With the ultra training plan on a cut-back week, I decided to get the bulk of the 25km target done early. Monday morning was 11.75km (7 miles).
That was followed by a good swim doctor session in the early evening. I swam 1km with a mixture of front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and drills.
I ran again on Tuesday morning – 13.4km on tired legs, but at least that was the week’s training plan completed (and with the triathlon run still to come). We went back to the lake – my second open water swim of the year – in the afternoon.
Last week had been poor for the swimming, terrible for the navigation and a disaster for getting out of the wetsuit. This week I swam for a non-stop kilometre – I didn’t swim well but it was an improvement and I even managed something approaching straight(ish) lines. Perhaps best of all, I remembered that it is so much easier to get out of a wetsuit if it’s done soon after leaving the water, when it is still wet (on the outside).
It was a confidence booster in that the triathlon swim is only 750 metres which now feels achievable. In spite of the lessons, I don’t feel like I’m going to be any quicker than last year. I think I have improved my swimming in the pool but I appreciate now that I need more time in the lake to be sure that what technique I have in the pool transfers across to the open water. Given the fact that I compete only with myself, that’s not a really big deal – but it would be nice to improve on last year’s attempt.
I quite fancied a run on Wednesday, but I resisted and settled for a session on the turbo. Just 45 minutes at 29.7kph (18.45mph).
We took friends to Kew Gardens on Thursday – they had asked for no presents for their recent wedding (second time for them both) but were happy to accept a day-trip out. I took my Garmin – not to record the walk but to test the battery duration over a longer time. It used 43% of the battery in a little over 6 hours which suggests about 14 hours of battery life. Dare I risk it for the ultra? I think not.
Friday was the gym, the bike shop and some more mowing. We have come back from Kew with the idea of letting the paddock next to the house go a bit more wild with grasses and, perhaps if we are lucky, wild flowers. I’ve now set out a few mown paths and will start researching how to create the meadow effect for the rest (no doubt it will be harder than a simple ‘let nature get on with it’ approach).
Saturday was taken gently; the triathlon on Sunday is only a sprint distance (it should be done with in less than 1h 40m) so it doesn’t need a lot of preparation but I gave it some respect. I swapped my clip-in pedals for some with toe clips and gave the bike a very short ride to make sure everything was working as it should (and it was).
The theory with the pedals is that, with only 20km on the bike, the trivial amount of time I might lose by not clipping-in is more than made up by having one shoe change instead of two and having easier runs in and out of transition.
Sunday will be significantly cooler than recent days and we start at 9am. Like last year, the swim start will be a ‘time trail’ format with two lines of swimmers going at intervals of just a couple of seconds. I am very happy about that as I wasn’t looking forward to the famous ‘washing machine’ battle of a mass start.
Post triathlon note: Without wanting to provide too much of a spoiler, I didn’t drown, didn’t fall off the bike and didn’t break anything on the run. I’ll do a post on the experience in the week.
Interesting stuff this week
1. African wise words: It is better to be loved than to be feared
2. BBC News website: Contact lenses the ultimate computer screen?
A company is about to embark on comprehensive testing of smart contact lens on humans, that will give the wearer a heads-up display that appears to float in front of their eyes. The product’s scleral lens (a larger lens that extends to the whites of the eye) corrects the user’s vision, but also incorporates a tiny microLED display, smart sensors and solid-state batteries.
3. BBC News website: Democratic Jackdaws
Researchers have found that the birds call out when they want to leave their nesting site, then when the noise reaches a critical level, it signals the roost is ready to depart, and the birds fly away.
The bird call is a vote and the collective decision to depart then rests on the noise volume and how rapidly the noise levels increase.
3. BBC News website: Pet parrot spooked by firefighter attempting ‘rescue’
The parrot escaped on Tuesday. It was spotted in a tree on Wednesday but would not come down, so the family contacted the fire service. The fire crew used an aerial ladder platform to get high enough to reach it but it appears it was spooked by the hats the fire brigade wear, because it flew off again.
I don’t like to be uncaring, but since when does a bird need to be rescued from a tree
4. BBC News website: Spending on memorabilia for the Queen’s Jubilee
Her Majesty’s 70-year reign is being marked with a four day weekend, and the UK could spend about £408m on the Platinum Jubilee, with £281.5m going on souvenirs memorabilia and gifts, according to the Centre for Retail Research.
One firm holding a royal warrant to provide goods to royal households is selling plates gilded with oils mixed with 22 carat gold for £150 ($190). The cheapest item, a mug, comes in at £29 ($37). The most expensive collectable, a music box, costs £1950 ($2460).
I feel that my £5 ticket for the village lunch is not carrying my share of the burden
5. BBC News website: Nigerian kidnapping crisis
A bill to criminalise ransom payments is the latest attempt to curb the country’s lucrative kidnapping industry. It proposes a jail sentence of up to 15 years for anyone who pays a ransom.
One businessman has paid ransoms three times: to free his two daughters last December ($24,000, £19,000), and previously to free his wife and his mother. He says that when confronted by the reality of threats to the lives of loved ones, you have to pay – but the lawmakers argue that such payments fuel the kidnapping industry, where criminal gangs randomly seize people and demand anything from $50 to $1m.
Since 2011, ransoms totalling at least $18m have been paid, more than half of that between 2016 and 2020.
I wonder if kidnap victims with a $50 price-tag put on their head feel insulted