Tag Archives: open water swimming

Eastleigh Open Water Tri – my first open water tri of the season

29 Jun

Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who is following my blog – I started it as a personal record of my progress, so I am delighted that I’ve now got over 800 followers (I hit 802 today)! Thank you so much – it’s such an honour to hear from people who say that I’ve inspired them 🙂

Today’s excitement was my first open water tri of the season. So that I didn’t have to start my day too early, Stu and I registered last night and icked up our goodie bags. There was choice of free gifts on offer, including TryTri buffs, water bottles and mugs. As I’ve already got a TryTri buff and my kitchen cupboard is overflowing with water bottles, I chose to have a mug and coaster that I will take to work. We were also given a delicious packet of Urban Fruit. I got ‘magnificent mango’, which is nice, but not as delicious as the strawberry one!

Racking up

Racking up with Suzanne

Racking up with Suzanne © Try Tri

The swim

Fortunately, the swim was in a lake that I’m familiar with. I’ve heard that there are some enormous fish in the lake, but it’s so murky that I’ve never seen any. There have been lots of reports in the local (Dorset) news about scores of giant barrel jellyfish appearing in the area… I’m so glad I didn’t hear the news before doing my sea swim last Sunday!

I read this article this week about outdoor swimming: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/26/why-i-love-outdoor-swimming?INTCMP=mic_233352 I love the feeling of solitude that I get when swimming in the lake in the morning – I haven’t done enough of it this year!

A groups of us started together in the last wave, so I hoped that I would be able to keep teri, Liz and Jenny in sight during the swim and bike. I did continuous front crawl, but am still not sure why I’m so slow in comparison with old lady breaststrokers!

11:14.2 (166/210)

 T1 – transition one

I knew T1 would be slow as I had to put my contact lenses in. At least I wasn’t last and next year I should be able to move a bit faster in T1!

3:08.15 (191/210)

The bike

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I’d practised the bike route with Donna, Jenny and Roelie, so I knew what to expect. I went out as hard as possible, knowing that I was behind most of my friends. I saw Asa on her return journey and was surprised that I was so far behind… it took me a while to remember that she was doing the novice distance and had not had to swim as far.

It felt like I had to stop at every set of traffic lights, which was very frustrating. I saw Stu looking very strong on the bike, and not far from the turnaround point, I saw Teri. She had a very strong bike ride and did really well. A man spoke to me at a large roundabout, epxlaining that he had to go around it again… I think he was confused about quite how the two laps were calculated – oops!

On the second lap I felt like I was doing really well, until I got to a pedestrian crossing. The light went red, but the pedestrians had already crossed, which was very frustrating. I think I only had to wait about 30 seconds for the lights to change, but it felt like a much longer time period. I was also annoyed that another triathlete passed me at the lights by going through them when they were red.

As I headed back in through teh car park, I slipped my feet out of my shoes and amanged to do a fantastic flying dismount.

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47:26.80 (168/210)

T2 – transition two

My great dismount and the slope down into transition helped me to achieve a good time for T2. This always seems to be my strongest part of triathlons! I racked my bike, removed my helmet and mitts and slipped on my shoes as quickly as possible.

1:00.00 (84/210)

The run

My running hasn’t been going well this year, but I felt quite comfortable going out onto the run. My aim was to maintain a steady pace under 6:00/km, and hopefully get as close as possible to 5:30/km, which I think I managed. My aim for the winter is to pick up my speed.

27:06.30 (162/210)

Overall

I really enjoyed this event and am starting to feel more confident. There are a lot of things that I can learn from it.

1:29:55.40 (168/210; 40th female out of 67; 3rd in my AG)

As usual with a Try Tri evnet, there was a cracking medal.

eastleigh medals

Eastleigh medals © Try Tri

medal

© Try Tri

Eastleigh done

Eastleigh done! © Try Tri

Afte finishing, I met up with Asa, Suzanne, Katherine, Liz and Jenny (as well as Stu) to go for some food.

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Southampton tri club finishers (L-R: Asa, Me, Suzanne, Stuart, Katherine, Liz, Jenny & Donna) © Try Tri

group eastleigh 1

© Try Tri

My final bit of reading this week was an article from triathlete – here’s a taster of it:

#firedup #heregoesnothing #longandstrong #streamline #quitpullingonmyfeetyoufreak #kickandbreathe #longandstrong #kickandbreathe #biketime #omgthatsaddlesore #ignorethepain #focus #breathe #cadencecounts #strongandsteady #killthehill #quadsonfire #finghurts #downwego #wheeeee #dotheseshortsmakemelookfat #focus #strongandsteady #cadencecounts #runtime #nobigdeal #breathe #pace #quickfeet #onetwothree #onetwothree #thisisawesome #ichosethis #focus #pace #ouch #finghurts #thisisawful #ipaidforthis #focus #ignorethepain #onetwothree #breathe #breathe #cantbreathe #focus #mightpuke #puking #neveragain #focus #nomoreracing #breathe #howmuchfarther #swearthatwasamile #watchisbroken #focus #quietmind #breathe #whatwasithinking #iminsane #wheresthefinish #focus #breathe #focus #finally #iseeit #finished #mightpuke #puking #wheresmybeer #dotheseshortsmakemelookfat
Next on my event calendar is my first Olympic distance triathlon – in two weeks time – eek!

I wasn’t last, even though there was some swimming involved!

26 Jun

Although I’m still tired from last Sunday’s swim, I had already entered tonight’s aquathlon (hosted by the lovely TryTri chaps), so I figured that I’d better just get on with it. We left home a bit late, and I didn’t do a great job of getting myself organised. I thought that I had picked up everything necessary for transition, but realised that I had left my inhaler and contact lenses in my bag, so I missed the briefing (and hat distribution) to go and get them. Fortunately, Stu was there to get a hat for me. I didn’t really have enough time to worry and just went straight into the water, which actually felt like a pleasant temperature.

After a quick wave at the camera, we were off. I had carefully positioned myself near the back of the pack, so I wasn’t squished in the initial brawl. We soon spread out and I was pleased to realise that I was breathing quite well. Unfortunately, my goggles were not doing as well, as I had to stop and empty them three times, which broke my rhythm.

My terrible breathing! © Paul A. Hammond

My terrible breathing! © Paul A. Hammond

I'm still not sure why my head is in this position © Paul A. Hammond

I’m still not sure why my head is in this position © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

The route was meant to be 750m, but my sighting wasn’t great, so I swam 980m… I really must work on that as I wasted quite a lot of time.

The course is 2.5 laps, so by the time I had swum 1.5 laps, it was starting to thin out a bit and I was pleased to realise that I wasn’t the very last person. Unfortunately, I was also aware that my arms were very tired from Sunday’s exertions, so I wasn’t able to pick the pace up. I pushed as hard as I could, but I know I was passed by at least 3 people in the final lap.

Eventually, I was at the end of the swim. Maybe I should have swum a little bit closer to the exit, but I was ready to stand up, and was relieved that I didn’t feel as dizzy as I normally do. Result! 🙂

Some people might blame the wetsuit for being unflattering; I blame my love of food! © Paul A. Hammond

Some people might blame the wetsuit for being unflattering; I blame my love of food! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

This shows just how close the next competitor was © Paul A. Hammond

This shows just how close the next competitor was © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I should pin this horrible photo of my double chins up in the kitchen! © Paul A. Hammond

I should pin this horrible photo of my double chins up in the kitchen! © Paul A. Hammond

I finished the swim in 20:01.8 (35/37)

It was then onto transition, which I know is a terrible discipline for me. If I could just strip off my wetsuit/hat/goggles, throw on some shoes and run, I’d be fine, but I’ve had blisters when I tried running without socks before, and so close to a triathlon, I didn’t want to risk it, so I put socks on. Then came the real time-wasting part: contact lenses. I hate running with my glasses on as they make me feel ill. This is partly because they’re not quite the right prescription, but at nearly £300 a pair, I can’t afford to waste money on something that I rarely wear. I put in my contact lenses as fast as possible and was off.

Heading into transition © Paul A. Hammond

Heading into transition © Paul A. Hammond

An entire sequence of me stripping! © Paul A. Hammond

An entire sequence of me stripping! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I’m amused by this shot, which looks like I’m weeing myself – I’m not, honest! © Paul A. Hammond

I managed not to battle my watch this time – I took the face of it off, removed my wetsuit and then clipped it back on again 🙂

T1 2:00.20 (36/37)

At this point, I was unaware that I was not the last person. I thought someone had exited the lake just after me (which they did) and I assumed that he was the very last person in the event… and I knew he would have left transition before me.

I always find the breathing hard when I first start running after swimming, but I just told myself to relax and enjoy it, which seemed to work. I’ve mumbled recently about feeling like I’ve only got one speed – slow – as a consequence of doing some long, slow runs, but I surprised myself by being able to move at a reasonable pace. I think the intervals with Coach Ant (Run Camp) and Huw/Steve (Southampton Tri Club) are finally starting to pay off.

I could hear a speedy runner coming up behind me, but I thought that there was no point in looking around as they would pass me soon enough. I was quite surprised when they spoke to me, and then realised that it was Stuart, who was clearly running very well. I had decided to wear my SOAS pink peacock tri kit as I’ve got a busy couple of days ahead of me and I want to wear my team SOAS kit on Sunday. It’s really comfortable to wear and has the added advantage of standing out really well. Stuart said that he recognised me from quite a long way off as my kit is so distinctive!

I like the run route for Eastleigh aquathlon as it’s essentially the same as the first parkrun that I used to attend, which is where I found my love for running. It’s a two lap course that I know inside out. A third of the way around is a slight incline, before a shady tree-lined section, followed by a (miniature) railway crossing and then an open path. There’s then a grassy section around a ‘bowl’ followed by a sharp down and up, before a gentler slope leading back across the railway line. There’s then one more steep up and over the railway line, before heading to the second lap/finish.

By the time I got to the first incline, I could see a runner ahead of me in distinctive green calf guards. It looked like he was slowing down, so I thought there might be a chance that I could catch him. This, and the enthusiastic encouragement from Becky who was marshalling, encouraged me to push on. I took a while for me to catch up with the chap, but I finally managed it at the bowl. I then headed back towards the start/finish, where the lovely Paul was waiting

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

This shot shows just how great I was feeling! © Paul A. Hammond

This shot shows just how great I was feeling! © Paul A. Hammond

Still smiling and both feet off the ground! © Paul A. Hammond

Still smiling and both feet off the ground! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Getting ready... © Paul A. Hammond

Getting ready… © Paul A. Hammond

...to blow a kiss at Paul! © Paul A. Hammond

…to blow a kiss at Paul! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I kept pushing on the second lap as I didn’t want to be overtaken. As I crossed the railway line, I realised that there were some competitors ahead. I started to push on, but realised that I probably wasn’t going to catch up with them, which frustrated me, but I didn’t want to push too hard as I want to save some energy for Sunday’s triathlon.

Towards the end of the race, I heard someone running behind me. It was a man with a fluorescent yellow shirt on. I didn’t think he was part of the aquathlon, so I wondered whether he was just someone out enjoying a run… but just in case, I started to pick up the pace a little more. This was a lucky guess, as it turned out that he was in the event!

Feeling determined as I could see the finish line! © Paul A. Hammond

Feeling determined as I could see the finish line! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Look at that heel lift! I hope Coach Ant feels proud! © Paul A. Hammond

Look at that heel lift! I hope Coach Ant feels proud! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Action shot! © Paul A. Hammond

Action shot! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Although I look tired in these photos, I was actually feeling really good and would have been happy to carry on and run another 5k. It turns out that my run was the best part of the event for me as I beat 4 people!

Run: 26:38.75 (33/37)

Total: 48:40.75 (34/37)

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I really enjoyed tonight’s event. My super husband did brilliantly, finishing in 3rd place in a time of 31:11.10! Awesome result, Stu! The TryTri lads work well to make each event a success and they also put in a lot of effort to make ech competitor feel valued. The aquathlons are reasonably priced, with chip timing for each event meaning that the results were online by the time that I arrived home, and there was also a bottle of water for each entrant.

I now feel as well prepared as possible for Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon on Sunday. As usual, my aim is to finish, but I’m also hoping not to be last. My T2 is likely to be significantly faster than T1, and I’m hoping that my bike segment will compare favourably with others (probably more because of my fab Kuota Kharma than for my ability).

Have you got any races coming up? Which discipline do you think you need to practise the most?

31 minutes a km!!!

24 Jun

On Sunday morning, I went down to Bowleaze Cove with Stu, Suzanne and Roelie for the first of this year’s Big Cove sea swims. There are two distances on offer: 1.5 miles and 3 miles. I’d looked up information about previous events online and in the past couple of years the number of entrants has fluctuated between about 24 and 40, which had advantages and disadvantages. I knew that it meant I would be less likely to be crushed in a melee at the start of the race, but it also meant that I would quite likely be out on the course on my own for long stretches.

As it was only a swim and not an aquathlon or triathlon, there was no need for the event to start really early, so we didn’t need to leave Southampton until 8am. We arrived in Weymouth quite early, but then we had to work out where we needed to get to. Stu’s satnav was determined to take us down a route that was inaccessible and then we ended dup driving around a caravan park before we looked at some online maps and found an alternative route.

It was a beautifully warm and sunny day (20°C by 9am), so there were already quite a few people on the beach and eating full English breakfasts in the nearby café when we arrived. We parked the car and I was surprised by how cheap the parking was for a lovely tourist destination (£2.50 for 4 hours).

We had a bit of time to waste, but none of us wanted to out our wetsuits on and stand around in the sun for too long. We went and registered, which was a very simple process. We were all given green hats to indicate that we were doing the shorter distance; the 3-mile swimmers were given orange hats. We also had our numbers written on our hands. It’s a trivial detail, but I was pleased that the woman who was doing it has neat handwriting – I hate having a number scrawled badly on my limbs!!!

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We thought that we had seen the course marked in the bay, but as we were waiting, we realised that more buoys were being towed out into position. In terms of running, I can conceptualise how far a mile is, but seeing it marked out in the sea, made it look like a huge distance, and was more than a little terrifying.

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The email that we had been sent before the event had stated that all entrants should be strong swimmers who are experienced at open water swimming. I’m not really sure that I fit either of those categories. I’m definitely not a strong swimmer as I’m most definitely in lane 1 at Tri Club (although I can hold my own in the middle lane when I go to public lane swimming sessions). I’m not sure that I’m an experienced open water swimmer either – I’ve swum at Lakeside and HOWSC as well as a lake in France, but the only ‘sea swim’ that I’ve done was Fowey Harbour swim last summer, which wasn’t too long and was in a very safe environment. We had also been asked to state how long we thought it would take us – I had written down 90 minutes.

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At last it was time to put our wetsuits on. Foolishly, I ran and cycled on Saturday with a vest and shorts on, so I had burnt my shoulders, which was not the best preparation. I liberally applied bodyglide to my neck and just hoped that nothing else would chafe during the swim. I meant to put on lip-gloss, but I forgot. I also had to use my inhaler as I was finding breathing difficult and was wheezing a bit.

I’ve got really poor eyesight, so I still had my glasses on. Without them, I can see nothing, so if I took them off, I would have to walk around with my goggles on, which is not a great look. I had been undecided about which goggles to wear. I prefer my tinted goggles as they were more comfortable and have slightly larger lenses than my clear goggles, however, the replacement strap that I’ve been using since my last one broke just doesn’t seem to work well and I ended up stopping frequently at the pool to empty them out, so I decided that the clear goggles would be the sensible option.

I also dislike getting water in my ears. I’ve never tried earplugs, but find that if I wear a good swimming hat, my ears are well enough protected. The temperature meant that I thought a neoprene hat would be excessive, but I decided to go for two swimming hats. I put on my favourite shark motif hat, then my goggles before finishing off with the green Bustinskin hat.

We had time for a quick dip in the sea before the event. In hindsight, I should have spent a bit more time acclimatising to the water. My hands felt cold, but the rest of me was OK. The sea temperature was actually quite pleasant at 17.3°C, although the wind speed was 8 knots – according to local weatherman Bob Poots.

Just before the event started, we were called over to the blue start mat for a briefing and roll call. I’m guessing that the event’s proximity to the Challenge Weymouth course accounted for the surge in popularity, as there were 36 people in the 1.5-mile event. We were given some instructions about staying with 5m of the buoys and to pass them on our right hand side in both directions. The 3-mile swimmers were told where the turning point was, and then there were some other comments. I gathered that the gist of them was about jellyfish and bumping into things, but my hearing is not great, so I wasn’t really sure what had been said. After the event, I read a news item that said there has been a huge influx of jellyfish in the area because of the warm seas encouraging plankton growth. I was so glad that I was unaware of that when the event started.

I positioned myself at the back of the pack and to the side, as I knew I would be one of the weakest swimmers there and I didn’t want to have anyone swim over me at the start.

The start of the race was in very shallow water, which started to deepen as we reached the end of the pier. At this point, other swimmers were still in sight, but it was already clear that I was going to be last. I was doing my best to relax and swim with smooth strokes, but my breathing was all over the place and I did wonder whether I would make it around.

For the first quarter of the race, I was accompanied by a stand up paddle boarder, who kept saying reassuring things to me and checking whether I was OK. I did wonder whether I should just turn around, but I didn’t want to fail. I was grateful to have someone beside me, but I also felt guilty that I was so far behind everyone else and that so much attention was having to be focused on me.

I started to get into some sort of rhythm and was really surprised by just how much I could see. Suddenly, I saw something ahead of me… Oh My God! It was a dead baby! I have no idea what must have been on my mind for that to be my first thought! I put my head back into the water and realised that I was mistaken. It was only a jellyfish… hold on… a jellyfish?! Aarrgghh! I panicked and started swimming sideways as quickly as I could.

When we did the Fowey Harbour Swim, there were list of jellyfish and some people got stung. They said it wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t want to find out what it would feel like. The only parts of my body that were exposed were my hands, feet and arts of my face, but I was still frightened.

Unfortunately, the jellyfish were part of the event. I would get into a rhythm, only for it to be interrupted by me freaking out about the appearance of something in the water beside me (mainly jellyfish, but occasionally, faster swimmers who were lapping me).

I also realised that there was a mark on my goggles that looked like a huge black jellyfish whenever I looked out of the corner of my eye. (On inspection after the event, I’ve realised that it is the prescription label on the lens – these will definitely be picked off before I do a similar event in future!)

The course was well marked out with enormous yellow buoys that were clearly visible even for someone with eyesight as bad as mine. I think the buoys were about 250m apart, but I don’t know, as I didn’t check my watch.

It took me a long time to feel like I could breathe comfortably. I also realised that my legs weren’t doing anything useful and my shoulder still isn’t quite right after my accident.

By the time I was halfway out, I could see the lead swimmers coming back on the other side of the buoys. At this point, the stand up paddle boarder swapped roles with a chap in a kayak. There were quite large distances between some of the buoys, and not everyone is very good at sighting. I realised that unless I moved, then a large group of swimmers would swim straight into me, so I started heading further out to sea. The kayaker shouted at me, so I had to explain what my manoeuvre was.

I decided that I needed to start pushing myself harder, so I tried to get into a better rhythm. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up swimming very close to the kayak and its shadow. For some reason, this made me think about Jaws. The thought of sharks in the water did no help my mental state as I became aware that if there were to be anything in the water, I would not be able to get out in a hurry.

I carried on and eventually reached the final buoy. I glanced back towards the beach and realised just how far I had to go. Part of me was tempted to look at my watch, but I knew that wouldn’t help me and that I just had to keep going.

My breathing had finally settled down, so I thought I could swim in a good rhythm, but the swim back was much harder. Some of the others reckon that it had become breezier and the number of ribs, jet skis, and motorboats out in the cove had created some waves. I hadn’t particularly noticed any swell on the way out, but it was definitely there on the way back. I had been swimming bilaterally, but breathing to my right wasn’t really an option on the way back, so I settled into a four-breath rhythm.

The return leg seemed to take forever. I was passed by a number of the 3-mile swimmers, some of whom swam extremely close to me.

Towards the turn, I could see lots of people on jet skis riding about. Although the logical part of me knew that I had on a striking coloured hat and that there were marshals around, I became a bit paranoid that I might meet an untimely end being hit by some sort of craft.

Eventually, it was time to head back to the beach. I was feeling exhausted and was ready to divorce Stuart for convincing me to join in with this madness. Two three-mile swimmers passed me, but I had no energy to try to keep up with them even for 5 seconds.

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The water was very clear and it looked like I could touch the bottom with my hands. I wasn’t sure how soon I could stand up or whether I was expected to swim as close to the beach as possible. With about 15m to go, I stood up and waded to the beach. I’d done it!

One of the marshals put a medal around my neck, but I felt so shattered and numb that I was unable to do or say anything. I barely spoke for 10 minutes. My legs and arms were not as tired as after running a marathon, but the adrenaline caused by my fear throughout the event meant that I found it mentally exhausting.

Stuart, Roelie and Suzanne were waiting for me on the beach, having finished quite a long way ahead of me. They had all changed and were starting to get cold and hungry, whereas I wasn’t particularly interested in eating.

Stuart finished in 11th place in 43:12.

Roelie came 22nd in 50:36

Suzanne was 26th in 55:59.

The winner was a woman who completed the course in just 36:38!

As expected, I finished last, with 9 of the people doing the 3-mile swim finishing ahead of me. This was not unexpected – as I’ve never swum further than 2000 metres before, and have only ever spent an hour swimming in the pool. It took me 1:22:32, which is a few minutes ahead of my estimated time of 1:30, but really not good enough. If anyone wants to see the full results, they are available here: http://www.bustinskin.com/download/big_cove_swims_2014/big%20cove%20swim%20race%201%20.pdf

New swimming PB for distance, time and calories

New swimming PB for distance, time and calories

My Garmin data for the course is here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/526034617 Zooming in on it, you can see just how wonky my swim was!

Stuart and Suzanne have already signed up for the next two events in the series, and if I’m going to make the start line of Challenge Weymouth, I guess I’d better give it another crack! Hopefully, next time, some more people that we know will be able to make the event.

I decided not to swim yesterday, as I was feeling exhausted. My poor technique combined with the duration and length of the swim and wearing a wetsuit mean that I have got some very stiff muscles in my back. Also, although we all applied plenty of body glide, all four of us have been left with burns on our necks.

Overall, it was a very difficult experience for me. However, it does now mean that I should feel more confident about Challenge Weymouth. I have now swum the distance in similar conditions; cycled for about the right distance with the Wiggle Spring Sportive and run the distance (plus more) at Brighton Marathon.

What’s the toughest event you’ve done?

Fresh veggies and super swimming

16 Jun

Happy Fresh Veggies Day! How many portions of veg do you eat every day? Five? Seven? Ten? …and, no, potatoes don’t count and neither does wine!!! Nutritionists agree that when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, most of us just aren’t getting enough. How about going vegetarian for a day to celebrate this event? (It’s also Fudge Day, but that’s not healthy, so I won’t dwell on it!) I’ve eaten plenty of fruit today, my lunch was a salad with plenty of veg and this evening I ate some delicious home-made veg bhuna.

I’d love to hear your favourite vegetarian recipes to celebrate this day.

This evening, I did another Tri Club swimming session. It felt like a tough session:

  • 100m breaststroke warm up
  • 25m sculling high hands
  • 25m sculling medium hands
  • 50m sculling wide hands
  • 200m steady swim
  • 300m steady swim
  • 400m steady swim
  • 400m fast swim (20 secs recovery)
  • 300m fast swim (20 secs recovery)
  • 25m breaststroke
  • 25m backstroke
    1850m in total

I’m seriously starting to panic about this weekend’s swim, but after I uploaded my Garmin data, I  found an email from RunKeeper in my inbox:

New PB for swimming - time

I’m trying really hard, but swimming doesn’t come easily to me. I just hope that it’s good weather on Sunday, and that the sea is calm. I have no idea how sheltered the cove is, but I’ve just looked up the results for all of the events from the last two years and was really surprised to see that only 15-25 people participated in each event… and almost all of them completed it in under 45 minutes. Oh dear – what have I got myself into?!

First Eastleigh aquathlon of 2014

29 May

Thursday evening was my first aquathlon of the year at Lakeside. Last year, I did the novice event, and it was my intention to move up the full (sprint) distance… but that was before my shoulder injury. I spoke to the organisers and they said that as it was a mass start, I could make my decision when I was in the lake, which would give me an opportunity to see how my arm was feeling. That’s what I love about TryTri – they really do their best to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Arriving at the aquathlon

Arriving at the aquathlon © Paul A. Hammond

I signed in and then got marked up.

Lucky number 24

Lucky number 24

After chatting with a few friends, it was time for the race briefing and a few words from ActiveCoach, the event’s sponsors.

The briefing

The briefing © Paul A. Hammond

We then headed over to the start of the swim. This year, the events are chip timed, so I collected my chip before getting into the lake. It was very slippery, so several people did a ‘bottom shuffle’ to get into the lake. I was a little more dignified, but not much!

The water wasn’t unpleasantly cold, but I had spent so long getting myself organised that I didn’t really have enough time to acclimatise properly. I must remember to get in the lake earlier next time, so that I’m ready to swim when the race starts.

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond Why is my head so far out of the water? Aarrggh!

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond I really must learn to keep my head lower!

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond Not waving, but drowning!

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond Help!

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

I’d love to be able to say that I had a great swim, but I didn’t (and the photos clearly show that my technique was terrible). My right shoulder was still in a lot of pain and it felt like the lap and a half took forever. Finally, I neared the end, so I started kicking frantically, to help with my blood circulation. This seemed to work as I didn’t feel light-headed as I emerged from the lake… but it did nothing for my clumsiness. I trip and managed to hit my knee, which was painful.

In transition, I was acutely aware of how slow I’d been, but I decided that I would wear sock anyway as my feet blistered when I did my last aquathlon without socks. I also had to remove my watch to get my wetsuit off. To try to save a few seconds, I decided not to put my contact lenses in, which, in hindsight, was a mistake.

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond One leg out.

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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Nearly there! © Paul A. Hammond

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Smiling because I’m running… and I can see the photographer! © Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

I put my watch back on and headed off on a 2.5km lap as fast as I could, which turned out to be not very fast at all. Ben was out on the course cheering people on, which was great and I knew it wouldn’t take too long before I finished.

After crossing the railway line, Ian passed me with Sonia giving chase. They congratulated me on my swim – they clearly hadn’t realised that I’d only done the novice distance – oops.

By this point, I had remembered why I refuse to run with my glasses on – I always end up feeling motion sick, so I ran quite a lot of the race with my eyes closed, which is not something I would recommend to others!

Someone passed me, but I wasn’t ready to give up that easily, so I pushed harder and managed to get ahead again. There are a couple of downhills and short sharp inclines in the final 1km. These helped me to pull ahead a little bit further and in the final 400m, my coach passed me, on his way to winning the sprint event.

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Can you tell that I’d had enough at this point? © Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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© Paul A. Hammond

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Final sprint for the line © Paul A. Hammond

Eventually, I crossed the line where I was rewarded with a bottle of water and some delicious dried strawberries from Urban Fruit. I then cheered in the other participants, including my husband who missed out on 3rd place in the sprint event by less than a second.

I finished 12/16. My swim took 14:10 (13th) and my transition took 2:09 (13th), but my run made up for some of it as 12:55 was 10th! Overall, it took me 29:15 and I was 4th female finisher. This is quite disappointing as my results from last year’s aquathlon show that I finished in 27:52. Next month, I’ll be aiming to do the sprint distance.

A massive thank you to Paul A. Hammond for all of the lovely (and not-so-lovely) photos!

 

Day 8 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports

8 May

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It was sad that it was the last day of our holiday, but I was also feeling exhausted through the exercise and lack of sleep. I felt a strange mix of not wanting the holiday to end combined with a desire to curl up in my own bed and sleep for a week.

The final activity was a lake swim. I considered joining in, but my arm was still painful, so I decided not to aggravate it further. I didn’t want to miss out, though, so I went along as a photographer. If I’d been clever, I would have taken a leaf out of Jose’s book and gone for a run around the lake.

The boys were first into the lake whilst everyone else was still adjusting their kit…

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It was clear that some people were not keen to get into the lake, but I found the water temperature to be quite pleasant when I was swimming.

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Towards the end of the swim, the sun came out and it really started to warm up.

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After swimming, we went back to the farmhouse to finish packing before having lunch and then heading to the airport. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone, but maybe one day I’ll return.

Day 4 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports – the day when I crashed my bike

4 May

Day 4 started with a swim in the lake. We started off with some drills:

  • crocodile eyes sighting
  • raised head sighting for when there are waves
  • turn onto back to view others
  • 90 degree turns

The image below shows us practising turning around some markers (Graeme and Alan). Unfortunately, the continuing pain in my arm/shoulder meant that I found it very difficult. I tried to do some front crawl, but ended up doing 400m of kicking only. Fortunately, the temperature of the lake was quite pleasant, so it didn’t matter too much that I was only moving slowly.

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The next activity was a long ride to Bagneres. The coaches had some fun taking  photos – Graeme has amazing balance and coordination!

Cycling up Palomieres

Cycling up Col de Palomieres

Towards Palomieres

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After a short climb, we regrouped for a photo in front of Col de Tourmalet, one of the most famous climbs from the Tour de France.

View of Tourmalet from palomieres

At this point, the group divided, with Stu in the faster group and me in the slower group. We cycled to the top of Col de Palomieres, which had beautiful views, so we stopped for a few photos.

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Col de Palomieres

Not content with ordinary photos, we also managed to create a human pyramid (although I struggled with my bad arm, which is why I look a bit squashed!)

Second celebratory pyramid

pyramid

Unfortunately, the next section, where we started heading down the mountain, was where my holiday went wrong…

I had been concerned about my arm pain as it was difficult for me to grip the handle bars and brake. I realised that my speed was creeping over 40kmph, which might not sound fast to most people, but it was not something that I enjoyed. I tried to brake, but realised that I was not losing any speed. This made me feel stressed and I had to think of an action plan. I was getting faster and faster and could see a hairpin bend ahead. I realised that there were several options:

  • continue going down the mountain and hope that I would slow (unlikely)
  • continue going down the mountain knowing that I might not turn the corner and would therefore go over something even steeper (likely)
  • bail by hitting the only hedge in the vicinity

It was a tough decision as I knew that I was likely to get injured, no matter which option I chose, however, I was absolutely terrified of the consequences if I didn’t stop, so I had to take some action. After some of the longest and most frightening seconds of my life, I went into the hedge.

I remember screaming in fear, but I can’t say exactly what happened next except for a sharp pain in my arm. I hit the hedge and then just lay on the ground feeling completely dazed and breathless.

It wasn’t long before Kat and Alex caught up with me. I opened my eyes and saw one of my SOAS bottles rolling away, but that wasn’t my primary concern at that time. Kat sent Alex down to get Graeme and then encouraged me to sit up, but I was still in such a state of shock that I just wanted to lie still for a few seconds.

After about a minute, I sat up and then got up. I pulled my bike from the hedge and could see that I had entirely buckled the handlebars. Kat encouraged me to walk down the hill with her, so I started walking. She offered to take my damaged bike, but I was too afraid that I would drop her bike, so I continued with my bike. It quickly became clear that there was a problem with the brakes, so I tried to adjust them… but then I realised that I had buckled the wheel. In order to continue walking with my bike, I had to open the quick release mechanism on the brakes.

It didn’t take long before Graeme came back to us, so Kat continued down to the rest of the group. Graeme straightened out my handlebars and sorted out the brakes. I was still feeling panicky and was struggling to breathe, so I needed to use my inhaler. I realised that I had lost my water bottle, but didn’t want to cause any more fuss – fortunately, my Garmin was still attached, although it was at a strange angle. I walked a short distance with Graeme to where the rest of the group was waiting.

I managed to get back on my bike, although I could see some large bruises emerging. Kat and Graeme told me that there was still some of the incline to go. I then looked down the path, but realised that just the thought of heading downhill made me feel sick with panic and fear. I wanted to get off my bike, but didn’t manage to unclip in time, so for the third time this week, I hit the deck. I toppled to my right hand side and tried to avoid my injured elbow and shoulder, so managed to whack my head on the ground.

Lou was very sweet and came rushing up to help me up. I felt really stupid and as if I had failed, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get back on my bike because I was gripped by fear.

Kat called Neil who agreed that as soon as they got back he would come and pick me up. he rest of the group continued with the ride, whilst Kat and I removed our shoes and  started walking down the hill. I agreed that I would cycle up any hills that we got to. There were a few downhill sections, but unless they were very gentle and I could see the road ahead, I had to walk. I felt like such a failure, but was also in pain and really frightened.

It didn’t take too long for Neil to come back and pick me up. We put my bike in the van and Kat decided to continue with the ride, as she needed to get some training in.

When we were nearing Barthes de Neste, we saw Graeme and Lou, so I didn’t arrive back at the farmhouse much before the others.

It was a beautiful day, which didn’t really match my mood.

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By the time I got back, my bruises were really starting to appear.

My left leg has a bruise the side of my hand on it.

My left leg has a bruise the side of my hand on it.

The worst bruise is on the inside of my right knee (and there are also bruises all of the way down the front of my right shin)

The worst bruise is on the inside of my right knee (and there are also bruises all of the way down the front of my right shin)

The outside of my right knee is also bruised

The outside of my right knee is also bruised

My leg hurt quite a bit, but not as much as my shoulder, so I decided that it would be prudent not to run.

Jose helping to fix my bike

Jose helping to fix my bike © Embrace Sports

In the evening, Alan and Neil served up some delicious Thai curries…

Thai curry night

… and we all stayed outside to admire the sunset.

Sunset at the farmhouse

Sunset at the farmhouse

Col de Tourmalet could be seen clearly

Col de Tourmalet could be seen clearly

Some of us went down to the road to get a better look at the views.

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It was at this point that I realised that although I was in beautiful surroundings, it was not the right holiday for me. The level of challenge was too great and I had failed 😦

Day 3 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports

3 May

There was a slight change to the original schedule as we had already visited the sports shop, so the core class was moved to Saturday.

Saturday's plan

Saturday’s plan

After eating some porridge, some of the group decided to cycle to the lake. I was still injured, so I made the sensible decision to go to the lake in the minibus and I didn’t swim as I knew I would be unable to put my wetsuit on. I was bitterly disappointed as I really wanted to be able to show how much my swimming had improved since November.

The lake looked beautiful: calm and clear. About 200m out were some rocks, which made a convenient turning point.

The lake

The lake

I watched everyone get into the water and do some laps. I had been told that the lake was quite shallow, but was surprised when I was able to see Graeme standing near to the rocks.

Alan and Stu at the lake

Alan and Stu at the lake

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Jonno, Neill and Bernadette

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Helen and Louise

I went for a walk around the lake and was amused by the signs prohibiting swimming. The coaches had already mentioned that we would see these and that as part of an organised group, we would be perfectly safe and that there was no reason why we shouldn’t swim.

No swimming!

No swimming!

Kat, Graeme and Neil

Kat, Graeme and Neil

Some people said they thought the lake was very cold, but when I dipped my hand in, I thought it felt significantly warmer than Lakeside.

When we got back, some people used the hot tub. It was suggested that it might help my arm, but I couldn’t face trying to get changed again as it was painful.

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Helen, Poppy, Alex, Kat, Jonno and Elena

After lunch, Neil went through some basic bike maintenance with us. I’ve watched people demonstrate how to replace an inner tube on many occasions now, but I’ve never had to do it myself (and hope that I never have to!) Neil also explained about how to ensure that your brakes are set up correctly.

Bike maintenance 101 with Neil

Bike maintenance 101 with Neil

In the afternoon, everyone went out for a 35km bike ride to visit the larger lake in the vicinity. Unfortunately, my arm was too painful for me to join them, so I just stayed at the farmhouse. After everyone had gone, I realised that I should have asked for my bike to be put on the turbo trainer. Instead, I took the opportunity to organise some of my possessions and laundry as well as reading some emails.

Trip to the lake without me

Trip to the lake without me

I felt quite sad that I was missing out on the fun, but hoped that some rest would mean that I could join in with everything the next day.

I changed into my running clothes, so that I would be able to join in with the brick run, but it wasn’t easy as my arm throbbed with every step. It was a 50 minute session:

  • 15 minute warm up
  • 10×1 minute hard with equal recovery
  • 15 minute warm down

We then had a core session with Kat. I was unable to do a plank, as I couldn’t put weight on my arm, but I was able to join in with most of the class, which helped to make me feel like I was part of the group again.

Core Pyrenees

In the evening we went out for dinner in a French restaurant. As expected, there wasn’t really a choice for vegetarians – fortunately, I now eat omelettes, so I was OK. I was also good and resisted dessert as I didn’t feel that I had earned it.

French restaurant

French restaurant 2

I enjoyed getting to know Elena and Alex, the Russian couple, a bit more. It was really interesting to learn that they are Event Directors of Moscow parkrun and that parkrun has changed their lives in the same way that it has changed mine!

Goal

25 Mar

Here is today’s IDEAfit photo a day image:

Goal for 2014 - find an awesome brand to work with - done!

Goal for 2014 – find an awesome brand to work with – done!

The theme was goal. In January, I decided that I wanted to find an amazing brand to work with and was utterly astounded to find that I had been chosen to be a brand ambassador for SOAS. Today, I received a fantastic parcel of kit from them. It’s so awesome that it’s going to get its own post!!!

After the negativity of yesterday’s post, I was interested to read this article: Train to recover – Don’t recover to train. I’m interested in the idea of training opportunistically (i.e. doing the right workout for how I’m feeling, rather than because that’s what my training schedule says). I think that to often, my training schedule is focused on quantity rather than quality. As my University gym membership now includes free use of the running track, I’m hoping to get down there and do some quality speedwork (as soon as I’ve recovered from Brighton).

Although it was difficult to get up and get to the track this morning (apologies to Coach Ant for being late), it actually turned out to be a really motivational training session. We did 4×3 minutes and I managed to exceed my goal for each of those. I was aiming to do 596m and managed to get to between 620 and 670m for each rep. I also managed to get off to a really good start for each of the reps. I absolutely love the first 200m of each lap as I really love the feeling of sprinting. For nearly a minute I was able to keep up with the boys (who are better at pacing themselves!)

This evening I received a lovely motivational email from my coach, which has helped me to feel more positive about Brighton Marathon. Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography has made me realise that very few people experience perfect training, but that doesn’t mean that a race won’t go well. I’m not expecting a miracle, but as long as some spectators cheer me on, I’ll be OK 🙂 I’m then going to give myself a little break before I return to Run Camp with the aim of getting faster again.

A friend of mine shared the following information on Facebook today, so I decided to respond to it:

OWS research

OWS research

My husband has had his place confirmed and I’m hoping to hear back from them tomorrow.

I’ve also realised that yet another Tuesday has gone by where I’ve failed to #TWIET (Tweet What I Eat Tuesday). I’m being kind to myself this week and in the run up to Brighton Marathon, so I’m hoping to have a little more time at home, which will mean that I catch up with housework, emails and blogposts (or that’s the plan). Next week I want to resume #TWIET and also my Friday guest blog post – I’ve got a really amazing interview that I’m excited about sharing with you 🙂

Have you ever felt demotivated by your training? How did you pick yourself up and regain your love for the sport?

So, how’s it going?

6 Aug

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, which means that I feel guilty… And when I feel guilty, I tend to put off blogging, and so the spiral continues 😦

As penance, I’m going to try to post something every day for the next week, so that you can catch up with what I’m doing.

This morning, I crawled out of bed – reluctantly – at 6am, so that I could get to the lake for a swim. Yesterday, the weather was miserable, with lots of rain, so the clear skies this morning were a bit of a relief. I was quite organised last night, so all of my clothes were out ready and my bags were packed.

Pearl Izumi Women's TrisuitLakeside - EastleighI decided to brave my pearl izumi trisuit… I bought it from Sport Pursuit and had intended to blog about it, but failed. It looks great on the hanger, but less good on me. The never-ending diet should help that!!! However, it was also chilly, so I topped it off with a lovely fluorescent yellow cycling jacket.

My lethargy and inclination to cycle at a pace equivalent to strolling, mean that it was nearly 7am when I arrived at the lake. Roelie was already there, but there weren’t many other people… And no-one appeared to be wearing just a trisuit. I had dithered about whether to wear a wetsuit or not, but my lazy side won as I couldn’t be bothered to carry it. Fortunately, the lake was quite warm and after I managed to get my shoulders in, it felt ok.

Shark swimming hatIt was also my third opportunity to show off the ‘glamorous’ new hat that Stu bought for me. He thought the sight of sharks would intimidate Kev in our swimming lessons. I’m not sure whether it has worked – Kev has decided not to return to swimming lessons, but that’s probably because he has chosen to upgrade to swimfit. (I’ve signed up for one more set of lessons – this time with Gary as an accomplice – and then the RR10 season will be over, so I’ll persuade Stu to join me in swimfit classes).

My first lap wasn’t great, because my breathing felt wrong, and the second lap wasn’t much better. The third lap felt great and I really wanted to carry on, but I had to get out to go to work 😦 If only there were more opportunities for open water swimming in the evening. Leaving on a high was also probably good as I’ve now swum for four consecutive days and my arms are a little tired – I did a lake swim on Saturday, swimming lesson on Sunday and pool swim before work. I’ve also come to the conclusion that it feels much easier swimming in the lake than swimming in the pool. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel as much pressure to get to the end of a length, whilst trying to beat other swimmers. It’s also much more peaceful at the lake – I hate noisy locations. The downside is that I exited the lake looking like a bogmonster with mud all over my face. Fortunately, there is no mirror at Lakeside, so I couldn’t worry about my appearance and just gathered up my stuff to cycle to work, still wearing my trisuit (the showers are much better at work than at the lake!)

My marathon training schedule said that I needed to run after cycling home from work, but I was feeling lethargic and was tempted not to do it. However, I knew that once I had started, I would complete the workout. I also decided that after the success I had with setting intervals on my watch last time, that I would do that again. There are so many great functions on my Garmin that I’m not sure I’ll ever use them all!

8x800mAccording to the schedule, I was meant to do 8x800m at 4:52/km… however, my schedule did not state how long my rests should be, and I’m well aware that the pace was calculated using my 10k PB and I’m nowhere near that level of fitness. I decided to give myself some lee-way, so the watch was set with a pace band of 4:52-5:00/km. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to stay at that pace, but I’m glad that I pushed myself to try and think that having the beep on my watch to nag me to speed up helped. I’ve also been out running in shorts most  days in the last couple of months. This might not sound significant, but after all of the leg issues I had last year, I started using my skins tights as a crutch and started to believe that if I didn’t wear them I would be unable to run. I even wore them in Portugal, despite being worried about over-heating! My cellulite is on show for everyone to see, but at least I’m getting a tan!!!

Tomorrow’s training was meant to be a swim at lunchtime, but I’ve got a lunch with work colleagues planned and will be marshalling at my club’s RR10 (a local league race), so I won’t be exercising in the evening. I need to decide whether to swim first thing or not.

At some stage I also need to blog about the amazing machine that is my new bike. It is amazing… but I’m not going to spill the beans in this post about what it is and how beautiful it looks. I will also write about how incompetent I am with my “clipless pedals” and how nervous I am on my speed demon!

My final bit of news is that I am desperately trying to stick to my diet. I’ve been good for a whole week, so am hoping that I will be able to find a salad at the pub for lunch tomorrow… although I think a cheese ploughmans may be my only option. I have also made the tough decision not to socialise after the RR10, as there is not a single healthy vegetarian option on the menu and I just don’t want to be tempted by other food. Fingers crossed my weigh in result will show how hard I’ve tried this week!

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