Friday, 15 October 2010

General Update - Team Arktix

Hello everyone. It’s been a long time since any of us last updated the website in any way. And for that we apologise – It’s been pretty manic at for us three of late and whether its been cycling running or swimming around at various locations across the UK, Europe and Africa we’ve still had to contend with raising our race entry fees.

Luckily we’ve managed to get to our half way point in terms of business sponsorship more or less, but if ANY of you have any ideas or leads, please get in contact with us, we’d love to hear from you, there is still a long way to go.  (But seriously, actually think about it, take some time now if you like)

So what exactly have we been up to?  Well first of all Jay has been in Uganda for several weeks. All three of us are yet to catch up – but I assume he was out there running through jungles, wrestling gorillas and building max power and endurance for our Polar trip.  Myself and Oli less glamorously have been to Switzerland (x2) Exmoor (x2) and down to deepest darkest Kent!

I can only speak for the more boring events of my own whereabouts, but I’m sure the other guys will be on here to give you their own viewpoint soon.

So since I last blogged its been a frustrating time for me personally – having been off running for about 3 months and cycling for over a month, I’ve spent most of the time working hard in the gym on my glute activation, general core strength and just swimming lots (lots and lots).

Constrained by injury,  until recently my swimming has been with no legs (just a pull buoy between my legs and a band around my ankles to make doubly sure I couldn’t kick) I’ve got to admit was pretty boring at times – but ‘buoy’ did it pay off (sorry, that was bad) . For three weeks I swam 4x a week averaging nearly 20km and 6 hours a week in the water. Despite feeling like my arms were going to fall off most of the time, which was only exacerbated by taking on the push up challenge alongside this heavy swimming phase – my swimming has come on leaps and bounds.  Being forced to keep up with everyone else using only my arms has built some pretty decent endurance and more importantly not having to worry about my legs – its forced me to eek out every bit of efficiency I can from my stroke.   Now that I’m allowed to kick again – I’m flying. Compared to last year when in an all out sprint distance tri I managed to maintain 1:41 per 100m over a total of 400m, I recently managed to hold 1:32 per 100m over 2.6km during the Marshman Plus (a ¾ distance Ironman triathlon).  This is a pretty encouraging improvement. I only hope to be able to mirror that improvement with my cycling and running when I can really get back to training. And of course I hope to apply every ounce of that improvement to the Polar Challenge, I’m sure I’ll need it and more!

So chronologically speaking the first of the  weekends away was a visit to Switzerland (first weekend of May). Oli and myself head out there and I managed my first cycle back – a gentle 40km spin around the lake on the Sat  and then went for a walk up the Zugerberg on the Sunday.  Oli did some pretty serious running and walking up the mountain both days (having run the Cornwall CTS marathon the weekend before), and it was nice to be able to scope out some routes and ideas for some more serious training a month later when we were to return.

A week later came Marshman Plus, held on Romney Marshes  – Since I still wasn’t allowed to run, the race organiser had agreed to let  Lotte to do the run leg for me. After a good 39 min swim exiting the water in 7th, I was dead chuffed and just got round the 80 mile bike course practicing my IM nutrition and getting used to being back on the bike.   Having not cycled consistently for over a month and a half I had no expectations, so wasn’t fussed either way. Lotte had a solid run and we finished 9th overall– unfortunately it doesn’t really count since we were a relay, but what the hey, not too shabby. I’ve uploaded my race report for this and you can find Oli’s here. (shhhh he didn’t have such a good day)

The next weekend – Oli and I set off late Friday evening down to Exmoor.  On the Saturday Oli was running the final Coastal Trail Series Marathon, which he breezed round in his usual robot-esque fashion, and I decided to get out and practice the IM UK 70.3 bike course.  It was a day of glorious sunshine and after our efforts we both spent the afternoon enjoying some well deserved fine ales, cider and steak whilst basking in the beer garden at the Blue Ball Inn – Awesome day and awesome pub! To cap off the perfect weekend, on the Sunday we both cycled the UK 70.3 bike course  (myself for the 2nd time) and headed back to London for some more well deserved food at Ray’s post Crystal Palace Tri London social.  Still bathing in the warm glow of another day’s sun there we were able to share some Gower cottage brownie love with all (Kate at Gower Cottage Brownies coming up with the goods). Despite most people being full to the brim by the time we got there – it didn’t stop many a Tri Londoner getting in on the action, so overwhelmed were they by the dark lure of these chocolatey cubes of delight.

So how might we top that weekend you might ask – with another weekend down in the south-west of course! This time the challenge was the Tour of Wessex. 331 miles of cycling and a hell of a lot of hills in three days. The first day was atrocious weather, of which I spent most of it cycling the 106 miles alone, the second (120 miles) and third (105 miles) days I spent with some fellow Tri Londoners. Ascending the 2.9 mile and 597m of Dunkery Beacon about 50 miles into the last day was a toughy, that’s for sure, but again it was great training.  I probably could have done without my gears failing, not allowing me to change more than halfway down my rear cassette in the last 25 miles, but it was an excellent weekend and I can thoroughly recommend it.  Completely randomly I was even spotted by Jay somewhere down near Poole on the second day. What are the chances?!

Taking a weekend off after all that would have clearly been out of the question, so after Charlie at Puresports made her best attempt at ‘fixing my legs’,  Oli and I flew back to Switzerland once again. However, because Sleazy Jet decided to cancel our original flight last month we flew on Thursday evening and got in an extra days training.  Once again the weather was on our side and we had 3 days of fantastic swimming, hiking and yet more cycling. On the Friday, we cycled for about 3 hours which included ascending the Wildspitz (approx 1100m elevation in 70km of cycling).  In the afternoon we went for a hike up the Zugerberg and back.

Saturday morning we hit the lake early for an hours swim. Swimming in perfectly still lake on a warm and crystal clear morning with only the impressive mountain scenery for a view was quite an experience.  Its got to be up there as one of my most enjoyable swims and I didn’t want to get out, but we had cycling to do!

We hopped on the train to Zurich to cycle the Ironman course with my brother and his friend Dave (who will be attempting the Etape later this year). Having tired out Dave and my brother, Oli and myself then cycled back to Zug over the Albis.  The ride totalled 120km with about 1400m of elevation across the day.  Saturday was a scorcher and we topped off another great day with a BBQ by the lake in Zug consuming a  LOT of food. Personally I wolfed down a burger, 3 steaks, 2 bacon steaks, 3 sausages, some Boerewors, and a couple of chicken drumsticks. I may or may not have topped off with some melted marshmallows watching a famous Zug sunset (famous apparently because its one of the only places with a ‘clear’ (i.e. not massively mountainous) view to the west across a lake) I wasn’t convinced by the claim, but it sure was a nice sunset.

Sunday morning, we could hardly believe our luck as the weather was on our side once again and we decided it was too good an opportunity to miss to get in some more riding. We cycled out around Aegerisee to Rapperswil at the southern end of Zurich Lake to watch Ironman Switzerland 70.3.  After catching Raelert bossing the show we then TT-d back along the lake to Thalwil to climb the Albis once again and head back to Zug. This is where it fell apart a bit. I say ‘we TT-d’ – it was more Oli doing the work, with me desperately trying to keep up. After 10km of HIS ‘race pace’ I think the fatigue was finally catching up with me. It blew my legs to pieces. I never found him again and not having a phone with me, and Oli with the garmin I had to jump on the train home (oh what a shame) Still it was another 90km for me and 1000m elevation for the day. Topping off over 800km in 8days and over 10km of ascent on the bike!

So where does this leave me/us. Well – quite tired after some pretty intense training over the last few weeks, I’m looking forward to IM UK 70.3 on the 20th June. Whilst I haven’t got in any proper running yet since the injury, I’ve started running again on the treadmill.  I’m still undecided whether to even attempt the run leg. Perhaps I should just be happy to go for a fast swim and solid bike in prep for IM Switzerland in July. At least I know now that the initial injury is gone, since I wouldn’t have survived/been able to complete such a bout of training if it had still been about to bother me. Only question is has the gym work done enough to keep it at bay, and do I risk it with a tough half marathon at the end of a tough day in a couple of weeks time?! I probably shouldn’t but with Transalpine coming up at the start of September, Ive gotta get some running in soon or I that could turn out to be a pretty ugly affair!

Stay tuned – and I promise not to leave it so long between blogs next time. That is unless, training gets in the way again!!

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