Now I know where I get my volume from, my mother was up there cheering for me, and cheering bloody loudly - brilliant. Spurred on by that I whizzed off. The thing is when you get to have a break between, it means that you can push as hard as possible as you don't need to keep anything in reserve. A flat course around the lake means you can really push, and I loved speeding around the corners, overtaking, being overtaken and just caning it knowing I could have a rest after. When I finished the cycle my legs were still spinning so fast that I misjudged the pace completely. I ran to pass the band over to Sue and went straight into the barrier, luckily I only went into a big beefy man and so didn't take anyone out! 

My legs were pumping after the bike and after going to find mum and give her a big sweaty hug I got my trainers on and went on the search for the run transition zone. I was pretty worried about the run, with my gammy knee and the fact that I haven't been running at all recently I didn't know how it was going to go. Of course as soon as I saw Nicky making a sprint finish the adrenaline kicked in, the worries were lost and all I was thinking about was catching whoever was in front. I found the run hard, I knew I was finding it hard because I could hear myself grunting with every exhalation and there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn't the only grunter out there though, everyone was pushing hard. It felt like the longest 5k of my life and then I heard Liz (our number 1) screaming at me to sprint for the finish, so I went as hard as I could and handed the band over. I was done.

It's worth saying that I deserved to be grunting as I found out later on that it was the fastest 5k I had ever run, also the fastest on my team AND I beat Leo (on our other team) by one second! I hope he reads this.

We cheered as our number 4s ran through the finish. What I thought was going to be the most complicated event ever turned out to be a non-stop 4 and a bit hour funfest. Despite the very iffy weather and not knowing exactly what was going on I thoroughly enjoyed it and am already gearing up for next year.

We were all absolutely knackered afterwards and did the only thing you can really do in this instance, went to the pub. One dessert for sharing (but not shared, obviously) later and I was feeling much better. In fact after all the excitement my head was obviously in a bit of a spin and I splurged on unhealthyness. Following my dessert (and the rest of Nick's dessert) with a bottle of wine, a full English this morning and a Burger King on the way home - I'm such a rebel! But I'm a rebel who has now raced in open-water and ran a 5k faster than Leo (still reading Leo?) so all is good!





Sunday, 15 August 2010

Last Man Standing..

I used to pride myself on being a particularly hardcore party animal. In fact I think these crazy times were probably a good, solid foundation on which to build up the stamina for endurance sports. Long nights with lots of sambuca and little to no sleep followed by a long working day.. and repeat.

I used to pride myself on regularly being the "last man standing".. or at least leaning in a peculiar manner.. against something solid.. or occasionally thinking it was solid when it was actually a bush. Honestly though, what with being so ridiculously competitive there have been many nights where I just didn't sleep so I could win (or more likely staying up the longest to ensure I am the most up to date with all the gossip or who went where and more importantly, with whom).

I chuckled to myself this evening as I came to the end of my swim session and realised I was the last one in the water, it's like a much healthier version of "last man standing!" I wasn't even trying or being competitive or anything. It probably only happened as I was a bit late (and got told off too for sneaking in!) and swam slower than most of the others, but it felt very satisfying nonetheless.

I shall mention too that I timed myself on a 400m swim tonight and am delighted to report that I have a new pool PB of 9:40:7 which is just under a minute and a half faster than my previous timed attempt!

This not running business (whilst still upsetting me immensely) is obviously paying off in other ways!

Friday, 13 August 2010

An Uncertain Period of Time

This - I warn you now fellas - is going to be a post that only the girls will be able to empathise with, so I recommend that all the chaps skip it.

Since I last blogged, I have had some ups and downs. I discovered I was selected for a new job that I applied for some time ago, which I am chuffed about. So I shall have a new job and a new place to live come September - very exciting. Of course with this though comes extra organisation, sorting and paperwork. There's been various other bits and pieces going on that I won't bore you with, but I've felt a bit overwhelmed by it all!

Training hasn't been great. I've been feeling pretty tired and lethargic, not my usual energised self. I've even been struggling a bit with getting up in the morning, whereas normally I jump up with a start and am suspiciously happy and awake first thing.

Men, still reading? I'm about to openly talk about menstruation.. don't say I didn't warn you! 

I went to the Doctor last week as I haven't been having periods. He said it was quite normal for someone that's lost a bit of weight and is doing more exercise than normal and that I shouldn't worry until it gets to about 9 months or so.

I secretly love not getting periods. They are the bane of my life and anyone who knows me well will know that I am very much in favour of sterilisation, especially as small children are the spawn of Satan and I will never, ever wish to even be in the company of one for more than a day let alone have one of my own.

The thing is, when you don't get them it is just a bit of a worry. It can't be healthy - surely there must be some build up somewhere in there? I started to worry that when it came back (if it ever did!) that there would be some sort of murder-scene inspired torrent! Still reading fellas? Regretting it?

So, I was saying how I've been feeling a bit tired this week. I've had a headache for about three days and I figured maybe I haven't been eating or sleeping enough so I ate loads, slept loads. It didn't help. I felt worse, mostly worse through guilt of the eating loads. I'll admit when I say I ate loads I really do mean it, I thought a whole tub of Ben & Jerrys might help the headache you see (frozen yoghurt, the healthy version of B&J - obviously)! Then I was convinced I was getting fat.. I kept spying myself in the mirror and examining the side profile, yep, fat.

Last night I went to the gym and a mere 30 minutes later I was just not feeling it, I left having barely broken into a sweat and feeling absolutely rubbish.

This morning I woke up and what is this? Wow, for the first time in five months I got my period! Hurrah! I have never been so happy to get one in all my life. The bloating has gone and I feel marvellous. Turns out all it was was a bit of PMT. Phew! It had been so long I'd forgotten about all the symptoms that come with our monthly offloading.

So ladies, I would like to celebrate the period: our fantastic excuse to be grumpy and eat ice cream! Long may they continue!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

End to the Carnage

It's over, and I am absolutely exhausted. The week of unhealthyness began with a visit from my mother who - for the record - wasn't too bad an influence on me. But we did drink a good amount of wine and eat a good amount of food.

This was followed by a night where the drinking was not really kept under control whatsoever, and my drinking companion Hannah WAS a bad influence by a) forcing me to swap drinks so I had to consume some nasty blue stuff and b) by entertaining me with "day-after-drinking-chat" so I didn't get up and go to the gym as planned.

In amongst this a well-wisher had brought us in a box of chocolates at work and Rachel kept bringing in treats and telling me "help myself", as if I need encouragement!

Then I went off to Brighton where I drank a substantial amount of anything going and ate more savoury snacks than a pregnant woman at a wedding buffet.

Food, drinking and lack of exercise aside, all in all, it was a very fun, laughter-filled week and - and let's face it - everyone agrees that laughter is healthy, don't they?!

Admittedly I do feel like complete and utter crap. Having filled my body with junk that it's not used to I feel like a useless, tired lump. I've viewing this as a positive. It's a fantastic motivator for me to get back to my healthy ways. So, the blow-out is over and Hegg (Healthy Egg) is back. Today I've been for an early morning lake session and been to the gym, I've been to tesco to buy a colourful array of fruit and veg and I've even made myself a good old strawberry smoothie!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Out of Control

I need to confess. I've lost the plot a bit the last couple of weeks. With the whole not running thing and then resting a bit before the triathlon, eating copious amounts of ice cream at the Ben and Jerrys Festival and resting a bit after.. my exercise regime has slowed down and my eating has increased exponentially. Add this to the fact that I went out to a brilliantly fun hockey social on Friday and had a few glasses of naughty and more carrot cake than a family of cake-eating rabbits could have eaten.

The truth is after I blogged about the fact that I was feeling a bit knackered I haven't quite gotten back to full form despite feeling very much rested. I know the not running bit isn't an excuse but it has messed up my motivation a little bit because at the moment I don't have an event that I'm working towards, it was the half-marathon in September and I think that one is going to go out the window.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't stopped training completely and gorged on millions of treats.. I have just been a bit slack and need a kick up the backside. I broke today, I ate a pack of cookies and a club sandwich from a local sandwich shop which is very aptly named "Doorsteps". The sandwich was without a shadow of a doubt, the largest sandwich I have ever encountered. Was that a problem? Of course not!

Now the rest of the week will involve a visit from my mum (and with it - I'm sure - more glasses of naughty and eating out) followed by going out on Thursday to Salisbury's brand new gay night (cue cocktails) and then a trip to Brighton to visit some friends of the very messy variety. Unless I acquire a brand new set of willpower, it's going to be a tough week on the being healthy side of things.

It's so easy to say "I'll start again on Monday" but I always shake my head when other people say this because I think if you really want to change you should do it NOW.

Step 1 is out of the way. Admitting you have a problem. Now I am going to make a pledge and this is very important because all of you that will see me and be around me in the next week especially need to help me out here. For August there's no point saying I'm not going to have a drink because there is too much partying to do, so instead my pledge is that:

a) although I will drink, I will not turn into Negg (Naughty Egg: my drunken alter-ego for those of you who are not lucky enough to have met her) and be completely and utterly squiffy.

b) I will not engage in any drink-fuelled late-night eating of kebabs, pizza etc.

c) I will choose healthy options in eating out situations and avoid dribbling over the dessert menu.

d) Cookies and carrot cake (my two biggest weaknesses) are BANNED.

e) All dancing activity will be very energetic so that some sort of aerobic workout is had.

As you can see, I will need your support, though hopefully just mentally and not physically if goal a) is maintained. It starts now! ...and I'm off to the gym.