Tag Archives: STC

What I’ve been doing

6 Feb

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

Sunday 22nd January

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

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

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


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


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

Tuesday 24th January

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

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

Wednesday 25th January

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

Thursday 26th January

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

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


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


Saturday 28th January

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

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

Southampton parkrun 28th January

Sunday 29th January

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

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

Monday 30th January

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 31st January

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 1st February

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

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


Thursday 2nd February

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 4th February

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

Southampton parkrun 4th February

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

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

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

Big round up

9 Jan

It feels like ages since I’ve had a chance to blog. Christmas was hectic and baby M takes up an awful lot of time (who knew it was possible to sit doing nothing but watch a baby for hours!)

On Christmas Eve, Stuart, M and I were in Cornwall. I had found out that there was a new parkrun at Trelissick, near to Feock, but the inclement weather conditions meant that it might be very challenging with a buggy, so we decided to try to alternative route at Penrose parkrun. We’ve only done it out on the coastal past previously, but it’s currently on a flat tarmac path, which seemed like a more sensible option for the buggy.

It was Stu’s turn to walk with the buggy, so I put on my festive SOAS cycling jersey and some shorts. I persuaded Stu to take his festive antlers with him. Initially he was undecided about wearing them, but when he saw that everyone else was in fancy dress, he put them on:

Christmas Eve at Penrose parkrun

The event was heaving in comparison with when we have visited previously – there were 335 runners, which was over 200 more than in most weeks. Unfortunately, this meant that it was a slow start. I was hoping that the relatively flat course would make it easy for me to beat my post baby PB of 28:15. The course was also far muddier than I had expected. It took me almost two minutes before I could start jogging and even then I had to weave around people.

I finally managed to get moving more quickly. I could hear the man in the inflatable turkey suit just behind me, so I tried to pick up the pace. The course is currently an out and back, with an incline up to the turn around point. As we hit the incline ‘turkey man’ passed me. I was able to overtake on the way back down, but it wasn’t long before he sped past me again – oh well, never mind. I was also keeping an eye out for Stu and M. They were doing very well and were ahead of quite a few others.

The return leg was much easier as the crowd had thinned out. I could see the finish, but it involved going around a muddy corner and across a patch of grass.

Christmas Eve parkrun 2016

It wasn’t a PBPB, but I felt quite pleased anyway. I was 53/147 female runners and 6/24 in my Age Group.

After I’d caught my breath, I jogged back to meet Stu and M. They managed to beat 24 other parkrunners, which is a great result as they walked the entire event.

Stu and I had hoped to get out and about a bit at Christmas, but Stu came down with a heavy cold and we had so many relatives to visit that it was nigh on impossible to fit in any running, although we did go on a long walk to buy pasties 🙂

By New Year’s Eve, we were back in Southampton, which meant that we were able to take part in Southampton parkrun. It was Stu’s turn to run, so I got to walk with M’s buggy. My friend, Caro, caught up with us partway around, so I had a lovely social walk, and also managed to get a walking PB 🙂

New Year's Eve parkrun

I then had a dilemma. New Year’s Day was an extra parkrun day, so I knew that I could do either Netley or Eastleigh parkrun at 9am before doing Southampton parkrun at 10:30am. However, my next parkrun was a (minor) milestone: #200. In the end, Stu, M and I went out for a party on New Year’s Eve and then decided to have a lie in, so that I was able to do my 200th run at Southampton.

At the start, I met up with my friend, Pete, who agreed to run with me. Pete’s a stronger runner, but he’d had a very late night, so didn’t want to push himself too much.

During the first lap, we saw our friend, Kirsty, so she stopped and chatted to use for a while before heading off – she was in the middle of a long run.

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My photographer friend, Paul was out on the course, so all of the photos from my 200th parkrun were taken by Paul A. Hammon 🙂

I had decided to wear my parkrun 100 t-shirt, but it was a mistake as it was far too hot to wear black!!! I was also wearing my Hoka One Ones – I like them a lot more than I thought I would!


Stuart race walking with baby M.


Pete and I had been chatting a lot during the first lap, but the second lap felt harder. I had said to Pete before the start that I wanted a PBPB of under 28 minutes, but I started to wonder whether it would be possible.

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I was so pleased when we crossed the line in a time of 27:54 – a PBPB!

parkrun 01 January 2017

I was 80/218 females and 19/47 in my age group.

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This weekend was also a busy weekend. On Saturday, I walked Southampton parkrun with M. It was a busy event with its second highest ever attendance of 884.

I decided to wear some new kit. I’ve been sent some fantastic compression socks and insoles by SportArt, so I’ll be blogging about them soon.

Sport Art compression socks

I also wore a top from Craft that I received just before Christmas:

Craft base layer

Again, I’ll be writing a review of it as soon as I have the opportunity.

I also took the opportunity to try out a new gadget – a phone holder for my buggy – so I decided to play Pokemon Go whilst walking. This meant that I didn’t set a new walking PB, but I wasn’t far off.

parkrun 7th January 2017

Yesterday, I took part in my first cross-country race of 2017. It was also my first race since having baby M. It was the 5th race in the CC6 series and I was looking forward to running with clubmates from Southampton Tri Club, although I was a little worried that I might struggle to complete 5 miles as I’ve not run that far for a very long time.

Badger Farm CC6 group photo

It was quite a busy race, so I tried not to start too close to the front. It was also rather damp and misty, but warmer than the photos suggest.

Start of Badger Farm CC6
Stuart had agreed to look after M, so I was able to borrow his STC vest. I need to buy my own soon! I was also trying out some compression calf guards from Sport Art – I’ll be blogging more about them later.

The course was different from in previous years, which were usually two laps. I much preferred the new route, but there were some long uphill stretches as well as some steep parts. I loved the downhills, but they tended to be very muddy and a lot of other runners were wearing inadequate shoes, which slowed them down.

Badger Farm CC6 2017

In this league, only 3 women are needed to score as a team, however all abilities are welcome. I assumed that I was one of the last runners for my team, and I was correct… however, I hadn’t realised that Claire was just behind me until she over took me in the final 500m. I finished in 57th place out of 80, so there’s definitely some work to be done on my running, but I was pleased to complete the distance and to see lots of friends from STC, Lordshill and various other running clubs.

Post CC6 Badger Farm

I’ve not talked about New Year’s Resolutions because I’ve not come up with anything solid this year… however, I’ve got some exciting plans afoot regarding my nutrition, so I’ll be sharing more about them in the coming weeks. I’m also still deciding on my A races for 2016 as I need to know how much free time I have for training and I want to be fair to Stuart.I may take part in some races as a pacer as I really enjoyed it last year.

I’m hoping to get back to swimming soon and went out on my first post baby bike ride recently, with my friend Kim. Later this week, I’m going to be going to a free fitness class: Buggy Mums. I’ve no idea what to expect, so I’ll be reporting back on it.

What have you been up to recently? Have you set yourself any big goals for 2017?











Miles of Smiles

23 Jun

The last couple of weeks have been quite busy. Last Monday, I went to STC swimming training as usual. There were quite a lot of us in the session and we had some long sets to swim. I’ve not done enough swimming this year and I’m finding it quite challenging, but I managed to get 2000m done within the hour. This week felt a little better. There were only two people in Lane 2 (Kevin and Sonia), so I decided to take my chance and go for it. I was the slowest by far, but when I glanced over my shoulder I could see that I was at least keeping pace with (and occasionally beating) the swimmers in Lane 1. It was also quite bizarre to glance over my other shoulder and see Huw and Stu motoring away. I had a few technical difficulties with my Garmin, but think I swam around 2200m, which made me feel more hopeful for the Long Course Weekend.

On Tuesday last week, I went to the Lordshill Road Runners Magic Mile event. This was one of a series of 5 x 1mile events that are taking place in 2016, with the next one taking place on 26th July. The events are not serious races (well, not for most people) – they are free to take part in, with donations going to LRR’s chosen charity, however they are limited to members of local running and tri clubs.

It was great to see friends from Lordshill who I haven’t seen for a while, and also great to catch up with Liz, Claire and Sheila from Southampton Tri Club. Liz and Sheila had on tri club tops, but I don’t have one yet… and I also hadn’t realised that so many people would be wearing club kit. As usual, I had opted for my most comfortable and attractive running kit, so I was decked out in SOAS from head to toe.

The start and finish of the event are a short distance apart with participants gathering at the finish and being led to the start. I was so distracted by chatting to Claire that I walked part way to the start before realising that I was still carrying my rucksack and wearing my hoodie – oops. I dashed back to the finish, dropped my kit off and then had to hurry over to the start. I just about had time to use my inhaler (but no time to tuck it in a pocket – thank goodness for the secret pocket in the front of my SOAS crop top!) before we were off.

The first section of the course slopes gently uphill to the crossroads on The Common. I would have preferred not to start on a slope without a warm up, but enthusiasm got me to the turning point and I felt good that I wasn’t the very last person. It was then a gentle downhill towards the Bellemoor. I felt ready to go faster, but this is the path that I used to cycle to work on every day and I know that there are some broken patches of tarmac. After taking a tumble in my last half marathon, I was carefully scanning the ground ahead to make sure that I didn’t trip.

At the bottom of the slope was another left hand turn onto The Flats. Unsurprisingly, this section is completely flat apart from a couple of speed humps. I had been following another runner since the crossroads, but I could see that I was gaining ground, even though I don’t think I was speeding up. As we got towards the finish, I managed to pass her.

I finally crossed the line in 8:42 – definitely nowhere near my PB (which I think is 7:27), but quicker than I thought as I had expected to be closer to 10 minutes 🙂

Wednesday evening took in another mile event – this time Mile of Miles, a 10-x1 mile relay at the track. I knew I wouldn’t be quick, but I wanted to beat my time, and as my favourite photographer, paul, was there then I lso had to try to make it look like I was enjoying every second!

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Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

© Paul A. Hammond

I was the slowest runner for Lordshill, but was quite pleased to finish in 8:19, 22 seconds faster than my run the night before.

Mile of Miles

On Thursday it rained really hard, so I abandoned my planned open water swim and track session for a lazy evening at home.

On Saturday, I was Run Director at parkrun. It wasn’t too busy (600+ runners), which was good as Stu was out doing a long bike ride, so I needed to manage the event on my own. We had a longer finish funnel this week, which meant that there weren’t problems with runners backing up and we didn’t need to manage two (or more) queues. I then had some help from Kate to process the results. The temperamental scanners worked first time and because of our lovely new finish tokens, there weren’t too many names on the manual entry list.

parkrun volunteer

I had hoped to get out for this week’s RR10, but I spend yesterday at a work conference in Bristol, and didn’t get back in time to be able to run which was a shame, and I have loads to do tonight ahead of another conference tomorrow, so I’m having an evening at home. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get to do Medina parkrun (Isle of Wight) on Saturday morning.

What are your plans for this weekend?

Finally, if you haven’t seen Strava’s latest video yet, it’s worth a watch:


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?

What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…

13 Nov

We’ve had torrential rain here for the last few days, but things are starting to look positive. There’s even some sunshine on the weather map for tomorrow 🙂


The day didn’t start well as car problems meant that I missed out on the strength and conditioning session that I had been looking forward to. I was so gutted about it – I hope I manage to book a place for next Monday’s session, although I imagine that I’ll be tired after Gosport Half Marathon. I didn’t have to rush straight to work as I was booked in for a ‘flu jab. I’ve never had one before as I’ve never counted as an ‘at risk’ category, but my asthma means that I’m now someone who may be more seriously affected. I really hate needles and have fainted quite a few times when I’ve had to give blood, so I was a bit concerned about it. Fortunately, the nurse at my doctor’s surgery is lovely and it didn’t take too long, although I had to sit still for a few minutes afterwards to ensure that I didn’t keel over!

On Monday evening, I agreed to take Ben’s group at my running club… however, this group consists of the fastest runners in the club. They are seriously fast. Their warm up jog pace is my flat-out on the track PB pace. Of course this meant that I wouldn’t be able to run along with them and shout encouragement, and it’s a bit cool to stand around for an hour, so I got on my trust hybrid bike and cycled  around with them. Their main set was 6×1 mile reps at HM pace, which was a comfortable slow cycle for me. It was quite nice to be able to encourage them and I also got to see lots of the other runners who were out training.

After finishing off the LRR session, I cycled to the Quays for tri club swimming. There were only three of us in the lane, but I was by far the slowest one. My left arm (where I’d had the injection) was feeling stiff and tired and it was another impossible set – 12 x 25m off 30s. I decided to ignore what we’d been told to do and just did my best for each length before having 5s rest. We also had to tread water for 2 minutes with our hands behind our heads. I’m not sure whether I was doing it wrong, but it felt quite easy. Bizarrely, I received more praise from the coach than I’ve ever had before, even though I didn’t really do much!



On Tuesday, I went to the SUTri spin class. It was the first time that I had gone to a spinning class for two years and my first ever hour-long class.When I worked at Bournemouth University, I used to love going to lunchtime spin classes, but for reasons of time and cost, I’ve not been to any classes since I left BU. I remember that when I started going to classes, I found them completely exhausting, so I was a little concerned about how I would find an hour-long class. Fortunately, all of the time that I’ve spent on a real bike, whether commuting for work or triathlon training, has paid off and I did not struggle with the class. I liked some of the tracks that the instructor played, but I didn’t find the class as motivational as ones that I’ve been to in the past with lots of recognisable recent dance tracks with lyrics. There was also less variety than I’m used to, but I still think it was good and want to go again.

Last week, I went to the SUTri swimming session on Tuesday evening and I am planning to go again, but I had another commitment on Tuesday evening. Recently, Stu and I had a photoshoot with the lovely Sue and Jules from http://www.julianporter.com/ On Tuesday, we went to have a look at the photos that Jules had taken and decide which one we wanted to have printed and framed. Jules has written a blog post about it… it includes lots of the images that he took: http://julesandsue.co.uk/2014/11/lordshill-road-runners-shoot/ If you are in the south of England and need a photographer, I’d recommend getting in touch with Jules and Sue.



I really love running on the track, so I was looking forward to the Lordshill track session on Wednesday evening. The weather was pretty miserable, but I think it’s important to train in all weathers as you never know what race day will be like. Ben did quite a long warm up and technique session before the main set started. We were tasked with running 200m at 5K pace +10 seconds, followed by 200m at 5k pace. Ben had worked out how fast we should do each rep according to our PBs – I think I was meant to do 200m in 1:10 followed by 200m in 1:00… but I thought it was 200m at 5:10/km followed by 2oom at 5:00/km, which less of a variance. In the end, I did 200m slow followed by 200m fast, which wasn’t really what we were meant to do. I’m not very good at identifying my pace and I couldn’t read my watch. I think I should have probably relied on my lap button more. I’m not sure whether I did 12 or 13 laps, but it took me just under 26 minutes, which wasn’t too bad.

Garth and Graham at Vankru Cycling shared this fantastic video from Ritte cycles:  http://rittecycles.com/ritte-bicycles/the-rider-diaries-a-chance-encounter

The Rider Diaries: A Chance Encounter from Ritte Bicycles on Vimeo.

Make sure that you watch it to the end!

My next project…

1 Nov

This week has been so hectic. On Monday, I was hoping to be able to go running, but I ended up having to get my phone fixed, which took a lot longer than I had hoped. Fortunately, I was able to make the 8pm swimming session.

There were just two of us in the slow lane, which was nice. Unfortunately, the main set was 12x25m off 30s. This is the kind of set that I hate, as it’s something that is simply unachievable. I can swim 25m in 25s… but that’s a single length swum to the best of my ability. I can just about manage 29s lengths consistently… but I need more than 1s of recovery between them. Although I am willing to be challenged, I find it incredibly demotivating to be given an impossible set to swim. It took a lot of strength not to get out of the pool and leave the session.

At the end of the session, we were asked to swim 400m. I started behind the guy in my lane, which was beneficial as with a bit of effort I was able to draft him, however, after four lengths, he pulled over, so I had to continue swimming on my own. I picked up the pace a little bit and realised that I felt OK. I was also starting to pull ahead of my lane-mate. I decided to continue picking up the pace to see how far ahead I could get of the chap in my lane, but didn’t feel that I was pushing too hard. I was really surprised when I checked my watch at the end to see that I’d finished the 400m in 8:56. It’s the first time that I’ve timed myself over the distance since April, when I did it in 9:30, so I was pleased that I have improved. I’d really like to time myself for an all-out effort as I reckon that I could do it in 8:30 now.

On Tuesday, I booked to go to a SUTRI spinning class and was really looking forward to it. I love spinning, but the last time I went to a spin class was over two years ago when I worked at Bournemouth University. Unfortunately, the evening did not go as planned as my car refused to cooperate and I arrived at the Jubilee Sports Centre 5 minutes late. I walked past the room where the class was taking place, but I couldn’t see a spare bike and I couldn’t face the embarrassment of walking into a full room. After a few minutes of crises and debating just going straight home, I decided to wait in the reception and then join the 8pm SUTRI swimming session.

At about 7:55pm, I went into the pool where I could see a few people gathering at the deep end. One guy was wearing shorts and t-shirt, so I figured that he might be a coach – at last, I got something right. I explained that I had no idea of the format, so I was told that the first lane was mainly mixed drill sets, whereas the other lanes were focused on endurance swimming, with people doing 2-3k per session. I know I’m capable of swimming more than 2k in a session… but then I saw people starting to dive in. I can dive, but only just, so I decided to go into the drills lane.

I did a 50m warm up, by which time more people had got in – there were 12 of us in the lane, which is more people than I’m used to. We did various drills that I’m used to, such as ‘fingertip drag’ drill and ‘catch up’ drill. It was tricky swimming in such a packed lane, mainly because I couldn’t swim slowly enough. Overall, I thought that it was a good start for me as it gave me confidence.

On Wednesday, I led a hill training session with Lordshill. I would really liked to have joined in, but it’s not really possible when coaching – especially as there’s such a wide ability range in the group.

My mum, aunt and cousin came to visit from Cornwall on Thursday. My mum brought my latest project with her – my dad’s bike. It’s a Raleigh Olympus that dates back to about 1977, so it’s older than I am. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do it up and cycle it in Japan. If that plan doesn’t work out then at least it should help me to develop my bike maintenance skills.

Raleigh Olympus bicycle

Raleigh Olympus bicycle

At the moment, the bike isn’t fit to be ridden. My dad passed away on 23/06/02, so the bike definitely hasn’t been ridden for over 12 years and I would imagine it may have been a few years before then that my dad actually last rode it. I have lots of memories of my dad taking me to playschool on this bike – I had to sit on the crossbar! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get the bike out on a stand in the garden tomorrow and give it a basic clean. Then I’m going to start with the wheels. I need to buy more tyres and innertubes and need to remove the rust from the wheels.

In the evening, all of us went to see Wicked, which is on at the local theatre. I really enjoyed it, although I probably needed an earlier night.

Yesterday, we went up to London to view the poppies at the Tower of London. It is a really clever idea that has clearly captured the public’s imagination. However, many people seem to be under the illusion that the poppies will magically disappear on 11th November and it was also half term, so there were huge crowds at the Tower.


My mum and two of her four sisters

IMG_3574 IMG_3599

This morning, I was Run Director at Southampton parkrun. I think a lot of the local students may have been out at Halloween parties so the event wasn’t as busy as it can sometimes be – there were about 515 runners. None of the very fastest runners seemed to be there. I’m wondering whether they are saving their legs for the Lordshill 10 mile race tomorrow!

Running – one step at a time: “If you want something doing, do…”

14 Feb

Today’s guest blogger is James from ‘Running – one step at a time‘. I’ve known James for several years now. I met him through parkrun and have witnessed the impact that he has had on my local running community. He loves a new challenge and never seems to sleep!

James finish

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m almost 45 and spent most of my life being fairly sedentary! I’ve worked as a software developer and project manager for 20 years and enjoy a technical challenge. At 39, I took up running as I’d set myself a challenge of completing a Cancer Research 10K run as a means of getting fit and losing some weight. Having completed that challenge (it was tough and I only found our recently that Di Mattingly [current Women’s Captain of Lordshill Road Runners – my runing club] was also taking part and thought the same!), I then set myself the challenge to run 875 miles the following year. Without that challenge and discovering parkrun, I’d probably have resorted to life on the sofa! Whilst injured, I decided to take up swimming after about 30 years of not getting in a pool other than to bob about with the children and also bought a road bike on the Cycle to Work Scheme – I work from home! The combination of running, swimming and cycling inevitably led to taking up Triathlons… I competed in 3 triathlons in 2013 and have a handful lined up for 2014! I’m very active within the local parkrun events having started up one or two (OK, a few more than that) as well as being the Event Director of Southampton Juniors parkrun.
When I’m not training, I’m a husband to Denise (married for 13 years) and dad to 7 year old Daniel and Connor who’s 5.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Um. Can’t really thing of anything…
How would you summarise what your blog is about?
My blog, Running One Step At a Time, is really a way for me to collate a diary of my training and memories of the events I’ve taken part in. I try to impart some useful information to readers of the blog where I can and for a time, the blog contained more information of how to get the most of an iPhone app, RunKeeeper, which I was using to log my running training at the time. Over the last few years, I’ve had some great opportunities to enjoy events such as parkruns, the National Lottery Olympic Park Family Run and skiing holidays with my children and it’s been a great way to record those experiences to one day, we can all look back and remember those experiences. Along the way, I’ve included details of my involvement of setting up parkrun events, Magic Mile events and my involvement in Race Directing last year’s Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race.
James and his family in the Olympic Park Run

James and his family in the Olympic Park Run

When and why did you start blogging? Are you still blogging for the same reasons?
I started blogging in late 2009 to record how my training was going and my experiences along the way. I’m still blogging the same kind of things although I do try and include details of setting up parkruns and other events such as the LRR Mile Series which I’ve been actively involved with.
Which three blogs/bloggers have had the most influence on you and why? Are there any particular bloggers that you look to for inspiration?
I rarely read other people’s blogs although always read the posts from you and Teri and have recently read posts by TryTri’s Chris Rees. Knowing these people as friends and reading of their experiences in training and events gives me inspiration to keep at it!
How would someone describe your blogging style?
Informational mostly. I try to include as much information as possible just in case something may be of use to the reader.
What tips would you give to anyone thinking about starting to blog?
Just do it. Whether you blog once a day or once a month, your story might be of interest or use to someone else. It needn’t take long to post and even if the only person that benefits from it is the author, that’s good enough.
Who do you think the main audience is for your blog? Are you writing with any specific person in mind?
Mostly friends and followers on Facebook. I get quite a lot of traffic from people experiencing problems with Runkeeper still although the content on the blog on the app is quite dated now
How do you decide what is ‘blogworthy’?
If I’ve done something new in training, tried a service or product that I feel has helped me in training or if I’ve participated in an event, I’ll normally blog about it. Hopefully, a reader will find those kind of blog posts useful.
James bike
What do you find most challenging about blogging?
Simply getting around to posting on the blog and keeping things interesting for those that are reading it, many of whom are training more and/or participating in more events than me and probably have more interesting stories to share!
What do you do when you aren’t blogging?
Spend time with the family, work, train and sleep! Also, parkrun related stuff takes up time each week as well as being Vice Chairman of Lordshill Road Runners and Race Directing their road races.
What events have you got lined up for 2014?
What skill(s) do you hope to master over the next year?
Improving my swimming and delegation! 😉
James swim
What is your favourite gadget and why?
My Garmin 910XT which records runs, swims and cycle rides (as well as my recent skiing holiday adventures!). If I don’t have a Garmin activity, it never happpened!
What’s the furthest from home you’ve travelled for a sporting event?
In terms of the ones I’ve participated in, I don’t travel far due to family commitments. London is probably the furthest to date for the events in the Olympic Park.
What’s your favourite food/recipe?
I couldn’t live without mature Cheddar cheese, wine gums, peanuts and yoghurt! Is there a recipe that includes all of those? I do enjoy a well-cooked steak!
cheeseWine-GumSONY DSCyoghurtSteak-Well-Done
What is your strategy for dealing with an injury? Have you ever had to put it into practice?
Ignore it for a while until it’s far worse then regret ignoring it! That used to be my strategy! However, I now stop the activity that caused it (almost always running) and focus on the other activities instead. I’ve never been to a physio but did recently have my first sports massage. Ouch!
Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
Arrive really early. Wonder why I arrived really early. Wish I’d stayed in bed for longer and make a mental note to not be so keen to arrive the next time. The latter bit is duly forgotten the next time and the cycle continues! Oh, avoid Gatorade (particularly having drunk litres of the awful stuff before the Great South Run a few years back).
Describe your philosophy for life in a six word sentence…
If you want something doing, do …
What is the most important advice that you can give to readers?
Set yourself regular challenges no matter how large or small. Without something to focus on, you’re unlikely to find the time, motivation or inclination to achieve something to be proud of.

A Triathlete’s Adventure – “Growth occurs beyond your comfort zone”

17 Jan

OK, so I’m trialling a new feature on my blog that I’m hoping will be an equivalent of a Twitter #FF (Follow Friday) – every week, I’d like to highlight someone else’s blog that I read regularly and that I think people who read my blog might enjoy. Please feel free to give me feedback on this idea as well as commenting or asking questions.

Today, I’ve got an interview with a local triathlete, Jo. In ‘A Triathlete’s Adventure‘, Jo blogs about her trials and tribulations with Southampton Tri Club and Lordshill Road Runners here: http://jotriblog.wordpress.com/ 

A screenshot of Jo's blog, 'A Triathlete's Adventure'.

A Triathlete’s Adventure

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m a 21 year old full-time Masters student studying Human Resource Management. I work and study in Southampton, but home is Rayleigh, Essex. I’ve recently graduated with BA (Hons.) Criminology.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I performed in the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony as a dancer in the Pop music decades section.

Jo in costume

Jo in her costume with a fellow performer

How would you summarise what your blog is about? A girl’s journey as a complete beginner to triathlon and sport & fitness in general.

When and why did you start blogging? Are you still blogging for the same reasons? I started in February 2013. Iwanted to blog as it felt like a great way of keeping motivated and to connect with other like-minded bloggers.

Which three blogs/bloggers have had the most influence on you and why? Are there any particular bloggers that you look to for inspiration? A lady called Simone from Australia has been a great support through my blog. We began blogging about tri at a similar time. Simone often talks about battling bi-polar disorder and how Tri is helping her to overcome her problems. I feel very inspired after reading her blog posts. Her blog is here: http://meltdowntoironman.com/

Also I would have to say you,Tamsyn! You are so enthusiastic, and keep on going no matter what – reading your blog definitely keeps me motivated. So thank you 🙂 (Aw, thank you, Jo!)

How would someone describe your blogging style? There’s always a sense of discovery, and focus on feelings and emotions that a beginner may feel.

Jo's Breeze group in front of Winchester Cathedral

Jo’s Breeze group in front of Winchester Cathedral

Which of your blog posts has generated the most discussion and why? My post about the Breeze Bike ride in Winchester has the most views, as Breeze RT’d it on Twitter!

What tips would you give to anyone thinking about starting to blog? Be honest with yourself and write from your heart.

Who do you think the main audience is for your blog? Are you writing with any specific person in mind? Other sporting individuals, and family and friends who are interested in seeing what I’m up to.

How do you decide what is ‘blogworthy’? If an experience felt good enough or painful enough to write about.

What do you find most challenging about blogging about sports/health? Possibly not knowing all the technical stuff, or if what I’m doing is the correct way.

What do you do when you aren’t blogging? Studying, training, working or letting my hair down. (Jo also seems to like mixing with triathlon royalty!!!)

Jo and the Brownlees

Jo has friends in high places! © Jo Restall

What challenges/races/events have you got lined up for 2014?

…plus a few more that I haven’t decided on yet!

What skill(s) do you hope to master over the next year? Bike maintenance and breathing properly when swimming.

What is something you would like to ask the next featured blogger? What is your biggest worry when it comes to triathlon?

What is your favourite gadget and why? My Garmin, always there for me whenever I run.

What’s the furthest from home you’ve travelled for a sporting event? 30 miles.

Do you listen to music when training? What music motivates you? Yes, almost always as I have a bit of breathing trouble due to asthma and the music covers up the sound of my rough breathing which can make me panic! I find rock music good to run to, as normally it has a good beat to it.

What’s your favourite food/recipe? Roast dinner

Sunday roast Wikimedia Commons

Sunday roast © Wikimedia Commons

What is your strategy for dealing with an injury? Have you ever had to put it into practice? I haven’t had any major injuries thankfully, but I had bad cramp after running and swimming that lasted for a few days once. I just kind of moped about a bit as I didn’t understand what it was at the time!

Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions? Only going to the loo – if I don’t I will need it as soon as I start running.

Describe your philosophy for life in a six word sentence… Growth occurs beyond your comfort zone

What is the most important advice that you can give to readers? Challenge yourself, you never know just what you can achieve.

Is there anything else that you would like to add? I have my first triathlon planned this year. My biggest concern is that I have terrible eye sight, even with prescription goggles and that T1 will be a nightmare trying to find my bike.

Jo British 10k

Jo at the end of the British 10k © Jo Restall

If you like to find out more about Jo, she’s happy to have more followers on Twitter: @Jo_Restall,  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jo.restall and Garmin Connect: http://connect.garmin.com/profile/JoRestall

I chose to add some extra hills to my bike ride!

25 Nov

First of all, apologies to anyone who has tried to visit my blog and has found that the formatting is all over the place. I’m not sure what I’ve done, but I’m working hard to try to resolve the problem!!!

On Saturday, I was Run Directing at Southampton parkrun (again), so I didn’t manage to fit a run in – lots of people have said that the new Route has got great PB potential, so I’m looking forward to trying it out next week.

Today, I decided to go for a long bike ride with Stu. I’ve been wanting to get out on my bike ever since we got back from our holiday, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve not had a chance. (I’ve been commuting to work every day, but that’s on my sturdy workhorse, not my lean mean road bike, so it’s not as much fun).

I started the day with some blueberry protein porridge. It’s quite sweet and creamy – I find it very filling. My aim was that I didn’t want to have to carry too much food with me on the bike as I’m trying to steer clear of energy gels and sweet snacks. I’ve also been drinking 200ml of it between LRR training on a Monday night and going to STC swimming, in the hope that I have enough energy to get through both sessions.

It was my first opportunity to try out my new purchases: my Team Wiggle Honda long-sleeved jersey and bib tights 😀 They felt very comfortable on. I also put on my Cornish cycling socks, and a head band… then I realised that Stuart had on multiple layers, so I started to rethink what I should wear. I decided to wear my Silvini cycling jacket as well. I’d not worn it before, but apart from my high-vis yellow jacket that I wear to work, I don’t have any other cycling jacket (yet). My yellow jacket is waterproof, but as a consequence, I find that I can overheat when I’m wearing it. I had also selected my favourite Claud Butler mitts, even though my Pearl Izumi ones are prettier and matched my outfit better… then I realised that Stu had full length sealskinz waterproof gloves on, so I decided to change into my work gloves, which have full fingers. I also found my clear cycling glasses, which had somehow hidden themselves.

It was my original intention to practise a flying mount and dismount, as recommended by Graeme, but on Stu’s advice I put my new neoprene overshoes on. This meant that I had to mount my bike with shoes on. Later on, I was grateful for the overshoes as my Cornish socks are very lightweight and my feet were freezing.

Although I’ve now got a reasonable amount of cycle clothing, I’ve been lured in by the new range of Embrace Sports clothing. I’d like to get a jersey and bib shorts and Stu wants tri separates. If we order them now, they’ll arrive in January, so they could be an early birthday present!

We didn’t have a firm route in mind, when we set out, just a general intention to cycle towards King’s Somborne, which is where we have cycled with Di, Katherine and the Uni tri club. I’ve not cycled in the Southampton area much, so I’m never sure where to go. One thing I did know about the route was that it is quite hilly.

It was my intention to practise the drills that Graeme did with us, but I was just enjoying being back in the saddle again, so I didn’t try one-legged cycling. However, I did try to take my hands off the handlebars from time to time. I don’t think I cycled any faster than I had before my holiday, but I did feel more confident and the hills didn’t bother me. I just kept telling myself that if I could cycle up a mountain then I could cope with a little incline (even if I had needed help in Portugal!)

The view from the top of Cow Drove Hill

The view from the top of Cow Drove Hill

After we arrived at King’s Somborne, I chose to cycle up the biggest hill I know just for the hell of it! Yes, you read that right… I actually chose to cycle up a steep hill, just because it was there. Bikehike data suggests that it’s a 380m ascent over a 430m distance, averaging an 8.8-10% gradient… however, Cow Drove Hill in King’s Somborne hits 12% after 20-30 metres from turning onto it (before you get to the speed limit signs) and then alternates between 11 and 12 % all the way up until about 20-40m from the top (before you get to the junction).

At the top, I had a bit of a go at taking my hands off the handle bars.  I even tried a victory wave, just for John… but I almost crashed and Stu didn’t manage to snap a quick photo of me before I had to regain control. Perhaps waving both arms in the air whilst still on an incline isn’t the best plan of action for a novice!

IMG_1612IMG_1613 IMG_1614IMG_1615IMG_1616

After a brief respite to admire the view, we cycled back towards Romsey. It was very cold, so we stopped at Costa, where I had a primo skinny hot chocolate and Stu had a medio Americano. I was so glad that he stayed outside with the bikes and I went in to order as I needed to warm up and defrost my feet!


The Garmin data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/408208631

Garmin data for long bike ride

Garmin data for long bike ride

After we left Romsey, Stu and I cycled to The Common – he wanted to measure out a mile for his running group and I wanted to time myself on the parkrun route as I wasn’t sure whether I could cycle fast enough to be lead bike. Fortunately, I found out that I could cycle the route in under 15:30, even with walkers etc in the way! We then realised that we had been out for quite a while, so we cycled to subway for a salad.

I felt like it was quite a successful cycle ride, but unfortunately, I had an accident very close to home. We turned a corner to go up the last slope on a cycle path, but as we came around the bed we realised there were a couple of teenage girls in the way. I had to swerve to avoid them and couldn’t change gear quickly enough, so I stopped. I then tried to start again, but couldn’t clip in properly and toppled over, knocking my leg on a low wall 😦 I then turned around and rode back down the hill, so that I could clip in and cycle back up the hill properly 🙂

Last bit of Garmin data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/408208654

End of long bike ride

End of long bike ride

This evening, I led my last session (of an eight week stretch) for LRR. It was the final session that I have to write up for my coaching diary. I hope I can find the time to do it in the next couple of weeks. Afterwards, I went to another Southampton Tri Club swimming session. I’m not sure how many lengths I did, but it must have been over a mile (1600m or 64 lengths). My challenge at the moment is that my swimming instructor is giving me different advice from the tri club coach. I’ve mentioned it to both of them, but each of them thinks that their way is right 😦 One wants me to time my strokes evenly, whilst the other wants me to fix my breathing (as I lift my head up too much) – to do this, I’ve been told to glide for longer whilst I’m breathing. The advice is contradictory, so I’m not sure what to do. I can see that I need to take even strokes eventually, but it does seem more logical to make me more comfortable whilst swimming and then even out the stroke length. I wasn’t going especially fast this evening, so I was mostly breathing every fifth stroke, which always feels easier. There were a few strokes where I forgot to breathe, so I did it every seven strokes which was OK as well.
Any thoughts on which coach’s advice I should follow?


What have I been doing since my holiday?

22 Nov Gosport Half Marathon

I’ve been so busy in the fortnight since we’ve been back from Portugal that I’ve not been able to update my blog as much as I’d hoped to, so here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to.


The Sunday morning after we got back was a cross country race out in the New Forest. It was hard getting up in time for it as I was feeling shattered from the previous day’s travelling, but I knew I had to if I still wanted to be in with a chance at winning the club’s participation award.

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Near the start of the CC6

Near the start of the CC6 (all CC6 photos © Paul A. Hammond)

It was not an easy race, with quite a lot of it being muddy and hilly and the last section was a hard uphill slog.

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CC6 © Paul A. Hammond

CC6 © Paul A. Hammond

I played cat and mouse with Kathy for a while, but towards the end her superior speed won out and she was able to finish ahead of me. I felt quite pleased with my performance as I didn’t give up and I knew that I was running on tired legs.

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CC6 © Paul A. Hammond

CC6 © Paul A. Hammond

Swimming lessons

It was good to be back at my swimming lessons – I hoped that I would be stronger and would not have picked up any bad habits whilst I was away, although I know that swimming with a wetsuit on makes me lazy! I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in any of my blog posts, but in the last session before my holiday, I dived into a pool for the first time in my life. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it was massive. I’ve spent so long standing on the edge of a pool, but was terrified that I would get too deep and be unable to breathe, or would hit my head on the bottom, so I just couldn’t bring myself to try it. I’m now desperate to go swimming with Stu as I really want to show him how well I can dive.

Chris got us to practise quite a lot of butterfly, which is not (and never will be) one of my favourite strokes. I’ve now had two lessons since I’ve been back and I know that I really need to work on keeping my head more streamlined during front crawl as I lift it up and don’t even realise that I’m doing it. I was also given a few pointers when doing breaststroke to try to keep my hips lower so that my feet don’t come out of the water. I’ll report back on my progress soon!

I received the video of me swimming in Lagos, which has really shown me where my swimming is going wrong, so I’m keen to get in the pool and practise:

Lordshill training

On my first Monday back, I coached a session on hills, so we went to Holly Hill and I got my group to practice various aspects of downhill running which I think went quite well, but it involved more running (to and from the venue) than I had anticipated and my legs were a little bit grumbly!

This Monday, I had planned to do a core session. I had a long list of exercises, but unfortunately, it rained and I didn’t think it would be a good idea to make my athletes lie on wet ground 😦

Southampton Tri Club

Straight after my LRR session on Monday, Stuart and I rushed down to The Quays to have a go at our first session with Southampton Tri Club. Katherine had originally tried to persuade me to wait until she was back, but I wanted to join asap and Huw at work persuaded me to go. I was in a lane with three others: Liz, James and Jo – all of whom are bloggers and LRR members! We did a 200m warm up, which felt like hard work, before being asked to do ‘200 off 4:40’. I didn’t know what that meant, so the coach explained that we had to swim 8 lengths of front crawl and have a break within 4 minutes and 40 seconds. unfortunately, I’m quite slow, so it took me over 4:30 to swim 200m. This would have left me with no break, so I waited for the others to do 2 lengths before joining in again. We had to repeat it 5 times, which felt really hard – I don’t often swim that far in a session. (Later when I asked Stu what he had done, his main set was exactly the same!!! How is that fair?!) We also had to do a variety of sculling drills, but I had to work extra hard as I didn’t have a pair of fins.

Overall, I really enjoyed the session and know that I need to work on my technique if I’m going to do OK at Challenge Weymouth, so I signed up to Southampton Tri Club yesterday evening and am now an official member 🙂

I’ve now done a second swimming session and know that it takes me 4:44 to swim 200m. I’m definitely towards the bottom end of the group, but I am not the slowest and I hope that I’ll start to make good progress.


On Tuesday evening, I went back to yoga with Stu. Our usual instructor, Wai, is away, so we have a different instructor. It’s nice to mix up the sessions a little. We did a few shoulder stands and plough pose, which is one of my favourites… although I can’t seem to stop my feet from going right over and touching the ground, whether or not my legs are straight!

Weight Watchers

At my first WW session after our holiday, I found that I had lost 4lbs. I went again today and had lost another pound. I had thought that I might have lost more as several people commented on how good I looked today and I felt that I was looking more trim. My WW leader said that she didn’t think I needed to lose more weight and as I my BMI is now 24.47, which is within the healthy range. I am happy to be classed as a gold member again as the money that I save can be used for my tri club membership, but I would still like to lose at least another stone – I’m sure that it will help me to run faster! Every time I so much as glance at something ‘bad’ I ask myself whether Kat would eat it and the answer is usually ‘no’!

Interval training and social run

On Thursday morning last week, Stu, Liz, Katherine and I met for an interval session. This is when I usually have a Run Camp session, but as there are no more until after Christmas, we decided to have ‘Run Gang’ instead (it’s like ‘Bike Gang’, but with running!) Stu had devised times for us to do 400m intervals, but my Garmin decided to amend my pace and breaks, so I wasn’t getting any rest. In the end, I reset my Garmin and just did the best that I could. My last interval felt really good – for 200m I felt like my technique was as good as Mo Farah’s or Usain Bolt’s – but I was unable to sustain the pace.

On Thursday evening, I went for a lovely 11km run with Teri. It’s nice just to be able to run and chat. We had intended to run around Portswood, but we ended up going through Bevois Valley and then back towards the Common.

This week on Thursday morning, Stu and I met Liz and Katherine for a gentle run around the new parkrun route (Route C). I didn’t want to get out of bed, but was glad that I did the run when I had finished.

Sports massage

On Friday I had a sports massage at You Massage Therapy. The masseur, Pete, is a really nice guy who is interested in sports. I’ve had sports massages from other people, but Pete seems to get the pressure just right. I thought that a massage would be a good way of preparing myself for my forthcoming race.


On Saturday morning, I was Run Director at Southampton parkrun. It was meant to be Stu’s turn, but I wanted to save my legs for Gosport Half Marathon. It was the first time that Route C had been used and quite a few people got PBs, so I’m looking forward to trying it.

Tri Expo

After parkrun, we drove down to Bournemouth for the Primera Triathlon Expo. I ended up buying various goodies for myself:

– Endura overshoes

Endura overshoes

Endura overshoes

– Endura toe covers

Endura toe covers

Endura toe covers

– Bike bag

Topeak top tube tri-bag

Topeak top tube tri-bag

I also bought three bags of blueberry protein powder.

Superlife blueberry super protein powder

Superlife blueberry super protein powder

We were both given Bustinskin swimming hats and USN bottles and vooma gels.

USN vooma gel and bottle

USN vooma gel and bottle

Stu decided to check out the bike porn and decided that he liked a Storck bike, but at over £9.5k, it’s a bit out of his price range!!!

Stu admiring a Storck bike

Stu admiring a Storck bikeIMG_1597

To console him, I let him buy a couple of sachets of recovery hot chocolate.

Apres recovery hot chocolate

Apres recovery hot chocolate

Christmas presents

After we left the tri expo, we went to visit Stu’s parents with an ulterior motive in mind… members of Southampton Tri Club are expected to bring a pull buoy, fins and hand paddles to every swimming session. Stu and I had added these to our amazon wish lists, but realised that we need them now. Unfortunately, Stu’s mum had already done her Christmas shopping, so we collected our presents early – thank you, Brian and Sally!

My Christmas presents from Brian and Sally

My Christmas presents from Brian and Sallyspeedo-8-027610006-zoomspeedo-8-017910004-zoom

Gosport Half Marathon

I have kept Graeme’s words in my mind about self-limiting beliefs, so I decided to aim high despite not being on form since April 2012. I decided not to look at my watch for the first two miles of Gosport HM as it takes me nearly that long to warm up, so I was delighted to find that I was running at a reasonable pace when I finally glanced at my watch. I chose to continue running according to how I felt and was delighted to achieve a 5 mile PB (42:10), which meant that I was on track to get somewhere near my HM PB of 1:52:19.
It was an overcast day that was about 6° C with no breeze, so it would seem that those conditions would be ideal for running. Unfortunately, although my breathing was comfortable and my legs felt good, between 8 and 9 miles, I started to overheat and got tunnel vision, so I had to slow down. I took on plenty of water and was fully hydrated before the race, but I could not cool down. At 10 miles, Stu was by the side of the course (he had cycled to the event) and he could see that I looked ill, so he kept popping up for the next three miles as he was worried about me. I was determined to finish and hoped that even if I wasn’t near to my PB, I would still get a sub 2 hour time. I was also aware that I was my club’s leading FV35, so I hoped that I would be able to retain my position.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. In the final mile, I was passed by many of my clubmates. Full On Sport’s chip timing system failed, but according to my Garmin, I finished in 2:00:13. I was incredibly disappointed, but Stu has pointed out to me that not only did I get a 5 mile PB, it was also my second fastest ever HM and it was over 30 seconds faster than I did the race last year. I also managed to completed it (and a cross country race on the day after I got back from Portugal), so as long as I complete a cross country race on 1st December, I will win the Lordshill Road Runners Championship participation award alongside Di Mattingly.

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As I know that I need to work hard on my cycling, I realised that I had better buy myself some winter cycling clothing, so I went online to Wiggle and ordered myself some bib tights and a long-sleeved jersey. There wasn’t a lot of choice, so I chose DHB Team Wiggle Honda kit as it had great reviews. Orange isn’t my favourite colour, but it all arrived today and I think it looks quite nice.

My new Wiggle Honda kit

My new Wiggle Honda kitIMG_0032

I was also lured in by SportPursuit… it’s such an evil website, as it knows just how to suck me in. I wanted to get a pair of plain black shorts and ended up ordering a pair of black shorts, a Pearl Izumi jersey and a pearl Izumi winter jacket for cycling.

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I think these goodies should arrive just before Christmas 😀