Tag Archives: transition

Are you feeling lucky? Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces review and giveaway

8 Aug

I’ve been lucky enough to have some Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces to try recently.

Phoenix fit UK elastic laces

Phoenix fit UK elastic laces

They come in a wide range of colours, but this pair especially appealed to me as they match my favourite trainers… which match my Team SOAS kit.

My favourite Brooks with elastic laces

I have tried various elastic lace systems in the past, but the first pair that I bought were very cheap and were so stretchy that my shoes kept slipping off. The next pair that I tried were OK for a while, but I found that if I ran for longer distances (over 10k), my feet started to swell and my shoes became too tight, so I’ve been searching for a perfect replacement for a little while.

There are lots of benefits to using Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces:

  • You never have to stop to tie your shoelaces. This is an essential time-saving element in triathlon as no-one wants to waste precious seconds in T2 (the bike to run transition), but it can also be the difference between getting a PB or not in a running race. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen someone have to stop during parkrun (or a race) to retie their laces… or worse yet, trying to struggle on with their laces untied, whilst I’m panicking that they’re going to trip and fall! This can also be a huge benefit if you have a child who hasn’t yet learnt to tie their shoe-laces or an elderly relative who struggles with fastening their shoes.
  • They’re really quick and easy to put into your shoes. I had put one pair in an ordinary pair of trainers, but I wanted to wear my blue/turquoise shoes for my aquathlon. I completely forgot to lace them before going to the event. Luckily, I was able to lace up both shoes in just a few minutes after I had arrived at the race venue.
  • They’re easy to adjust. Pressing the ergonomic lock button releases the laces, so you can easily make your shoes looser or tighter.
  • They’re really comfortable. As a runner who’s currently 7.5 months pregnant, I know what it’s like to have feet that swell at random. These laces are extremely comfortable and I know there’s no risk of getting hotspots and sore patches where my laces have been too tight.

This short video shoes just how easy Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces are to install:

My partner, Stu, is just a couple of weeks out from his first Ironman, so he has been looking for the perfect laces. He chose to add a pair of the laces in white to his Brooks shoes that he uses for distance running:

Close up of Phoenix fit UK elastic lace

Phoenix fit UK elastic laces in Stuart's shoes

Phoenix fit UK elastic laces in Stuart’s shoes

Since putting the laces into his shoes, Stuart has worn them for quite a few long (10 miles+) training runs. I managed to get a couple of pictures of Stu out running with those shoes on:

Stuart running 1

Stuart running 2

Stuart running

Stuart is a very different runner from me – he’s got good technique and can comfortably ‘jog’ a hilly marathon in under 3:25. I asked him what he thought of the laces, and this is how he responded:

“I think they give a more consistent tightness than standard elastic laces. I will definitely be wearing them for triathlons in future. They were quite easy to install, although I found putting the ends on quite fiddly… but that’s a one-off job, so it didn’t bother me”

Close up of Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces toggles

Close up of Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces toggles

So, what do you think? For me it’s free speed for my next triathlon 🙂



I’m hosting a Phoenix fit UK elastic laces giveaway, so please enter for a chance to get your hands on “the ultra tough elastic lace system.”

I have three pairs of laces to give away – the winners will be able to choose from the following colours (depending on availability).

colour choices

The giveaway runs from 12:00am on Monday August 8th 2016 to 12:00am on Monday August 22nd. Full terms and conditions are available at the link below:

Fat Girl to Ironman ‘Phoenix Fit UK Competition’ TERMS and CONDITIONS

No purchase necessary. Entrants muct be resident in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter and announced on this blog by Wednesday August 24th.











Preparing for Ironman Dublin 70.3

10 Aug

Stu and I drove to Holyhead on Thursday afternoon/evening. The traffic was heavy, so Stu did the first section on the motorway, and then I did the twisty bit on small roads in Wales. The scenery was absolutely stunning and several of the lakes and rivers we passed looked like they’d be great for swimming in, albeit somewhat cold.


We stayed in Holyhead overnight and then went to the ferry port in the morning. Steve texted to say that he was in the queue – we looked over and realised that we could see him. After we parked, we found a table on the ferry with enough room for us all to sit down.

I spy Steve and Suzanne's bikes

I spy Steve and Suzanne’s bikes

On arrival in Dublin, we headed straight for our hotel in Dun Laoghaire (Dunleary). The hotel had a lovely view across the bay, but we were not in sea view rooms. After a bit of time for unpacking, we decided to head into Dublin to register. An announcement had been made that it would be possible for run bags to be left in T2 at that time. In hindsight, we should have spent a bit more time preparing and doing that bit as it would have saved time later.


Steve kindly drove the five of us into Dublin. We parked up and went to register. It was a relatively easy process, although I was worried as Stu and I have not received English Triathlon cards yet and only had printed emails and screenshots. Fortunately, this was enough. I was surprised to be given a choice of hat colour – pink or white. I chose pink as I already have a hotel had (STC) and I don’t have a pink hat. However, I was a little frustrated that the women’s wave had been given such stereotypical colours. Stu got an orange hat and Steve was given a choice of two shades of green. We were also given nice rucksacks with our info in them and wrist bands were attached to us.

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After the (terrifying) race briefing, we had a look around the expo, but I was determined not to be tempted by anything. I liked the design of the official race kit, but I thought it might be tempting fate to buy something before the race, and also I can’t believe that any kit could be as comfortable as my SOAS kit. There were some good bargains to be had, but nothing was in sizes that would fit Stu and I – the items were mainly L or XL. There were also some cool MDot branded t-shirts, but I wouldn’t want people to assume that I have completed an ironman.

By the time we got back to the hotel, everyone was feeling tired and hungry. I had looked up places to eat in Dun Laoghaire and Olivetos, the hotel restaurant, had a good reputation and some positive reviews on trip adviser, so we decided to eat there. It was a good choice. The restaurant had a pizza oven and the pizzas were delicious. I ordered a chorizo pizza with mushrooms instead of chorizo as the other ingredients, including pine nuts, rocket and spinach, sounded good. I couldn’t eat the whole pizza, but I did manage to squeeze in some tiramisu!

Steve and Stu waiting on the prom

Steve and Stu didn’t seem too impressed by our antics on the beach


Annabelle found a tiny crab

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T1 before the bikes arrived.

After eating, we went for a stroll along the promenade. The sea looked beautifully calm and the bay was quite sheltered, but I learnt at Weymouth just how quickly sea conditions can change. Steve and I went down to the water’s edge and dipped our hands in. It was a little cool, but didn’t feel horrendous, which was good.IMG_6026

On Saturday morning, there was an acclimatisation swim from 9-11am and bike racking was available for most of the day. We agree to meet the Cookes at 9am to stroll down to the swim area. I was surprised that Steve already had his wetsuit and dry robe on, as it was fairly warm.

Scotsman's Cove

Scotsman’s Cove


The small bay seemed fairly busy and a little disorganised. The buoys hadn’t all been put out yet and no-one seemed to know what was going on. Stu, Steve and I got ready and went down to the water’s edge. We were told that we couldn’t start swimming yet, as some boats with buoys needed to go out. That was fine. We stood at the water’s edge and my feet and ankles froze. I think the temperature was about 14C, but it felt much colder and I experienced real pain. If I had been at Lakeside, I would have walked away immediately. I spent a while wading in. Steve and Stu left for a swim, but I just wasn’t ready. Eventually, I took the plunge. I could feel my lungs tighten, but the water didn’t feel as bad on my chest as it had on my feet. I started swimming and was able to breathe, but my forehead felt very cold. I could only managed to breathe every two strokes.

Dublin swim

A slightky blurry pic is the only evidence of our acclimatisation swim ©Claire Cooke

After about six minutes, I started relax a bit and was able to swim properly. A couple of men who were in the sea chatted to me. One was the UK’s East Coast and was used to sea swimming without a wetsuit, so he was fine. The other chap was a local Irish guy. He explained to use about the currents and the tide times, which was helpful.

I quite enjoyed the swim back. The water was clear and calm… And it didn’t feel too salty. However, I got distracted  looking at the sea bed and managed to swim into a seaweed covered rock – oops!

After a single 400m loop and about 30 minutes in the sea, I decided it was time to get out. Although it had been agonising at first, I was glad to have the chance to erasure myself that I could do the swim in the morning.

Annabelle was playing with another little girl in the sea, but she didn’t have a swimming costume and had on knee-length denim shorts, so I offered her my swimsuit. She accepted it and was quite happy playing in the sea – she’s definitely made of sturdier stuff than me!

After the swim, we went back to the hotel to collect our bikes. Stuart had warned me on the trip over that he might not take part and I was already aware that if he started, he would probably only do the swim and the bike. Unfortunately, Stu found that he was unable to kick at all in the sea and he realised that if anyone else touched his leg, he was in agony, so he decide to withdraw. I think this was an admirable decision. If it were me, I would probably have tried to do the race and would have risked further injury, because I am stubborn.

I showered, sorted out my bag for T1 and headed down to transition. It was fairly quiet when we got there, so there was plenty of time to walk around and put our bikes in place. unfortunately, bike covers were not available and we were told that rain was forecast for overnight 😦


After racking up, we went back to the hotel before going to Nando’s where I had a really nice quinoa, avocado and sweet potato salad. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it much as I was really worried. When we had gone back to our room, I realised that I had left a few crucial items out of my T1 bag: towels, my protein shake and an inhaler. I asked Steve whether he thought I would be able to access my bag in the morning. He said that I might be able to get the inhaler added as a medical need, but that I might get a 5 minute penalty. This made me feel stressed, but it was too late for me to do anything about it. It was then back to the hotel for an early night.

Embrace Sports 14/10/14 Transition training and a ride to Aljezur

14 Oct

Tuesday 14th October

The day started with transition training in a local car park with Graeme and Andy. I was surprised that so few people decided to attend – I know that some of the others are very experienced, but I’m not sure that all of them are. Stu and I have done a couple of these workshops in the past, but we still think there is a lot of room for improvement.

Graeme broke the steps down, so that we practised running with our bikes first. It’s amazing how many experienced triathlons that I’ve seen a races who try to hold their bike’s handlebars when running in transition. This increases the risk of an accident as the runner is more likely to be hit by their bike’s pedal.

After we’d practised turning to the left and to the right with our bikes, we moved onto mounting our bikes. I’m quite confident at doing this in the car park, but I’ve not managed to do it whilst moving in a triathlon – I’m one of those annoying people who stops at the mount line – sorry!

IMG_6265 IMG_6266 IMG_6267

Before practising dismounting, we had to build up to it by swinging our ‘free’ leg over the saddle and then back again. I find this really difficult – I think it’s a combination of my lack of flexibility and the chunkiness of my thighs. However, I can dismount successful and have managed to do so in all of my triathlons this year.

We then moved on to putting our shoes on after mounting and then removing them before dismounting. I prefer to wear socks with my shoes which can make mounting more tricky as my socks tend to stick to the velcro. In comparison, I’ve practised removing my shoes a lot and can do that successfully.

When we’d had a go at everything, it was time for us to cycle back to the apartments, before heading out for the main ride of the day to Aljezur.

After the 90km ride to Aljezur, I did a 2 lap (4km brick run), before going for a shower.

Graeme then did a triathlon Q&A, which provided lots of helpful hints and tips.

In the evening, we went to Vlad’s restaurant (Atalaia) for a group meal. I had requested a salad, instead of the usual choice of pasta or omelette. The meal I was presented with was ‘unusual’ – the bottom layer was lettuce, tomato, cucumber and raw onion, whilst the top layer was slices of apple and orange. It was definitely unique!

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Preparation for Weymouth Half

15 Sep

The weekend of the big race was finally here. Stu and I finished packing and drove down to Weymouth, knowing that Liz and Suzanne were also on their way. We’d booked a hotel room in Dorchester, which is a 10 minute drive away. We thought it would be quieter there and it was also quite a bit cheaper. The traffic on the way to Weymouth was quite heavy, so we headed straight into Weymouth to register.

We headed towards the pavilion and saw the expo outside. I was a little surprised by how small the expo was. I’ve been to large-scale events like London Marathon and Paris Marathon, which had amazing expos, and to smaller races like Brighton, which still had a reasonable sized expo, but this expo seemed much closer in scale to what is at a local race. I didn’t need to buy anything, but it’s always nice to have a chance to browse new products.

We went in to register. I was given an envelope with my race numbers in it, transfers and stickers as well as some promotional info. I also picked up a magazine. We then had wristbands put on, proclaiming that we were ‘athletes’. We were then given three bags to include items for the two transitions and one for after the race. We also picked up our timing chips. I accidentally asked for 1787 instead of 1737. Fortunately, we had to run the chip over a mat to check that our names came up. The chip I had belonged to a man, so I checked my number and was able to swap it for the right one. I also realised that I had left my chip strap at home, so we went out to the Huub stand where I bought the last chip strap.

Calm sea at Weymouth

Calm sea at Weymouth

We then headed down towards Lodmore Country Park to rack our bikes. Stu found a nearby car park, so we got out bikes off the roof and attached our race numbers. Unfortunately, I tried to open my bike bag and the zip got stuck. I tried to close it again, but it just wouldn’t budge. Finally the zip moved, but it wasn’t actually closing the bag. Aaarrggghh! I was feeling really stressed and this was not what I needed. I removed the bike bag and decided that I would try to deal with it later.

The car park was gravelly, so I wasn’t able to ride my bike. I had hoped to be able to check which gear it was in to make it easier to leave transition in the morning. We queued up at the gate as transition wasn’t open. We then saw James, so went over to chat to him. There was a delay in opening transition, so one of the marshalls came around offering us electrolyte sachets. When we entered transition, we were also given drinks bottles.

It wasn’t easy to see where my bike should be racked. There were signs at the end of the rack, but we could only see the reverse sides, which had numbers printed it on them from a previous event. (We were entering transition from the other side during the event). I was able to find my bike at the back of the racks. Bikes were racked on alternate sides and as we were using bags, we could only leave items that were attached to bikes.

My bike in transition

My bike in transition

Bikes in transition

Transition filling up nicely © Liz Carter

View of transition

James had a fantastic view of transition from his hotel room © James Saunders

We left our bikes and headed back to the other end of Weymouth for the race briefing, where we were hoping to meet up with some of our friends. We were running a little late, so James, Stuart and I headed straight into the pavilion. James, Roelie, Gary and Ellie had got there a bit earlier, so they had spent some time sampling the Erdinger Alkoholfrei.

James Roelie and Gary

James N., Roelie and Gary © Eleanore Coulthard

James and Roelie

James and Roelie sampling the freebies © Eleanore Coulthard

The theatre where the race briefing was taking place was filling up when we entered. It seemed like a good place to have the briefing – lovely comfortable velvet seats, which makes a change from standing outside just before a race starts!

Race briefing

Race briefing

We could see James N, Roelie and Gary sitting in the row in front of us and Liz sent us a text, before coming to find us for a big hug. The briefing was clear and quite reassuring, although there seemed to be a number of people who hadn’t heard that the run was to be 25k/15 miles.

Stuart received a text from our friend, Clare, so we agreed to meet her outside after the briefing had finished. I didn’t manage to take a photo of Clare, but she took one of a group of us from Southampton Tri Club:

Group photograph

(L-R: Me, James S., Liz, Suzanne, Stuart, Jan. © Janice Goble)

The others left to rack their bikes, so Stu and I had a wander around the expo. A local bike shop (Mud Sweat N Gears) had bike bags, complete with repair kit and CO2 for £20. I was able to try it on a bike that had a very similar seat post to mine and it fitted, so I gratefully bought it and hoped that I wouldn’t need it.

Tweet about the Expo at Challenge Weymouth

Although there wasn’t a lot of choice, the expo had all of the essentials, including a new tyre for Liz and a bike bag for me.

Stu was tempted by some flapjack, so he bought a box of 24 for £10 from Dorset Flapjacks. We figured that we would get through them with all of the cycling that we’re planning to do.

The grandstand at the finish

The grandstand at the finish

We also tried some Erdinger. I don’t have any photographic evidence of me drinking it, but I can definitely say that it’s not for me. I nearly had 1/4 pint, and I don’t like to see myself as a quitter, but I just couldn’t drink it, so I donated it to Stu.

As I was admiring some lovely Salomon shorts, Liz arrived back in the expo. I was a little surprised as I had assumed that she would be at the other end of Weymouth in transition with Suzanne, but she’d had a bit of a disaster. She’d suddenly found that her tyre had perished, so she needed a new one. Fortunately, a lovely chap was not only able to sell her one, but he put it on her wheel and sorted it all out. Result – one extra happy, smiley Liz!

Stuart and I decided that it was time to head back to our hotel to unpack and get ourselves ready for the big day. We had some food at the nearby Carluccios (the courgette and gorgonzola risotto is lovely!) and then sorted out our transition bags.

I couldn’t believe how much stuff I needed to get organised. The red bag contained everything I needed for the bike part of the race: shoes, socks, race belt, mitts, arm warmers, cycle jersey, sunglasses, clear glasses, contact lenses, bottle of water and inhaler. The blue bag contained everything I needed for the run: spare socks, trainers, visor, sunglasses, bottle of water and another inhaler. The green bag included stuff for the swim and for after the race: two hats, two pairs of goggles, body glide, glasses case, wetsuit, cosy clothes, flip-flops, shoes, water, chocolate milk, snacks – I really included everything – next time, I probably won’t pack as much!

Transition bags ready!

Transition bags ready!

It was then time for an early night!


Day 6 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports

6 May

Tuesday started with a ‘fun’ aquathlon. Before my injuries, I had hoped that I might not be last or at least that I might not be last out of the water and that this would spur me on to run as hard as possible, but my painful arm put paid to that.

Originally, the aquathlon was going to be a 1200m swim, but this was amended to just 2 x 400m loops, although to make it more challenging, we had to get out and run around a cone between the two loops. The run was 3×1 mile loops, so before we got into our wetsuits, we went for a test run.

I had decided to try out my Team SOAS kit. I’ve worn the tri shorts lots as they are the most comfortable cycling shorts that I’ve ever tried, but I’ve never worn the tri top before. It was really comfortable, although perhaps I need a slightly smaller size.

After the run, I managed to put on my wetsuit, but because of my arm, it took a while, so I didn’t have long to get acclimatised to the water. I also spent some time faffing with my goggles. I haven’t quite worked out how to adjust the strap on them yet.

We were set off at 15 second intervals. I think if I hadn’t been injured, I might not have been set off first, but I know that I’m a weaker runner than all of the others.

I did just a few strokes before I realised that my goggles were filling up with water – doh! I stopped to empty and adjust them. My breathing was also bad as I hadn’t had much time to get used to having my face in the water. My arm was very painful and by the time I got to the rocks, I think I had been passed by everyone. As I rounded the corner, I realised that I had to make a decision – I could either quit after one lap or continue and complete the event. My arm was in pain, but it I figured that it couldn’t get any worse and my breathing was improving. As I neared the bank, I could see runners who were already on their second laps.

End of lap 1

End of lap 1

Helen made the most of the photo opportunity

Helen made the most of the photo opportunity

Neil asked whether I wanted to continue, but I decided that I needed to, so that I wouldn’t feel like I had quit everything on the holiday. I got back in the water and started swimming as well as I possibly could, but my arm was really hampering me, so it was mainly front crawl with just one arm.

Eventually, I got out of the water, ready for transition. Jose came over and helped me to remove my bad arm from my wetsuit, and I knelt down to put my contact lenses in. To save time, I decided to run without socks, but I didn’t dry my feet very well.

Whilst I was in transition, I saw Stu and Helen run past and 200m into my run, Jonno caught up with me. He was desperately trying to chase down Stu, who had passed him in the swim. I kept moving and soon completed my first loop.

Elena enjoying the run ©Embrace Sports

Elena enjoying the run ©Embrace Sports

On the second lap, I realised that my shorts are quite big for me and when they’re wet, they start to hang down a little bit, so I may invest in some smaller ones! I also noticed a patch on my left foot where my shoes was rubbing it. They are designed to be seam free, but something was definitely rubbing my foot. I kept going and when I got back to the start, people started clapping and I heard Bernie shouting to me about where I needed to finish the run, but I knew that I still had a third lap to do. I kept moving, but was aware that I was slowing down. As I reached the turn, I put in a big effort to improve my pace, so my final kilometre was my fastest one in the event. It wasn’t the kind of pace that I’d been hoping for, but at least it wasn’t terrible.

Overall, I finished last in the event, but even with my slow transition, it wasn’t the slowest one of the event. Coach Alan finished first, but Stu was the first triathlete over the line because of his strong swim and good run. Go Stuey!

The sun was out when we got back, so there was some time to go in the hot tub and also time to lounge in the sun with the lizards.


In the afternoon, Kat took us into the local village to explore the chocolatier. It was a small shop, but it smelled wonderful!


Stu and I just treated ourselves to a tiny bag of assorted chocolate pieces.

When we got back, I had time to get changed before the masseur, Peter, arrived. He was a nice chap who was originally from Dorset, but who had also raced in Cornwall, so there were quite a few events that we were both familiar with. Peter helped to loosen up my tight calves, but I don’t think that he really managed to do anything to my neck and shoulders, which were still aching.

Later on, there was a nutritional chat with Alan and Graeme. Graeme also talked about lots of different ways that people can trim their race times (including investing in race wheels and an aero helmet), but I don’t think I’m at that level yet. He also discussed the importance of practising transitions. I think that if I have laser eye surgery then that should help to speed up T1!

What are the best tips that you’ve heard to minimise your race times (apart from training!)?

Massive PB! Winchester Duathlon

16 Mar

Today’s IDEAfit photo a day image was meant to be ‘rest’, but I don’t know what that is. As an alternative, I’ve included this great motivational statement from Team SOS team-mate Linda:

linda soas

Here’s some motivation from fellow Brand Ambassador Linda

Winchester Duathlon was my first multisport event last year, so I was excited about returning to the event, and I was hopeful that I could get a PB, with a second goal of finishing in under 2 hours.

We got up early and had plenty of time to set up in transition, although some people had arrived far earlier than us. Fortunately, this gave me plenty of time to chat to people. It was also good tha I felt quite excited about the event, rather than nervous.

I have a track pump at home, but apart from that, I’ve always cycled with Stuart or other people in a group (and there’s a track pump available at work), so I don’t have my own bike pump. I phoned Katherine who agreed to bring a pump for me. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t fit into my tiny bike bag, so it helped to make my clothing choice: if I wore my new Castelli jersey then there would be a pocket to put it in!

Before Winchester Duathlon

Before Winchester Duathlon

After I’d racked up, Katherine and I sat down in the athletics building as there wasn’t a lot else to do (apart from take selfies!)

Tamsyn and Katherine before Winchester Duathlon

Katherine and I before Winchester Duathlon

Waiting before the start of Winchester Duathlon

Waiting before the start of Winchester Duathlon

Chris Rees, one of the directors from Try Tri came in and was chatting to us about how slow some people were last year – I had to remind him that I was one of those people and that it had taken even longer than he remembered (2:16:45).

Katheirne and Stuart before Winchester Duathlon

Katherine and Stuart before Winchester Duathlon

Stuart then came and joined us for a chat. He was completely relaxed, even though it was his first ever duathlon.

The weather was significantly better than last year (torrential rain and hail), but it was still quite cold, so I wasn’t sure about what to wear. In the end, I thought that just a trisuit would be fine as I get so hot when I’m running.

We went outside where Chris gave a short race briefing and then we lined up for the start. There were two events taking place: the sprint distance and a novice race.The novice race was starting 15 minutes after our event, so I knew that I would need to keep  steady pace if I wanted to avoid being passed by lots of people and not arrive in transition when it was really busy.

Race briefing Winchester Duathlon 2 Race briefing Winchester Duathlon 1

We lined up, and then we were off! I decided to put my headband around my neck to save time in transition, as I didn’t want to cycle without it.

Start of the run

Start of the run

I managed to keep pace with Katherine for the first lap, but then she realised that she was slacking off, so she sped up. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to catch up with her, but I kept pushing and my run time wasn’t too bad.

Winchester run 1 Winchester run 2

As I got towards transition, I put my headband on and twisted my race number around. I wasn’t brave enough to try mounting my bike with the shoes already clipped on, so I had to put on my helmet, gloves and shoes, as well as my jacket. I than ran towards the dismount line (holding onto my bike’s saddle in the hope that it would make it easier for me to run!) The photos of me running are pretty unflattering, but there weren’t any of me on my bike 😦

Leaving transition 1Leaving transition 1 (2)

I set off fairly quickly on my bike and was pleased to start passing people. The main hill on the route is near the start and this year I was determined to cycle all of the way up it. It was longer than I remembered, but I managed to remain seated for the entire hill and also passed a few people on the way up… I suspect they were novices, but it still felt pretty good.

I had hoped to use my Garmin to keep an eye on my speed, but I realised that I must have stopped it when I put on my jacket and wasn’t sure what to do, so I just ignored it and decided to push as hard as I could. I kept trading places with a couple of men, overtaking them on the way up hills, only for them to pass me on the way down. Eventually, we got to a longer and steeper hill. They were clearly tiring as both of them were out of their saddles almost immediately, so I felt very smug passing them whilst seated… I even took a tip from Chrissie Wellington and made my breathing as effortless as possible, in the hope of psyching out my opponents. I’m not sure whether it had an effect, but I kept on pedalling and didn’t dare to look back for quite a while. It was quite a relief to realise that I had left my opponents behind.

As I neared the athletics stadium, I decided that I should try a flying dismount, so I undid the velcro straps on my shoes and rested my feet on top, so that I was still able to pedal. I was a little nervous that I would mess up, but it went surprisingly well and I felt really pleased with myself. I changed my shoes, removed by jacket, helmet and glasses and headed back out for my second run. In hindsight, I should have had a drink, but that’s a lesson I’ve learnt.

The second run was much harder than the first as I was feeling fatigued and it had started to get quite hot. There were also fewer people for me to chase, which is something that I find motivational. I saw Stuart the first time around, but was disappointed that I didn’t see him on my second lap – I didn’t realise that he was on a massage table and could still see me.

Stuart finishing Winchester Duathlon

Stuart finishing Winchester Duathlon

I was grateful that there were some shady areas, and I made the most of them wherever possible.

End of the run

End of the run

I was also grateful that I had worn a matching crop top under my trisuit as I needed to unzip it a little – it felt unbearably warm. I was running very slowly and by the time I was heading for the finish, many of the other triathletes had collected their bikes from transition and were leaving.

Finishing the run

Finishing the run

I was so glad when I finished the run…

Finishing Winchester Duathlon 1Finishing Winchester Duathlon

…and even more delighted when I found out that not only had I smashed last year’s time, but that I had also finished comfortably under 2 hours 🙂

Thank you sign


I looked up my results from last year and can see where I’ve improved and what I need to work on.

Winchester duathlon results

Winchester duathlon results

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my results and although I think my first run was quite good this year, I am amazed at how well I ran last year. My first transition was also slower than last year, but this can be attributed to the fact that I had to change my shoes and put on cycling glasses this year. My bike was the discipline where I have made the most improvement, and I’m a little disappointed that there is no photographic evidence of how much effort I was putting in. I knocked over 21 minutes off last year’s time – part of this can be attributed to riding a more appropriate bike, but I am also a more confident cyclist now. My second transition was better than last year – possibly because of my dismount and the fact that I didn’t have problems removing my bike helmet this year! My second run was slower than last year. I really wanted to pick up the pace, but was feeling absolutely shattered by this time.

After the race, I had a chance to explore the goody bag, which includes a free open water swimming pass that is good for a month. I prefer swimming outside to being in a pool, although I don’t love the cold.

Winchester Duathlon goodies

Winchester Duathlon goodies

The medal is quite attractive.

Winchester Duathlon medal

Winchester Duathlon medal

So, my final result was a massive PB of over 20 minutes. Although I’m struggling with running right now, this makes me feel really happy.

Embrace Sports Algarve Triathlon Holiday – Day 3

4 Nov

I woke early on Monday morning, although it was nice to know that we had a relatively late start. I felt mixed emotions about what we would be doing.

Monday schedule

Monday schedule

I knew that the trail run consisted of 5 mile loops, and that each runner could choose to do as many or as few as they wanted to. Last time I did 10 miles, and I knew that there would be no pressure on me to do that much as no-one seems to expect triathletes to run… however, I wanted to do better than I did in January, and also knew that I should do some training ahead of Gosport Half Marathon on 17th November. This also needed to be balanced with the fact that I knew I had a tough week ahead of me.

In January, my run started out well at a good pace with Ruth and Dave, but I fell half way around and cut my hands as well as badly scraping my thigh. It really knocked my confidence and made me run tentatively for several months afterwards (as well as giving me a lasting scar on my butt!!!) I ended up having to walk part of the first loop, and jogged the second lap slowly with Eric having to motivate me in the end, so this time I was determined to remain alert and have fun.

Graeme explained the route to us

Graeme explained the route to us © Embrace Sports

We posed for a photo before the start of the run – it’s striking to compare the size of the group with the one in January (see the bottom of my ‘About Me‘ page). I know I was in this picture (somewhere on the left), and I could definitely see the photographer, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign of me!


Trail run Trail run © Embrace Sports

My 5 mile PB (43:21) was set at Victory 5 Mile in September 2012, but my other 5 mile race times have all been between 45:12 and 46:16.

The start of the trail run

The start of the trail run

I set out quite steadily as I didn’t want to go too fast and I know that I need to maintain an even pace. Katie ran with me for a while, but I decided that she as running faster than I wanted to, so I slowed down a bit. This also meant that I was running on my own. I was happy about that as I didn’t want to risk being distracted and falling again.


Running by the wind turbines Running by the wind turbines

At about 7k, I heard another runner coming up behind me. I didn’t want to be over-taken, so I sped up a bit, knowing that we would soon be at a downhill section. Luckily, this tactic paid off as my ‘opponent’ was less confident at running downhill than I was, so I was able to regain my lead. It wasn’t long before I could see the finishing stretch, so I pushed on and was pleased to finish in just over 54 minutes. I was feeling strong and confident, so I didn’t stop for long before continuing onto a second lap.

First 5 mile lap: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161260

Woodland trail run - first lap

Woodland trail run – first lap

I got to near the windmills, and saw quite a few of the others who had decided to do part of a lap before returning to the minibuses. I continued on, enjoying the tranquility. I knew that at some stage, Scott would pass me on his third lap, so it was a little challenge to myself to see how far I could go before he passed me. I suspected that Scott would pass me at 3k, but in the end, I had done  between 5 and 6km before Scott went whizzing past. He looked so relaxed and comfortable despite the fact that he was moving at a tremendous pace – he even managed to smile and call out some encouragement.

This was where I fell in January

This was where I fell in January © Embrace Sports

Enjoying the scenery

Enjoying the scenery

When I got back to the finish, I found that only Andy was waiting as all of the others had just left in the minibus. This gave me a chance to drink and stretch whilst waiting for the others. Next to finish were two ladies who had also run 10 miles (Sam and someone else), and then Sandra from Portsmouth Joggers who had run 15 miles. Finally John and Denny came in, having completed 15 miles. I assumed that Scott had got on the earlier minibus, but he had run around with Graeme to pick up the cones, so he completed 20 miles in total! I felt quite pleased that I wasn’t the slowest person to complete 10 miles, and was also relieved that I was feeling significantly better than I had in January.

Woodland trail run – second lap: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/402161267

Garmin details form second woodland run

Garmin details from the second woodland run

Unfortunately, when I got back to the apartments, I made the mistake of looking on Garmin Connect to see how I did in January: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/268718588 I did the whole thing in 1:49:03, which was 3:02 minutes faster than the 1:52:05 that I managed this year (which is only seconds away from my half marathon PB). The pace of my entire first slap was 1 second per km slower than my average pace in January. I felt so disappointed when I realised this and was torn between the fact that I had actually enjoyed the run and the fact that I clearly hadn’t tried hard enough. Unless I put more effort in, I will never improve and get back to where I was 😦

In the afternoon, we headed to the car park that Eric had used for the running technique session in January. We cycled down there, and then Graeme asked us to dismount and attach our shoes to the pedals. We had to practice running down to the cone and back pushing our bikes… which sounds easy, but we had to steer them by holding onto the saddle. Graeme is an expert at this, but it’s not something that I had tried before. (When we did our 6 ferries and 100km extravaganza, I was wowed by everyone else being able to steer their bikes just by putting on hand on the handlebars – this is not something that I can do with my commuter bike, as it is far too heavy. It was a complete revelation to get my road bike and find that it is light enough for me to steer it just by holding the handlebars.) I found it easy enough to push the bike in a straight line, but it wasn’t so easy to turn a corner. I’m looking forward to practising this with my own bike and will try to remember to only push it by holding onto the saddle, so that I can perfect my skills.

Next we had to practice mounting our bikes by putting one foot on a pedal and swinging our leg over the saddle whilst the bike was moving. As that’s what I always used to do when I was a child, it didn’t seem so bad. The next step was to practice dismounting. We had to swing one leg back over the saddle and then ‘thread the needle’ i.e. swing our leg in the gap between the other leg and the bike. This was a drill that we had practised with Ant during our triathlon training weekend, but it was easier then as I didn’t have clipless pedals and the saddle of my other bike was lower. I’m not very good at doing it – my excuse is that my legs are too fat to give me much room between my leg and the bike frame. Obviously, there are two things I need to do about this – lose weight and practise more!!!

The next challenge was to mount the bike with my shoes already attached. Graeme showed us the ‘triathlon hack’ of attaching our shoes with elastic bands… which was another tip that Ant had shared with us during our tri weekend. Fortunately, when I bought my bike shoes, I chose some tri specific shoes, so they have a large heel loop as well as large velcro straps. I found it easy to get one foot in my shoes (right foot), but I struggled to get my left foot in and I was nervous about leaning over to try to help my foot into the shoe as I was worried that I might crash. Removing my shoes was the easiest part.

At the end of the session, Graeme told us that he wanted us to practise what we had learnt every time we went out riding, so that we would improve and be able to use the skills in a real triathlon. This is something that I am determined to do, as I felt reasonably confident that I had the basics of the skills and I know that I will feel proud if I can show off these skills at my next event (possibly Winchester Duathlon). I’d also like to do another triathlon holiday with Embrace and would like to be able to show Graeme that I have learnt from him.

A selfie from John on the recovery ride

A selfie from John on the recovery ride

In the afternoon, we went for a recovery bike ride. I had assumed that this would make it feel significantly easier than the last ride, but the route seemed quite hilly, which made it feel quite challenging. It was only about 13 miles long, but that was long enough for me!

Another selfie from John on the cycle back

Another selfie from John on the cycle back

Garmin data from recovery bike ride

Garmin data from recovery bike ride

When we got back there was time for a shower before dinner. It had been another amazing, but exhausting, day!