Tag Archives: Try Tri

First aquathlon of the year

28 May

Tonight’s excitement for the Smiths was an aquathlon at Lakeside. We both decided to do the sprint distance (750m swim; 5km run) and managed to get in the water before the start to acclimatise. Lack of time to acclimatise was something that I found difficult last year, but I think it was easier anyway tonight as the lake was quite warm.

In previous years, the swim has been anticlockwise in the lake, but this year it was clockwise, which helped as that’s the usual direction that we swim in.


Acclimatising before the start of the swim ©TryTri

The start of the swim was quite frantic (TryTri have shared a video) and I got a couple of fairly hard knocks to the head, which isn’t something I’m used to. I don’t think I’d positioned myself well and should probably have started further back.

I quickly got into a comfortable rhythm and managed to maintain it for the whole swim.

I had two goals for this race: not to finish last and ideally to beat my time from last year.

During the swim, I could see other people just ahead of me, so I did my best to keep pushing and managed to overtake a couple of people.


The start of the run ©TryTri

Finally, I was in transition. Again, this was an area where I thought I could improve on last year’s time – mainly because I no longer need to put in contact lenses! I’d chosen a spot close to the swim exit, so that my wetsuit wouldn’t have time to drain fully, which seemed to be a successful strategy for me.

I then set off on the run and was surprised that I managed to feel quite good from the start. Overall, the run wasn’t quite 5km (my Garmin had it as 4.85km, which seems about right when comparing it to the measured 5km course that used to be used for parkrun at this location), but I managed a faster pace than I’ve run at any parkrun recently, so think that getting back to Hugh’s running sessions is paying off. I also managed to pass a few people on the run, which is something that I rarely manage.

My best time last year was: 47:52.4, so I was pleased to get a PB tonight: 46:37.8 … and I wasn’t last

Eastleigh aquathlon May 2015

Grand Shaftesbury Run and Tri weekend

17 May

On Friday 15th May, Stuart and I headed down to Wimborne St Giles in Dorset for the TryTri Grand Shaftesbury Run and Tri weekend. We left home a little late, and knew that we would need to set up our tent before it got dark. Unfortunately, we had our first disaster whilst setting up our tent as one of the poles snapped. Fortunately, Ben was on hand to lend us some gaffer tape for temporary repairs.

When we had set up the tent, we brought everything inside, including our bikes and then registered for the tri. We also realised that we had forgotten our pillows, so Stu was despatched back to his parents’ house (they live in Dorset) to borrow some pillows.

Finally, Stu arrived back and we  decided to get an early night. However, the generator was running until quite late and we were really cold. Early season camping is not easy!

The next day, Stu and I got up early ready to rack up for the tri. I donned my lovely SOAS team kit and also my wetsuit. I had dipped a toe into the water and found it was at best chilly and at worst freezing :-O

That’s me looking worried in the ‘shark’ swimming hat. Just ahead of me in the red and black striped suit is my husband, Stuart looking relaxed as usual ©TryTri

The lake at Shaftesbury

The other minor problem was that the lake was really weedy. You can see just how murky it was 😦 ©TryTri

I chose to wear my bootees as it was so cold, even though they’re slightly too big for me and probably don’t aid my swimming.

I really struggled with the swim. It was so cold that I found it hard to breathe and did quite a lot with my head out of the water trying to get into a rhythm. I had hoped for a much better swim time, but ended up finishing in 28th place in 44:44.5

I thought my transition would be quite quick, especially as there were other people around and I wanted to beat them out of T1… but I was wrong. I don’t think I can blame the 3:54.3 on the length of the run, it’s mainly because I was faffing around. I must learn to speed up!

I felt quite good going out on the bike. I hadn’t done much training on my bike, but I’ve been doing a lot of spinning classes, so I was hoping they would help. I saw my friend, Teri, out on the course – she was doing the sprint distance. I also heard someone say hello and was pleased to learn that it was Jenny – a blog follower and Facebook friend. It’s so nice to meet people who I only know ‘virtually’.

I saw my friend Suzanne out on the bike route. Unfortunately, her friend had a puncture, so she stopped to help him repair his bike.

I enjoyed the bike route, although there were a couple of tricky turns. None of the hills were too difficult, although a few parts of the road were a bit gravelly. I also saw some of the handcycle athletes out on the course. I had so much respect for them as they must have had a very tough time.

I managed to pass a few athletes out on the course and did a great flying dismount, so I finished in 1:53:42.7 (20th).

I had a reasonable transition (43.8 seconds) and headed out for the run. Liz was cheerleading (and doing the run for Suzanne who was injured) and managed to snap a picture as I shouted to her.

The run course had two laps, which were very picturesque. The trees and flowers were in bloom, which helped to distract me a bit as I was not running as well as I’d hoped to. One of the best bits of the run was at the far end of the estate where there were some drummers who gave me a bit of a lift.

Drummers at Shaftesbury.jpg

I thought that my running had improved and so not only was I aiming for an Olympic distance PB, but I also thought that I might be able to finish my run in under 1 hour.

I was so happy to cross the finish line.

One day I’ll get a finish photo where I’m looking up! ©TryTri

Sadly, I didn’t manage to finish my run in under 1 hour – it took me 1:04:28.2. However, this was 17th, so it was my best discipline by far.

I was very proud of Stuart for coming 7th overall. He had the 6th fastest swim and 8th fastest run (we won’t mention being 22nd on the bike!) finishing in 2:42:23. I was 3rd in my Age Group – podium finish!!!

After the event, there was a bit of time to catch up with Suzanne, Liz and Teri. In the evening, there was supposed to be a hog roast, but unfortunately, they had run out of lots of ingredients and there wasn’t anything left for vegetarians, so Stu and I went to a local pub for dinner.

When we got back, there was a live band and the TryTri team joined in, which was good fun. Afterwards, Lord Shaftesbury started DJing, which is his former career. Unfortunately, as we’d had an early start, Stu and I were very tired and just wanted to go to bed… dance music and tents do not go well together!

On Sunday morning, the teenagers in the tent next to us woke up very early and decided to chat very loudly. Stu and I didn’t want to get up early, but we couldn’t go back to sleep. Stu had entered the half marathon, as a training run, whereas I hadn’t done enough training to run that far, so I entered the 10k. Steve Way (legendary British ultra runner) had also entered the half marathon, and I had been completely in awe of him walking around. I had been tempted to approach him the evening before, but he was with his family, and I didn’t want to impose on him… also I didn’t think I could talk to him without saying something stupid.

After the half marathoners had set off, there was a short wait before my race. It was a bit strange to be waiting for a race without Stuart and with no other running friends there. I had recognised a few runners, but they had all been doing the longer established half marathon.

Finally my race was underway. The first section was across some fairly long grass and then we had to run through farmland. The terrain was uneven and some of the paths were very narrow, so it was not possible to overtake other runners. I tried to maintain a steady pace. At one stage, a heavy-breathing runner with coins in his pocket was running next to me. The sounds emanating from him were driving me crazy, so I had to pick the speed up to get away from him – he didn’t rejoin me later!

There was a really tough hill on the course that felt endless – I think it was at about 6-7km. After I had completed the hill, it was back onto smoother roads. A runner just ahead of me was singing along to her ipod. She kept stopping and walking (to change song?) and would then run past me again, which was very frustrating.

When we got towards the finish, runners started to pick up their speed, but I knew that i would not be able to start sprinting until I was closer to the finish, so I tried to maintain a steady pace.

As the half marathon had started an hour earlier than the 10k, Stuart was cheering for me at the finish line. He had completed his ‘training run’ at a steady pace, finishing in 1:35:39 and 9th place!

Stuart Shaftesbury 2015

Despite my fatigue from the previous day, I finished in 56:36.8. This is nowhere near my PB, but I was quite pleased with it. I was 52/118 overall, 18/59 female and 10/31 Open (<41) female.

Grand Shaftesbury Run 2015

I enjoyed this weekend and am tempted to do it again next year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince more friends to come along and camp.

Winchester Duathlon (aka Hell on the Hills in Hampshire!)

22 Mar

I’ve done Winchester Duathlon twice before:

  • 2013 (sprint) – my first ever multisport event (completed on a hybrid bike)
  • 2014 (sprint) – my second try at this event and a massive PB for me

However, this year the event has moved to the beautiful Lainston House, so it’s a new course. I didn’t really think about this too much in advance, which was my first failure.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am obsessively organised. I have a Googledoc called ‘packing lists for all occasions’, which helps me to get ready quickly. This is coming next:

Anyway, I reviewed my packing list earlier this week and updated it based on the weather conditions and my current kit. Then I spent Saturday afternoon organising my kit and packing it carefully into my transition bag. usually, I try to minimise the decisions that I can make on the day, but the weather was forecast to be overcast with a maximum temperature of 6°C (43°F), with the windchill making it feel like 1°C (34°F), so I packed a few items of clothing that I would be able to put on in transition. This is where I find duathlons difficult – I am happy to run in just a vest and shorts in cold weather as I know that I will heat up quickly and if I wear base layers or gloves I will overheat. However, I can get cold very quickly on a bike, so I didn’t want to just wear my tri tank and shorts. I decided to start the race with calf guards on to help keep my legs a bit warmer.

The standard race was scheduled to start at 8am with race registration between 6am and 7:30am. For most Try Tri events, registration is also offered on a Saturday afternoon, which gives competitors the chance to see the run course, transition and possibly drive the bike course, however that was not on offer today (which I think was a shame). Stuart and I decided to get up at 5:45 this morning, as we only needed to eat breakfast, dress and put our kit in the car.

As I was doing my hair (I have to try to French plait it for events involving cycling as I hate my helmet pressing against a hairband), Stuart said that he would load up the car. I quickly hurried down to meet him and we were on our way. I spent most of the car journey on Facebook as lots of my friends were racing today (at Eastleigh 10k and Reading Half Marathon, mainly). When we arrived at Lainston House, we were surprised that there were only a few bikes in transition. We parked the car, got our bikes out and then disaster struck…

Stuart and I had put our bags in front of the door, but he moved mine onto the sofa when he went to load up the car. I didn’t notice, so there we were in Winchester with two bikes, but only 1 helmet and 1 pair of cycle shoes between us 😦

Fortunately, Ben from Try Tri was nearby, so I spoke to him and asked whether I could register both of us whilst Stu rushed back to Southampton (about 16 to 20 miles away). Ben agreed, so I put on Stu’s rucksack and started heading to the race registration. I am so grateful that I’ve practised running whilst holding my bike’s saddle and that Stu’s bike is very light, otherwise I might not have made it to registration.

The queue for registration was enormous and it was quite cold. As I was holding two bikes, my hands were freezing, but I had no pockets and my gloves were in my bag. Finally, I put our bikes on the grass and moved towards the hall. I had completely forgotten that I needed ID to register, but at that moment, Chris, the Event Director appeared. I had a quick word with him and he said that I should ask the helpers to give him a call, if there were any problems. Chris also complimented me on my  lovely hat (my SOAS beanie) – he thought it made me stand out 🙂

When I got to the front of the queue, Ant (my coach from Run Camp) was registering people, so he was happy to sign me in and give me the Team Smith numbers, timing chips and stickers.

I quickly collected our bikes and started walking down the hill to transition. When I got there, I saw Coach Peter from Southampton Tri Club. he wished me well. Then I went over and spoke to the two ladies who were controlling entry to transition. It is standard for competitors to have to demonstrate that they have an appropriate helmet and that they have working brakes. Unfortunately, I only had Stu’s helmet (which would have to be adjusted a lot to make it fit me). A quick phone call to Chris got me access to transition. I am so grateful to these guys as otherwise my race would have been over before it even started.

I racked our bikes and then started going through Stu’s bag to try to get as much as possible ready for him. I set up his shoes and put his number on his race belt. I also got out his bike helmet. Then I removed my track suit trousers and cycling jacket, but I decided to keep my SOAS hoodie on a little longer as it was far to cold to strip off to a tri tank at that point.

I then checked my phone – a missed call from Stu. he had been trying to tell me that he would be driving past transition, but I was too late and he was in the car park at the top of the site. I have never been so grateful that an event has been running late. As Stuart appeared, the marshals were ushering people out of transition. I quickly got my bike shoes out and put on my race belt. I removed my hoodie and decided that I would try running with arm warmers on, figuring that I could push them down to my wrists if I got too hot. I got my helmet out and decided to put my headband on. As it still felt cold, I left my cycling jacket by my bike. I was a bit thirsty and needed the loo, but there was no time for either of those as we had been told to line up by the start gantry.

I lined up behind Stuart and a couple of guys from SUTRI (Shriram and Peter)… then we were told to turn around. Ooops – I was far too close to the front and didn’t want to hamper anyone else’s race. I then looked up at the view and realised that we were going to have to run up a big hill. I was still feeling optimistic and decided that we must have to run up the hill and then we would do four loops around the house before running back down to the bikes.

I tried to set off at a steady pace, but it was tough from the start. I also realised within 100m of starting that I still had my buff on, but it was too late to do anything about it.


After a while, the path flattened out a bit and we had to head out across the grass, then we turned onto a gravelly path before passing the main building. At this point, the fastest runners started going past in the opposite direction. Finally, I reached the turnaround point and headed back towards the house. We were directed to the right and then I realised that we were going to head down the massive hill and back to where we started :-O

WinchDu1 WinchDu2

The sprint and novice events started just after the standard, so I was being passed by lots of faster runners. At the turnaround point, Jonathan cheered for me and then I started heading back up the hill. Urrghh! My legs always feel far stronger than my lungs (which I always assumed was a sign of how unfit I am – apparently, it’s more likely to be related to my asthma) but even my legs were feeling the hill. When I got out onto the field, I had a good look around and identified a suitable hedge for a ‘comfort break’. This is something that I would NEVER have done before I did cross-country running, but I thought that it might help me to get my head back in the game.

I felt better when I headed off, and tried not to think about the fact that I still had 2.5 laps to do.

The guys from SUTRI were looking very strong. Peter was totally focussed every time he blasted past me. On my third ascent of the hill, I saw and heard Stuart and Shriram. I shouted to them that if they were chatting they weren’t trying hard enough and then carried on.


Finally, I was on my last lap. Before I saw the course, I had been wondering how close to my 10k PB I could get (51:06), and even at the start line, I discussed with Sergio that I thought I might be able to do 55 minutes. On my way down the hill, my only aim was to go as fast as I could to try to get under 1 hour!

Run 1: 10k: 1:00:01 (69/76)

As I headed into transition, I knew I had to put on some more clothes. I was surprised that the sun had come out, so I rummaged in my bag to find my sunglasses. Usually, I am much better organised, so this lost me some time. After putting on my helmet, bike shoes, gloves and jacket, I headed out to transition. There wasn’t a clearly marked mount line, but we were told to head to the road and mount there.

T1: 00:02:09.70 (57/76)

We only cycled a very short distance before there was a left turn and we were straight onto a hill. Partway up, a man passed me and commented that it was cruel to start us on a hill. Unfortunately, at that point he heard a car behind us and decided that he had better to pull over quickly. His back wheel had not passed my front wheel and I had to swerve into the hedge so as not to be knocked off 😦

The route was much flatter for some time after the first hill and I was quite pleased with my pace, which was averaging over 28kph. I felt really happy as I had no idea what the second half of the course was like. I decided to try to take on some nutrition, but my honey stinger waffle was firmly stuck in its packet, so I licked the end of it and put it back into my bento box, praying that 1g of carb/sugar would give me enough energy to finish the race.

About half way, the route turned left and then became extremely hilly. About 4km from the end of the lap, I saw another cyclist ahead and could see I was making progress, which spurred me on.

I pushed hard to the end of the lap and felt quite confident that I could achieve an acceptable time.

Half way around, I saw Shriram with his bicycle by the side of the road. I asked if he was Ok, but didn’t quite hear the answer, so I offered him an inner-tube. (Later he confirmed that he had broken his rear mech hanger). This wasn’t any help, so i confirmed that I would let the next marshal know he had a problem.

At this pont, the girl I had passed seized the opportunity to pass me. I was unable to catch her again and a few kilometres further on, I was passed by another woman.

I was so pleased after I had climbed the final hill. I knew I had to start planning my dismount and T2. I undid my shoes and slipped my feet out

Bike: 01:55:15.40 (68/74)

I managed a reasonable flying dismount and then had to start running, which felt odd as my toes were very cold. I was surprised by how far the run was from the mount/dismount to the transition area. I was hoping that I wasn’t picking up too much debris on my socks. I was also a bit disoriented and nearly ran through the finish funnel, rather than into transition!

I brushed my socks off, slipped my trainers on, removed my helmet, jacket, buff and arm warmers and started running.

When I checked my splits later, I was pleased to see that T2 continues to be my best discipline. Even if I’m terrible at everything else, Graeme has made me good at this aspect!

T2: 00:01:16.50 (33/73)

It was quite a relief to see that there were still runners on the course, even if they were finishing their second lap.

This run felt tough. By the time I was nearing the top of the first hill, I was wheezing, so I got my inhaler out and had a couple of puffs. I was passed by a chap who asked me whether I was on my last lap. I misheard what he said and replied ‘yes’. By the time I had properly processed this, the runner had gone.

I was glad when I started descending. I could hear the cheers from SUTRI and ‘bike gang’ (Liz, Katherine, Stuart and Jenny).

I passed Jonathan at the bottom turnaround and then started heading back up the hill. When I had passed the supporters, I decided that I needed a walking break. However, I mistimed it and Coach Peter saw me walking. he shouted out that he thought I was better than that, which made me feel really guilty, so I started running again.

By now, most people had finished, so I had to dodge lots of people taking their equipment back to their cars, which was a little frustrating.

By the time I got to the flatter area on the field, I felt really rough. The only person who I was aware of being behind me, caught up with me and then passed me. I tried to keep up, but my calves were cramping and I had no energy left.

Eventually, I reached the final downhill. I mustered up as much energy as I could for a final sprint. I even planned how I would finish so that I wouldn’t have a dodgy finishing photo, but there wasn’t a photographer at the end 😦

I was passed a bottle of water and a medal and I was done.

I congratulated the lady who had passed me on her run and had a chat with her and her friends about my awesome kit as they had commented that they liked it when I was running.

Run 2: 5k: 00:36:02.75 (68/71)

I was 3rd in my age category (podium!) and 10th out of 12 female finishers.

I think the results may change and that some athletes may be disqualified as there are some pretty amazing 5k times there.

Final results: 03:34:44.95 (68/71)

Winchester Duathlon medal

Today I felt like I earned my medal.

Overall, I think Winchester Duathlon was the most brutal event I have ever done. I did the Dorset Endurance Life Coastal Half Marathon back in December 2012 – it was over 16 miles of going up and down the cliffs around Durdle Door/Lulworth Cove in Dorset, however, I was prepared for that.

The Try Tri Events guys organised a fantastic race (and I’m really grateful to them for helping with my disaster this morning), but I think I preferred the old run course because the route around Lainston House was like running up a mountain. The total elevation gain for the standard event was 809m (in comparison with Embrace Sports ‘Hell on the Hills’ which is “only” 471m!!!)

I enjoyed doing my first race with friends from SUTRI, most of whom achieving awesome results including winning the sprint and standard races – it’s fab to have loads of people cheering you on during a tough race. It was also great to give my new Team SOAS 2015 kit its first airing. I know everyone says that you should never try anything new on race day, but I’ve never had a problem with any of my SOAS kit, so I had complete faith it would be just as awesome today.

Selfie Liz Winch Du

How was your weekend? Did you race?

There was even a race report in 220 Triathlon: http://www.220triathlon.com/news/winchester-duathlon-2015-race-report/9933.html

Last tri of the season – HOWSC 100

30 Sep

My first triathlon, last year, was HOWSC 100, so I was excited about entering the same event this year in the hope that I would get a PB (and some proof that I have made progress). I know that I’m more confident and my swimming has improved, but I wanted to know that my progress was about speed as much as endurance.

On Saturday evening, Stuart and I registered at HOWSC and then had a drive around the bike course. It seemed a little undulating, but none of the hills were particularly steep, so I felt reassured that it wouldn’t be a problem.

On Sunday, we got up early, racked our bikes and then went to watch the start of the Olympic distance event. Suzanne, Katherine, Jenny and Sonia were just some of our friends who were taking part in the standard distance. It was the first time that most of them had tackled the distance. Teri, Liz and James had opted to do the sprint distance with Stu and I.

HOWSC brief

Ben getting everyone’s attention for the start of the Olympic brief ©Try Tri

After the briefing, we watched the swimmers enter the water and make their way over to the start point. There was a count down from 20 to 1 and then they were off. At that point we headed back to transition to put on our wetsuits and make any final adjustments, before heading back for the start of our race.

After arriving at the holding pen, we were given chips and had a quick briefing before heading for the water.

HOWSC swim 1

I’m quite easy to spot here – I had on my shark hat (and put a red hat over it before getting in the water) © Try Tri

HOWSC swim 2

In case you’re wondering why my hands are up, I was holding my goggles up so that I could see through them (prescription lenses) © Try Tri

The bottom of the lake was very squishy and unpleasant, so I tried to swim as soon as possible when I got in, rather than wading. The temperature wasn’t too bad, so I felt reasonably confident that I would have a good swim. Unfortunately, I positioned myself badly. I forgot how many of the people had never done a triathlon before and I would imagine that many of them had never swum in a lake before either, so I think I started too far back. There were 105 swimmers and so it felt like quite a large pack in a confined area.

I tried to get into a rhythm as early as possible, but found that I was hemmed in by other swimmers. As a novice, I hated aggressive swimmers who seemed to be trying to swim over me… now I feel guilty that I might have become that person. At one point when I breathed, I realised that the person next to me didn’t even have goggles on, so clearly their intention was to do the entire swim using ‘old-lady-breaststroke’.

It was a two-lap course, so by the time I was half-way around the first lap, it had thinned out a bit and I even managed to draft someone for a little while, before deciding that I needed to move faster. I realised that I was much further back than I had hoped to be, but it was a good feeling to know that I wasn’t last.

The second lap felt much smoother, but I couldn’t really make up for lost time.

Last year: Swim: 22:19.6 (44/46)

This year: Swim: 18:36.8 (81/105)

So, an improvement of 3:43 since last year, but I think that if I were to position myself better then I could have been at least another minute faster.

Last year’s transition was a bit of a disaster with a fall and a battle with my wetsuit. This year, I moved fairly quickly to transition, but didn’t fall over. I removed my wetsuit quite easily, but had a few problems with my contact lenses. This has not happened before and annoyed me, but I don’t think it wasted too many seconds. Liz arrived in transition as I was there. I probably shouldn’t have spoken to her, but it was quite nice to see her.

Last year: T1: 3:54.75 (44/46)

This year: T1: 3:17.60 (91/105)

It’s still not good enough, but that’s an improvement of 37 seconds.


Stuart came out of the water in 5th place, but it all went wrong on the bike

I ran to the mount line as quickly as I could, but felt very frustrated that there were two men there who were faffing around and not just getting on their bikes and going. Finally they moved off and I was able to start pedalling. I quickly over took a few people and then had a nice clear stretch of road.


I hd no idea what position I was in, but I knew I wanted to maintain a good average pace.

The course was definitely a technical course with quite a few sharp turns and plenty of undulation. I managed to pass men on almost every uphill, but they would pass me again on the downhills – I think it was a combination of their greater body weight and lack of fear.

It was meant to be a non-drafting race, but there were quite a few pelotons out on the road, which was a bit frustrating.

In the latter half of the road, I saw a familiar trisuit with union jacks on the sides… it was Teri. I managed to catch up with her and passed her going up a hill, but I knew she wouldn’t give up that easily. Sure enough, Teri was already back with me on the next downhill. I carried on and managed to pass her, but I didn’t look back to see where she was as I was focusing on my own time, rather than trying to beat anyone.

A little while later, about 16km into the ride, I saw someone at the side of the road. Another glance at the striking orange and black trisuit told me it was Stu. He appeared to be dealing with a puncture. I called out to him and he said he was fine. I felt really sad, as I knew he was hoping for a good result. I started to worry about Stu and as a consequence was not focusing on my ride. Teri caught up with me and shouted that I had slowed down. I explained what had happened and we chatted for a couple of minutes. fortunately, this did not distract me too much as, on a sharp bend, we encountered a couple of motorcyclists who were so far over the road that they nearly hit us.

I pedalled on and felt pleased when I took the final turn onto the main road. I had no idea how far behind Teri was, but I wanted to get up some speed, as I knew i would slow a bit when I started taking my shoes off. I also wanted to try to drink some water as I hadn’t drunk anything so far in the race, and it was starting to get warm.

I was pleased with my flying dismount and realised that I was coming into transition right behind Katherine.

Last year: Bike: 1:01:33.4 (34/46)
This year:
Bike: 50:06.65 (73/105)

That’s an improvement of 11:27. Again, I still think I can do better.

I ran to transition, had a little fight trying to lift my bike onto the rack (my bike is super light, but the rack was really high), put on my trainers, grabbed my visor and started running.

Last year: T2: 1:36:20 (41/46)

This year: T2: 40.85 (20/105)

That’s a (comparatively) massive improvement of 56 seconds. If Graeme has taught me anything, it’s how to dismount 🙂

On the run, I could see various runners as we started in a field. I couldn’t see Teri, but had no idea whether she had run ahead of me. I was also concerned as I hadn’t picked up an inhaler and my breathing wasn’t great. I settled down at a steady pace of 5:45/km – not as fast as I wanted to go, but I knew that if I could maintain it then I would definitely finish the run in under 30 minutes.


I didn’t see the photographer, so I have no idea whether this was on my first or second lap!

Partway around the course, I saw Chris and Ben. Chris was armed with a camera and ben appeared to be ready for a high-five…

HOWSC high 5 1

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 2

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 3

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 4

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 5

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 6

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 7

© Try Tri

The course was a loop of the field, a tricky steep little hill and then a lap of the lake – and then repeat. I quite enjoyed the course and felt good when I was able to overtake a few people. I had no idea whether they were doing the sprint, novice or Olympic distance, but passing someone is always motivational.

One of the marshals called out that she liked my kit – people are always commenting on it and I feel so proud to be able to wear it.

Finally, I could see the finish funnel. I could hear someone coming up behind me, but I didn’t look back… I was totally focussed on running my own race… then I heard a voice – it was Teri again. We crossed the line together (well 0.05 seconds apart!)

HOWSC finish

© Try Tri

Last year: Run: 32:21:05 (34/46)

This year: Run: 27:36.15 (72/105)

That’s an improvement of 4:45.

I’m quite pleased with my run result. I know that I can run faster, but my running has been terrible this year nd I was just hoping for a sub 30 minute finish, so this was quite a good result.

After the race, Teri and I met up with James for a quick photo:

HOWSC Teri James

© Try Tri

Last year: Overall: 2:01:45.05 (37/46)
I was 10/15 female and 4th in the F30-39 category

This year: Overall: 1:40.18 (78/105)
I was 20/35 female and 2nd (out of 5) in the F36-40 category

Overall, it was a very successful day. I loved the event and improved in every discipline with a total improvement of over 21 minutes in comparison with last year. What a great finish to my season, and proof that I am progressing towards my ultimate goal 🙂


Final aquathlon of the season

25 Sep

This week has been so busy:

Saturday: Lake swim followed by a run (and then a bit of cheering the junior triathletes at Lakeside)

Sunday: 40k bike ride followed by a 30 minute run

Monday: 1 hour of swimming with some challenging drills

Tuesday: 1:06 on the turbo trainer

Wednesday: 70 minutes of intervals… on my own… in the dark – autumn is definitely here 😦

Thursday: Aquathlon time!

I also signed up for the Uni tri club (SUTri) yesterday and met the president. I’m hoping to join in with quite a few of their training sessions in the next few months and am particularly looking forward to spinning as I’ve not been to a spin class since I left my old job in September 2012.

It is so sad that we’re at the end of the open water swimming season. I know that some people swim outdoors all year around, but I struggle with the cold, so I don’t think I’ll become one of those people any time soon… unless I emigrate to somewhere warmer. (Apparently the water is 26 degrees C in Mallorca at the moment!)

Stu and I headed to Lakeside for the final aquathlon on the season. I wasn’t feeling well and was struggling to breathe this afternoon, so I was feeling a bit nervous and started wondering whether I should drop down to doing the short distance. In the end I decided that I would do the long swim and see how I felt on the run. It’s a two lap run course, so I figured that I could stop after 1 lap if I were struggling (although everyone who knows me know that I would be more likely to crawl 2.5km than drop out of a race).

Sept aqua start

Swimmers entering the water © TryTri

As usual, I didn’t get in the water early enough to acclimatise. Fortunately, it didn’t feel as cold as it did on Saturday, and parts of the lake were surprisingly warm.

Sept aqua start 2

Lining up for the start © TryTri

We all lined up for the customary wave before the start. My partner, Stu, is in the foreground looking directly at the camera (with red bands on the sleeves of his wetsuit). I’m just a tiny head in the background!

As soon as we started, it seemed as though only the really good swimmers had turned up as within seconds, I could see swimmers way out in front. My breathing was ragged, but I decided to focus on having a good time and try not to wear myself out too much before Sunday’s triathlon.

I realised that there were some other swimmers near me, but that they mostly had on white hats indicating that they were doing the short distance.

My goggles steamed up, but I didn’t have any problems with leaks and I maintained front crawl throughout the swim. There were a few other swimmers who were fairly close to me who ended up doing a medley of crawl and breaststroke. It was a bit of a battle between another lady and I, but as we completed our second lap (out of 2.5), I managed to surge ahead.

It’s become apparent to me over the last couple of months that my wetsuit no longer fits. I’m not sure whether that’s because I’ve lost weight or changed shape or because the wetsuit has stretched. Anyway, whatever the cause, it now tends to fold up on me and fill with water, which isn’t much fun and I can’t imagine it does a lot for my streamlining. As I’ve only one triathlon and a triathlon holiday left this year, I’ll live with it, but definitely need a new wetsuit before I do more open water swimming.

Finally, I got to the exit, where I could hear Ben shouting encouragement. I couldn’t see much, but assumed that he was pointing his camera at me, so I thought I’d better look cheerful.

Sept aqua swim 1

A quick thumbs up and smile that the swim was over © TryTri

Sept aqua swim 2

Look at all of those fantastic wrinkles in my wetsuit… at least that’s what I hope they are and not rolls of my flesh 😦 © TryTri

Stu was doing the race as a relay (with Jez running for him) as he has a leg injury, so he was in transition when I arrived. I asked him to pick up my belongings when I’d finished, stripped off my wetsuit, put on socks and trainers, put in my contact lenses and was off. It definitely wasn’t the fastest transition – laser surgery had better save me at least a minute!!!

My breathing had calmed down a bit, so I tried to pick up the pace a bit on my run, but my Garmin decided to give me crazy data that kept fluctuating, so I couldn’t rely on it to tell me how fast I was going. I saw Jez go flying by on his second lap, followed by two men and a female runner. I felt great on the first lap, but I think I slowed on the second lap as I was starting to tire. I heard another running catching up with me, but I just couldn’t pick up the pace enough to stay with her and didn’t want to over-exert myself.

My final thoughts were that I needed to ensure that I finished well. My finish photos from Weymouth look truly dreadful – I don’t look happy that I’ve finished, I just look saggy. I sprint for teh line and tried to keep my head up whilst waving my hands in the air. Unfortunately, Ben didn’t quite capture my moment of triumph and it’s a bit blurry, but I’ll take it 🙂

Sept aquathlon

Sept aqua results

In the final results, Stu is placed first, but he was in a relay team (although he reckons that he could have run a similar time). I still need to work on my swimming (and hope that a new wetsuit has a magic effect), but I don’t think my run was too awful.

I’m a bit sad that it’s the last aquathlon of the season, so I’ll have to console myself by entering some of the TryTri duathlons over winter.


Good Fri Tri

18 Apr

This was my first triathlon of the year and my second triathlon with a pool swim. I hated my last pool-based triathlon (Ferndown Try-a-tri), so I was hoping to lay that ghost to rest.

We got up at 5am, and I knew that I move to move quickly as I hadn’t packed all of my kit for today. (I intended to do it yesterday, but ended up spending too much time rushing around to the doctors and sorting out my coaching diary to do it then). Fortunately, most of my kit was in easy reach and I managed not to forget anything, so Stu and I were able to leave on time at 6am for the drive to Abingdon.

On arrival at Radley College, we parked, got our bikes off the rack and had to walk to the registration hall. At this point, I was glad that Stu and I had everything packed into rucksacks as I wouldn’t have wanted to have to balance a basket for the 10 minute walk.

Registration was very easy. We were given goodie bags and our hats and were also offered a choice of a Try Tri water bottle or buff. I think this is a nice touch, as they’re both useful items (and I saw a lot of people using the bottles during the event). Chris Stocks and his partner Ali were in the hall, so we stopped and had a chat with them, before we spotted Katherine.

Tri Try Goodies

Tri Try Goodies

We then were directed out to the transition racks. Stuart was told that he had to place his bike towards the exit, so I followed Katherine and racked up next to her. I laid everything out and started feeling more confident.

My race number

My race number

Stuart was in one of the first swim waves, whereas Katherine was due to start at 9:30 and I was in the wave after her at 9:40am, so we went up to the viewing gallery to watch the first swimmers.

There were some incredible swimmers in the pool, with perfectly executed tumble turns in many lanes and the majority of people demonstrating beautiful freestyle, but there were also a few people who had obviously over-estimated their abilities. As a slow swimmer myself, I don’t have a problem with that, but I really felt sorry for the poor chaps (I think they were all men) who were slowly slogging it out when everyone else had finished. It’s never so bad when there are other people around you finishing at roughly the same time, and a difference in ability is far less noticeable on the bike and run legs as no-one knows when you started, but in the pool, all eyes are on you and the next wave can’t start until you have finished. I don’t think the waiting athletes minded and there was applause for the first person out of the water as well as being applause for the last person, but that always feels a bit awkward and patronising, even if it’s meant in a supportive way.

It wasn’t long before it was Stuart’s turn. he had been very quiet in the morning as he had been ill, so I was pleased to see him chatting with other people poolside. Each lane had four swimmers in it with different coloured hats on: blue, green, orange and red… and that was the order that we had to swim in. Stu had an orange hat, so he was third to set off. He wasn’t sure of his swim speed, so I had asked his coach on Monday who suggested 7:30. Stu was swimming really well and Katherine and I were impressed by his beautiful tumble turn at the end of the first length, but he decided to conserve his energy and did touch turns afterwards. It wasn’t long before he passed the swimmer in the green hat and he made good progress on the swimmer in the blue hat, but Katherine and I were surprised that he seemed unable to get past that swimmer. We asked Stuart about it later and he said that he hadn’t tapped the other swimmer on the feet, but the blue-hatted swimmer paused at the end of the next length anyway for Stu to go past. The time for the swim included a brisk walk around the edge of the pool and down a corridor to the timing mat, so Stu did brilliantly to complete his swim in 7:05. Go Team Smith!

Shortly afterwards, Katherine and I went down stairs to get ready for our swim. It was the first time that I had swum in my Team Soas tri top and shorts, so I was wondering how they would fare. We headed out to the pool and were given our timing chips. Then we were separated as Katherine had to line up on one side of the pool and I was sent to the other side. I started chatting to a couple of women who were also in my wave, which helped to keep my nerves at bay.

The Swim

We then moved around the pool again and Ben came past and said a cheery hello. Finally, Katherine’s wave started, and a marshal came over to check us in. There were meant to be four people in a lane, but the swimmer who should have been in second place in my lane had withdrawn, so there were just three of us. I started to sort myself out, which is when things started to go wrong. until that point, I had been wearing my glasses, but I took them off, to put my goggles around my neck and my swimming hats on (yes, hats… I hate getting water in my ears and find that with my lovely Maru hat, I don’t have any problems, so I didn’t want to try anything new). As I put my goggles over my head, the elastic strap snapped. I tried not to panic as I figured that I could fix it, but it had snapped at the widest possible point, so I could barely thread it through the side and there was no way of securing it, not even with a knot. I started to panic and the stress got to me, so I burst into tears. I was so hoping that I’d be able to do well and was then starting to wonder whether I’d even be able to start. I asked the marshal whether there was any possibility that I could start in a later wave, but they said no, so I had to think of a solution. The other girls in the lane suggested that I borrowed some goggles, but I’ve only swum without my prescription goggles once (in Cyprus), so I was nervous that it would mess up my swim. One of them proposed that if I were doing breast stroke, I could keep my glasses on, but I didn’t think that would be the right solution for me!

Broken goggles :-(

Broken goggles 😦

I couldn’t see Stuart, and the only other person I knew was still in the water. I felt very flustered and by the time I realised what I should do, Katherine had exited the pool and was heading for the door. I walked after her as fast as I could, aware that there weren’t many people left in the pool. As I chased after Katherine, I suddenly realised that I had reached the timing mat, so I had to stop. I frantically appealed to a marshal, who kindly went over to Katherine (who was just out of sight behind a bush) and got her goggles. I was aware that my wave would be starting very soon, so I then had to run back indoors.

Unfortunately, my disastrous experiences didn’t end there as I managed to run into something and cut open my elbow. I could see it bleeding (so I probably shouldn’t have got in the pool – sorry everyone, but I can promise that I don’t have any blood-bourne diseases and I’m sure the chlorine would have killed everything off!), but there was not time to stop and think. I got back to my lane, just as the last swimmer was getting out of the pool – phew!

Elbow injury

Elbow injury

It was then onto the small matter of swimming sixteen lengths (400m). When I did Ferndown try a tri, I panicked in the pool and ended up having to do breaststroke, but having managed two 400m sets with Coach Peter at Tri Club, I was confident that I should be able to do the distance without stopping or changing stroke. I did my best to turn quickly, although I will admit that a couple of my turns were somewhat tardy. I caught up with the swimmer in front of me and she let me go past, but the first swimmer in my lane was probably 30 seconds ahead of me. I felt really pleased that despite the panicked start, I maintained my pace and managed to front crawl the entire distance. I got out of the pool, picked up my goggles and glasses and headed for the exit, pleased that I was not the last person out of the pool.

My fastest recorded time for 400m is 10:36, so I was quite pleased that including the  run to the mat, my time was 11:07.5

Transition 1

This was horrendously slow and is an area that I need to work on. I was surprised that my clothes were a bit disordered when I got to the rack, but tried not to let this bother me. (Katherine later told me that she’d had to stop a man from putting on my clothes in transition – if my cycling jersey were plain black I could understand, but it’s a vibrant pink, which isn’t the most popular colour for men’s tops!) I dithered about what to put on, but decided to put on my jersey and not my arm warmers. In hindsight, this was a mistake as it wasn’t very cold and it wasted a lot of time. I also failed to take my watch off and put it onto my bike, so the jersey stuck to my wet skin and I couldn’t get it over my watch – doh! I then had to put my sock on, put my shoes on, put my watch onto my bike, put on cycling mitts – just in case I crash – put on a headband and put on my helmet… oh yes, and there was the small matter of inserting contact lenses. (Added to this, my bike was racked at the furthest point from the timing mat.) This clearly far too much faffing and is why my transition time was the fifth slowest. I also made the same mistake as I made at Winchester Duathlon and managed to mess up the timing on my watch 😦 I think the issue with the goggles and the time it takes to put in contact lenses in transition (30 seconds) are key indicators that if I want to continue with this sport, I need to start researching laser surgery sooner rather than later.

My time was a shameful 4:23.50


As soon as I had crossed the timing mat, I went to get on my bike, but the marshals shouted at me that I had to run another six steps to the edge of the road. This threw me a little bit and I was surprised at how many people were watching, which made me feel self-conscious, but I managed to get started. I know from recent rides that I ought to be able to maintain an average pace of 25.5kmph, so I decided to reset my watch, so that I could monitor my pace.


I really enjoyed the bike ride. It was a nice route, with the only off-putting element being that we were in such close proximity to oil seed rape fields, which seems to make my hay fever worse. I was also feeling quite confident on the bike, and for once there was a steady stream of people for me to overtake, which is highly motivating. I was only passed by three people, who I assume were the fastest cyclists in the novice event as they had expensive bikes and all of them had aero bars. The marshals out on the course were great, giving very clear instructions and allowing the cyclists to know when it was safe to cross roads in plenty of time to take the most appropriate course of action.

I knew when I was getting close to the finish, so I undid my shoes. Unfortunately, this caused me to slow a little and a couple of men passed me. One of them stopped quite abruptly so I didn’t manage a good flying dismount like I did at Winchester, but it did mean that I knew I wouldn’t have to take off my shoes when I got to the bike rack.



The ride was 22km long and I managed it in 52:41.05. I don’t have the full data on my Garmin, but of the almost 20km that I recorded, my average pace was 26.8kmph, which I’m quite pleased with. I also managed a new PB in terms of cadence (63) 🙂

Transition 2

This was much better than my first transition as I only had to put shoes on, remove my bike helmet, put my watch on and twist my number around. This was my best discipline of the day with my time of 1:30.85 putting me in 131st place. (I count this as my biggest triumph of the day as I managed to beat both Katherine and Stuart!)


I knew that I would find the run difficult as I was starting to wheeze and my legs were tired… I don’t think the swim and cycling had affected them as much as Brighton marathon and the training that I did on Monday and Wednesday, but I didn’t feel that I could skip those sessions as Challenge Weymouth is my A race this year).




I fiddled with my watch a bit and managed to reset it, so that it was recording my run. I wanted to keep my pace under 6 min/km, but I was tired and realised that the slight incline that I had barely noticed on my bike felt very steep. I could see a woman up ahead who didn’t look to be moving too quickly, so I tried to gain on her, but don’t think I made very much progress. We headed out onto an open field and I realised that I could see the finish funnel, so I knew that I must be almost half way around. The runner up ahead turned off as she was finishing her run, but I heard some cheering and realised that Stuart was sitting on the grass watching out for me.

As I turned off for my second lap, I could hear someone gaining on me.









We passed friendly marshal at the same time and both commented to her. We then started talking to each other, which really helped me. I know I should have been pushing as hard as possible, but my body was just not cooperating and by staying with this lovely American guy, I was maintaining a better pace than if I’d been on my own. It turned out that he’s also training for a half iron distance race in September (Crescent Moon). I don’t know what his name was, and can’t read his number in the photos, but he really helped me.

When we got to the track, he took off, but I just couldn’t push any harder. However, I realised that I was catching up with a lady up ahead, who appeared to be struggling.





She had a friend who was in the centre of the track, motivating her to run faster. This spurred me on and I managed to pull out a sprint at the end.


Yay! Passing someone!

Yay! Passing someone!

I hope Coach Ant's proud of my slight forward lean

I hope Coach Ant’s proud of my slight forward lean

Just about to cross the finish line!

Just about to cross the finish line!

My run time of 28:12.90 is rather disappointing, but I know that I can improve on it!


After crossing the finishing line, I thanked the American guy who had run with me and was presented with a medal and a bottle of water… and the biggest surprise of the day, a lovely Cadbury’s buttons Easter egg 🙂

Good Fri Tri bling!

Good Fri Tri bling!

I met up with Stu who had cheered me over the line. We then saw Chris, the director of Try Tri, who took a photo of us both:

Good Fri Tri finishers

Good Fri Tri finishers

In conclusion:

Good Fri Tri results

Good Fri Tri results

I finished in 1:37.55, which is not as fast as I’d hoped for. I can see the aspects of my race that I need to work on, and am hoping to be able to improve my run speed (in particular) in the coming months. It was a really enjoyable event, and despite the traumatic start, the pool swim went far better than I expected 🙂

What did the postie try to deliver today?

15 Jan

OMG! OMG! OMG! I think my Team SOAS kit has arrived… I’ve received a “Sorry you were out” note through my letter box and the main clues on it are that:

    • it’s an international item
    • it’s a parcel
    • it’s too big for my letterbox
While you were out card

Team SOAS parcel?

I really hope it’s my kit. I’m so excited about it! I’ve been gear hungry ever since I first saw it!

Today’s been a hectic day with me cycling to various locations in the city for meetings, but I’ve also managed to fit in some online reading and some exercise.

I went back to Weight Watchers for the first time this year and was pleased that I have lost 1lb since 18th December 🙂 I now weigh 10st 9lb (149lbs or 67.5kg). I’d like to get back to 9st (126lbs or 57kg). I know that a lot of people think that it’s not a good thing to focus weight and I am trying to concentrate on eating healthy food, but I also want to be slimmer.

After WW, I went to the Lordshill Road Runners Wednesday night training session:

Wednesday LRR training

Wednesday LRR training © Kevin Yates

It’s not easy to see me, as I’m hiding behind someone! It was a hill training session in the rain. I’m annoyed at myself as I don’t think that I pushed myself as hard as I could have done, but I was feeling tired.

My lovely friends at Try Tri have been checking out new locations for events and recorded this video today:

It’s really cold here right now, so I think they’re crazy for going in and trying the lake. I reckon their secret location is the beautiful Kingston Maurward in Dorset. The lake looks really clear (and perhaps a bit shallow). Hands up if you think Chris received a GoPro camera for Christmas!

I also read this interesting article: http://breakingmuscle.com/swimming/im-a-triathlete-i-dont-kick-when-i-swim It dispels the myths around kicking when swimming for triathlons and is worth a read.

I followed a link from a fellow Team SOAS athlete (Hi Cheryl!) to an interesting article about tokens (medals, tshirts etc) from races and race numbers and what people do with them: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2013/12/all-that-glitters.aspx#axzz2qU7aZshD  I tend to take photos of my race numbers for my blog and the medals all go into a pile of stuff that I never look at again. What about you? What do you do with your race goodies?

Some really sad information that I read on several blogs today was about the death of a fellow runner Meg Cross Menzies who was killed by a drunk driver in Virginia. Runners are being asked to tweet photos of themselves running in her memory on Saturday January 18th with #megsmiles.

Anyway, that’s it for today… I’d love to post more, but I really need to start getting some quality sleep!