My biggest fitness aim this year was riding the Dam-tot-Dam Fietsen Classic, a total of 105km, from Dam Square in Amsterdam centre, heading north through the waterlands and looping back again.
Training had been going particularly well; in the past 3 months we had started clocking up 100km a day at weekends, with additional 2 x 30-40km week rides building in different training techiniques such as high-cadance riding and sprint intervals. In this time, I had not only managed to increase my stamina and distance, but my average riding speed to 30-33kmph; pushing a comfortable 40kmph when drafting. I felt comfortable and confident that I could finish (weather dependant) in 4 – 4.5hour. But this wasn’t to be…
To tri-or not to try
With the nights drawing in, the weather getting miserablly colder and wetter as we slowly (and prematurely) approach winter, the thought of not being able to get my endorphin hit so regularly worries me. Monica (who I don’t think I need to introduce any more) recommended I joined the same local gym so that we can train together. Now, I’ve joined gyms before. I’ll go once or twice and then the novelty wears off. This was however when I didn’t particually have something to train for or focus on; and my main worry is that all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 9 months will quickly disappear over the winter months. However, joining a gym with someone else and having that extra motivation seems to have paid off. It also turns out that a lot of other cyclists we’ve been out riding with are members too; as I happened discovered half-way through a spinning class a few weeks back.
Now, I’m not much of a runner – I’ve never particularly enjoyed it and if I think about it, it’s a big mental barrier – I find it slow and hard to break. But to my surprise, it seems the hard work on the bike has paid off, making the transference of fitness a lot easier and to my total amazement I’ve been able to run a few km without any issues. This of course led to the triathlete-freak that is Monica, persuading me to participate in the Garmin Barcelona Triathlon in October. “You can do it.. come on… a bit of training and you’ll be fine”. ”Oh why the heck not!”… at least it’ll give me something else to focus on. So, I went home and signed up for the Super Sprint.
With 8 weeks to go Monica helped me put a training plan together based on Gale Bernhardt’s training books (I also own her Bicycling for Women book). 2 weeks in and my training is going strong, feeling very confident on the bike (with 2 weekends to go before the Dam-tot-Dam) and I’m starting to feel more comfortable on the treadmill – taking little steps and building up my stamina. Getting back in the pool after such a long time was interesting too.
A week to go before Dam-tot-Dam I had a weekend off at Bestival – the only exercise I’d be getting is trudging through the mud and dancing like a looney to as many bands possible. I’d gone pretty hard on the bike that week and also managed to up the pace on my run of 3km and was ready for a break. However it seems that wearing wellies for 4 days straight and standing on my feet at a festival for a long period of time wasn’t in agreement with my hip-flexor or adductor muscles. I was in pain! This is a disaster. On a visit to the doctors on my return he confirmed the worse (although he’s pretty rubbish – he can never can give you a 100% diagnosis, let alone 50%), and prescribed anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy. Not to mention no strenuous physical activity – which puts a halt to any training! I don’t think I’ve felt more gutted about something. This meant the worst news of all – no Dam-tot-Dam for me
A new focus
Accepting that all the hard work I’ve put in won’t be paid off this time round was difficult – more than I’d ever expected. I think the definition of injury is just – I wasn’t only hurting from the damage to the muscles, but at the loss of not participating. Seeing all the other riders pass by yesterday (albeit absolutely drenched from a 2 hour torrential downpour) was pretty heartbreaking. However, there’s no point in drowning my sorrows in something I can’t change, and the focus now is getting fit again so that I can not only participate in the triathlon but enjoy it and the week of biking that follows. With 3 weeks of training left, I can’t say that I’m not nervous about being in a fit enough state- but only time will tell! Wish me luck.