Category Archives: Audax UK

The Sport of Ageing

I suppose that being over 60 I can still be classified as being middle-aged, towards the end of middle age and heading towards old age. There is of course chronological age and biological age. That nice machine they have at the gym that tells me I’m only 45! A dexa scan tells me my bone density and % of body fat are average for a 20 year old.

As the body ages, muscle size and strength reduces, flexibility reduces, aerobic capacity reduces, bone structure and density changes – it’s all happening and it’s all a natural process. Ordinary people become more sedentary as they age. Older athletes reduce the rigour of their training. Metabolic function changes, my thyroid doesn’t produce any thyroxin for example and the synthetic substitute is a poor replacement. I am basically very healthy and fit. We live in a nice place and have an active outdoorsy lifestyle.

Kayaking near our home.

For better and for worse, your body never ceases to change through ageing. My approach to training and sport choices and level of activity will reflect that by evolving from year to year in appropriate ways.

The changes in my body have meant a dramatic reduction in running speed. To keep this in perspective I am still ‘good for age’ but it’s still very annoying! Also my body finds running very strenuous and complains more loudly and often than it used to when I was younger. This means I can run less as I don’t want to exacerbate injuries.

I spend more time these days on strength and conditioning than I used to. In practice this means weight training with dumbells and kinesis. It means regular Iyengar yoga classes.

Chair headstand at our yoga class.

At a simple accessible level it is a 2 minute daily plank! Some days even that is too hard!

I no longer feel the need to push myself to do things I don’t really enjoy. I no longer swim in the sea year round for example! I still swim regularly, but only in the pool when the sea temperature is in single figures.

Sea swimming

I did not take up my ‘Good for Age’ place at the London Marathon in 2017. I loved the 2016 event and ran well ensuring an automatic entry to all the big city marathons in the world in 2017 and 2018. But, for reasons I can’t really explain I just didn’t want to do it. Maybe it’s a case of been there done that and got a drawer full of T shirts.

Finishing London Marathon 2016

I have not entered any triathlons this season- yet. I am still training. I still swim, bike, run and I enjoy it. At present – that seems to be enough. Racing is not on the agenda at present.

My Ironman trophy

I still ride Audax events.

I keep up my AAARTY.

There are many inspirational people out there riding huge distances who are much older than I am – mainly men. I continually ask myself, ‘Am I having a nice time – is this fun?’ The effects of ageing on my body have made stuff that used to be fun, much less fun because it hurts and the results are poor. So evolve – focus on what is fun. Focus on what I can do now rather than what I used to do.

My attention has been diverted from training by normal family events earlier this year. My father was very ill for a while. He is 91 and lives close by so we were able to give him the care and support he needed to get well and regain his independence. We also had the great joy of the marriage of Kathryn our daughter.

Kathryn’s wedding

This focused our attention for a number of weeks.

A big change in my life that has affected the training I do is personal. My husband Ian who has never really been interested in doing much exercise himself whist being very supportive of everything I do. Last summer a change occurred and he decided we should get mountain bikes. Now Ian is normally one of those reactive people so when he becomes proactive I tend to sit up and take notice!

Since we got those bikes last June Mountain biking has gradually become a more important part of our lives. We now ride as much as 3 or 4 times a week TOGETHER and have a lot of fun.

Mountain biking

He has become (rather annoyingly) very good and much fitter. I now ride my mountain bike more than my road bike. As a further development he gradually succumbed to riding my old Dawes Galaxy with straight bars that I did LeJOG on and doing some gentle road riding.

Dawes Galaxy ready for the Grand Tour of the Highland and Islands

We have a tour of the West coast of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides planned for a tour in June. A distance of about 600 miles with enough hills to make the elevation the same as the height of Mount Everest!

I can feel my strength and speed just disappearing as time passes and I am determined not to let it mar my enjoyment. I can still do loads of stuff. There is still lots of stuff to do and lots of adventures to be had!

Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

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AAARTY 36 Months

There are many challenges to be tempted by when riding Audax. However, a lot of them involve riding for a very long way and for a very long time. At present I do not find it fun to be out for more than about 12 hours, so I am limited to 200km rides or less.

I have found that one challenge I can maintain and use to keep up my cycling motivation is AAARTY. (Audax Altitude Award Round The Year). This involves riding a minimum of 50km with at least 750m of elevation every month. I have ridden a hilly ride every month since June 2013 so this was my 36th consecutive month!

Occasionally I will ride a hilly Calendar Event like the Dorset Coast 200km in April 2016 which attracted 2.75 AAA points with a total climb of 2850 metres. But usually I ride a 100km DIY with over 1500m of elevation. Living in the West of West Dorset it is not difficult to plan hilly enough rides from my back yard.

For Audax DIY planning purposes Burton Bradstock to Shillingstone is a very convenient 51km with 1015m of elevation. The return trip makes for a very neat 102km with only the one intermediary control necessary. Perfect.

The second week in May the weather warmed up nicely and I set off to meet my cycling buddy Jo ready for a hilly 100km.

Setting out from home

Setting out from home – nice jersey!

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The Dartmoor Devil

The Dartmoor Devil is a 111km bicycle ride which reaches parts of Dartmoor other events do not reach. It is organised by CTC Devon. The event is an Audax ‘gold grimpeur’ Calendar Event. This means that the ride is worth 2 AAA points.

Finishers badge

Finishers badge

The Dartmoor Devil 2015 is ‘the 23rd Thrash’ and took place on Sunday 25th October. Unexpectedly for the time of year, the weather was dry, warm(ish), sunny with light winds. Most undevil like.
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Recovery

The moment of finishing the ironman is the culmination of a years training. That was my main goal for the year and our lives had been geared up to achieve that goal.

So what’s next? The perceived wisdom seems to be that six weeks rest are in order before a return to gentle training. Well that was never going to happen!

In order to avoid post ironman depression syndrome (PIDS – yes really!) I had a few things lined up in advance so the coming months in the diary were not empty!

The first week after the ironman I rested – apart from some gentle pool swimming. I was very hungry and despite being tired I had to get up at about 03.30 to make porridge and toast as my rumbling tummy was keeping me awake.

The second week was spent in the Lake District on a planned holiday. Time to reconnect with my family and my inner – non-triathlete. Hill walking wasn’t a problem and we enjoyed some long walks in the hills around Keswick.DSCF1421

Walking in the Lakes

Walking in the Lakes

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These last three weeks

I entered the Challenge Weymouth last September but I didn’t tell very many people. There is a lot of stuff that can go wrong when you start to train an ageing body to do stuff it used to do.
I started running again. I went out with Egdon Heath Harriers on Club nights and did a few low key races.

Running the Weymouth 10

Running the Weymouth 10 back in October 2014

I had to face the reality that I was now running at a much slower speed than I was a few years ago. I still find this difficult to accept and will keep working at it – even to hold the status quo.
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The Big One

The event that I have been training for all year is almost here. On Sunday 13th September I will take part in Challenge Weymouth Long Course Triathlon.

This is an ironman distance triathlon comprising a 3.8 kilometre sea swim in Weymouth Bay followed by a 180km bike ride (with 1880m of elevation – hills that is!) and then a full 42.2 km marathon run. The clock doesn’t stop during all of this, so quick changing between each element is necessary. Food and drink is taken on the move.

The whole event must be completed inside 16 hours with the swim taking less than 2:15 hours and the swim and bike 10:30 hours. I am the oldest woman on the start list. In Triathlon your age is taken as of 31st December so as I am 60 in November I am in the 60 – 64 category. There are no other women in the category and there is just one woman in the 55-59 category.
Throughout the year I have taken part in several running races and one standard triathlon.

Competing in the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon

Competing in the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon

I have kept up my Audax AAARTY with a hilly ride each month.
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Focus

I haven’t posted for a long time. This is not because I have been idle and inactive. Far from it.

My focus for this year is the Challenge Weymouth long distance triathlon – Ironman distance – which is in September. The distances involved are 3.8 kilometres swimming in the sea followed without a break to180 kilometres cycling and then direct to 42.2 kilometres running. This is a big challenge for me and I’m not sure if I will manage to complete it. However I have been training with this event in mind since October 2014.

Long winter run on Thorncombe Beacon

Long winter run on the Dorset Coast Path. the picture is on Thorncombe Beacon

Audax ride on my winter bike

Audax ride on my winter bike

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