Tag Archives: Brighton Marathon

2014 race awards

18 Dec
For this post, I’ve linked up with Montana at Pretty Lil Mudder  and a few other fab fitness bloggers – be sure to check out their posts. Here are my 2014 race awards… drum roll, please…
Most Scenic Course
For me this award has to go to Lanhydrock parkrun It’s in a beautiful location, but as the course profile shows, it’s not an easy route:
Lanhydrock parkrun course profile
The event takes place on a National Trust property, which is a stunning old country house. This photo of the gatehouse shows just how magnficent it is.
Most Challenging Course
This was a difficult award to decide on. The profile of Lanhydrock parkrun made it a runner up, but overall, I decided to present it to Adidas Thunder Run. This event is a 24 hour relay on a 10k cross country course. It has lots of different sections: uphill, downhill, short grass, compact ground, mud. The weather conditions were also quite warm.  I ended up running 50k as part of a 7-person relay team.
Best Expo
This was a tough choice as the only races that tend to have expos in the UK are marathons, and I only ran one this year (Brighton). In the end, I decided to award it to the Triathlon Show with Primera Tri Expo as runner up.
 IMG_1966 IMG_1965 IMG_1964
Best Post-Race Food/Beverages
Braishfield 5 mile beer race – beer, cake and water – what more can I say?
Best Swag
This was another tough category to judge. The goodie bag at Brighton Marathon was good, but the prize has to go to Good Fri Tri, where finishers were not only given a medal, some dried fruit, a drink and their choice of free gift (mug and coaster; bike bottle or buff), but also a lovely Cadbury’s Easter egg 🙂
Good Fri Tri finishers

Stuart and I before collecting our Easter eggs

Most Unique Medal
I loved the ribbon on my Brighton Marathon medal, but probably the one that I liked most was from Eastleigh triathlon:
TryTri have custom medals for every race 🙂
Favorite Race Shirt (tech tee or reg)
I’ve not received many tshirts from races this year. I quite liked the Wiggle Spring Sportive tshirt, but the one that I’ve worn the most is the  Gu Energy Classic tshirt from Bustinskin. It’s a wicking cotton tshirt that was produced in both men’s and women’s sizes 🙂
GU tshirt
Favorite Overall Race
I really enjoyed taking part in Weymouth Half. An advantage of taking part in triathlons is that the order of the disciplines is the same as my confidence levels. I started the day feeling nervous, but my confidence soared when I was on the bike and although my run didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, the crowds were brilliant. The whole event was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.
Tamsyn running in Weymouth

It was such a relief to see the finish arch © Katherine Anteney

Best Course Support (aid stations, volunteers, people cheering you on, etc)
I loved the crowd support at Weymouth Half… but there wasn’t a huge amount of support out on the bike course. I’m awarding this one to Brighton Marathon as I desperately needed the crowd support during this race and it didn’t let me down!
14 miles © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

Race You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing
This has to be Weymouth Half – as someone who couldn’t swim 18 months before the race, it has taken a lot of hard work and determination to get to a stage where I could take part in this race. I also had various health battles this year, so I was proud to make the start line and even prouder to finish!
Lap 3 © Marathon-photos

Lap 3 © Marathon-photos

I’d recommend checking out which races my fellow Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors have presented their awards to:
Which events that you took part in this year would you give prizes to?

Brighton Marathon: I high-fived Paula Radcliffe!!!

6 Apr

So, today was the big day. For the past few weeks, I’ve postponed everything saying that I would ‘do it after Brighton’.

Stu and I woke up at 5:30am and I sprang out of bed, ready to make my porridge. Today I opted for 30g oats, 20g dried apricots, 30g ground almonds, a drop of vanilla essence and 1tsp golden syrup, microwaved with some water. Whilst it was cooling (I hate HOT porridge), I got dressed. The weather forecast had been for wind and rain, but given my problems with overheating, I decided not to change my planned outfit: my black SportZone double layer shorts, Lordshill t-shirt, headband (depending on the temperature), Nike dri-fit elite socks, turquoise Compress Sport calf guards, Shock Absorber ball sports bra and Brooks Vapors.

I wasted a bit of time, so Stu and I didn’t leave the house until 6:25am, but I wasn’t too worried as I knew that the roads would be fairly quiet.

We came off the main road and went straight into a traffic jam for the Mill Road park and ride. I saw other people get out of their cars and walk, but I didn’t feel ready to leave Stu at that point (7:40am), so I stayed for a while, but by the time it got to 8am, I thought I’d better get out as the instructions said that the last bus would leave the park and ride at 8:15am and I didn’t want to miss it.

I walked down a hill and crossed a road by a roundabout. I’d seen another girl get out of a car. She had flagged down a park and ride bus as she had seen another woman get on it. I jogged over and was able to get on with her. This was a fortunate move as when we got to the bus stop, there was a massive queue. I chatted to the other runner, who told me that she was called Rosie, was 24 and from Birmingham. She had planned to run the race with a friend, but her friend got injured, so she was doing it on her own and aiming for 5 hours.

The journey to the start was about 2 miles, so it didn’t take long for us to get there. I then went to queue for a toilet with Rosie. All of the queues were enormous, so it took quite a long time, but I wasn’t worried as we had over half an hour before the race would start.Finally, I made it to the front of the queue – what a relief.

Near the baggage lorries, I saw a man applying vaseline. I decided it might be prudent to apply some more, but I had forgotten mine, so I asked the man if I could have some. I removed my trousers and hoodie and rubbed a bit of vaseline on my legs to prevent chafing. I then took out my bin bag, handed in my bag and headed towards the start. I realised that I still had my headband around my neck, so I pulled it up. I wasn’t sure whether I would need it, but rain had been forecast, so I thought it might be useful.

On the way to the start line, I saw Matt White, a fellow LRR runner, so I popped over to wish him luck and then went to the start line. There was some nervous chatter and I realised that I hadn’t put a pacing band on, but I wasn’t too fussed as I figured that some mental arithmetic might help to distract me along the way. I also realised that it felt quite warm, so I removed my bin bag.

Brighton Marathon Map

Brighton Marathon Map

My corral started moving forwards and I could see the start line. As I got near, I realised that Paula Radcliffe was on my side of the road, high-fiving runners crossing the start line. She is one of my running heroes, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. I headed straight for her and was so excited to high five her.


Just a minute down the road, I saw Stu and Ant, so that was another couple of high fives in the bag. I was aware that we had to run a loop around the park as we’d already seen some of the elite runners go past as we were heading to the start line. What I didn’t know was that we had to go up a hill. We went around a corner and I was amused that although we were only a mile or so into the race, men were already dashing off to water the plants! I felt warm, so I removed my headband and wrapped it around my arm. As I headed towards where we had started, I spotted Ant and Stu again, so I threw my headband to them.

I felt quite pleased with my 5km time of 0:30:16.


in this part of the race, I saw Simon on the other side of the road and shouted, but I don’t think he heard me. Then Sarah spotted me from the other side of the road – she was running incognito in an orange t-shirt, which was not what I was expecting. After I turned back on the loop, I was really excited to see Reena, who was looking strong. She had headphones in, so I really had to shout for her to hear me, but I was glad that I got her attention.  I then saw Stu with Ant again at about 4.5 miles.

I was relieved to find that I was still running at a sensible and consistent pace when I hit 10km in  1:00:23.


As I was coming up to 7 miles, I kept looking at the other side of the road, trying to spot the speedy Lordshillers. I thought I might see Steve, but he was a long way ahead, so I missed him. I finally saw Simon looking really strong and then as I was trucking up the hill, I saw my friend Deano windmilling down the other side. I shouted out to him and he responded. There weren’t many spectators at this point on the course and it felt quite hilly, so there was not a lot of chat going on.

I thought that as I’d done 10km, I should take on some nutrition, so I had a caffeinated cherry shot blok. I was hoping for an instant boost, but to be honest, I didn’t really notice any difference 😦

We headed down a small side road that was quite congested. I wasn’t able to run at my own pace, which was really frustrating and people queuing into the road for the loos didn’t help. After I’d passed the turnaround point and got to about 8.5 miles, I saw Laura for the first time. I was quite surprised as I thought I’d started at the back of my corral and assumed that she’d be ahead of me, but I hadn’t realised that she’d started in a later corral.

Despite the hill, I was still running at a consistent pace and arrived at the 15km mat in 1:30:06.


My initial troubles started as we were heading up the hill. It had become really congested and I couldn’t work out why as the path hadn’t narrowed. I skipped up the grass verge and started moving faster. I then realised that it was so congested as I was stuck in the lass of people around the 4:30 pacer. I wondered whether I should stick with the group, but I hadn’t been enjoying running at their pace, so I thought I would be better off doing my own thing and running according to how i felt.

I then started heading down the hill which felt great. The pacer had shouted out that there were no more hills left, so I was feeling really pumped. I wasn’t having to pay too much attention to what was going on around me as it wasn’t too busy… or so I thought. Suddenly, something hit me and I was totally winded! A woman up ahead had dropped and gel and instead of ignoring it and carrying on (she had on one of those gel-belts with enough gels to feed all of the elite runners!) she had turned around and run back straight into me. It threw me for a second, and being terribly English, I even apologised, although on reflection, it was hardly my fault.

Anyway, I managed to pull myself together and was still doing an OK pace, so I reached 20km in 2:01:17.


I was quite excited about running the 20-25km segment as I knew that I would have completed half the race and was also expecting some good crowd support along the sea front.

As I turned a corner, I heard the first cheers from LRR supporters: Mike J. and Di. Then just a little further along, I heard the cheers from Team Cleeves on the other side of the road, who were probably awaiting Steve who was much further ahead than me. The next people who I saw were Stu and Ant. I had intended to speak to Stu at this point, but I was too busy chomping on my first energy gel to be able to speak. Oops!

The path then turned away from the seafront, which is where I got my first glimpse of the LRR support crew (at about 14 miles). I was a little bit dazed to see so many of them, but I think it was Irene, Emily, Pete, Rosie and Kirsty – thanks guys 🙂

Smiling because I can see my friends © Emily Smith

Smiling because I can see my friends © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

I was still doing surprisingly well and hit 25k in 2:33:27.


The next part of the course was a bit warmer as we were away from the seafront and the crowds were not as thick. It was also the part of the race that I dread the most, as I often find 16-20 miles the hardest part of long distance races. However, I was feeling confident that I might beat my dismal time for 20 miles from Bramley this year, so I kept going.

I had been picking up squeezy water cartons at every drinks stop and on this section of the course, I really doused myself with the water as I could tell that I was starting to get quite hot and I didn’t want to have to walk as I was feeling OK.

At some point in this section, Laura passed me looking strong. It was nice to talk to her for a little while, and I was suprised that it hadn’t happened sooner as I was expecting her to finish the race in about 4:15.

Overall, I was still doing OK as I reached 30k in 3:07:28.


Miles 19-21 were heading west towards the power station. They felt really tough as it’s at the point when you’ve already run a long way and you’re also aware of just how much further you have to go. I’m not sure exactly what the time was when I passed the 20 mile marker, but I was pleased that I was faster than when I did Bramley 20 earlier this year. At about that time, I saw sarah on teh other side. We both nodded to acknowledge each other, but neither of us managed to shout or really wave as I think we were both starting to feel the effort.

I had really started to slow at this point and hit 35k in 3:45:21, but at least I knew that unless something terrible happened, I ought to get a time under 5 hours, which was a relief.


The last 7.2km were really hard. I desperately wanted to pick up the pace, but my legs wouldn’t obey me.I was looking for any motivation that I could get and did not have enough energy to dodge around people, so I had to say ‘excuse me’ repeatedly to people who were walking in groups.

Somewhere around the 23 mile point, I saw the LRR crew again, which lifted my spirits and Stu also kept popping up. It was a little depressing to see how quickly he could run to the next point whilst wearing jeans and fashion trainers, but I was grateful that he was doing his best to help me.

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

Stu also reminded me of the phrase that Irene and I always used to use on long runs: ‘parkrun to go’, which makes 5km seem like an easy and managebale distance when you’re tired.

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith


24.5 miles or thereabouts © Emily Smith

© Emily Smith

© Emily Smith

I did spend a lot of time thinking about my posture when I felt tired and I was grateful that I didn’t have a drinks belt weighing me down, but Stu managed to get a photo of me jogging up the last slope where my posture was terrible – oh dear 😦

Heading up a slope at 25 miles © Stuart Smith

Heading up a slope at 25 miles © Stuart Smith

The crowd were really good for the last couple of miles and a lot of people were shouting my name (as it’s on my t-shirt), which made it hard to know whether they were friends or just kind supporters. (The ones shouting ‘Tasmin’ were clearly just kind supporters). I did my best to look around and thank people, even if it was just a little thumbs up, but I didn’t recognise everyone. Somewhere around the 25 mile point, one of my schoolfriends, Alex, was cheering me on, which was really kind of her. I just hope I wasn’t looking too haggard at that point as I had really slowed up and was being passed by elderly people.

My final km split was at 40km:4:22:18.

I desperately wanted to sprint to the line, but my legs just wouldn’t go any faster and as it wasn’t going to be a PB, there just didn’t seem to be any point. I finally crossed the line in


which is about 20 minutes faster than I had hoped for, so I felt quite pleased.


Here’s all of my Garmin data for the race.

Garmin data for Brighton Marathon

Garmin data for Brighton Marathon

I’m quite pleased with my cadence for the race as I really struggled towards the end. I didn’t check on it during the run, but was hoping to keep it at 180spm for the race.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 20.54.39

You can’t see how slowly I was running after 30km (which might be a good thing), but until then, I wasn’t doing too badly!

After crossing the finish line, I had to collect my medal, finisher’s t-shirt, a foil blanket, a carrier bag, a banana, some breakfast biscuits, a bottle of Gatorade and a carton of water. I was grateful for all of these items, but it would have been much easier if they’d all been placed in a bag for me.

I was desperate to just curl up and sleep, but we had to keep walking and I’d agreed to meet Stuart in the finishers’ area by the ‘S’ sign. When I got there, I sat down and removed my shoes before eating some of the food. It didn’t take Stu long to arrive and after I’d used the foil blanket as a modesty sheet to change out of my shorts, we started walking in the direction of the buses… or so we thought. We crossed a road and asked the people there for directions to the park and ride. They pointed west, so we walked quite a long way before we decided to ask someone else for directions. Aaaarrgghh – we had walked nearly two miles away from where the buses were collecting people, so we had to walk all of the way back.

We finally got on a bus and after quite a while, we were dropped off at the bottom of the park and ride. I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t a field or a car park, just a long steep hill with cars parked at the side of the road. Stu’s car was about a mile away, just a few cars from the end of the line. It probably did my legs good to keep moving, but I hadn’t planned to walk five miles after running so far!

When I got home, I had a large glass of water before showering and putting on my t-shirt (and medal)

With my finisher's tshirt and medal

With my finisher’s t-shirt and medal

I like the ribbon that the medal is on and it’s not a bad medal, but I was a little disappointed that the t-shirt is a cotton t-shirt and not a technical t-shirt, which means that it will be relegated to the back of my drawer, never to be seen again!

I’m now trying out the Actipatch that I was sent, whilst kicking back with a pizza!

Celebration pizza

Celebration pizza

All-in-all, it hasn’t been a bad day!

Here’s the stats:

I was 505/956 in my age group (Women 35-44)

5438th/8506 overall in 4:39:44

1453/3031 out of the women (although I think this is incomplete data)



I’ve been to Hull and back…

5 Apr

I seem to be constantly playing catch up at the moment and don’t have enough time to blog. I joked with friends that Brighton will be the first marathon I’ve done without anyone to chat to on the way around and that perhaps I should use Siri with the WordPress app on my iPhone to ‘write’ my blogpost on the way around, and I’m actually starting to think that might be a good idea (although 5 hours of me rambling might mean that all of you unsubscribe/swear never to visit here again!!!)

I’ve done very little in terms of training this week. Monday was the first night when I didn’t have to Run Lead, so I planned to go to the early swimming session with the Tri Club. Unfortunately, I wasted too much time faffing around, so I knew I wouldn’t make it there on time. I then thought I would make it there in time for the 8pm session, but I was feeling tired and when it started pouring with rain, I was put off. My car was at the garage as it failed it’s MOT and I didn’t want to get my bike back out of the shed to cycle to the pool in the rain, knowing that it would be nearly 10pm by the time I got home. Thinking back, I came up with too many excuses for myself, but I just felt exhausted.

On Tuesday, I went on a day trip to Hull with a work colleague to share digital literacies ideas with colleagues there. It was a really helpful visit that I got a lot out of, but it was also exhausting. On the way, Fiona and I got to stop at Kings Cross Platform 9 3/4:


I was back at work on Wednesday and then on Thursday I worked from home as I had so much planning that I needed to do and I thought I’d get a lot more of it done if there were no-one around for me to talk to. I always used to worry that people would see working from home as an easy option, but I always end up doing far more than when I’m at work – I started at 8am and didn’t finish until 10pm, with only 40 minutes for lunch. I also remembered some things that I had forgotten this morning, so I did them before going out, even though I had booked the day off!

Anyway, today’s activity was going to Brighton Marathon Expo, to collect my race number. Stu and I had a bit of a lie in before he drove me to the Brighton Centre, where I didn’t have to queue too long to pick up my number.

Collecting my race number

Collecting my race number

The race number is one of the ones that incorporates a chip on the back, which is convenient.

Brighton Marathon number

Brighton Marathon number

We were also issued with a goodie bag that included:

  • various leaflets
  • teapigs lemon and ginger teabag
  • 2 sachets of spatone
  • 3 sachets of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 sachet of Nikwax base wash
  • 1 bottle of glaceau vitamin water i-focus kiwi strawberry
  • an issue of Outdoor Fitness
  • an Outdoor Fitness buff.

Most of that will be useful, although the Worcestershire sauce will be donated to my husband.

It was then time to browse the Expo. The first stand was by Saucony as they’re the main sponsors of the marathon. It was quite crowded, but I was disappointed by the small range of stock that was on show – I had expected there to be far more to look at and a few more bargains. We then wandered around the rest of the exhibition, but there weren’t many items that caught my eye. I managed to resist the Bondi Bands. I had hoped that there would be some lovely racer back sports bras to wear under my Team SOAS kit, but there were very few bras in that style.

We then had a look at the Nuffield Health stand where there were two smoothie bikes. Initially, Stu and I thought it might be a speed/distance challenge, but it was quite interesting as there was a computer screen with some characters on it, each one relating to one of the bikes. The aim was to keep the characters on a path by going faster or slower… whilst also blending your smoothie. I thought Stu looked like he was in the lead, but I won! My prize was a bottle, but we were both winners as we got to drink the smoothies we had made!

With our smoothies from the Nuffield Health bikes

With our smoothies from the Nuffield Health bikes

Nuffield health bottle

Nuffield health bottle

We went over to the Gatorade stand as they were offering samples of what will be out on the course. The orange drink was a little weak, so I may try another flavour during the race, although mainly I’ll stick to water (especially if it’s cold and wet).

Opposite the Gatorade stand was a map of the course. We studied it for a bit and I’m hoping that I’ll see Stu at 14, 18 and 24 miles, as the last part of the race is the toughest. I also picked up some pacing bands: 4:30, 4:45 and 5:00. All of those might be optimistic, but I’m refusing to contemplate anything over five hours, as it’ll be too painful! I’m not good at pacing, but might start out at the pace for 4:30, knowing that I’m likely to fade in the second half. Realistically, I always start too fast and have never managed a negative split, so I have no idea what will happen tomorrow!

A selection of pacing bands

A selection of pacing bands

We then had a look at some more clothes. There were some really lovely visors for sale, but none of them fitted my tiny head 😦 So, we headed off to the Compress Sport stand as I wanted to buy some calf guards. Stuart recommends them. I’ve run three of my four marathons in Skins compression tights, but I did the New Forest Marathon in shorts as it was so hot. I’ll be wearing shorts for Brighton, but some calf guards might help with my tight calves.

Compress Sport calf guards

Compress Sport calf guards

Before we left the Brighton Centre, I had a sports massage. Fortunately I had a pair of shorts with me! The price was £15 for 20 minutes, but as it wasn’t busy, I had 35 mins 🙂 My legs had been feeling very tight, and they felt much better afterwards, so I’m glad I stopped.

Stu and I then had burritos for lunch and had a bit of time to look around the Lanes in Brighton. I would love to spend more time here – especially looking in the jewellery shops! I tried to hint that it’s about time I got an eternity ring, but I think that might take a bit more nagging! (Traditionally, they’re given after the birth of your first child OR ten years of marriage, so I’m assuming Stu is waiting for a baby!)

We had just enough time to glance at the Royal Pavilion before heading back to the car.

Royal Pavilion

Royal Pavilion

In other news this week, I’ve been looking at a few interesting running apps on my phone. I’ve installed:

  • Nudge – combines sports data with other healthy living info.
  • Localeikki – helps you to find places to run/walk/cycle… unfortunately, the nearest places are 600+ miles away at the moment!
  • Waterlogged – logs how much water you drink and send you reminders
  • Beatrun – find music on your iPhone that matches your cadence

Have you tried any of these apps? What do you think?

I’ve also splashed out and have paid for a domain name for the next five years… but don’t hold your breath as it’ll probably take me that long to work out the technical stuff! I don’t think I’m ready to move from where I am right now, but it’s nice to know that I’ve got it 🙂

Challenge Weymouth have been drip-feeding information to all of their athletes about the event. One piece of good news is that the average sea temperature in Weymouth is 17C in September. That’s not exactly tropical and there’s no risk that wetsuits will be banned, but it’s not unpleasantly cold!

Next week brings some excitement as well, as I’m going sailing. Watch out for a post where I tell you all about it 🙂

Sailing details

We’ve also received the information about the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive, which takes place next weekend. Unfortunately, it is on Sunday, so I won’t be able to support my friends who are running London Marathon, but I will try to keep an eye on their progress on the app.

What are you doing this weekend?

Last long run before Brighton

29 Mar

Here is today’s IDEAfit photo a day image to fit with the theme of ‘gratitude’.

Stu at Sprinkles Gelato

Stu at Sprinkles Gelato

I am so grateful that I’ve got the most amazing husband. We’ve lived together for almost 16 years and I still think he’s (almost) perfect. Plus he takes me on dates to the ice-cream parlour!

Stephanie soas

The perfect sentiment from Stephanie for today’s blog post.

I’ve been a bit negative recently, but I’m trying to turn that around. Several bloggers have mentioned Gretchen Ruben’s book ‘The Happiness Project’, so I used my birthday amazon vouchers from my brother and nephew to buy a copy. It’s full of interesting ideas that I’m trying to incorporate into my life to make me happier. It’s very easy to be negative, but there are many things that I should be grateful for: I’ve got a fantastic husband, a job that I challenges me and gives me lots of opportunities, plenty of friends, a comfortable home and even if I’m not 100%, I’m still well enough to participate in lots of activities that I enjoy.

So, what have I been up to today? I was meant to be Run Directing at parkrun, but I also wanted to get in my last long run before Brighton Marathon (10 miles), so Stuart kindly agreed to look after parkrun for me. I left my house at 7:15am and ran to meet Teri at 7:30am. We then set off for a trip around The Common and the Sports Centre, as we wanted to get in 11-12km before the start of parkrun.

I was quite excited about going for a run as it was my first chance to wear my brand new Team SOAS running kit. It looked a little chilly outside, but the sun was shining and once I’d got moving, it wasn’t too bad. Once we were on The Common, Teri and I decided to take some selfies to commemorate our last long run together before our marathons (Teri is doing London Marathon, which is the week after my marathon).

Teri and I on The Common

Teri and I on The Common

We then carried on with our run, enjoying the chance to chat (and grateful that we had given ourselves plenty of time to cover the distance). We managed to time our run fairly well, so that we didn’t have to hang around for too long before the start of parkrun.

Teri sped off for parkrun (completing it in 24:49, which isn’t a PB for her, but is an excellent time for someone who has already run 7 miles!) I just wanted to complete the run in 30 minutes, so I teamed up with Becky who is just coming back from a bad ankle injury. She clearly hasn’t lost any of her fitness as she was quite happy to chat to me on the way up the hills (when I was not breathing easily), and we were happy to finish in just over 29 minutes.

Wearing my new SOAS kit at parkrun

Wearing some of my new SOAS kit at parkrun

After the results from parkrun had been processed, Stu and I decided to make the most of the sunshine, so we went out into our garden to clean our bikes. I have to admit that I’ve never cleaned my hybrid bike (sorry, bike!), so it took a little while to remove all of the mud and I reckon it now weighs significantly less. (I take much more care of my road bike!) I ran out of chain cleaner before I’d finished scrubbing it clean, but it is now a hundred times better and should be easier to ride!

After all of the scrubbing, Stu and I decided to go into town to search for a few items, and then we headed to Sprinkles. Stu chose a waffle with Nutella, crushed oreos and banana; I chose a sundae with coconut and pistachio ice-creams and chocolate sauce. It was delicious!

Tomorrow, we’re intending to go on a 60km bike ride, so I’ll have the chance to use some more of my new Team SOAS kit 😀

My first visit to Brighton

26 Mar

Here is today’s IDEAfit photo a day image:

Cherry blossom quote

Cherry blossom quote

The theme was quote. I saw this beautiful cherry blossom tree on my way to the station this morning and it looked so beautiful that I had to take a photograph. I decided to superimpose on it a quotation that emphasises the transcience of life and the importance of living in the moment. Too often I worry about the future, instead of focussing on today.

Anyway, today I needed to go to Brighton to present at a conference. I’ve wanted to go to Brighton for so long, but I was expecting my marathon visit to be my first visit.

The train journey was comfortable and uneventful and it was just a short walk from the station to the Brighton Centre. I didn’t get to see much of Brighton itself, but I did get to see the sea and the remains of the West Pier that was destroyed in a fire 11 years ago. The next time I’m here, I’ll be out running!


West Pier

No more marathons

24 Mar

Here is today’s IDEAfit photo a day image to go with the caption ‘style’:

Castelli Flamma jersey

Castelli Flamma jersey from Stuart

I thought this blog post from Girls Gone Sporty on ‘Reasons not to sign up for the next race’ was particularly apt for how I’m feeling now: http://www.girlsgonesporty.com/articles/fitness/reasons-not-to-sign-up-for-the-next-race/ 

Essentially, the arguments against signing up for a that are listed are:

  • Don’t run if your performance is suffering
  • Don’t run if you’re not feeling motivated
  • Avoid overtraining
  • Decide whether the race fits into your overall training strategy
  • Don’t run if you’re injured.

Right now, my performance are suffering, which is never motivational and I’m also running races that I don’t feel excited about entering – I’m doing them because I feel I have to. I don’t think I’m overtraining, but I have to remember that I’m a triathlete now and not just a runner, so I never have as much time as I used… and I’m working longer hours than I’m used to. I’m not injured, but I am still not feeling 100% after my illness, so racing probably isn’t helping me. As soon as Brighton Marathon is over with, I’ll be taking a break with plenty of sleep and some healthy food thrown in!

Today’s email from Brighton Marathon has told me that one of my idols, Paula Radcliffe, will be at the Expo… but on Saturday. I’d love to meet her, but I’ve planned to go to the Expo on Friday, so that I can rest on Saturday.

Anyway, I’ve managed to get some training in today. I cycled to and from work (as usual), and also made it to LRR training, although as I was coaching, I didn’t do an awful lot of running myself. That was just as well as I felt entirely exhausted. Then it was on to The Quays for my Tri Club swimming session.

I was nervous about swimming as I’ve had a lot of bad swims, but tonight was a good night. There were only three of us in the lane and the drills seemed to play to my strengths. We had a new warm up (200m front crawl, followed by 100m kicking) and then moved onto the main set. We had to swim 50m breathing every 3 strokes, followed by 50m breathing every 5 strokes. One of my lane mates commented on how difficult he found breathing every 5 strokes, so I commented that that’s how I usually breathe… unfortunately, that meant that Coach Peter made me breathe every 7 strokes. I was hyperventilating on every three strokes and then found I could do 25m of every 7, but then couldn’t quite get past 20m on the way back! This was followed by 25m kicking on our fronts, 25m kicking on our backs, 25m on our fronts and 25m on our backs. I’m not sure why, but I seem to find those drills relatively easy in relation to my lane mates, so I was able to have a nice breather at the end of each of them. After doing that a few times, we finished off our session with 400m front crawl, followed by 150m breast stroke, which is also a stroke that I enjoy. After not wanting to go out and train, it actually turned out to be a session that I loved (and was able to complete!)

Inspiration and Eastleigh 10k

23 Mar

Here is today’s IDEAfit photo a day image:

Inspiration - Graeme and Kat

Inspiration – Graeme and Kat

The topic is ‘Inspiration’ and these two are some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. (N.B. The photo isn’t mine – I think it was taken by a member of the Embrace Sports team).

I’m also continuing the theme of sharing one of the Team SOAS Brand Ambassador’s images each day. Sue’s quote seemed particularly apt:

sue soas

I’m with fellow Brand Ambassador Sue on this one!

Talking about women and inspiration, I’m hoping that I’ll get to see this movie when it’s released: http://halftheroad.com/ It’s outrageous that in this day and age, such inequality still exists. The film features Chrissie Wellington, who is another inspirational figure for me. Whilst I was away, I read her autobiography (“A life without limits – a world champion’s journey“) and was blown away by her journey. She’s also a patron of GOTribal, so that’s a common link for us!

I’ve now got a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fatgirltoironman – please feel free to pop over there and follow me 🙂 I’ve been doing really badly at keeping up to date with my blog – I’m determined to get myself back on track, but if you want some brief updates, Facebook will let you know what’s happening!

Brighton marathon info

I’ve also realised that it’s now two weeks until Brighton Marathon. I feel more stressed about this marathon than any race I’ve ever done before. I guess this is for several reasons – my illness and workload mean that I’ve not managed to keep up with a good training schedule and I’m not feeling fit and healthy. I also don’t know anyone who is running at my pace, so I will have to do the whole 26.2 miles without chatting to anyone. Can I remain silent for 5 hours?! When I entered the race, I was feeling strong, so I’m in the blue corral with the 4:00-4:30 hour runners – I’ve only managed that time once and I was on form then! I’ve booked the Friday before Brighton Marathon off work, so that Stu and I can go to the marathon expo to pick up my race number (and maybe do a bit of shopping). I’m hoping it will give me a chance to relax before the race, so that I’m not rushing around doing everything on race day. It is possible to download an app to follow me – just search for ‘Brighton Marathon’.

Anyway, today’s big event was Eastleigh 10k, which I planned to follow up with a run home, so that I got my final long run as marathon preparation in. I arrived at Fleming Park leisure centre nice and early, which gave me a chance to pick up my number, chip and tshirt.

My Eastleigh 10k number

My Eastleigh 10k number

This year's 'vibrant' tshirt design

This year’s ‘vibrant’ tshirt design

The unflattering photo below shows that I wasn’t feeling particularly enthusiastic about the race.

Preparing for Eastleigh 10k

Preparing for Eastleigh 10k (Paul A. Hammond)

I pinned on my number, but then had a lot of time to kill before the start of the race.

Pinning on my Eastleigh number

Pinning on my Eastleigh number (Paul A. Hammond)

I aimed to complete the race in about 55 minutes. I think I did it in about 53:30 last year and it’s the race where I got my 10k PB of 51:06 back in 2012… one day I’m determined to get back to that!

I started the race with Teri and did about 3.5km with her, but it was quite warm and I didn’t want to hold her up. As it’s a local race, there were quite a few spectators who I recognised and conversely they recognised me. My favourite local photographer (Paul Hammond) was in attendance, so I blew him a kiss as I ran past.

Eastleigh 10k

Eastleigh 10k

At about 7km, I saw Luana, one of the ladies from my running club up ahead. I know that I run better when I have a challenge, so to make myself push I tried to catch up with her. I was starting to feel better as I’d been able to take on some water and also threw two cups over myself, so I was no longer over-heating. Eventually, I managed to catch up with Luana, but she wasn’t going to give up without a fight, so we ran almost 2km neck and neck. Finally, I was able to edge ahead as we made it to the last stretch of the course which is in the grounds of the leisure centre.

I wasn’t particularly pleased with my time as I came 1551st today in 55:48, but I don’t think this week’s travelling, unusual food and lack of sleep were ideal preparation for the race.

After the race, I met up with Teri, Luana, Steve, Sarah and Loraine who all wanted to extend their run. The images above show that it was a sunny day, and as I mentioned, I was worried about overheating. This all changed very swiftly on the way home, where we were pelted with hail – ouch! I was still wearing the same outfit (minus my race number), so I was absolutely freezing. Fortunately, the sun came out again, just after Loraine and Luana left us.

Long run after Eastleigh

Long run after Eastleigh

We headed up to The Common where we did a little circuit before heading past Teri’s house and down towards my home. I had intended to run 24km today, but I was feeling tired and the sky had turned black again, so I decided that the 22km that we had done when we got to my house would be enough. It was definitely the right decision as it hailed again. The hail stones were enormous and Teri and Steve had to find shelter as they were still running.

The rest of my day has been spent unpacking and recovering – I feel shattered by today’s race and although I’m disappointed with my performance, I know I put some effort in as my chest muscles are aching and it hurts to breathe, which only happens when I’ve been trying hard!

My final thought for today… If you’re interested in learning more about stretching, check the videos that my coach has made: http://www.runcamp.co.uk/stretching.html

No water on the hottest run of the year :-(

9 Mar
kelly soas

The importance of self-image according to SOAS Ambassador Kelly.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about doing Salisbury 10 mile. Two years ago, it was held on an incredibly hot day. I got a 5k PB, but then had to ask Irene to leave me as I was overheating. At the five-mile drinks station, I stopped and had three cups of water, which meant that the marshals told me off, stating that “it’s against the rules”. I’ve still never heard of the rules that they’re referring to. Surely, the health and safety of the runners is of paramount importance? Last year, the day of the race was much colder (and wet), so although I wasn’t feeling on form, I managed to get a 10 mile PB.

This year I had realistic expectations of the race. I wanted it to form part of an 18 mile run. I wasn’t worried about my time, I just wanted to work on my nutrition strategies, or more specifically my hydration strategies, so that I finished the race feeling strong and not overheating. I spoke to Laura who is also training for Brighton Marathon, and we decided that we would do four miles before the race and then four miles afterwards. Before going to the race, I drank two pints of water, as I thought that might help with dehydration issues (especially as I drink at least a pint of water before going to work every day).

I collected Laura and we drove to Salisbury, arriving early enough for me to register (I’d forgotten to do it before online entries closed) and collect our numbers.

Salisbury race number

Salisbury race number

Laura and I the set out to do a gentle run before the race. We had been warned that it would be a hot day and I was grateful that I had just a t-shirt and shorts for the race. Even at 9am, the sun was up. Laura and I ended up doing just over 5km before the race started.

I started off near a group of other Lordshill Runners, but I had decided that I just wanted to run my own race, so I ignored the others and did not try to keep up, even though it was the club championship race. My focus was just on sticking to my strategy of drinking lots of water and eating gel sweets when necessary. We had been told that there would be drinks stations at 2, 4, 6 & 8 miles. As soon as I saw the 2 mile drinks station, I picked up a cup and drank all of it.

There weren’t many spectators out on the course, but there was a nice group of runners and it felt like I was running consistently, so I was happy. I managed to pass a few runners on the downhill, which made me feel good.

I reached 4 miles and was surprised that there wasn’t a drinks station there, but I remembered there being a drinks station at 5 miles in previous years, so I wasn’t too bothered. I decided that it would be good to drink some of the water that I was carrying, so I knocked back about half a bottle. Not far before the drinks station, I saw Inez’s partner Peter, so I gave him a wave.

I was starting to feel very hot, so I was really grateful that a drinks station was coming up. I put out two hands for water, but was told that they were running out and that I could only have one cup. It had less than 2cm of water in it, which was very disappointing. I kept moving and decided to drink the last bit of water that I had, reasoning that I could stock up at the next water station.

I tackled the largest hill on the course and was pleased to note that despite feeling very hot, I didn’t find it as difficult as I thought I might. I managed to chat a bit with some of the other runners, which helped to keep me feeling motivated.

Eventually, I got to the part of the course that I had seen on my pre-race run, so I knew that I was close to the water station. Imagine my feelings of despair when I found that the table had been taken down as they had run out of water. I was feeling so hot and it was already 1:24 into the race – I’ve run 10 miles in that time as part of a longer race before, but I still had two miles to go and was unbearably hot. I pressed on and saw some LRR supporters about a mile from the finish. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling very happy, so I shared my feelings about the race organisation with them.

Sals 2Sals 1

I knew that it wasn’t too far to get to the finish, but first I had to run past the track to get onto it and then run almost a full lap. I wanted to sprint, but was feeling really ill, so just kept staggering towards the finish line.

I crossed the line in 1:40:42, which is one of my slowest race times ever. I immediately drank a couple of glasses of water, which helped to make me feel a bit better.

Once I had revived a bit, I collected my race t-shirt and then asked whether the Race Director was around. Too many times before, I’ve not said what I’ve thought, so I decide that I should let him know about the problems with the race. Unfortunately, he seemed surprised that there wasn’t enough water on the course and responded with, “Well, at least you got a nice t-shirt”, which wasn’t really the response I was looking for.

I went back to the sports hall with Laura and Sarah to collect our bags, before heading off for the rest of our run. It was nice to have a fresh t-shirt to put on, and no pressure to move quickly. We headed along the river as we thought it would be cool, but the path was closed as it had been flooded, so we went across some fields instead. In the end, we managed to do another 7km.

Overall, I finished the race 630/694, which is very disappointing – I must start working on my speed as soon as I’ve completed my marathon.

I failed to find/take an IDEAfit photo a day image to go with the theme of music – sorry 😦

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!

Is it possible to add any more awesomeness into my weekend?

30 Jan
Linda soas

This motto, that was shared by a fellow Racing SOAS Ambassador, encapsulates my weekend!

Wow! What A busy weekend I had. It started with a 6am alarm call on Saturday morning, as I needed to do a long run as part of my marathon training. I had to leave the house at 7:10am to meet a friend, so I had just enough time to lace my shoes:

My new SweatPink shoelaces

The SweatPink shoelaces have come in really handy for me. I had two identical pairs of Brooks Vapors, so now I can differentiate between them, so that I’ll have a better idea of which pair I’ve been wearing and when I need to replace them.

It was dark when I left the house, but it was only a short run to where I was going to meet my friend, Teri. She’s training for London Marathon, which is a week after mine, so our schedules are not identical, but they’re close enough. After we’d been running for a while, we found ourselves on a motorway bridge, which gave us fantastic views of the morning sky and the sunrise. As usual, my photos don’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was beautiful!

Sunrise over motorway

Sometimes it’s worth getting up at 6am for a run!

The sunrise on our early run

The sunrise on our early run

Teri had planned a route which took us out the Chandler’s Ford via some back roads. She had programmed it all into her Garmin and apart from one tiny wobble, it worked really well. I don’t really know the area, but Teri has worked there for quite  long time and is familiar with it, so she was quite confident about where we were and where we needed to go. It also meant that we were able to meet up with Meryl, one of Teri’s friends who wanted to do a 10k run. Anyone who knows me knows that I talk a lot, but it’s always nice to add a fresh person to the conversation during a long run, as even I don’t always have enough to say for three hours!

Map reading

Teri and Meryl had a go at map reading

Although Teri had planned the route really well, we needed to ensure that we were going on a route that meant Meryl didn’t end up far from her starting point, which took a little bit of coordination… and gave me a couple of minutes to stretch and take some photos.

Trees in Chandlers Ford

It might look overcast, but the conditions were perfect for running

I hadn’t been sure about what to wear, but had settled on a lightweight long-sleeved Gore top with tights, gloves and a headband. It didn’t take long before I took off my gloves, but Chandler’s Ford has a microclimate of its own, so I put my headband back on when we got there and it stayed on for the rest of the run!

River in Chandlers Ford

We didn’t get wet, but there were streams everywhere

We were really lucky with the weather – it stayed dry and at times the sun came out, which made running quite difficult as the roads were so wet from overnight rain we were blinded! The temperature was ideal for running and I really enjoyed it.

When we got back to The Common, Teri and I posed for a quick photo before going our separate ways – she wanted to ensure that she had done 17 miles, whereas my house is further away, so I knew I’d make the distance. A quick check of my garmin when I gt home revealed that I’d run 17.5 miles… longer than I’d intended, but after missing my last two longs runs, it was a relief that I’d made it without curling up in pain. My knee and hip felt fine, so I was really happy!

17.5 miles done with Teri

17.5 miles done with Teri

While I was out running, Stu was on his way to Alton Sports, our local running shop, to pick up some new trainers. Usually, I would advise seeing an advisor in a specialist shop and trying on shoes before getting them, but this was different. Like last year, Brooks are running their ‘Try it on’ promotion, where it’s possible to borrow  brand new pair of shoes to try for a week before returning them. This entitles you to a £25 off voucher on any of their shoes – how brilliant is that?

Brooks try it on

Brooks try it on promotion

I knew I wanted another pair of Brooks Pure Cadence, but as I had the chance to try something different, I plumped for the Brooks Pure Flow, which are more minimal.

What shoes do you run in? Are you loyal to one brand? I love Brooks shoes as my main trainers, but swear by Salomon Speedcross for trail/cross-country. I’m also lucky that I can wear neutral shoes. Brooks Vapors are support shoes, but I’ve had them for a long time and they don’t cause any problems, so I’ve stuck with them.

Choosing The Right Type Of Running Shoes

I was hoping that when I opened the box, I would see this:

pure flow turquoise

I was hoping that I would get to try Brooks Pure Flow in turquoise to go with my Soas kit…

mainly because I liked the colours and as the Brooks UK website was showing 10x as many in that colour combination as the other choices, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that I would get turquoise shoes. Alas, it was not to be. When I opened the box, I realised I had the black and pink model:

Brooks Pureflow pink

Brooks Pure Flow pink

They’re attractive shoes and a brief test on one foot suggests that they will be comfy, but they won’t match my team SOAS kit! I’ll try them out at Monday night’s running club session to see what I think.

After I got back in from my run, I changed as quickly as I could, before going to collect Asa and heading to Steve’s house for a novice cyclist course. Although I ride to work every day, I’m still quite nervous on my road bike, so I thought it would be good to learn from an experienced cyclist. I really enjoy riding my bike and think it’s great that cycling is increasing in popularity.

The British Cycling Economy

In the first part of his session, Coach Steve went through how to do a basic bike set up and also how to do an M check. This is the kind of visual checklist that I find really helpful. Steve also gave us some reminders on what kit we should take with us on any cycling excursions.

The second part of the session was where we went outside on our bikes. We did a little warm up and Steve checked our balance by making everyone reach down to get their water bottle and then cycle along whilst holding it on their head. We then moved on to doing my favourite cycling drill – one-legged pedalling. We only had to do it for a very short distance, so I didn’t find it too hard! We then moved onto cornering. I didn’t crash, but I still find it hard not to brake after I’ve started turning, which is a bad habit that I need to get out of.

When we’d finished we went back into Steve’s to warm up with a cup of tea… and we also had some lovely cakes to celebrate Liz’s birthday. It was an opportunity for the group to chat, and Steve recommended Tiger Frog work outs: http://www.tigerfrog.co.uk/training.htm  for using on a turbo trainer.

When I got home, I had a shower and a short nap before getting ready for ‘The Billy Bash’, which is my running club’s annual award dinner.

Stu and I arrived shortly before everyone went into the dining room. We were pleased to find that we were on a table with some people that we get on well with.

There were some fantastic people on my table

There were some fantastic people on my table © Paul A. Hammond

As it wasn’t long after Christmas, there were crackers on the tables. The novelty items in the crackers seemed to be quite well received…

...including my Coach, Ant, (right) and work colleague, Rikki (left)

…including my Coach, Ant, (right) and work colleague, Rikki (left)

After dessert had been served, the awards ceremony began. I knew that I wouldn’t win anything for being fast (because I’m not), but I was pleased to be a joint winner of the club participation award with the latest women’s captain, Di. As I’ve decided to focus on triathlons this year, I know that I won’t win this prize again – I’m not entering all of the eligible races.

Club Participation Award winner for teh second year in a row!

Club Participation Award winner for the second year in a row! © Paul A. Hammond

2013 participation award

Here’s a close up of my trophy

After the trophies were handed out, the party began, with some people drinking quite a lot. I don’t drink alcohol, so I was happy to observe the proceedings, but I think the photo below shows that my husband had a few glasses of rum!

...and here's my greatest supporter (who had had a few rums by this stage!)

…and here’s my greatest supporter (who had had a few rums by this stage!) © Paul A. Hammond

I had hoped that I would lose weight before the event, as I had chosen quite a daring dress, but with all of the stress I’ve been under this month, that didn’t happen.

Back of Billy Bash dress

My dress was a little more daring than usual © Inez Walker

Overall, it was a good night out and I enjoyed having the opportunity to chat to a few people I don’t normally see.

The lovely Lordshill ladies at the 'Billy Bash'

The lovely Lordshill ladies at the ‘Billy Bash’ © Paul A. Hammond

On Sunday morning, Stuart and I got up fairly early to go for a long bike ride with Liz, Katherine and Suzanne. Several others had originally planned to join us, but the Billy Bash after party and the rain claimed a few victims.

It was raining hard when we left Southampton, but we hoped that the weather would improve. It didn’t feel too cold and I was enjoying chatting to Liz… but then an hour in, disaster struck – Suzanne got a puncture. Everyone was roped in to help… so I offered to hold bikes/equipment, as I know my limitations!

Repairing a puncture

Repairing a puncture © Liz Carter

Suzanne tyre decided to fight back, so it took quite a lot of persuasion with tyre levers to be able to get the inner tube out. After quite a while standing around in the pouring rain, we were glad when it was time to move on again.


Puncture © Liz Carter

Unfortunately, we had only been moving for a minute or so when Suzanne realised that her tyre had split and it wasn’t safe for her to continue riding. The only option was to slowly make our way to the local garden centre cafe and ask for Suzanne’s partner to come and collect her and her bike.

So glad to be in the warm

So glad to be in the warm © Liz Carter

As we knew that we would have to wait for a while, we thought we might as well take advantage of the facilities and order some snacks and drinks.

Liz at Hilliers

Liz loves a selfie! © Liz Carter

My medicinal hot chocolate

My medicinal hot chocolate

My hands were freezing, so I was very glad to have a large mug of hot chocolate to help warm them up.

Katherine was worried that there might not be any food!

Katherine was worried that there might not be any food!




After Piers collected Suzanne, we cycled back to Southampton before going out for a pub lunch – we definitely consume ore calories than we burnt off on Sunday – oops!

Everything has fallen apart a little this week as I’ve been working from 8am-10pm+ almost every day. I didn’t make it to running club on Monday, but I managed to get to Run Camp on Tuesday morning. We had to run for 3 minutes followed by a 3 minute break four times as well as doing some strength training. I found it tough this week.

Although I tweeted a few times on Tuesday, not everything appeared in my #TWIET (Tweet What I Eat Tuesday) , and what you did see wasn’t good:

IMG_1897 IMG_1898  IMG_1900 IMG_1901

I started out with chocolate brownie porridge, then had a muffin at iPAD Coffee Club, followed by an enormous burger at a work meal, although as the last image shoes, I didn’t manage to eat it all.

Yesterday, I got home from work too late to train and my visit to Weight Watchers wasn’t successful – not only had i put on weight, but I found that my group is being closed down, so I need to find an alternative. I didn’t go out running with my friends this morning as I needed to go to work. Fortunately, my big project is nearly ready to go live, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to training soon. I’ve got a long run scheduled for Saturday, followed by a meal with a couple of female friends who I haven’t seen for ages and then the second part of my novice cycling course on Sunday.

I found a little bit of time to watch this video this week – it made me laugh out loud several times:

How’s your week been?