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About Team Colby-Macdonald

Andy and I met on a training camp in France in 2007. He had a
running background and was just about to do his first IM; I
was your classic couch-potato-till-mid-30s type who had done a
couple of tris. We hit it off on the slopes of Alpe D'Huez, where
this pic was taken. We make a good team, I think, but this was
the first and last time we ever wore matching tops Laughing
2013 plans
Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:12 am barnetrose
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I kept meaning to come back at the end of the OW season to update on how it had gone. Realised today that I had better get a wriggle on or next season will be here Very Happy So here's a summary of how 2012 panned out and where I am now.

I started a big swim block at the beginning of May, once my only cyclosportive of the year was out of the way and the lakes were (too slowly!) warming up. The plan was to see how much I could progress by making swimming my no. 1 sport over the summer months, then once the OW season was over, keep the swimming ticking over and have a similar focus on my abysmal cycling.

Over the summer I did 4 x 3.8km races with times between 01:06:48 and 01:08:47, an improvement on the 1:10 average of 2011. This was a nice surprise as I'd been injured and missed a lot of training over the winter. I also won my age group twice - I never expected to win anything in any sport so this was also a nice surprise.

I also did my first 5km swim race in August. It was a tester to see how my neck and shoulder coped with the longer distance and also to help me decide whether to do a 10km race in 2013. I really don't want to be swimming for hours and hours, so wouldn't commit to a 10km until I felt I could come in around the 3 hour mark. I did the 5km in 1:32:40 and it really didn't feel much harder than a 3.8km. Unfortunately I now have to do the 10km Rolling Eyes Very Happy

This was my favourite swim of the year. It was in a Scottish loch while on a visit to Andy's family. I'd discovered that there are much better 'Right to Swim' laws up in Scotland and used Google maps and Streetview to find somewhere quiet with road access. This was the result - we will definitely be going there again!

October arrived and our local lake closed earlier than usual because it was already very cold. We'd been swimming in OW since March 31st so had a good long season, but really things only got going in June when the water finally warmed up. Hope the 2013 season is better.

Trouble was - I was enjoying swimming so much and starting to see some encouraging results, so didn't want to stop! So I changed my plan without a second thought Smile by keeping cycling on the back burner, and hit the pool. Since October 1st I have swum around 40km per month, with lots of technique work and loads of slow bi-lateral swimming because I think it's breathing predominantly to the right that has caused the neck nerve/shoulder problem. For fast swimming I still have Swim Club once a week plus the Winterswim challenge which runs from November to February. And it all seems to be working. I'm catching people up at Swim Club, have made my way into lane 2 and now have the fastest swimmers in my sights Smile. For the Winterswim time trials I am really trying to push myself hard (something I'm not too good at) and setting new PBs every week. For the first time ever I've gone sub-1:30 for 100m and sub-6:30 for 400m. My neck/shoulder whinges a bit every now and then, but by backing off and doing my physio exercises I seem to be keeping it at bay. I am still much weaker in my left arm than my right, but it doesn't seem to affect my swimming much.

Race plans for this year are the 10km swim at Eton Dorney on 27th May plus a scattering of 3.8km races. Plus maybe another, more scenic, who-cares-what-time-I-do 10km swim later in the year, perhaps the Dart 10k or Buttermere. Performance aims for the year are to acquit myself well in the 10km (aiming for 3:10, including feed stops) and to finally hit my long-term goal of 1:05 for 3.8km. Cycling won't get completely ignored because I am planning to get some of my endurance for the 10km swim from cycling. If I can cycle for 3 hours with minimal nutrition, I can probably swim for 3 hours without needing a picnic too Very Happy

So my race schedule should be fairly light again this year, which is just as well as this is the year that Andy does the West Highland Way Race! Since my last blog he has successfully completed three 45-mile ultras and had his entry accepted to the WHW. He is training very diligently and his improvement over the three ultras is proof of that. I enjoy supporting him at these events and meeting up with the happy little band of TriTalk runners and supporters.

It's going to be another fun year I think. I absolutely loved 2012 - the Tour de France and the Olympics (I went to three events) made it such a memorable year. Bring on 2013 Smile

New 3.8km swim PB (probably)
Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:21 am barnetrose
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Swim progress and first race of the year

Swimming near-daily is going well. I'm starting to understand what 'feel for the water' means....each swim is now like continuing straight on from yesterday's session, minus the fatigue. Means there is a real feeling of progress being made. My dodgy neck nerve is holding up fairly well but is not perfect, with the occasional warning sign from my left shoulder and arm; however being forced to limit the big sessions and intersperse them with easier drill/kick sessions is actually helping my technique quite a lot.

I did my first 3.8km swim race of 2012 at Box End last weekend. A low turn-out meant that VOTWO switched us from the usual larger lake to the smaller one where they were also running sprint, standard and middle distance tris. Shame, because I was looking forward to seeing if I've improved over the original course. This swim race used to attract 100+ swimmers; on the day we had 21, with a handful more doing the 5km race. Maybe the market is now over-saturated with swim races, or maybe it was just poor timing with the Outlaw being on the same day.

So what we ended up with was a 750m outer lap for the triathletes, with two additional narrow zig-zags down the middle for the 3.8/5km swimmers. Like this:

What you can't see from that pic are several water-ski jumps that you also have to avoid and which helpfully obscure the sight line to the next buoy, or how shallow the water is around that narrow spit of land. It was a bonkers course! I left all my expectations at the side of the lake with my flip-flops Smile

I didn't catch a draft the entire way, but I'm used to that. The first lap was spent doing a lot of sighting and learning the route, and I had to pick my way through the various triathlon waves. The scariest part was sighting my final turn and realising with horror that a frenzied mass of sprint triathletes was also approaching it from a different direction! I then had to swim through them in the final 300m - usually the part of the swim where I just go for it, but I couldn't find the space. I did however feel relieved that unlike them I didn't have to get on a bike afterwards....

So given that this felt more like an assault course than a swim, I was surprised to see 1:06:xx on my watch at the swim exit (previous PB was 1:09:12 at Dorney last year). Official time was 1:06:48 which includes the run to the finish. Because it was a new course I have that nagging doubt that it may have been short, but my next race at Lakeside on July 15th should put this result into perspective. I'm celebrating a PB regardless Smile

My 'dream' target has always been 1:05......hmmmm.....

Footnote: I am a big believer that practise makes perfect when it comes to optimising your IM swim time, hence why I train regularly in OW and seek out these swim races.....but obviously I can't quantify the difference that this makes, it's just a strong feeling that I have. So I was intrigued when one of my fellow Friday morning swimmers said she was doing the race too. Here is a swimmer who currently swims similar times to me in the pool; in both speed and endurance over our 90-minute coached session there's very little to choose between us. But this was her first 3.8km race, so would my extra race experience make any actual difference or would we finish neck-and-neck like we do every Friday morning? I finished 9 minutes ahead....and THAT is why I think swim races are so useful when preparing for IM, particularly a first IM. There is so much time and energy to be saved. Lecture over Wink

West Highland Way Race

The previous weekend we went up to Scotland to help Pookey with the 95-mile West Highland Way Race. Although she started running at 1am on the Saturday, she had enough support for the early stages so the plan was to head further north, spend the night in a hotel and join her at the 50-mile checkpoint at lunchtime. This seemed to work well and is definitely the strategy we will adopt when Andy does the race next year. Means at least some of the crew are relatively fresh!

Pookey was amazing. I think there are certain words and phrases that have a tendency to get over-used; I have certainly recalibrated my idea of what 'inspirational' and 'tough conditions' means after that weekend! The weather was just awful; pouring rain, windy and cold...and yet Pookey kept on going, checkpoint after checkpoint, no whingeing, just ongoing calmness, determination and positivity. She mentioned that she was tired and that her quads were sore, and yet compared to the hobbling wrecks around her she was still moving very well. Pookey finished in 27hrs47, a PB over the previous year of FOUR HOURS! Mightily impressive especially given the inclement weather and a high number of DNFs.

Andy joined Pookey at the 50 mile checkpoint and was her support runner for the next 30 miles, which gave him a very good idea of what to expect when we come back for the Devil Of The Highlands over the same course in August, and of course for the WHW race next year. I'm biased, but I think he was fantastic too Smile I learned loads about the support side and came away with a long list of kit we need to buy that we hadn't thought a camping stove to heat up water for coffee/soup, and anti-midge face nets which are very essential in Scotland! I'm looking forward to supporting Andy and feel much more confident that I know what I'm doing now.

Coming up

Another 3.8km swim race at Lakeside on July 15th. Then if the neck is still coping with increasing swim volume, a brand new challenge for August...... Very Happy


Poet - it's the un-naturalness of swimming that makes it such a magnificent challenge Smile
Sue - I am enjoying concentrating on one sport now
Pip - on paper it shouldn't sound like hanging around for hours at a wet, cold ultra is 'fun', but I loved every minute of it!
Pookey - you were brilliant and we were glad to be there
KP Nut - seems like I was fresh after all!
Hammerer - swim block working well so far. I probably need to start doing some TTs so that I can measure what progress is being made.

I am now just a swimmer!
Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:06 pm barnetrose
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At the end of April we did the 150km White Horse Challenge. As usual we lucked out with the weather which on an otherwise soggy weekend stayed mostly dry. Somehow we managed our second-best time, but I've never found the hills so hard or been so utterly exhausted at the end. Next year I have to be sure I can cycle at least twice a week before I commit myself to doing the WHC.

A couple of weeks after that we had a week away at the seaside, timed to coincide with the Three Forts Marathon near Worthing. I think it rained the entire week, although that didn't spoil our holiday or dent our enjoyment of the event. The race is entirely off-road and mostly on the South Downs Way - very hilly, very wet, and very very muddy! This was one of the drier sections.....

Andy treated the 27 miles as a long training run in his ultra-running schedule, finishing in just under 5 hours which he was happy with. While he was off doing that, I did the half-marathon as a scenic hike in 3hrs40 and beat 8 runners Very Happy Despite not having done any walking since the Highland Warrior last September, I found it pretty easy off the back of the WHC training.

On the downside, it took my knee weeks to recover from the two events. So I've had a re-think and yet another change of strategy. Swim events only this summer, no hiking, and no serious bike training. I am now swimming near-daily and hoping that a period of swim-only training will push my swimming on to the next level. After my last swim race I'll consider building up the cycling again.

The swimming is going really well. I am finally back to pre-injury form...thank goodness I didn't know back in December that it was going to take 6 months, I would have been in despair! I am quite surprised by how quickly my swim times are dropping with daily swimming - it has only been 3 weeks and I am setting PBs already. I have to be careful not to do too much too soon so am doing a lot of easy-on-the-arms technique work and kicking sessions between the longer and harder swims. Our Friday morning coach has been regularly videoing us so as uncomfortable as it is to see all my swim errors Embarassed it is also really helping.

Open water swimming has been a trial this year. We started on 31st March when it was really too cold for meaningful swimming, but we stuck with it thinking it would soon warm up. Ha ha. 10 weeks later we finally had a warm swim! And now it has gone cold again! So unlike previous years when I was already doing big OW mileage in April, this year the build-up has been much slower and I only did my first 4km swim last weekend. With my first 3.8km race just two weeks away, I'm not sure if that leaves me massively undertrained, or very fresh. I have no great expectations from my first race; given the loss of winter training I'll be happy just to have not lost much time from last year.

Coming up: next weekend is the long-anticipated trip to Scotland to support p00key in the West Highland Way Race. We'll be waiting for her at the 50-mile point and then Andy will run up to 3 stages with her while I take the easier route between the car Wink We're very excited about supporting her and of course it's a good opportunity to get a feel for the event before Andy does it next year. Hopefully we'll also finally get to meet Carlito and Fiona Smile

July has two 3.8km swim races on the 1st (Box End) and 15th (Lakeside) which I am really looking forward to...champing at the bit to finally get my season started.

Happy training everyone.

~   Last edited by barnetrose on Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
A process of elimination
Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:19 pm barnetrose
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I was pretty fed up when I wrote my last blog. I had to re-write it to take out the negativity (nobody likes a whinger). With my dodgy shoulder and incessantly painful knee I was getting less and less active, and more and more frustrated.

However where there is a problem, there is generally a solution waiting to be found. I just can't imagine my life without some form of activity in it, not least because I would have to stop eating cake Laughing Thinking logically, the coached swim on a Friday and long bike on a Sunday were the two key sessions, so I set about structuring my week around them. I needed extra rest days to allow my knee to settle, but on the days I trained it didn't seem to make much difference if I trained a little or a lot, so by doubling up some days I still managed to complete 7 sessions a week, with 2 or 3 rest days around those two key sessions. It worked.

I continued like that for a few weeks, feeling much happier. I had a structure which I could repeat every week, with just the long bike getting gradually longer and hillier. Then the penny started to drop....well actually it was more the size of a dustbin lid. How come I could cycle for 4-5 hours on a Sunday and have NO reaction at all from my knee? And why was my knee then always sore on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays? The answer was staring me in the face - it was a delayed reaction to the spin classes, which I started after Ironman Regensburg. It took having a standard unchanging training week to spot the pattern. Eureka.

So I dropped the spin classes a couple of weeks ago, replacing them with an hour of easy cycling. My knee is much better - not back to where it was, but the pain levels have noticeably dropped and I can walk downstairs properly again. I loved the spin classes and felt they were doing good things for my cycling strength, but perhaps there was too much out-of-saddle stuff with a similar impact to running. Shame, but I'd rather be pain-free.

Next step is to start experimenting with walking again. Some easy about-town stuff first, then venturing off-road. I will be so happy if I can do long walks again, I really miss it.

Cycling is going OK. We have the 150km White Horse Challenge in two weeks and will just about be ready for it. One proper bike ride a week isn't really enough training, but we've completed the long distance rides even if they are a bit slow and sloggy. Once the WHC is over, Andy will focus on ultra running and I want to go back to basics with my cycling and improve my average speed, which hasn't changed for years.

Swimming has been improving gradually, although I still get the occasional warning sign from my neck nerve so can't throw myself into swimming as much as I'd like. My first 3.8km swim race isn't till July 1st so I have longer than usual to prepare, which is handy given the circumstances.

Denham Lake opened on March 31st and of course we couldn't pass up the opportunity to say we had swum outdoors in March for the first time ever, so along we trotted last Saturday. It was bloody freezing, about 10 degrees, and that was after the unusually warm spell. We managed about 40 minutes and got out when our lips had gone so numb we could no longer talk! This week temperatures have dropped again and the water is surely unswimmable...trouble is now we've started we don't want to stop....

It was great to be back at the lake. I was supposed to be in this pic, but instead I was sitting indoors clutching a mug of tea and trying to control my shivering:

Andy is doing well with his ultra training and ran 20 miles after work yesterday, arriving home looking like he'd just been out for a stroll. He is losing weight and very much looking the part. He has his first off-road test next month with the Three Forts Marathon in Worthing. I now have renewed hope that I might be able to walk the half-marathon while he is off doing the full marathon.

Have a great Easter weekend bloggers X


Pookey - yes see you soon hopefully, once you are back from your hols.
Pip - I don't mind not doing tris again but do want to be active - knitting doesn't do it for me Smile
Hammerer - if I can get my neck nerve to settle then swimming is where it's at for me.
Soooooz - thanks, I'd be more than happy if I can still swim well.
Sue - I am being boringly sensible Smile
Tabtri - Yeah, Andy will know the WHW well and I'll be an expert at standing around worrying about him!
Carlito - least the injuries held off for IM, can't complain really.

Ironman decision made
Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:14 am barnetrose
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So we've finally had a bit of winter. If that was it then we've done well, just a couple of weeks of re-arranging things around the snow and ice. Andy was a bit disappointed that the Watford Half Marathon was cancelled because of the 15cm of snow that arrived the previous night, but cheered up when he learned he'd still get the t-shirt Wink. My favourite part of snowy days is going to a big hill nearby to which Barnet families flock for some sledging fun. A local friend says she used to go sledging there in the 60s and her mother was doing exactly the same back in the 30s...I love that.

I'm slowly recovering from my neck/shoulder nerve problem. I am very happy to finally have the feeling back in ALL my fingers! Still having to be very careful with my neck until the nerve settles completely, so swim training is limited to 2-3 sessions a week. Speed is frustratingly slow to come back - no matter how hard I try I just cannot go fast. It will come back, just have to be patient.

However the biggest concern now is my left knee. It seems to flare up every week, so I'm going through a process of trying to work out what is setting it off (I have a horrible feeling that the answer to that is 'everything'!). I know from the arthroscopy two years ago that the medial meniscus is degenerating, so I'm surmising that this has moved on a stage. I'm certainly getting some of the classic symptoms now, with some uncomfortable clicks and pops and some days being unable to bend my knee at all. I'm managing to get some cycling done by leaving several days between rides to allow things to settle down, and therefore am way behind where I wanted to be at this stage. Provided I can do one longish bike a week I should get round the White Horse Challenge in April, albeit not in the PB time that I wanted. But longer term, unless this is a just a phase (I suspect not), then my knee is going to seriously curtail my activities.

So the decision about whether to do an Ironman this year has been made for me. Right now I just can't train for it: can't do the long swims, can't cycle often enough, can't walk at all. Really hope that I will get to do another IM one day but I have to be realistic; my triathlon career might already be over.

Looking ahead, I still hope to do some 3.8km swim races this summer and to keep the cycling ticking over if the knee allows, but I think I will be doing more supporting than competing this year. We've offered to help P00key out for her West Highland Way Race in June and then Andy will be back there in August for the Devil O' The Highlands which runs over the latter part of the WHW route. Both of these will give Andy good experience of the WHW before his attempt at the whole thing in 2013 and give me an idea of how to support him.

This weekend we're off to visit my family for our traditional annual trip to see the amazing snowdrop display at Hodsock Priory...hoping they didn't all flower in the warm January then die off in the cold snap!

Take care folks.


Pip - cheers hun.
p00key - looking forward to supporting you!
Carlito - hope we get to see you on the WHW, I guess there is a chance that we will miss you if we are at a different point on the course with Lex!

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