Tag Archives: Lagos

Embrace Sports 12/10/14 Ocean swim and coastal ride with TT finish

12 Oct

The day started with open water swimming. It was an early start, but it’s always worth it to see the sunrise over the sea.

We got ready at the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.

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When we’d all got our wetsuits on, it was time to head down the steps to the beach.

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We were put into groups of swimmers who were of roughly similar ability and then headed out for a swim.

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I completed two loops of shark fin rock and wanted to do a third, but my partners didn’t want to, so a kind Dutch man (Rene) agreed that he would do another loop with me. He was a very considerate swimmer – of I strted to swim off course then he would tap me on the feet! It felt good to do three loops.

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It was then time to head back to base camp for breakfast before going out cycling.

Last minute preparations.

Last minute preparations.

We were quite a large group, which was nice. The guys were mainly very experienced cyclists who were coming back to the sport after some time off, whereas the women tended to be less experienced.


It was a route that I was already familiar with that went out along the coast road. The views were lovely and it was the perfect temperature.


As usual, the day finished with a time trial back from Aljezur. I was confident that I would do better than I had previously, although I was surprised to see Jen on one of the roundabouts. I slowed down, but she shouted at me to continue. Later, I learnt that Andy had had a serious accident and had gone over the crash barriers. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured, but he spent the rest of the day at the hospital and his bike wasn’t fixed before he went home. What a sad end to the day






Embrace Sports 10/10/14 Targetted long run

10 Oct

Friday 10th October


It was the last full day of the camp, so it ended in the traditional way with a targetted long run. I had discussed my goal with Neil the night before – I wanted to complete 13.1 miles in 1:59:59, which would mean running at 5:40/km. I was confident that my fitness had improved enough that I would achieve my goal… but I did still have a slight niggle in my leg.

We all piled into the minibuses and headed to the starting point, where we posed for the obligatory group photos:


© Embrace Sports, 2014.


© Embrace Sports, 2014.


© Embrace Sports, 2014.

The team set out all of the necessities for a long run – drinks, bananas and some Haribo!


© Embrace Sports, 2014.

I headed off down the hill, but realised fairly quickly that I had a problem. My leg really hurt – I definitely had a hamstring issue. I decided to give it five minutes to see whether it would ease. Sadly, by the time I had run a kilometre I knew that my leg was not going to get better, so I decided not to risk further injury and started walking back to the start.

I’ve only run or cycled through Lagos before, so it gave me a chance to look out over the water. I was absolutely fascinated by all of the tiny black crabs that were scuttling on the rocks and harbour wall. Watching them was a good way to take my mind off my disappointment.

I got back to the start and had a chat with Graeme who resting his injured foot. It wasn’t long before we saw Neil running towards us, with Gaby in hot pursuit.

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Gaby always looks like she should be on the cover of a running magazine. The next runner to come along was Nico followed by Alan.

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After that, everyone came past in quick succession.


Dan ©Embrace Sports


Darren ©Embrace Sports


Marcus ©Embrace Sports


Keith ©Embrace Sports


Ian ©Embrace Sports


Rache ©Embrace Sports


Ed ©Embrace Sports


Jan and Paul ©Embrace Sports


Richard ©Embrace Sports


Sandrine and Rachel ©Embrace Sports


Rachel ©Embrace Sports


Pamela was running strong ©Embrace Sports


George ©Embrace Sports


Bernadette ©Embrace Sports


Nadine ©Embrace Sports


Ruth ©Embrace Sports


Graeme tried to lure in Caroline and Liz with some sweets ©Embrace Sports


Stu ©Embrace Sports


Rache ©Embrace Sports





Jeanette looked so happy every time she passed ©Embrace Sports


I had plenty of time to look at my surroundings as I knew that some people were aiming to run 20 miles. There is quite an impressive statue of St. Gonzalo of Lagos overlooking the harbour.



Pamela had helped to keep me going several times during the week, so it was great to be able to cheer her on. She was working really hard and was only able to squeak out “Juice, juice!” as she briefly paused for refreshment!



Richard was clearly enjoying his long run. When I started cheering for him, he came over and did a little dance… I think it was something from early ’90s Madchester!










Nico did one five mile lap very fast, as preparation for Amsterdam half marathon and Berlin marathon, so he treated himself to a little lie down.



Most people achieved what they had set out to do, so they were happy to pose for some photos , before heading back over to cheer on the people who were still running.

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The highlight of the day was when Jeanette finished with the exclamation of “15 chuffing miles. 50 years old and that’s the first time I’ve ever run 15 chuffing miles!”

We then headed back via the German patisserie, which hd a fine selection of cakes including apfel struedel, apfel torte and  schwarzwälder küche. I hadn’t earned it, but I had a slice anyway!

In the afternoon, we headed down to the beach for a swim, before going to the nearest bar for a drink.


When we got back , there was port and cheese and a recap of everything we had done during the week (including photos). Then we went out for a boozy meal.

Ed came over to pose for some photos with me:



Then we had a full ‘Smith family’ photo:


The evening was rounded off by Jeanette and Al playing the spoons for us.


After the meal, we had our final group photo before most people went off for more drinks and Stu and I headed back to our apartment.



Embrace Sports 08/10/14 Track and monument coastal run.

8 Oct

Wednesday 8th October

I was quite excited about what was planned for Wednesday morning as I enjoy track sessions. It had been raining heavily, but by the time we arrived at the track, the sun had come out and it was starting to dry up.

Neil briefed all of us about what the session was going to be.


Then we did a group warm up of four laps of the track (1600m). I was a little frustrated as my legs felt really sluggish and I only managed to average 6:18/km, which I didn’t feel was a good start to the session.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. I love this picture… although it’s not possible to see my pair of bottles with nuun in one and water in the other!

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After we did the warm up, we were divided into ability groups for the main speedwork session. The plan was to do 400m, have a 60s recovery and then do 200m with a longer walking recovery (back to the start) – six times! I was confident that I could do the distance (how hard could it be to run 3.6km after a 1.6km warm up?) even with 1.2km of walking, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pick the pace up.

As usual, I started off far too quickly. My average pace for the first 400m + 200m was 4:01/km. I think I managed the first 400m 12-15 seconds faster than any track session I’ve done recently, which I knew would make the last laps difficult.



My times for each of the sets were:

1.  2:27

2. 2:38

3. 2:44

4. 2:43

5. 2:47

6. 2:43

Overall, I don’t think that’s too bad… I now just need to do lots more speed sessions in the hope that I can finally achieve a 5km PB!

When we’d finished the session, there was a chance for the obligatory group photo.

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Then we all headed back to rehydrate.



It had been a tough session, but everyone seemed to be happy with how they’d done.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Both Rachels did brilliantly on the track.

When we got back to the Big Brother house Giramar apartments, the virtuous members of the group did some stretching and foam rolling.

Ruth hadn’t used a foam roller before, so Jan kindly gave her some tips…



Some members of the group also opted for an icebath/some volley ball, but I have no idea what Coach Alan decided to do…


…he seemed to be enjoying himself!


George and Ed didn’t feel that they needed wetsuits for their swim.




© Embrace Sports, 2014. An action shot of Stu!

Afterwards, I was treated to a modelling masterclass, where Ed demonstrated his ‘blue steel‘:


The first step is the smoulder…


…then there’s the gaze into the distance…


…before dissolving into giggles!

The evening recovery run was one that Stuart and I had done before – the monument run. However, on the previous running holiday that I did with Embrace Sports, we started at Praia de Porto de Mos and did a 10km run out to the monument and back as a main running session. This time, the plan was to run out for 12.5 minutes and then back again.

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I took it quite seriously on the way out, but have to admit that I got distracted by the crazy photographers on the way back. I ran until I’d got back to Sam and Lou and then I stopped for a drink!


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After all of that hard work, the evening’s feast was a barbeque. Neil slaved in front of the hot coals and Alan had made lovely falafel burgers for the vegetarians 🙂

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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 05/10/14 Woodland trail run

5 Oct

Sunday 5th October

I was looking forward to this run – I’d done it twice previously and was determined to beat my pace from my previous attempts. The first time I did the woodland run, I fell quite badly on my first lap and the second time I did it, I thought I’d paced it well and then found out afterwards that I’d run slower than my previous attempt.



© Embrace Sports, 2014. Group shot with wave!

I decided that I would go out at a reasonably fast pace, but that I would try to maintain the same pace throughout. I also decided that I would only aim for 10 miles (rather than 15 like in previous years) as I was aware that it was the first full day of two weeks of full-on training.

It was a relatively warm day, but I felt comfortable and it seemed like my asthma was finally under control. There was a small group of runners just behind me and it was tempting to slow down and join in with their conversation, but I knew that that would not help my run time, so I stayed just ahead, until the final mile or so. I kept pushing right to the finish and was delighted to see that I had completed the lap at a pace of 5:44/km, which was exactly 1 min/km faster than I managed in November 2013.

I stopped for a quick drink and stretch, before deciding to take the second lap at a gentler pace. I waited until sally finished and then persuaded her that we should go for another loop, but this tim at a sociable pace. It definitely wasn’t as fast as the first lap, but it was just as enjoyable.


There was a really positive mood by the end of the run. Some of teh people who were training for a marathon ran 20 miles…


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Gaby, Sally and Rachel.

…whereas others fell over and were still smiling.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. George was one of the trail’s casualties.

In the late afternoon, we went for a beach recovery run. Last year, I hated the beach runs, but this year I was feeling so much more positive.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Group photo…


© Embrace Sports, 2014. …and a wave.


Neil explained that we were going to run out for 12.5 minutes before turning and running back 12.5 minutes.

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I think this photo shows just how much fun I was having. I really didn’t feel like I was having breathing problems and I wasn’t worried about my pace, I just wanted to enjoy it (although I was also taking care not to stand on any sea holly!)

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Sadly, Stu started having leg problems, so although he was ahead of me for a long time, he had to stop and walk, which made me worried about him.

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When we’d finished, the sea was conveniently close to act as an ice bath 🙂



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We then headed over to Linda’s, the beach-side bar, for some refreshments. The party crew were desperate for some margaritas, but I just wanted a mango juice – mmmm mango!


Mmmmm mango 🙂



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What a great start to the week!


Embrace Sports Algarve Triathlon Holiday – Day 1

2 Nov

It was an early start to the holiday with a 5:45 wake up, a quick shower and porridge before getting on the road by 7am. As usual, I felt nervous about would be coming up, and also worried that I would have forgotten something. I have a massive multipage Google spreadsheet with packing lists for all occasions that I modify for each holiday. I spent several weeks planning my spreadsheet and the best part of a week packing, but I was still concerned that I would forget something irreplaceable!

On the way to the airport, we passed Neil Garton, who assumed that we were on our way for some parkrun tourism, as he was heading to Bushy parkrun, however we had more exciting sports in mind! We arrived at the airport, checked in and went for breakfast. Finally, it was time to board the plane…

Luggage tag for Faro airport

Faro bound

Three hours after boarding the plane, we arrived in Faro 😀

Faro Aiport

Faro Aiport

We waited for quite a while by the luggage carousel, wondering who else would be on the holiday with us.  The pre-arrival information suggested that we would be picked up with Mel, but we didn’t know who our ‘Embrace representative’ would be. There were lots of elderly golfers, but not many people who looked like they might be runners or triathletes. Finally, our cases arrived and we headed out to meet the Embrace representative. We wondered who it might be waiting for us… It was Alan 😀 It was great to see a familiar face. There were also a couple of others, including Heather, a triathlete, who had travelled from Seattle!

I ended up on the front seat of the minibus, so I got to chat to Alan for a couple of hours on the way to Lagos, which helped me to feel less stressed about what we would be doing during the week.

When we arrived at the Giramar, everyone was almost ready to go out for a run, so we dropped our cases in our room, changed and headed back to join the others. I was keen to get moving as we had been sitting down for so long and I wanted to get some exercise in, however, I was also aware from our last trip that I would find it difficult running in the heat. Our first run was a coastal jog out to the lighthouse. I got chatting to Heather… And got distracted, so we took a wrong turn and had to go back – oops!

Garmin data for the run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161235

Garmin data for lighthouse jog on Day 1

Garmin data for lighthouse jog on Day 1

I enjoyed the run out to the lighthouse as it was a route that I was familiar with and the surroundings are beautiful. The photograph below captures this far better than I can!

Lagos Lighthouse

© Tamarisk Round The World

Heading towards our first regrouping point

Heading towards our first regrouping point © Embrace Sports

The front runners

The front runners © Embrace Sports

Run to the lighthouse

Oh look – there’s me 🙂 © Embrace Sports

Lighthouse run

© Embrace Sports

Lighthouse run - Dushen

© Embrace Sports

Lighthouse run - long view

© Embrace Sports

Lighthouse run group shot

© Embrace Sports

Lighthouse run

It was agreed that the evening meal would be late because some people’s flights were going to arrive late. This meant that we had some time to be able to unpack our belongings and get things ready for the following day which we knew would be busy.

We also had a chance to meet our flatmates – Katie and Bryn. Everyone assumed that they were a couple because they arrived together and already knew each other, but apparently they are just work colleagues.

Katie and Bryn

Katie and Bryn

Before dinner, Graeme explained what we would be doing on the first full day. It sounded daunting, but I knew that I had to retain a more positive attitude than I had in January (I was struggling with depression then and was upset at how badly I performed).

Training schedule for the week

Training schedule for the week

Full schedule for the week

After the meal, Andy said he’d sort out our bikes. Stu was given a Ridley and I was given a Planet X bike. I’d brought all of my details from my Vankru bike fit as well as some basic info, such as my usual saddle height, so it didn’t take long (although it did take three coaches!) to get my bike set up and my pedals screwed on. It looked like a really nice bike, although nothing will replace my lovely Kuota Kharma!


How many Embrace coaches does it take to set a bike up?

How many Embrace coaches does it take to set a bike up?

After dinner, it was time to go to bed as we knew we would have to be up by 6am the following day for a sunrise swim…