Tag Archives: duathlon

Embrace Sports 15/10/14 Hell on the hills duathlon

15 Oct

The schedule for Wednesday showed that it was one of the workouts that I was most nervous about: Hell on the Hills duathlon.

Wednesday schedule

I promise I wasn’t drinking when I took this photo!

Last year I had a melt down on the first run during the duathlon as I was so afraid that I would crash my bike trying to cycle up the hill. Earlier in the week, I had asked Graeme if we could practice on the hill and he had sprung it on me, so that I had no option but to cycle up it. This gave me confidence that I would be able to do it on the day.

I was familiar with the course for the event: we would start in the middle of one hill, so we would run up it, down the other side, back down past the start to the beach at the bottom and back up to the middle before doing it three times on a bike and then once again on foot.

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I completed the event in 1:30:24, so the challenge for next year is to finish it in under 1:30.

In the afternoon, our activity was some pool swimming at the 50m outdoor pool.


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Swimming analysis:



Massive PB! Winchester Duathlon

16 Mar

Today’s IDEAfit photo a day image was meant to be ‘rest’, but I don’t know what that is. As an alternative, I’ve included this great motivational statement from Team SOS team-mate Linda:

linda soas

Here’s some motivation from fellow Brand Ambassador Linda

Winchester Duathlon was my first multisport event last year, so I was excited about returning to the event, and I was hopeful that I could get a PB, with a second goal of finishing in under 2 hours.

We got up early and had plenty of time to set up in transition, although some people had arrived far earlier than us. Fortunately, this gave me plenty of time to chat to people. It was also good tha I felt quite excited about the event, rather than nervous.

I have a track pump at home, but apart from that, I’ve always cycled with Stuart or other people in a group (and there’s a track pump available at work), so I don’t have my own bike pump. I phoned Katherine who agreed to bring a pump for me. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit into my tiny bike bag, so it helped to make my clothing choice: if I wore my new Castelli jersey then there would be a pocket to put it in!

Before Winchester Duathlon

Before Winchester Duathlon

After I’d racked up, Katherine and I sat down in the athletics building as there wasn’t a lot else to do (apart from take selfies!)

Tamsyn and Katherine before Winchester Duathlon

Katherine and I before Winchester Duathlon

Waiting before the start of Winchester Duathlon

Waiting before the start of Winchester Duathlon

Chris Rees, one of the directors from Try Tri came in and was chatting to us about how slow some people were last year – I had to remind him that I was one of those people and that it had taken even longer than he remembered (2:16:45).

Katheirne and Stuart before Winchester Duathlon

Katherine and Stuart before Winchester Duathlon

Stuart then came and joined us for a chat. He was completely relaxed, even though it was his first ever duathlon.

The weather was significantly better than last year (torrential rain and hail), but it was still quite cold, so I wasn’t sure about what to wear. In the end, I thought that just a trisuit would be fine as I get so hot when I’m running.

We went outside where Chris gave a short race briefing and then we lined up for the start. There were two events taking place: the sprint distance and a novice race.The novice race was starting 15 minutes after our event, so I knew that I would need to keep  steady pace if I wanted to avoid being passed by lots of people and not arrive in transition when it was really busy.

Race briefing Winchester Duathlon 2 Race briefing Winchester Duathlon 1

We lined up, and then we were off! I decided to put my headband around my neck to save time in transition, as I didn’t want to cycle without it.

Start of the run

Start of the run

I managed to keep pace with Katherine for the first lap, but then she realised that she was slacking off, so she sped up. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to catch up with her, but I kept pushing and my run time wasn’t too bad.

Winchester run 1 Winchester run 2

As I got towards transition, I put my headband on and twisted my race number around. I wasn’t brave enough to try mounting my bike with the shoes already clipped on, so I had to put on my helmet, gloves and shoes, as well as my jacket. I than ran towards the dismount line (holding onto my bike’s saddle in the hope that it would make it easier for me to run!) The photos of me running are pretty unflattering, but there weren’t any of me on my bike 😦

Leaving transition 1Leaving transition 1 (2)

I set off fairly quickly on my bike and was pleased to start passing people. The main hill on the route is near the start and this year I was determined to cycle all of the way up it. It was longer than I remembered, but I managed to remain seated for the entire hill and also passed a few people on the way up… I suspect they were novices, but it still felt pretty good.

I had hoped to use my Garmin to keep an eye on my speed, but I realised that I must have stopped it when I put on my jacket and wasn’t sure what to do, so I just ignored it and decided to push as hard as I could. I kept trading places with a couple of men, overtaking them on the way up hills, only for them to pass me on the way down. Eventually, we got to a longer and steeper hill. They were clearly tiring as both of them were out of their saddles almost immediately, so I felt very smug passing them whilst seated… I even took a tip from Chrissie Wellington and made my breathing as effortless as possible, in the hope of psyching out my opponents. I’m not sure whether it had an effect, but I kept on pedalling and didn’t dare to look back for quite a while. It was quite a relief to realise that I had left my opponents behind.

As I neared the athletics stadium, I decided that I should try a flying dismount, so I undid the velcro straps on my shoes and rested my feet on top, so that I was still able to pedal. I was a little nervous that I would mess up, but it went surprisingly well and I felt really pleased with myself. I changed my shoes, removed by jacket, helmet and glasses and headed back out for my second run. In hindsight, I should have had a drink, but that’s a lesson I’ve learnt.

The second run was much harder than the first as I was feeling fatigued and it had started to get quite hot. There were also fewer people for me to chase, which is something that I find motivational. I saw Stuart the first time around, but was disappointed that I didn’t see him on my second lap – I didn’t realise that he was on a massage table and could still see me.

Stuart finishing Winchester Duathlon

Stuart finishing Winchester Duathlon

I was grateful that there were some shady areas, and I made the most of them wherever possible.

End of the run

End of the run

I was also grateful that I had worn a matching crop top under my trisuit as I needed to unzip it a little – it felt unbearably warm. I was running very slowly and by the time I was heading for the finish, many of the other triathletes had collected their bikes from transition and were leaving.

Finishing the run

Finishing the run

I was so glad when I finished the run…

Finishing Winchester Duathlon 1Finishing Winchester Duathlon

…and even more delighted when I found out that not only had I smashed last year’s time, but that I had also finished comfortably under 2 hours 🙂

Thank you sign


I looked up my results from last year and can see where I’ve improved and what I need to work on.

Winchester duathlon results

Winchester duathlon results

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my results and although I think my first run was quite good this year, I am amazed at how well I ran last year. My first transition was also slower than last year, but this can be attributed to the fact that I had to change my shoes and put on cycling glasses this year. My bike was the discipline where I have made the most improvement, and I’m a little disappointed that there is no photographic evidence of how much effort I was putting in. I knocked over 21 minutes off last year’s time – part of this can be attributed to riding a more appropriate bike, but I am also a more confident cyclist now. My second transition was better than last year – possibly because of my dismount and the fact that I didn’t have problems removing my bike helmet this year! My second run was slower than last year. I really wanted to pick up the pace, but was feeling absolutely shattered by this time.

After the race, I had a chance to explore the goody bag, which includes a free open water swimming pass that is good for a month. I prefer swimming outside to being in a pool, although I don’t love the cold.

Winchester Duathlon goodies

Winchester Duathlon goodies

The medal is quite attractive.

Winchester Duathlon medal

Winchester Duathlon medal

So, my final result was a massive PB of over 20 minutes. Although I’m struggling with running right now, this makes me feel really happy.

Embrace Sports Algarve Triathlon Holiday – Day 5

6 Nov
Day 5 schedule

Day 5 schedule

This was the most stressful day of the holiday for me. I know it was supposed to be a fun challenge, but I found the hill challenge very difficult in January: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/268718708 and as I had become increasing aware of my incompetence on a bike, I just didn’t think that I had the ability to repeatedly cycle up a very steep hill. I would love to be able to state with pride that I overcame my fears, but I can’t. I allowed the stress to get to me, and did something entirely uncharacteristic by quitting.

I started on the first hill, but just didn’t have it in my heart to do the event. I was stressed and upset, which was making me feel sick. I tried to run down the first hill, which should have been easy as I love running downhill, but every time I glanced at my garmin it said 8:30/km, which is horrendously slow. I knew that it must be accurate though as I could already see John and Stu speeding back up the hill towards me. This made me feel more and more upset, but I tried to pull myself together. Unfortunately, I felt so overwhelmed by emotion that (combined with my lack of warm up) I was unable to regulate my breathing. Thoughts went through my head of just turning around at that point, but it felt like it would be cheating, so I carried on.

When I got to the cone, I turned around and wouldn’t let myself stop and walk. I kept hoping that I would suddenly feel better, as I knew I would hate myself for being a quitter and a failure, but I was also dreading continuing on with the trudge whilst everyone else had to wait and politely clap for me.

Garmin data for failed duathlon

Garmin data for failed duathlon

As I saw the centre point where Graeme was, I crossed the road went over to the van and got my jumper out. I explained that I was done, and moved myself out of the way as John was already heading back for his first transition.


John © Embrace SportsZPhidPqdDWWHKNyQgHJL5fS423fDZt8zc_zRrnnkCQk

I was glad that I had sunglasses on as I felt so frustrated and disappointed with myself that I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. This was the moment that I was most afraid of. I had let myself down in January and had desperately hoped that I wouldn’t do the same again, but I had failed and it made me feel very sad.

Kat kept smiling throughout the duathlon

Kat kept smiling throughout the duathlon © Embrace Sports

Stu was glad when he finished cycling

Stu was glad when he finished cycling © Embrace Sports


Denny © Embrace Sports


Max © Embrace Sports


Claire © Embrace Sports



Denny posing

Denny posing © Embrace Sports

After the others had all come in and collected their bikes, Graeme kindly asked me whether I wanted to try a bike lap, which could have been a chance for redemption, but I was still too afraid of failure, so I didn’t take his offer.

Unfortunately, Jen was struggling with hip pain, so she didn’t finish her three bike laps and limped in to join Graeme and I. I wouldn’t wish injury on anyone, but it made me feel slightly better that I wasn’t the only DNF.

After a little while of brooding, I was able to pull myself together enough to do a bit of cheering for the others.

John running
John running © Embrace Sports

Stu © Embrace Sports
Claire © Embrace Sports
Poppy running
Poppy running © Embrace Sports

After the event had finished, we cycled back to the apartments, where others commiserated with me. I knew whilst thinking about quitting that I would feel angry with myself later, but I also knew that I couldn’t finish the event.

In the afternoon, we went for a recovery swim. It was great fun as it was very sunny, the water was warm, and there were lots of fish in the sea. As usual, we buddied up to swim around the rock, but as we weren’t training hard, it was possible for me to swim with Jen and Andy/Kat. We also played around in the shallows and I had a go at doing a handstand in the water for the first time. It was very strange. I’d like to think that my years of yoga and gymnastics have made me good at doing handstands, but I found it really hard. In the end Max and Kat had to try to help me, as I just couldn’t kick my legs up out of the water. Maybe at some stage, I’ll be able to try this in a swimming pool.

I also swam out to the first rock that you can see in the picture below to look at the fish there with Stu. I haven’t done many tumble turns recently, either, so I had a little go at practising those. I was so glad that we did the recovery swim as it helped to banish some of my sadness and disappointment from the morning.

Recovery swim
Recovery swim © Embrace Sports

In the late afternoon, we packed into the minibuses and travelled to a local beach that is flat and several kilometres long. Neil spoke to the whole group (runners and triathletes) about the basics of running form, including some information about foot strike and body positioning. It’s always helpful to have a reminder, although it’s definitely not possible to correct everything in one session!!!

Preparing for the running form class
Preparing for the running form class © Embrace Sports

We were then set a challenge – we had to run as far as we could down the beach in 12.5 minutes before turning and then running back for 12.5 minutes. In January, this was one of the runs that I found most difficult, as running on sand takes a lot of effort. However, I wanted to try to do well on this occasion, and I was better prepared as I wasn’t wearing shoes.

Before our 12.5 minute x 2 run
Before our 12.5 minute x 2 run © Embrace Sports

I ran at a sensible pace on the way out as I didn’t want to run out of energy. As I wasn’t putting too much pressure on myself, I managed to do about a mile in 12 minutes, and was able to maintain a similar pace on the way back. I think I managed to run more consistently than some of the others, who went out very quickly, but couldn’t return at the same speed.

Beach run
Beach run © Embrace Sports

When we had finished running, some people decided to paddle as the sea was a bit like an ice bath. Andy Ormesher dived in fully clothed for a swim, and quite a few of the others went in thigh-deep… including Dushen and John, who were surprised by a big wave!

Dushen and John got a little wet
Dushen and John got a little wet © Embrace Sports

Sadly, it was then time to head back to the apartments, as we had to get ready to go out for dinner at Vlad’s.

Heading onto the beach
Heading onto the beach © Embrace Sports
Garmin data for beach run
Garmin data for beach run

Garmin data for beach run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161307


Nearly 35

15 Feb

In 9 days time I will be 35 and I’m dissatisfied with my life. Despite losing weight before my 30th birthday, I’ve put nearly all of it back on and I’m not as fit as I’d like to be, so I’ve decided to set myself a five-year challenge:


This is going to be a massive challenge for me. I will have 17 hours to:

  • swim 2.4 miles
  • cycle 112 miles
  • run 26.2 miles

I’m already a runner, so the marathon seems like the easy bit at the moment. I run most days and have completed two marathons. I’m currently training for Paris Marathon in April 2013. However, I am not a good runner; I’m just enthusiastic. My RunBritain ranking is on the slide from a high of 16.9 in April 2012 to today’s low of 17.9 – exactly where it was a year ago 😦

I cycle to work every day… BUT that’s only about 5k/3 miles. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really cycled further than 10 miles before. I have entered Winchester Duathlon on 17/03/13, so I’d better get on my bike!!!

I try to swim before work at least three days a week… BUT until December, I had never put my face in the water and I can only do breaststroke and backstroke. I had a swimming assessment this week and am going to start swimming lessons on my 35th birthday. I was told to go into the intermediate group, but it’s full, so I’m plunging into the advanced group – eek!

Another facet of this challenge is that in order to swim/cycle/run well, I need to eat more healthily and lose weight. I currently weigh 10st 13lb (69.4kg). I want to get back to weighing 9st (57kg).

I was motivated to attempt this challenge by going on an amazing running holiday in The Algarve led by Embrace Sports. I am hoping that I may be able to go on a triathlon holiday in October/November, but I need to work on my swimming ability and confidence by then.

I may enter a triathlon this summer, but it will depend on whether I can improve my swimming to a good enough standard. I will also need to learn to swim in open water. I hope that I can enter Ferndown try-a-tri. This triathlon would be convenient as it is where my in-laws live and the short distance means that I think my husband may be persuaded to enter with me. It’s a 400m pool swim, 11.5 mile bike ride and 5k run. My nieces and nephews may evne be interested in enter the children’s events.

I currently record all of my running on my Garmin 405cx. Occasionally, I use it on my bike. I upload all of my data to Garmin Connect – I’m listed as Tamsyn Smith.

I’m hoping that along the way I will run a sub 25 minute 5k and also complete an ultramarathon. I’m tempted by the Classic Quarter as it is an ultra that is close to where I’m from.

I’ve taken out a trial subscription to 220 Triathlon in the hope that it will keep me inspired.

I’m ladies captain of Lordshill Road Runners (Southampton’s friendliest running club) and I receive running coaching from Ant Gritton a triathlete who runs Run Camp.