Tag Archives: Southampton Half Marathon

Planning for 2018

6 Feb Planner with the words 'Make it happen'

Planner with the words 'Make it happen'

I usually spend some time on New Year’s Eve planning my races for the following season, but of course I start thinking about what I want to achieve before then. This year was no different, but I’ve been so busy that it’s taken until now for me to write down my plans…


  • Swimathon – swim 2.5km in under an hour.
  • Get in the pool at least once a week for the whole year and to make it to some open water swimming sessions.
  • Take Baby M swimming once a week


  • I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get a place in RideLondon again this year
  • Get involved in cyclocross this year


  • Reading Half
  • London Landmarks Half
  • Southampton Half
  • Do my 250th parkrun


  • Long Course Weekend – do the full event


  • Qualify as a Personal Trainer


I’m trying to be realistic about what I can achieve as I’m really busy at work and M is a high-maintenance tiny human. I’m sure there will be some other B & C goals that will come along throughout the season, so watch this space!


Southampton Half Marathon 2016

27 Apr

Although my original plan has been for this to be one of my A-races for 2016, the chest infection that I got earlier in the year put paid to that plan, so when I was offered the chance to pace sub 2:20, I was really excited. I loved pacing at Eastleigh 10k and was confident that I could support other runners to achieve that time.

I probably didn’t have ideal race preparation, but as I wasn’t ‘racing’ that didn’t worry me too much. On Saturday morning, I went to parkrun. Unsurprisingly, a lot of my friends were volunteering, but Kate was there. She had decided to take it easy and do 30-35 minutes, so I figured I’d join her for a nice sociable run. We were joined by Trevor and had a lovely chat on the way around… although yet again, my competitive genes kicked in when I looked at my watch towards the end and realised how close we were to 30 minutes. I didn’t quite make it this time!

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 20.55.28

It was my 177th run, so I should be able to reach my 200th this year, and if I keep going then I could get to my 250th by the end of 2017 🙂

On Sunday morning, I woke up early and had my usual breakfast, before we drove towards town. We then met Dave and quite a few of the others from the pacing team.

My new boiler is making my house quite warm, so I left the house wearing shorts and a hoodie, but a few minutes of waiting around meant that I had to rummage in my bag to find my jogging bottoms as it was really cold. Just after I put my trousers on, it started to drizzle a bit 😦 I don’t mind running in the rain, but I don’t like getting wet before the start of the race.

The event team treated us really well – we had a lecture theatre at Solent University to relax in before the start of the race, which kept us all warm. We also had access to real toilets with no queues, which is a definite pre-race luxury. The only slight downside was that my pacing t-shirt had gone missing, so Katherine leapt into action and penned me a new one!

My sub 2:20 pacing t-shirt

Katherine’s handiwork

My race number: 5885

I love the fact that Marafun race numbers are personalised

After some motivational talks from Matt le Tissier and Franny Benali, as well as Dave, our pacing team leader, I had a chance to chat with Sheryl and Carol, my pacing buddies. We’ve all run the route before and are aware that the first section is mainly downhill and flat (with the exception of the Itchen Bridge), whereas miles 8-11 are mainly uphill, so we decided to go slightly faster on the first half of the course (averaging 6:30/km), so that we could ease back on the steep uphill section, aiming for a course average of 6:38/km. I know that many people will argue that you should aim for a negative split, but our plan was to get as many people around the course on time as possible.

Before the start of the race, we were given pacing flags to carry out onto Guildhall Square before heading to the star zones with them. I hadn’t seen the buzz outside, so it was great to see how many people had congregated. My friend Inez spotted me and snapped a terrible photo!

Tamsyn carrying the 2:20 flag

Flag bearing © Inez Walker

After we took our places with the flags, we were able to go back inside for a while to keep warm. Fortunately, the earlier rain clouds had gone and the sun had started to come out.

Carol, Sheryl and I lined up on time and had a bit of a chance to talk to fellow runners.

Soon we were off. It was a very slow start, but we were able to start jogging within a couple of hundred metres and managed to hit our pace by the time we were 1km in. The crowds out on the streets were amazing and I saw so many people that I knew.

Most of the runners had heard about the Itchen Bridge and some of them were nervous of tackling it, but the weather was kind to us and it wasn’t windy, which made a big difference. There were also quite a few spectators on the bridge and we got to watch all of the faster runners going past on the other side. I had assumed that I would see Stuart, but the 1:30 pacers were just coming down as we went up and Stu must have already been ahead of them. We had to put a bit of work in to get the spectators clapping and cheering, but I think it helped the people running with us.

There were quite a few photographers on the bridge, so I kept reminding the group to smile!

Crossing the Itchen Bridge

Crossing the Itchen Bridge

Crossing the Itchen Bridge

The next highlight of the race after the Itchen Bridge was running through the Saints’ stadium. before the race some of my friends had voiced concerns that it would be a pinch point, but I thought we would have thinned out enough by that point and I was correct. We approach the stadium with a large group of runners from Pompey Joggers, which led to a lot of good-natured banter (Portsmouth are Southampton’s biggest rivals!) A lot of people paused to take selfies, but it’s a shame that there were no spectators in the stadium.

The next part of the race was crossing the Northam Bridge towards Bitterne. We passed the 10k point in 1:04, so we were feeling confident.

Then we turned off towards Riverside Park. A German student started chatting to us – although she’s been studying here for a couple of years, she’d never seen this part of the city before, so we told her a bit about the area.

When we got to Riverside Park a few of the runners started asking us about where the nearest toilets were – I wasn’t sure whether there were any portaloos there, but luckily for the desperate runners, there were some. Further on in Riverside Park, there was an aid station with bottles of water and energy gels. I don’t like energy gels, but I had a bit of water.

It was then on past Woodmill, and the first of four climbs. Although this is a short climb, it’s fairly steep and we had to encourage a fw runners to keep going at this point. We then had a flat section before the main hill on the race: Burgess Road. The crowd support there wasn’t quite as good as last year, but we had a bit of time in hand, so were able to take it steady and encourage runners to stick with us.

After Burgess Road, we ran past the University. Last year I recognised a lot of staff members and students out supporting, but there wasn’t as much of a crowd, and I was trying to pay attention to the poor road surface and the water station.

It was then onto a downhill, followed by another climb. yet again, there was a good crowd of supporters out by the church and some words of encouragement chalked onto the road. After a couple of turns we were onto the Common.

It was a quick run through the underpass (made quicker by everyone’s desire to escape the toxic fumes from the guy sparing graffiti tags on the wall – I won’t call him an artist as there’s no merit in just spraying in your name!) and then the final uphill climb.

It was getting quite warm but as we were still a little ahead of schedule, we were able to ease off through the Common. Sadly, we passed a couple of people who had passed out, which is always really sad to see.

Finally, it was the home stretch. We kept our pace steady down London Road, feeling confident that we were going to finish dead on our target time…

220 pacing

Reaching the final mile with Sheryl and Carol © Ken Grist

Sadly, our final race results didn’t quite tally with what we had expected.

Tamsyn's Southampton half results

We hadn’t realised that the start mat was not under the finish gantry, but 60m before it, so we walked for 30 seconds before we started our Garmins. My watch had stated that our finish time was 2:19:49 and Sheryl had the same result, so we thought we’d done a great job. I hope the confusion didn’t spoil anyone’s race.

Southampton half certificate

So it was my slowest ever half marathon, but the great company from Carol and Sheryl and the feeling that I had helped others to achieve their goals means that it was also one of the most enjoyable races I’ve run.

2016 Southampton half marathon medal

We received a great goodie bag at the end of the race, including the latest issue of Men’s Running or Women’s running.


We were also given a great finishers t-shirt, but as mine is currently in the washing machine, I haven’t got a photo of it 😦

We were also given a water bottle and a banana – I’m always grateful to have something to eat and drink after a race. A lot of people were enjoying Erdinger Alkoholfrei, but one of the main reasons why I don’t drink ordinary lager is that I don’t like its taste, so I decided to pass on that! We were also given mini boxes of Alpha Bites cereal (‘multigrain cereal letters’).

Alpha Bites and Ahmad teabags

I’d like to give a mention to my friend Kim who was the sub 1:10 pacer for the 10k. She got the runners around on time and got herself a PB – great work 🙂 Also, my husband Stuart managed to get himself a new PB of 1:23, despite being ill recently.

A video of the race has already been edited and shared online:

After the race, it was great to meet up with a number of friends, including Liz who finished 4 female overall and 1st V40, which is a fantastic result.

I also had a chance to chat with Chris, the mastermind behind the event – congratulations on organising a gret event, Chris!

Chris had ensured that there were enough goodie bags, t-shirts etc for people, which meant that he had some left-over items, so thank you very much for the box of bananas! Hopefully, my new kitchen will be fitted soon and I’ll be able to bake some banana bread.



Ready to Race?

25 Apr

It feels like I’ve been so busy training recently that I’ve not had as much time as usual to blog…

I mentioned back in January that I’ve signed up for Solent Athlete’s Ready to Race course, which includes two track sessions a week and a self-led long run at the weekend (and some strength and conditioning work at home).

Solent Athlete 20th January

Solent Athlete 24th January

I know that a lot of you won’t ever have seen me run. In my head I am a gazelle, but the reality is a little different.

A friend recorded a video back in 2012 when a group of us visited a friend in Coventry – I can briefly be seen running at 1:22 and it doesn’t look good:

However, the work that I’ve put in with Coach Olly from Solent Athlete means that I now have noticeably better posture and feel lighter on my feet 🙂

Solent Athlete 3rd February

Solent Athlete 5th February

Solent Athlete 5th February Tamsyn

I did a parkrun on 6th February and was feeling fitter than the one I did at the end of January, so I was feeling confident that I could get a faster time… but I hadn’t allowed for the strong winds. I usually love the downhill sections and have learnt to keep running hard rather than recovering, but it was so windy that I struggled to maintain forward momentum!

Southampton parkrun 6th February 2016

On 13th February, I ran with my friend Teri and her son William. It’s always more challenging running with small children as long runs are always fartlek sessions with them. I find this kind of running much harder than going at a steady pace. William really wanted to do well, but it was a cold day and his hands were very cold. Luckily, the effort paid off and he got a PB!

parkrun 13 Feb 2016

Afterwards, Stu and I joined the others from SUTRI in Trago Lounge for brunch, which was a nice reward.

Solent Athlete 18th February

On 5th March, Carmen from Solent Athlete’s Ready to Race course joined me to do her first parkrun.

parkrun 5th March

She’s got more natural talent than she realises. She only took up running in January and managed negative splits throughout the run of: 6:48; 6:19; 6:17; 5:55; 5:31.

parkrun with Carmen

parkrun with Carmen

The following day I helped with another Marafun Sunday Runday in preparation for Southampton Half Marathon.

Part way around the route for Southampton Half

Part way around the route for Southampton Half © Kate Budd

The 10 minute mile group

The 10 minute mile group

On 7th March, my climbing course started. I’m absolutely terrified of heights, so it was a kill or cure option.


The following two weeks, I was unable to check my progress as I was Run Directing at Southampton parkrun.

parkrun 12 March 2016

Solent Athlete 17th March

parkrun 19 March 2016

However, I was back to running on 26th March.

parkrun 26 March 2016

Solent Athlete 14th April

Solent Athlete 14th April 2

Solent Athlete 21st April

Solent Athlete 25th April

Overall, I loved the Ready to Race course. I made some great friends and was excited to learn about new running techniques. I can see a lot of advantages to what I’ve learnt and hope taht I’ll continue being able to put what I’ve learnt into practice.






Illness stopped play :-(

10 Jan

After a great start to January, it didn’t take long for things to go downhill.

On Wednesday lunchtime, my work colleague, Sarah, and I jogged down to Southampton Common where we met a friend from Tri Club, Rob. The plan was to do an intervals session, which was just as well as Rob can run a 17:XX 5k!

We headed up to the model boating lake, which has a smooth tarmac path around it that measures almost exactly 300m. Rob initially planned to do 10 laps, but I knew that I didn’t have enough time to do that many and I was feeling a little under the weather. (I had a sore throat and as I have been struggling with vocal problems since April last year, I am trying to look after  my voice).

After doing a couple of laps, Rob decided that he would aim for 8 laps, and Sarah and I decided to go for 6. My first couple of laps felt quite good, but after that I could feel my technique starting to fail. After four laps I felt tired and was needing longer recovery between laps. By lap six, I felt entirely exhausted and I no longer felt able to pick my legs up properly. When I paused at the end, I felt so hot and was really worried that I would faint, so we walked part of the way back to work, before doing a gentle jog.

On Wednesday evening, I led my first running club session for a long time. I arrived early and waited a short while before runners started to turn up. After a short while, Kirsty and Irene arrived and we were able to get people to sign in. I was staggered by the attendance – there were so many runners, and at least 5 new people.

Kirsty led the first part of the session, which included some walking lunges, clock hops and squats immediately followed by sprints. After that, I led a Mona Fartlek session (named after Steve Moneghetti).

Session: 2 x 90sec, 4 x 60sec, 4 x 30sec, 4 x 15sec. Continuous running.

Total Duration: 20mins including recoveries

*Recoveries are floats of the same duration as the effort prior e.g. after the 90sec reps you continue with a float for 90sec before the next effort starts. Finish the session with a 30sec float. The efforts should be increasingly quicker as the durations get shorter.

Most of the runners took the recoveries as walking breaks as it’s a tough session and it was quite challenging to do it as the first session of the year. Have you ever tried this session?

On Thursday, I had been looking forward to doing a lovely home stretching session with Liz, followed by a spinning class, but I woke up feeling really unwell, so I spent most of the day in bed 😦

I spent a bit of time online, so I had a look at instagram and saw this which cheered me up:

New SOAS kit 2016

I can’t wait for my Team SOAS 2016 kit to arrive. I guess it will be in about March. What are you looking forward to this year?

I also learnt about Bountsa digital health app that literally gets you rewards and prizes from big name brands, right down to free stuff from the local store”. It probably requires hundreds of hours of exercise to get a single voucher, but I figure that if I’m doing the exercise anyway then I might as well log the hours and earn the points. I think Bounts is currently available in UK, USA and India. Have you used it? What do you think?

On Friday, I felt slightly better, but just walking up and down stairs made me wheeze and exhausted me, which was very frustrating. I worked from home as I knew I wouldn’t be able to cycle my bike up the hill from my house. I hoped that I would make a SUTRI swimming session in the evening, but I was ready for bed by 6pm, so that was another session I missed.

For over five years, my Saturday morning routine has included getting up in time to complete parkrun. I had wondered whether I would be able to go along and take it as a gentle jog, but when I woke up, I realised that I was still feeling rough, so I turned over and went back to sleep. Later in the morning, I went out to the kitchen fitters to discuss our proposed new kitchen, which took quite a long time. By the time I got home, I was ready to go to sleep again – just standing up had felt exhausting. I also still had a temperature 😦

I was so grateful to feel significantly better this morning. My temperature had dropped back to normal and although I felt a little stiff and tired, walking up and down stairs felt normal. It has been so frustrating to be ‘trapped’ in my house, so i decided to go out for a gentle run. I’ve volunteered to be part of the Sunday Runday crew in preparation for Marafun’s ABP Southampton Half Marathon. I had let John know that I might not be well enough to run and that if I did run, I would probably go with a reasonably slow group. As I was feeling much better, I said I would back mark the 10 minute mile group (the middle group).

Sunday Runday 4Sunday Runday 1 Sunday Runday 2 Sunday Runday 3  Sunday Runday 5

I can’t say that I found the run easy, but it was lovely to catch up with Jill, Malcolm, Laura, Peter, Kim, Kate and various other friends. I even had enough energy to tackle, the laundry and dishes and to do lots of food prep when I got home, which is such a relief.

I’m hoping that I can get in a full week of training this week, as I have my first race of 2016 on Sunday: Stubbington 10k. I love the email that they sent – it makes it seem like I’ve achieved something simply by entering!

Stubbington 10k entry 2016

I’ve entered this race several times previously and have blogged about my experiences. It will be interesting to see how my run stacks up against previous times:

  • My Stubbington 10k 2015 time (52:10) – 3rd fastest ever 10k after Eastleigh 2013 (52:02) and Eastleigh 2012 (51:06)
  • My Stubbington 10k 2014 time (55:17)
  • My Stubbington 10k 2013 time (55:14)
  • My Stubbington 10k 2012 time (53:03)

I’ll see how it goes on the day, but I’d like to finish in under 55 minutes.

How’s your week been?

ABP Southampton Half Marathon

26 Apr

I didn’t run as much as I’d planned to in Japan (my running was limited to the running tour that we did in Tokyo at the very start of our trip), and I’ve struggled with jet lag and laryngitis since returning, so I was a little apprehensive about doing Southampton Half. I did parkrun in Cornwall last weekend, and only just got under 30 minutes, which is significantly slower than I expected.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the half marathon distance, so I asked my friend Teri to go for a run with me on Monday. The short run to her house (<2km) was really hard and I struggled to get under 7 minutes a kilometre. I had said to Teri that I wanted to go for a 60-90 minute run, but I tried to revise that down when I spoke to her husband. Fortunately, Teri was keen to go for a longer run as a bit of stress relief, so I was persuaded to go for 90 minutes. We chatted for the whole run and gradually picked the pace up, so although it wasn’t fast, I managed to do 10 miles and didn’t have any aches, which reassured me that I should be able to finish the race, although I revised my goal to 2:10.

I was sensible for once and rested all week, although I had forgotten that I had booked a sports massage for Saturday afternoon. It was one of the most painful massages that I have ever had – that’ll teach me for cycling miles every day and not stretching!

This morning, I woke up early as Stuart was doing London Marathon… however, although I had intended to be the supportive wife, after a quick chat and a cuddle, I turned over and went back to sleep for another hour and a half.

I made breakfast (apricot and almond porridge) and dressed quickly, so I was ready quite early, Teri had contacted me to agree to meet early, so I set off to walk to our meeting spot. We intended to walk to the start of the race, but just as I got to our meeting point (by a cross roads), a car pulled up and Teri shouted for me to jump in. Teri had been picked up by our club mate Jonathan, so I was happy to accept the lift.

We arrived just before the start of the 10k race, so we stopped by the side of the road to cheer the start of the 10k race and then went and collected our race t-shirts. After that we headed over to where the LRR flag was set up… with a brief stop along the way. There was the most adorable black pug with her owners, so I had to stop for a quick hello!

Then it was off to meet the rest of the Lordshillers and time for a team photo.

LRR team photo

I also spotted my friend, Jez, just back from our trip to Japan. It seemed like everywhere I looked there were people I recognised!

As the queues were quite long, Teri and I headed over to the baggage tent early, and I reluctantly handed in my hoodie and rucksack. Teri had brought a bin bag with her, but I hadn’t thought to pick one up. The temperature was ideal for running, but a little chilly for standing around in.

We headed over to the start and managed to make out way to the front of the 1:45-2:00 pen, where Teri snapped a quick selfie of us.

Selfie with Teri

© Teri Pragnell

Before long, the count down was on and the race started… but it took a little bit of time to cross the starting line.

It was an uphill start, but I felt a burst of adrenaline and was excited to get started. I absolutely love races where there is crowd support and this race did not disappoint.

As we headed onto the High Street, I said to Teri that perhaps I was going a bit fast, but that I would stick with her for as long as I could. Teri pointed out that we were going downhill, so I wasn’t too worried.

We headed into Ocean Village for a run around the marina, which was a little congested and slowed to a walk at one point, so this may be an area that Marafun need to rethink for next year… although a staggered start may be enough to ease it.

We arrived at the Itchen Bridge faster than I realised. Teri quickly pulled away from me, but after my illness, I didn’t think it would be wise to push the pace too early on, so I let her go and focused on keeping my pace under 5:38/km, which was what I needed to do to ensure that I finished under 2 hours, as I had started to believe that I might be able to manage that.

In training, I have hated running across the Itchen Bridge and have often slowed my pace down or stopped for a quick breather, but I focussed on watching out for people I knew on the other side of the road, which distracted me from my discomfort. After the turnaround, I was able to see who I was ahead of… not necessarily ‘beating’ as they may have started considerably further back than me, but friends who run at a similar pace to me.

The support continued as we left the bridge and headed around past the Saints football stadium, before heading onto a part of the run that I have found tough before. Previously, I have started the run from on Southampton Common, so I wasn’t as tired as usual at this point, which was in my favour. It was also great to see Dan, one of my club’s finest runners, cheering people on. There was a slight incline, but the support of the crowd meant that I didn’t notice it. I also focused on smiling at the supporters to show how much fun I was having… as well as watching the technique of other runners, which distracted me a bit. I also saw parkrun Jill go breezing past – she really makes running look effortless!

We continued through Bitterne triangle and into Riverside Park, where again there were many supporters cheering us on. I’m wondering whether some of them were people who had been there since Junior parkrun finished.

Although the weather was cooler than of late, I made sure that I took on some water at every drinks station and poured some over me to keep my temperature down. At 10km, I had an energy gel. It allegedly had caffeine in it, but I didn’t notice any benefit.

The 2:00 pacer passed me, but from looking at my watch, I could see that he was running significantly faster than was necessary, so I wasn’t too bothered. I knew the toughest part of the race (Burgess Mountain) was yet to come, but I was confident that I had done enough earlier in the race that if I didn’t slow down too much, I would be OK.

There were many church groups and bands on Burgess Road, which helped me to maintain a steady pace, and before long, I was at the top of the hill. It included my slowest kilometres, but my average pace was still fast enough to finish in under 2 hours, so I felt motivated.

Running along University Road was great, I saw several work colleagues and there was great support from some student groups. I loved the run down the hill, even though I knew that there would soon be another 90 degree turn and then a hill up to The Common.

The Southampton Tri Club crew were the ‘mile makers’ on this part of the course, and it was great to hear them cheering, even if Steve did get over-enthusiastic and call me Donna (to be fair, we’re similar height with brown hair and are both Cornish, but that’s about the end of the similarities!)

I told another runner that the hills were over, because I had completely forgotten that we still had to run up the hill on The Common – oops. We ran through the underpass, which seemed incredibly dark – I’m sure it’s not normally that bad – and I powered up the other side as I knew that some people I know intended to be somewhere in teh area and I didn’t want to be seen slacking off. There were lots of people that I knew on The Common, including Steve Robinson and his children, Teri’s children, my work colleague Lorrayne with her daughter and Dean with his daughter. My breathing was feeling a bit strange, so I decided to give it to the top of the hill before getting out my inhaler… but I didn’t need to as the support helped me to feel good and it settled down again.

I love running downhill, so I was really pleased to have reached the highest point of the course. I also noticed that I was running near to fellow parkrunner and Sunday Runday runner Kate. She looked like she was having a great time – especially when we passed her son and the rest of her scout group.

At the bottom of the hill, I saw fellow RunCamper Max, along wither her husband and fellow STC’er Richard and their gorgeous daughter (who hasn’t been signed up for any clubs yet… as far as I know!)

Then it was on to the flats, where I saw my colleague Lorrayne again – she was looking in the other direction, but I shouted to get her attention! Further along the flats, I saw Lorrayne’s husband, Jonathan (who gave me the lift earlier). he was struggling a bit, so I encouraged him to run with me, which he did for a while, but unfortunately, it wasn’t his best race today 😦

After we left The Common, I knew there was a small group of LRRs to pass as well as the infamous cake-baker, Lou. Sadly, she had no cakes with her today, but it was great to see all of them cheering people on.

Heading down London Road, I knew that I was so close to the finish and I started to relax a little as I was feeling great and was confident that I would get under 2 hours – a feat which I have only achieved twice: at Reading Half in 2012 (1:52:19) and at Gosport last year. I couldn’t remember my time from Gosport, so didn’t have a specific target in mind.

I picked up the pace when we started running through the park – especially when I could see where we started, but then I reminded myself that we had to head back up to a finish in Guildhall Square… and, unfortunately, there was another hill to be conquered. I was determined not to stop and wanted to enjoy my run back up the High Street.

Towards one of the final turns, I saw the beautiful half of Julian Porter Photography (the lovely Sue), so I gave a huge grin, in the hope that there would be at least one good picture of me from the race as I’ve not had many recently.

Southampton half

It was then onto the final 100m, where I really picked the time up. I was absolutely delighted to finish in 1:55:14. A quick check of my time at Gosport Half last year showed that I finished in 1:57:37, so although it wasn’t a PB, it was my third time under 2 hours, my second fastest time ever and my fastest time since 2012. I am so happy!

Southampton Half results

I’m also really pleased with my stats – I finished in the top 45% (not sure that actually sounds better than the top half) and was in the top 25% of all women and my age group as well.

Southampton Half Marathon Certificate

Southampton Half Marathon Certificate

I really enjoyed this race. My preparation was not ideal, but the support from a home town crowd cannot be beaten. The TryTri/Marafun boys delivered a great event. It wasn’t perfect, but as their inaugural race at a scale they’ve never undertaken before, there were no major problems – they even fixed it so it wasn’t too hot, but it didn’t rain either! 🙂

I’ll definitely be entering this race again next year. If you want to find out more, watch the video and then visit http://www.abpsouthamptonhalf.co.uk/sign-up/ to sign up.

selfie with becky

Post-race selfie with Becky, Alison and Teri © Becky Cleeves

Pub with Teri

Post-race refuelling with Teri © Megan Draper

As an aside, my amazing husband ran London Marathon today. He spent most of the last three weeks feeling ill with a chest infection and I did wonder whether he was going to be able to cope with our cycling tour in Japan. He did a lot of training for the marathon, but I thought his dream might end in tatters, so I am immensely proud of him for not only completing the marathon but getting a new PB of 3:13:47. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to cheer him on.

Progress towards Marafun

13 Feb

Until, I got ill, my training for :


was going well. After being unable to run for a month because of having laser eye surgery, my parkrun times started out quite slow

parkrun Jan 2014 26 mins

10th January 2015

but have started to pick up again.

24th January

24th January 2015

I’m hoping that when I’m well, I’ll be able to run 5km in under 25 minutes again.

Next weekend, I’m doing Heartbreak Half. I didn’t run it last year, but I did do it (and blogged about it) in 2013. It’s a challenging course, so it took me 2:14:53. My aim is to run it in as close to 2 hours as possible (and ideally in under 2 hours). There are some tough uphill sections, but the race finishes with some great downhills.


As preparation for the Heartbreak Half, I went out for a long training run with Pete and Aleesha, last weekend. We met on The Common and followed almost all of the route for Southampton Half, so that by the time I got home, I had run 21.2 km in 2:00:16. This was much faster than I had expected to do on a training run, but my Garmin has frustrated me and refuses to upload the file as it has somehow become corrupt.


I also signed up for an Endomondo challenge a while ago and was emailed a certificate to recognise my participation 🙂

Endomondo challenge

Endomondo challenge

I had been intending to do a long run on Sunday morning followed by a bike ride in the afternoon, but I’m now unsure whether I’ll be able to manage either of those, so I may just sit down and start planning my training more carefully. I’ve got so many evnets lined up that I keep forgetting that I’ve entered Ironman Dublin 70.3

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 10.37.38

Whilst browsing the internet today, I saw this:


How many of these apply to you?

I also saw a humorous graphic about different types of runners.

Which type of runner are you?

Fundraising for the Chestnut Appeal

25 Jan

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



The events that we are doing:

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


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

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

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

Good Fri Tri finishers

Stuart and I at the end of the Good Fri Tri


Round up of my first week of a crazy year

11 Jan

I’ve set so many goals for myself that 2015 is going to be a crazy hectic year.

I’ve already got back to some training, but I can’t train outside on my bike at the moment and I’m also not back to swimming yet, so I’ve been doing a lot of running. I’ve also been trying to inspire new runners and have been focusing on healthy eating, which is really hard when people keep bringing in to the office boxes of chocolates and biscuits that they didn’t eat at Christmas. I swear that I’m based in an office full of feeders, but I’m resisting them all! I tracking my progress with healthy eating using Giveit100. Follow me at: https://giveit100.com/@tamsynsmith/hdhzbl My terrible videos are also appearing on Instagram, as that seems to be the easiest way to upload them to Giveit100

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Monday: 10k tempo run with LRR
  • Tuesday: 1 hour spin with SUTRI (and my first ride on a real bike since before my op! I’m now allowed to commute to work on my bike again, thank goodness!)
  • Wednesday: Coaching LRR – which involved doing some squats and some light jogging with some new/returning from injury runners
  • Thursday: This was #run2workday. I didn’t feel I could fit in any more running, so I led my first workplace beginners’ running group session. Two of my colleagues came – one of whom is a relatively experienced runner who has had a couple of years off and the other who is a complete novice. The day started with torrential rain, but by the time we went out, the sun was shining and it was gorgeous. We had a fun jog/walk session and I appreciated the opportunity to leave the office and get some fresh air – I must do it more often, as I’m spending too much time at a screen these days.
    In the evening, I did a 5000m track session with STC. I started out way too fast, but settled down for the second 400m. I was a little way back from one of the guys who swims in my lane, and finally managed to catch up with him at about 2.2km. It was very windy at the track, so I decided to tuck in behind the other runner for 200m to try to conserve energy. It was my slowest km, but I think it helped me in the end as I was feeling tired before I started. At about 4.8km, Donna caught up with me, but I think he shoelace came undone, so in the end, I didn’t have anyone to sprint against. Hopefully next time there will be a few more runners who are my pace or slightly faster so that I get dragged along. I’m hopeful that I can get another sub 25 minute 5k time again soon.
    When I got home, I received an email from RunKeeper:RunKeeper PB Jan 14
    I’m not really sure that I deserve it, but I’ll take it! 🙂
  • Friday: This was rest day… and I was so glad that it was.
  • Saturday: I started the day with a parkrun. I love going, but I know that I’m going to have to swap some runs for swims this year. I might alternate until I’ve done my half marathon in April, before switching to swimming almost every week. I was feeling quite tired after Thursday night’s track session, so I didn’t push too hard and was pleased to finish in 26:37.
    parkrun Jan 2014 26 mins
    In the evening, I made some ‘addictive sweet potato burritos‘… only, I didn’t really make burritos, they were more like tacos as my tortillas were a bit small, so I didn’t fold them up. I liked the recipe and may try them again.
  • Sunday: Today was the first of the Marafun training runs as part of the build up to Southampton Half Marathon. We did an 8.64km run at a 5:33/km pace (but Stuart threw in some killer intervals). I was tired, so it felt hard, but I know I can do this. Chris was out in town filming the runners – I’m wearing the turquoise calf guards in this video:  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1574997442718965

I think next week will be equally busy, especially as it will include my first race of the year: Stubbington 10k.

Stubbington entry number

I’ve run Stubbington 3 times before:

  • 2012: 53:03
  • 2013: 55:14
  • 2014: 55:17

My 10k PB is 51:06 set at Eastleigh in March 2012. At that time, 25:33 was my PB for 5k, and I know I’m faster than that now, so there’s hope that I might be able to squeak a PB at Stubbington (or at least stop my downward trend!)

What have I been reading this week?

This infographic on cycling equipment:

Pro Cycling and Fitness

Overall, this week it’s been a relief to have a gentle introduction back into my exercise routine.

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

7 Dec

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

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

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

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

Strava results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ironman Dublin logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

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

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

It worked out really well 🙂

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

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

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

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

Arriving at Santahampton

Arriving at Santahampton

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

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

Ant starting the run

Ant starting the run

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

Afterwards, we were all rewarded with a mince pie.

Any with Sandra and her huskies

Ant with Sandra and her huskies

My favourite Christmas elf

My favourite Christmas elf – Liz and her medal.

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Papping the photographer - a quick snap of Jules

Papping the photographer – a quick snap of Jules

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

Starting my half marathon training

9 Nov

Muddy cross-country run or a sociable long run? Decisions, decisions. This morning I had to choose between doing a cross-country race or a long run with other people who are training for Southampton Half Marathon. Although the weather forecast was good, I decided to avoid the cross-country race as my chest was still feeling the effects of yesterday’s run and also the heavy rain meant that it would be a very muddy course.

I was feeling quite tired, so I didn’t get up as early as I had planned, which meant that I didn’t have a lot of spare time before we were due to meet others. I ran up to The Common and met Teri on the way. Shortly afterwards, Stu caught up with us. It was quite a cold morning, but I had decided against wearing a headband and was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Teri was concerned that she wouldn’t warm up, but I knew that if I was moving at a reasonable pace there was more risk that I would overheat than be too cold.

We met other people outside The Hawthorns and were divided into ability groups. I considered joining the 8:30-9:00 min/mile group, as my half marathon PB was run at a pace of 8:34 min/mile (5:19/km), but I decided to be sensible and stay with the 9:00 min/mile group. This proved to be the right decision as I was quite tired by the end of the run.

After a quick warm up, the coaches and run leaders were allocated to various groups. I was in a group of about 10 with Nic leading and Stu back-marking. We went for a lovely run along some of the route of the half marathon, going through town and towards the Itchen Bridge before heading back to our starting point.

The run up to The Common had been quite slow with my first km (uphill with no warm up) taking me over 7 minutes, so I was quite pleased that until the final km of my 15km run, I managed to maintain a pace of under 6:00/km. My average pace for the run was 5:47/km. I’m hoping to maintain a pace of 5:40/km next weekend, so I think that may be possible, although it will depend on the wind.

I think that Marafun have hit on a great idea of organising regular long training runs in the build up to ABP Southampton Half Marathon and they’ve got some enthusiastic local runners to lead them. I’ll definitely be back for more!

Enjoying the sunshine with Stu at the end of our long run (15.08km)

Enjoying the sunshine with Stu at the end of our long run

As I had worked quite hard, I felt really hungry when I got in, so I treated myself to a cinnamon bagel and a glass of tropical nuun.


The rest of today has been spent catching up with chores – there is never enough time during the week. I’ve just been watching Downton Abbey and although I don’t need a large retinue of servants (my house is tiny), it would be lovely to have a housekeeper!

I’m trying to get back to eating more healthily, so I made a frittata that I can eat for lunch this week at work. I also wanted to use up some kale that I had, so I adapted an Isa Chandra Moskowitz recipe to make a kale and sweet potato stew. I’ve made the ‘proper’ recipe several times before and really like it. It includes quinoa, but I didn’t have quite enough, so I supplemented it with some bulgar wheat. The parsnip and potatoes were subbed with sweet potato and the navy/white/haricot beans were replaced by pinto and kidney beans. Delicious and vegan!

Sweet potato, kale, quinoa and bean stew

Sweet potato, kale, quinoa and bean stew

If you’re interested in more photos of the food that I make, please follow me on instagram: http://instagram.com/tamsynmsmith

This week is going to be busy. I’ve got a new fitness class to try tomorrow as well as leading a running group and swimming. Then on Tuesday, I’ve got swimming. However, the workout that I’m looking forward to most is Thursday night’s track session. I feel that my speed work is starting to pay off and I’m desperate to do more.

What are you looking forward to this week?