Tag Archives: Winchester duathlon

My 2015 race/event awards

27 Dec
This year has been hectic. I’ve taken part in a wider range of events than in any previous year. I’ve completed single and multisport events and gone further and faster than previously. I even won a race! Without further ado, here are my 2015 race awards… drum roll, please…
Most Scenic Course
The runner-up in this category is Heartbreak Tailwind 10. It is a picturesque course held in the New Forest.

The winner in this category is the Grand Shaftesbury Tri/Run weekend. St Giles House at Wimborne St Giles is the family home of the Shaftesburys and it made a stunning backdrop for these events:



Most Challenging Course

The runner-up in this category was Winchester Duathlon. I had assumed that it was going to be on the same course as previous years, which was very flat, but instead it took place on what felt like a mountain :-S

The winner of the most challenging course category is Brutal 10 Enduro. A single lap of this course wasn’t too bad, but running 50km on it at night-time wasn’t easy.
Tamsyn at Brutal 10
Winning pairs
Best Expo
This has to go to London marathon, which consistently has a good expo. It was also easy to choose this one, as no other event that I went to had a decent expo.
IMG_5484 IMG_5491
I enjoyed watching Martin Yelling’s presentation on marathon running and also the interviews with elite runners.
Best Post-Race Food/Beverages
This is another hard category to judge. I enjoyed taking part in my Tri Club’s “Tim Wilks Day”, which is a timed swim, bike and run, followed by a delicious pub lunch, but it’s not really what is meant by post-race food, so I’m going to award this to Gridiron 100, which is a low-key randonnee that I took part in. Bacon sandwiches were available before the start of the event and then there were copious platters of biscuits and other snacks along the way, followed by some more food at the finish.
Best Swag
I’ve not received a lot of goodies at races this year, so I’m going to award this to Durlach Turmberglauf. At the end of this 10k, I received a glass with the race logo and as much water as I could drink. Given that the event only cost €6, I can’t complain about that!
Most Unique Medal
This has to go to Ironman Dublin 70.3:
Ironman Dublin 70.3 medal
This is a heavy medal with a beautifully decorated ribbon.
Favourite Race Shirt (tech tee or reg)
The runner up in this category is Salisbury 10 mile. Runners were presented with blue technical t-shirts at the end of this race – I’ve worn mine quite a few times:
Salisbury tshirt
The winner in this category is Thunder Run. The main sponsor is adidas, so of course, the technical t-shirt is a lovely adidas shirt:
TR24 tshirt

Best Course Support (aid stations, volunteers, people cheering you on, etc

For me there was no competition for this – it has to be Southampton Half Marathon. Various groups were challenged to be ‘mile makers’, which guaranteed crowds all of the way around the course. I saw many friends from Southampton Tri Club, SUTRI, Lordshill Road Runners and parkrun as well as work colleagues from University of Southampton. Although I went into this race with low expectations (of myself), the support of the crowd meant that I finished in a time that I was really proud of.

Event You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing
This has to be Scilly Swim Challenge. At the start of this year, I’d never swum more than 2km… and that wasn’t continuous, so this was a massive challenge for me. I may have had to be rescued for some of it, but completing the training and getting to the start line was an accomplishment in itself. It also meant that I took part in a variety of swimming events throughout the year. The event itself was really well organised and great fun – it’s already too late for you to sign up for 2016, but please do add it to your planning for 2017!
End of Scilly Swim with Bryony
Favourite Overall Event
The runner-up for my favourite overall event is St Michael’s Mount swim. It was a really fun evening and it gave me so much confidence.
tams SMM swim2
Overall, my favourite event was ABP Southampton Half Marathon. The crowd support was great as were the technical t-shirt and the medal. This is an event that will go from strength to strength, so I’m definitely going to do it again in 2016.
pub with Teri
Which events that you took part in this year would you give prizes to? What should I add to my bucket list?


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

Preparing for my first duathlon of 2015

22 Mar

My weekend started with a lie in. I dithered about whether or not to do parkrun as I’ve got Winchester Duathlon tomorrow, but the lure of my new kit was too much, so I got up, got dressed, admired my outfit in the mirror and then headed off to parkrun with Stu.

When I arrived, I chatted with a few friends, including Teri and Becky and then spotted Liz. Liz is the cheeriest athlete I know – every event that she does is a ‘super adventure’, so I knew that if I ran with Liz I would be able to maintain a steady pace and have fun.

We lined up, just behind Rikki and soon we were off. Unfortunately, I realised that my new shorts are a little too big as every step with my inhaler in my pocket pulled my shorts down. I swiftly retrieved my inhaler, tucked it into my crop top and got moving.

parkrun 21 March 15 1

© Teri Pragnell

Doing the run at a very different pace from last week made for a fun and sociable experience. Liz and I chatted all of the way round and had a great time. We waved to all of the marshals and posed a little bit for Teri and Kim who were marshalling at the bottom of the hill.

© Teri Pragnell

© Teri Pragnell

parkrun 21 March 15 3 parkrun 21 March 15 2

Liz had expected to complete the event in about 35 minutes and she was right:

My parkrun result email from 21 March 2015

Selfie Liz Winch Du


I’m so excited…

20 Mar

…my 2015 Team SOAS kit has finally arrived:




I have my first multisport event of the year on Sunday (Winchester Duathlon), so the kit has definitely arrived at the right time… but I want to wear it all now. (I’m wearing the new hoodie as I type). I was going to be sensible and have a rest day tomorrow, but now I’m very tempted to go to Southampton parkrun tomorrow. If I take it steady, it’ll be OK, won’t it? Plus, if I’m slower people will have more time to admire my gorgeous clothes 😉

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.

One year in and the momentum has stalled

1 Mar

I had hoped that I was back to blogging, but I’ve not been well recently, which has had a couple of knock on effects – firstly, I’ve not had the energy to do much exercise and secondly, I’ve been too tired to blog. I’ve been to see my doctor for some blood tests and will be discussing the results with her next week. I suspect that it may be anaemia that has left me feeling listless (although glandular fever [mononucleosis] is another possibility). In turn, this has led me to making a lot of unhealthy choices. I’m hoping that I will feel better soon and make the right choices. I’m now 1.5lbs away from being as heavy as I was when I first joined Weight Watchers at 29 years old. I need to get back to being 30lbs lighter!

Krispy Kreme

I ‘treated’ myself to a Krispy Kreme doughnut and hot chocolate after I went for a blood test as I had been fasting for over 12 hours

As I’m trying to get back up to date, I’m going to break this post into short sections, so apologies if it doesn’t read well.

Valentine’s Day

Graduation Ball 1998

Graduation Ball 1998

I wasn’t well for Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t really get into the spirit of things. I had bought Stu a small gift, but I failed to buy a card. Hopefully, he knows how much I love him anyway. I shared the photo from my graduation ball on Facebook and was surprised that it received 84 likes, which is probably more than almost anything else I’ve ever posted. I’ve changed shape since then and gained a few wrinkles… and Stu and I have both had quite a few inches cut off our hair!!!

Virtual Running UK Blog Hop

Earlier this week, Virtual Running UK tweeted to let me know about their Run Blog Hop. I’d never heard of a Blog Hop before, so I had to google what it meant. Essentially, a blog hop is when a group of bloggers post about a topic and share links to the other blogs so readers can go to them. It usually takes place in a set time frame.

Virtual Running UK

I’d forgotten that yesterday was the end of the month. I think my fastest 5km has probably been 27:44, which was my time for the first 5km of Bramley 20 (which you can read about later in this post!). Is anyone else joining in with this blog hop? Please post a comment if that’s why you’ve stopped by here today 🙂

IDEA Inspired Blogger

I’m also delighted to have been chosen as an IDEA Inspired Blogger. There is now an IDEA Inspired Blogger page with my photo and link to my blog here: http://www.ideafit.com/inspired-bloggers. It’s really exciting to be part of this network:

The IDEA Inspired Blogger program is designed to recognize bloggers who inspire and motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Around the World Running Blog Relay

A while back I signed up to take part in an Around the World Running Blog Relay. We’re trying to see how many miles/kms running bloggers can log in March and April. Are you in?


Although I’ve not had enough time (or energy) to get back to lunchtime yoga sessions at work, I finally went back to one of Wai’s ‘Yoga for Runners’ classes on Friday. It wasn’t a particularly demanding class, which was brilliant as I needed a gentle reintroduction!


I’ve been really struggling with my swimming recently. I’ve been able to battle on with my running whilst being unwell, but I’ve not got the swimming background to enable me to do that. I’ve finding it really hard to breathe, which has meant that doing more than 25m at a time has been really hard. I left one training session halfway through, which made me feel like I was letting myself and my coach down, I missed another session and although I trained on Monday this week, I took lots of rest. I really hope that I get well soon as I hate finding swimming this difficult.

Brighton Marathon

As I’ve been ill and my training has suffered, I’ve started to worry about Brighton Marathon. Originally, I had hoped that I would be able to complete it in 4:15, but I’ve now had to wave goodbye to that as being unrealistic. I’m still going to do the race and have every intention of finishing it, but should probably be happy with anything under 5 hours now.

Bramley 20 Mile

The night before Bramley 20 mile, I had the opportunity to catch up with two friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. This meant that I had to get my stuff ready before I went out.

Bramley 20 preparation

Bramley 20 preparation

I picked up all sorts of gels and drinks as well as making peanut butter sandwiches on granary bread and buying chocolate milk for afterwards.

I drove up to the race quite early. It was strange being on my own in the car as usually Stu comes to races with me and we often car share with other runners. After I arrived at the venue, I met up with a few other Lordshillers and was able to meet up with Teri as we had agreed to run together. We had enough time for a selfie before we had to line up. Teri was originally wearing a long-sleeved top under her charity vest as well as long tights and a buff, whereas I just had on a t-shirt and shorts, so Teri decided to remove her long-sleeved top at the last minute. Although it was quite cool, the sun was out and I’ve had problems with overheating recently, so I wanted to wear as little as possible.

Before the start of Bramley 20

Unfortunately, the race did not go as planned. I decided to go out strong from the start as that technique had served me well two years ago when I got a massive PB, but it wasn’t long before I started to feel warm. By 5 miles I was overheating, which is a bit worrying only a quarter of the way into a race, especially as it was below 7 degrees (<45 F). I decided to see how I felt when I got to 10 miles as I could drop out at that point if necessary.

By the time I got to 10 miles I was struggling, but I was also determined… I knew I had to do a 20 mile run as part of my marathon training and it would be easier to keep going than try to do it on another day. By 13 miles, I felt really sick. I managed to get Teri and Luana to go on without me, so that I was able to slow down and drink more.

I drank a lot of water as well as taking on energy gels, so I don’t think I was dehydrated, but by 16 miles, my fingers were so badly swollen that I was unable to curl them. I felt rough, but was still hoping that I could beat my time from last year (3:27). By 18 miles, I realised that I wasn’t going to beat 3:27, but I didn’t want to keep my friends waiting for too long as I had promised Teri a lift home.

I finally finished the race in 3:30, which was a big disappointment for me, but at least it had fulfilled it’s purpose, which was as a training run.

After Bramley 20

After Bramley 20

After the race, I had a stretch, got changed and drank some of my milk. I also tried to eat my sandwiches, but I just didn’t want them.

Overall, Bramley 20 is a great race, with lots of snacks in the goody bag and an attractive medal. It is also well-signposted and has some great marshals… although it’s sad that these signs were required after some people’s actions last year:

Signs at Bramley 20

Signs at Bramley 20

Bramley 20 race medal

Bramley 20 race medal

Last weekend’s long run

Despite not feeling up to it, I forced myself to go out for a long run with Teri on Saturday. I needed to do 15 miles and I wanted to include parkrun as it was Stuart’s 100th run. Teri blogged about the run here: http://gingergirlrunning.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/a-week-off-training-week-10/

Stretching on my long run with Teri

Stretching on my long run with Teri ©Teri Pragnell

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan our route well and wasn’t moving very quickly, so we didn’t manage to run 12 miles before parkrun. After we had finished parkrun, we needed to do another loop, so we picked up Steve and then continued on our run.

Teri and I after parkrun

Teri and I after parkrun © Teri Pragnell

Teri was on great form and managed a blistering pace at parkrun, but I ran significantly more slowly and struggled with it. I was glad that we had some extra company for the final loop, so that I didn’t have to talk as I was so out of breath. I was also starting to feel uncomfortable… fortunately, for you, the image above is quite dim as my shorts were very short. They look lovely, but the lack of fabric meant that I had a bit of chafing 😦

My birthday

It was my birthday last week, so I originally planned to spend the weekend celebrating, however, as I was feeling ill, we kept it low key.

I tried some lovely Brooks Pureflow shoes a few weeks ago and really liked them, but when I went to buy them, I found that I could only get them in black. Fortunately, after a bit of pleading Alton Sports managed to get me a pair in a beautiful shade of turquoise. I really hope that they look good with my Team SOAS kit… I know that the fit is more important than the colour, but I love it when my clothes match and nothing’s going to change that!!!

New Brooks shoes

I’m fortunate enough to have very kind and generous friends and relatives – here’s a snap of just a few of the cards and gifts that I received 🙂

My birthday presents and cards

My birthday presents and cards

One of the first presents that I opened was a lovely running top from my brother-in-law and his family:

New running top

New running top from Paul, Cheryl, Maya, Aaron and Nathan

Then I opened a present from Stu. It’s a lovely Castelli cycling top. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Castelli Flamma jersey

Castelli Flamma jersey from Stuart

One of the gifts from my in-laws was a pair of seal skinz socks. Stuart gave me a pair a while ago, but we can’t find them, so I’m very glad to have these as a replacement!

Some fasntastic sealskinz waterproof socks from Brian and Sally

Some fantastic sealskinz waterproof socks from Brian and Sally

I also received lots of presents that are not related to sports!

On Saturday afternoon, Stuart, Katherine and I went ice-skating. It was a lot of fun, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as usual as I felt really tired and was struggling to stay awake. It was also very busy as it was the end of half term week and people were also feeling inspired after the Winter Olympics in Sochi!

Embrace Sports

I’ve received lots of exciting parcels recently, one of which was my Embrace Sports kit that I ordered back in December. It’s a bit chilly here for me to wear the shorts on my bike, but I should be able to wear the top with my Wiggle bib tights and some black arm warmers until the weather gets better. (Although, I should be able to wear the shorts when I’m on the turbo trainer!)

IMG_1955 IMG_1956

World Book Night 2014

Ok, so this isn’t related to running, cycling, swimming or eating, but I thought I’d share it anyway. I’ve been selected as a World Book Night giver for 2014 🙂 I’ll be handing out copies of ‘Black Hills’ by Nora Roberts on 23rd April. I read it on holiday a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be a fun novel to distribute. If any of you are likely to see me between 23rd April and the start of May and would like to receive a copy, please let me know.

Charlton Duathlon and Winchester Duathlon

My first multisport event of the year was going to be Charlton Duathlon, but it was cancelled. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as I’ve been so ill that I don’t think I would have been able to do it (or at least to perform well). I now have to hope that I’m well enough to do Winchester Duathlon later on this month. It was my first ever multisport event last year, so I’m hoping that I smash my time.

The guys at Try Tri challenged me to ‘trinominate’ some people to get involved in triathlons this year. I had to get into an unusual position and then ‘trinominate’ people to make a video. If you want to know what I sound like (and see the beautiful location where I was brought up), watch the video on Facebook.


Now that we’re into March, it’s getting tantalisingly close to my kit arriving – I can’t wait!

Team SOAS kit update

Team SOAS kit update – it will be arriving soon!

I just love the detail that has gone into every aspect of this kit. Look how gorgeous the arm warmers are!

SOAS arm warmers

I also had a moment of fame on the Team SOAS Racing Blog:

I've achieved fame on the Team SOAS website!

I’ve achieved fame on the Team SOAS website!

If you pop along and visit there, you might spot me: http://teamsoasracing.com/our-athletes.html

November Project

This is something really cool that I read about online this week. Have you heard of it before? It seems to have similar aspirations to parkrun:

November Project™ is a FREE fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in multiple cities in across four time zones in North America, the movement is using a simple sense of accountability (verbal) to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving. Our members vary from Olympic medalists, professional athletes, marathoners, triathletes, current and former collegiate athletes all the way to complete fitness rookies and recent couch potatoes just looking to kickstart their healthy life choices. If you think that you’re not fit enough to join the group, stop thinking and come see what the fuss is all about.

You can read more about it here: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/11/november-project-free-fitness

If anyone lives in the Southampton area and meets the criteria to set this up locally, then I’d love to join in!


I’ve had a few problems with my hybrid bike recently (which were exacerbated by the number of trees that I’ve had to carry it over… it’s been very windy here), so I’ve not been cycling to work every day. Anyway, I recently learned about two useful websites:

  • Veloviewer.com This website makes it easy to extract data from Strava.
  • Tapiriik.com This website syncs your data with Strava, GarminConnect, RunKeeper, DropBox, Training Peaks and Sport Tracks.

Breeze Bike Champion

I’ve signed up to become a Breeze Bike Champion, so that I can encourage other women to go out cycling. The training is in a couple of weeks’ time and I’m really looking forward to it.

Well, sorry that’s all a bit of a jumble. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post another update tomorrow!

Winchester Duathlon

17 Mar

I went to bed at 9pm last night and switched out the light at 10 as I was conscious that I had to get up at 4:45pm. Unfortunately, I get so nervous that I won’t wake up on time, that I barely slept. As soon as the alarm went off, I leapt out of bed to get ready.

I had hoped to have my new favourite (date and walnut porridge) for breakfast, but I had no dates, so I had to have chocolate brownie porridge and a pint of water. I also made the mistake of looking on Facebook, so ended up running a bit late. It wasn’t until I was dressed and cleaning my teeth that I realised that I wasn’t sure where Ant’s house was.

I quickly looked up Ant’s address and realised that I would have to cycle fast to get there by 5:45am. I shoved everything into my rucksack, remembered to fill a bottle of water and rushed out of the house. Unfortunately, I realised as I was arriving at Ant’s house that I had failed to pick up my hoodie from the tumble-dryer, but there was nothing I could do by then.

Ant loaded the bikes onto the car and Irene, Lindsey and I go in. We then spent the journey trying to work out which park and ride to park in. Fortunately, it was just across the road from the stadium, so we unloaded everything and rushed over as quickly as possible. It was already very busy and the queue to collect numbers was out of the door. We collected our bags and then went down to the locker room, which was a little strange… all of the keys had been removed, so they were actually unsecured cupboards 😦

I removed my waterproof trousers, made a final decision to keep on my base layer and put on my amazing Sealskinz waterproof socks. I then pinned on my number before heading outside with Irene. We then realised that everyone else had put their bikes in the bike racks. We went to move our bikes, but had to remove our chips to put the bikes in the racks. Then we had to put our chips back on. By that stage, everyone else had headed inside for the briefing, but there was no room for us inside. We squeezed in the doorway with Ant and Lindsey held an umbrella over us as we tried to pic up as much information as possible. Then it was outside to the start.

Two events were being held: the sprint event at 7am followed by the novice event at 7:10am. We headed over to the start corral with the other ‘sprinters’ and then we were off… or were we? We weren’t really sure as there wasn’t a mat at the start. We headed out of the stadium and around a corner onto a path with lots of deep puddles. Then we headed onto a field. The grass was really wet and muddy and I instantly wished that I hadn’t worn my brand new trainers… and quickly realised that trail shoes would have been the best option. We headed round the first lap and passed Donna who was marshalling before heading out for a second lap. It quickly became clear that we were towards the back of the field, but we were also conscious that we didn’t wat to go out too hard as we had no idea what to expect.

Irene and I in our first transition

When we arrived at the bike racks, we were surprised to see that Jim was there to cheer us on – thanks, Jim! I got my bike off the rack and pulled on my waterproof jacket before realising that I had no bike helmet on. I can’t believe I forgot it as every tips article that I had read stated that it is essential to put it on first – doh! I didn’t zip up my jacket and realised that I had done my helmet up wrongly, but decided to go for it anyway.

We sped out of the stadium and onto the road. About a mile into the ride, we had to stop at a junction for a bus, which held us up, but gave me a chance to do up my helmet correctly, then we headed into Winchester. We passed Debby Bartlett (a retired former colleague) before heading up a steep hill. I cycled most of the way up, but plenty of other people had got off their bikes and when Irene joined them, I thought it would be rude not to join in. We made it to the top of the hill and then remounted our bikes. It wasn’t long before we were being passed by people on the other side of the road. One of the people we saw was Katherine who was on her way to being the second female in the novice category – way to go!

After a while the rain eased off, which was good, but then a short while later it started again, and then turned into hail 😦 It was so cold. I lost the feeling in my hands and feet. We reached Avington and passed someone whose bike had a flat tyre. unsporting as it sounds, I was relieved that for a short while at least we weren’t the last people on the course, but some time later, the cyclist passed us again. Eventually, we were nearing In-tech when we saw Jim up ahead. He was waving and encouraging us… but he also pointed out another very steep hill, which he said that a lot of people had walked up. This time, I didn’t hesitate and jumped off my bike. At the top of the hill, I got back on and we cycled the rest of the way back to the stadium.

A huge bike rack and lots of rain

We put our bikes onto the rack and headed out for our second run… but then we realised that we still had our bike helmets on. Our hands were so cold that we couldn’t undo them. We both struggled, but evnetually decided to help each other. Technically, that’s an offence taht could get us disqualified, but as we were the last two runnners, I think they weren’t going to be that mean! There were still people running, which was a relief, even if they were all on their second lap. Jez had already finished, so he was there cheering, along with Ant. They encouraged us into the finish – WE MADE IT!

The winners, including Run Camp coach Ant and fellow Run Camper Katherine

Ant came over to congratulate us… and we found out that he had won the event. Amazing! There was then just enough time to change (into a dry t-shirt, but no other top) before a few photos were taken with some of the other Run Campers before we collected our bikes and headed back to the car.

On reflection, moments of the event were hell, but I feel I had a lot of energy left at the end, so maybe I can do better if I enter another event. At the moment, I’m tempted to enter Ferndown triathlon – I just need to crack the swimming!


Building up to my first multi-sport event

17 Mar

Earlier, I wrote a long and detailed post about my training this week, but WordPress ate it and I don’t feel inclined to write it all again, so I’m just going to do a quick summary:

  • Wednesday: Swimming before work, gentle run with Nat in the evening
  • Thursday: Run Camp and then a run out to Toothill with Mike, Katherine, Nathan, Pete and Laura
  • Friday: Swimming before work and yoga in the evening
  • Saturday: parkrun with James and shopping for bikes/bike gloves in the afternoon before an early night

I managed to get in some good swimming sessions this week and think I’ve now worked out how to time my breathing so that I’m confident about swimming on my back with my arms above my head. I also managed to do some medleys (freestyle; breaststroke; backstroke… I don’t think I’m ready to include ‘fly yet!!!) My front crawl seems to be getting better as I’m turning my head less.

At Run Camp, we did lots of hopping exercises involving the hurdles from hell, and I now know that my right leg/hip/glute/piriformis is lazy.

Oh yes, and on Tuesday morning I accidentally ordered a trisuit and on Friday morning I accidentally ordered a wetsuit – if I’m serious about this, I’d better get the kit!


The trisuit I’ve ordered!


The wetsuit I’ve ordered!