So I'm 2 days into this cold shower lark.
I rose this morning, and got on with it. I can't say I enjoyed it, but after managing a full 4 minutes last night 2 minutes this morning was reasonably comfortable. I'm already finding I can relax a bit.
I wanted to shower first thing in the hope that the verve it gave me would help with the Market Rasen 10k I was about to run. I only entered a few weeks ago, didn't know much about it, other than that just under 3 of the 10k was around the race course. So a small bowl of porridge and a few cups of tea to get me going, and I'm out the door.
I picked up a team mate, and we set off. A good 20minutes in the car talking about the usual expectations from the race, tactics, Triathlon in general, training - you name it, if it's about Tri it gets talked about. Talk turned to nutrition as I swilled the pint of pre race juice I had prepared yesterday afternoon.
10 apples, 6 carrots, 4 whole fresh beetroots, a lump of ginger and 2 broccoli stalks (when you trim the broccoli trees off for tea remember to keep the stalks, they hold a surprising amount of juice and taste pretty good). This stuff makes me buzz. I'm feeling ready for a good run despite the rain and cold outside.
While I'm drinking that my passenger gets out his own race day nutrition.
Contrasting race day nutrition.
2 ends of the nutritional spectrum at work today. While mine is home spun and fresh out the ground Ross prefers a good balanced dose of pills. I feel like I am driving a geriatric to the hospital and wonder if he will start to rattle over the finish line with all those in him. He observes that we are like 'Rocky IV' in as much as he is Drago, a cutting edge machine of precise techniques and approach, where as I am Rocky, running around with logs, boxing with sides of beef and heaving my way up and down stairs. I'd rather be Rocky.
We sign in, and bump into a few familiar faces. Its good to catch up and discuss off season training, and see other like minded souls using the event in the same way I am. Next I stretch out with a quick warm up run and decide that I am going to put on an extra layer. Its raining quite hard, and I would normally wear less so I'm not carrying cold wet clothing, but the rain has a chill in it despite the recent showering I've been doing, and I decide its likely my arms will go cold and numb over the run, so I layer up. It was the right move.
We head to the start and all line up. The turn out is good in spite of the weather, I'd guess around 450 to 500 runners. The claxon honks and we all set off. The first 1.5k are over the racecourse, and it is wet and slippy. I had always planned to go out fast and try to capitalise on the cross country element, and for the first 1km I find myself in the lead. I didn't expect this, and I certainly don't expect it to last. Sure enough it doesn't, and the true runners who have now warmed up their legs come bounding past. Still it was nice to have my nose in front around the racetrack.
I find out from the stats master after I was running a 5minute mile for that first leg. Far too fast, and I pay for it down the line. For the next mile I have to settle into a slower and more sustainable pace, and that adjustment costs me a few more places.
At the half way point we leave the road and push into the woods. I enjoy this. It's slippy and requires focus on the terrain underfoot, picking your line well in advance - I nearly go down a few times, and work hard in my regular (not trail) running shoes. I can see I am making some ground back up at this point, the regular riverbank runs and my meagre frame paying dividends.
Soon we are out of the woods and running back up the road, passing runners coming the other way. By now I have settled into a pace I am pleased with, and I regret the over eager burst at the start, because I know ultimately it has cost me. I could have been into this pace much quicker if I hadn't let adrenalin get the better of me. I am finding the runners on the other side of the road motivating. I hear someone in the throng shout 'Go for it Martin', but I didn't get to see who they were, so I'm sorry I couldn't cheer back. Still that cheer is appreciated and pushes me on.
Soon enough we are back on the racecourse for the final loop and again I get some pace up. After running a pretty lonely race with nobody around me I can hear the feet of a runner gaining behind me, splashing and crunching under the mix of gravel and puddles beneath us. I don't look back. I want to, but don't. That will show weakness. I muster my last effort and kick for home. It's enough. I cross the line without being passed. The clock says 37:40, so a 6:02 minute mile average. The final results still arn't out, but I'm reasonably confident I came 12th.
I'm never going to be content unless I win, but I'm nearer 40 than not, and have to accept that fact. Given this was only an extra run chucked into the training schedule for fun I'm happy with the result. That 6:02min mile pace was hard earned with a good 50% of the course being cross country on a wet and cold day. I'd say that ground required an extra 10 to 15% effort to achieve the same thrust you get on the tarmac. I'm keen to take positives from the experience. That's what its all about.
Ross has beaten me by 40 seconds, but I am surprised to realise I have beat another friend, the National Aquathon Champion and GB Age Grouper Olly distance specialist Shaun Cuffley. Shaun's a fantastic athlete and he has outrun me in aquathons through out the summer - so I take a bit of pride in knowing my winter training must be doing OK at this point.
A quick change and it's straight back for home. The journey includes the ever necessary dissection of the event in the car. None athletes don't get this bit, and I try not to bore the family with every little detail, so it's good to have a chew over the cud.
I'm home and it dawns on me I am filthy. Great, another cold shower. Sarah comes up to investigate the noises being yelled from the bathroom. I'm not enjoying this one 1 little bit. I am already cold and this adds to it. I have to admit that it is so tempting to whip it round to warm, but who am I cheating in doing that? Myself that's who. If I let my self down here I might start thinking I can miss training sets and that is a dangerous path. I also realise Sarah has been sticking her head around the door every time I shower, with a quick glance at the dial to make sure there's no warmth getting through. The thought creeps into my mind that while I trust her implicitly, after a few drinks at the AGM in a few weeks, (when we are mid challenge), if my friends push her and she has seen me cheating, then it might slip out. I would never live that down so I cannot ever risk even a single droplet of warmth sneaking through that nozzle for at least 29 days. At this point I know there is no danger of failing this challenge. All I have to do now is focus on completely owning it, and will work on my heart rate and composure for the regular performance reviews we will doubtless conduct. This nonsense entertains me and I realise the time is up. I have pushed myself through. The water is turned off dead on 2 minutes. Enough said.
While we are eating lunch Sarah tells me that in an effort to support me she has been reducing the shower temp. She managed a minute at number 3. I am impressed she can be bothered. Now I feel guilty for thinking she was checking my showering integrity. Sorry x.
A quick ride to see family after lunch to collect the essential bag of local farmers potatoes and double yolker eggs from my mother. While we are there we watch a fantastically boring Grand Prix, and talk turns to next season. I start chewing over the 60+ Midland Sprint Series results from this season with my Dad. He is keen to try it, but needs a push in the right direction. We break down the 3rd place times, and suddenly they seem more achievable. The last race of the series will be in his home village of Woodhall Spa in June, and he lives on the circuit of the run course. The 3 discipline routes are on his doorstep. There's no excuses, and he agrees to go for it.
A quick few texts to siblings and the agreement is set that we will share the cost 3 ways for his Christmas present. He doesn't know that yet, but Martin Snr is definitely now doing the sprint series next year. Driving back we have a great karaoke sing along in the car, and can confidently confirm we have unwittingly ruined our 2 Girls childhoods with their unnatural appreciation for camp 80s rock music.
Home, and it's onto the turbo. Having the race this morning meant juggling things about. I finish a 3 week build phase on Tuesday, and then I have a rest week. The thought of having to have another cold shower after almost stops me training, but that is ridiculous and I have a stern word with myself to not be so stupid. My legs are tired, and I notice my knees are really stiff from the run earlier. I put this down to the pounding they took on the Humber Bridge last month. They hurt for days after that and have clearly not fully recovered.
The work out was great, a good mix of threshold training and interval work. You can find it in detail in the Work Out tab at the top.
I have decided not to use the laptop while training anymore. I have been re reading some pages in a book, and was reminded of the importance of technique over distance. Technique is always important, but when you are training for an Iron Distance those small tweeks can mean so much. Over 112 miles on a bike even the smallest of improvement and economy saving in my pedalling technique will be compounded and could gain me minutes, and save me vital energy for the run. Staring at the laptop can distract from the job in hand, so it's music only from now on. With my head down and 100% focus on the 'scraping mud off my shoe' principle at the bottom of the revolution I feel pleased with a smooth movement through-out the set. When I hit the interval section I am doing 4 minutes at threshold, and then 1 minute at max per 5 minutes - for an hour. The aero bar has nothing to do with practicing race position, and everything to do with supporting me at this point. After the minute at max sections I slump on it to save me falling off the bike, but push through, and thinking about the pedal technique I worked on in the first half of the set really helps me manage to push through the recovery period and maintain my pace before the next minute burst of effort.
The set over, its another shower. I am boiling, and frothing with sweat. I am glad to jump in it. It certainly cools me quick, but the 2 minutes whip past and I distract myself with a wash and a shave.
In 2 days I have clocked 12 minutes worth of cold water shower time. I feel like the king of pointless endeavours and I smile.
All in all a good days work.