Treading water


buzz1 buzz2 buzz3

This week we tried to put some shape on things, in terms of training. I don’t imagine I’m any different from anyone else who has been training solidly for a big event, and then when that event has come and gone, found it hard to get motivated again. Everything feels a little ‘flat’ and without a programme to follow, chances are you will start to meander about a bit, and begin treading water.

Of course, no harm to take a break. I didn’t climb Everest or anything, but a half-ironman isn’t too bad. I was happy with the day. The run was hard towards the end, but I figured it would be. I enjoyed the swim and the bike, and at least some of the run, though as it progressed, I could tell it was going to be more a case of getting around than making any great time.

So this week, with the business of last week’s charity event out of the way, I snuck out to the man-shed and fitted Didi with the new clipless pedals. There is no great trick to this as long as you have the right spanner (a 15mm) and remember that the left-hand pedal is reverse-threaded, so must be turned clockwise to loosen. The new ones went on easily, and then it was a simple matter of donning the shoes and taking the bike out for a spin.

I went up the Avenue, unclipping and clipping back in at regular intervals. Every now and again, I would brake and make sure to unclip at least one shoe before I stopped. All seems to be going well, but the truth is that the maiden voyage was relatively brief and my head was totally consumed with this new experience of being ‘attached’ to your bike. The real test will come later when I forget this rather salient fact, and whizz up to a set of traffic light, come to a stop, and promptly fall over. Hopefully, this won’t have any serious, negative health impacts!

I also managed a couple of swims. I still have no set idea of what to do in the pool. By this I mean on two levels: the actual stroke, which I imagine should be the most important thing to get right, and then a programme of some form. The latter will naturally happen when I settle on something for next year’s event, but the former… without some coaching, I suspect I will just have to make it up as I paddle along. I am taking on board the recent advice from one of the swim coaches about stroke and keeping my hands further apart and more in line with my shoulders. It feels odd for now, so I just need to stick at it until it becomes the norm.

I’ve managed three runs this week. The first was up into the Park one morning. I knew I was itching to get out. I had done precious little running since the Ireman Triathlon and was keen to break a sweat again. And I was glad I did: as I passed the Beech Tree and headed for the woods by the wet meadow, I could see a band of Hooded Crows camped around the edges of the shallow lake. A Kestrel appeared from the trees and attempted to land near the water, but no sooner had it arrived than it was mobbed by crows and forced back into the woods. Rooks do this with Buzzards too, in that they mob them, but Buzzards are much larger creatures and seem reasonably blasé about having these big-beaked, black birds riding shotgun as they themselves glide on the thermals. The pictures here are stills from a short clip of video of a Buzzard getting the Rook treatment over the fire station here in Leixlip.

Later on in the week, S and I managed a run and a swim. Perhaps not a brick… what would you call it? A cobblelock? Answers on a postcard, please. It was in the Park Run route in Watertown beside Stewarts pool in Palmerstown. It’s a beautiful course near the Liffey, nestled between the mill race and the river with views of the Silver Bridge. Read more on this fascinating piece of Irish built heritage here. We did a hilly 5k and followed it up with a dip in the pool. We both have a 10k coming up next month.

Today is Saturday, and we are heading into an exciting weekend of rugby. I decided to start the weekend off in energetic fashion and took myself over to our local Park Run in Griffeen Park in Lucan. Even though we had polished off a full tub of Haagen-Dazs Belgian Chocolate the night before (and it was heavy going but we stuck to the task!) it didn’t seem to have any negative effects on the run. I managed to set a new PB of 21.31, which was pleasing indeed. I hope to keep chipping away at this time over the next year or so, and get it down below 21 minutes. Speed work is something I plan to build into the running programme in the build up to next year’s Iron Man attempt. I imagine a sub-20 5k is beyond me now, but I would be keen to break 21 at least.

On the way up with S to the bus stop, we spotted a family of foxes playing in a disused yard. It’s an old ESB site and was one of many thousands of buildings to fall foul of the boom and bust we favour in this country. It probably ‘belongs’ to NAMA. It’s earmarked for a health centre. There was an adult and least two good-sized cubs in tow, mooching about, aware of our presence as we stared at them through the tall gate.

No doubt, progress will one day tar this area over for a car park, and paths and neat shrubberies will be installed. And most likely in one or two of the paediatric surgical rooms, wildlife posters will festoon the walls.

For now, at least, the yard is getting good use!

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