Tag Archives: hell on the hills

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:



Embrace Sports 07/10/14 Hell on the hills.

7 Oct

Tuesday 7th October


Tuesday morning meant ‘hell on the hills’. 9.6km isn’t a long run, but when you realise that all of it was either uphill or downhill then you know what a challenge that is. Fortunately, it was a bit overcast, so it wasn’t as hot as it had been on some other days. I’ve done this session before, but my last attempt at running the first hill was as part of a duathlon last year. It didn’t go well, so I was a bit nervous.

Some of the other runners had quite a few beers the previous evening, so they weren’t feeling on top form, whereas I was feeling good, so I hoped that it would all go well for me. My first boost came when I managed to pass a few people on the downhill. I knew that I wouldn’t stay ahead of them, but it made me feel positive.


© Coach Andy leading the way. Not bad for a V50 😉


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Dan.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Amie impressed everyone with her speed and tenacity.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Jen.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Rachel.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Ed was doing well, despite his hangover.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Keith.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Rachel.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Jan.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Holly was injured and unable to run, so she was challenged to cycle the hills.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. George had managed to shake off her Bristolian pursuer…


© Embrace Sports, 2014. But Darren wasn’t going to give up without a fight.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Anna.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Neil.

When I was running up the first hill, I saw Kat on her way down. She is such a hugely inspirational athlete (and also a fellow Team SOS brand ambassador). On my way back towards the starting point, I could see Graeme cheering people on. He is one of the key influences who started me on this journey, so I was really happy to see him.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. I wasn’t trying to avoid the camera – I was getting rid of my sunglasses!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Super Kat!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Pamela.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Bernadette.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Ruth.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Anna in pursuit of Nadine.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Sally.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Sam.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Stu did really well 🙂


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Paul.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Holly.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Jen.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Lou.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Super-speedy Gaby.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. It was really great to see Graeme fresh from Ironman Barcelona.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Marcus.


© Embrace Sports, 2014.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Nico.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. I think this is a great photo of Ian – he looked so focussed, every time that we passed each other.

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I completed the event in 1:01:21, so I’ve got a great target for next time – I want to finish in under an hour 🙂 My average pace was 6:26/km, so I think I should be able to do better than that!

My Garmin stats.

My Garmin stats.

After we had finished running, we headed down to Praia de Porto de Mos, the nearby beach, where we took over the cafe.


Some of the others were interested in getting daiquiris, but Amie, Stuart and I were more interested in sampling the local pastel de nata (custard tarts).


I ordered a fruit juice, and managed to finish off all of my nuun before the juice arrived.

In the evening, we went to Vlad’s restaurant, Atalaia. Stu and I have been here before with Embrace Sports, so we knew what to expect: huge amounts of food. I ordered the vegetarian pasta and was quite relieved that the portion size wasn’t as large as on some previous visits!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Caroline and Jen.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Pamela, Paula and Marcus.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Our super-smiley flat-mate, Rachel.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Holly, Anna, Marcus and Gaby.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. The girls loved posing for the camera!

When we got back to our apartment, I was amused to get the following notification from RunKeeper:

New PB for running 7th October

That’s what happens when you record each rep as a separate run! 🙂


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