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thetrilife Masters Programme Week 1

Oh, I’m such a slave to programmes but find myself completely at a loss without. After my two IM fiascos last summer I ditched my bike for the indoor rower and focussed on a team WR attempt – which proved to be hugely successful and so much fun! (Well – if ‘fun’ and ‘rowing’ can be used in the same sentence??) After that, though (December) I lost the plot and resorted to doing more or less nothing. January came along and for the first time ever I had no goals, no plans, no motivation, no desire to do anything. February came and went in much the same way. It was time to get my act together and take action. After much research, I signed up to the Trilife Master Programme – simply to give me direction, to get reinspired, to get me moving and basically to tell me what to do.

It’s easy to say ‘Oh, but you know what to do already’. Yes, maybe – but much like doctors make the worst patients I find it extremely difficult to set up training plans for myself and stick to them. I need external eyes, experience and knowhow. Besides – since I never crossed the finish line of those two IM I’m not really feeling too confident about doing anything for myself. Committing to a programme is a great motivator.

And so … after a slightly interrupted taster week, I’ve completed Week 1. Loving having a programme to follow and knowing that I’m in professional hands. There are no ‘fluffy’ sessions here. Everything is exact, everything has a purpose. Not a junk mile in sight and it’s fun to be back in the classroom again! One week and lots learned::

Swimming: One of the sessions is VERY heavy on kicking. I’ve always thrown in a couple of token ‘kicking’ drills – thinking this was enough. Doing ‘lots’ of kicking has been fascinating – repeated lengths with nothing to do but discover different effects of kicking technique. Suddenly it clicks and my speed almost doubles, then I lose it again. Actually can’t wait to repeat that session. I’d have lost the will to live had I ever tried that on my own! And as for T-pace? Working on that one. Currently, I have one pace which I’m calling T-pace. If I attempt T-pace + 10 I think I’ll find myself dead in the water. Needs work! As for ‘building’: I can just about find 4 speeds to build on – but definitely not 8. There’s a goal right there! Final Week 1 swimming lesson: Faster stroke rate does not mean faster speed. Looking forward to finding a happy medium here (hopefully in this lifetime). In my case, increasing my stroke rate is resulting in a less-efficient half-executed stroke and therefore less speed.

Biking: Turbo session great. Harder work than it should be. My fitness is at the bottom of a very deep hole somewhere. Going to be interesting hauling it back up. Already ‘natural’ cadence is getting closer to the desired 90 rpm. That’ll do for now. Outdoors – tentative and unsure on my bike so need to find some confidence. As always – slow! Will be working on that a lot.

Running: The hazard of focussing on endurance these last months is that short-and-fast has been left behind. Result? I have ONE gear and one gear only and that gear is slower than it’s ever been. Never thought I’d have to work really hard on my running. That used to be my ‘given’. Not any more. Quite a challenge keeping up cadence of 90 continually so that’s a fun goal for now.

Bring it on Uckfield and Mid-Sussex tris. It’s going to be a FUN and positive confidence-building summer.

Chi Running – a workshop for beginners

CHI RUNNING WORKSHOP

Talk to any runner about energy and he/she will happily launch into conversation. Mention ‘chi’ rather than ‘energy’ and odds are a small percentage will nod knowingly, a slightly larger percentage might smile and pretend to be open to ‘whatever works for you, dearest’, some will respond with a derisive snort and others will roll their eyes and turn away. Of course it is a matter of each one to his own, but as a slow ultrarunner – and therefore someone who is out on a course for considerable hours – an opportunity to learn rudimentary techniques affording me forward motion with maximum efficiency and minimal effort could not be missed. It was with some excitement, then, that I found myself stepping through the door of Gray Caws’ Chi Running Workshop for beginners (http://www.n8pt.com/). I would not be disappointed.

The small group (5 in total) was friendly and meant that everyone got ample individual attention and it was easy for everyone’s questions to be answered. Following brief introductions and without further ado, the first order of the day was to film us all running. After that it was back to the classroom but there was no time for sitting down. In fact, there was very little sitting down. A couple of my friends had speculated that we would spend an hour at least listening to the origins and philosophies of all things ‘chi’. Not so (although, having a teenage background in martial arts I am great believer in the power of chi so I wouldn’t have minded this at all!).

The morning was spent learning about correct postural alignment, why it was so important as a runner/walker and what we should be aiming for and how to adjust and correct. In the most basic terms, the better your postural alignment the less work the body has to do to enable forward motion. In other words, the less effort would be needed. We spent a lot of fascinating time learning exercises to correct and ‘discover’ the most ‘functional’ posture – in terms that made such complete and ‘grounded’ (no pun intended) sense.

Having got the general gist of these basics, it was then time to analyse our individual running form (video-ed earlier). Armed with the knowledge of what we were aiming for, these analyses were hugely informative and enlightening. Even after just that couple of hours, we were all able to view movements such as ‘my arms keep crossing my body’ or ‘my feet fly out to the sides’ not merely objectively but with a very comforting and motivating awareness that we now knew ‘why’ we did it, where the movement originated from and how we could begin to correct it.

The afternoon afforded us time to put some of this into practice with drills focussing on maintaining alignment while moving, the effect of cadence and the importance of arm movement.

If ever there was a worthwhile workshop for runners – or walkers (!), this was/is it! Sceptics can stay away. All others should put aside any preconceptions of ‘fluffy’ ideas or images of groups of runners chasing various auras around the park whilst chanting various incantations (don’t tell me some of you haven’t pictured this!). Nothing could be further from the truth. For a runner – and I think (probably mistakenly but definitely subjectively) endurance runners – the word ‘chi’ should be readily available in your vocabulary. It has certainly jumped to the top of mine. Check out upcoming workshops or find out more at Gray Caws or  http://www.chirunning.co.uk/.

Ten Day Turnaround – Why so successful?

What is it? Who’s it for? Why is it so successful? Read on for the no-nonsense answers.

 

TenDayTurnaournd LOGO

What is it?

Online no-measuring no-counting weight loss programme (Facebook or via email) with LOTS of frills and strings attached;

The strings? You have to follow the rules! There are ten!

The frills? You will have to put up with more energy, not being hungry, sleeping better and a serious lack of bloating

Ten rules. Ten compulsory workouts for EVERY level of fitness (yes, there are even walking workouts so if you can walk you have NO excuse!). Ten motivational texts or emails. Optional (but highly recommended) secret Facebook group.

Suitable for carnivores, herbivores (?), …. vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians …

Compatible with any other weight loss plan

Who’s it for?

It’s for those who have lots and lots of weight to lose and don’t know where to start …. or who just want to lose a pound and feel less bloated. The workout choices range from tough to easy (for those new to exercise) to purely walking (for those who seriously struggle).

It’s for anyone frustrated at being stuck on a weight loss plateau.

It’s for anyone who’s tried all the diets under the sun, lost the plot, ended up heavier than before and is currently in a ‘Nothing-works’ mindset. Try this. You’ll find out where you’ve gone wrong AND why you’re heavier now than previously.

It’s for those who generally eat healthily already but could do with cleaning things up a bit and maybe getting back into an exercise routine.

Why is it so successful?

Constant measuring and counting leads to food obsessions and takes the joy out of eating. No measuring. No counting.

There is often ‘dread’ at the beginning of a diet – the dread of giving up this and giving up that and having to force down meals with foods you don’t particularly like! There is no ‘dread’ on the Ten Day Turnaround plan. There are some challenges, yes – but within a ‘group’ these can be fun and rewarding, too. You don’t eat anything you don’t like – and anybody can avoid anything ‘just for ten days’, right? (Note use of ‘avoid’, not ‘give up’!!)

Compatible with any other weight loss plan, many success stories have come from the knowledge that comes with the Ten Day Turnaround plan – explaining WHY a certain diet has come to a standstill or why some ‘pounds’ just never seem to shift …

It is ONLY ten days. Not four weeks, not three months, not a lifetime membership. EVERYONE can do ten days – and there’s only ONE WEEKEND to get through!

Last but not least, Ten Day Turnaround success has come from the almost-instant noticeable changes – in energy levels, in weight loss and, most of all, from the consistent clinking of pennies dropping. I’d love to count the number of ‘OMG really?’ and ‘Ahaaaaaa!’ posts as people are suddenly learning the simplest tweaks they can make to their eating and exercise – with life-changing consequences.

And the best sign of success?

Not just the comments and testimonials – but the fact that people keep coming back. Because the Ten Day Turnaround is not about reaching your lifetime goal in ten days! It’s about knowledge – and support. It’s about me being that little voice in your head saying ‘STEP AWAY FROM THE FRIDGE’, it’s about encouragement from group members (optional but recommended), it’s about trying new things. And it’s there for you to come back to again and again – to continue your weight loss journey – or to get you back on track – or to kick those few pounds in time for that party/wedding/holiday.

Every weight loss journey tends to begin because you’re unhappy with how you look, but the journey is really more about how you feel. The Ten Day Turnaround will help you ‘feel’ GREAT!

For more information or to sign up for the next one … email [email protected] or find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/youchoosefitness/

 

Please PLEASE feel free to comment below if you’ve completed a Ten Day Turnaround. Let us know what you thought/how you got on.

LOSE WEIGHT AT THE SUPERMARKET – PART 2

Hello – and thank you for coming back for more. I hope you found something in Part 1 that might at the very least make you stop and think for a few seconds before reaching for the easiest supermarket option – even if ultimately you choose not to change anything! You always have a choice and there’s no one size that fits all, but we all know the saying ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ Perhaps I can urge you to ditch the habit of a lifetime – even for a couple of weeks – and see what happens? Outside the supermarket, the biggest ever key to successful weight loss is variety and change – so why not inside, too?

Remember that warning about being a bit blunt? Erm …. a few of the points set out below are particular bugbears of mine – traps that people have been tricked into via clever marketing. Excuse the occasional hint of a rant.

Happy shopping!

Shopping trolley

• If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the back of a jar or packet, put it back on the shelf.

• The closer the words ‘sugar’ or ‘syrup’ are to the top of the ingredients list, the greater the sugar content. Have you checked where it is on that ‘supposedly’ fabulously healthy, fibre-filled cereal you’ve been breakfasting on for years – like Weetabix, for example? And you wonder why you’re hungry a couple of hours later?

• Diet sodas. Seriously? You want to lose weight but you’re still buying these? Time to reassess your goals. Let’s be honest. You’re obviously not THAT committed to losing weight. Does YOUR weight loss company promote these as acceptable drinks? Calorie-free? Great option with a meal? Hmmm. I wonder why these companies are still in business. Let’s think about THAT for a moment. Moving on to the next aisle …

• Beware celebrity brands. They’re not always best – and certainly not the best for your wallet. More expensive does not mean better – not when you’re in the supermarket. If you’re buying sauce in a jar, for example (because this blog is not about judging cooking skills!), read the ingredients. Some of the celebrity brands are packed with salt and sugar – compared to supermarket brands. Do your research. Your body will thank you.

• There is absolutely no reason – EVER – to walk down the Frozen Meals aisle. If you can’t cook, eat raw food. No problem! Don’t have time to cook? Oh! You work 24/7? You NEVER have time off? Cook up a batch of YOUR meals (including your rice or whatever) and freeze in portions. Frozen meals should only ever be frozen by YOU. End of.

• Remember that fresh food is stacked with the shortest shelf-life items at the front – because naturally these are the ones they want to sell quickly. Delve a little deeper and find the longer shelf-life.

• Speaking of shelf-life … it’s important to know the difference between BEST BEFORE dates and USE BY dates. BEST BEFORE is about quality. The products are perfectly fine to use after these dates. They just won’t be at their absolute best. A USE BY date is not one to be ignored. This date is for safety reasons. Even if a product looks or smells fine, you should not be tempted to eat it after its USE BY date.

• If perchance you’ve left your shopping list at home but absolutely need to get the essentials, enter the supermarket and work your way around the outside. You’ll find the fruits, veggies, meat, fish and dairy generally line the outer areas of most well-stocked supermarkets. The further in you travel, the more junk food you’ll find, so for quick ‘essential’ shops, stick to the edges. Those inner stocks are designed for impulse-buying and will be your downfall.

And there you have it. Be prepared and let your shopping do some of the work for you!!

Do PLEASE comment if any of the above has helped you in any way. Feedback is always welcome (and don’t forget YOUR tips for successful supermarket shopping).

I will say cheerio, good luck with your weight loss journey (and your shopping, of course) – and I’ll leave you with this:

Foods for thought – by Amanda Hyatt

Tomatoes and onions and carrots and yams,
Oysters and artichokes, mussels and clams,
Salmon and spinach and lemons and lime,
Rosemary, pumpkin seeds, sprigs of fresh thyme,
Coconut flour, rye crackers and, best-of-all,
Ripe avocados – to lower cholesterol,
Full-fat Greek yoghurt and almonds galore,
Bananas, nut butters, trail mixes and more,
Such fun, packing trolleys with all that is healthy,
There’s everything here – and not just for the wealthy,
Good food’s changed my life. Now, I must get some fish,
(Did I mention I’ve got a new man? What a dish!)

***

Fish fingers and nuggets, fried deeply in oil,
With potatoes and peas – turned to mush as they boil,
Served with Camembert (battered) and mountains of chips,
And crisps and roast peanuts and crackers and dips,
And chocolate and chocolate and chocolate and sweets,
And puddings and cream cakes and all sorts of treats,
And packets of soups and tinned this and tinned that,
Well, who the hell cares if I’m going to get fat?
He left me, the weasel, went off with some tart,
So why should I bother with food for my heart?
It’s already broken. I’m not in the mood
To think about healthy, nutrition-packed food!

The message here, Ladies – Have you already guessed?
Do NOT do the shopping when feeling depressed!
It’s bad for the heart and not good for the figure
And worse – ALL your problems will only get BIGGER!

LOSE WEIGHT AT THE SUPERMARKET – PART 1

Because without a single doubt both weight gain and weight loss start at the supermarket. Forget the baby steps. Get your shopping right and you will already be taking a giant leap towards your goal. This cannot be stressed enough. I struggled with my weight for years (still have my moments!!), did the big-weight-loss-company thing, even became a leader for one of them! I started to delve deeper into the whys and wherefores of losing weight so I could pass on something a little more modern and a little less ‘standardised’ to my class members – and only THEN did the lightbulbs start burning! I resigned as leader (the last straw was when the weekly magazine advertised a fried white bread jam sandwich as a suitable snack!!! Yes! Really!), I made some informed changes and I reached the goal weight I’d been chasing for years! Go figure!

Shopping trolley

This is not the place for the science. That’s a whole other blog. I am simply here to help and I think I can make your weight loss journey a little easier if you keep the following tips in mind the next time you’re browsing around the supermarket aisles (Tip 1: Never ‘browse’ in a supermarket).

Warning: If you’re serious about your weight loss you won’t mind me being VERY blunt in places, will you?

Here we go, then:

• If you can afford the charge to have your shopping delivered you will already be avoiding countless supermarket tricks to lure you in and buy lots of food you might ‘think’ you need – but you don’t! Make a list and shop online.

Online shopping on white background concept

• The key to successful shopping is to have meals planned and to WRITE THAT LIST! After that, all you need to do is put blinkers on and STICK TO YOUR LIST! Nothing more, nothing less.

• Never shop when you’re hungry – or when you’re craving ‘treats’ – and try to avoid your main shop when you’re stressed, sad or grumpy. Mood is crucial to shopping success.

• The more fresh food that’s in your trolley the better your shop. If tins and packets outnumber the proteins, fruit and veg, it’s time to reassess your meal plan.

• More vegetables than fruit (with the exception of berries – feel free to indulge). It’s easy to fall into the trap that you can eat loads of fruit because it’s healthy. Yes, it’s healthier than other options, but in terms of weight loss it is still full of sugar. Less processed, perhaps, but sugar is sugar is sugar.

 

Selective focus on the blueberries in small trolley

• Put the blinkers on when you see the 2-for-1 offers and/or BOGOFs. If budget comes before health, we’ve got a problem! Remember that the supermarket offers are not there to help you. Really! They’re not! They’re there to help the supermarket! Do NOT be a victim! There are exceptions (naturally) – but beware. If it’s fresh food and you’re sure you’re going to be able to eat it, fine. If it’s a ‘treat’, do you really want two of them in the house? How is that going to help you? And before you put them in the trolley, do the maths. Calculators at the ready (if your mental maths abilities aren’t up to scratch). You might find that buying two of those products separately actually costs less than the ‘offer’. Sad, but true.

• When you’re moving down the aisles, remember to look up and look down! The products that are easiest to reach are the ones they want you to buy – and are often the least desirable in terms of weight loss. Shop from top and bottom shelves.

Fruits and vegetables at a farmers market

• Avoid branded weight loss products and anything that says FAT FREE. There’s a reason these companies are all still in business!!! This is quite possibly the most significant change you could make to your shopping – and the most beneficial in terms of your weight loss. Branded weight loss products are frequently more expensive than other similar products – and are often loaded with hidden ingredients (‘fat’ is what gives these products flavour and has to be replaced with something to make them palatable). Since these products are lacking in vital ingredients that serve a real purpose in our diets, you will also find you eat more of them because they are not nutritionally balanced and don’t fill you up. Time to challenge the brain-washing and start eating food that hasn’t been tampered with!

• Don’t be fooled by seemingly healthy options like ‘Reduced sugar’ or ‘No added sugar’! Reduced from what? 6 teaspoons instead of 7? Is that what you consider healthier? And pause a moment to think what ‘no added sugar’ really means. Not added to what? The original version of this product? The one that already has 7 teaspoons in? Ah! No need to ‘add’ any, then.

That’s all for today. More tomorrow. In all honesty, I hope you’ve read this and have been able to say ‘I do all that already!’ Perfect. You’ve got this shopping-thing sorted and given yourself the greatest chance of success. Weight loss is not just about following rules. It’s about learning – all the time. If there’s anything here that’s new to you then that’s brilliant news, too. I hope it helps. Look out for Part II. Till then, stay focussed, shop smart and keep questioning!

Royal Parks Half Marathon – 11.10.2015

The loveliest and most enjoyable HM I’ve had the pleasure of running. I mean, really!! If I was to recommend a HM to anyone it would be this one. So THANK YOU to the Royal Parks Foundation for super organisation.

Was I well prepared for it? Erm … nope! Most definitely not. Actually, I think I was the least prepared I’ve ever been for ANY race. My plan, therefore, was not to race. In fact, I was ready to implement a walk/run strategy and figured there’d probably be plenty of walking as I’ve done very little running in the last few months.

The day was already made better by running into Kay and Steve McMenamin at the train station, so LOVELY company all the way. Have to admit that I’d probably still be trying to find my way to the start line!!

Royal Parks HM 2015

Not sure what I expected but I DIDN’T expect such a massive field of runners – c. 15,000? Somehow I thought it’d be smaller but for me this is always good news as it increases my chances of not being last (again). It also meant, however, that the trek from Gun Time to start line was almost 20 minutes and you know what that means for us oldies?? 150m past the start line and I had to join the queue for the loos!!! And yes, there was a QUEUE! I thought that was quite funny – although slightly demotivating so early on in the race to see everyone running past and disappearing into the distance. It did give me a mini goal, though. Once I started running (about 6 minutes later – what do people DO in these toilets???) my aim was to try and catch up with the field again!

Cut a long story short, I settled early into a pace that felt good and just enjoyed everything! The route was simply lovely and after the soul-sapping ugliness of Brighton which sucks the life out of me on a daily basis, it was wonderful to breathe in energy and replenish depleted souls surrounded by old, solid, majestic buildings that ooze history and character. I think I enjoyed the run up towards the Houses of Parliament and up and down the Strand as much as I did the parks and all the arches – St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park … Admiralty Arch, Wellington Arch, past Marble Arch, and with other sites such as the palace, the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. There was always something to look at and it was glorious. Sunday morning and I didn’t have to watch out for blood on the pavement or kick cans out of the way once! Quite a treat!

I had two battles along the way. I won one and lost one. One little voice very frequently whispered ‘What happened to the run/walk strategy? Now’s a good time to walk!’ – to which I consistently answered ‘My lungs are fine, my pace is good, the only thing that’s unpleasant is my legs hurting A LOT but that’s really not a good enough reason to walk, so keep running.’ I was VERY pleased to win that war of whisperings and finished without walking. The other battle was the one with my trainers and that’s the one I lost and the reason my legs hurt so much. I’ve loved running in my Ons and I’ve run up to 10 miles in them but I’d heard rumours that people had had a lot of calf trouble running longer distances in them. This was definitely what happened here. My calves and hams SCREAMED quite early on – they have NEVER been so tight. Not only that, but my feet really hurt towards the end – and my calves were so tight they were causing knee pain and blah blah blah. I definitely lost this battle. The Ons have been relegated to 5k and 10k only.

Those were the personal niggles. Race organisation niggles? Yes, I had one. For crying out loud, people, TOPLESS WATER BOTTLES ARE OF NO USE WHATSOEVER TO RUNNERS!! Jeez, what a waste – and what a nuisance. It was hugely irritating (a) not to be able to take a proper drink at any point because you couldn’t carry the bottles since none of them had tops so you had to take a quick slug and throw them: and (b) what a massive massive waste, seeing 15,000 250-ml water bottles being thrown to the side as runners took a few sips and then abandoned them (again, because the tops were off so they couldn’t be carried)! I just don’t get it! Whose idea was that?

One other niggle: what’s with the closed-off finish line – with no spectators being able to cheer runners across or take photos? It didn’t bother me personally but had I being running my first-ever race or was doing it for an emotional cause, then I think I would have found it hugely disheartening to cross the finish line without my supporters? (just a thought)!

But apart from that … absolutely not a single other complaint. The support was amazing – massive thanks to everyone for lining the route and making LOTS of noise! It was very much a spectator-friendly route, too.

Huge thank you to Kay and Steve for the best race-day company! Xx

Official time: 2:18.30 (including loo stop)

Without loo stop: 2:13 – which I’m perfectly happy with.

Royal Parks HM 2015 after

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).

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?

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

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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