Tag Archives: Ironman Dublin 70.3

My 2015 race/event awards

27 Dec
This year has been hectic. I’ve taken part in a wider range of events than in any previous year. I’ve completed single and multisport events and gone further and faster than previously. I even won a race! Without further ado, here are my 2015 race awards… drum roll, please…
Most Scenic Course
The runner-up in this category is Heartbreak Tailwind 10. It is a picturesque course held in the New Forest.

The winner in this category is the Grand Shaftesbury Tri/Run weekend. St Giles House at Wimborne St Giles is the family home of the Shaftesburys and it made a stunning backdrop for these events:



Most Challenging Course

The runner-up in this category was Winchester Duathlon. I had assumed that it was going to be on the same course as previous years, which was very flat, but instead it took place on what felt like a mountain :-S

The winner of the most challenging course category is Brutal 10 Enduro. A single lap of this course wasn’t too bad, but running 50km on it at night-time wasn’t easy.
Tamsyn at Brutal 10
Winning pairs
Best Expo
This has to go to London marathon, which consistently has a good expo. It was also easy to choose this one, as no other event that I went to had a decent expo.
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I enjoyed watching Martin Yelling’s presentation on marathon running and also the interviews with elite runners.
Best Post-Race Food/Beverages
This is another hard category to judge. I enjoyed taking part in my Tri Club’s “Tim Wilks Day”, which is a timed swim, bike and run, followed by a delicious pub lunch, but it’s not really what is meant by post-race food, so I’m going to award this to Gridiron 100, which is a low-key randonnee that I took part in. Bacon sandwiches were available before the start of the event and then there were copious platters of biscuits and other snacks along the way, followed by some more food at the finish.
Best Swag
I’ve not received a lot of goodies at races this year, so I’m going to award this to Durlach Turmberglauf. At the end of this 10k, I received a glass with the race logo and as much water as I could drink. Given that the event only cost €6, I can’t complain about that!
Most Unique Medal
This has to go to Ironman Dublin 70.3:
Ironman Dublin 70.3 medal
This is a heavy medal with a beautifully decorated ribbon.
Favourite Race Shirt (tech tee or reg)
The runner up in this category is Salisbury 10 mile. Runners were presented with blue technical t-shirts at the end of this race – I’ve worn mine quite a few times:
Salisbury tshirt
The winner in this category is Thunder Run. The main sponsor is adidas, so of course, the technical t-shirt is a lovely adidas shirt:
TR24 tshirt

Best Course Support (aid stations, volunteers, people cheering you on, etc

For me there was no competition for this – it has to be Southampton Half Marathon. Various groups were challenged to be ‘mile makers’, which guaranteed crowds all of the way around the course. I saw many friends from Southampton Tri Club, SUTRI, Lordshill Road Runners and parkrun as well as work colleagues from University of Southampton. Although I went into this race with low expectations (of myself), the support of the crowd meant that I finished in a time that I was really proud of.

Event You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing
This has to be Scilly Swim Challenge. At the start of this year, I’d never swum more than 2km… and that wasn’t continuous, so this was a massive challenge for me. I may have had to be rescued for some of it, but completing the training and getting to the start line was an accomplishment in itself. It also meant that I took part in a variety of swimming events throughout the year. The event itself was really well organised and great fun – it’s already too late for you to sign up for 2016, but please do add it to your planning for 2017!
End of Scilly Swim with Bryony
Favourite Overall Event
The runner-up for my favourite overall event is St Michael’s Mount swim. It was a really fun evening and it gave me so much confidence.
tams SMM swim2
Overall, my favourite event was ABP Southampton Half Marathon. The crowd support was great as were the technical t-shirt and the medal. This is an event that will go from strength to strength, so I’m definitely going to do it again in 2016.
pub with Teri
Which events that you took part in this year would you give prizes to? What should I add to my bucket list?


Ironman Dublin 70.3 – The Run

10 Aug

I looked at my watch as I headed out and was shocked to see that it said about 4:30. I was confident that I could do the run in under 3 hours, so it would be a new PB for me, as long as I didn’t fall apart. There was also a faint hope that if I ran well, I might be able to take an hour off my previous PB.

The run was 20.1km as the transitions had been very long. I figured that if I could maintain 6:00/km then I would finish in about 2 hours.

As I headed out on a grass path towards the road, I felt great. My legs didn’t have that leaden feeling that so many people describe and I felt good. I could see Annabelle up ahead with her iPad and somewhere behind her were Claire and Stu. I gave them a big smile and some thumbs up and asked how Suzanne and Steve were doing. They said they were out on the run which was great.


Steve enjoying his run

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We had been told that the run course was really flat, but when you’re tired, every little incline feels like a mountain. There were crowds on some parts of the course, but much of it was fairly deserted (unlike Weymouth which seemed to have spectators everywhere). My favourite parts were the out and back sections, where I kept my eyes peeled in case I saw Suzanne or Steve, but we didn’t pass each other. I also did some SOAS spotting – one lady was wearing coral lummi and another had on the Barcelona kit, which is one of my favourites. I think she confused my husband as when he saw the kit he assumed it was me, at first!

After a while, I started to feel fatigued. I knew I hadn’t eaten enough on the bike, but the aid stations didn’t really have much. I’m not sure whether some of them had bananas, but most of them only had gels to eat. I had some water, and tried some powerade, but the flavour wasn’t appetising, so I had some flat Pepsi, washed down with water as I care about my teeth!

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The course was three laps long. The toughest part of the course was towards the start of each new lap – we had to run downhill with crowds cheering on either side. Halfway down was a turn around point, so finishers continued, but the rest of us with more laps to do had to turn around and slog our way back up the hill past the spectators. It felt tough. A few times, my breathing got ragged, but when I tried to use my inhaler at Weymouth, I dropped it and it fell apart. Bending over to pick it up really broke my stride, so I didn’t want to risk that again, which was probably a bit silly.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 20.31.37I was really struggling at this point. My back was painful and I have had bruises on the tops of my feet since my ‘unplanned dismount’ last week. I stopped and stretched very briefly before carrying on. Then I heard a shout. Lots of people had been calling my name (or ‘Tasmin’ as my name is just too uncommon for most people to be able to read it at a quick glance), but this person genuinely sounded like they knew me. I looked up and was really surprised to see Amie from our Embrace Sports holiday on her bike. It really gave me a lift and I managed to pick up the pace a little.

There was some good camaraderie out on the run course and lots of people made comments as they passed each other. I was also really impressed by the grit and determination shown by a large South African guy, who was really finding it hard but pushing on. I also liked the witty signs that a group of supporters had at the side of the road, with my favourite being: ‘Smile if you pee’d on the swim course’ – it made me laugh 🙂

On my second lap, an American runner, Rebecca, caught up with me and asked if we could run together. It was her first tri and I think she wanted some company. I was so grateful as our conversation helped to distract me from the fact that the miles were ticking away very slowly. Whilst we were running together we managed to pick up the pace. I was a little disappointed when I saw 6:27 tick past on my watch, but I was still confident that I could finish in under 7 hours.

Running towards the finish line with Rebecca © Claire Cooke

Running towards the finish line with Rebecca © Claire Cooke

Rebecca and I continued down the red carpet together. We saw her husband and she called out to him. I managed a little sprint at the end of the red carpet and tried to look happy instead of looking at my Garmin.

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After we’d crossed the line, Rebecca and I embraced as I think we were both grateful of each other’s support.

I collected my tshirt, medal and bottle of water, had my chip removed and then exited the finish area. Amie was there waiting – it was lovely to see her, I really appreciated it. I then went out and found Steve, Suzanne, Stu and the other supporters.

Overall, this was my best discipline. This shouldn’t surprise me as I was a runner before I became a triathlete and I am most confident about my running, but I found it such a struggle that I thought I would slip right down in the rankings! Because I had such a cracking run at Weymouth Classic recently, I thought that I might be able to maintain a pace of under 6:00/km, but that turned out to be totally unrealistic.

Weymouth run time: 2:26:38
Dublin run time: 2:17:13
Division rank: 64/107
Average pace: 6:30/km

Weymouth overall time: 7:27:54
Dublin overall time: 6:45:38
I know that it’s not possible to compare two different triathlons, with entirely different terrains, weather conditions and transitions, but I think that a 42:16  time difference must signal some improvement on my part. At the end of the swim, I assessed how I felt and was confident that I could do it again; at the end of the bike, I felt a little tied, but was sure that I could keep going; however, by the time I was 5km into the run, I felt shattered and just wanted it to be over. I definitely need to work on my cycling strength, bike handling skills and ability to fuel on my bike next year if an ironman attempt is ever going to be successful!


I decided to go wild and celebrate with an alcoholic beverage!

Post Dublin

The calm after the storm!


Wearing my new medal with pride


Ironman Dublin 70.3 finisher certificate


Ironman Dublin 70.3 – The Bike

10 Aug

I grabbed my bike as quickly as possible, attached my Garmin and ran towards the mount line. I was surprised to see that almost everyone else was holding onto their handlebars or bars and saddle – I may not be quick, but at least funny and pushing my bike whilst holding onto the saddle is something that I can do!

The race briefing and endless information about possible infringements had really out the fear into me. We had been warned that crossing the centre line could result in disqualification, so I was really torn about what to do. Lots of people seemed to be struggling to clip in and were weaving all over the road. In the end I decided that as there were already plenty of cyclists on the right hand side and that it was a closed road, I would probably be OK.

It was quite a fun heading out of Dun Laoghaire, as I recognised the road. I was feeling confident, but started to get a bit worried when I was passing people with aero helmets and disc wheels on  tri bikes… Did they know something I didn’t know? I wondered whether I had started out far too quickly. (Having driven along the same road this morning, I’ve realised that it was on a slight incline), but I’m surprised that some of the people I passed never passed me again, and the ones who did, too nearly 70km to do it!

At the bottom of the first hill

That’s me in the background © Action Photography


Starting to tackle the hill ©Action Photography

bottom of hill 2

Ready to go for it © Action Photography

Cycling up a hill

Tackling the hill – and still down on the drops 🙂 © Action Photography

I was very conscious that I shouldn’t draft, but quickly realised that if people passed me I didn’t need to freewheel as they were well out of range by the time I had counted to 10 (5 in most cases!)

I was surprised at how quickly I was in Dublin by the Liffey – a journey that had taken an hour in the car took a matter of minutes on a fast bike on a clear road (and by going via the toll bridge).

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I decided to change my Garmin screen to a screen that I was more familiar with, but I couldn’t find a cycling distance or average speed, so I decided that I would just have to aim to get each km split at 25kph.

I really miss the distance markers that are the norm at running races, but rare at triathlons. It’s really nice to be able to see the distance ticking off. There were pockets of support out on the course and despite my terrible bike handling skills, I was able to wave or give a thumbs up to some of the groups of children who were waving and cheering. (I know most of you won’t approve of this, but I’m sure Liz would think it was OK). A lot if the supporters seemed to be particularly encouraging to female triathletes, which I thought was really nice.

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About 15km in, I noticed something on my front tyre. My tyres have been on my road bike for just over two years, and although I don’t cycle as often as I should, it’s probably nearly time to change them. They have been incredibly reliable and I have only had one puncture (last summer in Cornwall on a horrible road), but I know they are starting to get worn, so I was really worried that it was a flap of rubber 😦 (My car tyre has a loose flap on the side, but the local mechanic has told me that it’s fine for now). I started to envision having a blow out whilst going at speed, which made me feel quite nervous. Many people will probably ask why I didn’t stop to investigate my tyre, but if it was damaged, what could I do? There were mobile mechanics on the course, but I had no idea where they might be and I didn’t have a spare tyre with me… And I only had one inner tube. I am also a lousy bike mechanic and dread to think about how long it would take me to replace an innertube in a race scenario. (*I checked my tyre after the race and found that it was a piece of black tape that had attached itself to my tyre – grrrr!)

Most of the roads were really smooth and well maintained, but the manhole covers made me a bit wary. As I got into Dublin, it started to rain – not hard, more of what I’d call ‘mizzle’, a misty drizzle that made it hard to see out of my sunglasses and made the roads feel greasy. Anyway, the manhole covers seemed to come in groups of 8, so I had to make sure that I aimed through the middle of them.

I panicked a few times on the bike course. I took one corner too quickly, hit some gravel and was lucky to maintain control of my bike, which made my heart beat a little faster. I also went to snack on some nuts when a course bike went to pass me. The motorcyclist said something to me and I was worried that I had inadvertently got too close to the woman in the front. (We had just gone through a feed station and quite a few bikes were in a clump). Luckily, the motorcyclist was just telling me to go ahead and that he would pass when there was more room. Later on, a marshal started waving a hits card at me. I really had no idea what rule I had broken and didn’t know what a white card penalty was. Luckily, I heard the woman behind calling out ‘thank you’ to him and realised that the marshal was simply being friendly and supportive! My last panic was when I tried to get something out of my overfill bento box and my tissues accidentally blew away. It wasn’t intentional littering, but there was no way I could safely stop and go back to retrieve them.

I saw a cyclist who had some kind of mechanical just as we reached the toll bridge in Dublin, another female cyclist who seemed to be having a puncture repair with the mobile van and one poor girl whose rear mech hanger had broken up a short hill after a tight corner, but I didn’t see anyone at the side of the road fixing a puncture on their own. However, I did see a huge numbers of items in the road: bottles, gels, bottle holders, bike bags, pumps and lots of high end sports sunglasses. I don’t think any of these were intentionally discarded.

There were a couple of km in the middle of the ride where I struggled to maintain a pace over 24kph and I found it tough to do well on the final hill, but my strategy of doing each km at over 25km/h paid off. Despite not having done very much cycling this year, my final average was 26.59km/h. I know the course was flatter than most, but I rarely ride for so long with no breaks at all.

I didn’t eat or drink as much as I should have done on the bike; I had two shot bloks, a dozen nuts, about 250ml of nuun Kona cola and 125ml water. I had packed a bottle of strawberry protein shake in my back pocket, but when I took it out to drink it, I realised that over half of it had gone – some had been spilled earlier in the day, but I think the rest was up my back 😦 I think I need to find a better way of packing things into my bento box, without my inhaler getting in the way.

We had been warned about a hill at about 85km and were told that the pub next to it (The Anglers’ Rest), would be a hotspot for spectators. Sadly, this was not to be – there were a few locals in the beer garden, but none of them seemed particularly interested in the spectacle on the road. One poor Irish lad had got off his bike and was pushing it. I called out some words of encouragement, but he explained that his legs had cramped up and he just couldn’t do it. The hill wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. There was then a flat section before another hill that took me by surprise. We then had a lovely smooth downhill section that took us to T2.

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Usually, I do a flying dismount, but I had absolutely no idea where the dismount line was (there was no indication at all about where it might be, and a 400m out sign might also have helped). I was also still stressed about what the rules were. It wasn’t clear whether we could leave our shoes on our bikes and I didn’t want to catch one on the grass and lose it (or be charged with littering!) Admittedly, as I have quite small feet, this isn’t that likely to happen, but there is a slim chance.

I was really pleased to learn that my bike splits improved as the race went on, although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by this as the second half of the ride was a net downhill, in comparison with the first half which was a net uphill. My average pace was 26.63km/h which is better than I’ve ever managed before.

Weymouth bike time: 3:47:02
Dublin bike time: 3:23:05
Division rank: 71

As I arrived on my bike, I saw Stuart, which was nice. I dismounted and immediately started running whilst holding my saddle. I found it very odd that most of the cyclists who were near me were merely walking with their bicycles – did they not know they were in a race?!!


My bike needed to be racked at the far end of the field, so I ran quite a long way, and then as I got to numbers near mine I slowed down to look for the right spot. Bikes seemed to have been racked in all directions and I was too tired to think of the correct way. I hung my bike up as best I could, prayed that it wasn’t some sort of violation and grabbed my Garmin before heading into the change tent.

Yet again, my bag was easy to locate. I picked it up and went over to the chairs. I hadn’t planned to change my socks and have never done that before, but my socks were very wet and I thought dry socks might help me to run faster without any risk of blisters. I changed socks and shoes, decided that I didn’t need sunglasses or a visor and had a swig of water. Time to go!

T2: 4:22

(Weymouth: 2:26)

Ironman Dublin 70.3 – The swim

10 Aug

We got up early and got ready quickly. Breakfast was just a Fuel protein porridge pot, but I was feeling so nervous that I didn’t think I could eat any more. We had agreed to meet Steve in the lobby at 6am, but we there ready and waiting by 5:50am. I was glad that we hadn’t stayed in central Dublin as we would have needed to get the shuttle bus out to Dun Laoghaire.

Preparing for Ironman Dublin 70.3

10 Aug

Stu and I drove to Holyhead on Thursday afternoon/evening. The traffic was heavy, so Stu did the first section on the motorway, and then I did the twisty bit on small roads in Wales. The scenery was absolutely stunning and several of the lakes and rivers we passed looked like they’d be great for swimming in, albeit somewhat cold.


We stayed in Holyhead overnight and then went to the ferry port in the morning. Steve texted to say that he was in the queue – we looked over and realised that we could see him. After we parked, we found a table on the ferry with enough room for us all to sit down.

I spy Steve and Suzanne's bikes

I spy Steve and Suzanne’s bikes

On arrival in Dublin, we headed straight for our hotel in Dun Laoghaire (Dunleary). The hotel had a lovely view across the bay, but we were not in sea view rooms. After a bit of time for unpacking, we decided to head into Dublin to register. An announcement had been made that it would be possible for run bags to be left in T2 at that time. In hindsight, we should have spent a bit more time preparing and doing that bit as it would have saved time later.


Steve kindly drove the five of us into Dublin. We parked up and went to register. It was a relatively easy process, although I was worried as Stu and I have not received English Triathlon cards yet and only had printed emails and screenshots. Fortunately, this was enough. I was surprised to be given a choice of hat colour – pink or white. I chose pink as I already have a hotel had (STC) and I don’t have a pink hat. However, I was a little frustrated that the women’s wave had been given such stereotypical colours. Stu got an orange hat and Steve was given a choice of two shades of green. We were also given nice rucksacks with our info in them and wrist bands were attached to us.

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After the (terrifying) race briefing, we had a look around the expo, but I was determined not to be tempted by anything. I liked the design of the official race kit, but I thought it might be tempting fate to buy something before the race, and also I can’t believe that any kit could be as comfortable as my SOAS kit. There were some good bargains to be had, but nothing was in sizes that would fit Stu and I – the items were mainly L or XL. There were also some cool MDot branded t-shirts, but I wouldn’t want people to assume that I have completed an ironman.

By the time we got back to the hotel, everyone was feeling tired and hungry. I had looked up places to eat in Dun Laoghaire and Olivetos, the hotel restaurant, had a good reputation and some positive reviews on trip adviser, so we decided to eat there. It was a good choice. The restaurant had a pizza oven and the pizzas were delicious. I ordered a chorizo pizza with mushrooms instead of chorizo as the other ingredients, including pine nuts, rocket and spinach, sounded good. I couldn’t eat the whole pizza, but I did manage to squeeze in some tiramisu!

Steve and Stu waiting on the prom

Steve and Stu didn’t seem too impressed by our antics on the beach


Annabelle found a tiny crab

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T1 before the bikes arrived.

After eating, we went for a stroll along the promenade. The sea looked beautifully calm and the bay was quite sheltered, but I learnt at Weymouth just how quickly sea conditions can change. Steve and I went down to the water’s edge and dipped our hands in. It was a little cool, but didn’t feel horrendous, which was good.IMG_6026

On Saturday morning, there was an acclimatisation swim from 9-11am and bike racking was available for most of the day. We agree to meet the Cookes at 9am to stroll down to the swim area. I was surprised that Steve already had his wetsuit and dry robe on, as it was fairly warm.

Scotsman's Cove

Scotsman’s Cove


The small bay seemed fairly busy and a little disorganised. The buoys hadn’t all been put out yet and no-one seemed to know what was going on. Stu, Steve and I got ready and went down to the water’s edge. We were told that we couldn’t start swimming yet, as some boats with buoys needed to go out. That was fine. We stood at the water’s edge and my feet and ankles froze. I think the temperature was about 14C, but it felt much colder and I experienced real pain. If I had been at Lakeside, I would have walked away immediately. I spent a while wading in. Steve and Stu left for a swim, but I just wasn’t ready. Eventually, I took the plunge. I could feel my lungs tighten, but the water didn’t feel as bad on my chest as it had on my feet. I started swimming and was able to breathe, but my forehead felt very cold. I could only managed to breathe every two strokes.

Dublin swim

A slightky blurry pic is the only evidence of our acclimatisation swim ©Claire Cooke

After about six minutes, I started relax a bit and was able to swim properly. A couple of men who were in the sea chatted to me. One was the UK’s East Coast and was used to sea swimming without a wetsuit, so he was fine. The other chap was a local Irish guy. He explained to use about the currents and the tide times, which was helpful.

I quite enjoyed the swim back. The water was clear and calm… And it didn’t feel too salty. However, I got distracted  looking at the sea bed and managed to swim into a seaweed covered rock – oops!

After a single 400m loop and about 30 minutes in the sea, I decided it was time to get out. Although it had been agonising at first, I was glad to have the chance to erasure myself that I could do the swim in the morning.

Annabelle was playing with another little girl in the sea, but she didn’t have a swimming costume and had on knee-length denim shorts, so I offered her my swimsuit. She accepted it and was quite happy playing in the sea – she’s definitely made of sturdier stuff than me!

After the swim, we went back to the hotel to collect our bikes. Stuart had warned me on the trip over that he might not take part and I was already aware that if he started, he would probably only do the swim and the bike. Unfortunately, Stu found that he was unable to kick at all in the sea and he realised that if anyone else touched his leg, he was in agony, so he decide to withdraw. I think this was an admirable decision. If it were me, I would probably have tried to do the race and would have risked further injury, because I am stubborn.

I showered, sorted out my bag for T1 and headed down to transition. It was fairly quiet when we got there, so there was plenty of time to walk around and put our bikes in place. unfortunately, bike covers were not available and we were told that rain was forecast for overnight 😦


After racking up, we went back to the hotel before going to Nando’s where I had a really nice quinoa, avocado and sweet potato salad. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it much as I was really worried. When we had gone back to our room, I realised that I had left a few crucial items out of my T1 bag: towels, my protein shake and an inhaler. I asked Steve whether he thought I would be able to access my bag in the morning. He said that I might be able to get the inhaler added as a medical need, but that I might get a 5 minute penalty. This made me feel stressed, but it was too late for me to do anything about it. It was then back to the hotel for an early night.

Ironman Dublin 70.3 is fast approaching

28 Jul

I am starting to feel so nervous about this race, but I’ve been doing my best to prepare.

I bought a new wetsuit last week. I chose a Zone3 Aspire as it had good reviews and I was able to try it on locally. According to the size guide, I thought I would be a Medium or possibly a Small Medium, but I ended up buying a Small 😀

I’ve also joined Triathlon England. I need a race licence for Dublin and had the choice of paying about €20 for a one day licence or £40 for an annual licence, so I opted for the latter.

The official athlete guide is now available online: http://m.ironman.com/~/media/27065a1e6a7a4e108ef4099e150e2c5e/imdub%20athlete%20guide%202015%20v2.pdf

We’ll be registering on Friday and will also go to a novice focussed briefing, but I’ll try not to be lured into the expo as I really don’t need to buy lots of merchandise!

On Saturday 8th, we will be going to the official swim practice in the morning. We will also be going to T1 to rack our bikes and T2 to check in our bags.

The big day:

7:40 My wave starts

8:50 swim cut off

10:00 12km bike cut off

11:20 42km bike cut off

13:00 79km bike cut off

16:00 lap 3 run cut off (about 14km)

16:10 run cut off

I’m hoping to be finished before 3pm.

This weekend, I found out my race number:


This means you can follow me on the race tracker!

Fundraising for the Chestnut Appeal

25 Jan

Chestnut Appeal logoThis year, Stuart and I are raising money for the Chestnut Appeal, which supports men with prostate cancer in the south-west. It is an important charity that has funded six nurses and a variety of treatments and equipment.



The events that we are doing:

I only started learning to swim in 2013 and neither of us has ever swum more than 2.8k before, so this is going to take a lot of training. Stuart and I are hoping that you’ll support us on our way to completing this tough year… and that you’ll also sponsor us to help our chosen charity. To make this easy, we have set up a JustGiving account:


Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

We are hoping to raise £200 (about US$300), and are very grateful to everyone who has already sponsored us, as we’re already a third of the way there. It is possible to donate in a variety of currencies, including GB£, US$ and €. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a difference to someone’s life.

Massive THANK YOU to Rob, Neil, Henry, Di, Clare, Ellie, Gary, Chris and Adrian – your generous donations are much appreciated 🙂

Good Fri Tri finishers

Stuart and I at the end of the Good Fri Tri


Catching up, CrossFit, Ironman Dublin 70.3, Marafun, stir-fry and Santahampton.

7 Dec

I’ve been so busy recently that I’ve not had enough time to blog. I hope that I can find more time in 2015 – I think that perhaps I need to be more productive in my lunch breaks. As I’m struggling to find enough time, I’m trying to add more frequent social media updates:

One of my aims for 2015 is to focus a little more on my diet and nutrition. I’m good at sticking to a training plan, so I think I need to be as rigid about what I eat to try to stop me from making unhealthy choices. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve… more will be revealed later.

I’ve been busy for several reasons – one of which is work, but the main one is that I’m trying to get back into regular training, so that it’s not too difficult for me to pick up my half marathon training in January. I’m also desperate to get a 5km PB before the end of the year as I feel like I’m making some progress with my running. I’m also back to Run Leading/coaching with Lordshill Road Runners. I now regularly help Ben on a Wednesday, which is great. It means that I get a rest day in the middle of the week whilst helping other people to achieve their goals.

A month ago, I blogged that I had achieved my best ever race pace. Later I looked at my run on Strava and was surprised to see how well it ranked against my other runs:

Strava results

I know that I’ve run 1 mile faster than 7:32 (my PB is 7:27), but I’ve never run 5k in under 25 minutes! 🙂 This is great as it means that I’ve a little hope that I might get a 5k PB before the end of the year.

I’ve also been doing a lot more training with SUTRI. I’ve regularly been attending Tuesday night spinning classes. They’re quite different from what I was used to at Bournemouth University. I used to do 30 minute classes and these are an hour, but I don’t find them as challenging – I think this is because I’m fitter and now ride a bike every day. The music is also very different from what I’m used to.

I’ve also been going to SUTRI strength and conditioning classes which are led by Ollie at the local CrossFit box. CrossFit seems to be a Marmite activity, as it divides people into those who love it and those who hate it. The lovers enjoy the group mentality and camaraderie about working with others to push yourselves to the limit; the haters point out the extreme risks that are taken in some gyms where the instructors have received minimal training and rhabdo is common. What we’re doing is a modified version of CrossFit that is tailored to triathlon. Also, I’m confident that the coach knows what he’s doing and isn’t going to get anyone doing multiple reps of an exercise that they don’t understand with a weight that’s too heavy for them.

So far, I’ve been to three strength and conditioning classes. The first one was the day after Gosport Half Marathon, so my legs were a little bit tired. We did a whole range of things that I’ve not done for many years including some pull ups using rings and some squats… lots of squats. There were squats with a medicine ball, squats throwing a medicine ball and just plain squats. I’ve no idea how many squats I did, but the next day my legs hurt and by Wednesday I wondered whether I would ever be able to stand without groaning again!

In my second class, the focus was on inversions. This was much safer territory for me. I stopped doing gymnastics in 2008, but muscle memory means that I still know how to do a handstand. We did a variety of handstands in groups of three and also had to walk up the wall into a handstand position for me. It felt good as I knew that I could do it. We also had to balance in crow position (from yoga). I used to spend a lot of time doing various balance on the beam and have practised this position in yoga, so it was something that I knew I could do. I felt great when the class finished and was pleased that I did not ache afterwards.

Last week, my friend Roelie came along to the class with me. I’m significantly older than the other participants, so it was great to have a friend who’s not in her early twenties to train with. The focus of the session was using kettlebells. A few years back, I did a kettlebell workout with my karate instructor, Sean, but I’ve not used them since then. We spent quite a bit of time working on doing a Russian/Turkish get up (as demonstrated in this video). We also had to do knee-lifts, which involved working the lower abs by raising our knees to our chests whilst hanging from a bar. We had to do this in sets of 10. My biggest concern was whether I’d be able to reach the bar. Some of the taller blokes could reach up and touch it with their hands, whilst I was hoping that I would be able to jump high enough to reach it! Fortunately, I managed it, but it’s a long time since I’ve done anything like that, so my hands didn’t like it!

The only frustration that I’ve had so far is that each class seems to have some burpees in it. Unfortunately, my low blood pressure means that I’m not allowed to do burpees as I always end up fainting. I’ve been told to do the burpees slowly, but I’m not convinced that it has any benefit for me and just makes me look like I can’t do them 😦

Ironman Dublin logo

On 24th November, entry to Ironman Dublin 70.3 opened for people who had pre-registered. Stuart and I were fortunate enough to get places, along with three of our friends from Southampton Tri Club: Suzanne, Huw and Steve. Unlike Weymouth, I won’t be able to train on the course in advance, but I’m more confident now and I’m hoping that I’ll head into HIM training on the back of some successful half marathon training. My aim is to finish in under 7 hours, which will require me to improve on all disciplines. I think I wasted a lot of time in T1 at Weymouth and my run was poor, so they should be easy places to lose some time.

On 29th November, Rob and Stuart agreed to pace me at parkrun. I had several aims:

  • Beat my fastest time at parkrun this year (25:45)
  • Beat my Southampton parkrun PB (25:12)
  • Beat my 5k PB (25:08)
  • Finish in 24:59 or faster

I’ve blogged about how it went – I didn’t achieve all of my goals, but it was my 3rd fastest ever parkrun and I’m confident that with some consistent training and a healthy diet I’ll get there.

I’m now running again with Lordshill on a Monday evening. The pace of the groups is a little inconsistent at the moment, so it’s not always easy to work out which group to run with. I was dithering about joining Stu’s group (Group F) for some sprints when I was asked to help out with Group D on Monday. I agreed to tail run, which was probably a good decision. Before we started running, Teri got me to pose for a quick photo with James who won the Best New Male Athlete award by Southampton Tri Club. Teri humorously referred to us as the ‘king and queen of tri’ – I’m not sure I’m at that level yet, but I’m still proud enough to keep polishing my trophy!

Celebrating my tri club win with Jmes, who was awarded best new male

Celebrating my tri club win with James, who was awarded best new male

After running, I headed down to swimming. It had been cold outside, which meant that the pool felt warm for a change… the pool at The Quays is always really cold! It was a tiring session, but it’s always hard to swim for an hour when you’ve already done an hour of strength and conditioning, an hour of running and have spent nearly an hour commuting by bike!

On Thursday evenings, I’ve been running at the track with Huw from STC. He’s a great coach – I find him very supportive and motivational and I love running on the track as it has such a lovely bouncy surface. This week’s session was 600ms. We had to jog/walk/recover for 200m before running 400m at 5k pace followed by 200m at faster than 5k pace. I managed to do six reps before calling it a day. It was a tough session, but I know that it’s what will make the difference when it comes to getting a 5k PB.

On Friday evening, I did a 750m swimming time trial that I’ve blogged about. It was tough!

Yesterday, I didn’t go to parkrun. I’ve been considering having laser eye surgery for a while, so I booked a consultation for Saturday afternoon. I was not allowed to wear my contact lenses for 24 hour beforehand, which meant that I couldn’t do parkrun as I cannot run with my glasses on. As an alternative, I went swimming with STC. I knew it would be tough as it was only 12 hours after I finished swimming with SUTRI.

I hardly ever swim with STC on a Saturday morning, so I had no idea who would be in my lane or what I could expect. Fortunately, it wasn’t too busy and the other people in my lane were not significantly faster than me. I was quite proud of myself for managing 4 lengths of butterfly (my previous best was 1/4 length). It wasn’t great – I’m quite surprised none of the lifeguards tried to save me – but I didn’t drown. Sadly, Garmin thinks I was doing freestyle… but at least it recognised that it was a swimming stroke! I should probably admit that I had fins on… But I also had to do another 4 lengths single arm without fins, at which point I nearly died! Afterwards, we went for a hot drink with some of the others swimmers. It was so difficult to recognise people without their swimming hats and goggles on!

On Saturday evening, I made a lovely dinner: sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry.

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

It’s based on an old recipe that I had for cabbage stir-fry.  Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped clove of garlic
  • Small piece of chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Some sesame seeds (I used a mixture of black and white seeds)
  • Any stir-fry veg (I used mangetout, red pepper [capsicum], baby corn, spring onions [scallions], broccoli spears and a red chilli
  • Tofu

It worked out really well 🙂

Today has been a busy day. This morning, Stuart and I ran up to The Common for another training run with the Marafun crew. I dithered a bit, but went into the 9 minute mile group again. If I’m going to get a PB then I’ll need to manage faster than that pace on race day!

After we finished the group run, Stuart and I ran home, where I made some spirulina smoothies.

This afternoon, we joined Coach Ant’s fun run: Santahampton.

We arrived a little late, but it was easy to see where we needed to go as there were plenty of people out with costumes on:

Arriving at Santahampton

Arriving at Santahampton

The local newspaper had sent a photographer and also a journalist (who turned out to be one of my former students. I love it when I hear about my people I’ve taught doing well).

Coach Ant briefed everyone about the route, and then we were off.

Ant starting the run

Ant starting the run

I jogged with some people that I know – we were at the back, but that was fine as it was a fun sociable event. I really enjoyed having a chance to say hello to people that I know.

Afterwards, we were all rewarded with a mince pie.

Any with Sandra and her huskies

Ant with Sandra and her huskies

My favourite Christmas elf

My favourite Christmas elf – Liz and her medal.

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Papping the photographer - a quick snap of Jules

Papping the photographer – a quick snap of Jules

How’s your week been? Have you got any festive runs scheduled?