21
Sep

A CAUTIONARY TALE – SALTY NOT SWEET

This is the tale, the most terrible tale,
Of some salt and the sea and one Suzie McVale;

Now Suzie was pretty and popular, too;
A sweet little girl, always happy and who

Loved to sing in the morning and dance before bed,
Till her poor mother died and her father re-wed;

Now, Stepmother Stephanie hated to cook,
And refused to consult any recipe book,

So Suzie survived on convenience food,
Which paled her complexion and blackened her mood;

Crisps in the morning and bacon for lunch,
Fried eggs for dinner and peanuts for brunch,

Chips from the chippy, the fat of the ham,
Ready-meals, sausages, butter and spam,

And Sue scoffed the lot, and why not? It was yum,
But she started to swell round her neck, round her tum,

Round her legs, round her hips, and round hands and round feet,
But Suzie just laughed and continued to eat;

Her face was all spotty, her hair dull and dry,
And because of her temper her friends said Goodbye,

So poor little, sweet little Suzie McVale,
Became lonely and sulky and shaped like a whale,

And Dad said ‘Och, Suzie, you must eat some fruit,
Your blood pressure’s high and your heart will give oot’,

But Suzie did not make an effort to halt
Any part of her diet of nothing but salt,

And any suggestion to stop made her wild,
And she’d gorge on more crisps like a bad-tempered child,

And outside the world kept on turning around,
And inside Big Suzie was now sofa-bound,

And winter arrived and the storms they got stronger,
The downpours came daily for longer and longer,

The sea it got angry, the waves they got mad,
And Suzie ate everything salty and bad,

A tidal wave formed and the terrors began,
And the villagers panicked and all of them ran,

And they shouted at Suzie “Get up, girl, get out,”
And her dad took a moment to give her a clout

And then head for the hills, saying “God bless, my love,
But your fate’s in the hands of Whoever above;

I told you, I warned you, it’s nobody’s fault
But your own, that you never ceased swallowing salt,”

But Suzie stayed put, couldn’t budge, couldn’t move,
Her bum was too big and too stuck in the groove,

And the waves came and claimed her as part of their sea,
And they took her away on a saltwater spree,

And all that was left was this cautionary tale,
‘To take with a wee pinch of salt’ (S. McVale).

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03
Sep

Back to the trails: SBU35 (UKan Trail)

‘You’re running from Keswick to where?’
‘Back to here.’
‘Where?’
‘Back to here.’
‘Never heard of it!’

Ukan Trail 1D

My introduction to St Bees was both challenging and entertaining! Thought I’d landed in an alternate universe for a mo – but then I landed in my gorgeous hotel, set out my race kit, tucked into a delicious pre-race dinner … and realised this was no alternate reality. Yikes! Here I was, preparing to embrace another start line.

A result of my guest visits to Talk Ultra, I was invited to race the St Begas Ultra (http://ukantrail.co.uk/sbu35.html) by the wonderful RD Jon Raymond and I was only too happy to jump at the opportunity. Originally, this had been perfect timing, too. I was going to come back from Cairns Ironman, take a month off and then have plenty of time to ramp up some running miles in time for this fantastic 35-mile (obviously country mile measurements – definitely something over 36!!) trail. Plans went somewhat awry (see previous blogs) which resulted in my gracing this start line with about 10k in my legs! This was going to hurt.

I wasn’t wrong. It did. Actually, it hurt for 34 miles!! The race began with a short but steep descent from the Osprey Lookout in Keswick and by the time I’d reached the bottom my quads were already screaming!! They shrieked and howled from there to the end, but the Ultra Gods were on my side and pain levels remained the same throughout and didn’t develop into anything else. In fact, I was massively chuffed that I came away free of any injury other than donating another two toenails to the ultra Gods – small price to pay.

UKan Trail SBU35 2015a

 

The race is classed as perfect for beginners and I know I questioned that at the end because I honestly felt it was the hardest ultra of the few I’ve done (London to Brighton, IOW 50k, Pilgrim Challenge, High Peaks 40 …). In hindsight, though, I do believe that this IS perfect for beginners – and the toughness was more a reflection of my lack of training! It was, however, a lot more technical than any of the above-mentioned ultras – but this just added to the enjoyment, the challenge and the overall experience. I LOVED the variety of terrain, the streams, the steps – and when the going got tough you merely had to remember to look up and all was right with the world again. The views? GLORIOUS, MAGNIFICENT, UNBEATABLE, SOUL-REPLENISHING, BREATHTAKING.

UKan Trail A2

This race was an opportunity for me to clear my head of a summer of DNFs, rethink my training and my goals – and there was certainly no better place to do this. I had also made peace with the idea that I might just do 20 miles or so and leave it at that. Unfortunately, at Checkpoint 2 (22 miles) I thought I was going to have to withdraw whether I liked it or not. Carrying full kit – together with emergency water, etc. – had taken its toll and my back had seized up completely. It took some amazing marshalls, 3 cups of tea, salted peanuts and a Green & Black’s ginger chocolate minibar to see me tentatively back onto the trail (roughly 40 minutes later!). At that point I was walking more than jogging but there was a group of four just ahead of me and I focussed on keeping them in sight. By 25 miles I’d caught up with them and gate-crashed their party. (Note: THANK YOU – you were absolutely amazing!!!). Jog, walk or crawl, I decided to stick with them and was so glad I did. Mrs Happy, in charge of map-reading – would put Mr Motivator out of business in a second. Thoroughly awesome! You were just an incredibly wonderful group of runners!

UKan Trail SBU35 Honister ascent

The route had a total of 4k of ascent and this was largely divided into 2!! No, really!! Honister Mine and locally known Bummers Hill. Any other ascent was incidental. I don’t think I’ve ever climbed anything as steep as Honister Mine – WOW! This is where I felt my other ultras paled in comparison! I can’t believe there were people who ran up it! Am I really that inadequate? Ha! Fortunately, by the time Bummers Hill came along I was mid-‘party’. Had I not been with others at this point I would’ve sat down and had the biggest strop and probably called out a helicopter! Jeez! That hill is just MEAN!!!

UKan Trail SBU35 Top of Honister Mine (2015)

But just after that came Checkpoint 3 … and that meant it was a mere 4 miles or so to the finish. Needless to say, there were no plans to ‘stop’ a CP3 (no time, either, since we were getting close to the cut-off by this time and Jon’s life might have been in danger if we missed a medal!!!). There was, however, just enough time to down (completely unplanned) SEVEN cups of coke! Yup! There you have it. What does THAT tell you that my body needed? Now, you all know that I really do NOT drink coke so it was very interesting that this was all I wanted – and then some!! On top of that came an energy guarana shot, a few mints and about 6 gel blocks, which I had packed for emergencies in my pack.

Whatever! It did the job. I crossed the finish just inside the cut-off – to be greeted with the most fabulous medal, made of slate from the mine – and lots and lots and lots of beer. And the bonus, of course, was breaking my DNF streak (a DNF hat-trick would’ve been just too much to handle)!

Ukan Trail medal

Fantastic experience! If you’re thinking ‘ultra’, then think SBU35. Fabulous marshalling, SUPERB map-book with 34 pages of detailed directions, wonderful variety of terrain, the most incredibly magnificent views and the best medals ever!! Can’t recommend enough.

UKan Trail SBU35 Finish Line Tent 2015

And for an extra treat? Got to recommend the Ennerdale Country House Hotel. Delightful.

And now …………. where’s the Deep Heat?

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26
Aug

IM Sweden – A breeze? Nope. It was THE breeze …

Yes. The breeze. It beat me. Brought ‘weatherbeaten’ to a whole new level – and another DNF. That’s a record for me – 2 x DNF in a year. D’ye think someone’s sending me a message?

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this but I promise I haven’t been sulking all the time! Hindsight is a real b**** – packed chock full of thoughts of ‘should have’ and ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ – which are of little benefit when you’re already hiding in a corner with a comfort blanket and sobbing because the rattle you launched across the room has fallen down the gap in the floorboards and is now the property of dust and spiders.

Hrrrrrrrumphhhh!

That eensy-weensy DNF aside, the Kalmar experience was very special and soooooooooo much fun. It was so lovely to be surrounded by friends and family – all supporting, smiling, encouraging, helpful, positive, fun, excited and just, well, magical. Huge thanks – Karim, Caitriona, Kelly, Kurt, Jody, Amy, Fiona and Russ. What an entourage!! You ALL know how special you are and I hope you know how much you contributed to making this trip totally fabulous!!

Not so many thanks go to British Airways – who couldn’t be arsed to put my bike on the plane and caused me untold stresses at Copenhagen Airport. It finally arrived THREE FLIGHTS/SIX HOURS LATER!!

IM Kalmar T1

And the biggest mention and recommendation for ANYONE doing an Ironman event ……….. Two words: NIRVANA EUROPE (http://www.nirvanaeurope.com/). I cannot recommend them enough. Punctual, super-helpful, nothing was too much trouble – they went above and beyond the call of duty and I can only say the service was EXCEPTIONAL! I would seriously urge any competitors to have these guys on your side!

OK. Back to the eensy-weensy DNF thing …

A quote from the official race report said … ‘For the 2,161 athletes lining up at the start, looks ended up being deceiving. Battling the choppy waters of the Baltic Sea, the athletes began racing under challenging conditions ….’, and then … ‘Strong winds whipped through the first 122 kilometers on the island of Öland, making the bike extremely challenging.’

(For the full article see here: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/08/ironman-kalmar-recap.aspx#ixzz3jxkWLFNG)

Ultimately, this meant that even swimmers in the elite category came off the swim 5 or 6 minutes slower than estimated – and came off the bikes up to half an hour over the estimated time. You’ve no idea how happy those statistics made me since it helped me regain a little perspective!!

IM Kalmar start line

Summary: I had an AWESOME swim. I loved it! The sea was wavy and rough and choppy and basically sh** but I loved it because I had no issues to contend with other than the waves and the jellyfish! No banana issues, no retching, no having to stop every 20 strokes. Best swim EVER!! Yes, the course was tricky to follow – I had NO idea which buoys to follow … but I DID have a pack of swimmers to follow (first time ever I’ve been able to keep up!). I was able to draft, I was totally unbothered by the kicking, elbows and knocks throughout the entire swim (not just the start line, as I’d originally thought), I never felt uncomfortable or panicky, I apologise to the jellyfish who got a surprise internal examination – and I even managed to ‘race’ (I use the term loosely) to the finish! I was SO happy – and I can confirm that I am STILL super-chuffed with that swim, regardless of anything to do with the rest of the day!

IM Kalmar swim

On to the bike! Let’s keep this brief. 122km of hell. I can safely say I didn’t enjoy one single second, I’m afraid! I was smiling when I got on my bike and started out on the course. Felt great. Soon as we hit the 6km bridge it was straight into headwind. That was it for the rest of that 122km loop – headwind or side wind – take your pick. Not till we reached the bridge again did we get a 6km tailwind to come across to the mainland – but by then it was too late for me. The first 40km were fine. Tough but I was managing to keep around 24/25 kph and I was pleased with that. About two hours in, though, I suddenly started feeling really really weary. And I don’t mean tired legs. My stomach started cramping and I just felt ‘weary’! Three hours in, I was forced to make a loo stop, which was supposed to be brief and ended up being ten minutes. AAAAAHHHHHH!! Unplanned and took me by surprise. You don’t need details. I emerged after ten minutes, thinking ‘Right! Let’s get back to it!’ I fuelled up, jumped on – and was thereafter beaten by that damn wind. I did everything I could think of – played with every single combination of gears available – but I could NOT gain back the average mileage lost from that loo stop. 22.5 kph is the absolute minimum to reach an 8-hour bike cut-off and the most I could manage was 21.8 kph. FRUSTRATION!! Not only that, but I actually FELL ASLEEP on my bike. That’s how hard it was (for me)! Too much wind to be able to look around and take in views so it was head down, pedal and watch the average mileage, and four times my eyes literally just SHUT!! It was so scary! I mean, how does that happen?

I think the swim took it all out of me – and/or I need to be more aware of the FIFTH triathlon discipline – FOCUS/NOT-FALLING-ASLEEP! I need to re-address this. I think I was just completely wiped!

I’m sure you’re thinking I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough or ‘How can anyone fall asleep on a bike?’ or ‘I should have been pedalling faster or stronger or harder ……?’ WHATEVER!!! That’s how it was. I don’t EVER give less than 100% and I was simply well and truly beaten. Kudos to the wind and to the awesome cyclists out there! I salute you! You inspire me!

I came back across the bridge and did the calculations – 2 hours 10 mins to rack up the final 60km. With nigh on six hours behind me struggling to even keep 21 kph, there was no realistic way I was suddenly going to pull out an extra 10 kph for another two hours. It was not going to happen.

I came down the hill to the roundabout and saw Karim and Caitriona and Kelly screaming there from the side lines and I rolled up and it was all over for me. And not a single teeny-weeny judgmental word from anyone – I LOVE YOU!!!!!

IM Kalmar support

I am gutted to have once again not made the run but I can only be satisfied that I KNOW I did absolutely everything I was capable of on the day – and pulling out was the right decision/the only decision at the right time on that day. Another DNF and once again on the bike, but this time with a FABULOUS swim behind me – it somehow makes it a lot easier to deal with. That’s a whole discipline better than in Cairns. Hey! One step at a time …

Taking six months off now, I think. I am going to kickbox and run trails and climb walls and swing kettle bells.

A final, special word for BOSH TRI and the Facebook NUTTERS – your online support was overwhelming! Big big hugs and thanks to all of you, too.

For now ………………. This is Ironman Hyatt signing off for a wee while. XX

IM Kalmar Post DNF

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09
Aug

This time next week … IM Sweden!

This time next week I will be somewhere in the environs of Kalmar, Sweden – on my bike. Cycling. I will have swum 2.4 miles (3.8 km) and will be visualising getting off my bike sometime in the near future (as near as possible) to start a wee marathon jaunt.

I think my last blog was slightly negative – but more than that, on re-reading I fear it was rather dismissive of the people who got me to this ‘here’ and and this ‘now’. I just want to rectify that.

I would never have got to the start line of IM Cairns on my own – and I most CERTAINLY would never be packing for IM Sweden 9 weeks later!

I hold Kurt Charnock and Amy Jordan ENTIRELY responsible for my clicking on the IM Sweden website the day after my Cairns DNF. Thanks for that is on hold hahahaha

I hold my husband entirely responsible for my IM Sweden registration. After the massive expense (and the treat) of a magical holiday (never mind the DNF in the middle!) in Cairns, Australia, I couldn’t even entertain spending money on another jaunt away – yet when I landed at Heathrow Airport, the first words out of his mouth were ‘So, have you registered for Sweden?’ (Yes, he IS amazing!)

Fabulous friends and family have kept me encouraged and determined to give this another go. Caitriona, Chris, Sebastian, Rebecca, Kelly, Jo (Andrews), Ros, … Eeeek!

And then ………. AND THEN ……… there is the BTRS ‘family’. I don’t have time for an Oscars speech here – but THANK YOU!!! The support has just been so unbelievably humbling – what on earth I did to deserve it, I’ll never know! The influx of messages and texts after Cairns was incredible. Hiding was impossible. The words ‘IM Sweden’ floated around and suddenly I had a whole new type of message coming my way ….. ‘Come swimming!’ ‘Are you swimming tonight?’ ‘If not, why not?’ … and then ‘Got to get your get bike miles up’ …. followed by Kurt, Amy, Jody … giving up HOURS of free time to accompany me on several bigger-mileage rides ……………….. and all simply to help me reach my second IM start line even more prepared than last time. Words fail.

Steve McMenamin and Simon Barry – thank you for your texts and support (and Steve for all your bike help)!

Jane Millar – thank you for your swimming help/advice/tips and time.

Issi, Becky …… MWAH!! Thanks for picking me up – continuously!

THANK YOU! I really don’t know what else to say but it had to be said. You are ALL unbelievably supportive, encouraging, inspiring …

With all of you behind me, how can I possibly NOT make it to the finish line this time??

I am one very lucky athlete.

Russ? Amy? Ready???

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30
Jul

Seventeen days and counting … (Ironman Kalmar)

Oh my oh my. Yes, blogs have been missing – since Cairns! About as ‘missing’ as my training. Seventeen days to Ironman Kalmar/Sweden and am I ready? Erm …. well, not really. Then again, how ready will I ever be? Especially after feeling so ‘ready’ for Cairns and then not getting much past the swim.

Hey ho. It’s a different journey and I’m still trying to file Cairns away and open a new chapter. I thought it’d be quite easy. I thought entering Sweden – 9 weeks away from Cairns – that I’d simply be able to top up my training and keep everything ticking over.

Easier said than done!!

One big big BIG mistake: letting go of my coach. Merely because I’d already decided to take a few months ‘off’ once I’d ‘nailed’ Ironman Cairns!!! Hrrrrrmph! My next mistake was not immediately running back and going HEEELLLLPPPPPPPP!! What nowwwwwwww???? And HOW DO I PREPARE FOR SWEDEN????? But I didn’t. I thought I could let it slide and simply redo my pre-Cairns training for the same weeks up until Sweden.

Idiot!

Seventeen days to go and I’ve ………………………………………. done a bit of running, played games in the sea, done TWO sea swims (neither v. long), and done one long (if fantabulous) bike ride (and a few shorter ones) – supported by the amazing group of athletes and friends that is BTRS.

IMG_4651 REMEMBER

I’ve had loads of encouragement and the best of help and suggestions – but I’m not a ‘do what feels right’ sort of person. Nor am I a ‘do a bit of this and a bit of that’ sort of person. I need plans and structure – and I need a coach. It takes a great coach to ensure that, with history of various injuries and niggles AND training hampered by weather I was still able to train 17-20 hours per week for three full months pre-Cairns without the slightest hint of injury. That was an AWESOME feeling. That feeling has been sadly lacking since Cairns.

So Sweden is coming up and I’m living on the hope that my pre-Cairns training will carry over. I’ve added four bike rides (albeit hugely enjoyable rides (3 of them) with FABULOUS company!!), a couple of runs and two swims??? Yep! That’s about it! For nine weeks, that is NOT good Ironman training. Structure, consistency ………………….. gone!

But all is never lost. I’m on holiday now and I’ve done more this week than in the previous six. I had a fantastic 15-mile run the other day and it felt GREAT (last long run). I’ve done a couple of really full-on gym sessions – mostly cardio because no point doing any strength stuff now. My cycling ‘was’ definitely my weak point so I’ve been boosting that with some solid sessions on the erg to target my leg strength. These have definitely paid off (I did a 500m PB this afternoon)! Probably my biggest fear (because I’m not even going to entertain the thought of ‘the marathon’) is the swim, which is where I came to pieces in Cairns. Apparently, the ‘issue’ I had is oh so common – so common, in fact, that there are LOADS of blogs and articles about it. No guaranteed cures, however, so it could still be an issue and that is very VERY worrying!

1075_010426

BUT ……… family and the bestest of friends will abound in Sweden. I CAN do this! I’m ‘well rested’, to say the least – although I think nine weeks of taper might be a tad long? But let’s not split hairs!!. The swim is ‘brackish’! I can’t wait to find out what that means. I think it might mean ‘full of jellyfish’, but who knows! The bike course is ‘flat’. PAHAHAHAHAHAHA That’s what they said about Cairns. I don’t believe ANYTHING!!! And any way, ‘flat’ means ‘wind’ and that can be worse than any bloomin’ hill so let’s see. Still – I’m happier about the bike now. Bummer! You know what? I think I came close to actually ‘enjoying’ a couple of those training rides. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!!!!! I’m hoping I will have avoided consistent vomiting in the swim this time to be able to give the bike course a good go.

Like I said, we’re not talking about the run.

I did my last three-hour training session today. It’s way past midnight now. Sixteen days and counting!

Eeee.

And THAT, my friends, is all the negatives out of the way. I can. I will. That medal awaits. Just keep swimming, just keep pedalling, just keep running! This will happen!

REMEMBER

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29
Jun

Five Excuses and It – The story of weight gain

Filed in Weight to go

Chapter X

Admit it! How many times have you looked at the scales, thrown a tantrum and headed straight for the biscuit tin screaming ‘What’s the point? It’s not working!’?

I’d be a liar if I said I’d never done that. However, that was before I ‘needed’ to lose weight. In those days my goal was to ‘lose a few pounds’ or ‘tone up a bit’. What can I say? Fluffy goals will only be backed up by fluffy thoughts. ‘A few pounds’ is not a goal. ‘A bit’ is not a measurement. And ‘it’ can never ever EVER be blamed for your lack of success. Once you’ve got that straight, you’ll already have increased your weight loss chances.

So before you lay all that blame on ‘it’ …

1.  Did you set yourself up with a number on the scales? (i.e. 3 lbs, 7 lbs, 1 ½ stone)
2. Did you set yourself a deadline between 2 and 6 weeks? Your goal must be achievable within this time scale. Remember, you can always set another goal afterwards but setting a 6-month goal is, for me, too demoralising. Do it in steps!
3.  What plan are you following? Are you sure the balance of food is perfect – between complex carbs, proteins and fats? Are you working this out yourself or do you ‘know’?
4.  Have you been following the same plan for X weeks?
5.  Have you lost weight before and/or have you regained weight formerly lost and/or how much weight have you lost to date?

Now ……. things are not going to plan so you are blaming ‘it’. This tells me a number of things:

1. You have not stopped to think what ‘it’ is. ‘It’ is such a wonderful, easy scapegoat, eh?
2. You have not truly answered the question ‘How much do you want this?’ – otherwise you’d be approaching this from a different angle, rather than immediately laying the blame on ‘it’!
3. How much DO you want this?
4. You can’t understand why you’ve suddenly gained some weight (or plateau-d) since you’ve been doing exactly the same as before? I rest my case!
5. You’re not actually truly committed to losing weight. You’re not prepared to put in the work. You want ‘it’ to do it for you, right? So much easier to blame ‘it’ instead of working out what you did or didn’t do to get you to this place.

The solution?

Easy-peasy. Let’s clear this up once and for all and you will nail this weight loss battle.

1. IT = YOU
2. ‘It’ didn’t get you to this place. ‘You’ did! (How much do you want this?)
3. Change ‘It isn’t working’ to ‘I need to change something’.
4. Change ‘It doesn’t work’ to ‘I need to change something’.
5. Change ‘Sod it! Where are the Hobnobs?’ to ‘ I need to phone my trainer and find out what I need to change!’

You know where I am.
amanda@youchoosefitness.co.uk

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23
Jun

IRONMAN – NOT THIS TIME!

Ironman sign

Midst the tears of disappointment, frustration and devastating result I shall try very hard not to dwell on the brighter, brilliant and more positive aspects of my Ironman adventure … travelling over in FIRST CLASS (Oh My Goodness HOW WONDERFUL AND AMAZING WAS THAT!!!), landing in Australia for the first time (a dream since teenage years) (did I mention that I flew First Class?), the adorable company throughout of my wonderful and magical eldest daughter, corals, snorkelling ……… these things are for another blog. I must try very hard not to mention the Great Barrier Reef, the tropical fish, sky rails, rainforests, the cutest koala bears EVER and, of course, did I mention that I flew First Class?

First Class dining

I will focus instead on the task that lay ahead (after my FIRST CLASS flight)!

Good luck cards

Drop Bags

Time to Race

RESULTS:

Swim: 55:22 (1.9 km) – 1:12:55 (1.9 km) – TOTAL: 2:08

T1:       9:52

Bike:    5:05 (81.6 km) – RACE TIME: 7:13:18

DNF

 

Cue MELTDOWN!! Or, well, to be totally honest, the meltdown didn’t come until I met Caitriona on the way back to the hotel. At the moment the marshall informed me I’d missed the cut-off and he had to ask me to stop, my body said THANK YOU!!!! Having the decision made for me was one of the positives amidst soooooooooooooooo many negatives!

So what happened? Perhaps the reason this blog has been delayed a while is because I can’t say for certain. I don’t know! All I can say is that involved the swim, it most definitely involved bananas … and after that it was all down to lack of ANY fuel.

Breakfast was spot on. Breakfast has seen me through so many races I know it was right. Then there was that top-up banana an hour before the start time. Well, I’ve practised bananas pre-swim and never had a problem. Not so on June 14th. On this day the banana decided the limelight belonged to him/her and it was determined to fight back! Why? Nerves? I was pretty calm. Emotional? I got a bit flustered because I desperately wanted to hug Caitriona before I dived in and I couldn’t find her – but I DID find her and all was well, I took a deep breath and we were off. Fear? Nope. I’d warmed up, swum, nothing scary about the water. I was perfectly happy with that. So ……………. What? All suggestions welcome (please post below). Adrenalin? I’m pretty calm and wasn’t noticeably worked up (not that I knew, anyhow). Jet lag? Really? Who knows?!

Anyhoooooooooooooooo … took my place at the start line, perfectly happy running into the water, swam about 20 strokes, concentrating on not going out fast (chance’d be a fine thing!!), controlling my breathing and settling into my natural pace. It took about 20 strokes to realise that perhaps breathing should be a priority over pace – and I just couldn’t breathe! I started to breaststroke and attempted to slow my breathing down but EVERYTHING seemed constricted, it felt like my chest was about to burst out of my wetsuit and I couldn’t get any air past the top of my chest, which meant that essentially I was sort of hyperventilating and could NOT slow it down! After a couple of minutes I decided that if that was what my breathing was going to do, maybe I could adjust my stroke rate to suit it – as opposed to the other way round??? I know, I know – who DOES that??? But it was the only strategy I could come up with. Alas, it didn’t work (surprise, surprise!). On to Plan C. Wait. Slight problem. I didn’t have a Plan C.

Never mind. My stomach has a Plan C. Cue a new strategy. Lean on lifeguard’s surf board, retch, take a few deep breaths, swim 20-30 strokes. Repeat. For 1.8 km!

No, really! That’s how it was. His name was Heath, by the way (probably still is lol). He might have saved my life; he certainly saved my race! I didn’t think I was going to make it to the very first buoy! As it was, Heath didn’t move more than 3 ft away from me for the entire swim. He talked me through the lot, muttered a million platitudes and was a master at disguising his thoughts of me repeatedly retching over his lovely surfboard. He supplied me with fresh water and did my sighting for me – pointing out which buoy to head for next as my head was just spinning. As we reached the halfway beach turnaround he leant down and grabbed my wrist and looked at my watch – at which point he said ‘Awesome! Run! You can still make the cut-off!’ At which point I ran, returned to the water, swam 10 strokes and then properly threw up!! Hey ho, after that I felt soooooooooooo much better!! I managed to settle into a half-decent stroke rate and complete the swim. I was a little surprised that the timing for the second half of my swim was so much slower, but having said that the water had definitely changed by then. There was quite a big swell (compared to the first hour!), it was choppier and the current was a little faster.

Boy, was I glad to get out of that water!!!!! I actually did the swim in 2 hours (bloody miracle). The 8:18 seconds was the time it took to launch a quick hug in Heath’s direction – alongside a massive THANK YOU!!

I was a sort of greenish colour when I got into the tent. The euphoria of having actually made the cut-off was short-lived. The ladies who greeted me were amazing and literally undressed and dressed me – while I tried not to think about having to get on a bicycle!

I did my very very best to smile as I exited T1. I looked like shit but I was actually feeling positive by now. This was something that simply had to be done. I got on my bike thinking that I would just settle into a ‘regular’ pace and give my body a little chance to get itself together. I tried unsuccessfully to drink a little water. I figured that even if I had to play catch-up later it was more important initially to give my stomach time to settle so that I could then focus on the job in hand. I pedalled, remembered to look up and absorb the beautiful coastal scenery, I tried to relax and tell my body all was ok. Body wasn’t in listening mood.

Cut a long story short, hills felt like mountains and I watched my average bike time go down and down and down as the inclines went up and up and up. By the time I’d reached the first turnaround and beginning of the second loop I’d thrown up half an energy bar and avoided the energy drink I had because it was making me feel really queasy – which I wouldn’t have minded had it actually reached my blood stream and given me some ENERGY!! I was so desperate for energy. My legs felt great, my head was still battling with positives and ignoring little voices and I was simply praying for a hit of energy – even a small one!

As I made my way back up to Port Douglas on the second loop I was accompanied by the sweeper bike. I’m sure he was lovely but I feel I must apologise for the names I was secretly calling him. Eventually, he couldn’t sweep slowly enough and he buggered off for a while haha

Coming into Port Douglas for the second time the marshall chugged up alongside me and told me I had four and a half minutes to reach the turnaround. I did my best. With the help of the marshall on the microphone and the crowd – who were all counting down for me – I made it! I actually laughed. It was quite funny. My stomach didn’t appreciate the humour. I came out of Port Douglas and thought ‘Come on! All the way home!’ … Mr Sweeper was at the roundabout on his phone doing various calculations. ‘Twenty minutes to the next aid station cut-off’, he said. ‘Come on! Keep that pace and you’ll make it!’ he said. ‘And drink more!’ he said – as he whipped my water bottle out of the cage, pootled off on his moped and returned five minutes later with a full bottle. Bless them all, they did everything they possibly could to get me through this course bar getting on the bike and cycling it themselves.

A fairly brutal headwind thwarted my efforts to make that 20-minute cut-off. I felt like I was cycling backwards – and the cramps in my feet were UNREAL!! I don’t know where the cramps came from but they were agonising. I have a completely amateurish theory (I know NOTHING about cycling) that they might have been a result of my using the aero bars that I’d originally had no intention of using? In actual fact I used my aero bars for a LOT of the bike course. They were easy, comfortable and the position suited my stomach. I just wonder if the position then altered the pressure on my feet – maybe changed the position my cleats should’ve been in? I could be totally making this up in my head, but ……………….. it passed the time!

I was escorted into the wagon of shame at that 75-mile mark – having missed the cut-off by 6 minutes. I finally had time to feel sorry for myself and notice how upset and uphappy my stomach was – and it was the longest journey ever – brightened up only by the man sitting opposite, who informed me that he’d been BEHIND ME IN THE SWIM!! Oh My God! I didn’t come last!! Lol

I don’t think I need to detail the meltdowns. Unfathomable thanks to my beautiful daughter, who mopped up endless tears and annoyingly kept saying ALL the right things (love you)!!

Massive congratulations to all the athletes who DID finish. I’m very proud of ALL of you (special mention for Keith Jackson and Chris Stainer) … even if I didn’t applaud and smile and jump up and down as ‘XXX YOU ARE AN IRONMAN’ wafted up endlessly into my hotel room, which was directly over the finish line. I was not going to be allowed to forget!! Haha

But don’t think I begrudge you any teensy weensy millisecond of your incredible achievements! You are both just incredible athletes and I am so SO happy that I WAS able to see you both across the finish.

As for me ………………….. hey, I’m uninjured. That can only mean one thing. It’s time to fight back.

Message from Rebecca

 

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08
Jun

Let the Adventure begin …

8 p.m. on June 8th and I’m sitting in the First Class (yes – gift from my amazing husband!!) lounge at Heathrow with a couple of hours to go before the adventure really and truly begins. It’s a little hard to relax when realisation keeps invading my dreams and sending my stomach lurching in fleeting moments of absolute terror – but hey, I’m trying! My new friend Mimosa (1 part orange juice, 4 parts champagne) is helping!

This is IT! If I squint I can just make out the start line. Over there … 6 days away. No matter what way I measure it, it’s still getting closer. In fact, it’s excruciatingly close – so close that it no longer matters what I do in terms of swimming, biking or running. In 6 days I will not learn to swim stronger, to bike faster or to run without swearing. I am where I am and all I can do now is to give it anything over 100% – my minimum effort percentage for anything I do (if not, then what’s the point?).

The final few weeks could perhaps have gone a little better. Training ramped up to 17-18 hours per week, which was more than enough for me – and I still maintain that my coach has been magnificent in bringing about the increases in volume and intensity without injury (permanent key objective). I’ve finished every session feeling proud, if occasionally it was tough getting out there because I was just ti-i-i-i-i-r-r-e-d!!

I’ve maintained all along that I wished to stand at the start line knowing that no matter what happened I had trained to my absolute best; that if things didn’t go my way it would not be because I missed out a few key sessions or had a few extra easy weeks. Unfortunately, the final two weeks didn’t really go as planned but I think that if there was ever a time to be forced to ease up a bit, then surely the final couple of weeks (taper weeks, in actual fact) must be the best choice? A migraine simply floored me for almost 4 days and I could NOT face my training sessions for love nor money, so that’s been a bit tricky to get my head around because I felt I’d ‘missed’ key workouts. Add to that my having to be fished out of the sea (again) due to a seeming inability to be able to stand up and walk out of that damned water (cue ‘shore dumps extraordinaire)! Well – ‘extraordinaire enough to lift my feet clean off the pebbles and send me into an undignified face plant … only to be caught by the next mischievous, evil bully of a wave which thought it was hilarious to see me frantically try to save myself by clutching a pebble! Cue the ‘fishing out’ bit … all of which resulted in damage to pecs and lats. Typical! Grrr! In short – that put paid to a few more sessions but I did manage a few catch-ups so everything has been ticking over. And, more importantly, I still maintain that I can stand on the start line confident that I never missed a session – because in my head (yes, that’s MY head … not a ‘general’ head) I’m not counting the missed sets of the last couple of weeks because I know in my heart of hearts I simply could not physically do them. Had I voluntarily taken a few lazy options, that would’ve been another matter altogether.

All that is very important for me – for my headspace. It has got me to where I am now – confident that I’ve given my training 100% attention and commitment. Whatever happens now, it will not be because I failed to prepare. And it certainly won’t be because I gave up!

Giving up is not an option. But I’m pretty good at not giving up – and where there’s not-giving-up, there’s hope!

Here’s hoping.

And through all this, never once did I hear a grumble along the lines of ‘Training AGAIN?’ or ‘Seriously? You’re going to be gone for how long?’ from my husband or any of my family. They’ve been magnificent and so incredibly supportive and inspiring. And speaking of inspiration, this journey would not have been so enjoyable and exciting and challenging without the help of so many friends beside me, behind me and – in the case of Jody East and most of BTRS Race Series triathletes – in front of me!

Thank you all for your unfathomable confidence. I won’t let you down.

6 days.

Eek.

Nothing more I can do.

‘Excuse me … yes, … could I have another glass of champagne, please?’

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26
May

Aspergers snapshot

The scene: Pile of clean towels on the bannister at the bottom of the stairs. They’ve just toppled over. Now lying at the bottom of the stairs. I’m on my way down. Son is about to come up.
Me: Oi! Don’t you dare just step over those towels.
Son: What do you mean?
Me: I mean don’t even think about stepping OVER the towels.
Son (totally confused) … stands both feet carefully ON the towels.

Note to self: Aspergers: very literal. Pedantic. Little understanding of nuances.

I think I nearly pee’d I laughed so much. I should’ve known better. Bless him. Fabulous.

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26
May

THE ULTIMATE 7 DAY MEAL PLAN

Filed in Weight to go

7 DAY MEAL PLAN

It’s out. It’s ready and it’s waiting for you. For just £2.99 a complete 7-day ready-made, balanced, fabulously varied weight loss plan can be in your inbox. Then all you have to do is stick to it. IT’S JUST SEVEN DAYS. How hard can it be?

Well – not THAT hard. My testers, my husband and myself have all continued with the same plan for several weeks, it’s still working AND it’s getting easier and easier every week. Here’s what one of my testers had to say the other day:

‘Just to say Amanda Hyatt it’s the weekend of my daughters christening and thanks to you and almost 4 weeks on your amazing 7 day meal plan hubby and I are well over 2 stone lighter and a dress size or 2 smaller. It’s been the easiest and most enjoyable way to lose weight ever and has totally changed the way we look at food. X’

I have to say I am THRILLED with this plan – with the layout, the options and most of all the results. The plan caters for all ‘weights’ so you choose one of three calorie ranges and the rest is laid out for you. The shopping lists are done, the recipes are there, the pictures are colourful and reflect exactly what the meals look like (even when I cook them – which is a first!). Success, however, lies very much in the planning side of this programme. No ready meals on this menu. Everything is fresh and I warn you that for the first week it seems like a LOT of work (so plan your days and get the basics all done early!). We all agreed, however, that somehow by the time we got to a second week everything already seemed so much easier – perhaps because we were now familiar with the main recipes? If I was to give you a few tips – I would say, firstly, to plan at least 3 days in advance and check out any lunches that require cooking and prepare those the evening before (when making dinner) or while you’re making breakfast. This cuts out cooking in the middle of the day. The other thing I would say would be to bake both sets of protein bars and make up a few jellies right at the beginning of the week, so that’s all done and dusted, too. After that, it’s a breeze!

Yes, there’s room for options but really not many. You want this to work, then do what it says. You start playing around with options, you’re messing with the balance, with the calorie counts and you may well be disappointed at the end of the week. Logical, right? Of course, if you have any major issues, then let me know. We can always come up with an alternative somehow that’s going to work for YOU.

That’s it, really. Do email me with any questions at amanda@youchoosefitness.co.uk OR find the YCF 7 Day Meal Plan page on Facebook – specifically set up for this plan and everything related to it.

If you are interested in buying it, please email me or find me on Facebook. Payment can be via Paypal or directly into the You Choose Fitness business account.

Are you ready to get your weight loss journey off to a fantastic start …. OR to leap right off that weight loss plateau?

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