Month: September 2014

Aug/Sept Training and Shavings of Fe

Lessons from August


The ‘no excuses’ plan worked. A print-out of my training plan for August sat on my bedside table in the Dominican Republic. Midst swimming with sharks, cocktails, delicious food and wonderful family holiday mood, it did not go unnoticed. Neither did it interfere in any way – but it DID get done. The intervals and the long runs made their way onto the beach without hardship – just lots of sweat, a bit of hard work in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. The work paid off. Although I firmly believe my already slow running pace is getting slower and slower, the effort and time on feet was enough to see me through to the end of a summer’s racing injury free, with two more ultras and some sections of another half ironman in the bag. What more could one ask?


Other lessons:


Injinji socks: Not for me

Tailwind Nutrition rocks!


Shavings of Fe to round off official summer training

And so to finish off September … a half-ironman swim and run, organised by the amazing ‘family’ that is BTRS


I have no idea of swim times. I am simply very proud that I managed another half-ironman swim without drowning. My new wetsuit feels fab in the water. Unfortunately, there is no engine attached but since one of my many MANY Ironman fears is the ability to complete the swim, I am heading into winter very satisfied that with the incredible support and help from the BTRS group I can safely cover at least half the distance. PROGRESS!


The run? Well, thank goodness it was a little bit faster than the last one but I’m still holding onto the theory that I’m getting slower rather than faster. This was further fuelled by the fact that I’m pretty sure I was close to being lapped by one Simon Barry – who’d started the swim at the same time as me but then did a wee 56-mile bike loop before the run. There is just no point in despair, is there! That actually really made me laugh!


Not sure of my official time. My watch said 2 hours 31. End of October I am going to run this same course in under 2:15. End of.


I wimped out of the bike this time. My head’s still recovering from the High Peaks race – at least, that’s the excuse I gave myself. Pretty sure it was an excuse and I shouldn’t have got away with it but I did. In the spirit of the weekend I wanted to do the bike miles on the Friday at the very least. I managed 35 miles. Left it too late in the day and I’d forgotten to attach lights to my bike. Just plain lazy, really (yep – I was too busy reading my book lol). What really scared me though, was that I finished my race, had some stomach problems so came home and crashed for a couple of hours – and all the time I was watching the clock and thinking ‘The Ironman athletes are still out there’! Truly, honestly, crazily scary. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed the swim and run … but I wimped out of the bike – and all I can think is that in less than a year’s time (a lot less) I need to do that bike loop – AND THEN DO THE WHOLE LOT ALL OVER AGAIN!!! Oh. My. God. 9 p.m. 10 p.m. 11 p.m. and there were Ironmen still running! It was totally inspiring to watch the raw determination and mental strength. WOW! There really was nowhere to hide and it was very humbling. But boy, did that scare the crap out of me lol How to match that? Where to find it?


Yikes, I say. Yikes. Eight months to find some answers.


Huge thanks to Brighton Triathlon Race Series yet again for another incredibly emotional event. The energy of these inspiring athletes only serves to feed me with dreams and ambitions of my own.


High Peaks 40 Mile Challenge – 20 September 2014

SUPERVET LADIES – 3RD PLACE – x hours and x minutes!!

Oh, all right, we all know how I wangled that one. Hyatt tortoise pace does NOT ‘win’ podium places unless … unless I’m merely beating everyone who didn’t enter PAHAHAHA Whatever! It’s there in writing. I’ll take it. I mean, when would I EVER get a placement otherwise? (Actually, I did beat one other lady haha)

Who cares? I finished – eventually – but not without drama. The course was every bit as beautiful as I remembered – perhaps even more beautiful, because this time – after a few ultras – I remembered to look up and breathe in the views! This, of course, was not always possible. There were lengthy patches of technical trail which required a lot of close attention – boulders, shale, gravel, steps and plenty of real inclines and fabulous downhills to get one’s teeth into (or preferably not, depending how you look at it!). That, however, is what I LOVE about trails – wild, unpredictable, varied and totally gorgeous.

With beauty comes challenge, though – and the best laid plans don’t always pan out over 40 miles! Over 40 miles even the tiniest glitches can mess with your head and I let a few inner voices do far too much talking this time. *Sigh* The little things. Five minutes before race start my Garmin strap broke. That’s ok. New plan. I would run the race without a watch – this would probably make me a lot more relaxed too and I was looking forward to that. I would merely tick off the 11 checkpoints – which made Checkpoint 7 very important indeed, because then I could count down. Marvellous – except that at Checkpoint 7 two things happened. First, I realised that I’d made a stupid mistake: there were TWELVE checkpoints, not 11. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I was not where I wanted to be! Then, to compound that, I figured I was roughly 30 miles in – and that was just fine. Didn’t matter really, since I didn’t have a GPS to tell me differently – until the lovely man at the water station piped up ‘Well done – that’s your marathon done!’ GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! Pfffffft! Only four miles off, but when the facts contradict what you’ve already decided are the truths weird things go on. Meltdown time haha. I waited till I was on a lonely stretch (actually, when you run as slowly as me it’s always lonely lol) … and sat down to wallow in self-pity for ten minutes. I didn’t make ten minutes. PING went my phone – and as if by true magic these totally incredible words came through:

There may come a day when you can’t continue, but today is NOT that day. Shake it off, take one step at a time and you CAN do it. ‘Inhale the positivity, exhale the negativity’ [private joke taken from Croc Dundee] I believe in you, you just need to believe in yourself.

More effective than dangling a chocolate brownie in front of me. And how timely!!! The lovely Caitriona hits the nail on the head once again – and somehow at just the right moment. Thank you, Caitriona.

After that it was a matter of one foot in front of the other and a lot of reminding myself that there was no real reason to walk other than that my body wanted to. Running was still more than possible (I’d hate to tell you how many times that particular battle played out!!). I had a ‘time’ that I was going to be happy with. Unfortunately, that was not to be this year. At the top of Deep Dale I ran after a runner just ahead of me who I knew had gone horribly wrong – and at a very dangerous place. I felt obliged to chase him and bring him back to the ‘drop’ down into Deep Dale which, scarily, is not actually visible from the top unless you know where to go (or risk your life finding out)! The chase cost me a good 20 minutes. That’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things – but added to the extra hour due to a STUPIDLY missed arrow and an off-course alternative mini-race of 4 miles (!!) I well and truly blew every chance of coming in within any kind of respectable time at all.

Still, another finish line crossed and feeling very proud of it. Most peeved indeed that there was not even a teensy little medal or goody bag at the finish line, however. Absolutely nothing to show for lots of hours of hard work. Oh well.

The good news?

I finished.

I didn’t hit a wall: Tailwind Nutrition – thank you! Fuelled me for the entire race. Didn’t hit the wall until 20 minutes past the finish line (then it hit ME! Big time).

No injuries.

Plenty pride!


Isle of Wight 50km Challenge 23 August 2014

Last-minute run-up to this was slightly thought-provoking. Shouldn’t races be social events, a time to get together with like-minded friends and strangers and enjoy some healthy competition? Yet I found myself apologising to a group of lovely people who were setting off to do the 100km walk and were all meeting up in the pub for food and drinkies the night before. Apologising because I just wanted to relax into race mode. I’d really been looking forward to this one. I was worried that my IT band issues might bring me to a halt as it did in the Weald Ultra just weeks before … and I merely wanted a pre-race afternoon of tea and cake, a wander around the island, peace and quiet in my own head and no watch-keeping. Is that so wrong? Perhaps – but that’s my way and I mean absolutely no offence by it.


And the race? I started with a warm-up plan of Run 10 Walk 5 minutes. Yes, that is a LOT of walking – but my magical ‘injury time’ seems to be around the 10-mile mark so I was determined to get past that milestone. I figured that 5 minutes would be long enough for any tension in my IT band to keep relaxing and getting back to normal. This might not be how it works, but hey, it worked for me! So I stuck to it like glue and had a fabulous day. The weather was more than kind and the ‘hills’ that I was expecting were only really ‘gradients’ – nothing ham- or quad-busting at all. The downside was the lack of coast for the first 18km! Nearly did my head in, it did – far too much road/housing estates etc. At one point I was thinking that if I’d known it was going to be a road race and not trail I would’ve worn different trainers!! That said, once I finally got to the coast it was BEAUTIFUL! Stunning, stunning trail all the way around. And the most fun bit? At the six-hour mark I started playing with numbers and figured I could still make a personal target of a sub-7 hour 50k (told you I was slow – you didn’t believe me, did you!!). So the next hour flew by with the distraction of making that target – a fab way to put aside the battles with sore legs, dodgy stomach and all those things that tend to surface around the 25 mile mark. Fab Fab Fab. It was a real battle but I won – with seconds to spare!! Of course, my timing for the IOW 50k doesn’t quite show my battle because the halfway-around-the-island mark aka the finish line – was actually at 56 km. Once I hit my 50k target I just lost the will to do any more battle. I had won my personal medal. I walked the next 56k – feeling every bloomin’ ache and listening far too closely to negative voices – and crossed the finish about an hour and a half later. I can’t tell you how THRILLED I was to cross that ultra line – injury free! It’s been a long year!


A Runner’s Plea (when the demons come calling)

A Runner’s Plea (when the demons come calling) ***

Please remember, don’t forget,
That when this runner’s face is wet
With tears, mid-race, of fear (or worse),
The help I need is in this verse …

‘Poor ickle you, you’ve done your best,
Go home and sleep, you just need rest,’
Or ‘Never mind, another day –
I think you’re awesome anyway,’

Though heartfelt, lovely, sweet and kind,
(my health and safety clear in mind),
When DNF is in my head
I beg you try these words instead …

Try ‘Don’t you bloody dare to quit!’
Or ‘Princess, just get on with it,
And stop your whining, take a breath,
You knew by now you’d feel like death,

So get a grip, get butt in gear,
Push through; the wall will disappear.
Play numbers games or sing, or chant,
Just MOVE – and clear your mind of CAN’T!’

Might go against the grain to be
So cold and heartless, seemingly,
But trust and please respect my fight,
My tantrums, rants, my woes, my plight.

Your voice of sympathy will be
received anon most gratefully,
And every word of praise I’ll take,
And hugs (and lemon drizzle cake)!

But while I’m racing, please play deaf
to pleas for leave to DNF,
My sobbing, wailing words of woe
Are inner voices screaming NO –

but not for long. This battle’s mine
to win; I’ll cross that finish line
and one day, when you’re racing too,
I’ll try and do the same for you.


*** Notes: A few year ago, in the middle of my second ultra I had a major meltdown halfway through. I had an internet link. I facebooked my plight (as you do these days). Within half an hour my timeline was filled with lovely comments, sympathising, listening to my tears and assuring me I’d done so well, that I just needed sleep, that as long as I’d done my best …… etc. etc. All beautiful. But in the midst of reading them I got a text from my daughter with a slightly different tone: ‘Mother! No crying in the f***ing gym! Stop feel sorry for yourself and keep moving. I’m waiting at the finish line (freezing) so hurry up!’ These were the words that got me to the finish – not the ‘beautiful’ ones that gave me permission to quit. Last weekend meltdown time came again in the middle of the High Peaks 40. No internet available. There was, however, a text message from my daughter – perfectly timed (see High Peaks 40 post). Thank goodness for signal ‘holes’. The last thing I needed was more well-meant permission to DNF. Hence the story behind the above poem 🙂

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