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

Celtman Nutrition Plan (Andrew)

I was running through Cooper Park in Elgin this week when I passed the library and a bunch of teenagers hanging out on it’s steps. Which was good to see. Teenagers hanging out at the library. They must be the cool kids, I thought. Probably exchanging thoughts on whether the Blagh Book by Nigel Tomms really does challenge the stifling formality of language by writing a one million word long sentence where every second word has been replaced by the word “Blah” or whether it challenges anyone not to laugh at such pretentious twaddle as books are meant to, as a minimum, be, you know, read and understood.

And then one boy turned to the other and said: “Gonna give us a poond”.

“Wha fir?” said the other.

“It’s a poond an eccie and ahm gonna get wasted!”

Which made me think. How can an eccie, which I assume is an ecstasy tablet, not being up with the old drug lingo, be a pound? How can it be cheaper than a legal drug like alcohol or cigarette? Has the market fallen out of eccies. Is there a big warehouse with a secret stash of unsold tablets somewhere in the Moray countryside where the local drug dealer has no choice but to have a fire sale before the spring/summer eccies arrive?

Or was the kid being conned? Was someone selling Smarties and pretending they will get you high?

Or are drugs just really cheap?

They don’t tell you that in school.

“Don’t take drugs!” Says the teacher.

“Why not!” We say.

“They’re too cheap! Save up and get a proper drink like a Buckfast – like a real man!”

When I got back, I Googled “How much do drugs cost” and I was surprised to learn how cheap heroin is too. It’s only £10 for the average bag while cocaine is £30 – £40 per gram.

Based on those prices, I would be daft not to inject myself intravenously.

Then I Googled the price of new energy gels as I’d run out. And as I’ve written before – see here – I need a new supplier.

And, having checked the price of energy gels and energy bars and comparing them against the latest street prices I can confirm that I will be running Celtman on a nutrition plan of one ecstasy every hour and a shot of heroin at the end of each stage. It’s the economic choice. I’d be daft not to save money by buying my ‘nutrition’ on the black market. Triathlons can be expensive, but not if you shop around.

But, before I buy more drugs than Boots the Chemists, first I asked the Glasgow Triathlon Club Facebook forum this week for recommendations for a thick gel to replace my Zipvits and have been recommended gels by Torq. I’ve ordered a box of mixed gels – but if they don’t work out I may need to join the cool kid gang and visit the library…

Training for Celtman: November 2019 (Andrew)

I have slept in a living room, a cleaner’s cupboard and what felt like a supermarket skip. Racing around the country is expensive and one of the skills all triathletes need is the ability to find the cheapest and closest accommodation to the start line as possible.

On Skye we stayed in a hotel room whose window opened into a skip. Which was handy, as the room didn’t have a bin. Or much in the way of sheets, paint, any wifi or hope of better days. Every hour someone would throw a glass in the skip. Every hour. All night.

In Dunkeld, I thought I’d found a bargain before the Etape Caledonia. £35 a night for a double room. The room was new. Recently renovated and had a smell which could only be described as Eau Du Crime Scene Clean Up Crew. My eyes started watering as soon as we opened the door. The smell of bleach was so strong, my teeth turned white. The room was so new I’m sure it was still a cleaners cupboard that morning.

As for sleeping in a living room. That doesn’t sound too harsh until you read this – Norseman – and you spend three days with the equivalent of a torch shining in your face while you try and sleep.

But not this time. This time we’re staying at the Torridon Inn, a luxury hotel only a few minutes from the finish line.

After years of slumming I want something to look forward to at the end of the race.

Not that there’s that much choice for Celtman. The Applecross penisula is isolated and there’s not a lot of accommodation. To make it harder, the penisula forms part of the North Coast 500 tourist trail so any accommodation is already hard to find with tourists booking for their own tour of the Highlands.

So, no sooner were places confirmed than Iain scoured AirBnB and hotel websites for places to stay because there’s no point having a place if you don’t actually have a place to stay too. And not, thankfully, anywhere that will involve a rubbish dump, the eternal sun or more chemicals than the Rolling Stones dressing room.

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.

Dreaming of Celtman 2020 (Andrew)

IronMan UK was my one and only long distance triathlon. Never again I said. That was it. One go. Done it. Never need to do it again.

Except for Norseman.

And possibly Challenge Roth.

But the chances of getting in were so slim that IronMan UK was, I thought, the only time I’d ever swim 3.9km again, probably the only time I’d ever cycle more than 100 miles and definitely the only time I’d run a marathon as I don’t like running long distances. 

Oh, and except for Celtman too. 

Apart from those three races, I was never going to voluntarily spend an entire day racing again!

But what were the chances of getting into Norseman? Challenge Roth or Celtman? People try for years and don’t get into any of them. I applied, still with no expectation of getting in, and, straight away, I’ve got a place in Norseman.

A couple of years later and I manage to get a place in Challenge Roth too.

And now I have a place in Celtman.

I don’t know whether God likes a laugh, but he certainly enjoys a good ironic chuckle. 

While Norseman was fantastic. I’ve written about it on the blog and you can find out all about it. Roth too. And they were both ‘special’ and they have given me some great memories (along with a deep, deep fear of losing my watch while swimming – read about it here and, four months later, I’m still mentally scarred by it!), it’s Celtman which means the most to me because it was Celtman that got me interested in triathlons.

I never watched triathlons on telly. I’d never heard of IronMan or knew anything about the World Championships in Hawaii. I knew triathlons existed, I’d even tried to the New Year’s Triathlon in Edinburgh but I was like a dog playing football. It might know to chase a ball but that’s all it has in common with a footballer. I knew you needed to swim, bike and run but I didn’t know it was better to swim freestyle, that a mountain bike is not the professional triathlete’s first choice or that the run is something you race, not walk in to finish. 

Celtman changed that. I was watching the Adventure Show on BBC Scotland. Every month it reports from different events across Scotland. In 2011, it reported back from the first Celtman extreme triathlon. 3.4km swim on the west coast of Scotland, a 120 mile cycle round the Applecross penisula and then a marathon up a Munro and finish in Torridon. 

“That’s impossible,” I said, “how do they do that?” 

Every year since I’ve watched the Adventure Show and thought I would love to take part but secretly I knew that I wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to swim through jellyfish in freezing cold water. I’ve never cycled 120 miles. I’ve never run a marathon up a mountain. That’s what other people do.

But as I started to train for races in middle distance, then long distance, then Norseman and Roth, I started to think this year that maybe, with a bit more effort, I could be ready for Celtman. Because I don’t want to just complete it. I want to stand at the top of the mountain and be one of the few competitors who complete the whole course. In order to do that you need to be halfway through the run eleven hours after starting. Which means I’ll have around 8 hours to complete 120 miles on the bike, knowing that my swim time is the one thing I won’t be able to change no matter how hard I train. 

And, to make this Celtman, even better, unlike Norseman and Roth, Iain will be racing too, which will be a good incentive for both training and on the day itself. Though it has spoiled my support runner plans as he was going to run the final half with me!

Now that I’ve secured a spot I keep thinking of the first edition. I think how impossible it seemed and I think how possible it now is. I can’t wait to take part!