Tag Archives: birthday

One year in and the momentum has stalled

1 Mar

I had hoped that I was back to blogging, but I’ve not been well recently, which has had a couple of knock on effects – firstly, I’ve not had the energy to do much exercise and secondly, I’ve been too tired to blog. I’ve been to see my doctor for some blood tests and will be discussing the results with her next week. I suspect that it may be anaemia that has left me feeling listless (although glandular fever [mononucleosis] is another possibility). In turn, this has led me to making a lot of unhealthy choices. I’m hoping that I will feel better soon and make the right choices. I’m now 1.5lbs away from being as heavy as I was when I first joined Weight Watchers at 29 years old. I need to get back to being 30lbs lighter!

Krispy Kreme

I ‘treated’ myself to a Krispy Kreme doughnut and hot chocolate after I went for a blood test as I had been fasting for over 12 hours

As I’m trying to get back up to date, I’m going to break this post into short sections, so apologies if it doesn’t read well.

Valentine’s Day

Graduation Ball 1998

Graduation Ball 1998

I wasn’t well for Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t really get into the spirit of things. I had bought Stu a small gift, but I failed to buy a card. Hopefully, he knows how much I love him anyway. I shared the photo from my graduation ball on Facebook and was surprised that it received 84 likes, which is probably more than almost anything else I’ve ever posted. I’ve changed shape since then and gained a few wrinkles… and Stu and I have both had quite a few inches cut off our hair!!!

Virtual Running UK Blog Hop

Earlier this week, Virtual Running UK tweeted to let me know about their Run Blog Hop. I’d never heard of a Blog Hop before, so I had to google what it meant. Essentially, a blog hop is when a group of bloggers post about a topic and share links to the other blogs so readers can go to them. It usually takes place in a set time frame.

Virtual Running UK

I’d forgotten that yesterday was the end of the month. I think my fastest 5km has probably been 27:44, which was my time for the first 5km of Bramley 20 (which you can read about later in this post!). Is anyone else joining in with this blog hop? Please post a comment if that’s why you’ve stopped by here today 🙂

IDEA Inspired Blogger

I’m also delighted to have been chosen as an IDEA Inspired Blogger. There is now an IDEA Inspired Blogger page with my photo and link to my blog here: http://www.ideafit.com/inspired-bloggers. It’s really exciting to be part of this network:

The IDEA Inspired Blogger program is designed to recognize bloggers who inspire and motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Around the World Running Blog Relay

A while back I signed up to take part in an Around the World Running Blog Relay. We’re trying to see how many miles/kms running bloggers can log in March and April. Are you in?


Although I’ve not had enough time (or energy) to get back to lunchtime yoga sessions at work, I finally went back to one of Wai’s ‘Yoga for Runners’ classes on Friday. It wasn’t a particularly demanding class, which was brilliant as I needed a gentle reintroduction!


I’ve been really struggling with my swimming recently. I’ve been able to battle on with my running whilst being unwell, but I’ve not got the swimming background to enable me to do that. I’ve finding it really hard to breathe, which has meant that doing more than 25m at a time has been really hard. I left one training session halfway through, which made me feel like I was letting myself and my coach down, I missed another session and although I trained on Monday this week, I took lots of rest. I really hope that I get well soon as I hate finding swimming this difficult.

Brighton Marathon

As I’ve been ill and my training has suffered, I’ve started to worry about Brighton Marathon. Originally, I had hoped that I would be able to complete it in 4:15, but I’ve now had to wave goodbye to that as being unrealistic. I’m still going to do the race and have every intention of finishing it, but should probably be happy with anything under 5 hours now.

Bramley 20 Mile

The night before Bramley 20 mile, I had the opportunity to catch up with two friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. This meant that I had to get my stuff ready before I went out.

Bramley 20 preparation

Bramley 20 preparation

I picked up all sorts of gels and drinks as well as making peanut butter sandwiches on granary bread and buying chocolate milk for afterwards.

I drove up to the race quite early. It was strange being on my own in the car as usually Stu comes to races with me and we often car share with other runners. After I arrived at the venue, I met up with a few other Lordshillers and was able to meet up with Teri as we had agreed to run together. We had enough time for a selfie before we had to line up. Teri was originally wearing a long-sleeved top under her charity vest as well as long tights and a buff, whereas I just had on a t-shirt and shorts, so Teri decided to remove her long-sleeved top at the last minute. Although it was quite cool, the sun was out and I’ve had problems with overheating recently, so I wanted to wear as little as possible.

Before the start of Bramley 20

Unfortunately, the race did not go as planned. I decided to go out strong from the start as that technique had served me well two years ago when I got a massive PB, but it wasn’t long before I started to feel warm. By 5 miles I was overheating, which is a bit worrying only a quarter of the way into a race, especially as it was below 7 degrees (<45 F). I decided to see how I felt when I got to 10 miles as I could drop out at that point if necessary.

By the time I got to 10 miles I was struggling, but I was also determined… I knew I had to do a 20 mile run as part of my marathon training and it would be easier to keep going than try to do it on another day. By 13 miles, I felt really sick. I managed to get Teri and Luana to go on without me, so that I was able to slow down and drink more.

I drank a lot of water as well as taking on energy gels, so I don’t think I was dehydrated, but by 16 miles, my fingers were so badly swollen that I was unable to curl them. I felt rough, but was still hoping that I could beat my time from last year (3:27). By 18 miles, I realised that I wasn’t going to beat 3:27, but I didn’t want to keep my friends waiting for too long as I had promised Teri a lift home.

I finally finished the race in 3:30, which was a big disappointment for me, but at least it had fulfilled it’s purpose, which was as a training run.

After Bramley 20

After Bramley 20

After the race, I had a stretch, got changed and drank some of my milk. I also tried to eat my sandwiches, but I just didn’t want them.

Overall, Bramley 20 is a great race, with lots of snacks in the goody bag and an attractive medal. It is also well-signposted and has some great marshals… although it’s sad that these signs were required after some people’s actions last year:

Signs at Bramley 20

Signs at Bramley 20

Bramley 20 race medal

Bramley 20 race medal

Last weekend’s long run

Despite not feeling up to it, I forced myself to go out for a long run with Teri on Saturday. I needed to do 15 miles and I wanted to include parkrun as it was Stuart’s 100th run. Teri blogged about the run here: http://gingergirlrunning.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/a-week-off-training-week-10/

Stretching on my long run with Teri

Stretching on my long run with Teri ©Teri Pragnell

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan our route well and wasn’t moving very quickly, so we didn’t manage to run 12 miles before parkrun. After we had finished parkrun, we needed to do another loop, so we picked up Steve and then continued on our run.

Teri and I after parkrun

Teri and I after parkrun © Teri Pragnell

Teri was on great form and managed a blistering pace at parkrun, but I ran significantly more slowly and struggled with it. I was glad that we had some extra company for the final loop, so that I didn’t have to talk as I was so out of breath. I was also starting to feel uncomfortable… fortunately, for you, the image above is quite dim as my shorts were very short. They look lovely, but the lack of fabric meant that I had a bit of chafing 😦

My birthday

It was my birthday last week, so I originally planned to spend the weekend celebrating, however, as I was feeling ill, we kept it low key.

I tried some lovely Brooks Pureflow shoes a few weeks ago and really liked them, but when I went to buy them, I found that I could only get them in black. Fortunately, after a bit of pleading Alton Sports managed to get me a pair in a beautiful shade of turquoise. I really hope that they look good with my Team SOAS kit… I know that the fit is more important than the colour, but I love it when my clothes match and nothing’s going to change that!!!

New Brooks shoes

I’m fortunate enough to have very kind and generous friends and relatives – here’s a snap of just a few of the cards and gifts that I received 🙂

My birthday presents and cards

My birthday presents and cards

One of the first presents that I opened was a lovely running top from my brother-in-law and his family:

New running top

New running top from Paul, Cheryl, Maya, Aaron and Nathan

Then I opened a present from Stu. It’s a lovely Castelli cycling top. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Castelli Flamma jersey

Castelli Flamma jersey from Stuart

One of the gifts from my in-laws was a pair of seal skinz socks. Stuart gave me a pair a while ago, but we can’t find them, so I’m very glad to have these as a replacement!

Some fasntastic sealskinz waterproof socks from Brian and Sally

Some fantastic sealskinz waterproof socks from Brian and Sally

I also received lots of presents that are not related to sports!

On Saturday afternoon, Stuart, Katherine and I went ice-skating. It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as usual as I felt really tired and was struggling to stay awake. It was also very busy as it was the end of half term week and people were also feeling inspired after the Winter Olympics in Sochi!

Embrace Sports

I’ve received lots of exciting parcels recently, one of which was my Embrace Sports kit that I ordered back in December. It’s a bit chilly here for me to wear the shorts on my bike, but I should be able to wear the top with my Wiggle bib tights and some black arm warmers until the weather gets better. (Although, I should be able to wear the shorts when I’m on the turbo trainer!)

IMG_1955 IMG_1956

World Book Night 2014

Ok, so this isn’t related to running, cycling, swimming or eating, but I thought I’d share it anyway. I’ve been selected as a World Book Night giver for 2014 🙂 I’ll be handing out copies of ‘Black Hills’ by Nora Roberts on 23rd April. I read it on holiday a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be a fun novel to distribute. If any of you are likely to see me between 23rd April and the start of May and would like to receive a copy, please let me know.

Charlton Duathlon and Winchester Duathlon

My first multisport event of the year was going to be Charlton Duathlon, but it was cancelled. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as I’ve been so ill that I don’t think I would have been able to do it (or at least to perform well). I now have to hope that I’m well enough to do Winchester Duathlon later on this month. It was my first ever multisport event last year, so I’m hoping that I smash my time.

The guys at Try Tri challenged me to ‘trinominate’ some people to get involved in triathlons this year. I had to get into an unusual position and then ‘trinominate’ people to make a video. If you want to know what I sound like (and see the beautiful location where I was brought up), watch the video on Facebook.


Now that we’re into March, it’s getting tantalisingly close to my kit arriving – I can’t wait!

Team SOAS kit update

Team SOAS kit update – it will be arriving soon!

I just love the detail that has gone into every aspect of this kit. Look how gorgeous the arm warmers are!

SOAS arm warmers

I also had a moment of fame on the Team SOAS Racing Blog:

I've achieved fame on the Team SOAS website!

I’ve achieved fame on the Team SOAS website!

If you pop along and visit there, you might spot me: http://teamsoasracing.com/our-athletes.html

November Project

This is something really cool that I read about online this week. Have you heard of it before? It seems to have similar aspirations to parkrun:

November Project™ is a FREE fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in multiple cities in across four time zones in North America, the movement is using a simple sense of accountability (verbal) to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving. Our members vary from Olympic medalists, professional athletes, marathoners, triathletes, current and former collegiate athletes all the way to complete fitness rookies and recent couch potatoes just looking to kickstart their healthy life choices. If you think that you’re not fit enough to join the group, stop thinking and come see what the fuss is all about.

You can read more about it here: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/11/november-project-free-fitness

If anyone lives in the Southampton area and meets the criteria to set this up locally, then I’d love to join in!


I’ve had a few problems with my hybrid bike recently (which were exacerbated by the number of trees that I’ve had to carry it over… it’s been very windy here), so I’ve not been cycling to work every day. Anyway, I recently learned about two useful websites:

  • Veloviewer.com This website makes it easy to extract data from Strava.
  • Tapiriik.com This website syncs your data with Strava, GarminConnect, RunKeeper, DropBox, Training Peaks and Sport Tracks.

Breeze Bike Champion

I’ve signed up to become a Breeze Bike Champion, so that I can encourage other women to go out cycling. The training is in a couple of weeks’ time and I’m really looking forward to it.

Well, sorry that’s all a bit of a jumble. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post another update tomorrow!

Birthday running

4 Mar

Well, it’s been a few days since I last posted as I’ve been so busy.

The big event on my birthday was the Heartbreak Half – a 14 mile race out in the New Forest that is known for its steep hills. The course had been altered slightly from last year’s route, but that didn’t make it any less tough. The start of the race is at the foot of an enormous mountain. Luckily I was aware of what was ahead, so I took it fairly steadily with Irene. The course wound its way out of the caravan park and out onto the main road. Just before the turn off into the forest, I noticed a runner making his way towards us on the road. He seemed to be running too quickly to be an early casualty, so it seemed odd that he was going against the flow of the runners… it took me several moments to realise that it was my husband who had run the 18 miles from our house to cheer me on. What a hero!

Heartbreak Half race number

Heartbreak Half race number

During the race, several runners spoke to Irene and I including someone who ran Paris marathon last year. She told me that 80% of the runners are male, so women in the crowd are very supportive whenever a woman runs past.

Last year, I found the Heartbreak Half to be incredibly difficult. I struggled with hip and leg pain and ended up walking quite a few of the hills. This year I felt on great form and didn’t feel the need to walk at any time. I particularly enjoyed running down the final hill and am convinced that I could have run it at least 5 minutes faster than my eventual time. Anyway, I had decided to enjoy it as it was my birthday, so I took it steady and still managed a PB. This has helped me to feel more confident that I can do well at Paris.

In the evening, I had my first swimming lesson. I was incredibly nervous, but the instructor was friendly and reassuring. There are 3 other people in my group, an older lady called Victoria, a young Portuguese woman and a Chinese lad called Liu. Liu was absent, so there were only 3 of us. The first thing we were asked to do was to swim a length of crawl, so I had to remind the instructor that I can’t do it. He asked me to try, so I managed to move from one end of the other by waving my arms around. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and the instructor thinks that if we can work on my breathing I should be OK. We did quite a few drills to focus on crawl breathing, including one that involved swimming on my side with one arm stretched out in front of me. I didn’t like it much as I was convinced that I would swallow lots of water.

After a while spent on crawl, we did a couple of lengths of back stroke. This is the stroke that I find easiest as I don’t need to worry about my breathing. Unfortunately, I was too focussed on travelling down the pool quickly and didn’t spend enough time concentrating on my legs. I now know that I kick from the knees and not from my hips, so I will have to work on that.

Next, we moved onto breaststroke. I was feeling quite confident that I would be able to hold my own for this part. The instructor told me that I need to slow down and not bring my arms in such a wide sweep. I thought I did really well, doing two strokes underwater and one stroke out… it was only when I spoke to Stuart in the evening that he pointed out that in competition your head must come out of the water once in each stroke. Doh! I never knew that before, so clearly there’s a lot that I have to work on.

Overall, I think I made progress even during the one lesson as I feel more confident and understand a lot more about how each stroke should work.

After swimming, I drove down to Sprinkles Gelato for my birthday treat of an ice-cream sundae. It broke all of my diet rules, but it was my birthday!

On Monday evening, Irene and I were leading a circuit training session with our running group. Irene wasn’t confident about leading the exercises, so we agreed that she would devise various running/hopping/stepping exercises and lead half of the group through those. Half the group did an exercise while the other half ran and then they swapped. This seemed like a great idea until I realised that I would have to spend 45 minutes squatting and doing various other strength training exercises. I’m never impressed when an instructor expects people to do things that they wouldn’t do themselves, so I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it!

On Tuesday and Thursday morning, I did Run Camp. It wasn’t too bad, but the squats were hard work after Monday evening. It’s quite nice that it’s getting lighter in the mornings, but a disadvantage is that The Common seems to be getting busier, so we have to move out of the way for bikes more often. I think the exercises are working as it was quite hard to do squats first of all and now I can do one-legged jumping squats.

I didn’t swim on Monday morning as I was feeling exhausted, but I did swim on Wednesday morning. It seems odd not to be focussing on counting lengths and going as fast as possible, but I’m hoping that working on my technique will pay dividends in the end. I did quite a few arm exercises and tried to do a length of crawl, but I still feel very self-conscious.

On Wednesday evening, I went to see Pete at YouMassageTherapy for a sports massage. The last few times I’ve visited, I’ve had holistic massages and deep tissue massages, so I had forgotten how painful sports massages can be. I really must get myself into the habit of stretching properly after running. Pete only focussed on my neck and thighs. I felt so bruised afterwards and was stiff on Thursday. I hope it’s doing me good.

I was tempted to be lazy and not run on Thursday evening, but then realised that ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’, so I laced up my shoes and headed out for the social run. There were quite a few people there, which was good. We did a run that went to The Common and then when we got there, we headed towards Glen Eyre before going back to Oasis. I managed to chat to quite a few different people, which was good.On Friday evening, Wai was unable to take our Yoga for Runners class, so her friend Zhao was taking the class. Zhao is very enthusiastic, but used to stronger, more flexible people than us. We did a lot of core exercises and I was disappointed by how weak I have become. I really miss the abs and core classes that I used to do at Bournemouth University. My arms also seemed to be very feeble 😦

On Saturday, I had an entire day’s break from running as I was Run Directing at parkrun. It was a pretty stressful event as 2/3 stopwatches didn’t start, but fortunately, I was able to resolve it all in the end – phew!Yesterday, I managed to get myself back into the swing of things. I had planned to run to the CC6 (cross-country race) at Fleming Park with Kirsty and then run home again, but I came across two problems. Firstly, Kirsty was ill and unable to run. For most people, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m a social runner and I find it hard to run alone as I like to chat. My second problem was that Stu pointed out that he thought it was 7 miles to Fleming Park and I didn’t get myself ready on time. yet again, I had to remind myself that I can’t quit now, so I left home and realised that I’d just have to do the best I could.

The route from my house to Fleming Park is mostly downhill, which was a relief, but I was still concerned that I might not get there on time. I had worked out a safe route to get there, but it was quite a long route, so I foolishly took my life in my hands and ran about half a mile down a busy dual carriageway to try to cut some of the distance. The roundabout by the motorway was quiet, so I was able to sneak across and managed to cut the distance down to 9.5km (under 6 miles), so I arrived with enough time to change into my trail shoes.

As women’s captain of my running club, I am aware that some people expect me to be one of the club’s fastest runners, however, my role is to participate in events and encourage others to attend. I knew I wouldn’t be one of the scoring runners for my club, so I enjoyed the 4 mile route whilst chatting to Irene. Rob and Stu had been for a long run, so they ran about half a mile of the route with us before heading home. At the end of the CC6, I stopped long enough to congratulate the female runner from my club who won the series and for the men’s team to be crowned winners (and to eat a slice of cake) before it was time for me to run home. My training schedule told me that I should run 20 miles, but my Garmin is set in kms and I reset it at the start of each run, so I didn’t do the maths properly and only ended up running 19 miles, which was annoying as I had enough energy to run another mile – grrr! Oh well, at least I was still feeling strong after running that far.

In the evening, I had my second swimming lesson, which was even more of a success than the last one. We did a few lengths of crawl, backstroke and breaststroke, before doing some breaststroke drills. We had to do two kicks to each arm stroke. It felt odd, but my breathing worked better. Then we moved onto to trying butterfly and tumble turns. We had to swim half a length, turn and then swim half a length back. My first half-length seemed OK until I remembered that I hadn’t been using my legs properly. The second half-length was better. The tumble turns and somersaults in the water were rubbish. I was too afraid that I would somehow get stuck underwater and drown. Victoria tried to reassure me by telling me that after the initial panic apparently drowning is a peaceful experience. That does not reassure me. I think I need to spend some time in a pool with Stu learning how to somersault. I saw this article on Facebook on doing sub 10 hour triathlons on less than 10 hours of training and thought it was interesting:


I also saw this post on how to “Super Charge your new training Phase” By Neil Aitken of Embrace Sports: http://www.run-fast-retail.net/know-how/super-charge-c-378_486_491.html

I was sent this link to an Open Water swimming article written by Chrissie Wellington: http://www.220triathlon.com/article/chrissie-wellington%E2%80%99s-guide-open-water-pt-15

Oh well, I’d better publish this now, or I’ll never get back to date!!!