Friday, April 29, 2011

River swimming part 3....... and a few loose ends!

Just got back from river swim number 3.  I took some great advice on board from a wonderful lady called Caroline.  After talking at great length about tightness of chest and past experiences she told me that she used to swim with her head above water for a bit until she warmed up and if I felt outta breath then I could glide more, really roll and catch my breath.  I followed this advice and what a difference it made.  I swam up the river with the others, they soon lost me but I had a few breaks to adjust my steamy goggles.  Once the others started to come back I made my way back to.  I didn't go the full distance but definitely covered at least half a mile.  On the way back I settled into a stroke that suited me and allowed me to sight as at the same time.  I stopped only once briefly as I was approaching the bank. I cant believe how much progress I have made in such a short time and after tonight my confidence has soared.

In other news, I did a brilliant brick session on my day off, even though it was the wrong way round.  I started with a 33 mike bike ride, I wanted to conquer old Bristol road.  That meant I had to cycle down the gorge again, something I'm not a big fan of.  I went straight into a brick session and boy that's was so bizarre.. My legs felt like they were still cycling and were turning over really fast, so my first three miles were super fast and I couldn't actually feel my feet.  My legs were running so fast and I just couldn't stop them..... the rest of my body was playing catch up.  I managed 4 miles before I gave up.  I then  swam a mile in the pool, one of my quickest mile times 41 minutes.  It felt really slow and I was surprised at the time.  I've missed a few swim sessions so swimming felt fresh and strong and of course it was a nice clean chlorine water.

Today Stuart and I explored stockhill wood and black rock at cheddar... bit of a wood crawl on the ole mountain bikes.  Nice to have a change and the highlight of the day had to be when Stuart bought coffee and cake and spent 10 mins at the till trying to unzip his pocket to get his wallet out.  That was the funniest thing!!!!!

So tomorrow with the warning of thundery showers, I should be doing 2 laps of Wimbleball.  Then Sunday I will be racing the Glastonbury Run around the Tor 10k.  I checked the course out today and its not as hilly as I first thought ...... so a pb might be well within my sights.  To break a sub 50 on a 10k..... that would be just AWESOME!!!!!!

Barry asked me the other day how I felt my training was going and I was a little unsure..... but you know what.... I keep surprising myself and all this hard work is really starting to pay off.  In the words of James Brown..... I FEEL GOOD!!!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shapwick Bunny Hop 2011

Last years Bunny Hop was cold and wet and was so muddy that even wearing spikes wouldn't have helped in the ground.  This year was a completely different story, hot hot HOT!
I went with Stuart , his first ever race.  I was really looking for a good result this year, I think I came 4th or 5th last year in a time of 1.10.56.

This race had attracted more than usual and quite a few good club runners.  I spotted the 60 yr old woman who beat me at every local race I had done.  She does 10 k in 40 mins, she is phenomenal.  I realised then that my bubble had been burst but I was still going to give it my best shot.

Under starters orders and off we went...... run...... stop ( first style)... run.... stop ( second style) this happens about 5 or 6 times in the first 2 miles.
Through the fields we go, sheep and lambs everywhere.... "ooo mind that sheep shit".  I got overtaken by red tshirt man... shot off like a rocket.... I just thought you are soooo gonna be blowing outta your arse soon matey.  Settled into a stride, the sun beating down.  Turned into the nature reserve, this is a 2 mile stretch of one long straight dusty track as far as the eye can see.  Not sure all the twitchers were too happy about 50 odd gasping sweaty runners going for it through the reserve, might frighten the birds!!!

I was in a kinda no mans land, the fast club runners had pulled away and were just in sight and then there was me and then there was no one behind.  I ran most of the race on my own.  I did catch up Mr red shirt though at about mile 4 blowing out of his arse as predicted.  I checked he was ok before blasting away.  The heat had got to him..... "don't worry it will be shady in the wood" I shouted.  Oh my god, it was so not shady in the wood at all.  In fact it was even hotter.  Last year I had ran through puddles and mud up to my knees and this year it was dry and cracked with great big ruts everywhere.  We had all been warned about the HUGE badger hole at mile 5 and it was HUGE and right in the middle of the track.  There were parts that were just really long grass and was hard to see what actually what was under it all.  With the curse of the sprained ankle hanging over my head every time I ran x country, I made sure I was looking ahead and concentrating.  The curse has now been broken...... thank god.

  I didn't realise til mile 4 that my gamin wasn't working.  I had the time 4 miles in 34.15 that's good.  I hit the 10 k mark at 51.50 which was great.  My 10 k pb is 50.52 so I knew I was going pretty well.
Nearly there out of the woods and half a mile to go along the lane back to the village hall. The end kinda creeps up on you before you know it and there all done and dusted in 1.06.18.  Provisional results say I was 5th  lady in and 2nd in my age cat.  This does need to be confirmed.  I would never get the Chance to be so high up in most of the races I do and it sounds good, doesn't it.

Stuart was there at the finish, 53 minutes for him and 5th in......WOW........ he kept up with those club runners. 
Local races, you gotta love them, small key but so friendly.  The village hall was brimming with cakes and tea and sweets.  A sausage or bacon roll for a small donation for the charity.  Ive never been to a race that caters for you in this way and its a lovely village community that work together on the day.

Highly recommend this race for the views, the friendliness and of course the tea and cakes!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

River swimming Part 2, the score is even.

There was a lot more swimmers out this Friday almost double the number.  The river was surprisingly warm and it felt lush compared to last week.  There were 3 others who had never swam in the river before so I didn't feel like such a loser!! I spoke to one of the other ladies desperate to hear their stories and was told that it took one lady over a year and a half to get used to it, whilst others were straight in there.

I just jumped straight in, no hanging about and floated around whilst I watched the rest of them get in.  They all swam up the river straight away.  That left just 2 of us.  We decided that we would try breast stroke just to see what it was like going under that deep murky water.  That was quite horrible and I could feel the fear rising up in me every time I out my head in that horrible water.  I decided breast stroke wasn't the way forward.  I decided to just go for it and I put my head in and swam about 4 strokes.  This was a breakthrough that I had been waiting for. I came up and started struggling for breath and had a very tight feeling in my chest and started getting wheezy again.  I treaded water until I got my breath back and then did 5 strokes, then 6 then 7.

It was becoming easier but I couldn't understand why I was so out of breath.  My delightful supportive companion, Emma, suggested that I slow it right down, stop kicking my legs and just go really really slow. I did this and swam quite a long way before my breathing started to get the better of me.  Even though I am breathing and swimming, I don't think its as natural as in the pool and I am getting a build up of carbon dioxide in my lungs as I am still a bit panicky and that's whats causing the breathlessness.

However I was doing it, I was so chuffed that I had least made a 100% improvement to last week.  We just swam a little, stopped for a while and swam again increasing the distance each time.  We actually swam right into each other twice but sighting is something I will learn next week instead.   After a really long interval I swam right into the bank!! Doh!!!!

We just kept swimming up and down a small stretch of river.  I felt that just having someone who was so supportive and patient made a tremendous difference. Even though it was her first time she took to it really well and after I got out she swam to met the others.  Without her presence I don't think I would have succeeded as I did.

Next week I am going to swim with the rest of them and if I need to take a small break I will.  I feel so much more confident than before and the next few weeks will just be continuing to do more, relax and get the mileage in.  I am so relieved to have evened up the score. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Post marathon, training continues, open water swimming and my first track session.

The day after....... driving home and being couped up in the car for 4.5 hours wasn't really the best idea and I gave John Cleese a run for his money in the silly walk malarkey at service stations.  I went to swim club that night and only completed half of the session but it felt good just to streeeeeetch out in the pool.  That really helped.

Tuesday .....I cycled into Glastonbury and back to enter the Glastonbury 10 k run round the tor (mmm that's going to be hilly) nice and gentle just to streeeeeeetch out those legs and also test the bike after its service.

Wednesday ........ nice and gentle early morning swim again just to loosen up those legs. (I havent been to bad, stairs have been difficult on occasions but recovering well).  I also ran a short 3 mile recovery run, legs felt great, chest seemed a bit tight.

Thursday .....1 hour session on the turbo covering 15.45 miles, again just easy spinning nothing hardcore.

Friday........ A great 4.65 mile run, chest felt bit easier and legs felt great, felt strong and in control.
That evening was my first open water swim this year.  I have swam in the river once before with |Barry but this was very different.  The water was pretty cold and as I walked down the ramp I fell in more than got in.  There was about 8 of us in total, we had to sign in and we had coach and other members of the tri club watching.  I swam about 10 metres with my head above water, trying to get up the courage to put my head under.  I read somewhere that if you take a big mouthful of air then when you put your head under you can force it out then just get into your rhythm.  Before I had chance to test out this theory, disaster struck.  I became very wheezy, I really struggled to breathe and ended up just bobbing about in the water.  All the others had gone on up the river so I decided to go back.  This was harder than expected, I didn't even have the energy to breast stroke back to the river.  Even though I couldn't breathe I didn't panic which was good, I think that could have been fatal.  I slowly got back to the bank.
 Now theres a few explanations for this
  • Water was extremely cold and can cause wheezing problems to the 'soft' open watered swimmers
  • I had a tight chest on some of my runs and the cold water just highlighted this
  • I didn't warm up to start as I know that my breathing can be very laboured until after at least 30 mins warm up.
  • I am not a fish and not designed to go swimming willy nilly in cold rivers!!!!
Moral of the story.... I'm not giving up..... Ill be back out in that so said cold river every Friday until I am swimming like a pro up and down that river.  I need to do this as I don't want no surprises when I enter the lake at Wimbleball.

Saturday....... another lap at Wimbleball. I had all intentions of going for 2 but tired legs, lack of motivation, sore arse meant one was enough. (32 miles in 2.26) Its a really tough course and again in my defense Ive only just ran a marathon.  Did 1 lap in 2.26 which is pretty good only 6 mins slower than the fastest time round that course yet. We then ran 4 miles of the Bunny hop route that I will be running on Easter Monday.  I wanted to test the ankle out see how it felt over rough ground and it didn't let me down.  4 miles cross country on some pretty unforgiving ground and pretty quick average pace of 9.15 min miles which is good. 

Sunday........ a nice recovery ride in the sun testing out all my club tri gear, which is just GERT LUSH!!!!  Nice steady pace through the lanes avoiding busy roads.  Came across the most fantastic tea garden called Fenny castle tea rooms.  Beautiful surroundings and cream teas.

32 miles again in 2.04 ( no nightmare hills like at wimbleball)

Monday......... My 1 st track session EVER.  I decided to run around the track twice before anyone arrived.  We then all warmed up doing drills, running backwards, side running all looking very professional and cool.  The plan was to run 10 x 400m.  You then walked 100m and then easy jog for 100m before running 400m again.  We all started as a group and Martin then counted the time in as we passed the line.  I was in the slowest group and we had to do each 400m in under 1.50.   I found the first 5 of these unbearable.  My breathing was all over the place and I was struggling.  Its almost like a switch is flicked in my body after 20/30 mins where my breathing becomes steady and I transform into a machine.  I think its the whole aerobic/anaerobic stuff that I don't know much about.  Once that switch is flicked I feel great and the next 5 were a lot easier and a lot faster.  I think the quickest was 1.36.  I need to either warm up a lot more before the others or I need to increase my aerobic capacity.  Aerobic comes first and uses oxygen ( which is why I struggle particularly as I am anemic with  lack of oxygen in my blood) the body then switches to anaerobic which is why it suddenly becomes easier for me. If anyone reading this can help me improve my aerobic capacity please tell me( I must stop drinking as I know the booze strips my body of the little iron I have)
Swim session after that was pretty hard but still completed.

So all in all a good week, recovery was good, didn't feel as bad as I thought I would. I did feel pretty tired this morning and thought I would rest but now I'm awake a session on the turbo in the garden might be called for. 

Monday, April 11, 2011


There was quite a few of us doing Brighton this year and we a few of us were in the same hotel(hotel from hell but that's a whole different blog all together) was really good to see old friends and meet new ones.

After missing at least 8 weeks out through 2 separate ankle injuries, I was very happy to be at the start line.  The marathon to me is the lap of honour from all the hard work and preparation that you put in.  I knew it was going to be hot and covered myself in suncream ( didn't want a blistered face like last year).  I had a treatment on my hip on Wednesday that worked a treat.

The taxi we ordered didn't show so we had quite a stomp up to the start line.  Once we got there its always hard to find everyone but we did and was great to see everyone raring to go. The toilet queue moved quite quickly (bonus) and before I knew it we were down at the start line.

We started together but within a few miles we had all spaced out and settled into the race.  I ran with the lovely Lisa for the first 10 miles.  I tried really hard to keep the pace comfortable.  At mile 10 I had fully warmed up and felt incredibly strong.  Mile 10 to 18 was unbelievable, I felt  fantastic and I definitely picked up the pace and passed the half way mark in 2.06.55.  It made such a difference knowing we had friends in the crowd and we knew where they would be and I cant tell you enough what a massive difference this makes.

Mile 19 became a struggle, the heat was getting to me and I am so glad that they had lots of extra water stops this year.  At each water station I reached for 2 bottles, one to throw over me and one to drink.  I hit the dreaded power station road, the road to HELL, but this year it went really fast.  I think the fact that I knew it was coming helped.  Mile 20 I wanted to cry and I tweeted and texted just to distract me and as normal fellow tweeters were so supportive and that spurred me on.  Mile 23 you make it to the seafront and you know your almost there.  Last year the crowd here was fantastic and they pulled me along but this year although there was lots people they weren't shouting.  Maybe 'hardcore blackmore' is too much of a mouthful? I decided to work the crowd a bit and starting shouting scream if you want me to run faster, which worked a treat.
2.2 miles to go.......the longest 2 miles of my life.  I was really beginning to falter here.  There were quite a lot walking here and I saw quite a few people who I had seen at the start so I was tapping them on the back and cheering them on " come on guys run with me" A few responded and thanked me at the finish line.  Its amazing the bonding you get with people in those last mile.

800m to go.......... I could see the finish line, I checked the garmin and saw that a sub 4.15 was possible.  I couldn't believe it, I was sure that I had slowed right down. OH MY GOD.....  I saw my goal  was achievable.  I was pretty shocked.......and totally happy.  The crowd in that last 800 m were amazing, everyone was cheering so loud, its something I will never forget ( getting very emotional now as I type).

At last through the finish line 4.13.55............ RESULT.  I felt good worked my way down where I had to meet the others but they weren't there.   I stood for about 10 minutes waiting and had a little cry but when I saw them all come towards me I couldn't stop the lump in my throat and had a mini break down.

I stood in the sea like last year and was pleased to see so many others in there.  Every one was in good spirits.  We found the others and popped open a bottle of bubbly.

A BIG thank you to all who supported us, a massive well done to Chris, Lisa, Claire, Mike, Simon, Karen, Valine and Steven.   Thank you to Stu for driving me there and back and listening to all my moaning.
PS still got sun burnt face and the back of my knees.

Will I do it again...... HELL YER.... sub 4 will do nicely!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lt the countdown begin... cant wait to see all my buddies xx

So Ive had a good week training, got in a few speedy short runs quite a lot of swimming and a little biking.  My long runs have been giving me a hip and glute niggle which I was slightly concerned about but hanging out the old trainers to retirement seems to have done the trick but I have booked a quickie with Helen on Wed just to make sure that hip and glute is all loose.  It made me realise that we should pay attention to our gear and equipment because when it goes wrong it can cause injury ( not saying anything about my bike falls last week).

I got out for a 10 mile run today and felt strong and relaxed just how it should be and even though I hate taper and what it does to my mind I knew I am now in the right place to be before Brighton marathon next Sunday.  I felt I had loads more in me today and have to be quite strong willed with myself to stay on that taper.  Mad dancing around the house is allowed though? Right?

So the countdown begins, this time next week I'll probably be pissed on champagne with achy legs, but I know I'll be in good company.  Today James reminded me of a Brighton marathon U tube video  and as I watched it all the memories came flooding back.  I couldn't watch it without shedding a few tears and it reminded of the greatest achievement of my life....... I am so EXCITED right now.  What makes it even more exciting is that there will be a lot more fantastic friends running this year.

I'm a lot stronger and fitter than  last year and even though I missed 4 weeks of training due to injury, I am ready.  I was worried that I wouldn't get there so a big thank you to all those who helped me through.... ( no this isn't an an Oscar speech)
I think being marathon fit is a really good place to be for a busy year of triathlons and the biggy Wimbleball.
so to all those running Brighton.......... LETS HAVE IT... cant wait to see you all.