I write this letter from across the border. I am now thirty (or ‘FIRDY’ as I have come to call it – sounds much more friendly, don’t you think? Like a Furbee (remember those? And yes, I’m using parentheses within parentheses (and now brackets within brackets within brackets)). FIRDY the FURBEE, what a cute guy. Wow, it’s been a long day). Whatever Piper… pass the olives (thanks to Daniel Dowd for that reference. Pretty sure only two readers will get that one).
So you see, I’m FIRDY now. And that means one thing, and one thing only: a new age group in triathlon. No longer do I have to race against the 25-29 whippersnappers. Now I am in the big kids pool. With the girls in their early FIRDIES. I don’t know if this is good or bad. I’ve been tossing it up for some time. Paula Radcliffe – FIRDY EIGHT. Fastest woman in the world across 42.2km. Chrissie Wellington – FIRDY FIVE. Never been beaten by any female in an ironman distance race. Mirinda Carfrae – FIRDY ONE. Leanda Cave – FIRDY FOUR… All these long distance ladies in their firdies. Hmmm. So I think perhaps ticking over into a new age group means I have to train harder.
Speaking of which, the past few weeks have totally smashed me. Sunday was our first day off for a few weeks, and before that I had found myself training harder than I ever have before. Our runs have got much longer now, so I can’t fit run training into my lunchbreak anymore. But, loathe as I am to miss RUNNING CLUB at work, I have been using the lunchtime quickstep as a short recovery run, and as a supplement to the longer training sessions after work. So mileage would have been big over the last 2-3 weeks. I just had a look at what I’ve uploaded from my garmin, and since the 1st September, I’ve got just over 75km of running, plus just over 480km of cycling, and an average of 8km a week swimming (I still need to cover more distance in the pool. Yikes). So today is the 18th September. That feels like a solid amount for 19 days.
However, I think it’s about to get heavier as we go into the next eight weeks. Actually, I know this for a fact as I’m sitting here staring at the training schedule. Coach Boss Murphy said that this next couple of months will be huge, and that he “wants us to be able to train when we are too tired to walk”. I think that’s my favourite quote from him so far. (Another classic quote this week, when I told him that Jarrod got me some new Rapha cycling gear for my firdieth birthday present was “heaps of pressure to ride well when you’re out in Rapha”. So alas I rode until my legs nearly fell off on Saturday along Beach Rd. I guess it was good advice…).
Another thing that’s been introduced to our weekend training sessions is the dreaded brick; we now do a huge ride on Saturday, followed immediately by transition into a short, fast run. And then on Sunday we do a short-ish ride, followed immediately by a long run. The pieces are slowly coming together. And soon we will have to do a long swim, followed immediately by an extremely long ride, followed immediately by a marathon run.
In other news this week, turning FIRDY meant a weekend of surprises: firstly, a big ride on the morning of my birthday, following which Jarrod said “I was going to cook you a birthday breakfast, but you’re running really late for work, you should probably get a move on”. So I arrived (late) to work, famished. But out on the balcony, the Rumpus Room had cooked an enormous surprise BBQ breakfast for me. After stuffing my face in true iron-style, we ventured out to RUNNING CLUB, where, as we approached the bridge at Southbank, a cheer-squad had gathered to surprise me again, with a huge banner hung across the bridge that read “HAPPY 30th PIPER – KEEP ON RUNNING”. There were a few tourists snapping photos of it, so I’d be surprised if it didn’t trend momentarily on Twitter… And the third surprise to top off the best birthday of all time – my dad flew out from the UK to surprise me too!! We had a fabulous time, and of course, drank far more champagne than I can handle. Fortunately, Sunday had been scheduled as a day off in anticipation of post-birthday celebration hangovers. A wise move.
And now, here I am: FIRDY. I can’t say it feels any different whatsoever. In fact, I’m pretty sure I can run faster as a firdy year old than at any point in my teens or twenties, apart from, perhaps, the final few months of being 29. I think the only drawback may be that hangovers appear to have doubled in length and intensity, much like our training schedule. But nevermind. I will plough on through the champagne hangovers in much the same way as I will plough on through the training…