Training for Celtman – Four Weeks to Go (Andrew)

Last week, as it looked like Moray was going to remain in Tier 3 lockdown restrictions while the rest of Scotland moved to Tier 2, I wrote my friends and colleagues in Moray a song:

When the COVID’s sky high in Findrassie and Roseisle

That’s a-Moray!

Where the police block the streets if more than two people meet

That’s a-Moray!

When masks are in bins because “we got the vaccine!”

That’s a-Moray!

When we’re ruled by the SNP but we all voted for a Tory…

That’s a-Moray! (A-Moray!)

That’s a-Moray!

Of course, three days later it was announced that Moray was not the only region to remain in Tier 3, Glasgow was also going to remain in Tier 3. Which means that we can no longer travel outside the city as the rest of the country will be Tier 2 and you can’t leave a Tier 3 area to go to an area with a lower rating.

Which means, for the moment, I cannot travel to Celtman or to some of my favourite swimming spots. With four weeks to go, unless anything changes, it looks very unlikely I’ll be taking part in Celtman as: (a) I might not be able to travel to the Highlands; or (b) even if I could, I won’t be ready to swim.

I’ll see what happens in the next four weeks but I put my chances now at less than 25%.

Training for Celtman 2021 – April (Andrew)

I cannot lift my arms. Every time I try and raise them a ripple of pain runs from my elbows to my shoulders. The same happens when I try and lie on them. Any weight on them leaves them throbbing and numb. After an hour of trying to get to sleep I get up and get some painkillers before sitting in the living room waiting for them to kick in. It takes three hours, 4am, before I can move an arm without hurting. I finally go back to bed cursing every stroke I swam tonight.

It’s mid April and Pinkston Watersports has reopened for swimming in Glasgow. As it’s April, and the temperature is hovering around seven degrees, I decide to swim in full hood, boots, gloves and an extra vest. Unfortunately so much lycra twists my body in the water so I’m gliding through it like a broken corkscrew made of concrete. Every stroke feels like I’m trying to contort my body round a u-bend. After a couple of laps, one kilometre, I can’t swim any further. I think I’m just out of practice, my technique poor and my arms weak, but through the rest of the evening my arms become more and more sore.

In six weeks I need to swim three kilometres, that night I couldn’t even lie down for three minutes.

The following week, I don’t bother with boots, swim slower and concentrate entirely on stretching out flat in the water. It helps. I don’t need to raid a pharmacy on my way home but it does show that trying to get to a 3K swim in just a few weeks is a big ask. I’ll keep adding some distance with every swim and hopefully I’ll build some confidence that I won’t need more drugs than Lance Armstrong to complete the bike leg after the swim.

Saying that, I’m still not sure the race will go ahead. Triathlon Scotland are limiting waves to 30 people (including support and volunteers), which would mean Celtman would need have starting waves. I believe Celtman is not part of Triathlon Scotland, so doesn’t have to follow the guidelines, but for insurance, I wonder how it can avoid them completely. Further details on how the race will be run will be out in the next few weeks. For the moment, I continue to try and get ready to start.

Training for Celtman 2021: July (Andrew)

This month I’ve mostly been racing in Spain, Norway, Argentina and Slovakia. Or at least the closest equivalent I could find within a few miles of my house.

I’ve entered the MyXtri world tour. A series of 14 events based on inconic stage of the 14 Xtri extreme triathlons. Whether it’s cycling the Patagonian ridge or running the Himalayas there are 14 events that you can recreate from the not so comfort of near your own home.

For example, for Celtman, one event is to swim 2km outdoors. Once you swim it, you upload your result with a link to Strava or Garmin and you get a race time and position. Other races are harder as the both the bike and runs involve a minimum distance and elevation. In order to complete the Stelvio climb you need to cycle 80km and climb over 1800m. But if you can’t make the elevation then you can also add distance to make up the climb. An extra 1.5k of cycling is an additional 100m of height.

It’s a great challenge and one that will become progressively harder as the distances and elevations increase. It’s hard, even on the shorter runs to find places that can equal the climbs I’m trying to emulate. There’s no equivalent of Everest in the south side of Glasgow. Unless by Everest you mean the double glazing firm.

The challenge lasts until the end of October and I’m aiming to tick off as many of the events as possible between now and then.

Toddman 2020 (Andrew)

52 weeks to Celtman.

Last Saturday should have been Celtman 2020 however, with social distancing still in effect and organised triathlons still banned by Triathlon Scotland, it was the right call two months ago to postpone it for a year. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t race…

In order to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law we chose to race using Iain TwinBikeRun’s house as a transition. We could start at Carron Valley Reservoir, cycle around the Campsies to Iain’s house, then run back over the Campsies to get back to the start. The finish line would be the car park to Meikle Bin with a gate and a sign that said Todholes (for the nearby Todholes Farm).

In order to make it CoVid compliant I would travel to another household, Iain’s, and that would mean only Todd’s can take part. So, instead of Celtman we had TODDMAN!

Now, while it’s not really the time for winners and losers. Everyone is a winner no matter what they do during this endless lockdown. It’s also right to say that the history books did record an actual winner. Me.

It was close. If you’ve ever read or watched documentaries about the legendary Iron War between Dave Scott and Mark Allan as they battled to become the iron man world champion in 1989 then you will know what ToddMan was like, toe to toe except this was even closer. A race for the ages.

While Dave Scott and Mark Allan were never more than a couple of metres apart for hours of swimming, cycling and running. We were side by side (two metres apart) for the whole race except for final 20 meters when I saw the car park and sprinted to the finish line and Iain saw the car park and said “car park” and forgot to run. Winners act, losers state the bleedin’ obvious.

Now, while I know that there is some controversy to my finish as the winner had to touch a gate to finish, no one said which gate. And I touched ‘a gate’, if not ‘the gate’ Iain meant when he came up with the finish line. But, just as Iain said “car park” instead of running, he also said “gate” without naming which one to touch. The fool.

So, after the disappointment of Celtman not happening, I am at least proud to say that this year’s training did not go to waste because I am the inaugural winner of the first ever Toddman. Championnneeee!

Training for Celtman: April (Andrew)

After last month’s postponement of this year’s race… only 62 weeks to go!

This month was a short month as I still felt the effects of being ill in March. I tried a couple of rides and runs but I still wasn’t feeling right so I rested for another week before starting up again gradually. Thankfully the last few weeks have seen no reaction and I’ve been feeling stronger each time I go out. The only challenge is motivation. 62 weeks is 434 days – and that’s definitely too many days to make me think anything I do now will matter.

I enjoy training but I know there are some days where I need the extra motivation of a race to get me out the front door. A bit of rain, a cold day or just tired legs. If you have a race then you know that you need to go out in order to give a race your best shot. But when you have 434 days, you know that you don’t need to go out – well, at least not for at least another 433 days.

So, this month has been about trying to find some new ways to motivate myself. Rather than thinking about races I’ve been thinking instead about how to keep injury free over such a long time and to try some new training to help – whether that’s something simple like warming up on a bike before going on a run or, more challenging, taking part in some Yoga online. Either way, it’s been a strange month, one that should have seen training start to peak but instead saw a postponement to 2021. Oh well, with 434 days to go, I can’t complain now that I don’t have enough time to train!

Celtman Training And The Coronavirus (Andrew)

My mum said that when she first went to school on the Isle of Lewis in the 1950s that there was a teacher who spoke with a posh English accent. Every day the teacher would tell the class of crofter’s children to “wash their hands”, which puzzled one boy who couldn’t understand the teacher. He turned to my mum and asked “why does the teacher always tell us to wash our hens?”

Last week I worked four days in the office and one, Friday, at home. On Thursday I had a slight cough and a feeling of tightness in my chest. I didn’t have a temperature and the cough was so infrequent it could have been a bus.

To be on the safe side, in case I was asystematic, and, as I could, if I wanted, work from home. I decided that I should keep away from work and try home working.

Mrs TwinbikeRun (Andrew) was already at home, she started on Thursday. She’s working one week in, one week out. We’d set up her desk on Wednesday night. It was beside my Wattbike. “You won’t be able to use it while I’m working,” she said.

“Maybe you won’t be able to work while I’m cycling,” I replied, “the bike did have the room first”. 

“Does the bike pay the mortgage?”

“No.”

“Exactly.”

I may need to move the bike next week…

On Saturday we popped to the supermarket. A few people wondered the aisles clutching 16 packs of toilet rolls like a shield. We’ll be okay, they say, we have bog roll!

There a gaps in the shelves, though more there to buy than expected. Pasta was empty but nachos were okay. Currys were empty, so was chicken but there was plenty of pork and steak. Also no diet coke. So, that’s panic buying logic for you, while everyone might be binging, at least they won’t get fat.

With all this going on, this has not be a week for training. Instead I wanted to preserve my strength, see what happens with the mild symptoms I do have (thankfully, they appear to be easing on Sunday so may just have been a cold) and then, once there’s a sense of routine, see what I can do. Training comes third this week. Maybe even fourth. Health and family first. Then work. Then finding Diet Coke, of course, we’re nearly out – dear God, we might have to have Coke Zero! Then training.

Coronavirus and CeltMan 2020 (Andrew)

Finally, a good use for a buff

No football. No golf. No tennis. Not even a professional game of tiddlywinks will be played in the next few weeks as Coronavirus has led to an almost global pause in every sport, including triathlon. This week the International Triathlon Union suspended all events until the end of April. Whether they resume in May is still to be determined. Hopefully, some normalcy will resume. However, no one knows and no one can predict what will happen when we talk about how to deal with an illness that no one can predict.

There’s no announcements yet about Celtman. It’s in June, so it’s too early to see how it could be affected but there are some clear signs as to how event organisers are reviewing races. It’s not just the risk of illness but also the impact on public services or having medical or police resources at events when they could be dealing with much more important things than whether Frank from Accounting can get round the London Marathon dressed as an African rhino.

Celtman is a smaller event. It has less than 300 starters and the race is unsupported so it’s impact on public services is minimal so I remain hopeful that it will go ahead, that the next two months will see a routine established (even if that months rather than weeks away), and that we can line up in Applecross in June just the same as any other year.

But who knows. No one. So, the only thing I do know, is that this comment on the Celtman Facebook group summed it all up perfectly. Will Celtman be cancelled?

Training For Celtman: February (Andrew)

February Goals

More cycling. I’ve been restricted to indoor cycling and I’d like to get at least one 50 mile ride outdoors, weather depending.

Did I achieve it?

In a word: no. But it wasn’t through a lack of effort, more a lack of opportunity as February was, according to the Met Office, the wettest month ever recorded. 

Every weekend we saw a different storm hit the UK. For three of the weekends, we were hit by named storms, including Storm Jorge, who had been named by Spanish weather authorities when it developed in the Atlantic on the basis that it was due to head south and not north. When it started moving towards the UK not even a Brexit passport and an Australian style immigration system could stop this storm exercising its right of free movement. 

I don’t understand why we name storms. In Stornoway, the crofters will name their sheep, but only before they slaughter them. Maybe, it’s similar thought. If it’s going to hurt then you need to make it personal. Let’s name the storm. 

Maybe it’s to make the weather more approachable? Storms sound less dangerous if they are called Kitty (a genuine name from this year’s list). But to that I say: “I don’t want to be friends with the weather!”

It’s also pointless naming the weather when the weather is happening every weekend. In Scotland we already have name for the weather: it’s called Winter and it lasts from September to May.

With Storm Winter brining strong winds, heavy rain, near freezing conditions and even some thundersnow, a 50 mile bike ride was out of the question. I did manage one ride outdoors for 90 minutes in the middle of a dry spell during the first storm but my goal for March will definitely be to ride more outside. Instead, I concentrated on some hillier rides on Zwift including a couple of sessions including the lower slopes of Alpe Du Zwift.

In general, a weaker month than I would have liked but with some business trips, my Dad spending two weeks in Glasgow for medical tests and, generally, February living up to its annual claim to be one of the busiest months of the year at work, I’m pleased to have at least been consistent, if not as long as I would have liked. I did manage my first race and achieved a personal best. I’m taking confidence that my run training must be heading in the right direction.

Also, swimming was weaker this month after I missed two training sessions because of work trips but, as one of the sessions was a 2500 metre session, I was glad to miss out! 

March’s Goals

Keep swimming at least one 2k session a week, keep running at least 10 miles most weekends and ride at least 50 miles outside (weather permitting!).

Training for Celtman: December 2019 (Andrew)

Goals for December:

  • Training will officially start in January. December will be about getting into a routine of doing ‘something’ most days of the week but without any pressure to do anything in particular. It’ll just be about getting used to a routine. 
  • Work out training plan
  • See if I can try and be a bit more scientific and check stats like heart rate, functional training power, watts and a whole host of other words I don’t know the meaning of yet.

How did I do?

Training has started and I’ve managed to swim, run or bike six days out of seven with a couple of double days thrown in. I hadn’t intended to double up but it was sometimes easier to swim in the morning on a Wednesday and then catch train and run home than sit in traffic for over hour during the Christmas rush. An unexpected longer trip home to Stornoway due to a family illness also meant a few extra sessions as the weather was unseasonably mild so there were more times to go out then normal. Overall, I’m happy with what I’ve done and feel like I’m settling into a routine which will help when the training starts in January.

Speaking of training, I have a training plan. Unlike Iain – his plan here – I’ve bought a Celtman specific plan on Training Peaks. I’ve never used Training Peaks and I’m not sure yet how closely I’ll follow the plan but I liked the comfort of seeing what would be involved and I can then tailor it (or reduce it!) to suit. One for next month.

I didn’t manage to look at power or any other stats. I was going to do that during the Christmas holidays but being home meant I didn’t have access to a smart trainer. Another one for next month.

Random highlights (and one lowlight)

  • Running: This year’s Christmas Day run was a 10 mile run to the Iolaire monument and then a traditional run around the Castle Grounds.
  • Swimming: A new tradition. Along with the Christmas Day run we had a 10 minute dip in sea. It wasn’t as cold as I expected, but at 6 degrees it was still sharp and gasp inducing. But after a few minutes it was bearable to swim head above water. After 10 minutes though it was time to get back to land!
  • World Champion: Did I mention I was world champion of the War Memorial? I don’t like to talk about it (much!).
  • Mountain bike skills: Wet wood is like ice. A lesson I painfully learned after the bike slipped out beneath me on a wooden bridge in the Castle Grounds. My shoulder and hip took the worse of the fall while my left hand recovered after a night of icing it with frozen vegatables.

January Goals

  • Update and start training plan
  • Look into stats to help with training