Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year and Bolivia!

Hey I'm back from Bolivia!

So I'll write a couple of "abridged" Bolivia trip reviews and save to post over the weekend....

but in the meantime...


2009 has been a year of change for me personally.... something I predicted a year ago. So I'll make another prediction... 2010 is going to be a FAB year and I'm certain about that on many fronts! :o)

So to you all - I wish you health, wealth, happiness and good fortune! May the sun shine on you and your family, take joy in whatever you do!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A small world...

Greetings from Bolivia!!

Yes got away from the winter nasty grey skies and have headed west to miami, for a brief 6 hours, then south to Bolivia!!

I feel so lucky and privileged to get to experience such things.

I'm just on the start of my two week stay, I left home over 24hours ago and can't yet check in to my room.... But hey with the power of a phone and free wifi here I am... What small techno world we live in!! Although writing this from a phone is .... Errr.... Well... Interesting!!.... So I won't keep it long for fear of rsi in my thumbs!

Am here in La Paz for a few days, meeting up with some friends later today and then we shall plan our excursions!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Letter of the day..... A


Yes today's letter is..... (drum roll)....


Aaah what? I hear... yes the letter A


ICS Alpha.svg Semaphore Alpha.svg ⠁
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

Wiki had quite a bit to say about "A" but I'd rather just leave it at this...

Without "A" our (well those who use the Latin Alphabet) we wouldn't be able to start the journey through our alphabet, fancy starting with B?!

We'd also be a vowel short and some words would look really odd!

We can surprise someone, catch them out and shout "A-ha!"

We can look at a baby and say "Ahhh"

Or scream and say "AAaaaaaahhhh!"

and what would Mwaaaahhh be without the "A"?

A is the Alpha of the Alphabet (well if you're into your Nato phonetics at least)

Tomorrow is a new day, and maybe A nother letter?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Letter of the day... M

Today I'm going for


Or MMmmmmmmmmm if you're eating something tasty.

ICS Mike.svg Semaphore Mike.svg ⠍
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

M is not so interesting as O or N really.... Even Wiki doesn't have much to say about the trusty M. BUT, without it my middle name would be "arie" rather then "Marie" and I do like Marie so I for one am glad of the 'M'

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some Photo's

Yes I know - this is actually my second blog in the same morning!


Anyhow - thought I'd share some swim camp pictures (thanks Jules for uploading!)

First off Jules and Anita swimming (this is the last day of the camp so clearly they look good in the pool - nice body position etc etc.... prior to this camp they both swam like an octopus - only kidding guys ;o)... now they are sleek, water pushing, body gliding swimmers... ahem)
and Anita;

They both usually look whacked after some of the killer sets....

but always managed to put on a brave, smiley face after....
We took ourselves to the pool bar regularly, even allowing out mate "pool buoy" to come along too;
Archie the coach often got us stretching before the pool sessions;
.. and all this swimming led Anita to have quite a problem with water in the ears, (either that or Jules had been talking in her ears for too long and she was doing the whole "la la la la la I can't hear you" thing....)
...and despite Anita and I not sharing the flat with Jules this time - we still managed to sneak our way in for some downtime, Anita even managed to corner the "sofa of snooze" on one occasion, and wasn't wanting to leave for the next swim session;

And of course swim camp wouldn't have been complete without the coach... Swimming along I'd often see Archie telling me to "STOP"

In which case you'd hang on to the side to be given new "guidance"
Or simply you'd be swimming along and get one of the following signs;
Karen saw this and thought... "OK I've got to get that hand in better"

Karen thought... "crap... yes ...I've forgotten about that whole back bit of the stroke"

or occasionally;
Karen thought... "Wholly Molly... I'm doing something right!!"... I didn't see this sign too much!

Letter of the day... N

As I have a few "letters of the week" to catch up on I thought I'd do a few days of letter of the day to play catch-up!!!

So today's letter of the day;


And so thanks to Wiki....

ICS November.svg Semaphore November.svg ⠝
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

"N is the fourteenth letter in the basic modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English (pronounced /ˈɛn/) is spelled en.

N ,represents the dental or alveolar nasal in virtually all languages that use the Latin alphabet. A common digraph with is , which represents a velar nasal in a variety of languages, usually positioned word-finally in English. In languages like Italian and French, represents a palatal nasal (/ɲ/). The Portuguese spelling for this sound is . In English, n is silent when it is preceded by an m, in words like hymn (although it is pronounced in words such as damnation ). N is the second-most commonly used consonant in the English language (after T).

It also represents the element Nitrogen (Atomic number=7)"

N is also another version of nought, none, nada, and actually is just before "O" (see previous post) in the alphabet.

N also stands for "naughty" which my Dad's dog is quite often but not as bad as my cousins dog who eats socks!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Swim Camp quick recap


'K so I've been away for a week to the sun for ouddles of swimming... and I mean A LOT... reckon did just over 14miles... YES 14miles.. now this may not sound much to you pro's out there but for little old me who had done about 14miles from June to Oct (I kid you not) and that is added together.. this was A LOT!

.... lucky then that I'm 5-6kilo's over "race weight" and thus had a good man-made buoyancy aid of my own to help me ;o)

I haven't any pics yet - got a couple on my phone but I'm awaiting a certain Mr Rose to load his photo's up so I can steal them!!

There were 14 of us altogether on the course with one coach. Certainly some people got more attention then others but overall I thought we all got out of it what we could. My front crawl stroke has certainly changed, hopefully for the better... the only "problem" with the new stroke is I'm catching that much water now that I have realised I am completely feeble in the upper body!! Still once stronger with this stroke I should indeed go faster - let's hope so or it would it be a real, ahem, well waste of money!! ...... I'm sure I'm better already but it's going to take some time and practice!

I met tri buddies Julian and Anita once more on the course. The three of us shared a flat in la Santa earlier this year - in fact Jules was in that same flat but with other roomies (the shame of it!)... Anita and I had a 1.5mile walk each day to the complex - which was as good as a wake-me-up as I was going to muster.

Being in an outdoor 50m pool is FAB and something you just wouldn't get over in the UK. Lovely blue skies and nice water. Never too cold and never too warm. Perfect conditions... apart from the gale force winds, which did, if you can believe it, cause a bit of chop on the water but nothing too significant.

One of the good things about doing this sort of things with friends is you quickly identify your fellow classmates... occasionally with no reference to their real name. The class of 2009 thus contained characters such as;

"Hillingdon" - that's what was on his swim hat. Later found out his name was Julian

- "Protugues lady who's not Portuguese" - So named as we orginially thought she was from Portugal but later found out she was actually Persian living in Ireland (no where near Portugal then)

- "French lady who's not French" - I'm not sure why or who thought this lady was French. Maybe because she looked like she could be.....

- Thelma and Louise - who were in fact sisters, Clare and Louise... we just needed something to help remind us on one name.

- Richard the I and Richard the II... yes there were two Richards on the course..... alas who Anita and I thought was Richard the first was in fact Jule's Richard the II..... so more confusion... Anita and I thus renamed Richard the Older and Richard the younger

- The man who wore clothes. Nice guy who we assumed had a problem with sun burn as he had full length skins/ rashy on both legs and body throughout all lessons.

- Billy the stretchy man. So named as he was often used by the coach to demonstrate some stretch or other.

Mikey the float - there was no one actually called Mick or Mickey on the course but we did see a float with this name on so there was someone at the pool at least with that name!

There were others too on the course ...... suffice to say the whole crowd were lovely people. Everyone went there to learn something and get better at swimming. Compared to a tri camp there was a distinctly different atmosphere.... I didn't think people were so competitive with one another, which was refreshing and nice actually.

We ended the week with a course meal on Tuesday night, where I consumed a brandy too much ..... followed by a smaller gathering on final night for pizza and one last (and actually first in my case) ice cream from the pool bar.

An excellent week :o)

Now I've done all that I've got three weeks to consolidate my learning before heading off on a South American adventure for three weeks! WHOOP!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Letter of the week; O


"O is the fifteenth letter of the basic modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English (pronounced /ˈoʊ/) is spelled o; the plural is oes, though this is rare"

ICS Oscar.svg Semaphore Oscar.svg ⠕
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

O can be quite an excitable word with many emotions attached

- Oh.... oh dear! Oh My God... Oh No! Oh la la! Oh Oh ohhhhh!
- Oi!

You can also miss letters before the o and things still make sense... for example I'm going on 'oliday this Thursday (I AM in fact doing this, I'm going to Lanzarote for swim camp... and altogether now ... YEAH!)

Let's not forget it also represents Oxygen (which I will be requiring during swim camp no doubt)

... and also means zero, nothing, nought..... 0

We also use this as a symbol in modern day communications; to smile :0) or sadness )0;

So many uses..... even a pretty little pattern;


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Job Hunting

As you may have gathered I sort of, kinda got made redundant at the end of August. I have to confess it's taken me a while to get used to doing nothing, it amazes me I ever had time to work ;o)

Still.... Having taken a few weeks off on a time out I've started my research for a new role... I would say hunting, but that assumes I know what is perfect for me and that perfect job actually exists in today's market.

I know what I like, what I'm good at, what I'm prepared to do and what not.... I am quite flexible....

I went to the job centre today and found adverts for the following three temporary jobs;


The questions is it an ELF;
or an ELF;
... and no, clearly this not an advert for THE E.L.F as we know there is only one of them... the job description reads thus;

As an ELF your duties will include; - 'Meeting and Greeting' children and their families, and assisting to ensure each child is photographed with Santa {can you imagine}
- Entertaining queues {What?! A long queue, lots of kids, and the elf needs to occupy them?}
- Assisting with the Father Christmas interview {That just sounds wrong - if santa's getting paid he can do the interview himself - bah humbug}
- Working the Till Point {Wait, the kids have to pay.... are you trying to tell me it's not a real Santa and in fact Santa's not real?}
- Refilling Santa sacks! {They have put the exclamation mark on that sentance, not me.. I fear that this may be the most exciting part of the day}
Experience in Customer Service or working with children is preferred, but not essential as full training is given.

... but no toy making in sight - this isn't what I imagined a real ELF's job to be... sigh...

... oh and don't worry as it does state that a criminal records bureau check is done to make sure you're not someone who shouldn't be doing that kinda job!

OK... so what else... of course;


Do you think it means this; having taken a look - that doesn't seem too Christmas like.....

So it must be for a proper supervisor then;
"If you think you have what it takes to run a Christmas Grotto Event we would love to hear from you!"
OK - I'm all ears..... normal ears mind, not elf ears....
"As a Grotto Supervisor (note capitals, must be important role - yes maybe I could rename the position Grotto Director...) you will be responsible for the day to day running of Santa's Grotto {eh oh, what if the Elf's rebel or something?}
Your job will include;
- Dealing with customers {they mean kids right? Oh and upset parents.. humm}
- Managing a team {oh lord they mean them pesky elfs}
- Control all administration {a.k.a the till} and any other duties as required {cha-chink there's the catch all}


Of course there is always;


Clearly in this day of equality there is no mention that the most suitable candidate is a man, of a certain age, preferably with beard and a nice demeanor.... or who can say "Ho! Ho! Ho!" in such a way as to not appear creepy.

"As Father Christmas you will be required to hold short conversations with children visiting the grotto, give them a present and also pose for a photo with each child."

... and here's the killer;

"A Father Christmas costume and full training will be provided"

Wait a minute... full training... to be Santa.... ?! Really?

Sigh.... I haven't put my application in yet for any of the above.

OH and I just realised... It's October still and I just spent a whole blog entry talking about Christmas!! Already! I'm as bad as the supermarket aisles who's shelves are staked with Christmas stuff already!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Letter of the week: R


ICS Romeo.svg Semaphore Romeo.svg ⠗
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

From Wikipedia;
is the eighteenth letter of the modern Latin alphabet. Its name in English (pronounced /ˈɑr/) is spelled ar;[1] its name in Hiberno-English is or /ˈɔr/."

R is for;

R - is a good word of the week this week! I've officially not exercised since Sunday 1700... have decided that is when day 1 of my physio induced rest started.... so that means I can go to club swim night Wednesday, yes?!

On another front - did I mention I cracked on the no-chocolate-October front. Yep, last Thursday I think it was .. I hang my head in shame .....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Snakes and Ladders

OK so last week I moved up to a bit more regular training.

I hit the pool a new record of 4 times in the week! I've never done that, other then when on a tri camp. I didn't do massive sessions (max was 45mins), but I did quality sessions. Even in the week I found my swimming improved quite dramatically - so there is some sense in it when they say the more you swim the better you get ;o)

I managed a couple of outdoors runs - YEAH! Tempo was s-l-o-w, which was not so yeah but then I've not trained properly for weeks! Great to be outside though!

I managed a couple of bike sessions, both turbo - I wimped out from going on the road but did do an hour turbo and my neck seemed fine.....

Here's my summary;

I didn't manage a body balance class (which is a mixture of yoga, pilates and tai chi), which is a bother as I do find those classes great for my core and my flexibility.


Went to the physio this morning (have been going a couple times a week since the accident)... and in summary my upper back has been really stiff and sore feeling the last couple of days and I'm getting a bit of pins and needles down my arms.....

humm - guess what... It looks like I've overdone it and stiffened everything up.....! {Insert here appropriate expletives}

So my physio has done the unthinkable and told me NOT TO EXERCISE for 4 days!!! {Insert more appropriate expletives here} .... He has never done that to me before....

I know this is the right thing to do - swim camp is only a week and a half away and swimming on Saturday was sore breathing to my right (it's the left side of my neck that I hurt).... so all thoughts of going for the tri club run this evening having done a little swim this avo have gone. As has the idea of going for an early morning run tomorrow morning... SIGH.. I'll probably still do club swim, or at least part of it Weds evening - after all that will be 3 days, which is nearly 4 and I'm seeing the physio again on Thurs ;o)

This fitness thing is like a game of snakes and ladders.... just fallen back down a snake, but only for a couple of days!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Running thoughts

I've had a good week :o)

In what only can be described as a surprise move, I've made it to the pool 3 times already! May not be long sessions but read it and weep people.. three swim sessions SO FAR.... and there's a rumour going around the household (between me and the cats) that I may go for another quick 30min dip this evening before indulging in chinese meal followed by stuffing my face with popcorn at the cinema......

But that's not what I wanted to write about....

No, today I managed to run, neck pain free for an hour... WHOOP!

The idea was to have an easy run. I found keeping my HR down around 148 (top of zone 1 line in pic) very difficult. It started out ok but soon crept about 150... I tried slowing down (you can see this in the chart, the pace in blue is going up as I get slower) but still my HR wouldn't go down.

To be fair it felt like an easy run nonetheless and for the most part I was "nose breathing" without a sign off a huff or puff.... so I guess I must have kinda been in the right zone(ish).... Still I completed my hour, expected to have done at least 6 miles but did more like 5.6miles....

Three months ago (when I was halfiron fit as it were), I was doing over 6mph with a HR below 148... I wonder how long it will take me to get back to that.... Hummm... yes maybe a couple of months... YIKES! Pace fades fast!

Whilst I was running I listened to the IMTalk podcast, which I have missed listening to since my ipod broke. I tried it out listenening to it from my Nokia phone with bluetooth enabled handsfree headset! What a wizard bit of kit! It worked so well that even interrupts what you're listening to with in coming calls, and activates the headset/mic.... I think my friend Leanne, who called about mile 4, was somewhat surprised to find that I was out jogging whilst on the call to her. To be honest I probably wouldn't have taken it had I a choice in the matter... No not because I don't like her (!), but because jogging and talking to yourself looks, well, just weird! Still chatted I did, but she said the noise of my footsteps was quite off putting, I think it sounded like the regular pounding of something else???... so she laughed and signed off!!

I finished the run feeling a little light headed. Not sure why. Energy levels were good and my HR wasn't too bad. Perhaps an aftershock from the neck thing, or just a shock thing as it was my longest run since the Bala std distance tri on 13th Sept!!!

Maybe I've miscalculated my HR Zones... I'll take a look at some data from this year and see.... and no I've not done a threshold test in some time (years), that just sounds too painful ;o)

I'm now about 3 hours post run, no aches, no pains, no stiffness, EXCELLENT! I'm a happy camper!

Tomorrow I may go for an hour spin on the bike - outside... GULP..... I didn't realise it but I am, now I think of it, slightly apprehensive about getting on the bike. Clearly I'm not getting on my mountain bike, which remains in shame in the garage. But I shall venture out on the road bike (Biancha mind, not Max), assuming it isn't wet ... as I think that is an unnecessary risk given recent events!!

As Bugs Bunny would say "that's all folks"

Have a great weekend out there :o)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Last week - Summary of getting back to it!

Just a quick one :)

OK so last week was my first 'full' week back since my head dismount off the MTB. Wasn't great but it was a start - and we all must start somewhere.

Swim: Went twice total of 58mins and 1.2miles
Bike: Gym Bike and Spin; approx 69mins and 17.5miles
Run: Cross Trainer and Treadmill (although that was just 5mins!); 39mins and 4.1miles
Other: Body Balance Class - great for flexibilty and core!

3hours 41mins and 7.2 miles.....

This is the volume I was doing just on one day at the weekend at the peak of my training...LOL.... as well I don't have a race soon then ;P

Glad to be back, even if it's only just!

And now I must go swimming - swim camp in two weeks!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Letter of the week; I


I've decided to look into letters.... weekly... so don't worry.

Anyway - today sorry this weeks letter is "I"

It strikes me this can mean a lot on it's own, including being interpreted as the Roman numeral for ONE

So maybe this weeks letter is actually a number?


And here's some other versions of "I" for you - I knew you'd find this amazing too....

ICS India.svg Semaphore India.svg ⠊
Signal flag Flag semaphore Braille

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday thoughts

So it's not been a bad week as weeks go.

Neck recovery is progressing well I'm glad to say. I even made it to a club swim night Weds and logged another 30mins and about 1k of swim, drills etc. Stopped after 30 as I was getting a headache and don't want to discourage myself from swimming more.... I must be getting sensible or something in my old age?! Continuing the sensible theme, I headed to the gym Thursday and rather running (bad for neck), I hit the cross trainer for 35mins... small but significant steps... reckon now I've been sensible this week I may well be up for another try and running this weekend!!!

I'm making plans for next season. Reading Half Marathon entry is in, which is excellent as it'll give me something to aim for over the winter. Then it looks like on to Barcelona half iron which is late May... although the entry isn't in for that yet.

I've pretty much decided NOT to find a replacement marathon to London (given I thankfully did not get a place from the ballot), but I am going to try and find at least one if not two 20milers to do as I think the mental strength I gained from the Marathon this year really helped my perfomance in the 70.3s ..... A marathon is a few miles too far in terms of ability to recover and risk of injury. 20miles, sounds nightmarishly horrid but with less risk associated. That's the theory.

Later in the season I have (somehow) managed to qualify again for the European Standard distance champtionships which will be early July so I'll probably do that (it's in Ireland so will be a great 'crack') and then I may look at doing either Antwerp 70.3 again or stay at Std Distance and do London..... got to decide on that yet.... maybe there's something else which will pop up which will appeal??!

Well that's all, just a shortie as it's late.

Wishing you all a great weekend, for those racing GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More surprising notes;

1. Awoke at 05:45

2. Gym bike by 06:35 (GOSH); 30mins total about 10.5k...... built for 8mins, 15mins at zone 3 HR then lovely little warm down. Neck good, stretching bad.

3. Did I mention it's "no chocolate October"? Well due to arse sag I have banned it from my diet this month... imagine my surprise when I found, having been to the petrol station and supermarket, that my cupboard now contains;
2 * Boost Duo's (ie 4 boost bars in total)
1 * Slab of Cadbury's chocolate
1 * Milk Chocolate Digestives
1 * Pack of mini choc bars

WTF!.... Like ok now they were all "half price" thus a "bargain" (well the boost was more like a bogof)..... and now they are all calling me from the cupboard. The next two weeks will now be a complete test of will power......

4. Surprisingly I got caught speeding the other month and tomorrow is "speed school" well actually I think it's called "speed awareness training", teaching you how not to speed rather then how to speed!!

5. Yes - 3 in 3 that IS surprising....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Surprise Move...

Yes in a surprise move folks not only do I find myself blogging (for the second day in a row), but.... and far more shocking.... I found myself taking a plunge into the pool at 0700 this morning! :o)

I haven't been swimming in a-g-e-s.... between the Antwerp halfiron and Bala standard distance I went swimming a whole TWO times.... so that's two swims plus a race swim since August 3rd.... OH

I can confirm what I suspected yesterday, my arse is indeed sagging below previous "trifit" levels and certainly seemed to be drooping out of my costume more then is necessary - sorry for shattering anyone's allusion and big apologies for those at the pool........... but it is what it is so tough ;o) ......

I wasn't sure how the neck would respond to crawl and actually it wasn't too bad.... Spotting was out of the question so as well I wasn't attempting a lake swim (not that I would now, they're all pretty much close and it was a chilly 7 degrees when I left this morning).

Rather then try and do a swim set I'd have done in April/May time I decided, sensibly to concentrate on some drills.... and only a 30min swim to ensure I keep motivated and not get bored or disheartened from how crap I'd have got!

I started with 4 * 75 warm up... The initial set was a bit "clunky" and my triceps and swim wings have certainly not just thinned out but clearly disappeared..I soon felt the burn of muscles who weren't used to exercise!! LOL...

I moved on to some kick sets; back and on side for 200m in total before moving to another drill set; 2 * 100m (as 25left arm, 25 right arm, 25 catch-up, 25crawl)...... I like this drill set as it gives variety and now I've realised how to do the one arm stuff is good to establish a better form.

Moved on to a rather weedy main set of a simple 200m front crawl which I surprised myself with, took it very easy/steady and managed to finish in 3:50.... so slightly under what I consider "pah" (ie 2mins per 100m).... after that it was a restful warm down for 100m before heading to the hydrotherapy pool for a relaxing dip.

My neck isn't too bad, the sight of injury is about the only thing in spasm now (rather then my whole back, shoulders and neck)... I have physio today so no doubt that will help calm it down a bit!

All for now! Adoius!

Summary: 30mins, 1000m swim

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Return of the sloth

So I have genuinely been away from a computer for over a week so, for once, a real excuse for not blogging ;o)

Physio is carrying on and we're really getting to the crux of the pain, which is a right one in the neck I can tell you ;o)

Regardless of the accident I had already been a little slovenly on the training front, certainly from my race in Bala (13th Sept) I had done one run and that bike ride, clearly I've done nothing since... gulp.. so despite the neck I've been feeling like I really need to get out and do something.... over a month of negligence and let's face it little in the month before Bala (I ddid that event really off the back of the Antwerp half iron at the beginning of August), and I feel my arse is sagging a little lower, my thighs have the feeling of "rub" returning and I do believe a little Muffin top is appearing above my jeans.

As I woke this morning, my belly still a little full from last nights chinese take away, my head a little wolly from a couple of glasses of red I thought... "neck or no neck problem... I'm going for a run"

Expecting it to be uncomfortable I headed out for an "easy" 30mins..... This was likely to be ugly....

Ahem... Off I trotted... Not to be disappointed... Yep within about 300m my legs felt like they were in the last half mile of a half ironman and my lungs were clearly in need of a clear out.

... and I was running down a hill at the time....

I sauntered on, trying to ensure my HR remained at or below 148..... after about 10 my legs felt a bit better, although running in treacle about sums up the feeling.

I carried on around the lake and down a bridle path, turned and headed back. My theory being running on soft ground, even if a little uneven, was better for my whole neck thing. ???.... Hummm.... I approached the end lake end of the bridle path and checked my mileage, clearly I had been running for ages and therefore miles.... oh.... well that wasn't quite true, more like 20mins and 2 miles... but still...I was out there clearly by lungs and body of gloop.

I decided to not worry about my HR as I "charged" back up the hill (ok ok so the hill is more like a large mole hill... cough cough).... got to the top and realised if I were going to do 3 miles I'd need to finish off on the road... BLEAH.... So I headed on to the tarmac for the last half a mile on the road. It wasn't too bad although I was getting some discomfort up the left side of my neck, I think from the pounding tarmac. I struggled around the corner and struggled to keep my HR low enough.... and then I arrived home.

Head and belly a little clearly from the chinese and red wine effect. My lungs and legs wondering wtf had just happened to them... LOL!

Although my "average" HR was at 149 (just one beat over my easy zone), I guess on review I didn't do too good at keeping it at the right point;


I got home, stretched off and placed an ice-pack on my neck and gobbled some ibroprofen. I'm hoping for no reaction, but I do have an appointment at the physio tomorrow anyhow, let's just hope he doesn't tell me off!!!

2.97miles in 29:45 for average of 10:01mins per mile. Next time should feel easier....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Picture this

Just a quick one.

Recovery is going well and having had a second set of xrays on my collar bone no damage there either.... phewy!

Bike just has a rear flat, although I've not given it a thorough going over yet.

Physio starts today - which is as well as, from the shoulders down, my body is yearning to exercise!!!

Here's a little picture of where I was (taken from my Garmin download) when the accident took place. Very lucky to have been right next to the fire track so when the ambulance did get there it was a relatively painless extraction (for those carrying me I mean..LOL)

On the second pic you can see the resevoir (bottom right concrete square) which is where the helicopter landed. The ambulance ride from the accident to the LZ was particularly bumpy and painful from what little I remember. Bizarely I can't remember going from ambulance into the helicopter - very odd as I know I wasn't knocked out but the brain was a bit scrambled.

On the tri front, what with it being the end of the season thoughts are already turning to next season. The "gang", which seems to be growing in size, are talking of Quelle Challenge Barcelona 70.3 which is at the end of May. Will be odd not doing an IronDot event but Quelle Challenge has a great reputation so we'll see. Other plans are for Reading Half Marathon which is March time and then maybe going down to Oly Distance races after Barcelona. All slightly vague at the moment but then it is only September!! LOL!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There by the grace of ....

There by the grace of {insert your personal preference here} go I

I know I owe you some, but before I continue a normal service let me tell you about my Tuesday. My, Tuesday 22 September 2009.

I'll try not to be too indulgent and I'll be as honest and brief as I can. My Tuesday;

I awoke Tuesday morning with the morning light just creeping around the edge of the curtain. I awoke with a feeling of odd contentment, like the world was a peaceful place today. As I lay in bed wondering about this feeling a bird, probably a Great Tit (no smuty comments please), evidently fluttered closer and had a good sing song very close to my window. It was lovely. Very clear, if a little shrill. Yes today the world was wonderful, I felt an immense sense of calm and peace and happiness. I have no idea why I felt this on Tuesday morning. It was like any other day. Except I woke up feeling rested, feeling good, feeling happy to be alive and very much at peace.

Maybe I felt like that because it's been a strange summer of leaving my job and moving on. Maybe it was just the feeling that all was going to be ok. I'm generally a happy person, but I've never had such an overwhelming feeling like that on that morning.


I went for a "happy" morning run. Just a little pre-breakfast jog. That was nice too! Maybe someone had sneaked some drugs in my dinner the night before?!

I had spoken with a friend of mine a couple of days before (who coincidently has lost her job this month) and she mentioned she was going out for a mountain bike ride with some friends today, Tuesday. So I thought, well it's been a while since Rocky and I have been out (like about 18months), and I was thinking of doing an off road Duathlon at the weekend so why not go too.

And so it was. A glorious day, clear autumn equinox blue skies. Five of us head up to Swinley Forest for some fun. It was a great day to ride, great conditions; dry, not too hot, not too cold.

And then "it" happened

A mixture of operator error, tree roots and a drop too far saw me taking off over the handle bars with no control of how or what I was to fall on.

Let's just say I clearly attempted to "header" the world and the world came off best. There was no shifting the why the world spun around the sun, even on the autumn equinox.

As I took off over the handle bars I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. My forehead hit first, then I flipped, then my head hit again and I finally came to a crumpled mess at the foot of the slope. I wasn't knocked out. My first reaction was to shout at the people behind me to not come on (how sensible was that)..... mentally I did a check; feet not broken, legs not broken, hands not broken, arms not broken, nothing is sticking in me, my head hurts, my neck hurts, my neck.... my neck made a big noise when my head crunched the earth. My neck hurts, my head hurts. I'm not going to try and move.

Fortune was on my side on this lovely day. The next rider in our group, a lovely lady called Terri, happens to be a paramedic. How lucky was that. Poor Terri was also the first on scene when I last came off my bike and broke my hand, in fact that's how I met Terri .... So, she took over and sussed me out. There was no point taking any chances so 999 was called.

To cut a long story slightly shorter, I lay there in the woods while Terri supported my neck and the girls and I try to keep our sense of humour up whilst we waited for the ambulance. I dared not think about my situation. I thought once - what if.... and I stopped myself there, best not think about it. The ambulance got sent to the wrong place and took an age (like over an hour) to reach us. They did an assessment and decided to board me up. Bless the girls, the warden and the ambulance crew, they had to carry my lardy arse out of the bike run I was on and back up to the fire track to the ambulance. They then decided that it wasn't worth the risk of the bumps of the forest and road getting me to hospital and called in the air ambulance.

I laid in the ambulance for a while having a nice bit of oxygen. My head hurt, my neck hurt and then he stuck the cannula in my arm.... now doing that really hurt too, but I think it was clever distraction technique by the paramedic.

We slowly drove off to the landing zone of the helicopter, which also took a while to find us. I tried to be happy and have a joke with the paramedic, I was not thinking "what if"... I got offered drugs but didn't want any.... I would rather know what was going on then not. I kept wiggling my toes and my arms. All of which were feeling odd, but I was convinced this was because I'd be on the ground so long and been at an angle. I could feel everything. I kept wiggling.

The helicopter came in and they loaded me in. Now the last time I had been in a 'copter it was in a war zone - so this was a different experience, and it was much smaller. I was told if I felt like I was about to be sick (which had been close a few times) to wave my hand - I joked it would be a shame for me to die in the helicopter having choked on my own vomit!!

Here's a picture of the chopper taking off.....

And here's a picture of the girls taking a picture of the helicopter! Elaine is taking the picture of them so out of shot and Terri is the far girl in blue. The warden doesn't seem to happy but he was a star too as he gave the girls and all the bikes a lift back to Elaine's house!

The trip was thankfully a short one to my local hospital.

When I got in, they got a crew of staff together so get me off the back board. They did an assessment and although took the board off kept my head and neck in a neck brace and between head blocks. An xray would show if there was a problem. At this point I asked the time and was surprised to find it was 1645, I looked at the nurse and said "I need to call my Mum, I'm due there at 4.30 I just need to tell them I'll be late".... she said "maybe we'll get the xray done first then worry about that"..... "oh, good point" I said.

It was only in the xray room as I lay there under the light did I finally think "what if I've broken my neck"... "what if",.... I thought back to the start of my day. About the bird that had sung so clearly. I thought, strangely enough of Christopher Reed and how long he lived with his injuries and in many ways how awful that must have been (I know he chose that and did a lot for charity in the time but still). I thought of my friend Carol who had a bike accident a month ago who had a head injury and a broken neck and who was being discharged from hospital that day (having had an operation on the neck and who is wearing a body brace but who is walking and talking all ok). I thought I can move everything, if it is broken they'll fix it, like they fixed Carol's. If I was going to die I'd have died already.

These things are not normal things to think. But then this was no ordinary Tuesday.

I had the xray. I was wheeled back to the cubicle. The doctor came over me and held my hand and said they were ok...... my xrays were fine.... and there by the grace of God go I.

If I had not been wearing my helmet I'm convinced I would not be here now. My helmet saved my head. Had I not been as fit and strong in the neck and shoulders from my sport I'm also convinced by injuries would have been much more severe.

As it goes I have a sore head, a sore neck. A spot of whiplash. Some purple patchs. Golly, I'm in once piece. I had brief moments in Iraq when I had a momentary thought "today I could die".... Tuesday evening I had a thought "today I could have died".....

My mum reckons I was a cat in a previous life and didn't use up my nine lives so am getting them in this life!!

If there is one thing I have always been passionate about when biking is wearing a helmet. It does infuriate me when I see people without one on. It really really winds me up when I see someone on a bike carrying their helmet - what IS the point of that. But that is their choice. I choose more wisely.

..... and in case you are wondering.... I have no intentions of ever EVER going on small mountain bike tracks ever again. They are fun. They are simply not for me. Rocky will be converted to more of a road mountain bike. A bike to be used, a bike to be ridden only on big paths, possibly all tarmac'd... that is assuming Rocky is in one piece. Currently being looked after in my friend Elaine's garage. I think my head saved the bike from greater damage!

That's all for now. I guess I still owe those race reports!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ssshhhh - the first rumblings of activity?

It's been a while

- Antwerp race report (which will now, thankfully for the reader, be brief(er the usual), as it's been a while)
- Bala Std Distance Race report (may be longer as it was only a week ago)
- Random thoughts and thinking

I may be back.... at least I think I might be ;o)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Yes people - read it and weep!!

An accurate and flat course saw me sweep away all "dream" times for each discipline (bar transition) and PB by some 21+ MINUTES!

I'm still in shock.

Sub 35min swim
Sub 3hr bike
Sub 2hr run

I never thought I'd be doing that I can tell you.

Race report to follow but now I'm packing for Prague and the ETU Long Course Champs, alas (well thankfully having raced on Sunday) I'm not racing - my turn to be tri-sherpa!!

See you on the other side :o)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Better get a post in...

As I've only made one post during July thought I'd better get another in quick!

The month started off with a bout of flu-like symptoms... ahem... was that swine flu? I doubt it.. was rough for a few days but no temperature so that was lucky... no pigs trotters for me!!

Recovered well enough to get back to training... Antwerp 70.3 is this weekend after all..

However - stand by your bedsides... I seem to be suffering from asthma, something I've not had badly since I was a kid. Thought I may have a chest infection so went to the quacks today and as a result I'm spraying stuff into my lungs at an alarming rate (per instructions).... good news is it actually seems to be working. Whether it does enough to see me start on Sunday remains to be seen! Travel out on Friday, with a reunion of room 349a (La Santa tri camp from earlier in the year) on the train. Unusually for any triathlon I've raced the start is not until lunch time - a real boon!!

Expect my next blog to either be a race report or a brief report of depression as I DNF or even worse... DNS!!

Keep yourself safe out there!!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Reason for the silence

Hey folks!

So I've been away from blogland for a while.... no massive reason why .... just some moments of change going on.

Things on the work front have been bubbling for a while now... we have finally FINALLY after 7 plus long months of waiting started the "consultation" period for the restructuring. This period has been one of the most frustrating, uncertain and ridiculous (in many ways) period of my working life. I've been with my company for 12 years which is like just under a third of my life and certainly the majority of my adult/ working life. During this time I have had many different jobs with them, many of which I've enjoyed and learnt plenty. During this time I have been married, divorced, a witness to births and deaths, I've even been to "war" (Basra 2005/6).

But no longer. Having had plenty of time to think about things, and given the uncertainty that will no doubt surround the company over the coming months as they are acquired, and with the redundancy package being offered today, (which is likely to be chopped in half if not further on acquisition).... well I've decided to cash in my chips as it were and I put my hand up for Voluntary Redundancy which has been accepted (with "regret" so they say ..LOL!)

Some would question this decision in the current "climate", but for me it feels like the right one. I have some money to tide me over with the package being offered and I can take this opportunity to have a think. I'll probably stay right smack in the rat race, but whilst I work the next month before going on "garden leave" in August I will have some time to think of other options to.

This is going to be a period of change, development, exploration, excitement, challenge and so much more I'm sure.

In the meantime I've much to post about so here I am back again, at least for a while!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Austria 70.3 Race Report

Sorry for the delay folks... I know you've all been waiting for this epic. Lots going on which I shall enlighten you with in a later blog (although promise this will come sooner then this took to produce!!)

AUSTRIA 70.3 Race Report

{NOTE: I take no responsibility for bad grammar or spelling in the following epic write up}

The Preamble;
With 8 associated people all booked in to the same accomodation it was a logistical challenge arranging how many cars, coming from what flights to get to where... but still we ended up with Jules "The Pirate" and Carole "The Meddler" flying down from Scotland to rv with Leanne "The Driver" and Karen "Doris" at London Heathrow. Anita "The accidental hero" was flying out from London Gatwick and would already be there. Dan "The husband and who looks like that guy from Band of Brothers" flying in Sat morning... and two more people, let's just call them Iain and Kirsty who were driving in a campavan from Holland! The scene is set... So Jules and Carole flew via LHR so we (Leanne and I) met up in the departure lounge. Despite Leanne leaving a bag by check in and us nearly being involved in a security scare we made it to the plane. As we were on the plane I noted that a bike box hadn't been loaded - my friend Leanne and I were pleased to note it was black box and not the colour blue of our boxes.... .thank fully it wasn't either Jules' or Carols either;... but there was one poor bloke whose bike box it was, he was a bit miffed at Vienna, lucky though there was a later flight which they carried it over on!!!.. Got to Vienna and boyo was it warm!... Boxes and bags loaded into two cars we drove the hour and half, past St Poulten and on to the hotel where we RV'd with Anita, and the guy called Iain and his other half Kirsty (these are the two had driven in a campavan from Holland)... the only one left to arrive to the party was Leanne's husband Dan who was flying in Sat morning from Oslo!! Had scoff and put the bikes together and agreed we'd go for a test ride Saturday morning, for some dumb reason the allotted meet for the ride time was 0645... Anita's fault entirely!!

Saturday came, the village bells rang and off we set on the wrong side of the road (well the right side for there) for a spin out... I had a mechanical within about 50m as I realised I hadn't tightened up my handle bars... DOH! Still we had a glorious ride down the Danube which sorted things out. Quick 10min brick after then breakfast then a bit of a kit check, Leanne arrived back (having done a return trip to the airport) with Dan and so we all loaded up the cars and headed down for registration, racking etc etc... by the way, temps at 0700 on the bike were high enough to get a sweat on despite only wearing tri kit and cycling easy (by now I was praying for some kind of miracle to take the heat away!!)

Drove to St Poulten taking in the "climb" on the bike course. Nothing as bad as parts of Wimbleball (UK 70.3) BUT it was an 8k climb and it went on.... average gradient 1:20 but there was about 2-3k of something more like 1:12, it was quite a grinder!... and the joy of it was that you hit the hill at about 60k!! Yikes.

Spent Saturday afternoon down at the race venue, pretty well organised I must say. Split transition areas were a bit of a pain but necessary. In order to rack your bike you had security chips put on your bike, this was swiped along with your wrist band and then your photo was taken - so pretty secure which was reassuring. Despite my new Carbon stead (aka "Max") I still think my bike was one of the "cheaper" on view... BLIMEY there was a lot of Carbon on show and some serious wheel sets, bike bling for all to see! Finally finished up having had the race briefing (which I thought was a bit random compared to how precise they were at Wimbleball) and made it back to the hotel... most of us felt like we had already raced having spent the day pfaffing in the sunshine!

Race Day;
There were quite a lot of racers staying at the hotel - including the owner - so they laid breakfast on from 0430! FAB! Jules came with the obligatory loaf of white bread and jam mind.. I think he managed 8 slices which I didn't think was a bad effort! We left about 0510 and I was very pleased to see overcast skies and even a spot of rain (thank the tri lords - at least the day started cooler!)... We got to the race venue which was a hive of activity and a fairly big queue of cars.... slight panic set in as we were still queuing at 0610 and we had to be out of bike transition allegedly by 0630!! Finally parked up we bomb burst out and headed to T1 to sort bikes etc It was a bit rushed to say the least and we all kinda separated either whilst in transition or from the way to the swim start ( a good 800m or so hike)... .

All the girls were off in the same wave (there were 7 waves in total with about 2000 competitiors!).... Jules, I think pulling up the rear of our team in Wave 7, the girls were off in Wave 4... literally got in my wetsuit, handed my "streetwear" bag to be put in a truck and I was in the pen about to be taken into the water! Timing is everything! .... The swim is a strange one - one lake of 900m, out over a bridge and down into another lake for 1000m... We weren't sure if the actual swim distance was 1700m + 200m running or 1900m + 200m running... all the times though suggested a full swim distance so still couldn't work it out... may be they had a timing mat out and in the lakes so the run part was void... no idea... The swim itself, esp in lake 1 was pretty rough, I even got chinned (nice)... Anita who did the race last year said it was certainly rougher then the year before. Needless to say between lake 1 and 2 I took my goggles up so I could see then had a really crap seal for the second swim.... very bizarre swimming along with water in your eyes, sound of a helicopter when I breathed to the left (low flying taking footage) and speaker system when I breathed to my right.. very odd!

Exited the swim feeling like it had gone ok (didn't know my time at the time but is was something like 36mins+ and top third age group)... Picked up my bag from the rack, all I had to do was strip off my suit and throw on my helmet and socks as shoes were already on the bike ready for a flying start... Despite this I had a slowish transition mainly because I was applying copious amounts of suncream I think!!! Still out of the tent I screamed it through transition (most people were wearing their bike shoes and clip-clopping through). I picked up bikey (which had a fair few bikes around, in fact I think I was first out of my rack of 10) for a flying start and off I went and to wait for everyone else to zoom by!

The start of the bike course is excellent as you go pretty much straight out on to a motorway (they do shut it!) ... it's amazing, can't imagine a motorway being shut in the UK for a race!! Needless to say lots of people overtook me... Anita caught me about mile 6, Carol at mile 9... despite the headwind this was a fast section of the course (although not too pretty!).... My idea was to manage by HR not pace... I wanted to keep HR in easy zone 1 for the first 20k or so. Coming off the motorway start going through some lovely scenery and then a small but nasty hill climb up to the first aid station. I re-caught Carol on the hill which gave her a bit of a fright (she then took off never to be seen again), and I thought I'd stop at the porta-loo for a quick one at the aid station... except there was no porta-loo to be seen.. Nightmare! By now the sun was out and we were traveling through vineyards, really stunning, some fabulously scary descents (although not like that one at wimbleball!)... and we finally dropped back down to the Danube and spent I reckon a good 20k alongside - really nice! Eventually, despite trying to wee whilst riding I had to bail and take a break behind a bush (that's what cost me my sub 6 I'm sure)..... but I figured I needed an empty bladder for the 8k climb which was waiting!!.... Somepoint during the Danube section I really thought my legs were toast (despite pretty good pacing), mainly because I felt the London Marathon still in my legs (Phil at La Santa did indicate a 70.3 4 weeks after a marathon may be a challange!)...still... The hill approached and I spent some time thinking it was going to whip my arse... it's a bit of a long grinder - nothing as steep as wimbleball but it goes on (and on and on and on)... about half way up Dan caught me (his heat started after ours) and actually we spent the second half of the climb having a nice chinwag (in between puffs), we went past ALOT of people, evidently the continentals don't train on hills! To the top I stuffed my face with half a banana from the aid station replened my water bottles and headed down the hills (and up one minor beast) to transition... again the scenery was stunning and the downhill quite epic!!

Heading into T2 I did the decent thing and slipped my feet out of my shoes for a flying dismount! Made it - phew! They don't take your bike off you in Austria but yell and point at where you can rack you bike!

Having been yelled at in German I figured where I needed to throw my bike. I ran over to the bag pick up point grabbed it and headed to the change tent. Socks off, copious amounts of vaseline on (to my toes I may add - in a bad way from London), new socks on (the long compression variety, look stooopid but have had calf strain/ niggle for weeks now and would rather look silly then risk a tear), lashings of sun cream... FINALLY exited T2 in just over 4mins - pathetic and must do better!

OH MY it was heating up now well and truly! A lap around the 400m track, in and out of the finish horseshoe and out on to the course proper... up one side of a SMALL river (not to be confused with the Danube Jules!!). I had a small "incident" at about mile 2... to cut a long story short I had had a "salt stix" electrolyte tablet on the bike at about the 3hr bike mark and it had got stuck on the way down... at about mile 2 it had opened up and unstuck itself - I had a moment of panic when I thought I must be having a heartattack, but figured I'd run through it.... ummm... so just over 2 miles I was feeling rather crap and wondering where my running legs were. Up over a foot bridge and into an office type area where there was feed station 3 and the 5k mark just beyond. It was at this point that I realised my pace was actually ok. Through the office area and back down to the river, aid stations 4 and 5 and then a longish stretch back towards another bridge, through the athletes village and towards T2... it was on the back stretch of the river that I had a moment when I thought I may indeed crap myself, quite literaly (sorry gross I know.... which is when I also decided one gel on the run would have to do - wasn't going to risk a tummy moment with another sugary sweet laxative!)... so I headed back to T2 and although I hadn't crapped myself seeing a port-a-loo as I ran back through transition I thought I'd stop just to ahem.. make sure... frustratingly enough this resulted in nothing more then a pause as I needed to pass no bodily function (other then wind!)... LOL... round the 400m track, through the finish horse shoe and back out on lap 2. During lap two I decided (wisely) to walk through the aid stations, format being; change shoulder sponges for fresh, throw cup of water over hat/ head... two mouthfuls of electrolyte drink (risky given tummy!), eat a morsel of banana or orange, throw another cup of water on hear.. and trundle off. Needless to say this slowed my second lap a little but meant I survived the run!! After the last aid station on the main part of the course I had planned on taking a walk break across the bridge (it's about 2miles from the last aid station to the end), but when I got to the bridge I actually thought "fawk that just RUN DORIS RUN"... so I trundled on, one final time around the 400m track and this time heading into the finishers shoot... WHOOOP!

I was completely made up to have finished that one - in the heat and in one piece! I think the salt stix certainly helped and think I got my nutrition pretty much spot on! RELIEF ALL AROUND. At this point I still had no idea about my times or splits or anything.

Missed all the rest of the gang who were waiting in the finish area (no idea how I missed peeps), grabbed a bottle of water and headed off to the lengthy queues for post race and T1 bags... Having queued for an age I ended up having to have a little rest (because I felt like I was going to barf) in the hall before I ventured back out to try and find the others. Whilst resting (and consuming a rego) I decided to get my medal (which by the way is fabulous, the best yet) engraved... That's when I saw my time... 6:00:36... DAMN those 36s but seriously, took me about 4 hours to be, but I was well chuffed with the time!!

Finally bumped into the rest of the gang - all of us hot, probably slightly heat exhausted, getting sun burnt but generally all completely happy with our day of adventure.

As a result of the day and having gone so close to the 6hr mark I've decided to ditch the ETU long course champs in Prague in August in favour of Antwerp 70.3 the weekend before. I'm still going to visit Prague but as tri-sherpa for Jules, which I think sounds like much more fun!!!

Here's my splits, position overall (from 1932 starters) and in age group (from 48 starters);
SWIM 0:36:46 863/13 (.. and swim split winner in our little gang of 8!)
T1: 0:04:37 ???/20
BIKE: 3:11:42 1634/32 (.. boy those AG woman are FAST! fastest bike split in AG 2:40:01!)
T2: 0:04:03 ???/37
RUN: 2:03:26 1556/34
OVERALL: 6:00:36 1549/32

Very happy with my days work!!

Next Antwerp 70.3 and an opportunity for more bling!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Read it and weep...

If only I had managed to pee on the bike (rather then having to get off and find shelter behind a bush).... or if only I had been faster in transition (like and run the risk of sun burn by not applying the sun cream)... or if only I hadn't taken the porta-loo break on the run when I didn't actually need to go.... if only I had known how close I was...


I didn't go sub 6 but I did go '6'.. and there's me thinking I was more likely to be on for 6hours 30min

Needless to say I'm thrilled and completely shattered. Only just home after a long day of travel but at least my bike made it back in one piece and my kit is nearly all washed.

Race report to follow, but for now this tired triathlete needs her bed


PS... singing... "I got a medal! I got a medal"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here we go again

I'm barely (OK read NOT ) recovered from London.... but still... got me a half ironman in Austria to kick arse at the weekend.


Bike is in pieces in its box - I just hope I can get it back together again at the other end.

Have remembered tri shorts and top, trainers and bikes shoes and helmet - what else could a girl need.....

Tally ho!

Hope you're all doing well out there - will be back blogging before you know it! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Post Marathon recovery

So what to do after a marathon but try and get ready for a half ironman 4 weeks later..... maybe that wasn't such a good plan!!

The first couple of days after London I felt pretty much "punch-drunk" I think this is normal and I read recently that brain function is impacted my glycogen depletion - doesn't take much to affect my brain so reckon that was the reason why!... Also explains why I thought it was a good idea to (a) enter the ballot for next years race and (b) enter another marathon, The Lochness Marathon, in October!

I felt tired and drained until Friday... I however did manage some recovery sessions; a 20min swim on tuesday (with a pull buoy!) and sports massage, 1.5mile walk Wednesday morning and then a 30min gentle spin on the bike Thursday. All seemed to work well.

Friday came and decided an aqua jogging session would be good for me - boy that is a hard workout! Still managed 20mins of "running" in water and I think that helped my legs. Followed that with 15mins swim (not much but that was enough).... all of that set me up nicely to be able to jump around at a P!NK concert on the Friday night! That was an EXCELLENT night out - she is a Diva!

Came to Saturday and thought I'd be ok for a ride..... ummmm... 40mins out and decided that I wouldn't follow Dan and Leanne for the rest of the way but sensibly turned back. I was just tired and there was not a great deal in my legs!

Got up Sunday had breakfast and felt awful, sick, dizzy and YUK! Thought maybe I had overcooked it a bit on the ride. Still we had a family golf day (annual event) and I was caddying for my Dad... well I did my best, was not really with it then had to call it a day at the half way house... to cut a longer story short I had actually gone down with a stomach virus doing the rounds at the mo.... they do say your immune system is low after the marathon thing!... So flaked out for a few days with that! Which in some ways is as well as my body needed more of a rest then I had given it I think!

Got to last Thursday (week and half after the marathon) and felt a bit spritely so tentatively went back to "training". Managed a lovely 57mile ride on Saturday, over in Oxfordshire as normal for the time of year (rapeseed fields and bluebell woods a plenty - delicious scenary!). I think Leanne bonked before me but I wasn't far behind! We sacked the last hill rep and let Dan take the lead and speed us homeward bound as we tucked into the slip stream... It was a great but tiring ride - important for all of us though to get the distance in before the HIM!!

Sunday was another glorious day and I ventured out for a long run. Somewhat surprised myself by throwing in 8miles at relatively good pace (9'30 per mile), it was hot but I was ok, even managed the beast of a hill at mile 5 to 6! Needless to say I was completely knackered after but glad to have thrown in a good training weekend before I start to taper again!! LOL! I'm really not sure what is going to happen at the HIM, I'm still very fatigued from the marathon but I'm sure I'll cope ok as long as I pace myself and get the nutrition right! Only 10 days to go so no big rides planned, may go for another 8miler this weekend but that will be about it.

We all fly out a week on Friday - I can't wait. There's quite a crowd of us staying in the guest house so it's going to be a hoot!!

I'm making plans for the rest of the season - have to make some big decisions about some races!

Oh and did I mention I was on TV during the marathon.... ;o)

Friday, May 08, 2009

London Marathon - Race Report

Hey Folks - it's been a while!

I think I'm about recovered so it must be time to write the long overdue race report.... I'll try and keep it brief ;o)

During the week before there were a couple of tasks to do; figure out travel plans to the start, figure where I was going to see supporters, where and how I was going to meet the parents after, go to the expo and pick up stuff (race number, timing chip and the letters to iron onto my NSPCC running vest). Most important though was to keep an eye on the weather.... we went from predictions of torrential rain, thunderstorms and sunny spells to a final "forecast" of about 11-14 degrees (centigrade) and light showers. That sounded perfect! Final run happened on Thursday morning - and it felt like my worst run in ages, slow, sluggage and nasty - just to help the pollen count had gone through the roof!

Having realised (a bit late in the day) that despite only living 35mile from London there were no trains that would guarantee arrival in time to be "early" for the start. I had a conflab with a work colleague (who had also made this realisation somewhat late in the day), we decided to get a taxi up to Greenwich. It cost £80 but between the two of us that didn't seem too bad. So, having had not a bad nights sleep I got up about 0530 in order to get some bread and jam and a cup of tea in me before the taxi arrived at 0615. I'd packed afters stuff or laid out all my kit the night before, keeping the precious timing chip and number uba safe! Taxi arrived early which was great as this led to less stress and before I knew it I was packing myself and bag into the car to go and pick up Dom. The sky at this point looked worryingly bright, blue and clear... where were the rain clouds?

The journey up went well, very little traffic as you'd expect at that time in the morning! I was given the pleasure of a full frontal from Dom as he taped his nipples up on the way, just wish he'd given me a little notice he was going to get his belly out ;o) luckily the taxi had darkened windows or I'm sure we would have had a few quizzical looks!

We couldn't get quite to the start area so got the taxi to drop us off at a road closure, rather then bothering with driving around and no doubt queuing at the proper vehicle drop off point. Dressed in an old pair of tracksuit bottoms and top, which were throw-away-able, we headed with bags on our back to the "red" start area (there are three start zones, elites, fast and masses - red is for the masses, including the chickens!). Cool breeze but still lovely sky.. humm.

We made it up and I started to get a real buzz from the atmosphere! Had several NSPCC team pictures taken, not that I have them! ... and I did TRY the p-mate thing... WHAT A HOOT! I could write an entire blog about what conversations woman have at P-mate woman urinals, in fact I may do a blog entry for that by itself. Anyhow, needless to say I was one of the few who just couldn't get to pee standing up so ended up having a last minute (literally) porta-loo stop, which was as well as it turned out it wasn't a "nervous" pee... LOL! By the time we were being carrolled into out starting pens bags had been put on lorries (the logistics of this event are amazing), vaseline had been applied, we were all looking to the skies... bright blue not a cloud in sight... how wrong could they have gotten that forecast... VERY WRONG that's what!

The Flora London Marathon

WOW! Due to the last minute porta-loo stop I was late getting to my pen, and stewards tried to get me to just go to the back.... humm... didn't fancy that and someone had already broken in through the railings near where I should have got in... so I did the same and walked up just ahead of the man with the 10min miler sign. I was going to see how I felt when I started, figuring if I felt good I'd head for 9.30 miles, and if sluggish then 10min miles. Before we knew it the race had started and we started to shuffle up through the park. I had expected it to take 15 to 20mins to get to the start line... and as we shuffled the anticipation grew. Having passed through the park gate and turned right I saw the start line - quite an innocuous affair, not sure what I expected! Before I knew it I was off.... people lining the sides of the road, not just for the start but actually the entire 26.x miles! WOW! I was being a part of that massive event I'd seen on TV three years ago when I thought I'd never be able to run a marathon. Suddenly I was doing it.. SH*TE! ;o)

This is definately a story of the first half, the next quarter and the final quarter so here goes;

Miles 1-13
I grinned like a cheshire cat throughout the first half. I went past several fancy-dress runners, it was at about mile two I thought "at least I've passed the rhino", only to see another two later on. At mile three the red start merges with the blue and green start which was a great moment.... I heard a commentator saying "I see a tree", well I had seen a few but then I realised he was talking about a running tree! A great outfit I have to say. In the first few miles I also saw several guys running for Help for Heroes who were evidently heroes themselves having had arm or leg (or both) amputations. There were people on the course who were amazing and inspirational believe me.

Running through Greenwich was great, the crowds were out in force (probably in part due to the NICE weather). I was happily listenting to a pod cast for the first hour or so before my music kicked in.... I think the first song was "Smile like you mean it", well that's the lyrics anyhow, by the Killers. Made me smile even more! I think my cheek muscles were aching as much as my legs...LOL... I remember running around the Cutty Sark (old big ship), although bizarrely don't remember actually seeing it, just remember the little diversion. How weird. Without a doubt the moment I was really looking forward to was passing over Tower Bridge just before the half way point. THIS WAS A COMPLETELY AMAZING MOMENT! I had Take That and "Greatest Day" blasting in my ears and still smiling from ear to ear.

Just on the far side of the bridge as we get towards "the city" I thought I heard a shrill voice yell "DORIS" (which was the name on my t-shirt, it's my hockey nickname and I thought it would make me chuckle hearing people shout me on with that!)... anyhow despite the noise of the crowd and the music in my ears, and being on the far side of the road to me, I had indeed heard Kirsty "the reemanator", a mate from hockey! I managed to just about see her and raised my hand to acknowledge the shout out... she must have the vocal strength of a company sergeant major for me to have heard her over all that noise!

Although by now I certainly wasn't feeling comfortable and in fact I was feeling generally a lot worse then I had on my training runs. Yet my pace was fine - thought I must be just having an off day - I had paced the first half with an average of 9min 52 sec miles.... and then.....

Miles 13 to Mile 20
Turning right after Tower Bridge we passed into the shade of the tall city buildings. OH UH! I remember feeling a distinctly different temperature, like several degrees different. We had been running the first 13 in full sunshine and it was now that I realised how hot it had already been... I think I thought, "well that explains a bit... but still.. .only 13miles to go now!".. humm... I had some salt tablets with me but they had disintegrated a bit in my hip bag. I was expecting to see my parents at the NSPCC supporters point around mile 14 so was getting myself ready for that boost. I wasn't disappointed! Saw my Mum who managed to scrum herself to the front when she say me coming so I reached over the barrier and gave her a quick hug, then paniced slightly as I couldn't see my Dad but never fear he was about 10m further down the road. It was GREAT seeing my parents! Things were beginning to feel uncomfortable... I took a look over to the far side of the road - through mile 14 you see people coming the other way who are on mile 22! The winners and elites were long gone, but these people were still really (REALLY) speedy - and by and large they looked awful (in the amount of exertion rather then just ugly! LOL!). Still only 8 miles to go to get to that point... WTF! ;o)

Running around the Isle of Dogs has to be the worst point. First off the road narrows considerably in places which creates bottle necks which were very annoying and really put you off your stride. That was frustrating I can tell you, I shouldn't have let it get to me but for some reason I really did... People were walking from this point - sometimes three abreast which left little space for runners, the crowd also didn't have barriers (well they can't put them on the entire course) and sometimes there was just no room to manoever. I did get some support around here though... My MTB buddy Elaine had got on her roadie for the day and headed to town to support! She barely caught me as a whizzed past ;o) ! Actually I didn't hear her shout - she's obviously has not got as big a gob as Kirsty or I was lost in my own little world!

The next nasty point about the dogs is the amount of winding around you do in the roads (see map below, click on to see mile markers)

Everytime I thought I may be heading out you seem to double back... I remember seeing the O2 Arena (that white blob on the right) and thinking "WHA?! I thought I'd be past that ages ago"... yes more frustration... you also come very close to the run route you've already been on several times... which is weird. It was like some form of nightmare!

It was in the dogs that I made two mistakes;
1. I gave away a gel! WHAT! I know, just don't! The girl who asked for it not only looked fresher then I felt but she also ran off ahead! LOL! She did apologise for asking and I did have three on me at the time. But one of those was a caffeine gel which I ended up deciding I shouldn't take. I should have given her the caffeine one. Still.

2. I completely and by mistake, threw in a couple of fast miles. TALK ABOUT WHOOPS! My splits for this sections were;
Miles 14 to 18 were averaging 10:15min miles... not bad... oh then came mile 18 to 19 at 8:45 (YIKES!) and mile 19-20 at 9:36 (DOH!).. .Yes I did have my Garmin on but I think I had a case of operator error (ie I had changed screens) or I've since been told that Garmin doesn't work too well in the Dogs (because of the tall buildings)... I remember having a feeling of euphoria somewhere between miles 18 to 20 and then I felt, well simply... awful! I was getting hot, darn hot, too flippin hot! My concentration was obviously not great - lesson learned!

Mile 20 to The End
So it gets a little fuzzy from here on in. I really didn't want to stop and walk. I really didn't. I'm not sure what got to me that made me end up walking. I remember going past an aid point and three seperate first aiders telling me about cooling showers coming up, so figured as three had told me, the last of which was quite insistent, that I'd better go and get under one. Again it was here that I realised how hot it was. I'm not sure exactly when or where it was that I did my first walk. It started with just five paces before I started again not wanting to give in. I managed to "jog" for a bit and I think I carried on for a fair amount. Then I walked again and the second time I just cried! Honestly I did. Not a lot (there were far too many people watching!!) but still I really had wanted to run it all and suddenly there I was walking. It wasn't like it was my legs were the problem. Mental toughness probably comes into it but I was dizzy and feeling sick. I did at some point make a consious decision about the walking - I'm not sure when or where - but I have a little half Ironman at the end of May and really wanted to get to the start line... I decided to getting to the start line was more important then finishing sub 4:30 and killing myself in the process. Still, I gave myself a talking to and ran some more. Around mile 24 was when I really felt awful and was probably my slowest and lowest mile. I had my phone so I rang my parents to tell them I'd be late for our meet (I didn't want them to worry), luckily I didn't either see them or actually speak to them as I'd have probably bawled my eyes out...LOL! My slowest time was certainly down past London Bridge and along embankment. But hey it was a lovely SUNNY day and the crowds were fabulous! If I had one shout out for DORIS I had a thousand! Each and everyone of them made me smile from ear to ear all over again. There were banks and banks of them - I kid you not when I say there were tiers of seating put up and where there wasn't it was 4 deep either side of the road. Just amazing.

Turning right from Embankment takes you past Westminster. This was the last mile - and despite my earlier decision I was determined to run it even if it did kill me! Just as I turned the corner I saw an NSPCC supporters sign and then heard a big "HI YAHH!" yes there's only one person with a gob like that! Kirsty and Karen had repositioned themselves and had front row seats! FAB.. So I stumbled over to a cheer from them of "Run Doris! Run!" I got to them returned the "Hi Yahhhhhh" and said "Doris not running no more!" and off I staggered! 800meters to go sign coming up and my Garmin already ticked over the 26mile mark - this marathon thing is a long distance! I shuffled down Bird Cage Walk and towards Buckingham Palace (my London pad... NOT!).... the metres were being counted down every 200m, they seemed to be taking longer and longer to reach! FINALLY, finally, I turned my back to the Palace (sorry Queeny) and into The Mall and the finish line in sight. By now I was dizzy, feeling like I was about to chuck any minute, had the biggest stitch and generally felt awful.... BUT the end was there and there was no way that I was going to walk any of this part - especially in the knowledge that the TV camara's were still rollling... LOL!.. how vain! I ran next to this lady and looked at her and said "We've f***in done it!"... she grinned from ear to ear and grabbed my hand! We let go and crossed the line.

Amazing. I've done a marathon. I never thought I'd ever say that.

After the finish line
Having crossed the line we queued to get our timing chips chopped off. In the queue this random man gave me a smacker (as in kiss!), I think he was pleased he had finished?!

I had to go to the med tent for a spot of rehydration - no drip just some diarolyte and to cooling down.

My watch had me clocking 26.9miles in 4hrs 44mins with an average pace of 10mins 34secs which I would have taken in January when I got given the nod of a place, and I take now with big hands. My first marathon was a learning experience for sure.

I got my medal, my goody bag and my personal bag from the same lorry I had dropped it at all those hours ago (I'm telling you the organisation and logistics is amazing) and headed off to the hotel that the NSPCC were holding their post race reception and meeting point for my parents. I had had a message from my Aunt saying her and my Uncle were up watching so I dropped them a line and arranged to meet them at the hotel too. I staggered around a mile to the hotel (well it was probably less then that but it felt that far), and finally saw the welcome balloons... only to be confronted with having to walk up two flights of stairs! Someone's idea of a joke I'm sure! With the banister to help I clambered up, Mum and Dad had found seats at the top and saw me coming! Thank and bless them both, I think it had been a marathon day for them too, but Dad still had enough in him to help me up and take my bag and Mum found some seats for us and got the coffee in! They are FAB! Uncle and Aunt then turned up and we all hung out for a bit, I don't think I was too compus mentis but still it was lovely to chill for a bit. Finally I had enough energy to move again and Mum and Dad dragged my sorry arse into a cab to head back to the train station, comedy moment of the day has to be my parents (both in their 60s and fit and healthy!), striding down the stairs into Paddington station without realising they'd left their daughter still at the top of steps trying to get down like someone who was more like 90!! Funny!

Journey home was largely uneventful. I got home with a big bag of fish and chips and my neighbours looking out to say I had been captured on TV! YEAH! I'm a star - get me ;o)

{Medal jpg}