Get fit fast. The post-Christmas crash-train FAIL.

Since Christmas and New Year, I, like many other triathletes out there, have lost fitness over the holidays. Unfortunately, I have to get my body through an Ironman race in about 11 weeks time. So I did a mini crash-train over the weekend in a mad attempt to get fit fast. However, the following is an analysis of what happens when you mix post-race fatigue, reduced training, Christmas, New Year, alcohol, jet-lag, season-confusion, hospital infusion, three weeks of no cycling, with a big few days of cycling training. If you don’t want to read the entire article, just skip the nitty gritty and cut to the end to find out the conclusion of my get fit fast training…

My body feels like a steel ball being flipped around inside a ‘time/season/training’ pinball machine.

We raced Canberra on the 17th December. Sunburnt and fatigued, we drove 7 hours straight back to Melbourne. A quick bowl of pho to rehydrate, and then to the airport. Kuala Lumpur. Dubai. London. 18th December. My legs were forcibly rested from the flight, but they still had echoes of a hard race in them. Some well-deserved rest in the UK was obviously on the cards. And of course, some Christmas and New Year merriment.

Training back home during December was hard. It rained constantly. The sun would lift his eyes above the horizon at about 8am, barely making it up and out of his cosy southern-hemisphere bed before calling it a day at about 3:50pm. Some days the temperature was a moderate 12 degrees. Others it remained a refreshing 4-5 degrees. I know now why British cyclists and triathletes are successful – they man-the-hell-up and go out and train in the pissing, freezing, dark conditions. And of course, I manned-up and maintained a moderate schedule of running and swimming. But I also relaxed the alcohol ban. (What I mean specifically by ‘relaxed’ is, I drank red wine and/or beer every day of the holidays). This is very uncommitted of me, I know. But you know what, this was my first xmas at home in about 12 years or something ridiculous like that. And on the upside, I didn’t over eat like a normal Christmas. (But all the calories I saved by not eating too much, I made up for in Côtes du Rhône).

And I had a wonderful time back home with friends and family.

But the New year came all too soon. 2nd January, teary goodbyes. London. Dubai. Melbourne. 4th January. (3rd January 2013 – never saw it. It’s like Back to The Future.) My legs were forcibly rested from the flight, but alas, very few echoes of fatigue or hard efforts. Just as my sunburn had eased in England, my tan too had faded to grey. Not to worry, the 7 degrees I left behind in London was a distant memory. Melbourne had turned it on for me, and 42 degrees awaited at Tullamarine.

What time of day is it?

What season am I in?

Where am I?

What’s ironman training?

Jet lag knocked me out before 5pm. Jarrod woke me up at 7pm with a plate of pasta. “You’ll need this if you’re planning on riding with us tomorrow”. I barely remember eating it, before passing out again having been well and truly hit by the jet-lag hammer. Our alarm went off around 5am the next day – 5th January.

What time of day is it?

What season am I in?

Where am I?

What’s ironman training?

It had been three weeks since I last rode my bike (at Canberra). Cup of black coffee and a bagel with some honey, down the hatch. And back on the road.

It felt great to be riding again, for the first two hours. The boys made a ridiculous effort into the wind all the way to Frankston (45kms), so it was all I could do to hang on to a wheel. I could barely take my hands off the handlebars – I just put my head down and rode for dear life. Consequently, I neglected to ingest enough nutrition. That’s failing at page one of Triathlon for Beginners. By the time we got to the top of Oliver’s Hill and on to Mornington, I was suffering. Unfortunately, there was still a fair chunk left to ride (I think we were about a third of the way through).

From Mornington to Safety Beach, there are some great undulating roads. And then the marvellous Mount Martha – a steep, hurter at the best of times, but when you’re in the bottom of your own pit of pain, depleted, jet-lagged and slightly de-conditioned and unfit, well, let me just say I was praying for a puncture.

I made it to Safety Beach at Dromana, where the boys were waiting for me at the petrol station. Silently (unusual for me), I walked into the shop, bought a can of coke (also unusual for me), sat on the kerb and drank. I ate my fruitcake and had some more water. We were only 75km in to a 150km ride.

As you can imagine, the ride home was problematic. I don’t really think you can come back from bonking during a ride (not in my experience anyway). No matter how much I ate or drank, everything was an effort. Granted, the jet lag probably didn’t help. Oh, and another thing I forgot to mention: after three weeks out of the saddle, guess what really hurts from sitting back on a saddle? Yep, that was a whole other world of pain. But I made it back. Jarrod waited for me every 5-10km to make sure I was still alive, but I couldn’t stay on his wheel at any point. There was no way I could manage our 30 min run off the bike…

What time of day is it?

What season am I in?

Where am I?

What’s ironman training?

I was woken by Archer, my 6 year old friend. I had fallen asleep watching The Little Mermaid 2. The jet lag plus the 150km plus the mega-depletion meant that Saturday afternoon’s BBQ was a bit of a haze, and I crashed out in the kids’ toy room. Time for bed. Again.

What time of day is it?

What season am I in?

Where am I?

What’s ironman training?

Sunday, 6th January. A ‘recovery ride’. We would head out with a cyclist friend of ours who lives in the UK (and trains in the ridiculously tough weather, making him a ridiculously tough cyclist) and his other ex-pro cyclist comrade. We would conduct a mini Tour de Peninsula, and head to Arthur’s Seat. Now I don’t know about Arthur’s Seat, but my seat had certainly taken a saddle beating the previous day. As soon as I got on the bike I winced. “This is going to be a tough day”.

Making sure I didn’t bonk like yesterday, I was eating and drinking like a Kardashian at a drive-though. The gentlemen were true gentlemen, and took it very easy on the flats, and waited for me at the top of every climb and the bottom of every descent (since I had no idea where I was going). We made it out to Arthur’s Seat, and climbed what I think may be the steepest and toughest hill I’ve attempted. Although I was tired from the day before, and my saddle was inflicting torture, I loved it. Pure cycling pain, the good pain, against a backdrop of endless azure out to a hazy horizon that blended with a bright blue sky. Brilliant.

We headed out to Flinders, ate a great brunch, and then cycled back to Rosebud and Dromana via a sequence of short, challenging climbs. Back in Dromana, I felt like my saddle might have worn through my shorts and burnt away my flesh, but we still had to make it back to Frankston. What can I say – it wasn’t pretty cycling, but it did the job and I made it back, shorts in-tact. Thanks to Brendan and Andrew (hope I got that right?) for taking us on such a fantastic ride – great chats, great cycling insights and advice and a total privilege. And thanks for waiting for me.

What time of day is it?

What season am I in?

Where am I?

What’s ironman training?

Monday was a rest day – an unauthorised one, but I needed it. I just still had no idea whether I was coming or going. I went in to work for the first day, and it was great to be back. I’m not sure I totally mean that, but it was certainly good to see the kids at school. Tuesday morning I went out with my favourite female cycling buddy (my only female cycling buddy, but she would still be my favourite amongst an entire peloton of femmes) and we rode hard and sang Disney songs. A quick long-black coffee and a ginger beer, and then I was off to hospital for my doping superpowers (infliximab infusion for Crohn’s). All the while, my throat had been getting a bit sore, but I thought it might just be a bit of a cold setting in because of the flight etc.

TURNS OUT… I went to the doc’s today and he says it’s a throat infection, so that sucks. But antibiotics should clear it up asap. I didn’t ride yesterday and I didn’t ride today. I just feel totally smashed. So now I’m resting. It’s been a big month, topped off with a 260km+ weekend of climbing, a quality session on Tuesday and a hospital infusion. I need to take it easy for a day or two.

The race is getting close, and I need to make sure I get to the start line without burning out.

And finally…

I took some shots of some drizzle, just as a reminder for when I got back to sunshine. It drizzled at Dad’s house:


It drizzled at Mum’s house:


And then…. SUNSHINE:


Check back soon as I’m going to be setting some goals for the next 12 months in a bid to make it count in 2013…

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8 thoughts on “Get fit fast. The post-Christmas crash-train FAIL.

  1. I love that you did all this with Crohn’s. I hate that you got sick, but as a fellow Crohnie, I am very inspired that you are so active!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and following my blog!! And UGH, I hate sore throats/throat infections! They prevent me from enjoying food temporarily, and that’s just the worst! 🙂

  3. Luke Gillmer says:

    The amazing adventures of Lucy! Take it easy! 11 weeks is plenty of time.

  4. Rowley people says:

    ….and bonking during and between training…way to go Pipes….oooh to be young !!

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