Saturday, 10 October 2015

Papaya Power

This week I was feeling pretty motivated to get out and run at parkrun, I had decided to switch back to Orpington this week to give me a change of scenery and also I had visitors arriving mid morning and with slightly fewer runners than Bromley I can get away a bit quicker!

Before the start I spotted a friend whom I hadn't seen since before I was expecting which was great as we had a lovely catch up and she waited to cheer me in at the finish line. 

This week my Orpington Parkrun was powered by the papaya, it would seem that this is a pretty good running fuel as today the baby was not doing a bladder dance as we ran allowing me to run 10 / walk 2, and finish in a pretty respectable bump time of 33:15 with only 2 walking breaks. My pace is gradually slowing as my weight and tummy size increase but I am enjoying being out running and ticking off Parkruns on my way to the 50 t-shirt.... still another 15 to go so suspect it will be a post baby win!  

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Don't Look At Me

It is becoming somewhat of a family tradition that when my siblings come for a visit we come out to Parkrun. This weekend it was the turn of my younger sister, and her first time at Parkrun and only her second 5km event.

It was a cool and drizzly morning, pretty good as running weather goes as you don't get too hot and sweaty!!

We arrived and headed over to the start line, my sister clearly impressed or perhaps confounded by some of the anniversary shirts she saw, 250 parkuns was a shocker!!

We set off at a steady pace, agreeing to a walk/run strategy to get us around the course and selecting Bromley

as the flattest of the local parkruns and also the family favourite!

Happily I am still fitting into my running kit and managed to zip up my waterproof over my increasing bump, this week apparently the size of a pomegranate.... now this raised suspicion for me as I have never seen a pomegranate in excess of 10 inches, in fact probably not even half that size. The app that gives me these updates is American so I am wondering if they have giant pomegranate farms in the US where these enormous fruits frolic together in the fields. 

As the time wore on, my sister was seeming a little less keen on running that when we started, and stating definitively "Don't look at me" when I asked looked over to see how she was doing!! but with shorted run/walk intervals we kept moving and before long the end was in sight. The finish line prompted a new energy and we overtook about 4 other runners in the dash for the finish.

It was over and we could now go about our day with a smugness of those who get up early on a Saturday to exercise!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Parkrun Tourism: Worcester Woods Country Park

It was the weekend of the worldwide netball reunion, with the Australian contingent in attendance. As is usual on these gatherings I suggested a trip to the local Parkrun on the Saturday morning and Team Meakin took the bait.

Hubby was roped in as chief supporter and childcare for our God-daughter whilst myself, Kate and Paddy partook in a little Parkrun tourism. 

The sun was shining and the course was a lovely couple of laps through some shaded woods, Paddy was off ahead of us and myself and Kate opted for the run and chat option to get us round. I was pleased to find that the distraction of chatting stopped me worrying about the baby bladder dance and I was able to keep going until about 17 minutes when we had a short walk break.

As we approached the finish line we saw the husbands and Mollie cheering us on and finished in a time of 35:05 which I am pretty happy with as I am running for two, with my very good friend on such a beautiful morning.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Treadmill Run - Mango in Malta

Since being on holiday there has been a lot of walking every day and swimming in the sea but this was the first day I decided to run, and hitting the hotel gym seemed like the best idea especially as Malta is pretty hot and I didn't want to overheat the bump!!

So getting up early, squeezing into some gym kit and taking myself down to the gym I set out to complete a 5km treadmill run. 

Powered by an all inclusive diet I was feel quite sluggish and also being indoors on a treadmill I always find slightly tougher then getting out in the fresh air but I stuck with it and completed my 5km in a time comparable to those I have been achieving of late at Parkrun. 

Really I am just happy that I have stopped with the morning sickness and am able to do any kind of exercise again. Lets hope it lasts for a little while at least!!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Sweet Potato Running

Feeling positive about finally being able to run a few times in the last week, after the morning sickness has eased off significantly I decided another Parkrun was in order. 

Opting for Bromley Parkrun I was feeling good and looking forward to seeing a few friendly PWR faces in the line up. At 18 weeks pregnant my baby is the size of a sweet potato and based on my improved time I can only assume this is down to the increased would seem that a sweet potato is significantly faster than an avocado!

I was pretty pleased with my bump sweet potato time of 32:55 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Post Family Day Calorie Burning

Following from the parkrun family tradition the day following family day should always start with a family run with as many people as we can rope in!

This year we managed 6 runners (big bro taking the picture) for our calorie burning, hangover curing run. Pairing up based roughly on ability (or inclination) we all set off on an out and back route, 20 mins out and then turn around. 

The boys sped off as expected, some testosterone playing its part. I was kindly joined by Marii on my walk/run bump friendly pace which oddly still kept the boys in sight ahead of us as they seemed to be doing sprint intervals. 

As you can see from the picture we finished with smiles on our face... maybe because the run was over.... maybe because we knew we had a yummy fry up to head back to!!

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Family Parkrunning

For regular readers of my blog you will know that when my brother visits he likes to have a go at Parkrun. This was one such weekend as we were gearing up for the fabulous family day at my aunts. I was a little concerned as I had not been for a run for weeks due to morning sickness but in support of my brother I decided I would give it a go as I could always drop out if I was struggling or ill. 

Bromley Parkrun was busy as ever, now seeing in excess of 500 runners every week and this week saw even more than that as it was the 6th anniversary so there was lots of excitement and and of course cake!! The day was pretty hot already, great for our plans later in the day but not so good when it was grey upon leaving the house so we both had too many layers and got a bit warm running. 

The course was also being run in reverse, so armed with my Garmin I told my brother his target pace and I dropped back to run with Sherry and share the good news that I was 16 weeks pregnant. I ran most of the way with Sherry and her two lovely daughters until I needed to stop for a toilet break. 

This for me was unheard of... I have never stopped in a race for the toilet, not in a marathon and certainly not in a 5km event!! It seems that the baby was doing some sort of dance on my bladder, but after a quick pit stop I was back on my way. I opted for a walk run strategy to lessen the pressure on my bladder and this seemed to work just fine allowing me to complete the run. 

My brother completed some time ahead of me and was there to cheer me across the finish to set a 5km PB for baby bump. Felt great to be out running after weeks of absence, may not be fast but happy to be out and keeping fit again. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Newham 10km Run #returntothestadium

This race was going to be a tricky one, when the entries opened up some months ago I of course had no idea that firstly I would be pregnant and secondly that I would have been suffering the most horrendous vomit inducing morning (afternoon, evening and nighttime) sickness!

But as runners we can be a little silly, and I knew this was likely to be the only opportunity I would ever have to run in the Olympic stadium in the footsteps of the greats so I was going to do this event, even if it meant walking the whole way!

The time in the picture was never going to happen but nice as a reminder that I was capable of a sub-50 10km at some point in my running life and I will get back there!

Added bonus of this event was that supporters could also come into the stadium to watch the finish, so I had both my husband and my mum on todays support crew and what a fine job they did. I must have seen them in at least 4 different points in the race before even getting to the final 400m in the stadium running on that famous track.

My pace was pretty good to start with but it was a hot day and getting hotter my the minute. When I was running I was maintaining pace but due to the heat and concern over cooking my growing bump I had several walk breaks and water to make sure I didn't overheat. 

These seemed to get more frequent towards the end of the race but the idea of today was not about time, it was about setting foot on the track and that I did!

I saw a few other PWR tops around the course and towards the finish there was some encouragement shouted at each other as we recognised the tops if not the faces!! (the club has grown so large and with my absence following injury there are a lot of new faces). I finished the race, oddly not with a personal worst and if anything the bump now had a 10km PB!!

A great event, very busy an perhaps 20,000 runners but something that was great to be part of and what a spectacular finishing venue!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

PWR Midsummers Run 2015

One of the most anticipated and well attended events on the Petts Wood Runners calendar is the Midsummers Run. This year the organisers outdid themselves!

The groups were put together so that 3 larger teams went out and along the way there were pitstops with challenges to complete and 'trophies' to collect. At the first station was a quiz gave which upon completed the team was given a pineapple to carry round the course.

At stop 2 David and Hels put on their best Sargent Major military voices and put the groups through their paces on a series of press-ups, burpies, planking, jumping jacks and other activities. All the time being shot at with David's super soaker!! 

Next up, into Petts Wood we came across the infamous Cocktail & Dreams bar, amazing effort went into this, my favourite of all the challenge stops. With our very own Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown impersonators hosting this cocktail challenge. We had to guess the ingredients of a cocktail and were rewarded with cocktails of our own!!

The last stop before the finish was a cup cake decorating challenge where we had plain cupcakes and plenty of sprinkles and icing to pretty them up for judging... but mostly for eating!

Post cake decoration we headed to the finish point - with a quick team photo stop - and highlight of the evening, a garden Pimms party at Mike's house where we are all welcomed into the delightful oasis that is Mike's garden where his family rally to serve us cake, Pimms, samosa's as we await the annual prize giving. 

A wonderful evening as ever with lots of laughter, smiles, running and Pimms!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Dartford & White Oak Sprint Triathlon 2015

Something happened after my first triathlon back in April, I wasn't sure if I enjoyed it or not. But after some very hyper encouragement from the ever energetic and slightly manic Emma we decided we would both sign up for our local sprint triathlon with Dartford and White Oak Triathlon Club. As we were super keen we first joined the club to get some help, particularly with our swim training. I had hoped that I might be able to complete the swim section in front crawl rather than my usual metronomic breast stroke. We also pulled in my friends from my first triathlon, Lexi and her husband Chris who had regretted not signing up last time so wanted to get involved. 

As the race was only a few miles from home it wasn't such an early start as usual and we loaded up the bikes and got to the venue where we soon came across Emma and many other lycra clad competitors. It was a beautiful sunny morning, our support crew of my Mum arrived soon after and was our personal cheer squad and photographer appearing at multiple points around the course.

The swim was well organised and I started with a length of front crawl but my nerves got the better of me and I struggled to regulate my breathing so I reverted to breast stroke and completed the 400m in my predicted time. 

Into the transition zone and i stuffed a handle of jelly babies in and hopped on my bike. Only my fourth time riding my new racing bike but I was enjoying how much faster the ride was than my hybrid without any change in effort. I made it up the first hill and to the roundabout where I saw Rob and Sonja who seems to appear at quite a lot of my events in random places, they were there for my London marathon debut when I was struggling, they were in Brussels the same time as me completing the marathon (when I ran the half). There is something reassuring to me now to see the smiley supportive pair that I know the race will go well. 

The cycle was good and was faster than anticipated, about 4 miles in, Emma came speeding past me with words of encouragement, making me smile before she disappeared at an alarming rate into the distance. I reached the transition zone, my legs tired but I saw my mum again as I racked my bike, stuffed in more sweets and headed out for the final section of the event. 

My run was slower than normal and as the day heated up I was starting to feel fatigued. But I pushed through taking water at the stations and being encouraged by supporters on the course. As I exited the park after two laps and headed out to the road I was really tiring and was delighted as before long the leisure centre and finish line was in sight. I crossed the line, tired but satisfied and was reunited with the support crew (Mum) and my friends. After much patting on the back we headed up the road for an Asda breakfast to refuel before heading home for a well deserved bath. 

NOTE: So, although I did not know on the day I was in the early stages on pregnancy so this may account for my struggles on the final leg of the race and slower than normal running times! 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Parkrun Tourism: Tilgate Park

Staying away from home on a Friday night? What's the first thing a parkrunner does when planning their trip? Check out any local Parkrun to their accommodation and then see how they can squeeze it into the weekend!

I have not really considered this when getting ready to stay at my Mum's house until she sent me a message suggesting after staying over on Friday night that we could go to Tilgate Park in Crawley so I could do Parkrun there as it was a really rather lovely park.

She was not wrong, the park was beautiful and a popular Parkrun by the looks of their webpage regularly enticing over 400 runners. 

We arrived and saw the floods of lycra-clad participants heading from the car park towards the start of the course. The numbers swelling as 9 am drew closer. Mum found a good spot by the lake to watch the running and I waited at the start point as we thanked volunteers and celebrated the multiple event awards of 50's and 100's. 

It was a sunny and warm morning - not really done justice by the picture. The first lap of the course was gently undulating around the lake and then headed upwards for a lap of the park with some not so gentle undulations. Passing through wooded areas it was clear to see why this was a popular Parkrun, despite the course being tougher than I am used to it was a far more enticing environment to run in. 

At almost 2 miles into the run we returned to the edge of the lake to run another lap where I saw Mum and gave her a wave as she cheered and took pictures. Onward I went, very hot by now but still keeping pace with the same runners I had fallen into pace with early on during the run. A runner with his dog, let the giddy Spaniel off the lead to jump in the lake to cool down... I think this is possibly the only time I have ever wanted a wet dog to shake the water off himself near me (to cool down) but alas he did not! 

Round the final bend and the very keen marshals were shouting words of encouragement at the runners who were starting their final lap or in the final 200m sprint for the finish. I pushed as hard as I could for the last 100m although to look at the video my mum recorded you may be forgiven for thinking I was having a leisurely jog. I crossed the line in 26:42 which was pretty pleasing - and not too far off last weeks time especially considering the hilly course.

Tilgate Parkrun, I hope to be back in the future! A lovely park and very friendly marshals.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

ORR Anti-Heros: The Man with No Name

A potted history of the Heroes Run (High Elms Run On Sunday) can be found here. This in turn led to the Anti-Heros Run, also taking place in High Elms but at 8am and takes the form of a trail run of around 6 miles.  A Hero or Anti-hero is selected by the weeks run leader and this week leader had selected Clint Eastwood’s character, The Man with No Name.

I decided to tag along as this week’s route was being led by Jerry and although an Orpington Road Runners established event I find them to be very welcoming and like-minded trail runners. I was collected from home by Jerry after a somewhat disappointing 5 hours sleep following a late night but I wanted to get out and run the trails and this seemed a great way to do it. We shared a Satsuma on route to the run, I forget all the reasons but oranges are a good pre workout source of energy so it only follows that so are satsuma’s!

Arriving at the designated car park meeting point another 4 runners pulled up shortly after us ready for the run. After some introductions we headed out onto the trails and past High Elms Golf Club before getting into territory unknown to me. Although the pace was fairly easy and should have been comfortable this was possibly the first hilly run I had completed in quite some time and it was taking its toll on me as I remained at the back of the back for most of the run.

It was a lovely sunny day, running along the trails and chatting with some new faces sharing our enjoyment of moving away from  road running and getting into the countryside. We passed several batches of youths – whom we presumed to be taking part in Duke Of Edinburgh training (or similar). Each group with matching ran covers on their back packs which were equal if not larger than the youths themselves. They politely waited, with bemused faces, as we trundled past wishing them well.

Crossing a field we entered a woodland which stopped us in our tracks, it was a magical bluebell carpeted wooded wonderland. So delighted we all cheered and whooped, congratulated Jerry on his excellent route choice and took some pictures of this magnificent sight. This is the reason we run in the woods, these sights can just not be found running the roads.

We continued on, all very jovial indeed and soon came across a Aberdeen Angus happily stood by the fence next to the path we were running. Jerry patted him on the head and kept going as I held back and took a picture of him, whether he knew or not he was soon to gain blog fame I’m not sure as his floppy red fringe covered his gentle eyes.

Continuing on, Jerry thought he may have taken a wrong turn but this didn’t matter at all, we carried on happily chatting and our next wildlife stop took us past an animal sanctuary with fields full of donkeys, Shetland ponies and turkeys. We passed the sign towards Downe House (home of Charles Darwin) and the group halted as I faffed around taking more photos and catching my breath!

We were now on the homeward stretch, a very lovely run with a very nice group of runners. As we closed in on our final destination we saw the 9am Heroes run group coming towards up where we exchanged plenty of hellos’ and a few high fives.  

I certainly think I will be back on an Anti-Heroes run.

I, I will be king (of the trails)
And you, you will be queen (of running)

Though no-one will run away

We can be Heroes, just for one day

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fast & Furious Parkrun

Waking up 2 hours before my alarm and very keen I decided I would get my bike out and cycle to Parkrun. I ate my regulation 2 Weetabix and seeing it was still only half past 6 I decided I would go back to bed for an hour. Miiiiiisssstttttttaaaaaakkkkkkkkkeeeeee!

So I slept through one alarm and woke with my back-up alarm which meant I would have time to get my bike sorted and I would be driving to Parkrun. About 1 mile from home my petrol light came on but I hadn't brought my purse, only my keys and my barcode. By the time I parked up I was decidedly grumpy and not in the mood to talk to or be around people so Bromley ParkRun, now pulling over 500 people each week was possibly not my best choice of destination.

I headed to the start line, still grumpy and now wishing I had my sunnies to protect my eyes from the savage winds that seemed to have reared up since arriving. But shockingly, I did not!

Announcements were made, we cheered the volunteers and we were off. I had seen some pacing vests but none were around me as I started. My Garmin had not managed to find a satellite so I didn't have much idea of my pace or distance so I just ran. I ran round the first lap, I ran into the second. Still feeling pretty grumpy,  and wondering why I had even come out at all then I saw the finish line ahead, I was on the home straight and looking at my watch I saw I was closing in on 26 minutes. I had no idea where it had come from.  I stepped up a gear and pushed as hard as I could to try and scrape in under 26 but alas my final time was 26:02.

From my positive early morning to the grumpiness that had become progressively worse due to one annoying incident after another I had somehow done my best 5km time in about 3 years and certainly the best since my back injury.

I returned home in a much better mood and after a quick shower went off to an early showing of Fast & Furious 7 at the cinema. Quite apt after the morning I’d had. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Run and Vote!

Another pre work run which was much needed as I had completely flaked out yesterday evening and headed to bed at 8:30pm.... but almost 10 hours of sleep later I was ready to run!! 

I decided I would combine the run with my Vote and planned my route to make sure I hit the polling station at the end of the run. It was a lovely bright morning. I ran happily along without looking at my pace along a very familiar route heading towards Chislehurst, down towards the A20 and back up St Pauls Wood Hill. 

The sun was shining and I was heating up but still running well. When I reached the polling station I was aware of how red and sweaty I was but hey at least I was there to make my Vote count. They asked if I had run to the station and quipped they had walked but really quickly that morning!

Vote safely in the ballot box I stepped once more into the sunshine and ran the final half mile home, I was very pleased to see that my natural running pace has returned and now all I need to do is start building up the distance again. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Netball doing other stuff!

It would seem that of late Netball have been doing other stuff and lots of it!! There are baking courses, hairdressing courses, triathlons but before all this other stuff there was running. 

About 5 years ago both me and Kate had taken up running and didn't really know for a few 
months that the other one had. When we found out we both promptly signed up to a half marathon and a full marathon and that was the beginning....

So this morning, years later it is now the norm for us to get up, get our trainers on and get running. 

Our route plan was in the hands of Kate as we headed out of the door and towards the canal. We reached the canal and I must admit I had to ask Kate to slow down if she expected me to be chatting too as I was getting out of breath! 

After a while it was pointed out that the side of my head had gone yellow!! It seems that there was still paint powder in my pores which was now being sweated off, mmmmm janudice head! 

Along the canal, past the football ground, along residential streets we ran and chatted as the miles were eaten up beneath our feet and before we know it we were back at the house and it was time for brekkie. A lovely chatty run with a very good friend, a shame we are not more local as after 5 years our pace seems to have fallen perfectly into alignment. 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Bluebell Wood 5km Colour Dash

Last year my younger sister decided that running would be a good idea and that as a runner I would be a good person to run a race with. The race was selected and entered and a coach to 5km programme was embarked upon. This was backed up with a pre-event training session in March (See: Running Sisters).

The event was upon up, it seemed that the pre event "propaganda" had indicated we should arrive from 8am even though the event did not start until 10:30am. But being strict rule followers we departed my dad's house, collected my sister and her support Crew then headed to Rother Valley Country Park where the event would be held. 

Sat in the car at approximately 8:03am as the rained started we wondered if we might have been a little keen!! It did give us time to scavenge some safety pins from Dad's first aid kit though to attached our race numbers. Rebecca had taken shoe protection precautions by covering here shoes with tape so the coloured paint would not ruin them (it seem to work pretty well!!)

After much waiting around and many sad faced looks from the dog (poor Beau) and the two man support crew it was finally approaching race time, not before we were treated to entertainment in the form of belly dancers, dancing along to 'Follow da Leader: Jump and Wave' - not a family friendly dance!

We were self-timing the event as it was more of a fun run so there was no official clock... our plan was one of run / walk combination and after running through the first two colour showers we opted to walk through the next 3 as we barely looked as though we had picked up any colour. This backfired slightly when we both got an ear full of yellow paint powder... at least it matched my sunglasses!.The course was run around the perimeter of the lake on a nice path with only slight undulations. We had started towards the front and think we placed ourselves well as we seemed at a good pace with those around us.

Pacing was good and we saw our supporters after 3.5km where they cheered and we waved as we continued on our way. as we rounded the end of the lake we could see the finish line in sight and to our rear still hundreds of runners. 

The pace stepped up as the finish line was in sight and we crossed the line together not quite in a shower of coloured paint but some clammy handfuls from a few excitable children! The time was good with more than 2 minutes taken off our time back in march when training. 

We regrouped and headed back to the car, a very short walk thanks to our early arrival, we quickly removed the worst of the paint. Rebecca de-taped her shoes and we were heading out of the park laughing at all those fools who had arrived late and had to walk over a mile from their cars to the start line!!! 

Later on the bath turned a terrible colour and left a decidedly bright yellow rim around the waterline.... This was duly scrubbed although I feel it won't be the last I see of the colour yellow!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Monkey Track Thursday

For regular readers of The Magic Forest - and those who are not probably should be - you will know that Monkey Track Thursday is a weekly activity of this blogs author.  Where he joins Petts Wood Runners at their weekly track training session but uses this as a pacing session where he runs laps in a metronomic style.

Not quite up to a full on track session but wishing to run with company I decided to join Jerry in his monkey footed running antics - only without monkey feet of my own and simply my super duper Nike Flyknits!
We hit the track do run circuits along with a young addition to our crew, the son of another PWR. This young lad seemed to effortlessly keep pace with us for 4 miles at which point I gave up (as I didn't want to push my back too far) and he took the out too, although I am sure he could have outlasted me had he felt so inclined! 
We watched the rest of the track crew under Mike and Hels instruction continue their speed work and chatted to those in between reps. As ever it was nice to get out and see poeple from the club and catch up on their going-ons and marathon stories. 

I had been baking prior to leaving and lucky for Jerry (and a few others) there were a few extra macarons brought to the track as well and distributed afterwards. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Pre-work workout

Up for once with my alarm rather than several snooze button depressions later so it seemed as good a time as any to get out and go for a run. I haven’t been out running since last week so I really needed to get cracking and get some miles in my legs.

I didn’t have a route in mind but my kit was on and so was my music as I set off down the road, a few random turns and twists but staying local I kept up a nice comfortable pace, whilst singing along with the music and clocking up just over 3 miles.

That’ll do nicely for a pre work run, gone are the days where I would do 5-6 miles before my morning commute but they will be back, one day they will be back and then we’ll see how much cake I can eat!!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Post event running

Today was the first day I felt able to exercise following my first triathlon on Sunday, pretty reasonable, only a few days. But I have been incredibly run down and had a terrible headache since the event. So bad I would almost classify as a migraine with light spots appearing in front of my eyes. It is not uncommon to have a severe headache or migraine after a sporting event and this can be caused by hypernatremia.

So that aside - as quite frankly I could be being dramatic - I woke up today feeling rested and before my alarm so running seemed a good idea, an idea that I acted upon before I could talk myself out of it.

A nice local circuit of around 5km would do just fine and help stretch out my legs after the event. The first mile felt tough and my legs heavy but into the second mile I began to loosen up and find a more comfortable pace whilst also keeping my breathing even.

The shuffle on my phone made sure I was unsuspecting of the musical selections coming my way during the run, a nice upbeat one to finish though with Buck Rogers from Feeder.

He's got a brand new car
Looks like a Jaguar
Its got leather seats
Its got a CD player..player...player...player

I think were gonna make it
i think we're gonna save it yeah
So don't you try and fake it
Anymore, anymore

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Losing My (Triathlon) Virginity

For the past few weeks regular readers will have seen snippets of self doubt regarding my abilities, technique and equipment when it comes to a triathlon. Well this morning put all those fears into giant knot in the pit of my stomach which later transferred to uncontrollable shakes before getting in the pool. It sounds like this may be a terrifying blog, enough to scare anyone who is thinking of trying a triathlon for the first time. On the contrary it all fell into place and I got round. Not only did I get round but I think in pretty respectable fashion for someone with the wrong bike!

A 5am wake up call was not the best preparation especially as I had struggled to sleep but with my bags and bike packed and by the door, we loaded up the car and hit the road. Heading to Cranleigh Leisure Centre for the Cranleigh Tryathon 2015. A beginner/novice friendly sprint distance triathlon with a great number of cheering and whoopingingly friendly marshals. We would be meeting my aunty Teresa, Cairine and Kirsten (all had competed last year) and the other triathlon virgins like myself; Lexi and the father & son duo Paul and Dan.


As we entered the car park, straight away I spotted Lexi’s car and we went to park up next to her and her husband who had come along to support (and apparently to ride everyone’s bikes and give his assessment of them!). I picked up my timing chip and someone write on my arm and leg in black marker… I got magnummed* and I wasn’t even on tour or asleep!

With Lexi, Teresa and Paul we went to the transition area to set up our bikes and the kit we would need in transition, trainers, race belt, towel etc. Now much happier that things seemed to be moving along after such an early start we made our way to the pool viewing gallery for the race briefing. A very jovial man named Simon gave us the run down of the event and pointed out that despite the fact the large banner by the pool said Run we should definitely swim in the water and likewise when we reached the turn point of the run, we should not start to swim!!

Swim (300m)

One by one the swimmers entered the water, in a field of almost 250 at 20 seconds intervals and me at number 213 I had a long wait ahead of me. The advantage to this was that I got to see everyone else doing their swim and cheer them as they got out of the water which kept me nicely distracted from what lay ahead.

As I approached the start point of the swim, I was very nervous, my hands started to shake almost uncontrollably, I started to doubt my predicted time and the field was moving quicker now so I was on the side of the pool lowering myself in clearly looking like a startled rabbit as Simon (the swim starter) told me to stay calm and enjoy myself.

The logistics of the swim were very well managed, and no lap counting was required as we did two lengths per lane and moved over until all 6 lanes and 12 lengths and 300m were completed. My feet were tickled a couple of times during my swim and I waited for the faster swimmers to pass but I didn't feel pressure from this and after about half of the swim I think I finally stopped shaking and was able to breathe more efficiently. I exited the pool to shouts and cheers from my husband and another friend of the group, Carmel.

Bike (16km)

I left the pool area on the marked pathway towards the transition area and my bike. I spotted Paul – whose swim slot was earlier than mine – who was readying to depart on his run having whizzed round the bike section of the course already. I wished him well and stood on my towel  as I donned my socks, trainers and t-shirt, stuffed in some jelly babies, buckled my helmet, race belt and most importantly got some lip balm on. Gave a quick kiss to my husband over the fencing and lifted my bike from the racking to depart on the Bike section.

Out of the car park and onto some lovely country lanes I found my pace and pedalled hard. Kilometers and miles were marked on the road which made it easier to try and calculate my pace as I cycled along, being overtaken regularly by the fast swimmers on their fast road bikes!

On a short incline I saw one of the organisers Sean (I recognised from the event Facebook page) and hollered something of that nature to him. I reached half way and was surprised at how well I was doing compared to my usual bike pace but this could be due to the slightly undulating and mostly flat nature of the course. Then I found one possible advantage to starting so late in the field was that the road ahead was clear and I probably got more than my fair share of photos from the official race photographer! The second half of the route was familiar from our drive to the leisure centre some hours earlier so I knew what to expect… the toughest part being an incline just after 12km but I made it up and the sun was shining.

On the approach back to the transition area I saw my husband once again cheering me on and telling me how well I was doing. It’s really very nice to have your own personal cheerleader particularly as a first timer.

Run (5km)

In the transition area, I put my bike back on the racking, removed my helmet, gave Mike another quick kiss over the fence, stuffed in a handful of jelly babies, swigged some water to wash them down and somehow all this took over a minute before I was exiting the area and heading for the run route and final section of the event.
More enthusiastic marshals clapped and whooped as I made my way round the field and onto the trail for the out and back part of the run. Before long I spotted Lexi coming towards me, we waved and exchanged a few words. Next up was Teresa and we high-fived as we passed each other, before long I passed a smiling Cairine and the last of our group Kirsten.

Not being able to wear my Garmin I was unaware of my pace and had only a stopwatch to go by which by this time did nothing for my pace calculations. I just hoped I would make it to the turn point by 15 minutes of the run section and I would be reasonably on track…. I think I did, but by this point I couldn't make sense of the maths! Due to my late starting swim there were few runners left on the run section of the course, and most of them were already on the home straight as I kept on until finally I spotted the large (incorrectly placed) SWIM banner. On the return journey I felt much better and stopped trying to work out my pace but focused on running, I overtook one or two runners. Not soon enough a marshal shouted “nearly there, come on sprint finish”, I tried to rally everything I had left and push on for the finish line. People were clapping and I could hear my husband and friends voices shouting my name, then it was over!

Slightly confuddled, but happy, I was done and I had made it in under 1 hour 20 minutes. Not bad for a Triathlon Virgin!

*to be ‘magnummed’ is to be drawn on with a permanent marker pen whilst asleep, usually on a coach on a sports tour. This may be limited to DMU football / netball coaches. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Last stretch of the legs

I’m not sure the training I have completed warrants a taper, but for want of a better word that is what has happened this week. That and being busy!

This morning, very early, was my last pre event run, a nice 15 minute run going at race pace. As I am still not sure what my current race pace is I decided just to run for my 15 minutes, not too hard or too easy but at a sustainable pace and see what my time / pace was when I finished.

Staying local I ran the best part of 2 miles and was happy to see my pace was around 8:40 per mile which bodes well for the triathlon at the weekend. The next challenge was to prep my race kit, 3 events is far more complicated than just turning up and running! 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Building the foundations

I deliberately tried to keep my triathlon training plan very simple…  the reasons behind this were threefold:
  1. I was still in recovery from my back injury and didn't want to overdo it
  2. It will be my first triathlon
  3. This is meant to be fun!
So on the plan this weekend I should be doing a brick session consisting of an hour long bike ride coupled with a 10 minute run. I woke up before my alarm, my kit had been laid out the night before so I it didn't take me long to get out of the house (always good as less time to procrastinate).

I had not really thought about the cycle route except in general terms but the sun was shining and I was in a good mood. I just figured I’d cycle out for half an hour then turnaround and head back. The weather was beautiful and I was glad I’d put my sunnies on, a good flat start followed by some inclines I kept going out via Bexley towards Joydens Wood and Dartford.

There were plenty of other cyclists and runners out this morning, spring is in the air and with spring out some the runners!

I contemplated cycling a much longer route but opted to turnaround at about 7.5 miles and head back towards home.  My pace is improving but I think it will be evident in the triathlon times that I am on a hybrid bike not a road bike – a large investment for potentially a one off thing so I stuck with what I have.

Approaching home, I was feeling okay about the run after the couple of tests I have done on this transition but this was different.  My previous practice runs had not been on the back of an extended period of cycling at a harder pace, this made a difference. With my bike, safely stowed in the house, helmet and one layer removed I set off on my 10 minute run. I felt I was running through treacle, my legs felt heavy and my pace slow. Two minutes in and it didn't seem to be easing up I still felt incredibly slow. I knew a loop round the block was about 1 mile and would take me around 10 minutes or a bit slower bearing in mind how sluggish I was feeling.  

Oh, I was wrong, as I got close to home, the app on my phone stated I had run 1 mile in 9 minutes. I was convinced this couldn't be correct but it was. My pace had been good despite feeling slow. The theory put forward by my husband is that ‘it probably just felt slow as you had been going much faster on your bike’. Which makes a lot of sense.

Lets hope this all bodes well for the event next Sunday… how did it come round so quickly!!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Drop and Run

A day of sightseeing was in the pipeline today for me and my younger brother, as I had been advised not to use any of my ‘tricks’ to try and make him run with me as they wouldn’t work I had planned to get out early whilst he had a lie in.

I saw my opportunity as my husband was getting ready to leave for work, I leapt up and into the nearest kit, grabbed my headphones and got a lift with him away from the house. He dropped me off a couple of miles away so I could run home.

Knowing my run would only consist of the return journey seem to make me rather fleet of foot and I was quite contentedly running along, singing my songs and not worrying about pace (mostly as my Garmin had run out of juice and I couldn’t see my phone in my running belt).

Oddly the second song was not at all motivational to running… ‘Do you want to build a snowman’ from Frozen began to blast into my ears. I must really look at setting up my playlists rather than relying on the shuffle function. More appropriate – to a big eighties music fan such as myself – was when Tiffany ‘I think we’re alone now’ started to play…

And so we're running just as fast as we can
Holdin' onto one another's hand
Tryin' to get away into the night

Whilst singing along to this I knocked out my fastest mile of the run!!

I reached home, a four mile run at a decent pace and motivated. Its nice to feel like this after a run again and glad to see my pace is getting back to where it was. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Where for art thou running?

Even a hen do will not stop me from a morning run. As we woke in the aftermath of night one of Jess's Henweekender in Shakespeare's County 4 brave souls (Myself, Debbie, Kate and the ultimate Dark Horse Lisa) donned our lycra and left the party house for an out and back run.

The day and night of drinking did not bode well for the success of the run but we headed out regardless and ran towards the pretty High Street of this pretty little village.

We opted for 15 minutes out and back although this was slightly longer as the return journey was primarily uphill.

After the halfway point me and Kate did a few sprint intervals before reaching the final hill climb back to Ashleigh House. Returning to the Hen House we bathed in the praise and admiration of the those more hungover than us as we returned victorious to a beautifully prepared mega breakfast prepared by the bridesmaids.

Once again we are remind....Netball, you have changed!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Tryathon Trial Run

The most worrying and incomprehensible thing to me about a triathlon is to get on a bike whilst wet. and not only wet but in padded cycling shorts... essentially a wet sponge between your legs. Why, why would people do this?
So this morning, I decided to do this very thing. My own mini trial triathlon in the gym to see how it all goes. I departed my house, ready in my tri-suit, I went via the spin studio to set up a bike then headed to the pool. 10 minutes swimming (hopefully at race pace) and I found the tri-suit strangely comfortable. As I exited the pool this is the part that would be weird... I went into the changing room where I had set up my trainers and towel in the locker. A quick towel down, t-shirt over the top, socks and trainers in then I trotted through to the spin studio.
20 minutes on the bike seemed reasonable at a tough pace to make sure my legs were worked hard enough before hitting the treadmill. The padded wet bottom scenario was not quite as bad as I thought but I was not a big fan of the weird wet yet dry feeling behind my knees. I'm sure this can be countered with a bit of baby oil on the day but a weird place to be in discomfort.
Next up, I was off the bike and a quick sprint up the stairs to the main gym and the treadmill, I set the pace a reasonable 11kph and ran for 10 minutes. As last time my bike to run begins with jelly legs but this soon wears off and hit my pace.
I finished and was still not as dry as I would have liked and perhaps driving home sitting on a small plastic bag wasn't the best idea as my car seat was a little damp for the rest of the day. All in all though I have a little more confidence with the transitions than I did before. Two weeks to go.... eeek.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Hels Hilly Club Run

Second week back at running club and this weeks leader was Hels. The route traced a maze up and down, around and about the streets between Petts Wood and down towards Sevenoaks Way. Running along I felt this was going to be a tough one, I was pleasantly distracted having a chat to some of the new faces (new to me anyway) at the club.

Somewhere between 2-3 miles I was feeling like I might need to bail, I felt I was struggling with the pace and as we stopped midday I was considering making my way back to base. Then my saviour, I spotted Eleanor, whom I hadn't seen probably for at least a year of not due to my injury and hers. We fell into pace and chatting away the miles seem to vanish underfoot.

We chatting about Paul McKenna's crazy night time hypnotic sessions, which currently seem to be working for me. Then we moved onto the Jillian Michaels 30 day Shred which I was having success with. Eleanor had done this before and we raved about the results of 'America's toughest trainer'.

Before we knew it we were less than half a mile from our start point and Hels let those that wanted to proceed at their own pace, we ran down Poverest Road and to base. It really does make a difference to the difficulty of a run when chatting to someone. The first half was tough but then when I got engrossed I was much more relaxed and comfortable... now I just need that to transfer back  to my solo runs.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Almost the Whole Experience

I may have mentioned the foolish mistake I made by entering a triathlon, these things seem like such a good idea when a long way away or a day away but not so much on the in-between. We were staying with friends and a bike ride was on the agenda, it would be mostly off road on a canal path and at an enjoyable pace… we were not racing!

But having taken into account the relaxed nature of the ride and the pending triathlon I need to test out my bike to run transition. The first section of the bike ride (pre lunch) was 10 miles at a comfortable pace, chatting and enjoying the Wiltshire scenery.
A tasty lunch and we headed back onto the path for the remaining 5 miles back to the car. We stuck together for the first 2 miles then I upped the pace with hubby for the final few miles to make sure my legs were a bit more tired and felt more like they might in the race. We reached the car; I jumped off my bike, threw off my helmet and jacket, then set off back along the canal path.
My plan had been just a five minute hard run. I started running on wobbly legs which took about 2 minutes before they felt normal. I decided I would keep going and do 1 mile rather than the 5 mins as I had some time. I made it back to the car feeling comfortable (and confident I could do more) in 9 minutes.
I am started to feel like it’s a lot more doable and still three weeks away I need to practise my transitions and brick sessions a little more over the next 3 weeks.