Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Waiting for the new year to begin.........

I feel like I haven't written a blog for ages.......... and very naughtily haven't blogged about the fantastic Christmas Cracker 10 k race.  The Christmas cracker was the slowest race  that I have ran for a while but was the funniest.  It was so much fun to run with the tri club all in fancy dress and I was so impressed with Julian's costume.  We all totally got into character and sang Christmas songs on the way round.  I think the time was 1.06.  We won the fancy dress competition for the second year running although sadly I wasn't involved last year.  A brilliant race to end of the year although the head wind on the beach was bit challenging at times.

So its the run up to Christmas......I've actually had some down time ( I know totally unheard of) but have been recovering from some boozyy but very fun nights! At one point I had 3 rest days out of 4... the last time that happened I was injured!!!!

With the chance of coming across a  scrooge, I cant actually wait for the new year to begin.  As usual I will be on a booze ban in the new year for marathon training and this year I am seeking that elusive sub 4.  Each year I am becoming stronger and fitter and I am stood here waiting for the new year to begin so I can embrace the hard training needed to successfully complete the challenges that lay ahead.  This year will push me further than I have ever done. 

My swimming mojo has started to come back and after some sound advice from a very good swimmer last night, my speed increased a lot.  Today's hill sprints up the infamous booby hill was the quickest I have done and with an extra climb up the hill included. So I am happy with where I am and looking forward to where I am going. Roll on  2012.

I  would also like to thank all those fabulous people I know from West country Tri and all my lovely fit friends from Twitter and Face book who always manage to motivate and  inspire me.  All of you  who have given support , encouragement and advice throughout 2011.  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New year. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Winter training.....boxing...LAS VEGAS BABY!!!!!!

Well the triathlon season is well and truly over.  Winter is the time to recover and build some base fitness.  New plans have been drawn up, key races booked, Gosh I'm so organised that I've even sorted out friends plans too. 

I knew that I needed to improve my core and I was always starting some core exercise at home but never stuck with it because lets face it doing press ups and gym ball exercises at home is soooooo BORING.  I decided to start boxing on a mad impulsive decision and I'm so glad I did.  The boxing is improving my upper body strength.... my core..... and my stamina.  I can see the improvements in my arms and core but I have really started to notice a MASSIVE difference in my running.... so much so that I completely smashed by 10k PB in a training run.........I feel so much more stable and I feel theres so much more OOOOMPH in me. ( that's a technical term by the way).  If I stop eating cakes I might get the full 6 pack!!!!

I may not be a great boxer and my leg stance needs work but the training involved is hardcore, sweaty and fun.  The more I go, the more I learn and that allows the freestyle on the bags to become a lot more involved.  There is something very satisfying about punching the shit outta of a bag. I love the end of the sessions when you have given your all but you end  up doing press ups, sit ups, burpies and each week I notice an improvement. Why exercise at home when you can get hot and sweaty in a fart fuelled dirty gym with a coach shouting at you. The guys have accepted me in  and started giving me tips and helping me.  Great bunch of guys!

I feel really confident going into 2012....... my first yr of tri was a learning curve, my 2nd yr of tri I started to get some really good results..... my third year of tri will see some serious tri arse kicking.   2012 will see me stronger, fitter and smarter and if I put enough hard work in maybe I will qualify for Las Vegas 2012 in Ironman 70.3 UK. If you don't have a dream that will stretch your capabilities how can you achieve...........

 Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Time for reflection.... setting new goals.

I was very honoured to be nominated for the West Country Triathlete award recently.  I had to write a summary for this achievements.  I didn't write very much because 1) I had never had to before and 2) I didn't want to come across as big headed.  It did however make me reflect on how far I have actually come.  My first year of tri was all about completing.  My second year of tri was so very different.  Seeing I had set my self the goal of Wimbleball, I kn I had to up the bar and start taking this seriously.  I have pushed myself further this year than I ever thought possible.  I have overcome obstacles such as panic attacks in open water and sea sickness.  I have remained determined and stubborn throughout. 

M achievements started really in April on my second marathon.  I had been plagued by 2 ankle injuries and my marathon training did not go as I had intended.  I'm not good dealing with injury and kept swimming and biking even though I couldn't actually walk very well.  I was so happy to knock 30 mins off my marathon time and finish in 4.13.55.

The rest of this years events have been sprint and Olympic triathlons.
  • Bideford sprint... 4th in age cat
  • Race to the bill Olympic....2nd in age cat
  • Langport sprint....10th in age cat
  • Burnham on sea Olympic ( my first time at this  distance) 1st in age cat.
  • Oxley sprint .. 4th in age cat
  • Trowbridge sprint...2nd in age cat
  • Portishead sprint ..8th in age cat
  • Crewkerne super sprint.. 4th in age cat
  • Taunton sprint ....6h in age cat
  • Taunton Deane/ wellington sprint.. 10th in age cat
  • Exe Valley sprint.. 4th in age cat
  • Ironman 70.3 uk...... 8.01.35
Of course I also completed the toughest race of my entire life...  ironman 70.3.. that was tough and i had problems but I wouldn't give up.  I had never swam more than 200m in the sea without feeling totally sick and totally surprised myself my completing the 1.5 mile sea swim to Stert island.  I might have been nearly last but that was a milestone in itself and gave me confidence to compete in the sea swims in the Olympic distances that I did.  I look back on how far I have come and without the support of the tri club and the some fantastic people I have met along the way I don't think I would have achieved so much.

So the season has ended.... a few 10k and half marathons to come.  My winter training is a combination of running, swimming and biking but also boxing.  I intend to build up my upper body strength and my core and get some good base training in.  Next year will involve 4 major events
  • Taunton marathon ( sub 4 hours)
  • ironman uk 70.3 ( I have a score to settle and taking off at least 30 mins)
  • Bradwell long distance, 1.5 mile swim, 75 mile bike and 18 mile run
  • autumn marathon maybe an ultra ( oh god I said it out loud)
I will mainly be training next year instead of competing and when I do race , I am going to race harder and faster and this time next year I will be looking back on my achievements and saying how proud of myself I am again.  I might enter a few local sprints because I quite like getting on that podium and I want to do it more.
I cant quite believe how far I have actually come after all those knee operations and cock ups I went through and even though I say so myself, I admire my determination and motivation. I realise I am made of pretty strong stuff.  If your going to do something you might as well give it your best short... never did me any harm.

Cardiff Half marathon

I havent run a half marathon for ages....... in fact this year running races were a distance memory as I have been in so many triathlons.  I had spent so much of the year improving my biking skills that I sadly neglecting my running.  I found that every time I ran, I was running on tired legs and I lost my running mojo big style.  However recently my running mojo has returned, although sadly I have seemed to have lost my bike mojo now.  It hard being a triathlete. 

I felt I hadn't done enough training for this half but I did get a few speedy 10 milers in.  I drove down to Newport ..... another tweet up and thanks to Andrew who drove down to Cardiff.

I wont mention here that going to the toilet in a hotel was a good idea, however walking into the men's was not!!!!!!  Cardiff was MANIC, people everywhere.  I did attempt to meet up with other people but that didn't happen either.  I was desperate for the loo again... race nerves and got caught up in a big queue.  This meant that by the time I got to the start line, I was right at the back with the 2.30/3.00 runners.  I tried to make my way forward but I was stuck.  I spent most of the time dodging runners, weaving my way through.   I was overtaking so many people.  I kept checking my garmin and I was well in for beating my pb off 1.53.53.  I felt really strong and the weather was good. 

I think my 10k time was 52 something and I was happy with that and actually thought I could actually get that sub 1.50.  I started to feel the strain a little at 10 miles but I knew I was nearly home and dry.  The route was relatively flat but did go along the longest dual carriageway and that was quite boring. I knew at 12 miles I wasn't going to make the sub 1.50 that I was desperate for so just beating my PB became the goal.  I crossed the line in 1.53.52 and a total mileage of 13.22.  I felt quite cheated, I knew I had ran better than Bristol and expected a much faster time.  My chip time was 1.54.04.  I came in 3572nd out of 11,000 runners so was quite happy with that.

Another race done.... another medal bagged but felt quite disappointed with my time.  This will just make me train harder........ A good day out though and a fast course.  I dont know if I would do it again as the sheer amount of people was unbelievable.

Friday, October 7, 2011

boxing part 2... still loving it!!!

I couldn't wait to get back to boxing tonight... a stressy week meant I had some pent up aggression that needed airing. I met coach no 2 tonight.... and the first thing he said to me was I'm surprised your back I heard you had trained last week and thought you would be a one night wonder...........OMG!!!! I replied " you clearly don't know me"  I had bought some hand wraps and hopefully that would save my knuckles this week.

So the usual warm up sprinting on the spot, press ups, hands up knees up..... warm up? its more like a pour the petrol on and light that flame.........We then concentrated on form and technique for a while, kinda getting used to coach kicking my feet so they in the right place.  We then paired up and took turns punching each other.  I had to laugh the bloke I was paired up was punching so lightly maybe he was afraid I was a girl... coach did tell him off but it wasn't until I started punching back that he decided I was good to take it and started proper punching. ( this was pad work guys I wasn't in a full scale fight)

Then the circuits started, every 2 mins on a different bag or in the ring.  I was actually allowed on the ball thing that hangs from the ceiling that you hit repeatly with the side of your hand...... geez that's so much harder than it looks. Every time the 2 minutes were up we were out in the cark park running sprints. It was then my turn in the ring,  seeing there was 2 coaches you got 2 lots of pad work. Dave the coach I knew took it easy but then with Mark he was so much hardcore.  He would hit you back making sure you had put your arms back up and elbows in and he would swipe you round the head so you had to duck and he had a way of shouting at you that angered you and you wanted to punch his god damn lights out. He shouted out continuous punches and there was no let up.  It was bloody fantastic..... something so raw about matching someone in the ring stepping back when they advance and moving into them so they back off and throwing punches.  Its a very satisfying sound when that glove plants firmly on the pad and you hear that resounding WHACK.  These circuits last about 45 mins and its hard work.  Now I've learnt upper cuts and hooks I can freestyle more on the bags!

Last bit of the session is 30 seconds of pressups, sprinting on spot, burpies, sit up punching, jumping squats all that mad stuff.  Then its 20 seconds of each and then finally 15 seconds.  Feel the burn!!!!!!

I was actually complimented on my determination and they were surprised at how I kept up more than some of the blokes.... they obviously havent met hardcore blackmore!!!!!!!

Another good session... during the warm down stretches I noticed that I was actually steaming......... my arms were a little shaky but nothing like last week.  They have actually asked me to put a running program together for some of the boys too. I would highly recommend boxing training to anyone...... its raw, its hard work but its so much fun!!!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bideford Tri

I think that joining a boxing club and doing a hardcore boxing training session on the Friday before a race probably wasn't the best idea that I've had but hey that's 'hardcore blackmore'.  So seeing Bideford was sooo far away camping seemed the best option especially has quite a few members were going down to.  Saturdays pre race  was spent body boarding at Westward ho and what a fab time had by all in the most glorious sunshine. 

I was awake at 5 in the morning and the  combination of boxing, body boarding and lack of sleep I was a sore tired little bunny!!!! As always I don't allow such obstacles to stop me so I was ready to rock and roll. This was the last tri of the season and I was going out with a bang!

It was great to be with so many other West Country triathletes and before long it was time for the swim waves to begin.  It was a mass mini start, groups of 20 started off and there was a minute between each group.  I was in the same wave as Caroline and Frances.  The water was surprisingly warm but to be honest when you have been stood in the blazing sun for 10 mins in a wetsuit the water could have been in the minus and I wouldn't have noticed.  The swim was good but I did have a slight panic attack swimming under the bridge, everything went so dark and it really unnerved me.  I tried to keep up with Caroline but she is a much stronger swimmer than me. Swimming back under the bridge was a bit strange, as you tilted your head to breathe you could see all the people on the top of the bridge staring down at you.  It was almost like a scene out of Winnie the Pooh and we were all little poo sticks going down the river!!!

As I came out of the water I saw that Caroline was just leaving transition so I knew I had to get a move on. Straight out of transition was a steep little hill which certainly warmed you up. I overtook quite a few people on the bike and got into my groove!!!   The bike course was very undulating and I was enjoying it.  There were a few hairy moments when I got caught in behind cars and at one point when I was in a small pack we ended up having to go round onto the other side of the road to avoid a big pile up.  I am at my best when I get into a pack of men..... I like to play with the boys ( oo errr missy) I like to hold my own and even better when I get stronger and overtake them....  I like the fact they don't like it so they push it more and I thrive on it.... but hey it works for me.  I finally spotted Caroline and knew I had pushed it to catch her ( she was on fire on her sexy new bike). 
The bike route was lush, nice smooth roads and lots of aero time. 

The sun by now was really hot and I could feel it beating down on me as I started the run.  The run followed the tarka trail and was flat for a while.  When I hit the first hill I became very aware that I had pushed it on the bike and I struggled up it so when I hit the second hill I started to feel quite sick.  I decided I needed to walk just to stop the urging...... that's when I heard Carolines voice behind me and she spurred back into running.  The lady who I had overtook on the run had got her own back and was in front of me so I decided that I would sit in behind her until I saw the finish and I would go for it.  There was the finish so I decided to go for it.. I took her by surprise and the roar of the crowd as they realised what I was up to motivated me even more and the bloke in front of me looked back and also decided to take off..... all three of us must have looked like lunatics.... I beat the lady but the guy pipped the post just before me.  I knew I had pushed it as I a spent the next 5 minutes trying to control the urge to puke my guts up!!! ( I'm such a lady)
West country ladies dominated the rankings with Celia taking overall winner.  I took 4th in age cat closely followed by Caroline in 5th with Jo in 7th.  The men did really well to with Martin taking overall 2nd.
There were 17th in my age cat and I  was the 11th woman in out of 70, just missing out in that top 10.  I was 124th out of just under 300 triathletes top half is a bonus.

What a fab weekend to round of the season, great company, great race and a good result. This has been my second season and my results have shown that all the hard work that I have put in is paying off.  So let this be a warning to all those ladies who pipped me at the post... I will be chasing you next year and I will be stronger and fitter than ever before...........

Friday, September 30, 2011

My first boxing session..........

I decided to take up boxing training for a few reasons....
1) winter training and I want to increase my core and upper body strength
2) I had a small taster of pad work recently and enjoyed it
3) in so said pad session I was told "you punch like a girl" ( steam comes out of ears!!!!)

I found a club in Glastonbury that were very welcoming and decided to give it a go.

On my arrival there was no formal introductions just get in the ring.........mmmmmmm ok

So the warm up began..... gentle jogging on the spot ( yer this is easy) ok Sprint on the spot...... FASTER come on..... arggggghhhhhhhh.... Hands ups straight knees high....... HIGER COME ON......( shit do you know how hard that is ) and breathe.................. my heart is pumping out my chest.......1 min recovery, deep breaths......... oh shit he we go again... 2 mins full on again, sweat dripping off me and again breathe....... this happened 4 times and I thought I was going to die.  I think I'm pretty fit but geeeez!!!! Then we go outside........ nice gentle jog in the car park up and down 8 times.......SPRINT, what? 8 times....... ok ok..........I kept up, turning was a problem but I got into it and I wasn't last!!! ha ha result. 1 min recovery....... can I die now? This  I was told was the warm up.   It didn't help that it was exceptionally hot as well.  Ok back to it gentle jog 8 times then bunny hop..... ok I really struggled with that one.  Are you warmed up? Hell I'm steaming I'm that hot....

Next we are in the ring working on technique.  I kinda got the impression this was for my benefit but we went through a few punches before we really got into it.  We then all worked a circuit where you spent 2 minutes on different bags, dummies, the balls on stringy things that are really easy to miss with 1 minute recovery in between. Part of this circuit was spending time doing pad work in the ring.  I messed this up abit got a bit confused with a 1, 2 and a jab but got there in the end.  The coach moved around a lot so you were constantly moving back and forth and punching.   I have never ever EVER sweated so god damn much in my life. I was loving it, sometimes I hit the bags wrong and my knuckles hurt and each time we stopped and had a drinking my hands and arms were shaking. In fact my hands are still shaking now!!!!

The next part was just as hard. We all had mats and had to go through a set circuit of press ups, sit ups with punches, burpies, jumping squats before we stretched and warmed down.

I loved it... I loved the intensity of it all, the punching and I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Friday night!!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Race to the bill olympic triathlon.

This was a well early start... I had to get up at 3.45??? I mean that's like the middle of the night.  I hadn't slept well, strange noises were coming from Jake's room at midnight and I found the cats playing with a mouse!!! I had a crap nights sleep.

So out on the road by 4.15 and arriving at Weymouth at 6 am.  Geez it was dark there that early.  I had to register by floodlight.  The bike racks were mental, so squashed together that everyone was getting a bit narky!!!! I was given number 13.......... but I wasn't going to get worried...... no 13 is a magical number.

There was a sprint and a classic distance going on at the same time so the sprinters started at 7 and we were off at 7.30.  The swim was lush, no panic attacks, lovely clear water so you could see where incoming attacks were coming from. I got straight in there after starting at the back I was overtaking people( yes me OVERTAKING people) and I actually really enjoyed the argy bargy of it all.  The sea was so clear that I could see crabs scuttling underneath me.  Swim time ( not recorded)

I wasn't last out of the water( I was surprised how many were actually behind me) I did however fall arse over tit when I got out though and was all over the place in transition... I fell over twice in there.  I thought oh god how the hell am I going to mount my bike without falling off!!!! I did however mount with ease and I was away.

Out on the bike and up a massive hill up to the Portland island. I overtook a few and once up on the island we had to do 3 loops.  I loved these loops, you went down to the lighthouse then back up.  The road was very undulating so lots short climbs enough to get you blowing out your arse then followed by a short downhill to get your breath back.  After the last loop back down the humdinger of the hill you first came up.  That made me realise how bloody steep that first hill was. My brakes were in overload.  The loops enabled you to see who was in front and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat.  I loved the bike and I loved the hills. Bike time 1.28.27

Straight into transition and away on the run.  The run was flat but  to start it was along a grassy stony track which required a lot of concentration.  I finally stopped blowing out my arse at about 3 miles and was in a strong steady pace.  The run loop doubled back on itself so I was able to see how many women were in front of me.  I counted 7.  I did however overtake lots men and felt brilliant.  The run back along the seafront on that stony uneven ground was a nightmare.  The wind was in your face and it was a struggle.   Run time 54.34

I have to say I loved this race... I think the Olympic distance suits me better that sprints and the atmosphere was great and it was well organised.  The weather was great, the sea was calm.  I was buzzing when I finished.

Results are in.... 2nd in my age cat and 5th women over all but only 10 women of the 15 women finished. 

67th out of 94 finishers.

langport sprint triathlon.

Oh my god what a wet and windy day........ I entered the car park or should I say football field, which within seconds resembled a boggy marsh.  I got completely soaked just walking  to register.  At this point I was having serious doubts.

The swim was in an outside pool and whilst standing there waiting for my wave to start, I was doing a very good impression of a polar bear, well actually I probably wasn't as polar bears don't shiver!!!!
The pool was warm at least with very narrow lanes and I took one hell of a bump on my wrist whacking into another swimmer.  Swim was good 8.31 I believe. 

Into transition and out on bike..... first time I used my arm warmers in a race and found it quite difficult to put them on whilst out on the bike.  I had just shoved them on my wrist and tried to pull them up whilst on route.  The bike was very windy in places and very very wet.  On my descent down a big hill there was a rain storm and when you going down a hill that fast, it bloody hurts, rain hard on your face. Bike time 49.47

The weather finally started to brighten up on the run and I was quite surprised to find myself running through fields of geese.  Now when I say geese, I don't mean a few, I mean a few thousand..they were everywhere.  There was one Marshall kinda doing a strange sideways shuffle keeping the geese from attacking the runners and I actually thought...."if those geese are gonna go they ain't gonna be stopped by your geese stand off"

At last the turning point and back to the finish... run time 27.42 but it wasn't a 5km it was a lot more.  Despite the bad weather conditions, I actually really enjoyed this race.  I thought I would wait around for the prize giving after missing out my prize at Burnham but I was 10 th in my age cat out off 44 so was pleased with that.
 So the stats.......118th out of 302
49th in a mixed vet cat out of 129 and 19th women in out of 86.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Burnham on sea Olympic triathlon.

This was my first attempt at this distance and I wasn't looking forward to it. The weather was supposed to be awful and there was talk of turning it into a duathalon.  It was a very early start and I literally fell out of bed and into the van. 

The sea was calm enough so the race was on.  I taken the sea sickness pills again and after almost puking on the BEET-IT stamina shot( it doesn't get any nicer) I was ready for battle. 
The first part of the swim was horrid, lots waves to get through to the first buoy and I had a small panic attack and actually rested on the canoe for a while just to get my breathing under control.  I saw lots people swim past me and that spurned me on.  It was a mass start and I didn't want to be at the back.  I finally got into my stroke and I got to the second buoy quite quickly and felt ok with the seas motion. So the last buoy was in site but it was tough going back to shore at an angle, I was breathing on the wrong side and the waves kept getting me. 

I knew I wasn't last out of the water but I knew I was very far back and I had some work to do. I like to be able to give chase so I got on the bike and went for it.  I overtook a few and like normal set my sights on the riders in front.  I caught up and overtook quite a few riders and then found myself leading a small pack of men.  We all played cat and mouse for a while which is always fun. But then disaster hit, my chain jammed and even though I got my cleats out quick and sorted it, I lost the pack I was riding with.  I chased them but I had lost them.  There was also a man who was on the side of the road so I ended up stopping briefly and giving him my inner tube.   At this point, I thought I was nearly last out of the water, I had lost the pack and thought theres no way I'm going to get a good result so I decided to enjoy it.  Some of the bike route was really windy ( the road I normally do time trail on) so I just got my head down and started singing " go little bad girl" in my head.

I had no idea of time or pace and was glad to get off the bike.  I started the run, most of the bikes were already racked up so I just went off and thought lets just put this one down to experience. As I was running I recognised one of  the guys up front and as I caught him up we began talking. He was having really bad cramps and he ran with me as I was pacing him.  This worked out well for both of us and as we had to do 3 laps we started conspiring plans about nicking old peoples mobility scooters and trying to fiddle getting the bands for each loop..... it made the run a lot more bearable.  He was so grateful that I had got him focused again he refused to run on ahead and he paced me for the last 2 miles , giving me encouragement when I needed it.  At last the finish line.... we ran towards it ( I was very tempted to sprint finish) but he took my hand and we finished together.  Everyone thought we knew each other at the finish line and his wife did look a bit bewildered as we finished hand in hand but she was good sport.  The run was the best bit of the race.... as you ran along the seafront you saw the other runners on their way back and everyone was high fiving and smiling.  Support on the run was awesome and lots children offering support, running with you and handing out drinks.

After the race, I left, I didn't think I had won anything at all, so went home.   I was then amazed at how news travels fast and before the end of the prize giving I knew at home I had won my age cat!!!!!! Thats a turn up for the books ... I missed it!!!!! What a numpety!!!

So here are the stats.........
swim  1500mt 35.45,T1 2.53
bike 40 k 1.24.10,
run 10 k 52.59
Total time 2.55.47...... I wanted to get under 3 hours so am happy with that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stert Island sea swim

 I had entered this race just to confront the FEAR.  Sea swimming and myself don't get on at all.  It makes me feel sick, I get caught out on waves with my breathing and I haven't actually swam further than 200 m in one go.   It was time to sort this out especially with 2 Olympic tris looming both with sea swims. I had read a quote by Christopher Columbus which had said "you will never cross the ocean if you are afraid to lose sight of the coast" and this had stuck in my head.

I had a new tight hat, new earplugs and had been trying to use positive visualisation.  My secret weapon however was sea sickness pills, I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before. I had a last ditch attempt on bank holiday Monday to sea swim which was just disastrous due to a very choppy sea.

So I had 2 lots of silicone earplugs in, I spent ages on the beach making sure they were stuck right in. We all stood on the beach during the safety brief and it was a real surreal moment.  Everything slowed down and I could see peoples mouths moving but I couldn't hear what they were saying. I was totally gripped with fear, every sea swim had not been a good experience at all.I looked out across at the island and I felt more scared than I did before Ironman 70.3.   Friends were hugging me, wishing me luck, patting me on the back and trying to give me advice but I was glued to the spot.

Starters orders and we were off... 65 wetsuit clad people and myself all waded into the sea.  I stayed at the back and walked out until  I couldn't touch the sea bottom any more.  I started to swim head above water and feeling quite frightened I just kept going.  I stopped a couple of times to get my bearings.  Everyone just moved away from me very quickly and it was just me and one other swimmer.  I made it to the first buoy in some strange fashion and then set my target on the next buoy. The waves started to subside and very slowly I got into a rhythm.  I realised that I had actually swam the furthest I ever had in the sea and it gave me confidence.  I don't know what happened or how it clicked but I realised that I was actually WASN'T feeling dizzy and sick and i started to enjoy the the flow and the motion of the waves. My body seemed to be able to react to the ebb and flow of the ocean and I felt at one.  BINGO... this was what I needed.  Apart from slightly drifting with the tide I managed to get to the island in a time of 29 mins well under the 45 mins restriction time.  I was on such a high that I had actually swam 1250 m that I was happy to turn around and make the journey back. 

The return journey wasn't as good, I found it very difficult to sight as each time I looked there was a swell in front of me and I couldn't see anything.  I was redirected quite a few times by the canoe staff and lifeguards.  I made the mistake of getting into the stroke and losing any sense of direction.  As I  was one of the last swimmers, a lady in a canoe accompanied for the last three buoys home.  Each time I looked up to sight she was on a different side.  I did stop and ask her if it was me moving or her, she told me it was me, I was being pushed by the current all over the place.  She kept me in a straight line by keeping the boat next to me and I used her as my sight. I finished in a time of 58.42, twice as long as the winner but you know I was so glad to get out and to have finally confronted and beaten my fear of sea swimming.  All open water swimming has been such a challenge for me but I have never given up.  The sea sickness pills worked well enough for me and I was left with just the fear and not the sickness and dizziness. The sea triathlon god had seen me sacrificing my soul and granted a smoothish sea.  I am now brimming with confidence for next weekends Olympic tri with the sea swim in the same sea. 

"Its the moments that challenge us, that define us"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Oxley Sherbourne triathlon

Oxley Triathlon is a sprint triathlon with a little bit extra thrown in for good measure.  The bike route is 30km instead of your usual 20 to 25km and an extra 1 km on the run.  I had been kept awake most of the night by torrential rain and the weather in Glastonbury was awful but once we hit Somerton the roads were dry and the sun was out. It was a very early start and a big thank you to my gorgeous boys who got up nice and early, no moaning and came with me.... my very own special support crew.  Last time they came with me I got a 'podium' place. 

The swim went well, no breathlessness ( BEET-IT power)and I was overtaking all the time although it was a massive jumble after getting out of the pool and lots bodies to wade through into T1.  Swim time 8.48.  After almost going the wrong way I finally jumped on the bike and was away.  I knew there was a big hill involved which I would need to go up twice and it wasn't too steep just very long.  I really need to work on hill climbing as quite a few men just breezed past me( no women though).  The rest of the course was nice, quite a few chances to get aero. I spent most of the first lap on my own after overtaking a few but on the second lap there were a lot more riders on the course.  A women overtook me on a hill and that was the push that I needed.  I was so annoyed she had overtaken me I thought GAME ON lady............. I caught her on the flats, overtook her and then she caught me on a hill again.  We played this game for the rest of the lap.  True to form I got collared by a stupid car driver AGAIN and she beat me into transition.  Bike time 1.09.35
However I was first out of transition and I knew by looking at her she would run like a whippet so I wanted to get as much lead as I could. She caught up with me, stayed for a while and joked about crossing the line together holding hands before zooming off.  OOOO how I tried keeping up with her but she was fast.  The run seemed to go on forever and when you entered the playing field at the end you had to run all the way around it whilst staring at the finish line.  A sprint to the finish, lots of cheering and I'm done.  Run time 30.23.  A big thank you to lady 239 for giving me the competitive edge and for being such a great sport, thoroughly enjoyed our little race.   

The results are as follows
4th in my age cat
10th lady in out of 27
88th overall out of 123.

Just looked at the run and 3.73 miles which is average of 8.09 min miles and it was quite lumpy!!! Get in good pace.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where I am and where I'm heading.

Training is going well. I am now a member of Weston Wheelers bike club as well as joining Shapwick runners and also of course West County Triathletes. It seems my clubbing days have taken on a whole new meaning.  I have enjoyed the summer holidays doing the same amount of training but enjoying the fact there is no time restraints upon me.  I have started using "beet-it" stamina shots and have found that they are really good. I do find that when I first start exercising I really struggle with my breathing and I put this down to my anemia and lack of oxygen in my blood due to the lack of iron.  Taking Beet-it has dramatically changed that especially on those all important race days and I no longer have to go through that initial breathing nightmare.  They do say it increases stamina but am still undergoing tests on that one.

The club organised a sea swim last Sunday and it couldn't have been worse.  There were waves that looked like they belonged in Newquay and I was very unsure whether to go in.  I did take the plunge and I am so glad I did.  I have in the past, found sea swimming to be tough... I don't like the motion and the taste and I am always getting caught out my waves.  This water was black it looked disgusting but I didn't care I was just enjoying being thrown about in the waves and couldn't stop laughing.  After a while of larking about there was a small group of us who weren't too confident in the sea so we stayed together and swam short distances. It was so funny trying to swim being swept all over the place by these dirty black waves. We kept swimming but the current was so strong we just didn't go anywhere. This has helped my confidence and I just think now sod it, I can swim anywhere now I swam in those conditions.  So I have entered Stert Island swim.  A 1.5 swim out to the island and back along with 80 other rubber clad loons!!!!! This will also help with the 2 sea swims that are coming up in the 2 Olympic Tris in Sept.

My time trails started really well but I have been getting slower.  There are 2 possible reasons for this.... one too much training before TT night and my legs have felt like lead and since getting Jolly, my giant road bike, my training on Whoopie (tt bike) has slipped.  I didn't realise that training on 2 different bikes would present any problems but it is.  I got Jolly for the longer rides and for comfort which he does really well but am losing the tt power in my legs. So after a lot of pondering I have come up with the following solution.  Any rides under 40 miles is Whoopie but Jolly is for the long haul.  Whoopie is for racing and jolly gets the hill and endurance work.  I have found that doing the 10 mile time trials has really helped my sprint bike times though.

Next years 'A' race will be Bradwell long distance triathlon, which I have nick named The Green Man.  1.7 mile swim, 75 miles bike followed by an 18 mile run.Ironman 70.3 at Wimbleball will prepare me for that and I do have a score to settle!!! Not quite the full distance but a good warm up taster race seeing as my Outlaw dreams were dashed for 2012.   This year has been race crazy, with a tri literally every weekend.  I have learnt a valuable lesson here as I was entered into so many it actually started to interfere with my ironman 70.3 training.  Next year I will pick and choose my races carefully, entering longer distances and spending those valuable weekends endurance training instead of racing. If I don't get into London marathon I will enter Taunton marathon, horrible 2 loop course, but local and cheap and to be honest as long as I run a marathon that's all that matters.  I like being marathon fit and will help prepare me for that ultimate long distance.

I had lost my running mojo recently, even though I got out, it felt alien and my legs were always so heavy.  It got to the point I had to drag myself out of the door and I began to dislike it.  But after a much needed sports massage and some extra rest days, I had a fantastic 8 mile run, where I smiled all the way round, felt great, no heavy legs and I feel back in love with running, which is a good thing seeing I have couple of half marathons soon.  I ran so many races last year but with all these triathlons, I have hardly done any and am looking forward to just running and seeing if I can get that sub 50 10k.

upcoming events
28th Aug - Oxley Sherbourne Sprint Tri
4th Sept - Stert Island sea swim
11th Sept - Burnham-on-sea Olympic tri
18 th Sept - Langport sprint Tri
25th Sept - Race to the bill Olympic tri ( hilly, hilly, hilly)
2nd Oct - Bideford sprint Tri
16th Oct - Cardiff half marathon
6th Nov - Illminster 10k
26th Nov - Downton half marathon.

The next 6 weekends are brimming with events.  LETS HAVE IT!!!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wriggle Mendip Sportive 100 km

I had entered the standard route but seeing the Spartan race had been cancelled I decided to upgrade to the EPIC...... but on the day I wasnt feeling it so decided to stick with the standard.  There was a few of us doing it including Fluff so we all met up.
We were soon ready and waiting for the start.  Fluff had warned me the first hill was vertical and oh boy it sure was.  I kinda lost everyone at this hill and just got my head down and got on with it. There was a few other hills thrown in before we reached the big ones and on one I lost my chain but managed an execptional hill start. It wasnt long before we reached the first feed station at the bottom of Burrington Coombe. 
I was expecting Burrington Coombe to be like the gorge but it was no where as steep just seemed to go on for miles.  We were soon in Cheddar and up the gorge.  I thought I would find the gorge really tough as my legs werent quite right but the gorge came and went without me really noticing it.  I guess that when you know a hill well it helps as I found Burrington Coombe harder because I didnt know when it would end.
At the top of cheddar the routre split and we went down into Priddy and then we were on our way home.  Most of this seemed pretty much down hill but I was glad that the last bit didnt include Dear leap hill and old Bristol road.  We were at about 60 miles when I had a few people overtake me and I didnt know what came over me... I decided to nail it to the end... so I did, overtaking about 15 people to the finish (including Mrs Stripy pants, you know who you are) .
At 60 miles I felt I had had enough but on reflection I felt quite fresh for the rest of the day and wish maybe i could have done the 100 miler instead of the 100km.  No excuses next time.  So 62.45 miles in 4.28.11, average speed 14mph which isnt bad considering the hills. Well organised event and i reccomend it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trowbridge Tri and finally a "podium"finish

Firstly I would like to thank the jerk who left me a bizarre rude message on a dating site that my tattoos were offensive and unattractive.... pure anger channeled into positive energy and "beet-it stamina shot" and of course I would like to say BIG thank you to Helen Jenkins who won yesterday and became my inspiration and mantra when challenged on the route. 

Last year Trowbridge had been my second ever tri and I wanted to go back and revisit again to judge my performance and see if all this training was working.

So I was actually in a late wave ( that's becoming quite common for me nowadays).  Just before I entered the pool for the briefing I necked the secret ingredient that they call.... (drum roll) BEET IT stamina shot.  I didn't realise I had dropped a bit on my swim card so when I handed my card over they all thought I was bleeding...... and then I had to give my secret away.......as if gagging in the corner after drinking it wasn't enough!!!!  The swim went well, 8.31 not my fastest time but a darn site quicker than last year 9.52.

I headed out across the tarmac (long transition) onto a lumpy tarmac, not too pleasant on the feet in places, and grabbed the bike.  My sunglasses then decided to fall apart as I put them on but hey it wasn't sunny!  Again a long transition but I was out on the bike and away.  The ride wasn't as flat as I had remembered and boy it was windy!!! I overtook a lot of riders within the first 5km... you know the scene... sights lock on moving target... set those sights and aim that beetroot turbo power!!! I didn't take my garmin after very nearly losing it twice last week so I had no idea of distance and speed. I felt like I had made good time and on some of the inclines I had been shouting in my head "if Helen Jenkins can do it... I can do it.. GO HELEN, GO HELEN! This years time 54.50 beating 57.42 last year.

Thetas it, I'm safely back into transition, no stupid drivers got in my way or nearly took me out... result.  Off out on the run through the street of Trowbridge.  The run was good I enjoyed it, was slightly shocked running through a field of cows and having to literally run through lots of them.  I was a bit wary, I've been chased by many a bullock!!!! A male runner came up behind me and I did look back slightly scared, not knowing if the so said cows had decided that they would give chase but thankfully no.  Here it all got slightly confusing, I had overtook a few runners and didn't realise that I had indeed gone the wrong way because as we entered the field and approached the finish there were the runners I had just previously overtaken.  I had missed a sign, possibly because it was low down and other runners passing by blocked it or I blindly followed the runners in front of me but that had meant I had run approx 250 m more than some other runners!  There is a sprint finish competition within the race so I decided to go for it on the final straight. This years time 26.09 beating last years 27.59 of course not taking into special consideration my extra bit.

I did talk to the marshals about running the extra bit but the route was clearly marked and theres nothing I could do.... that's fair enough.  The excellent thing about DB max events is that you can get a print out slip of your times straight away and when I got mine I was second in my age cat.  REALLY!!!!!! wow I was sooo excited.... I was hoping and praying that no one would come in any faster.  Then they announced that the last runners were in and again I checked and I was indeed 2nd in my age cat.  I was so happy I knew there was a prize for 1st and 2nd in that age cat... my first ever.  I know the field was relatively small compared to some races but hey I had won.  There was 12 in my age group and I was second.  I had beaten the winners swim time and bike time but she was a sleuth on the run beating my 26mins with a defiant 21 mins. 

So presentation time and my name was called... how excited and happy was I.  I won a big bottle of  SIS energy powder.  Maybe I could have come first and that 250 m has been playing on my mind but hey I set a pb for that course by over 3 minutes and I got a prize.... and I am more than happy with that!!!

So in conclusion
  •  2nd in age cat out of 12
  • 9th out of 42 women
  • and 94th overall.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Portishead Sprint Triathlon

I was looking forward to this race as I knew the DB max group were running it and would be glad to catch up with old friends.  I was in a really late wave so had plenty of time to just hang out and chill.  The set up was really well organised and well signposted and the race debriefing was pretty amusing. There was quite a few from my club and also some guys that I see at time trails.

The pool was an outdoor one and 33m so just 12 lengths instead of the usual 16.  So at 10.14 I was ready for the off.  There was only 3 in my lane as 2 didn't show and we were set of with a 10 second gap.  This worked quite well and we were all evenly spread out in the lane as some I watched earlier it was a bit manic.  The transition was quite a long one and up a really steep series of steps so my swim time was bit more than I had anticipated.  8 mins 53.

The bike transition was also quite long and as soon as you were on the bike you were up a killer of a hill which seemed endless.  Once you got to a certain point there was a 2 loop circuit.  I had chosen Jolly for this tri knowing that it would be hilly but the roads in between the hills were pretty fast and I was clocking up 36 mph.  I overtook about 10 people on my first loop but then the second loop was lonely I never saw anyone and there was no one to chase!!!!  The last bit of the bike was pretty chaotic and dangerous.  There was a lot of traffic and as it was alongside the sea front cars would just randomly pull into a space without checking their mirrors, I had to brake sharply on 2 different occasions.  There was at this point a girl who did get knocked off her bike by a car reversing.  Maybe there should have been more sign displayed.  The last little hill up to transition I got stuck behind 3 cars, no one seemed to know what was going on.  Luckily for me all the people watching were shouting at the drivers to move across out the way.... but I was rather annoyed at this point.. I seem to get caught up in traffic a lot lately.  Bike time 1hr 15 seconds.

In to transition on with the trainers and off I was.... I had forgotten my knee straps so was just going to have to go without.  As I ran down to the sea front there was just a mass of people everywhere, I knew I was in a late wave but no one seemed to have consideration for the runners.  I did shout rather loudly "EXCUSE ME RUNNER COMING THROUGH" on plenty of occasions. Running up the sea front was bit random overtaking lots people just out for a stroll, dodging wheel chairs, dogs and of course other runners.  You know when you meet someone head on and you end up doing a little shuffle dance because you keep going the same way, well that happened with a runner coming the other way.  Up a sharp little hill and badly in need of a drink but alas no water, no cups left.  Along a beaten track (where I rolled an ankle but was ok) and then up a killer of a hill before looping back round. The run looked really long but once you were on it, it passed quite quickly.  Again back along the sea front dodging everyone and everything and up some more steep steps that I seemed to fly up and up to the finish.  As I had been screaming at the other sprint finish, they got me back and I went for it, flying past the line and nearly into a Marshall.  At the finish you walked into a tent and got your medal.  There was another hole here which I fell in and rolled the other ankle but thankfully that one was ok as well. ( least my ankles are back up to strength again)  You can get a print out of your results almost right away which I think its brilliant.  At first I was 6 th in my age cat and 195 overall but once the last runners were in then it all changed. run time 27.58

So a great race well organised, apart from the sea front being chaotic, I can find no fault.  So the ever important stats.... 8th in age cat out of 28.  33rd women in out of 108 and 215th out 366 who attended.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A new plan, a new goal.... never look back only forward.

If someone said to you what is the most amazing thing you have ever done... what would you say???
I want to say Ive done an Ironman............

Wow, its been a while since I have blogged.  Ive had a nice restful hot week in Spain and now I'm back I am ready to jump straight back into the thick of it. 

Recently there was a massive decision I had to make regarding which race to do, Wimbleball again or the Outlaw the full distance.  I had to make a decision quickly as Wimbleball sells out rather quickly( triathletes are sadists deep down that's why they go back) so I decided for Wimbleball.  I had been unlucky on that race and could have done a lot better. So it was decided........ well at least I thought it had. 

I knew deep down in my heart I wanted to do the full distance and I couldn't really enter both races... OR COULD I.  There has been lots going around in my head and lots of speculation to weather I could actually do the race or do the race justice!  People like me will work hard to do an Ironman and completion is always the focus.... I mean I'm not Chrissie Wellington but completion is STILL an awesome achievement and a personal achievement that no one can take away from me!

SOOOOOOO I have decided that I will enter Outlaw because life is too short and I am getting older and if I wait another year then anything could happen.  Seize the moment has been a way of life for me and I'm very impatient and I'm willing to put the work in.  I learnt a lot from wimbleball and I know what I have to do.

So I will be using Wimbleball as a warm up to Outlaw.  Outlaw is double the distance but its not as tough as Wimbleball.  There is a small matter of raising funds but where theres a will theres a way. 

My plan therefore at this time is to:
  • Pick next years races very well and not do so many, they do tend to interfere with endurance training.
  • Get a good base fitness on the bike, get out with the club I have joined and get a lot of 100 milers in.
  • Work on my swim technique so it takes less effort to swim.
  • Work on strength and core.
I have had a few life time accomplishments, running a marathon, check, completing 70.3, check and now Ironman distance.

I have a dream..... I know I can do it..... and if I don't do it then I will most defiantly regret not doing it so I am entering and I am going to take on another personal challenge and an amazing journey to a dream!!
If you don't set your sights high enough how do you do if you can achieve without even trying!!! If I try and I fail then at least I know I tried. 
Watch out OUTLAW, Hardcore Blackmore is coming into town and theres not room for both of us!!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Crewkerne super sprint

Crewkerne was the first triathlon I did last year so I wanted to return so I could gauge my improvement. 
The day started very early and my swim wave was 7.27 (to be precise).  The swim went really well I used the first 2 lengths to get into my stroke and didn't rush it, unlike last year when you shoot off and you lose concentration and get out of breathe too quickly and struggle for the rest of the swim......(experience kicking in here)

Last years swim time 7.36 this year 5.19...... now that sings very loudly from the rooftops.......YES I'm a much better swimmer.

Again experience and the familiarity of the course made my transition a smooth one.  I remember last year I was all over the place.  So out on the bike course.  Last year I did the course in 27.34 and thought I was on course to smash that time.  The route was a lot hillier than I remember, in fact it was mostly uphill, maybe I just blocked that memory out.  Race time 24.59 which although faster was rather disappointing and I expected a lot more from myself and Whoopie.  I did however have an "incident" with a very silly old man at a roundabout.  He was so engrossed at the rider in front of me , staring at her lycra clad bottom no doubt, that he failed to realise that he was pushing me into the kerb and nearly had me off at the roundabout.  I did bang very loudly on the roof of his car just to ensure that he knew I was there, but he still progressed very slowly and I was stuck behind him.  This was the case right back into transition and I believe I lost a good minute here.  I was tiny bit frustrated but that's the name of the game... always going to be ifs and buts within a race.

The run last year seemed really long and I achieved it in 12.22 and this year it seemed really short, I guess knowing the course does help and I ran slightly faster at 12.18 but on reflection I could have ran alot faster but I didn't push it hard enough.  So a new course PB taking 4 mins from last year.  What seems more impressive.   Last year I sprinted to the finish and nearly puked but I didn't get that this year.... mental note TRY HARDER!

Whats more impressive was the stats... last year I was 111th out of 151 and 17th in my age cat out of 29.
This year I was 48th out of 81  and 4th in my age cat out of 13 and 7th lady in out of 27.  So I can see that I have improved and I can see also where these other ladies are beating me and areas I need to improve.  But I am pleased and to think that I have only been doing triathlons a year.  I am getting a lot more training in that I haven't done previously such as track and sportives and swim coaching and on the improvement scale if I return next year then I will DEMAND to be in the top 3.  I really want to win just one trophy, that's all.

A super short race but great fun and enjoyed immensely.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball

We arrived at Wimbleball bright and early Friday morning. The weather was horrid.  We put the tent up in the rain and got battered by the wind.  This bad weather was in for the weekend.  On Friday night none of us got much sleep due to the rain beating down and Saturday morning the camp site was full of grumpy campers.  Saturday the weather didn't improve it got worse.  We had a practise swim in the lake and even though I went right of course I enjoyed it and felt confident. We were given 3 different coloured bags in which we had to put all of our gear, then these bags were hung up and we were not allowed to access then once they had been hung up.  I checked these bags about 4 times.  The race brief was pure madness, 1600 people all crammed into a marque.  All I remember was the race steward telling us that this year it would be the toughest due to the weather conditions..... that's a positive start!! Saturday night I was in bed at 8 through sheer exhaustion and actually had a really good nights sleep. 

Up at 5 and the mayhem began. The weather had actually calmed down and there was no rain or wind!  We double checked the bikes in transition and added drinks and put on our wetsuits and we were down at the lake before you could say Ironman 70.3.  Barry had removed his hearing aids and I had ear plugs in so we spent half hour stood by the lake using sign language.  The man in front of us was just peeing in his wetsuit and it was just dripping out....... nice!!! 

We entered the lake and I made my way to the far right and was about half way up.  I couldn't really hear anything and the next minute everyone was off.  OH MY GOD.... I tried to get into a rhythm and there was arms and legs flying everywhere.... there is nothing that could have prepared me for this.  Within seconds I was hit quite hard in the back of the neck as I was trying to take a breath and I was forced under so swallowed lots of water and came up in shock and gasping for breath.  That started a massive panic attack.... I couldn't breathe.  I ended up doing some really weird sideways stroke just trying to catch my breathe and every time I tried to swim I just couldn't.  The man in the safety canoe caught my eye and within seconds he was by my side.  He said if I needed to pull out all I had to do was touch the boat.  I seriously thought about it for all of 5 seconds and I decided that a silly little panic attack would not stop me.  I swam with my head above water conscious of time ticking away and slowly pulled it together.  It was about 500m in before I settled down into a stroke and controlled my breathing.  I swam along the back straight and nearly turned at the wrong buoy. You had to be very aware of people all of the time, I had people cutting me up and I was very scared that someone would hit me again and push me under.  I started to get some very dark thoughts about drowning and started to count my strokes to ease the mind.
 I was on the last stretch home 700m to go.  I ended up drifting right out of the way (as I had in practise) and tried to make my back to the buoys. My goggles were leaking and this made it difficult to see.  At last I made it to the shore. First cut off time beaten 49.22

As I made my way up to the hill to transition I saw Julie and Colin cheering me on but I was shaking so much and the realization of what could have happened as I was pushed under.  In transition I couldn't get my wetsuit off and some lovely lady appeared and got me out.  That's when my angel, Julia appeared.  She had spotted me and came rushing over.  I was shaking so much I couldn't do anything and she helped me put my socks and shoes on, sorted out my garmin and sent me off.  Without her help I'm not sure how long I would have been in there whilst the clock was ticking away eating into the bike time.  Thank you Julia, without your help I wouldn't have made the cut off time.

I left transition and was out on the bike.  I had put on a coat but halfway up the first hill I abandoned it.  I started to get belly ache quite quickly and on reflection it might have been swallowing lots air and water from the lake.  I put it to the back of my mind and concentrated on the bike.  I played cat and mouse with about 6 other riders... I was fast on the flat and they caught me up at the hills.  Enjoyable banter and some fantastic characters. The start of the hills arrived really quickly and that first big hill was a struggle.  Lots of people got off and walked which surprised me.  Knowing the course had lots of advantages, there is one very sharp left hand turn which takes you into a steep hill and as I turned it lots of riders were in the wrong gear. I was expected lots of supporters on the big hill and there was none.  As I climbed the last big hill, again I saw Julie and Colin cheering me on ( thanks guys, it makes a big difference).  So the second lap began, I was finding it very uncomfortable down on the aero bars as my stomach was still hurting.  I didn't take on too many gels because when I did it really aggravated my stomach.  I promised myself that I could sort it out once back in transition.  The start of the hills for the second time.... and boy could I feel it.  I just couldn't make some hills and I have to say here that I walked up the 2 big hills because I knew it would kill me and I was walking up faster than others were cycling.  I think I made a good choice here as after those 2 hills the people who had ridden blew up.  Stuart was there cheering us on the second lap.  I knew I was cutting it fine and decided I really needed to pick up the pace.  The last 3 miles and I went for it... my stopwatch said 4.13 and I had no idea how long I had been in transition so I caned it.  I overtook the pack that had always just been in front of me.  I went flying down over the dam and up that nasty little hill back into transition.  Cut off time no 2 beaten.  Bike time 4.20.14

I was so relieved when I handed my bike over, I was scared that I had missed the cut of time. So out on the run!!!!!!!!!! My stomach was really hurting now and as I was looking for the toilets I ended up on the run route!!  There again was Julie and Colin giving me a big cheer.  I had already decided that I would walk the hills and run the rest.  The first lap was ok but with every passing moment my stomach cramps became worse.  I found an empty toilet but nothing happened.  My stomach was bloated beyond belief and I think I had trapped wind that was causing the cramps.  The second lap I walked some of the flats because running was giving me sharp pains and I was feeling sick. The turn around point for the laps was very close to the finish line and you knew you had to just keep going. There were so many nice people out there on the course walking the hills giving good advice and keeping your moral up.  So the third and final lap now I was in a lot of pain.  The cramps were getting worse and I was very tired. I saw a Julian, Bev and Mark from the tri club cheering me on.  At times I had to stop and bend over to ease the pain.  I felt like I really needed to fart lots but I couldn't.  At last I walked up the last hill and was determined to run to the finish.  Julian was there at the start of the finish shoot egging me on, I saw Barry, Stu and Marina and high fived them as I headed for the finish line!!! DONE........ 8.01.35.  My first transition time had taken 9 mins and my second was 3 mins. 

I was 28th in my age cat(52 in total) and 137th (305 in total) women in overall.  My total postion was 1061 out of 1098

The whole afternoon I had severe cramp and after passing wind and visiting the toilet on several occasions my stomach finally stopped being bloated and normality resumed.  BUT I HAD DONE IT........ gutted I didn't get under 8 hours but completion was the focus.  Thank you to everyone who came up and supported us especially Julie and Colin who were there every step of the way and thanks to Stuart and Marina for supporting and all the photos and love to Mum who came and found me and gave me a hug when I needed it the most.  There was no phone reception and once I got home I was overwhelmed with the amount of support on Twitter and Face book.  Thank you all for the best wishes and thank you for all my fantastic good luck cards. 


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Am I ready????????? Wimbleball here I come....

Last night as I was swimming down the calm murky river singing "my tyres are pumped and so am I, got my wetsuit on and ready to fly" and then POW I had a moment of euphoria.   I was swimming really well and I felt inner peace.  I was thinking I AM READY...... I can do this.  I began to reflect on the journey to Ironman 70.3 and felt inspired to write a blog.

This was me after being put right after some surgeon broke my knee cap and severed my hamstring on what should have been an uncomplicated ACL reconstruction.
After my first marathon I decided to try out triathlons.  I couldn't even swim 1 length front crawl and took a few private lessons which was complete pants.  I taught myself and went swimming three times a week and the dedication started to pay off.  I joined a coached session for a while but it wasn't until I joined West Country Triathletes that I actually began to feel like a swimmer and I got faster! BIG shout out to WCT, fab group of people and lots new friends. If you are considering getting into triathlons I suggest you join a club its one of the best things that I have done.  I have overcome my fear of dirty water and fought motion sickness, panic attacks so that I feel comfortable swimming in open water. Its very different to swimming in a pool but now I really enjoy it.  Theres a bigger thrill "wild swimming".

I knew I had become deadly serious when I bought Whoopie.  A serious bit of kit.  She took a bit of getting used to but now that TT bike fits me a treat and we have bonded.  I have cycled over 1395 miles this year alone and I have found my bike legs.  I have cycled the Wimbleball course about 6 times now and all those pesky hills have made me tough.  When I'm down on those aero bars I feel pretty powerful and its a great feeling. 
I did however suffer 2 ankle sprains this year and my marathon training was affected.  I still managed to swim and cycle but my running suffered, despite this I took 28 minutes off my marathon time. (4.13.55) This just proves that cross training has helped my general fitness and that I am going from strength to strength.  I have enjoyed the training leading up to Ironman 70.3, it has given me focus and not sure I will be able to stop after the event. What will be the next big challenge(Ironman).
 I have learnt alot about myself over the last 10 months.  I have learnt that I am stubborn, that I wont give up and the harder things are , the harder I try. I have a mental toughness or is that stubbornness??  Ive learnt that the human body is amazing, whatever I ask my body to do, it does it without too much grumbling.  I am also very competitive. When that starter goes off I'm locked down into fight mode but I always enjoy it.

I have competed in quite a few events this year. My running times are faster, my triathlon sprint times are becoming faster. The training is paying off.

So here I stand.... the biggest personal challenge on the horizon....... and I AM READY. I have done the training and I will always be a little paranoid that I've not done enough but on the day I will give it everything I've got. I know its not going to be easy but I am prepared.  Its been a magical journey full of highs, disappointments and frustration and endorphin hits.   I have met some fantastic, inspirational people along the way and as always I have the most amazing network of support from my family and friends.  You know who you are.  My children have been amazing putting up with mum's crazy antics, not moaning when the tturbo is louder than the telly, getting up early to come to triathlons with me and laughing at me when I'm dancing around the house hyped up after training sessions and most of all telling me how proud they are of me ( I might cry now).

 THANK YOU to all those who have helped me by sponsoring me, trained with me, given me advice and been there with support and kind words when I needed them the most.  I would also like to take a moment to apologise in advance for my behaviour in taper week.   I am very excitable, emotional, crazy person right now and I'm creating a big rut in the ground jumping up and down.

WIMBLEBALL HERE I COME.......... do your worst as I'm gonna kick your butt!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Taunton Triathlon

I woke up to the sound of the rain beating against the window but I didn't care I was ready to race.  I was a bit tired and grumpy due to some teenagers playing pranks all night in the street and me giving chase in my dressing gown late at night
 I had great expectations for this race..... I was feeling fit and totally thought I would smash it.  I picked up Barry and off we went.

There wasn't much time to get everything sorted before the race began.  It was swim time.  I set off far too quickly, I had got used to starting off slow and then getting faster but today that went out the window.  I was in "I'm gonna cane it mode".  This is where it all went wrong, goggles filled with water, had to stay behind a woman swimming breast stroke couldn't overtake as too many swimmers in the lane and took in a big mouthful of water.  I was really glad to finish the 400m and started on the long run to the transition area.  I totally lost here it here as well, decided I would wear a top and couldn't get it out of my bag.  Totally unprepared.  As i ran up to the mounting point my garmin fell out of my nutrition bag on the bike and had to go back for it.  Swim time 9.11

I finally got on the bike and I had that horrible tight chest feeling, you know where you get a build up of C02 and you really really need to burp it all out but you cant.  I was lucky at the traffic lights and the roundabouts, there were quite a few.  Despite not being able to breathe well I got my head down and went for it.  I over took 3 men that made me feel better. Stu overtook me here like  lightening!!
The wind was pretty bad ( when is the wind never in your face , if I'm honest????)  The lanes were narrow with some hair pin corners and I had a dodgy moment with a tractor and was glad to be back on the busy main road. Bike time 41.33

I pulled up jumped off my bike and ran again that massive stretch to the transition area. I started
off on the run, they directed you all over the grounds of the school and finally that long awaited burp came where I could finally breathe properly again.  The run was pretty smooth, apart from running through the crowd of old ladies at the bus stop and choking on that old ladies perfume smog!  The run seemed pretty quick and comfortable now I had lost the C02 bubble!!! Cross the line and its done!! Run time 24.37

At first I felt disappointed with today's race total time 1.18.03.  I was 6th in my age cat, 8th woman in overall and on final results 61st out of a shocking 89 competitors .  On further inspection there was only 7 ladies in my my age cat and the woman in front beat me by 1 second...... I could have had my name on the leader board. 

Now I've had time to get over the race and reflect......
I had really set myself up to fail, expecting too much from today's results. I had such a bad swim that I felt it put me on a downer for the rest of the race, but I actually smashed the run today and did my fastest 5 k time.  Average 7.55 min miles..... get in. Honestly I have enjoyed every single tri I have ever done and had good results but as we all know life doesn't always go the way we want and its the way we deal with things that matter. I cant always have a good race and its all good training and we can always take something away from an experience.  The time 1.18.03 is actually a really good time for a sprint and I am getting faster.  I need a bad race so that wimbleball can be a fantastic race!!!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tour of Wessex 2011

My first sportive.  I have never ridden over 57.2 miles to be exact so I was thinking this was going to be one LONG day.  I decided to take Whoopie as she fits me like a comfy old slipper but has turbo power.

Stu, Fluff and Roo all waited nervously at the start line, there was loads of cyclists and I have never ridden in a group larger than 6.  When we were told to go it was really daunting and you had to really keep your wits about you.  We rode down out of Somerton and onto the main road.  As we turned left into Castle Cary we approached the first hill.  I kept checking that they were all behind me and then WHOOSH the big boys start flying by, not just one but like 15 to 20 bikers speeding past.  I kept looking round but by this time I couldn't see Fluff or Roo.  I tried to concentrate on the forthcoming hill and tried not to feel intimated by all the people overtaking me.  The ride was good, we were on roads that I cycle all the time and I knew them well which made it better. I had decided to wear my coat but by the time we got to the gorge I was regretting it. 

The gorge was the worst hill that I knew of and I tried to smile for the camera man perched on the bend of the hill but I think he probably got more of a grimace.  The first feed station was at the top of the gorge.  Lots of goodies so I filled my pockets.  It got really cold quick once you  stopped so we didn't stay long and we were up and away.  This was when I decided that I wasn't going to be overtaken anymore and I was going to play with the big boys.  A group came whizzing past and I decided to get down on the aero bars and tuck in behind them.  Once I'm down on the aero bars I seem to power up. I stayed with these guys for a while and one bloke did turn around and see me tucked in and had to look twice it was quite funny. I stayed with them as long as I could but once we got on an incline I lost the pack...... but it was good whilst it lasted.

The second feed station was a total surprise and we nearly went straight past it.  Here we could have hot tea which was nice and lots rolls and sausage rolls and a toilet break.  They had loads jelly beans so between me and Stu we got enough jelly beans to fill my nutrition bag.  WE started off again and was short lived as within 2 metres I had my first puncture.  Good ole Stu he fixed it for me in double quick time ( I would have taken ages to do it) whilst I stood at the side of the road watching all the bikes go by.  Those little C02 gas canisters are brill and they certainly go pop when you take the adapter off..... I thought that for a split second Stu had been shot!!

Off we went again.... I was feeling quite good we had gone past the point of 57.2 miles and the rolls and hot tea had made me feel human again.  This is where I started popping those magic jelly beans.  They were lush and I got hit by a massive sugar rush.  I couldn't help myself and I was cycling down the road with one arm extended super hero style shouting I am the JELLY BEAN HERO OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!

This high was to be short lived because with about 15 miles to go I started to get very grumpy.  Weather it was a come down of those jelly beans or tiredness I couldn't tell but I was started to wish it was all over.  We had 9 miles to go and the wind was awful.  It battered you relentlessly and even though I have started to embrace the wind lately this was getting to me. 
I must take this moment to apologise to Stu for the last 5 miles where I totally threw my toys outta the pram and I was very close to throwing my bike into the ditch and running off in a sulk.  I was swearing alot at everything, everyone who went past me, cars, bikes, leaves..... I was MAD!!! I swore at the wind and how much I hated cycling.  That last hill into Somerton seemed like an eternity but there it was the FINISH LINE.  I decided I wanted the finishing photo with my hands extended punching the air but instead I side swiped Stu and nearly took us both out....... OOOOPSIE. 

Yay it was over, thew swearing could stop. My quads were pretty sore. The first 50 miles I had properly caned it and I think that by the end that started to show.  I couldn't maintain the speed that I had and our average speed went right down.

So 75.53 miles in 5 hours and 17 minutes and 4 seconds.  Average speed 14.29

I nearly had a fatal meeting with the recovery soup and luckily I found out it had mushrooms in it before I ate any.

I was impressed with the food and the service at the feed stations and everyone was really friendly.  I did enjoy it really!!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

confidence on the up....... 28 days to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My confidence with river swimming has gone up and down like a roller coaster.  The more confident I became the longer I swam, which in turn made me sicker!!!!! After a visit to the local hospital to see an out of hours doctor (who was the best doctor EVER!!) Turns out I kinda get sea sick whilst swimming.  That nasty cold water from the river was going in my ears and shrinking my brain (I know what your all thinking here) so I was armed with my anti dizzy spells and earplugs as advised.

Friday came and I entered the river in anticipation........OH MY GOD!!!!!!! What a difference the earplugs made.  Normally I get so breathless and everyone said I was getting panic attacks and I fobbed them off and put it down to the cold but you know what, I think it was sub conscious panic attacks.  I put my head under the water within minutes and was expecting to stop any second due to the shortness of breath but it just didn't happen.  I swam about 800m up the river stopping once to clear goggles.  I turned around and swam the whole distance back again only stopping once as I tend to drift across the river and end up in the bank.  You cant imagine how fantastic I felt about that.  I had been so worried about completely the swim time in an hour when I spent most of the time trying to breathe.

Today I was supposed to conquer the wimbleball course and finally do 2 laps. The wind was unbelievable and some of the riders pulled out and I cant say I blame them.  The wind was horrific.  Every time you went past a gate way you had to hold on for grim death because you knew you would be side swiped.  The worst moment was when I cycled past a cross roads and the wind unexpectedly picked me up made me swerve into the verge and I completely flipped upside down.  It must have been a funny sight be lying there on the floor with my bike stuck up at ninety degrees still attached to my feet.  Apart from being a bit shaken I was ok and more importantly so was Whoopie.  On with the ride.  I have to say that on that first hill the wind actually became our friend and pushed me up that first big hill that was a nice feeling and I could almost forgive the wind for being in my face all day!  The ride was almost over, it was agreed that one lap in extreme wind conditions would be enough, I felt like I had cycled 2 anyway.  Cycling across the bridge next to the lake was pretty nerve racking, the wind completely side swiped me right across the road and I ended up on the other side, good job no cars were there. 

A tough ride today... shoulders ache more than my legs just from holding on for my life.  Nothing like a few brushes with death to make you thankful for your life!!!  The time was 2.17 beating my fastest lap by 3 minutes but considering the wind, I think that was a good result.  I think on race day and the adrenalin is going and the course will have 1500 bikers on it, I will pull it outta the bag. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Taunton Deane Sprint Triathlon

Taunton Deane Triathlon held at Wellington.....bit confusing.  I was really looking forward to this tri.  There was 27 members of West Country Triathletes taking part and it was to be held in my old haunting ground.  It made a big difference knowing that course like the back of my hand.

My wave started at 11.40, normally I start at a really early time so I was quite pleased about that.  My swim went really well.  There was no hassle of people all starting at the same time and feeling harassed.  This was def my faster swim to date at 400m.  The time was 8.38 and that included trying to get out of the pool (very high sides) and getting to the transition mat.  The bike racks had been colour coded with balloons which made it really easy to spot.  My first transition was pretty fast well under a minute and I was off.  I feel like I went off like a bullet and overtook ! lady right at the start.  I headed out and as I approached the first hill... disaster struck and my chain came off...... I quickly dismounted put that chain back on the lady I had overtook went sailing past me.  That's all I needed, back on bike, I sought her out, locked down the target and off I went.  Head down power up and went whizzing past her again.  I set my sights on my next target and off I charged.  I felt really strong throughout the whole course, even when I hit the by-pass and the head wind was pretty mental.  Another target on the horizon..... I felt like a battle ship blasting my way through the cyclists.  Once I reached Wiveliscombe roundabout and saw my mum and the boys cheering me on, I felt a renewed sense of energy. I knew the wind would be behind me and I just totally went for it.  I overtook some pretty fit looking guys and that just increased my confidence.  My mum unknown to me had followed me down the by-pass and the kids were in front of me waving through the car window.  On this piece of flat road I got up to 36.6 mph... the fastest I have ever been on a straight.  There was a few hills back but I stayed in the big cog and just flew up them.  I really enjoyed the bike. 

The run however was a different matter, my transition was slightly slower due to putting on my knee straps and I had this silly feeling of my legs going round faster than I can actually run.  Its a very bizarre feeling.  The run consists of 2 laps and there was a hill.  I have to say I did walk part of this hill the first time round as my legs still didnt quite get the fact that the rest of my body couldn't keep up. But still averaging 8.19 minute miles despite a short walk(makes me wonder what time I would have if I had ran that bit).  The finish was in site and Mike our coach was doing the commentary so we got a nice welcome home.  Finish time 1.23.31.  I was totally happy with that, I feel I smashed that bike route and beginning to think that actually I'm pretty strong on the bike.

It was great seeing so many of our club doing the race, our suits are quite easy to spot and all around the course you get shouts of encouragement.  We even all got free massage at the end which is a bonus.  Enjoyed this race a lot, Barry only beat me my 4 minutes which I am even happier about.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exe Valley Sprint triathlon.

This was the first triathlon of the year and my first tri as a West Country Triathlete.  It was quite a late start but good to get there with plenty of time to socialise with some of the other members of the group.  There was some really nice bikes there and when I could I had my picture taken with some nice bikes whilst their owners were well outta sight..........

My wave started at 12.10.  This was slightly different to other tris as you only had 2 people per lane and you kept to one side.  But as luck would have it I had a lane to myself.  That's a bonus I always feel harassed when theres a few of you and I tend to go off to fast and lose it.   The 16 lengths (400m) went really quite quickly.  I decided to take the first 4 really slow and just warm up.  This was a good plan and I started to speed up naturally without having to gasp for breath and panic.  My swim time was 8.55 but that did include 10 second walk to the timing mat ( no running due to a fatal accident earlier). 

I felt pretty good, on with the helmet, race belt and grabbed Whoppie and off we went.  The bike course is nice smooth flattish route with a few gradual hills following a river.  I overtook 2 ladies straight away and set my sights on the guy up front.  I caught him I overtook him...... this was to be the start of a cat and mouse game. The course allows you to get down on those aero bars and blast it!!! I caught this bloke up and stayed in front for a while and then he caught me and overtook me.  I locked the target back down on him and overtook him again.  This continued 4 or 5 times and the banter was really friendly, as he overtook me he said "I'll see you in a bit " I love this kinda game really spurs you on and gives you someone to chase.  There are times when you end up in "no mans land" no one chasing you and no one to chase. The bike course seemed to go by pretty quickly too and I was back before I knew it.  I had no idea how I was doing as I forgot to put the garmin on. I completed the cycle in 47.39.

I entered transition, put on my trainers and had a few problems.  The tongue of my trainers got caught up and even though I had sorted my trainers out just to slip them on I ended up undoing one and having to do it up again... not easy task when your hands are shaking from pure adrenalin.  The run route looked hilly but actually once out on it, it didn't seem so bad. I did have stitch for the entire run but not enough to stop me. I passed Caroline hoping for a high five but got a high fist instead, she wasn't letting go of those jelly beans.  The run route means you double back and you can always see whose behind you and how far they are.  I kept seeing the guy from the cat and mouse game on the bike and we had a little chuckle each time we passed..... but he was in front darn it!!! The run was completed in 25.51.

I enjoyed this tri , was great seeing other members of the group out on the course and I felt like part of a team even though triathlon is a one man race.  I felt strong on the bike but I do feel like I've neglected my running a bit, but when your used to marathon training I guess it would feel like that. 

So total time...including transitions was 1.24.34.  When I last checked I was 4th in my age cat but there was still a few people coming in..... you know those super fast people who do the latest wave as they are so super fit so that might change.  But at the end of the day I enjoyed the race, I felt strong was in good company and had fun!  No medal or t-shirt but a really good goodie bag with a spare tube and lots food in.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Glastonbury 10k run around the tor

I had first thought that this was going to be a really hilly 10 k but I drove the course before the start and there was only 3 hills in it. 
The town seemed in good spirits and a big cheer before the gun went off.  The first 100 m is a sharp hill and it certainly warms you up.  The road then levels out and takes you down a nice long hill, time to take a breather and get into your stride.  I had chosen Slamming vinyl to listen to on my way around but as we started up a incline, the beat seemed a little too much and I had to take my earphones out.  I did start to regret cycling 41 very hilly miles the day before and my legs didn't feel good at all. 
I had to zip up my man suit.... when I do Ironman 70.3 I will be cycling 56 hilly miles and then running a half marathon on the same day, at least I got a nights sleep in between.   I didn't really get into my stride until mile 5 it took a long time to settle into this one.

The highlight of the whole race was the finish.  I had overtaken Barry at mile 1 and stayed in front of him for the whole race.  Unknown to me as I ambled up to the finish line he had seen me and had started a very fast sprint to catch me up.  I was totally unaware of this until I saw him shoot past me with less than 5 metres to the finish line.  Now I have to say here , Barry and myself have a little tally chart of all our wins ageist each other.  To be quite frank when Barry is fit and on the case he will beat me hands down but he lacks commitment and motivation sometimes.... I guess I'm saying he actually has a life (unlike me). So I like to take full advantage of when he's not.  Anyway back to the story, I saw him pass me and shouted something quite unlady like and took off like a rocket after him.  I have never ran that fast in my life and it was a bit of a wrestle and a tumble to the line but I have it on good authority that I did beat him by a whisker.  I sprinted so fast at the last minute that the marshals at the finish line had to put their arms out and stop me, I don't think they were so impressed.  Barry and I did shake hands and declare a draw but I have the knowledge I beat him.  I will be watching my back Mr Williams especially if you are behind me.  Don't you just love a bit of healthy competition.  Well done to Stuart as well completing in first ever 10 k in 40.30 or something, I wish I had legs as long as him.