Monday, 28 February 2011

British Paratriathlon Performance Programme!

I'm very excited to find out today that I have been selected for a place on the Paralympic Affiliate Squad by British Triathlon for 2011!
I know that there is not a lot of competition (I've only heard of one other new athlete who's transferring from wheelchair racing to Tri1 women) so I didn't really have to contest my place, but it is a huge boost to be recognised as an athlete who wants to achieve whatever they are capable of. They could have said no and waited for a someone with better times, more training under their belt or a bit younger :-)
What this means, is that I will be able to attend three training camps this year and compete for GB in all major international paratriathlon competitions! Crikey, no pressure then...
The Europeans are in Spain in June and Worlds in Beijing. The downside is that there is no funding available to cover the costs of these competitions, so I will have to get my thinking cap on and stop spending money on my bike!!

Saturday, 26 February 2011


I've realised there is a bit of a purple theme going on with my training kit and have been reminded of the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph about wearing purple and not caring about what people think. As I am 46, I guess I qualify on the 'old' scale and there is a certain laissez-faire attitude I have now, having been through quite a few 'experiences' in my life so far.
But, this week has been a bit of a low point in my training due to minor injury and some hurtful comments made 'in jest'. I know I will never be 16 again nor completely able-bodied or 'normal' but I just want a chance to participate in sport at whatever level I can achieve. That Triathlon is so inclusive has been great encouragement, but the cost of participation is prohibitive, so it is no wonder there is only one female Tri1 competing in the U.K. at present and only three at the Worlds in Budapest last year.
The equipment in the photo, without which I cannot compete are: custom-built racing chair £2095 for a basic model, £110 for gloves (which only last 6 mths), Hand bike £4, 295 (mine was £2553.08 second hand and I have just spent £399 on it, including £150.00 just in labour costs at Draft), which totals £6500 (or £4157.08 expenditure for me) before you have even entered a race! Of course wetsuit, computers, turbos, helmet, clothes etc. are on top of this.
This represents a huge investment and is probably equivalent to an able-bodied athlete buying a carbon bike, a good pair of running shoes, plus a top end wetsuit for their very first triathlon. Most people would think they were mad! If only there were rental schemes or clubs with equipment to try or more second hand gear on the market, or coaches trained in coaching paratriathletes...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Injury- time out!

A very appropriate book title for this week...I have managed to injure my shoulder this week, plus my wrists are playing up and my thumb won't bear any weight :-(
Dr. J. is worried I have overdone it and ordered two days off this week, so no swim, track or turbo these last few days. I feel slightly bereft, like I'm missing something important, as my work out sessions have taken over my life at the moment. I keep passing the static turbo in the hall and wondering if 15 minutes wouldn't hurt...
Still, on a positive note, I am doing my assignment for my English Literature Degree with the Open University which I had completely lost interest in. Luckily, I have Dragon dictation software to 'type' my essay for me. Shame it doesn't do it all for you...
My son needed taking to his Driving Theory test this morning, which he passed, so it hasn't been all bad. I am also doing a Sport Relief funding bid for Cleethorpes A.C. to get some race chairs, gloves and rollers so we can then offer 'come-and-try-it' sessions and expert coaching. I'd like to ensure there are is wider variety of choice in sport for people with disabilities in Lincolnshire. I'm meeting Heidi at Tesco's cafe before training tomorrow evening to go through all the forms.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


I was determined to do an 18km ride this weekend, so I decided to map a route out. I prefer not to cover the same ground twice, but in the end, I got a little lost down the small windy lanes and I missed the nice circular route. Layla and I were out for an hour and twenty minutes of almost non-stop cycling, with a fast downhill section going over 30km/hr! A quick transition to the race chair and off onto the road for a 15 min push, which was surprisingly 'easy' after the handbike. The change in position is nice, as my legs spasm more when straight in the footrests of the bike.
A bit wiped out this morning though, so perhaps overdid it. It didn't help that I also slept particularly badly. Still, off for a Hospital appointment for 9:30am so no lie-in to recover. Saw the continence nurse to try and sort my pesky bladder out. Only six weeks after having Botox injections and it has failed already. I have heard that most Triathletes who do longer distances have learnt to wee whilst in their wetsuits and on the bike, but that isn't an option for a girl who does ISC (that's Intermittant Self-Catheterisation or emptying your bladder with a thin tube called a catheter).
As if I hadn't done enough, Danny gave me a new program in the gym today and I will now have to fight the big boys for the free weights and the station at Meridian. My lovely support worker Becki washed my bike and brought it into the house for me and I attached the turbo to the bike in my narrow hall. It fits without the footrests on, so I just put my legs on the floor, strap myself in and go nowhere! A very strange sensation, but I am concentrating on smooth cadence for only 15 mins. The bike is 7 foot long, and probably won't go into the sitting room door as it's a 90 degree turn, so no telly to pass the time for me.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Bike fixed!

Went down to Draft Wheelchairs in Cambridge yesterday on my day 'off' to get my hand bike sorted as the gears have been problematic for me. The bike is obviously not designed with petite ladies in mind. Chris spent over three hours changing the gears, rear derailleur, hand brake, attaching a bottle holder and a mirror, and sorting the seating position plus hand cranks out. I tried it all out in the car park, then on my new turbo trainer. There was a sadistic grin on Chris's face as he secretly adjusted the resistance...Apparently, most top hand cyclists are my age, so there's still hope, but I'm not sure many women compete. Perhaps they should have a go at Paratri and coach me!
As well as a turbo and the bike bits, I came away with a new pair of Harness gloves, £110. Ouch! My credit card has taken a serious hammering. The white liners absorb sweat and help get them on and off. They were a snip at £2...I will retire my thermals glove inners when Spring eventually arrives.
I tried out my lovely new wetsuit in the pool today, but it was a strange experience, swimming without feeling the water. It did keep my legs nice and buoyant (although I couldn't really tell) and I managed 40 lengths of drills with Doug. I also came out of the pool lovely and warm instead of with my usual blue lips. It will be interesting to get into open water in a couple of months time.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Parallel Success, Poolmate and Peristeen!

At Loughborough University High Performance Athletics Centre on Sunday for an Aviva Parallel Success Talent Introduction Day organised by Job King (EA) and Katie Jones (UKA). Coaches were Ed Grazier and Lincoln Asquith for wheelchair racing. It was a great day and Lincoln was an amazing coach! I need to drive into the push rim to pick up my top speed, then maintain it, with more explosive work in the gym to help. It's wonderful how supportive everyone is, considering my age :-) and the fact that I'm doing Paratriathlon!

This week of training has been my hardest yet, with nearly 8 hours planned, and two sessions a day. Decided to do a supersprint 'Brick' session on Tuesday, with a timed 750m swim instead of 400m. Pleased with my time of 17mins and reckon I'll be faster in a wetsuit! Cycle of 10km then off onto the road for the first time in my racing chair with a wonky compensator-and I made it to the track in the evening...I'm going to chat to Chris at Meridian about protein/carb supplements to see if I can increase my energy levels for training hard.

I've been playing around with my new "poolmate' watch this week. It counts laps, metres, time, calories, average strokes, but more importantly efficiency. I still forget to set it properly and I haven't got the hang of interrogating it afterwards, but it's a great bonus.

On a more personal note, I'm on a trial of Peristeen for bowel management for a month having finally persuaded my G.P. and been trained by the Coloplast nurse Tuesday. I'm hoping it will enable me to compete without any worries and reduce the number of UTI's I currently get. Any SCI person will know that this aspect of an injury is usually the hardest one to come to terms with.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

TCR Show and Coaching my Coach!!

I'm not sure how I managed to get both myself and my daughter to the Novice training at Yarborough for 9am today as we got home from the TCR Show at 1.30am. It's a 5 hr drive each way, but luckily I met Layla outside Boston and she kindly drove to Surrey and back.
We both raced to the Zogg swim zone to book in for swim analysis and were the first names on the list! Unfortunately, a technical hitch meant the water was only 16 degrees, but wetsuits were provided. It was still pretty chilly and meant I ended up breathing every second stroke. It was a bit like swimming against Niagara Falls and not making any headway...Still, I got some very good input on stroke technique.
Morgan Williams, National Development Manager, Triathlon England, kindly arranged a massive 40% discount with TFN after watching me swim and advising me on a suitable wetsuit. I am now the proud owner of a Blue Seventy Axis and can't wait to try it out! I need extra buoyancy in the legs to stop drag because I only use my arms to swim. Even though I have some use of my legs because of being a sci incomplete, ITU rules state that I must bind them for competition, which hopefully means a level playing field for everyone in Tri 1.
Today, I coached my coach...amidst lots of laughter! Judith tried out my handbike, then racing chair and made exactly the same 'mistakes' I did when I first tried both only a few months ago, veering off to hit the curb, worrying where the brake was, getting the hands on the push rims without catching fingers in the spokes, steering round bends whilst 'pedalling'...It has given her a great insight into what I need to do and I hope she is not too sore tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fartleks and Competitions!

This week has been all about improving speed on the run section, so Fartlek sessions at the track tonight. I know it sounds odd, but it is a Swedish term for playing around with speed. My session consisted of several changes of pace in each set, with active recovery at a jogging speed. The faster speeds were at my threshold pace from the VDOT test done a few weeks ago. Since the workout was only thirty minutes, I did an hour swim concentrating on speed earlier in the day. If I could sustain my 50m time over 400m I will complete my swim in 8.24, but my 750m time could be 15.30, over three minutes faster than the current World Champ. That would mean a huge psychological advantage to me coming out of the water first.
Entries have now opened for the National Paratriathlon Championships at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, on Saturday, 14th May and I'm very excited as I've entered! It will not only be my first Triathlon, but my first open water swim, so I will have to train in April (brrhhh!) at Tattershall lake-once I actually get a wetsuit...
I'm up at 6am tomorrow to get down to the TCR show in Surrey for lunchtime. Layla and I plan to queue for the swim analysis when the doors open and my daughter may just get an early 16th Birthday present. No training tomorrow, just spending. I have a small but expanding shopping list!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Taper week

Sitting on the sofa eating edamame beans as a source of protein, but not sure the glass of ale will be allowed in my new training plan done by 'Dr. J coaching' aka Judith Brand at Lincoln Tri Club. Still doing base training as only week four and having a taper week, which means less intense sessions and fewer hours spent on training. I also had a massage Friday at Fitness first in Lincoln with Trish and felt like I'd been run over by a bus in the morning. She has impressive strength in those hands of hers!
Off to the wheelchair racing clinic at Leeds yesterday, arriving late but managed to glean some tips from Hannah Cockroft, fresh from her victories in New Zealand and Paul Mosely who runs the sessions. The picture shows her with gold medals for 100 and 200m. If you watch the video on BBC Sport she leaves everyone else standing...Of course, having a set of rollers at home would be ideal, but as they cost £900, I'll have to keep practising at the track and round the airfield, plus on the road when these gale force winds stop.
I've tried to upload a video of me on the rollers and left it loading last night, but it didn't work, so why don't you check out: It's a lot easier to master than an Excel spreadsheet and gives you nice graphs, even in the free version!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Equipment fiddling!

Getting up early last Saturday, sitting outside in -2.5 degrees, and fiddling with bolts, screws and cushions for four hours is not every girls dream...but I was determined to make the most of meeting Alan Rayment, who has spent years making Triathlon accessible and possible for people with disabilities. With cups of tea supplied by his wife Nat and his mum, plus eighteen month old son wielding a screw driver, we sorted out a better riding and propulsion position.
Alan's enthusiasm for Paratriathlon is infectious and I came away more positive about putting in an application for the British Triathlon Paralympic Affiliate Squad. So, I've applied. There was a 50% increase in applications this year, which can only be good for developing our sport in the future. I'm keen to make the squad of course. Fingers crossed!
To test out the bike, my daughter and I went out on Sunday together. This was only the second time we have been able to cycle together in five years and I really enjoyed it. Our aim was to ride for 30mins and see what distance I could cover. I managed 7km out with a couple of quick rests, including one where Bex had to pick up my front wheel and pull me round as the road was too narrow for my turning circle! A total of 14km in 60 mins was a vast improvement on 12km in 1.5hrs on my very first ride out on the road two weeks ago, so we are aiming for a 10% increase in distance every week until we reach 24km, then we'll work on speed.