Primera Tri Expo and a lovely bike ride

27 Oct

I’ve finally had the chance to start getting back to some semblance of normality this weekend. My original plan was to go down to Bournemouth early to do a ride before the Primera Tri Expo, but Stu has been unwell and I was still feeling quite tired, so we decided to have a bit of a lie in before heading down to Bournemouth. We went to the Tri Expo last year and quite enjoyed it, so we were looking forward to picking up some bargains this year as well as finding out about new products and races.

Unfortunately, there weren’t as many exhibitors there as last year, which was a little disappointing. There appeared to be one nutrition stand where there were electrolyte drinks, but as I’m quite happy with the nuun that I’ve got (and my stash of high-5 stuff gathered at cycling events), I didn’t bother trying it. Zoom Tri Club were there, but I was surprised that Bustinskins didn’t have a stand and there was no information about Challenge Weymouth either. Race New Forest were also not participating, so it seemed like a much more low-key event. Having said that, I managed to do plenty of shopping:

  • Castelli jersey – £70 reduced to £20
My new Castelli jersey

My new Castelli jersey

  • Assos base layer – I haven’t bothered to take a photo as it’s just a plain black unisex short-sleeved t-shirt – £68.99 reduced to £20
  • Gore jersey – £84.99 reduced to £10
Gore jersey

Gore jersey

  • Specialized women’s trail top reduced to £5 (I suspect that this item has been sitting in storage for a while as it smells a little musty and definitely needs to go through the laundry before I’ll wear it!)
  • Two pairs of socks – a pair of white Specialized socks with pale blue polka dots on them and some DeFeet World Champion socks (I’m dreaming big!) – reduced to £1 a pair from about £9
DeFeet World Champion socks

DeFeet World Champion socks

  • A pair of Xtenex blue and white laces – reduced from £9.99 to £5

xtenex blue and white

  • A pair of Orca hydro booties – reduced from £34.99 to £5
Orca hydro booties

Orca hydro booties

So, all-in-all, I did pretty well. Stuart also managed to bag himself some bargains, as there were various jerseys that he wanted which had great reductions (such as men’s Castelli jerseys reduced from £90 to £15!)

After the Expo, we had lunch in Bournemouth, before heading to the Primera store. We had been given 15% off vouchers that were valid for one day only, and Stuart wanted to buy some new pedals.

When we went into the store, I decided to have a look at the bike helmets. I bought my road bike helmet in this shop a year ago, but I’ve never been perfectly happy with it, as the straps don’t adjust as much as I need them to. The helmet that I’ve got is a Specialized S30, and the sales person recommended buying a more expensive Specialized helmet. I tried on the superior model and it did fit better, but I’m not sure that I can afford to spend that much on a new helmet right now, and I want to have a look at a few other brands before I make my decision. (Before any queries my judgement about buying other stuff ahead of my safety, I’d like to comment that I have two cycling helmets that fit me adequately, but I think I could get an even better fit!)

Stuart found that he couldn’t buy just a pair of speedplay pedals, so he bought a set with cleats included. With the 15% discount, they were about the same price as the ones he had seen online that were just pedals.

I then made my final purchase of the day – a pump. I’ve got CO2 in my bike bag, but I think it’s sensible to carry a pump as well.

On Sunday, Teri and I agreed to go for a bike ride. We’ve not had the chance to have a chat for ages, and I’ve not done any training since I got back from my running/tri holiday, so I was desperate to get out and do something. I’ve also been quite stressed with work, so I thought some fresh air and exercise would do me good.


The essentials for my bike ride: some flapjack, a bottle of nuun, my tools and my inhaler.

I cycled to Teri’s house, but when I got there, I realised that I had forgotten my cycling glasses, so we agreed to cycle back to my house to collect them (<3 minutes by bike). I also realised that it was colder than I had thought, so I popped in to put on my new base-layer… to go with my new jersey and socks and a pair of super-comfortable SOAS shorts. I also put on some black arm warmers.

Teri then realised that she felt a little cold, so we cycled back to her house to collect a jacket.

I had a vague idea of the route that we should take and Teri also had some thoughts, so we headed off towards Romsey. I wanted to cycle up Cow Drove Hill and Teri was keen just to go out for a spin. One of the things that Teri finds amusing is that when we go out running, I always see someone who I know. I think it’s the combination of having been in Lordshill Road Runners for a couple of years as well as my involvement with parkrun. As we got towards Romsey a couple of cyclists passed and one shouted hello to me – it took a second before I recognised him, but I realised that it was Garth from Vankru (bikes and bikefitting). Teri thought it was really funny.

After we’d ridden about 40k, Teri realised that she was getting ‘hangry’, so we stopped at Lillie’s in Stockbridge for some hot chocolate and cake. We decided to have a slice of toffee cake and a slice of carrot cake to share. They were both delicious, but the toffee cake was the clear winner.


It felt quite cold when we’d stopped, so we realised that we had to get moving again, so we headed back towards Kings Somborne. Fortunately, we got onto a route that I recognised – it led us to the top of Cow Drove Hill. At the bottom, I persuaded Teri that we should cycle up it, just because we could. I’m not sure that Teri thought it was such a good plan, but she humoured me and agreed to it anyway. I felt really pleased that a hill which had seemed like an enormous struggle in the past was now much easier.

After our feat of mountain climbing, we headed back towards Southampton. I failed to capture everything on my garmin, but think we did about 65 leisurely km. Thanks, Teri :-)


To round off a great day, Stuart cooked some ‘pasta di triathlon’ for tea!


Monday Morning Motivation – who are you competing against?

27 Oct


Do you run for fun or are you always aiming for the next PB?

Monday Morning Motivation – Don’t stop living

20 Oct

Hector Picard

The amazing story of Hector Picard never fails to inspire me. After being involved in an horrendous accident, Hector lost both his arms, but he refused to give up on life, and as well as becoming a motivational speaker, he is now a triathlete.

You can visit Hector’s website to find out more about his life:

In this video, Hector demonstrates how he replaces a bicycle innertube… even without arms, he does it much faster than I can!


Monday Morning Motivation – 101 questions to ask yourself

13 Oct

Do you reflect on your hopes and aspirations? Do you know how to ask yourself the right questions. This manifesto will help you to clarify your goals:

The Self-Reflection Manifesto

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
Are you going to make any small (or large) changes to your life today?

Embrace Sports 08/10/14 Track and monument coastal run.

8 Oct

Wednesday 8th October

I was quite excited about what was planned for Wednesday morning as I enjoy track sessions. It had been raining heavily, but by the time we arrived at the track, the sun had come out and it was starting to dry up.

Neil briefed all of us about what the session was going to be.


Then we did a group warm up of four laps of the track (1600m). I was a little frustrated as my legs felt really sluggish and I only managed to average 6:18/km, which I didn’t feel was a good start to the session.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. I love this picture… although it’s not possible to see my pair of bottles with nuun in one and water in the other!

IMG_6104 IMG_6105 IMG_20141008_091554


After we did the warm up, we were divided into ability groups for the main speedwork session. The plan was to do 400m, have a 60s recovery and then do 200m with a longer walking recovery (back to the start) – six times! I was confident that I could do the distance (how hard could it be to run 3.6km after a 1.6km warm up?) even with 1.2km of walking, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pick the pace up.

As usual, I started off far too quickly. My average pace for the first 400m + 200m was 4:01/km. I think I managed the first 400m 12-15 seconds faster than any track session I’ve done recently, which I knew would make the last laps difficult.



My times for each of the sets were:

1.  2:27

2. 2:38

3. 2:44

4. 2:43

5. 2:47

6. 2:43

Overall, I don’t think that’s too bad… I now just need to do lots more speed sessions in the hope that I can finally achieve a 5km PB!

When we’d finished the session, there was a chance for the obligatory group photo.

IMG_6119 IMG_6121

Then we all headed back to rehydrate.



It had been a tough session, but everyone seemed to be happy with how they’d done.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Both Rachels did brilliantly on the track.

When we got back to the Big Brother house Giramar apartments, the virtuous members of the group did some stretching and foam rolling.

Ruth hadn’t used a foam roller before, so Jan kindly gave her some tips…



Some members of the group also opted for an icebath/some volley ball, but I have no idea what Coach Alan decided to do…


…he seemed to be enjoying himself!


George and Ed didn’t feel that they needed wetsuits for their swim.




© Embrace Sports, 2014. An action shot of Stu!

Afterwards, I was treated to a modelling masterclass, where Ed demonstrated his ‘blue steel‘:


The first step is the smoulder…


…then there’s the gaze into the distance…


…before dissolving into giggles!

The evening recovery run was one that Stuart and I had done before – the monument run. However, on the previous running holiday that I did with Embrace Sports, we started at Praia de Porto de Mos and did a 10km run out to the monument and back as a main running session. This time, the plan was to run out for 12.5 minutes and then back again.

IMG_9973 IMG_9976 IMG_9977 IMG_9978 IMG_9979

IMG_0001  IMG_0003

IMG_9980 IMG_9981 IMG_9983 IMG_9984 IMG_9985 IMG_9987 IMG_9988 IMG_9989

IMG_9991 IMG_9992 IMG_9993 IMG_9994 IMG_9997 IMG_9999

I took it quite seriously on the way out, but have to admit that I got distracted by the crazy photographers on the way back. I ran until I’d got back to Sam and Lou and then I stopped for a drink!


IMAG2492_BURST003_1 IMAG2494_BURST002_1 IMAG2496_1 IMAG2499_BURST005_1 (1) IMAG2500_BURST012_1 IMAG2503_BURST006 IMAG2504 IMAG2506_BURST010_1 IMAG2508_BURST008 IMAG2512_BURST012 IMAG2513_BURST004 IMAG2523

After all of that hard work, the evening’s feast was a barbeque. Neil slaved in front of the hot coals and Alan had made lovely falafel burgers for the vegetarians :-)

IMG_6123 IMG_6128 IMG_6129  IMG_6133

Embrace Sports 07/10/14 Hell on the hills.

7 Oct

Tuesday 7th October


Tuesday morning meant ‘hell on the hills’. 9.6km isn’t a long run, but when you realise that all of it was either uphill or downhill then you know what a challenge that is. Fortunately, it was a bit overcast, so it wasn’t as hot as it had been on some other days. I’ve done this session before, but my last attempt at running the first hill was as part of a duathlon last year. It didn’t go well, so I was a bit nervous.

Some of the other runners had quite a few beers the previous evening, so they weren’t feeling on top form, whereas I was feeling good, so I hoped that it would all go well for me. My first boost came when I managed to pass a few people on the downhill. I knew that I wouldn’t stay ahead of them, but it made me feel positive.


© Coach Andy leading the way. Not bad for a V50 ;-)


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Dan.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Amie impressed everyone with her speed and tenacity.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Jen.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Rachel.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Ed was doing well, despite his hangover.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Keith.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Rachel.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Jan.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Holly was injured and unable to run, so she was challenged to cycle the hills.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. George had managed to shake off her Bristolian pursuer…


© Embrace Sports, 2014. But Darren wasn’t going to give up without a fight.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Anna.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Neil.

When I was running up the first hill, I saw Kat on her way down. She is such a hugely inspirational athlete (and also a fellow Team SOS brand ambassador). On my way back towards the starting point, I could see Graeme cheering people on. He is one of the key influences who started me on this journey, so I was really happy to see him.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. I wasn’t trying to avoid the camera – I was getting rid of my sunglasses!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Super Kat!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Pamela.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Bernadette.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Ruth.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Anna in pursuit of Nadine.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Sally.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Sam.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Stu did really well :-)


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Paul.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Holly.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Jen.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Lou.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Super-speedy Gaby.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. It was really great to see Graeme fresh from Ironman Barcelona.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Marcus.


© Embrace Sports, 2014.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Nico.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. I think this is a great photo of Ian – he looked so focussed, every time that we passed each other.

IMG_20141007_095953 IMG_20141007_100024

I completed the event in 1:01:21, so I’ve got a great target for next time – I want to finish in under an hour :-) My average pace was 6:26/km, so I think I should be able to do better than that!

My Garmin stats.

My Garmin stats.

After we had finished running, we headed down to Praia de Porto de Mos, the nearby beach, where we took over the cafe.


Some of the others were interested in getting daiquiris, but Amie, Stuart and I were more interested in sampling the local pastel de nata (custard tarts).


I ordered a fruit juice, and managed to finish off all of my nuun before the juice arrived.

In the evening, we went to Vlad’s restaurant, Atalaia. Stu and I have been here before with Embrace Sports, so we knew what to expect: huge amounts of food. I ordered the vegetarian pasta and was quite relieved that the portion size wasn’t as large as on some previous visits!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Caroline and Jen.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Pamela, Paula and Marcus.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Our super-smiley flat-mate, Rachel.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Holly, Anna, Marcus and Gaby.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. The girls loved posing for the camera!

When we got back to our apartment, I was amused to get the following notification from RunKeeper:

New PB for running 7th October

That’s what happens when you record each rep as a separate run! :-)

Embrace Sports 06/10/14 Portimao boardwalk reps

6 Oct

Monday 6th October

This morning, we headed out to Portimao for some boardwalk reps. Stu and I have visited Portimao before, but the session that we did last time was a pyramid sessions (200m, 400m, 800m and then reversed).

We started out with a group warm up jog around the marina, which is a lovely location. Then we had a quick breather whilst Neil explained a few points relating to running technique and heel/midfoot/forefoot striking.

IMG_9840 IMG_9841

We were then divided into groups to do the 6 x 1 mile reps along the boardwalk, with a 2 minute break between each one. Andy was the coach allocated to my group.

IMG_9842 IMG_9844 IMG_9845 IMG_9846 IMG_9847

Stu was having a few twinges, but I was really happy to see him towards the front of the lead group each time that we passed each other.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. The fast group (L-R): George, Gaby, Nico, Marcus, Darren & Stu.


I’m not sure why this photo is so distorted – it makes my running form look terrible!

IMG_9848 IMG_9849 IMG_9850 IMG_9851 IMG_9855 IMG_9857 IMG_9858 IMG_9859 IMG_9860 IMG_9861 IMG_9862 IMG_9864 IMG_9868 IMG_9869

The reps were tough and I wasn’t sure that I would make it through them. I had realised on the way to the start that I had left my inhaler in the minibus, so I hoped that I wouldn’t need it. Unfortunately, I started to have breathing problems after I’d run 3 reps, so Pamela kindly let me use her inhaler. What a lifesaver! At least I had remembered to bring my drinks with me: a bottle of water and a bottle of nuun. I could only drink form them every two miles, but that was fine.

The reps got harder as we became more tired, but this was also exacerbated by the temperature rising and the increasing number of pedestrians on the boardwalk that we had to run around. The wind also picked up in the middle, which made some of the runs harder than others.

I was surprised at how well I fared during the reps:

  1. 8:32
  2. 8:23
  3. 8:37
  4. 8:43
  5. 8:53
  6. 8:35

However, I’ve added this up and it come to over 51:40, so goodness knows how I ever managed a 6.2 mile race in 51:06!!!


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Sam made a new friend!

IMG_9871 IMG_9872 IMG_9875 IMG_9876 IMG_9880 IMG_9882  IMG_9884

When everyone had finished recovering, we headed up the steps to a lovely cafe with a stunning panoramic view.








© Embrace Sports, 2014. Andy, Neil and Jen.

I had a fruit juice at the cafe, but quite a few people decided to indulge in beer or ice-cream. Stu and I also had a chance to chat to Sam, who is from our local area (well, she’s a Pompey Jogger, but that’s close enough!) After a while, we decided to go for a wander on the beach and a paddle. Pamela and Caroline joined us. The water was so refreshing.

In the evening, we headed out for a coastal recovery run. We had hoped to stop at a bar for some drinks to start off Andy’s birthday celebrations, but they said they had too many reservations, to let us in, so we stayed outside.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Rachel, Andy and Jan.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Some of the partycamp crowd: (L-R) Dan, Bernadette, Rachel, Sally, Jan and Darren.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. A moment of silent contemplation for Dan, Darren and Andy.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Darren and Dan.


© Embrace Sports, 2014. Rachel and Sally.

The weather stayed nice, so in the evneing, we ate outside. It was Andy’s birthday, so the coaches produced some cakes and Jan had even made some lovely chocolate coconut cakes.

IMG_3476 IMG_3479


I think the pictures show what a great time everyone was having – there’s a reason why the October running camp is known as ‘party camp’!

It was great to check my email before going to bed and find another PB message from RunKeeper:

New PB for running October 6th 2014

I won’t maintain that average for the rest of the month, but it’s a good start :-)

Monday Morning Motivation – Be phenomenal or be forgotten

6 Oct

Diary of a headless chicken

4 Oct

I love reading Dean’s blog posts as his enthusiastic and gung-ho attitude to life is so refreshing:

The header of Dean's blog

The header of Dean’s blog

If you want to feel inspired by an ordinary guy who has some amazing adventures, I’d recommend that you read Dean’s blog.

Technology and running

2 Oct

Do you let technology dictate your training or are you happy to run ‘naked’?

I recently read this New York Times article:

For Fitness Bands, Slick Marketing but Suspect Results

My sister and my work colleague both wear Fitbits and a triathlete friend recently revealed that he wears a Garmin vivofit, so I was interested in finding out about their experiences with the gadgets.

I have to admit that I’ve become a bit addicted to technology – it all started with a Garmin 405CX. After a while, I started uploading the data in Garmin Training Center… and then I moved to Garmin Connect. Then I started using my heart rate monitor. Then I started using a Garmin footpod to measure my cadence. At Christmas my sister and my husband gave me a Garmin 910XT… and that came with a heart rate monitor and a speed and cadence sensor for my bike. The advantage of my latest toy is that I can also wear it when swimming. But how much is too much? A I addicted? I find it strange running without my watch, but perhaps I let the numbers dictate how I feel too often.

Maybe the only running app is need is MIND (TM):

Do you use all of the pre-installed applications including:

  • Mental Notes™, featuring Mnemonic Device™ technology, which lets you “jot down” ideas without pen or paper and without interrupting your run.
  • Idea Gener8or™, which can yield creative breakthroughs in as little as five minutes.
  • Serendipity™ Route Creator, powered by your own innate desire for novelty and exploration.
  • Lay-o’-the-Land™ Maps, which automatically syncs with the Serendipity™ Route Creator to create a database of your favorite running loops.
  • Subconscious™, which operates continuously, in the background, helping the user to analyze, synthesize, and contextualize information. This feature runs so quietly, you hardly ever know it’s running at all.

Perhaps MIND™’s most impressive feature is its built-in Think™ option. Turn on Think™, and you can explore virtually – sorry, I mean virtually explore – literally any subject you can think of. Even more impressive? Every time you use Think™, you strengthen and expand it, so it works better the next time.

Road To Madison

My Journey From Couch To Ironman Wisconsin

You Can Do It Blog

Enpowering women to feel better and be better

Laura's footprints

Once upon a run...

Big Boned Biker

My Journey into a new and Healthier lifestyle

Veggies Fuel Running!

Nutrition, Health, and Running Lifestyle Blog

Triathlon Tales

I'm being brave and giving it a tri. Here's where you can share my journey.

My Journey 2 Scratch

"The secrets to life are hidden behind the word cliché" - Shay Butler


Training for a Tri with 4 kids in tote!

me and my run

a journal

My quest for the ironman

a fitness adventure towards the holy grail of triathlon


And though she be but little, she is fierce.


Triathlete and Happy


Auds Running Adventures

Awesome Åshild

Did You Do A "Something Every Day" Today?


Of limited significance

The Fit Penguin Project

In between "I want it" and "I got it"....


My journey, training for my first half marathon.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,020 other followers