Tag Archives: New Forest

What I’ve been doing

6 Feb

Busy, busy, busy! I’m still managing to exercise, but it’s so difficult for me to find time to blog, which is very frustrating. I thought I’d do a quick summary of what I’ve been up to recently…

Sunday 22nd January

No running for me today. Stuart, baby M and I headed out into the New Forest to marshal a race in the local cross-country league.

We had been positioned on one of the first marshal points, so we saw the start of the race and were then able to move to another point to watch runners heading towards the finish, before we walked back to the finish.

It was a crisp and cold day and as usual, there were lots of New Forest ponies around.


You might not be able to tell from my photograph, but the water below was frozen solid and remained that way all morning.


I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful area and am looking forward to being able to get back on my bike and cycling in the forest.

Tuesday 24th January

I went for a long run with Pete around Chilworth. We left in daylight, but the sun started to go down as we headed down a very long hill. We paused to look at a beautiful sunset and to take some photos… but I hadn’t dressed adequately (just a t-shirt and shorts), so I quickly started to feel cold.

We ended up running around 10 miles, but it was hard going as my hands were so cold.

Wednesday 25th January

Baby M and I went to Buggy Mums on The Common again. We ran some laps around the model boating lake before heading up to the top ‘field’ part of The Common where we did some paired exercises. As usual, it was a lot of fun.

Thursday 26th January

The following day, I went to Buggy Mums at Weston Shore.

Last week the weather had been beautiful, with warm sunshine and no wind; it was the complete opposite today. Just before leaving the house, I decided to put on a base layer. I was so grateful that I had. I kept on my base layer, long-sleeved top, jacket, Buff and woolly hat for the entire session. Towards the end, I took my gloves off for a short period of time, but not for long!


I really like the Thursday sessions as they are less busy than the ones on The Common and there are more opportunities to chat to people.


Saturday 28th January

It was my turn to run on Saturday. I met my friend Teri who is recovering from injury. She has to follow a walk/run strategy. I agreed to join her as I thought it would be nice to do a steadier-paced run… however, Teri is fitter than I am, so he run intervals were quicker than I usually go and the walk breaks were very short, so I barely had time to decelerate before we were off again.

In the end, my time for the run wasn’t much different from my usual result.

Southampton parkrun 28th January

Sunday 29th January

The following day was Sunday Runday – a training run for Southampton half marathon. It was my turn to run, so I was able to choose which group to help. Part of me was tempted to go with the 11 minute mile group, but I know that I need to push myself, so I joined my friends Pete, Kate and Malcolm in the 10 minute mile group.

It’s interesting to refamiliarise myself with the route for the half marathon (as well as learning the new parts). The race is being run in the opposite direction from last year.

Monday 30th January

The following day, I decided to return to Southampton Tri Club for my first swim since having my baby. It was a logistical challenge as Stu swam in the first session from 7-8pm and I swam in the second session from 8-9pm. Stu finished his swim a little early, and then met me outside the changing rooms at 7:55pm. I passed him Baby M in her car seat and my car keys; in return, Stu gave me his car keys.

There were lots of new faces in the swimming session, so Coach Steve had to rearrange the lanes a bit. I was asked to move into Lane 2, but I pointed out that I no longer have any stamina. I swam in Lane 2 just for a bit before Steve rearranged us again and I went back to Lane 1. There’s now quite a lot of disparity in the ability of the swimmers in Lane 1 as some people find it tough to do more than a length or two at a time.

Steve had planned an interesting session that included some core work on the pool side. This was quite challenging, but good fun.

In the end, I did the majority of the session, but I finished nearly 10 minutes early. This was because the pool was so busy that I didn’t want to have to queue for a shower as I needed to get home quickly. The changeover seemed to work well, so I now need to get myself back on track ready to take part in Swimathon. I think I swam around 1600m (1 mile), so I need a lot of training!

Tuesday 31st January

I had originally intended to go for a long run with Pete today, but I had completely forgotten that I had booked onto a cycle maintenance for women course at my local Giant Store, so we rescheduled for Thursday.

I know that some people will think that it’s not necessary to run separate maintenance workshops for men and women, but most of the women who attended seemed to be quite nervous and didn’t want to made to look stupid in front of men.

My friend, Lou, has recently bought a road bike, so she had also booked to come to the event with me. When we arrived, we were divided into three groups, as there were three members of staff, each of whom was running a separate 30 minute workshop.


The first workshop was about bike cleaning. This was a simple topic to start with, and didn’t really warrant a 30 minute timeslot. One of the most interesting points was when we were shown the difference between Muc Off and a cheap alternative, which was quite eye-opening:

The second workshop was led by Nigel, the store owner. He was covering dealing with punctures. I’ve fixed punctures in the past and changed an innertube, but I think it’s always good to refresh this knowledge and there’s always something new to be learnt. Nigel showed me some tricks that make it easier to replace an innertube and tyre without using tyre levers. It was easier, but as I have delicate thumbs, I will probably continue to use levers!

Lou raised an interesting question about the need to pump up tyres after filling them with CO2. I hadn’t heard of this before and neither had the others. Later, Lou proved us wrong by sharing the scientific information that she found online!

The third and final workshop was the most technical one of the three as it was on brakes and gears. Whilst I understand the theory of all of this, I’m still nervous to adjust the gears on my own bike. We’ve had a few problems with the brake on M’s running buggy, so I asked a couple of questions and should now be able to fix the problem.

Overall, I think the evening was a great success. The staff were helpful and friendly and each participant was given a goodie bag, including a lanyard, button badges, a New Forest cycling map, some dry lube and a puncture repair kit. Apparently there are plans afoot to run more events in future, which would be really good.

Wednesday 1st February

On Wednesday, I went to Buggy Mums. My mum had come to visit, and I needed to drop her off before the session, so I ended up parking on the opposite side of The Common and had to dash to the start of the session.

We did a warm up on The Flats, so I ended up travelling back towards where I had parked. We then went back to the play area for the main part of the session, which included some pull up and chin up preparation as well as lots of tricep dips and press ups on the benches.


Thursday 2nd February

I had so much to do and was feeling tired, so decided not to go to Buggy Mums and to save my energy for a long run with Pete.

I ran down to meet Pete on The Common. As I was cold last week, I decided to wear a long pair of tights that I had got out for Buggy Mums, as well as a t-shirt and jacket. I took off my jacket when I met Pete, so it immediately started raining. Fortunately, the shower was over quickly.

Yet again, Pete had planned a lovely route, which took us all around Ocean Village. I think it would be a lovely route to walk in summer, but it was quite windy and the water looked rough.

Part way around, we stopped for Pete to have a ‘comfort break’, which gave me a chance to put my head torch on. I was grateful that I had it on as we got to the east side of Riverside Park. The river was overflowing and all of the paths were covered. Pete and I took an alternative route for part of it, but in the end we just had to go through the water. It was ankle-deep and cold 😦 This meant that we had cold, wet feet for the final part of the run.

We headed up Bassett Green Road, which is a long hill. Pete had intended for us to go all of the way up to the top, but about 3/4 of the way up there is a short cut that leads towards my house. I was starting to get tired, so I suggested we took the short cut.

In the end, we covered about 13 miles. I’m finding the long runs tiring, but am not struggling with DOMS afterwards, which is a good sign.

Saturday 4th February

On Saturday, Stu, Baby and I headed to parkrun with my mum. My mum has never completed a parkrun before, so I agreed to walk it with her. I didn’t want to push her too hard, so we took it very steady:

Southampton parkrun 4th February

I’m now hoping my mum will take part in a parkrun near to her in future.

Well, that’s all of my recent training summarised. In the last few weeks, I’ve also been testing out a variety of products, so I’ll be posting about those this week.

What have you been up to? Are there any events that you’re training for?

Another hectic week

18 Oct

It feels like all of my posts start with an excuse about how busy my week has been, and this week is no exception. Hopefully, I will have more time for blogging in a month’s time when the season winds down. Although if Ironman were to have their way, I’d be entering another couple of events this year!

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Tuesday started with a great SUTRI strength and conditioning session with Olly from SolentAthlete. We did some technique work and deadlifts. I really appreciated the mobility drills as I feel like my joints are seizing up :-S

© SolentAthlete

© SolentAthlete

This was followed by another session on Thursday morning where we did plenty of box squats. Olly described the final section of the session as “a tasty posterior chain workout”, which was rounded off with foam rollers and stretching, which felt like torture, even though I know it’s good for me!

© SolentAthlete

© SolentAthlete

On Saturday, I took part in ‘Tim Wilks Day’ with Southampton Tri Club. It is a fantastic event that is held in memory of a triclub member who sadly passed away shortly after finishing a local triathlon. The committee did a brilliant job organising it and I was grateful to the volunteers for supporting us. The event consists of a 400m timed pool swim; a 10 mile time trial and a 4km run in the New Forest… however, transitions are not timed as the events take place in different locations.

I had a bit of a panic when I realised that I would be sharing a swim lane with my other half as I was expecting him to finish about 2:30 ahead of me and I hate the pressure when someone starts tapping your feet. We had a chat with Donna, the timer for our lane, and agreed to have half a lane each so that I wouldn’t get in Stu’s way. I predicted a 9:30 swim time, so was pleasantly surprised to finish in 8:42. I tried to swim at a steady pace, and I wasn’t too exhausted when I finished, so I think I could go faster.

I was really nervous about the bike section. I’ve done time trials with the Embrace Sports crew in Portugal, but I’ve always known exactly where we were going and it has definitely been for fun, rather than a timed event. However, I’ve done a reasonable amount of cycling recently, so I thought I’d be reasonably fit. I said to Stu that I reckoned 35 minutes would be about right for me – I finished in 35:05, so that’s pretty close… but I didn’t realise that in order to get that I’d have to wheeze for the entire ride. It was so uncomfortable. I probably should have stopped and used my inhaler, but I didn’t want to waste time. It also inhibited my cycling – spinning made me wheeze more, so I had to keep grinding away in the big ring.

The 4km run course was on an attractive forest trail. It was well-marked and as someone at the back, I had plenty of people to follow.I started out feeling quite comfortable and with a good cadence, but when my watched beeped at me at 1km and I saw I was running at 4:44/km, I knew it wouldn’t end well. I kept doing the best I could, but was gradually slowing down and others passed me. I was so relieved when I saw Sonia and Claire along with a group of others. I put on a terrific sprint finish… only to find that the group were some random ramblers and that there was still some way to the finish – doh! The ladies were simply there to direct me. A few minutes later, I finally saw the finish, but I had nothing left. It took me 21:27, which was very slow, but at least there’s plenty of room for improvement next time!

Today, I took part in a new sportive organised by Red Skye Cycle Tours. Stu and I chose to enter the Great Oak 70 mile event, which started just after 8am. I was really surprised that only about 10 people had entered the long distance, and only 7 of us were there at the start. We headed out as a group, but after a few miles, one of the women headed off on her own as we were cycling at a social pace.

It was quite chilly, but I’ve learnt from my last two bike rides, so I started out with a SOAS jersey and shorts teamed with arm warmers and knee warmers. I think it would have been good to have worn a buff, but I soon warmed up, so I know I made the right choice.

Although I was unfamiliar with the start location for the ride (Holmsley), there were sections of the ride that I was really familiar with. It was also clearly marked, so I didn’t have to worry too much about following the route on my Garmin. Sadly, someone had removed one of the signs, which had confused some other riders. It’s such a shame that there are so many cycle saboteurs in the New Forest area – they are clearly unaware of how much income this popular pastime brings to the local area.

I had thought that we would get to the rest stop after 35 miles, but when we had gone that far, I was warned that it would be another 6 or 7 miles before we got to the rest stop. Fortunately, we were doing well with spotting Hampshire’s ‘big game’ – we saw wild cows, horses, donkeys, pheasants and even a herd of pigs. I’ve only seen one wild boar whilst out cycling previously, so to see a herd of pigs running alongside the road was great.

By the time we got to the rest stop, I was flagging. Fortunately, the rest stop was really well stocked. I had a banana followed by a granola bar and plenty of jelly beans. I knew that at some stage, the sugar rush would wear off, but hoped that it would be enough to get me through at least 20 miles. I also picked up a pineapple flavoured energy gel to pick me up later and get me to the finish. Unfortunately, we found out that the female cyclist had not made it to the rest stop ahead of us, so we hoped that she hadn’t got too lost.

There were some tough headwinds during the ride that really sapped my energy, but I was determined to finish. I was also struggling as my chest was really aching after yesterday’s time trial.

The final section of the ride included some busy roads. The major road towards Bournemouth currently has some road works, so lots of cars are taking an alternative route near to Matchams. Some fo them were driving at crazy speeds, which was a bit nerve-racking. We also got stuck in a traffic jam.

Most of the ride had been overcast, but in the last hour or so, the sun came out which was lovely – there’s nothing better than cycling in sunshine!

Finally, the campsite came into view. The six of us cycled under the finish archway together. Woohoo! My first podium finish in a cycling event and top 10 overall 😉 (Sometimes it’s important to be selective about the stats you use!)

End of Red Skye Sportive

End of Red Skye Sportive

We were offered a variety of hot meals, which is always a great way to finish an event. Several of us sat down and ate together, before heading home. I felt exhausted, but pleased I took part! My friend, Jules has also blogged about this event – please do read his post.

Several of my friends have been taking part in running races today – mainly 10 miles, half marathons and marathons. It looks like they all did really well… but I don’t think any of them set any world records, unlike Jessica Bruce. This amazing lady has set a new record for running a marathon with a buggy, completing Abingdon Marathon in 3:17:52. I’d be happy with a time an hour slower than that! More about this story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-34551782

Finally, I saw this video earlier this week. The stereotypes in it made me laugh so much


Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive

19 Sep
Whilst on the Isles of Scilly, I noticed a post on a Breeze facebook group looking for a ride leader with a first aid certificate to support a 4 day charity bike ride from Ulverston to London (about 360 miles/580km). ‘How convenient that I’ve just completed my first aid certificate’, I thought. It was only after I completed the Scilly Swim Challenge that I realised I had under 3 weeks to train for an event that would be tough. Oops.

I heard that a sportive was taking place on Saturday and that volunteers were required, so I agreed to help with registration in exchange for a free place. I arrived at Matchams at 6:40am, ready for registration to open at 6:45am. There were three events taking place: short (around 40 miles); standard (62 miles); epic (100 miles). It was interesting to see the range of riders and their bikes – several people with rucksacks on old mountain bikes were doing the epic. It was also great to see lots of dads out witheir young sons doing the short route… but I didn’t see a single young girl in registration, which seems rather sad.

When I’d got up at 5:15am, it was cold and misty, so I decided that it would be a good opportunity to try out the thermal tights and matching jersey that I bought last winter. This seemed like a good idea as I was cold on my last cycling excursion. At 9:45am, I was released from registration and I realised that I had made a mistake – it was really hot – oops!

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The majority of the riders had started significantly earlier, but for the first part of the ride, there were still a few cyclists around. However, when I reached the split in the route, I started to wonder whether it would be a lonely ride.

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I discovered quite a crowd of riders at the first aid station (40k), so I decided not to dally too long in the hope of having a bit of company on the next section. It was indeed a busy section, but I was surprised when we came to the second aid station at only 60k. I turned off the main road, realised that I had only turned off for an aid station and got straight back out again.

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By this stage, I felt like I was melting – I’d already drunk two full bottles and was seriously considering removing my jersey – so I was grateful when we got to a shady section.

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I had hoped to finish in a good time, but the heat was too much for me, so I decided just to aim for a ‘gold’ time, which I thought would be 4:15. After the clock ticked past that, I thought I’d aim for <4:30, which I managed… however, I was frustrated to find out that the ‘gold’ time for women was 4:24 and I just missed it.

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Overall, it was a good event, and I hoped it would stand me in good stead for the next week’s adventures.


Update on my cycling

19 Jun

(L-R) Mike, Tony, me Stu, Pete and Kirsty. (Di had the camera!)I have failed to keep my blog up to date because I have been so busy, so I’ve got a couple of days off work and have decided to try to get myself back up to date. I thought it might be easiest to recap the progress I’ve made in each of the three disciplines, starting with cycling (even if swimming would seem the obvious place to start!)

I have been out for several long bike rides recently, which has helped to build my confidence.

Firstly, Stuart and I went for a 35/40 mile ride with Di, Mike, Pete, Kirsty and Tony. We went out around Romsey and Braishfield and stopped for a lovely pub lunch. This was the furthest I had ever cycled and I felt really pleased that I was not at the back for the entire ride. I had hoped to take some lovely photos to share with you, but unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be. My hybrid bike does not have a water bottle holder, so I filled a 750ml bottle with water and put it in my pannier. My panniers are waterproof, which means that no water can get in… And no water can get out. I foolishly put my iPhone in the pannier with my water, and when we stopped for a quick break after an hour of cycling, I was surprised to find that there was not very much water in my bottle. Sadly, the water was in my pannier and my phone was floating 😦 What an expensive mistake to make. I now have a new phone, and have also invested in a water bottle cage for my bike!!!

(L-R) Mike, Tony, me Stu, Pete and Kirsty. (Di had the camera!)

(L-R) Mike, Tony, me Stu, Pete and Kirsty. (Di had the camera!)

For the trip, I purchased some of the padded cycling knickers from Decathlon that Irene recommended. I wore them under my favourite skins running tights, and they were very comfortable. I wore a fairly long length running vest, to keep my lower back warm, but it did not cover my shoulders, which ended up rather burnt – oops! I also finally added the pedal cages that I bought before my duathlon. They make cycling so much easier and will not be coming off my bike!

My next long bike ride was a picnic in the New Forest, with Kirsty, Tony, Kev, Alice, Stu, Phil and Irene. It was a similar distance to the ride we did with Di, but it felt so much harder. There are very few hedges to protect you from the wind, so I was blown all over the road with my panniers that were full of picnic goodies.

This was taken at the top of a long and wind-swept hill!

This was taken at the top of a long and wind-swept hill!

As it was a warmer day, I decided to wear running shorts (the type with cycling shorts underneath, rather than a brief liner). However, I quickly learnt that these do not go well with padded pants… What a horribly uncomfortable experience!

We finally made it to our picnicking area, where there were lots of Shetland pony foals – they are just adorable. I often think of my running club mates as being like horses: the speedy boys are the thoroughbred race horses, Dean is a loveable cart horse, and I’m a Shetland pony with little legs and a big tummy!

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Alice, Ben, Mazza and Jim joined us for the picnic. Some of the others had to leave early and Irene didn’t want to cycle home, which meant that just Kev, Alice, Stu and I cycled home together. The boys had a definite advantage with their road bikes, whereas Alice has a beautiful, but rather heavy ladies bike (sans front basket on this occasion!)

At this point, I realised that if I wanted to get serious about cycling, I needed some proper kit, so Stu and I headed down to Decathlon, where I bought a pair of bib shorts and a matching top. The shorts are surprisingly comfortable, as the elastic does not bite into my legs. The outfit is black and white with cerise pink highlights. The top is mainly white, which means that it s a little see-through, but not enough to make it indecent. I also ordered the top that I wanted from wiggle. It’s cerise pink so it also matches my bib shorts and is very comfortable.

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My next long ride was an excursion with Katherine, Liz, Suzanne, Piers and Stu. As they’re all members of Southampton Tri Club (apart from Stu), I was rather nervous. I knew Stu would be OK as he’s much fitter than I am (and he has a road bike and cleated shoes). Luckily, Katherine and Liz were kind to me, with Liz chaperoning me at the back of the peloton.

Liz taking a group photo!

Liz taking a group photo!

Part of the route that we did was the same as when we went out with Di, so I was anticipating the first big hill, however, I didn’t realise that Katherine’s route also took in a mile long hill. We also got to see many of my club mates doing the Braishfield 5 mile beer race. I would have liked to have taken part, but Stu isn’t allowed to run at the moment.

A slightly better photo, showing us halfway up the hill from hell

A slightly better photo, showing us halfway up the hill from hell

Why am I always eating in photos? Perhaps it's a sign that I spend too much time eating...

Why am I always eating in photos? Perhaps it’s a sign that I spend too much time eating…

We finally stopped in Romsey at The White Horse, which has a courtyard that is perfect for cyclists to remain with their bikes. I had the most delicious cream tea, although I don’t think the scones were as good as my mum’s!


Enjoying our cream tea (and pork pies!) in Romsey

Enjoying our cream tea (and pork pies!) in Romsey


My original plan had been to buy a road bike on the cycle to work scheme, but I am in eligible for another bike until November. This would mean that I would have to ride a road bike for the first time on my triathlon holiday, and I would only get my new bike when the weather is less likely to be favourable, so I might not get a lot of use out of it until next year. The other issue is that I would be limited to a bike that costs under £1000, and would not be able to take advantage of any special offers. Oh yes, and I’m impatient. Soooooo, I’ve decided to invest in a new bike ASAP.

I started reading reviews of bikes and talking to friends in the know, but everyone has different opinions. Some people recommended getting a tri bike, but this gives me less flexibility and may not be ideal for an ironman, so I am likely to get a road bike.

I looked through back issues of 220 Triathlon to help me make my choice, but the featured bikes are usually out of my price range… And I’ve yet to see a review of a women specific design bike. Anyway, at the back of the magazine my eyes fell on an recommendation for Vankru bike-fitting. I’d read a bit about bike fitting before, but didn’t think it was something I could afford. However, the location of this particular company caught my eye as it is based less than a mile from my house. I sent off an email asking some questions, and am now booked in for a bike fit next week. This will just be a basic bike fit, so that Garth Kruger (the owner of the company) can take some measurements and recommend particular bike brands according to my dimensions. I’m hoping that this will help to minimise the risk of making an expensive mistake, as well as narrowing down my choices as I’m very indecisive!

Last weekend, I took part in a fantastic triathlon training camp run by Ant from Run Camp and Ben from Try Tri. I chatted to them a lot about cycling and also practised transitions, but will write a separate post about that.

The last part of my bike update is about shoes. I decided to read up some reviews on the best triathlon-specific cleated shoes. I identified the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly IIIs as the best ones to get, but there is no local retailer, which meant that I would have to guess at my size. Wiggle had some in stock at £60, but they didn’t have all of the possible sizes that I would want to try. I looked up stockists online and discovered that there is a triathlon shop called Tri-1st just a few miles outside of Birmingham, so I decided to run there to have a look.

Pearl Izumi Tri Fly III

Pearl Izumi Tri Fly III

I tried on the shoes in a 41 and they fitted perfectly. They also looked nice, but were £89.99. I explained to the salesman that I could get them online for £60 and asked whether he could do a deal. As he was working out prices, I suddenly realised that I had tried on Tri Fly IVs (i.e. the new model, and that these were more expensive online). The salesman offered a price of £75 and I decided to go with it. Later on, I looked them up online and realised that £79.99 (not inclusive of p&p) was the best price I could get, and that Wiggle no longer had my size in stock. Maybe I should try haggling more often!!!


It took me a long time to find Tri-1st

It took me a long time to find Tri-1st…

...but it was worth it as I got a good deal on a pair of Tri Fly IVs

…but it was worth it as I got a good deal on a pair of Tri Fly IVs

Stu and I had also bought tickets for Early Riser festival at Avon Tyrrell at the start of August. It sounded like a great event: it was close to home, tickets were BOGOF and the bands are ones I’ve heard of… Plus it included entry into a cyclosportive with a choice of 42k, 75k or 100k. Sadly, I received an email this morning saying that it has been cancelled 😦 Luckily, I have another event to look forward to: 6 ferries and 100k. Katherine is organising this, so it will become a full blog post later.


In summary:
– I’ve upped my mileage
– I’ve bought bike shoes and clothes
– I’m booked in for a bike fit
– I’ll be getting a road bike soon
So, although it may not have felt like I was making progress, I am definitely taking steps in the right direction!