Good Fri Tri

18 Apr

This was my first triathlon of the year and my second triathlon with a pool swim. I hated my last pool-based triathlon (Ferndown Try-a-tri), so I was hoping to lay that ghost to rest.

We got up at 5am, and I knew that I move to move quickly as I hadn’t packed all of my kit for today. (I intended to do it yesterday, but ended up spending too much time rushing around to the doctors and sorting out my coaching diary to do it then). Fortunately, most of my kit was in easy reach and I managed not to forget anything, so Stu and I were able to leave on time at 6am for the drive to Abingdon.

On arrival at Radley College, we parked, got our bikes off the rack and had to walk to the registration hall. At this point, I was glad that Stu and I had everything packed into rucksacks as I wouldn’t have wanted to have to balance a basket for the 10 minute walk.

Registration was very easy. We were given goodie bags and our hats and were also offered a choice of a Try Tri water bottle or buff. I think this is a nice touch, as they’re both useful items (and I saw a lot of people using the bottles during the event). Chris Stocks and his partner Ali were in the hall, so we stopped and had a chat with them, before we spotted Katherine.

Tri Try Goodies

Tri Try Goodies

We then were directed out to the transition racks. Stuart was told that he had to place his bike towards the exit, so I followed Katherine and racked up next to her. I laid everything out and started feeling more confident.

My race number

My race number

Stuart was in one of the first swim waves, whereas Katherine was due to start at 9:30 and I was in the wave after her at 9:40am, so we went up to the viewing gallery to watch the first swimmers.

There were some incredible swimmers in the pool, with perfectly executed tumble turns in many lanes and the majority of people demonstrating beautiful freestyle, but there were also a few people who had obviously over-estimated their abilities. As a slow swimmer myself, I don’t have a problem with that, but I really felt sorry for the poor chaps (I think they were all men) who were slowly slogging it out when everyone else had finished. It’s never so bad when there are other people around you finishing at roughly the same time, and a difference in ability is far less noticeable on the bike and run legs as no-one knows when you started, but in the pool, all eyes are on you and the next wave can’t start until you have finished. I don’t think the waiting athletes minded and there was applause for the first person out of the water as well as being applause for the last person, but that always feels a bit awkward and patronising, even if it’s meant in a supportive way.

It wasn’t long before it was Stuart’s turn. he had been very quiet in the morning as he had been ill, so I was pleased to see him chatting with other people poolside. Each lane had four swimmers in it with different coloured hats on: blue, green, orange and red… and that was the order that we had to swim in. Stu had an orange hat, so he was third to set off. He wasn’t sure of his swim speed, so I had asked his coach on Monday who suggested 7:30. Stu was swimming really well and Katherine and I were impressed by his beautiful tumble turn at the end of the first length, but he decided to conserve his energy and did touch turns afterwards. It wasn’t long before he passed the swimmer in the green hat and he made good progress on the swimmer in the blue hat, but Katherine and I were surprised that he seemed unable to get past that swimmer. We asked Stuart about it later and he said that he hadn’t tapped the other swimmer on the feet, but the blue-hatted swimmer paused at the end of the next length anyway for Stu to go past. The time for the swim included a brisk walk around the edge of the pool and down a corridor to the timing mat, so Stu did brilliantly to complete his swim in 7:05. Go Team Smith!

Shortly afterwards, Katherine and I went down stairs to get ready for our swim. It was the first time that I had swum in my Team Soas tri top and shorts, so I was wondering how they would fare. We headed out to the pool and were given our timing chips. Then we were separated as Katherine had to line up on one side of the pool and I was sent to the other side. I started chatting to a couple of women who were also in my wave, which helped to keep my nerves at bay.

The Swim

We then moved around the pool again and Ben came past and said a cheery hello. Finally, Katherine’s wave started, and a marshal came over to check us in. There were meant to be four people in a lane, but the swimmer who should have been in second place in my lane had withdrawn, so there were just three of us. I started to sort myself out, which is when things started to go wrong. until that point, I had been wearing my glasses, but I took them off, to put my goggles around my neck and my swimming hats on (yes, hats… I hate getting water in my ears and find that with my lovely Maru hat, I don’t have any problems, so I didn’t want to try anything new). As I put my goggles over my head, the elastic strap snapped. I tried not to panic as I figured that I could fix it, but it had snapped at the widest possible point, so I could barely thread it through the side and there was no way of securing it, not even with a knot. I started to panic and the stress got to me, so I burst into tears. I was so hoping that I’d be able to do well and was then starting to wonder whether I’d even be able to start. I asked the marshal whether there was any possibility that I could start in a later wave, but they said no, so I had to think of a solution. The other girls in the lane suggested that I borrowed some goggles, but I’ve only swum without my prescription goggles once (in Cyprus), so I was nervous that it would mess up my swim. One of them proposed that if I were doing breast stroke, I could keep my glasses on, but I didn’t think that would be the right solution for me!

Broken goggles :-(

Broken goggles :-(

I couldn’t see Stuart, and the only other person I knew was still in the water. I felt very flustered and by the time I realised what I should do, Katherine had exited the pool and was heading for the door. I walked after her as fast as I could, aware that there weren’t many people left in the pool. As I chased after Katherine, I suddenly realised that I had reached the timing mat, so I had to stop. I frantically appealed to a marshal, who kindly went over to Katherine (who was just out of sight behind a bush) and got her goggles. I was aware that my wave would be starting very soon, so I then had to run back indoors.

Unfortunately, my disastrous experiences didn’t end there as I managed to run into something and cut open my elbow. I could see it bleeding (so I probably shouldn’t have got in the pool – sorry everyone, but I can promise that I don’t have any blood-bourne diseases and I’m sure the chlorine would have killed everything off!), but there was not time to stop and think. I got back to my lane, just as the last swimmer was getting out of the pool – phew!

Elbow injury

Elbow injury

It was then onto the small matter of swimming sixteen lengths (400m). When I did Ferndown try a tri, I panicked in the pool and ended up having to do breaststroke, but having managed two 400m sets with Coach Peter at Tri Club, I was confident that I should be able to do the distance without stopping or changing stroke. I did my best to turn quickly, although I will admit that a couple of my turns were somewhat tardy. I caught up with the swimmer in front of me and she let me go past, but the first swimmer in my lane was probably 30 seconds ahead of me. I felt really pleased that despite the panicked start, I maintained my pace and managed to front crawl the entire distance. I got out of the pool, picked up my goggles and glasses and headed for the exit, pleased that I was not the last person out of the pool.

My fastest recorded time for 400m is 10:36, so I was quite pleased that including the  run to the mat, my time was 11:07.5

Transition 1

This was horrendously slow and is an area that I need to work on. I was surprised that my clothes were a bit disordered when I got to the rack, but tried not to let this bother me. (Katherine later told me that she’d had to stop a man from putting on my clothes in transition – if my cycling jersey were plain black I could understand, but it’s a vibrant pink, which isn’t the most popular colour for men’s tops!) I dithered about what to put on, but decided to put on my jersey and not my arm warmers. In hindsight, this was a mistake as it wasn’t very cold and it wasted a lot of time. I also failed to take my watch off and put it onto my bike, so the jersey stuck to my wet skin and I couldn’t get it over my watch – doh! I then had to put my sock on, put my shoes on, put my watch onto my bike, put on cycling mitts – just in case I crash – put on a headband and put on my helmet… oh yes, and there was the small matter of inserting contact lenses. (Added to this, my bike was racked at the furthest point from the timing mat.) This clearly far too much faffing and is why my transition time was the fifth slowest. I also made the same mistake as I made at Winchester Duathlon and managed to mess up the timing on my watch :-( I think the issue with the goggles and the time it takes to put in contact lenses in transition (30 seconds) are key indicators that if I want to continue with this sport, I need to start researching laser surgery sooner rather than later.

My time was a shameful 4:23.50


As soon as I had crossed the timing mat, I went to get on my bike, but the marshals shouted at me that I had to run another six steps to the edge of the road. This threw me a little bit and I was surprised at how many people were watching, which made me feel self-conscious, but I managed to get started. I know from recent rides that I ought to be able to maintain an average pace of 25.5kmph, so I decided to reset my watch, so that I could monitor my pace.


I really enjoyed the bike ride. It was a nice route, with the only off-putting element being that we were in such close proximity to oil seed rape fields, which seems to make my hay fever worse. I was also feeling quite confident on the bike, and for once there was a steady stream of people for me to overtake, which is highly motivating. I was only passed by three people, who I assume were the fastest cyclists in the novice event as they had expensive bikes and all of them had aero bars. The marshals out on the course were great, giving very clear instructions and allowing the cyclists to know when it was safe to cross roads in plenty of time to take the most appropriate course of action.

I knew when I was getting close to the finish, so I undid my shoes. Unfortunately, this caused me to slow a little and a couple of men passed me. One of them stopped quite abruptly so I didn’t manage a good flying dismount like I did at Winchester, but it did mean that I knew I wouldn’t have to take off my shoes when I got to the bike rack.



The ride was 22km long and I managed it in 52:41.05. I don’t have the full data on my Garmin, but of the almost 20km that I recorded, my average pace was 26.8kmph, which I’m quite pleased with. I also managed a new PB in terms of cadence (63) :-)

Transition 2

This was much better than my first transition as I only had to put shoes on, remove my bike helmet, put my watch on and twist my number around. This was my best discipline of the day with my time of 1:30.85 putting me in 131st place. (I count this as my biggest triumph of the day as I managed to beat both Katherine and Stuart!)


I knew that I would find the run difficult as I was starting to wheeze and my legs were tired… I don’t think the swim and cycling had affected them as much as Brighton marathon and the training that I did on Monday and Wednesday, but I didn’t feel that I could skip those sessions as Challenge Weymouth is my A race this year).




I fiddled with my watch a bit and managed to reset it, so that it was recording my run. I wanted to keep my pace under 6 min/km, but I was tired and realised that the slight incline that I had barely noticed on my bike felt very steep. I could see a woman up ahead who didn’t look to be moving too quickly, so I tried to gain on her, but don’t think I made very much progress. We headed out onto an open field and I realised that I could see the finish funnel, so I knew that I must be almost half way around. The runner up ahead turned off as she was finishing her run, but I heard some cheering and realised that Stuart was sitting on the grass watching out for me.

As I turned off for my second lap, I could hear someone gaining on me.









We passed friendly marshal at the same time and both commented to her. We then started talking to each other, which really helped me. I know I should have been pushing as hard as possible, but my body was just not cooperating and by staying with this lovely American guy, I was maintaining a better pace than if I’d been on my own. It turned out that he’s also training for a half iron distance race in September (Crescent Moon). I don’t know what his name was, and can’t read his number in the photos, but he really helped me.

When we got to the track, he took off, but I just couldn’t push any harder. However, I realised that I was catching up with a lady up ahead, who appeared to be struggling.





She had a friend who was in the centre of the track, motivating her to run faster. This spurred me on and I managed to pull out a sprint at the end.


Yay! Passing someone!

Yay! Passing someone!

I hope Coach Ant's proud of my slight forward lean

I hope Coach Ant’s proud of my slight forward lean

Just about to cross the finish line!

Just about to cross the finish line!

My run time of 28:12.90 is rather disappointing, but I know that I can improve on it!


After crossing the finishing line, I thanked the American guy who had run with me and was presented with a medal and a bottle of water… and the biggest surprise of the day, a lovely Cadbury’s buttons Easter egg :-)

Good Fri Tri bling!

Good Fri Tri bling!

I met up with Stu who had cheered me over the line. We then saw Chris, the director of Try Tri, who took a photo of us both:

Good Fri Tri finishers

Good Fri Tri finishers

In conclusion:

Good Fri Tri results

Good Fri Tri results

I finished in 1:37.55, which is not as fast as I’d hoped for. I can see the aspects of my race that I need to work on, and am hoping to be able to improve my run speed (in particular) in the coming months. It was a really enjoyable event, and despite the traumatic start, the pool swim went far better than I expected :-)

Possibly the longest transitions imaginable…

16 Apr

My employer is very generous, so as well as having Good Friday and Easter Monday off work, I also have today and Thursday off, which means that I have some time to catch up with training, blogging, coaching planning and housework.

My new coaching schedule said that I needed to do 90 minutes of swimming, 90 minutes of cycling and an hour of running today, so essentially, I had to do a triathlon, but I decided that there was time for some breaks in between each element.

I didn’t want to get up too early, but as my hay fever is still making it difficult for me to breathe, I ended up getting up just after 7am. My plan was to do 90 minutes of swimming before meeting Chris for a bike ride. Unfortunately, I wasted some time at home and didn’t get to the pool until nearly 9am, so I decided to curtail my swim to 60 minutes. I had thought that I’d manage to keep swimming at a reasonable pace for the full duration of my session, but I’m clearly much more tired than I thought. I found it really difficult to swim more than 50m without a break, so instead of focussing on speed or distance, I decided to work on my technique, making each length of the pool as efficient as possible.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in the Uni pool (not since some time in 2013!), and I had forgotten how cold it feels. Fortunately, the pool was very quiet, so I was able to do the workout of my choosing. I started in the middle lane, as there were only two other people there. However, towards the end of my session, some other people joined the lane, so I switched to the slow lane which was empty. My Garmin recorded 875m, but I know that’s not correct as I got in and out of the pool at the same end! I think I may have done 1000m, which isn’t much, but I was feeling absolutely shattered. Upping my swimming is clearly having an effect on me.

I rushed home from swimming, but got stuck behind someone who decided to drive at 20mph down the main road, which was incredibly frustrating. I picked up the essentials and got out on my bike as quickly as possible.

It was the first time that I’ve worn my Champion System Embrace Sports bib shorts, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to try them out. I also decided to try out the Bellwether mitts that I bought last year. I’ve thought about trying the mitts before as they look lovely, but my Claude Butler mitts are so comfortable, that I don’t want to try anything else!

I managed to meet Chris just after 10:30am, and we headed off down the Avenue towards Chilworth (the posh part of Southampton). Along the way there are a couple of big hills. I think I’m making progress as I managed not to brake at all whilst going downhill on today’s ride :-) The weather was absolutely gorgeous, but there seem to be a lot of road works going on, so we had to stop frequently at traffic lights. Chris planned and timed the route perfectly (I had suggested roughly 30-35km in 90 minutes) and was great company. When we got back to the Bellemoor, we stopped for a drink in the sunshine.It was nice to see Meg and Maz go past with their babies.

Tamsyn and Chris

Post ride drink at the Bellemoor

The new bib shorts were very comfortable. The elastic around the legs is a little tight (not in an uncomfortable way, but in an unsightly way) and they have more padding than I’m used to, but they were fine for a short ride -  I think I prefer the minimal chamois in my Team SOAS tri shorts. The new mitts were slightly tight, so after riding for an hour, I found that the fingers started to pinch. I think I shall use them again for short rides, but I won’t be using them for anything over 2 hours.

After I came home, I spent a bit of time tidying and dealing with emails etc. My training schedule said that I needed to go out and do a club running session, but I didn’t feel very motivated.

The weather is nice here, so it’s definitely shorts weather. When I opened my drawer, I saw these lovely green shorts that I bought at the end of last year. I’ve only worn them a couple of times, but they’re very comfortable and I love the colour. unfortunately, they don’t have a draw string, so I worry about them falling down, and they’re also a little bit short for my chubby legs. I rummaged around in my t-shirt drawer and managed to find a green t-shirt that Stuart gave to me last year. I think it coordinates perfectly with the shorts… I just need some matching shoes.

I decided that I would got to the session and if I struggled with running then I could be Ben’s assistant or a back marker. We did a warm up and then a few exercises that were quite fun to do. The main part of the session was a pyramid with 4 minutes of running anti-clockwise, a two-minute break and then 4 minutes of running clockwise. we then repeated this with 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 1 minute. It was quite tough going, but I managed to complete the full set and felt quite pleased with myself but exhausted). I’m also really pleased that I managed to run 1km in 4:54, at the end of the session, which is better than I’ve managed for a long time! Next Wednesday evening will feature a cross-country race, but after that, I’ll be back at Ben’s training session.

Run done!

Run done!

Tomorrow is a relatively easy day as I’ve got a triathlon on Friday. I only need to do one hour of cycling tomorrow… but there’s plenty of housework and laundry for me to do!

What are your plans for the Easter weekend?

Best bike ride ever!

16 Apr

After all of my training recently, my lovely husband bought me a beautiful bouquet of Oriental lilies, which are my favourite flowers.

The flowers that my wonderful husband bought for me.

The flowers that my wonderful husband bought for me.

On Saturday morning, I decided to go swimming instead of running. I’ve only been swimming with the Tri Club on a Saturday morning once before. That was a session during the Christmas break, so it was not necessarily the usual mix of people and Darryl gave me quite a lot of attention as I was clearly a different ability from everyone else who was there. As the swimming pool isn’t far from my house, I decided to cycle there, which was a nice start to the day.

I think the turn out on Saturday was probably the usual mix of people. The first thing I noticed was that the ability level was much higher than the usual Lane 1 crew from Monday evenings. We had to count our strokes per length for 400m. I didn’t manage to keep this even for the 16 lengths, but it fluctuated between 21 and 26 for the section that I was counting. I think that when I’m not focussing on reaching at the end of each stroke then I don’t make as much effort as I should.

We then moved onto my favourite part of the session: 200m of kicking. I like kicking as I don’t need to worry about breathing or what my arms are doing. I started as the last person in lane 1, but by the end of the 200m, I had passed all but one person. Unfortunately, we also had to do some backstroke and I failed to keep in a straight line, veering up into the wrong side of the lane, which made one of the ladies in the lane very angry – oops!

New swimming PB

After swimming, Liz and I collected our bikes and walked to Boulangerie Victor Hugo, a new French bakery, with Sonia and Suzanne. Stuart and Katherine had been to parkrun so they were already there waiting for us. The breakfast deal there is very good: half a demi baguette, a croissant, butter, jam and a hot chocolate for under £5.

After breakfast, we set off on our bikes for a bike shop, as I’ve broken the bell on my hybrid bike and wanted a replacement part. unfortunately, the shop didn’t have a replacement part in, but they fitted a replacement bell for me – thank you CycleWorld! We then set off on a scenic ride home. Katherine and Stu both had road bikes, whereas I had a heavy bike with full panniers, so we didn’t go too fast… and all three of us were wearing jeans. We ended up cycling about 10 miles.

In the afternoon, I decided to try out a ‘recipe’ that my cousin’s partner Lauren had shared on Facebook. I say ‘recipe’ as it’s a pizza base made of just two ingredients: Greek yoghurt and self-raising flour. I had two different pots of 0% fat Greek yoghurt in my fridge and a bag of plain flour, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I mixed the yoghurt with flour and added some baking powder. Of the two yoghurts that I tried, it was easier to make the dough using the Fage yoghurt, but the Tesco yoghurt dough was wetter and actually came out better. I also made my own tomato sauce for the pizzas. I don’t think they turned out too badly!

My homemade pizza

My homemade pizza (Fage yoghurt dough)

Stuart's homemade pizza

Stuart’s homemade pizza (Tesco yoghurt dough)

On Sunday morning, we got up early to go to the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive. 2000 riders take part in this two-day event. There is a choice of two routes: 62 miles or 84 miles. We chose the 62 mile option as I’ve only cycled 100km once and haven’t been on my bike much this year.

When we arrived, we had to register with our helmets. We were given time chips on our helmets as well as a High-5 bottle filled with gels and energy drinks.

My number

There had been quite a lot of traffic getting to the start, so the first riders were leaving the site as we arrived.

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive 2014

My only other experience of a sportive type event was the Garmin Sharp Ride Out last year, which was a much smaller scale event. I was amazed by just how many riders were here and was also hugely relieved to notice that there were plenty of women who were taking part. I also had time to look around at other people’s bikes – there were plenty of mountain bikes and hybrids, as well as some top-end road bikes.

The weather conditions were perfect – it was quite warm and sunny with very little breeze. I set off fairly quickly and decided to see how long I was able to maintain that pace. I’ve not really fiddled with the settings on my Garmin, so it measures my cycling in 5 mile laps – I did the first lap in a pace of 27.4 kmph, which is a lot faster than I’ve ever managed before and I wondered how long I would be able to maintain that sort of pace. My best previous pace was 21.1kmph (although I have managed an hour at 25.5kmph on a turbo trainer). I kept going and really enjoyed being able to pass a few people. We had to stop for a short while when we got to Burley as there was a Palm Sunday procession to church, which was fine, although it meant that I had very little momentum to climb the hill out of the town!

I knew that a ‘cake stop’ was planned at the half way point. I had tried to drink whilst cycling, but I’m not very coordinated and am still a bit nervous that I might crash, so I hadn’t drunk very much. At 50km, I really started to look forward to a break, but I was pleased that we hit that distance in 1:59.

It wasn’t long before we got to the rest stop. After finding a bike rack where we could park our bikes, we joined the queue for sampling the goodies: flapjack, oreos, Tuck biscuits, jelly beans, pistachios etc Stuart was very helpful – he retrieved my drink bottle from my bike and also held his hand out to catch my pistachio shells!

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive 2014


Although there were bike racks, there just wasn’t enough room for everyone’s bikes. Bikes were leaning against fences and walls as well as being placed in ditches!

Cyclists arriving at the rest stop

Cyclists arriving at the rest stop

I enjoyed people-watching. There were lots of interesting jerseys and bikes.

The stampede for flapjack

The stampede for flapjack

We had passed lots of ponies, donkeys, cows and pigs and there were even a few New Forest ponies at the rest stop.

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive 2014

After I’d eaten a bit and had a drink, I felt better and was ready to tackle the final section. I wanted to maintain the pace that I had set, but it was a long uphill drag for several miles. After we got to 75km, it was downhill or flat all of the way back. There were a couple of scary moments, including when a man stopped dead in front of me as one of his friends had dropped something, but I felt more confident than I have done before. I kept pushing as I wanted a good average pace overall, and was really surprised to find that people were slowing down in the last 10km… but it was nice to pass them. Stuart had stayed with me for the whole day, but when we got to the entrance of the event site, Stuart sprinted off. It was a reasonable slope, so I just continued at a steady pace.

Finally, we crossed the line, and I was surprised that we were interviewed by a member of the event crew. I don’t think I really said very much, so Stu and I didn’t end up on the video, but our photo was one of 50 that appear on the main website:

Wiggle screen shot

Finishing Wiggle Ride

Finished! Being interviewed at the end…

We were then given medals and t-shirts.

Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive 2014

I stopped my Garmin at the rest stop, but not for the Palm Sunday parade, so my cycling time was 4:08, however, this is not my start to finish chip time.

Garmin data for Wiggle Sportive

Wow – they’re impressive stats for me :-)

My official time was 4:41:04.

Tamsyn Smith Certificate


I’m a little frustrated that we stopped for over half an hour at the rest stop… if I’d finished in <4:16 then I would have been a gold finisher!


Finish pose with bike

Yay! I did it :-D

Happy pose with medal

Happy pose with medal

I really enjoyed this event and am now feeling slightly less stressed about cycling in the Pyrenees, although when I see those mountains, the panic will probably resurface!!!

There were some nice photos taken of Stuart and I during this event, so we’ve ordered some – I’ll upload them here when they arrive :-)

Finishers' t-shirt and medal

Finishers’ t-shirt and medal

The finisher t-shirt is quite attractive, and as it’s a technical top, I will probably wear it.

After the event, we decided not to hang around for hot drinks, but instead we headed to Ringwood to get lunch and some hot drinks:

Post-event hot chocolate

Post-event hot chocolate

What a great day! :-D

A Promise to Dad

11 Apr

This week’s interview is with Sandra from ‘A Promise to Dad‘. Sandra has been blogging about her life and training in Nebraska following the loss of her father in 2011. Sandra shares her adventures as a swimmer, cyclist and runner, including lots of lovely photos in the mix. I’ve been holding onto this fantastic interview for a while as I wanted to have enough time to do it justice, so apologies to Sandra. I hope everyone enjoys reading it :-)

A Promise to Dad

  • Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Thank you for interviewing me!  I am honored.

I have lived in Illinois, Nebraska, Spain, and New Mexico, and am currently back in Nebraska again (for the last 18 years).  I am a professional historian and currently a university professor, but people that meet me outside of academia have a hard time believing that.  I never had kids, so I never had to “grow up”.  I like that about me.

Growing up, I was never good at anything except softball, which I played from the 5th grade up until a couple years ago when I took up golf league instead (apparently no one wants a fat middle aged woman—even if she hits .750 and has a slugging average over a thousand).  I always used to be fit and muscular—it’s hard not being that way.

I am married to an amazing man whose talents blow me away (botanist, musician, photographer, woodworker for starters).  His two daughters accepted me with open arms, and one of them just had a baby.  So I am technically a gramma now :-)

In my spare time, I love camping, training for triathlons, kayaking, walking my dog, reading in the sunshine, writing, photography… basically being outside and/or being creative.

What would surprise folks? I have published 5 [history] books, the last two of which were award-winning books.

  • You started writing ‘A promise to dad’ in January 2012. Why did you start blogging? Are you still blogging for the same reasons?

I started blogging because I wanted to be accountable to the “universe” about my road back to health.  I was a caretaker for my Dad (with mom) as he sunk into Alzheimer’s, and a couple days before he died, I promised him that I would get healthy again.  I couldn’t take it back.

I have had a lot of bumps along the road, some of them ridiculously frustrating, but the friends I have met along the way have been so encouraging!  I have learned so much about races, training, food, diet, clothing options, online programs, and so much more.  Mostly I continue blogging because I feel like it keeps me motivated to continue my training and because now I have lots of friends out in bloggyland that I would miss if I stopped.

When I have questions about training or injuries or whatever, I can just ask and lots of people respond with their suggestions and solutions.  Sound ones that are tried and true by folks that have used them.  Folks that I have grown to trust.

Finally?  Because I learn about cool new devices and tools and groups to join for community!

  • Which three blogs/bloggers have had the most influence on you and why? Are there any particular bloggers that you look to for inspiration?
Cult Fit

Cult Fit

CultFit (  CultFit reminds me about staying grounded, true to myself, and honest about my intentions, goals, and accomplishments.  And to find happiness.



Transventure (  Andrew over at Transventure enjoys life, posts photographs of his adventures that remind me of my joy of being in nature, and reminds me that life is too short to not do what you love.  Part of my post “What Can I Give Up” was inspired by his recent life changes.

Fit Recovery

Fit Recovery

FitRecovery (  While he is on a different track in life than I am, I find his posts motivating and encouraging.  Plus, he understands what it means to reclaim his life—and his posts are filled with admonitions about getting it done.

  • How would someone describe your blogging style?

Haphazard! I wrote a different blog before I started this one—it was all about my journey with my Dad.  I wrote on that blog in order to keep my siblings posted about his progress into the disease, but I also wanted it to be an outlet for creative and very descriptive writing—a style I don’t get to do in my field.  That blog has grown into my next book project for which I received a $4500 grant to write.  It’ll be done by the end of this year.

I originally hoped that this blog would be an outlet for more creative writing, but I don’t seem to have as much time to devote to writing as I did then. So my posts feel really haphazard. I should work on that!

  • Which of your blog posts has generated the most discussion and why?

I have 69 comments on my “About Page” (, but I have 3 posts that are tied for having the most posts (from most recent to oldest) of 24:

Half Marathon (  I think it’s because I couldn’t do the half that I trained for due to injuries, but I was SUPER excited that I got to hand out race medals.  My first volunteer stint at a race.  Time to pay it back!

Momma (  I took my mom in for knee surgery and it elicited a variety of comments—some of them were back and forths, so I am not sure if that qualifies!

Hannah ( This day we lost our sweet Golden Retriever quite suddenly. I posted my favorite photograph of her and, well, the loss of a family member evokes a lot of comments from people. Understandably—we love our four-leggeds!

Hannah © Sandra, A Promise to Dada

Hannah © Sandra, A Promise to Dada

  • What tips would you give to anyone thinking about starting to blog?

Have a distinct theme and stick to it.  I should do that more :-)

  • You’ve won a number of awards for your blog, including:
    - The Sunshine Award
    - The versatile blogger award
    - The Liebster Award
    - Sisterhood of the World bloggers award
    - Shine On award
    - Kreativ blogger award
    - Beautiful blogger award
    Can you tell us a little bit about these awards?

Wow, it’s overwhelming to see them all listed here!  Apparently my words are motivational to other people. You see, I’m not a little person—I started this blog when I weighed 222 pounds, the heaviest I have ever been in my life.  I’m happy to say that I don’t weigh this much any more.

I remember seeing the weight go up, starting in graduate school, and thinking “Well, it cannot go much higher than that.”  And instead of doing something about it, they kept going up.  I lost some weight a couple of times, but watching my Dad dying did something to me.

I think that my passion for life and working out has touched people on some very deep level, and in many different ways. I’m not any better than any other blogger out there—there are many FAR better than me—but it’s so amazing to be appreciated like this! It means so much to me.

  • Who do you think the main audience is for your blog? Are you writing with any specific person in mind?

I started writing this blog assuming no one would ever read it. Ever. Except for me. I have no idea where my followers found me, but I’m honored that they have. I realized that most of them were fellow triathletes or folks just fighting their own weight battles themselves. That’s who I’m writing for. I’m no expert, I’m just a girl who wants to live life fuller, longer, healthier!

  • How do you decide what is ‘blogworthy’?

My workouts are definitely blogworthy—I want people to know that I struggle, but I keep going.  Sometimes I have other things to share that aren’t workouts, like my post on March 9 ( Even though it isn’t really about a workout, it is about reprioritizing—which in the end is about me being healthy, happy, and living longer. I want my blog to be motivational, but real.

Sandra on the bike trainer and her partner on the treadmill

Sandra on the bike trainer and her partner on the treadmill ©Sandra, A promise to Dad

  • What do you find most challenging about blogging about sports and health?

Finding the time to do it during the busy parts of my year!

Oh, and it’s really hard to blog about sports and health when I cannot do any sports because I’m injured! That just makes me feel sad. (

  • What do you do when you aren’t blogging?

Walk my bordippit collerier (flat coated border collie whippet cross), train, teach, grade papers/exams, go to too many meetings, kayak (my hubby built this kayak for me a few years ago:, work on my next books, and many other things!

Dulce © Sandra, A Promise to Dad

Dulce © Sandra, A Promise to Dad

  • You’ve got a page on your blog that lists most of the races and events that you’ve taken part in since 2008. What challenges, races and events have you got lined up for 2014?

I signed up for Hickory Grove Aquabike in Colo, Iowa, in May (because I cannot run yet); and the WIN for KC Women’s Triathlon in Smithville, Missouri –just outside Kansas City (  It’s still open!  You all should join me!

Notice I said I cannot run yet.  I’m planning on being healthy for this July Triathlon, and I will walk the run if I have to—but I AM DOING IT!   I also plan to sign up for the Olathe Women’s Triathlon in Olathe, KS (September); and am REALLY contemplating the RedMan Aquabike in Oklahoma later this summer.

  • What skill do you hope to master over the next year?

Hills on my bike. I hate hills. And to get back to running.

  • What is something you would like to ask the next featured blogger?

What got you interested in Triathlon (or whichever sport you love)?  What keeps you going?

  • You’re a member of the Ogio Advisory Board, a Sweat Pink Ambassador and a member of the Milestones Sports Jewelry team. Can you tell us a little bit about these roles?

Oh!  I’d love to!

MILESTONES:  When I did my first triathlon in 2008, it was pouring so hard that they cancelled the bike portion—but waiting at the end was a ring I had purchased to commemorate the event.  I have never taken it off.  I decided to buy a bead (Pandora style) for every event I have completed, and I get them from Milestones, because I like the owner.  She answered my questions and was very personable.  While it seems crazy, we sort of became friends via the internet.  She started the Milestones Sports Jewelry Team—and if you sign up ($40, yes you, too, can join!–, you get an awesome tech shirt and a discount on merchandise.  But the best part is you get training programs from her team of experts which include former Olympians!  BY the way, I have filled up an entire bracelet with race beads (several triathlons and 5ks, and a 10k from last August!)

milestones logo

Milestones logo

OGIO:  Early last year when I was sidelined with a severe case of asthma, I started shopping online for a good triathlon bag.  I landed at OGIO and while poking around, saw that I could apply to be an OGIO Advisory Board Member.  So I applied.  And they chose me!  They sent me two amazing bags, then gave me 40% discounts on orders!  Needless to say, I’m OGIO-fied!  :-)

SWEAT PINK:  Thanks to YOU, I applied and was accepted as a Sweat Pink Ambassador.  I think part of my application that they appreciated was that I helped a student start the Triathlon Club at my college and got a math professor and a staff person to do a women’s triathlon with me—their first!  Since then, they have continued to compete in Triathlons around the region!  I’m so proud of both of them.  The best part?  I get to hand out hot pink shoelaces to people who inspire me or have been inspired by me!  I LOVE that!

Sweat Pink laces

Sweat Pink laces

  • You recently blogged about the GoPro Hero 3 that you husband gave you and you often refer to your Garmin stats. What is your favourite gadget and why?

OMG.  I LOVE MY GARMIN 910xt!!!  I am a stat freak because it is SO motivating to me.  I had a 205 about 10 years ago, then upgraded to a 310xt (giving the 205 to mom, which she still uses—although she just told me she has never uploaded the data to her computer.  Whaaaaaat?????).  I use the Garmin swimming inside and outside, on my bike inside and outside (with the cadence sensor), walking and running inside and outside (with a footpod), and kayaking, sailing, hiking, whatever.  I LOVE that thing!

I’m sure I’ll say I love the GoPro Hero 3 too, but it’s been TOO miserable where I live to use it outside.  I will take it to the pool this week to check my swim mechanics, though.  Here’s a GoPro video in doubletime—my bikeride December 30, 2013:

  • You blogged about volunteering at the Cocoa Women’s Half Marathon in Alamo. What’s the furthest from home you’ve travelled for a sporting event?

This one!  I was supposed to run it, but I developed plantar fasciitis while training for it last fall.  I’ve been sidelined ever since.  Since I had already purchased our plane tickets, we went anyway!  We hit the one good weekend in the entire month of January in Texas.  LUCKY!  Before that?  It’s been five hours to North Platte, Nebraska, for the James O’Rourke Triathlon.  It’s an awesome one in April every year.  They have the Platte River Series that encourages Nebraskans to get fit and stay healthy!  Motivational speakers the night before the race tell such awesome stories, well, you just have no choice but to sign up again the following year!  I’ve done it two times.  Here’s the heartwarming story of my first one three years ago:

  • You’ve blogged about having to train indoors and watching various programmes (including The Cosby Show and Star Trek). Do you listen to music when training? What music motivates you?

Funny that you ask. I haven’t listened to music while training for a long time—probably since last spring. If I’m on the treadmill or trainer, I usually watch a movie or TV show (also Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Daily Show, and Colbert Report, among others)—they keep my mind away from the pain and tedium. When I first started training, I would listen to U2’s faster stuff, or The Gypsy Kings. Sometimes now I listen to Bluegrass (Folk Alley, find the app on your i-Device)—mostly because I don’t listen to music on the radio and therefore I have no idea what new music is out there. I even listen to NPR when I am at the gym on the bike, treadmill, or elliptical (this tells you I’m at the gym when the news is on really early in the morning!)

·       What’s your favourite food/recipe?

Pizza.  Anything with Chocolate.  Popcorn.  New Mexican food.  Recently I’ve discovered Zesty Quinoa Salad (we add avocados).  MmmmmM!  It’s waiting for us in the fridge for weekly lunches!  Homemade pizza tonight!  :-)

  • You’ve had to deal with various injuries in the last year or so. What is your strategy for dealing with an injury?

Oh dear me.  I hate being injured.  I research the injury online, ask everyone I know how they’ve dealt with it, and then usually make a stupid decision to keep training.

Last year I had tennis elbow—which kept me from swimming and bicycling until April (note O’Rourke Triathlon is in late April—I was not prepared).

I finally healed and was slammed with the worst case of asthma I had ever experienced (I’m still trying to learn how to manage it—I was just diagnosed with it in 2009).  I had to stay inside—couldn’t do the Color Run I signed up for in May.

By June my asthma was gone and I had a bike wreck and partially separated my shoulder.  Not only was kayaking out, so was biking, swimming AND golfing.  FINALLY got over that by late September then BOOM!

Plantar Fasciitis.  By that point, I was so frustrated.  I researched online and asked my readers what I should do.  I vaguely remember most people said, “run through the pain.”  They probably didn’t, but people hear what they want to hear.  I kept running on that pain from October until Thanksgiving.  My sister and I did a Turkey Trot and when I got home, I could not walk.  I was done.  The Physical Therapist said, “You should not have run through the pain—it will now take MUCH longer to heal.”

Lesson learned. Now I’m going to Dr. Leon at Sport and Spine—he does Active Release Therapy. He said I’ll be back to running in two weeks because I have stayed off my foot! Phew! I’ll be ready for the WIN for KC Women’s Triathlon after all!

  • Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?

I used to do them in softball all the time, but I used to win all the time in softball.  I’ve only recently moved up to the middle 1/3 in my age group for Triathlon.  So I see no use for them.  My goal is to keep racing until I am the only one left in my age group—then maybe I can win first place!  THEN I’ll have a ritual!  :-)

  • Describe your philosophy for life in a six word sentence…

Live, laugh, love, and be outside!

  • What is the most important advice that you can give to readers?


[I also like: You’re the biggest obstacle in your own success]

  • Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Every day I can do something physical is a day I should do something physical. There will come a time I cannot. I never want to look back and think, “Why didn’t I at least go for a walk that day?”

  • Aside from your blog, do you have any other social media presence where you are happy to be followed?

I’m trying to simplify my life, so I’m fading away from FaceBook and refuse to begin Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Scoop it!  I am not on Bloglovin, but if anyone wants to join me at Strava (Sandra “Yakkergirl”) or Garmin Connect (yakkergirl), please do!

Thank you so much to Sandra for agreeing to be interviewed – please go and check out her great blog :-)

I’ve moved!

10 Apr

Woo hoo – the information for my next race has arrived!

I’ve got a sportive this weekend and then I’m doing my first triathlon of the year – Try Tri’s Good Fri Tri. I hated my last pool-based, but I get less stressed about swimming in close proximity with other people now, so I’m hoping that it will go well.

I also had a totally fabulous sports massage with the lovely Pete at YOU Massage Therapy. My calves weren’t too bad as I had them massaged before the marathon and I wore calf guards during the race, but my quads and glutes were quite tight. Pete finished off my massage by working on my neck and shoulders, which are always horribly tight. I’ve been told to relax my shoulders for as long as I can remember (by my ballet teacher, karate instructors and various other people), but when I’m told that, they usually feel relaxed to me. At some stage soon, I’m going to book a neck and shoulder massage in the hope that I can release some more of the tension there. I think going back to yoga regularly will also help me… as would spending less time using my laptop.

Anyway, onto my big topic of the day… you may have noticed that I’ve bought a new domain:

I’m hoping to find some time during the Easter break to make a few changes around here.

Is there anything that you’d like to see on my blog? Anything that you think I should change?

“To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift.”

8 Apr

In 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded his fellow countrymen to be bold and accept that for progress to happen, changes have to take place, with the words:

“To reach a port we must set sail –
Sail, not tie at anchor
Sail, not drift.”

At the moment, I am being bold and embracing new opportunities that are presented to me. Today’s adventure was a day at sea. It’s another post that’s not directly related to triathlons, but it’s about exercise and before I’d learned to swim, it’s something that I would never have considered doing.

My dad loved the sea, having been a sea scout in his youth before leaving his home in Falmouth to go to Warsash Maritime Academy. He worked as an engineer for P&O for most of his life rising to the role of Chief Engineer Officer before coming ashore to work as a superintendent for a couple of years before his early death at the age of 54. One of my earliest memories of my dad is when he read Arthur Ransome’s novel “Secret Water” to me on one of our caravanning holidays. Aside from going to stay on a few bulk carriers with dad, we didn’t spend much time on the water… although he did buy a small boat when I was a young teenager. My main memory of it is sailing around St. Michael’s Mount for a spot of fishing, but I hated the ragworms and felt terribly seasick, so I had to jump off the boat and doggy-paddle back to shore!

Anyway, an opportunity came up to go sailing with Blue Box Sailing a Hamble-based sailing experience company and I jumped at the chance. It was a day of match racing, with two evenly-matched Clipper 60s.

Stuart arrived at Blue Box Sailing’s HQ on the Hamble river (famous for the 1980s BBC sailing drama Howard’s Way) at 9:45, which gave us an opportunity to meet the Blue Box team. Piers signed us in and made us some hot drinks whilst Sam sorted out waterproof clothing and life-jackets for us. We were then divided into two crews, with Piers on one boat and Matt skippering the other (keenly observed by founding director of Blue Box sailing, Jono). We were quite a small crew with Sam as the other professional crew member and then six of us amateurs… although Stuart and I were the only novices on-board; the others had significant experience!

We went down the pontoon and boarded Serica . The other team was on Taeping. Once onboard, we were told a little bit about the yacht we would be sailing – both Serica and Taeping were entrants in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race race in 1998, 2000 and 2002. It always amazes me that people are able to cope with such cramped living conditions for weeks on end.

Before we went anywhere, we had to do a bit of knot-tying. This was where the difference between the other ‘amateurs’ and us was obvious – it took me quite a few attempts to be able to tie a knot correctly. I think it may have been a bowline, but I’m not even sure of that :-S When I was a Brownie, I spent hours tying knots, but it’s clearly not my forte! Thankfully, Sam was very patient and I got there in the end.

Jono gave us the obligatory health and safety talk, before we slipped lines and headed for open water. There was a little bit of rain, but then the clouds blew over and we had fine weather for the majority of the day.

We had a few hours in the morning to practise all of the manoeuvres that we would require for racing in the afternoon. Stuart took the helm first, but then passed to me just in time for the lunch-break – sneaky thing! As soon as I was in place, I realised why Stuart had had such a look of concentration on his face… I was always aware that the professional crew could step in at any moment if required, but no-one wants to be the first person to require help, and I was conscious of the value of the yacht at all times; it’s like letting a learner driver out in a Ferrari for their first driving lesson!!!

Lunch felt like a feast with a variety of enormous baguette on white or brown bread (I’ve a feeling that chicken and gammon were on offer, but as a vegetarian, I opted for cheese), followed up with crisps, chocolate, biscuits and a variety of hot and cold drinks, all supplemented by flapjack that one of the others had brought along – delicious!

It was then onto the serious stuff of the day – racing Piers and his crew on Taeping. It looked for a while like they would win, but an unusual manoeuvre by them allowed us to take the lead. It was an awesome experience having to work so closely with the others to ensure that everything took place at exactly the right time. Although most of the others were seasoned pros, Jono, Matt and Sam ensured that they used terminology that Stuart and I could understand and they kept a watchful eye on us, so that no-one lost any digits (a distinct possibility with so much rope moving at high-speed!)

We were kept busy all afternoon, which meant that the time flew by and I didn’t have a moment to even think about whether my legs were feeling tired (and I suspect that my arms will feel tired from all of the winching tomorrow, so that’ll distract me from my legs again!) . All too soon, it was time to head back up the River Hamble. It was a truly amazing experience and one that I’m really glad I participated in. If you’re ever given the opportunity to go sailing, I would urge you to try it… and if you’re in the Uk and have the chance to come to the south coast, I would highly recommend Blue Box Sailing.

Stuart was first to take the helm

Stuart was first to take the helm


As you can see, the weather was lovely, with beautiful blue skies

As you can see, the weather was lovely, with beautiful blue skies

© Blue Box Sailing

© Blue Box Sailing

Clearly the other crew were the 'baddies' as Hollywood has taught me that black = bad and white = good!

Clearly the other crew were the ‘baddies’ as Hollywood has taught me that black = bad and white = good!

Stuart and Polly observing our competitors

Stuart and Polly observing our competitors

Our competitors were also observing us © Blue Box Sailing

Our competitors were also observing us © Blue Box Sailing

The match race meant that we ended up sailing fairly close together (although obviously in a controlled and safe way!)

The match race meant that we ended up sailing fairly close together (although obviously in a controlled and safe way!)




Please help to save some of my heritage

8 Apr

I try to keep my blog focussed on the training that I’m doing (whether swimming, cycling, running, yoga or other exercise) or my diet, but today I’m posting about something a bit different.

Jubilee Pool

Today I want to write about the Jubilee Lido in Penzance, Cornwall. I first blogged about it when I visited last summer and completed an aquathlon there: and then I blogged about it again when the UK suffered devastating storms earlier this year:

Jubilee pool in storm

The Jubilee Lido has a special place in my heart for many reasons and I will be just one member of the community who will be deeply upset if this beautiful outdoor pool cannot be restored for future generations to enjoy it.


Jubilee Lido after the storms
Jubilee Lido after the storms

I’m appealing to everyone who reads my blog to sign a petition asking the local Council to match funding from other sources to help save this beautiful Art Deco pool:

If you would like to follow the campaign, please visit the Facebook page:!/jubileepool

There is also a website: 


Thank you :-)

I’ve now got a 400m time

7 Apr

Well after yesterday’s exploits, I didn’t feel too bad today. I cycled to work today and cycled home again without any problems, and was able to climb the stairs to my office, but going downstairs is not my favourite activity!

I’m having a break from Run Leading at the moment, so that I can recover properly, finish my coaching course and get my running mojo back, so I didn’t go to the LRR training session this evening. Instead, I got to meet Katherine’s temporary foster child, George, who has come to visit from Edinburgh. Isn’t he lovely?

Tiny George is 2 years old.

Tiny George is 2 years old.

Hello George!

Hello George!

This is a rare photo of me wearing glasses as I was heading to swimming straight after having a cuppa with George (well, he turned his nose up at some fancy lettuce and tomatoes and I had a hot chocolate).

Some of my friends were surprised to see me at the Tri Club swimming session, but I’m now planning my training for Challenge Weymouth 70.3 as I’m going to be exerting myself for nearly twice as long as for my marathon.

It was a really good session with Coach Peter and I was glad that I went as it was a private session with Liz. We did a warm up (200m crawl and 100m kick) and were then timed to do 400m. I had no idea how long it would take, so it was interesting to learn that I completed it in 10:36. We then did some stroke drills, and practised turning before doing another 400m set. I had a few problems with my goggles filling up with water and had to stop twice to empty them, so I was quite pleased to do my second 400m set in 10:39. I think I should be able to swim 400m in under 10:30 when I’m less fatigued and have sorted out my goggles. Overall, I swam between 1800 and 2000m this evening, which wasn’t too bad.

Sadly, there were no split times at Ferndown tri, so it’ll be interesting to see how I get on at the Good Friday Tri, which is a 400m pool swim. I’m hoping that I might manage it all in 1:45. (I did Ferndown try a tri in 1:32 – that was 400m swim, 16k bike and 5k run). Before then, I’ve got a 60 mile bike ride, but I’m really looking forward to my first triathlon of 2014 :-)

How your star sign determines your swimming ability

7 Apr

I couldn’t resist sharing this link as it made me laugh so much:

How your star sign determines your swimming ability

It’s a fantastic April Fool (or Poisson d’Avril). I’m a Pisces:

Pisces: 19 Feb – 20 March

The fish. Born to it. Amazing swimmers. Intuitive, instinctive, water is their natural home. If you need help in the water, Pisces are your go-to sign – but so willing are they to help others, they may drown themselves in the process. Oh well. But be warned, other swimmers: pisceans don’t like rejection. If you don’t let them on the swim team … well, you’ve been warned.

If you’ve been reading my blog, then you’ll know that swimming does not come naturally to me, but I guess I am willing to help others and I do LOVE being part of a team. Did you recognise any of your traits in this?

Brighton Marathon: I high-fived Paula Radcliffe!!!

6 Apr

So, today was the big day. For the past few weeks, I’ve postponed everything saying that I would ‘do it after Brighton’.

Stu and I woke up at 5:30am and I sprang out of bed, ready to make my porridge. Today I opted by 30g oats, 20g dried apricots, 30g ground almonds, a drop of vanilla essence and 1tsp golden syrup, microwaved with some water. Whilst it was cooling (I hate HOT porridge), I got dressed. The weather forecast had been for wind and rain, but given my problems with overheating, I decided not to change my planned outfit: my black SportZone double layer shorts, Lordshill t-shirt, headband (depending on the temperature), Nike dri-fit elite socks, turquoise Compress Sport calf guards, Shock Absorber ball sports bra and Brooks Vapors.

I wasted a bit of time, so Stu and I didn’t leave the house until 6:25am, but I wasn’t too worried as I knew that the roads would be fairly quiet.

We came off the main road and went straight into a traffic jam for the Mill Road park and ride. I saw other people get out of their cars and walk, but I didn’t feel ready to leave Stu at that point (7:40am), so I stayed for a while, but by the time it got to 8am, I thought I’d better get out as the instructions said that the last bus would leave the park and ride at 8:15am and I didn’t want to miss it.

I walked down a hill and crossed a road by a roundabout. I’d seen another girl get out of a car. She had flagged down a park and ride bus as she had seen another woman get on it. I jogged over and was able to get on with her. This was a fortunate move as when we got to the bus stop, there was a massive queue. I chatted to the other runner, who told me that she was called Rosie, was 24 and from Birmingham. She had planned to run the race with a friend, but her friend got injured, so she was doing it on her own and aiming for 5 hours.

The journey to the start was about 2 miles, so it didn’t take long for us to get there. I then went to queue for a toilet with Rosie. All of the queues were enormous, so it took quite a long time, but I wasn’t worried as we had over half an hour before the race would start.Finally, I made it to the front of the queue – what a relief.

Near the baggage lorries, I saw a man applying vaseline. I decided it might be prudent to apply some more, but I had forgotten mine, so I asked the man if I could have some. I removed my trousers and hoodie and rubbed a bit of vaseline on my legs to prevent chafing. I then took out my bin bag, handed in my bag and headed towards the start. I realised that I still had my headband around my neck, so I pulled it up. I wasn’t sure whether I would need it, but rain had been forecast, so I thought it might be useful.

On the way to the start line, I saw Matt White, a fellow LRR runner, so I popped over to wish him luck and then went to the start line. There was some nervous chatter and I realised that I hadn’t put a pacing band on, but I wasn’t too fussed as I figured that some mental arithmetic might help to distract me along the way. I also realised that it felt quite warm, so I removed my bin bag.

Brighton Marathon Map

Brighton Marathon Map

My corral started moving forwards and I could see the start line. As I got near, I realised that Paula Radcliffe was on my side of the road, high-fiving runners crossing the start line. She is one of my running heroes, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. I headed straight for her and was so excited to high five her.


Just a minute down the road, I saw Stu and Ant, so that was another couple of high fives in the bag. I was aware that we had to run a loop around the park as we’d already seen some of the elite runners go past as we were heading to the start line. What I didn’t know was that we had to go up a hill. We went around a corner and I was amused that although we were only a mile or so into the race, men were already dashing off to water the plants! I felt warm, so I removed my headband and wrapped it around my arm. As I headed towards where we had started, I spotted Ant and Stu again, so I threw my headband to them.

I felt quite pleased with my 5km time of 0:30:16.


in this part of the race, I saw Simon on the other side of the road and shouted, but I don’t think he heard me. Then Sarah spotted me from the other side of the road – she was running incognito in an orange t-shirt, which was not what I was expecting. After I turned back on the loop, I was really excited to see Reena, who was looking strong. She had headphones in, so I really had to shout for her to hear me, but I was glad that I got her attention.  I then saw Stu with Ant again at about 4.5 miles.

I was relieved to find that I was still running at a sensible and consistent pace when I hit 10km in  1:00:23.


As I was coming up to 7 miles, I kept looking at the other side of the road, trying to spot the speedy Lordshillers. I thought I might see Steve, but he was a long way ahead, so I missed him. I finally saw Simon looking really strong and then as I was trucking up the hill, I saw my friend Deano windmilling down the other side. I shouted out to him and he responded. There weren’t many spectators at this point on the course and it felt quite hilly, so there was not a lot of chat going on.

I thought that as I’d done 10km, I should take on some nutrition, so I had a caffeinated cherry shot blok. I was hoping for an instant boost, but to be honest, I didn’t really notice any difference :-(

We headed down a small side road that was quite congested. I wasn’t able to run at my own pace, which was really frustrating and people queuing into the road for the loos didn’t help. After I’d passed the turnaround point and got to about 8.5 miles, I saw Laura for the first time. I was quite surprised as I thought I’d started at the back of my corral and assumed that she’d be ahead of me, but I hadn’t realised that she’d started in a later corral.

Despite the hill, I was still running at a consistent pace and arrived at the 15km mat in 1:30:06.


My initial troubles started as we were heading up the hill. It had become really congested and I couldn’t work out why as the path hadn’t narrowed. I skipped up the grass verge and started moving faster. I then realised that it was so congested as I was stuck in the lass of people around the 4:30 pacer. I wondered whether I should stick with the group, but I hadn’t been enjoying running at their pace, so I thought I would be better off doing my own thing and running according to how i felt.

I then started heading down the hill which felt great. The pacer had shouted out that there were no more hills left, so I was feeling really pumped. I wasn’t having to pay too much attention to what was going on around me as it wasn’t too busy… or so I thought. Suddenly, something hit me and I was totally winded! A woman up ahead had dropped and gel and instead of ignoring it and carrying on (she had on one of those gel-belts with enough gels to feed all of the elite runners!) she had turned around and run back straight into me. It threw me for a second, and being terribly English, I even apologised, although on reflection, it was hardly my fault.

Anyway, I managed to pull myself together and was still doing an OK pace, so I reached 20km in 2:01:17.


I was quite excited about running the 20-25km segment as I knew that I would have completed half the race and was also expecting some good crowd support along the sea front.

As I turned a corner, I heard the first cheers from LRR supporters: Mike J. and Di. Then just a little further along, I heard the cheers from Team Cleeves on the other side of the road, who were probably awaiting Steve who was much further ahead than me. The next people who I saw were Stu and Ant. I had intended to speak to Stu at this point, but I was too busy chomping on my first energy gel to be able to speak. Oops!

The path then turned away from the seafront, which is where I got my first glimpse of the LRR support crew (at about 14 miles). I was a little bit dazed to see so many of them, but I think it was Irene, Emily, Pete, Rosie and Kirsty – thanks guys :-)

Smiling because I can see my friends © Emily Smith

Smiling because I can see my friends © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

I was still doing surprisingly well and hit 25k in 2:33:27.


The next part of the course was a bit warmer as we were away from the seafront and the crowds were not as thick. It was also the part of the race that I dread the most, as I often find 16-20 miles the hardest part of long distance races. However, I was feeling confident that I might beat my dismal time for 20 miles from Bramley this year, so I kept going.

I had been picking up squeezy water cartons at every drinks stop and on this section of the course, I really doused myself with the water as I could tell that I was starting to get quite hot and I didn’t want to have to walk as I was feeling OK.

At some point in this section, Laura passed me looking strong. It was nice to talk to her for a little while, and I was suprised that it hadn’t happened sooner as I was expecting her to finish the race in about 4:15.

Overall, I was still doing OK as I reached 30k in 3:07:28.


Miles 19-21 were heading west towards the power station. They felt really tough as it’s at the point when you’ve already run a long way and you’re also aware of just how much further you have to go. I’m not sure exactly what the time was when I passed the 20 mile marker, but I was pleased that I was faster than when I did Bramley 20 earlier this year. At about that time, I saw sarah on teh other side. We both nodded to acknowledge each other, but neither of us managed to shout or really wave as I think we were both starting to feel the effort.

I had really started to slow at this point and hit 35k in 3:45:21, but at least I knew that unless something terrible happened, I ought to get a time under 5 hours, which was a relief.


The last 7.2km were really hard. I desperately wanted to pick up the pace, but my legs wouldn’t obey me.I was looking for any motivation that I could get and did not have enough energy to dodge around people, so I had to say ‘excuse me’ repeatedly to people who were walking in groups.

Somewhere around the 23 mile point, I saw the LRR crew again, which lifted my spirits and Stu also kept popping up. It was a little depressing to see how quickly he could run to the next point whilst wearing jeans and fashion trainers, but I was grateful that he was doing his best to help me.

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 23 miles © Stuart Smith

Stu also reminded me of the phrase that Irene and I always used to use on long runs: ‘parkrun to go’, which makes 5km seem like an easy and managebale distance when you’re tired.

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith

At about 24 miles © Stuart Smith


24.5 miles or thereabouts © Emily Smith

© Emily Smith

© Emily Smith

I did spend a lot of time thinking about my posture when I felt tired and I was grateful that I didn’t have a drinks belt weighing me down, but Stu managed to get a photo of me jogging up the last slope where my posture was terrible – oh dear :-(

Heading up a slope at 25 miles © Stuart Smith

Heading up a slope at 25 miles © Stuart Smith

The crowd were really good for the last couple of miles and a lot of people were shouting my name (as it’s on my t-shirt), which made it hard to know whether they were friends or just kind supporters. (The ones shouting ‘Tasmin’ were clearly just kind supporters). I did my best to look around and thank people, even if it was just a little thumbs up, but I didn’t recognise everyone. Somewhere around the 25 mile point, one of my schoolfriends, Alex, was cheering me on, which was really kind of her. I just hope I wasn’t looking too haggard at that point as I had really slowed up and was being passed by elderly people.

My final km split was at 40km:4:22:18.

I desperately wanted to sprint to the line, but my legs just wouldn’t go any faster and as it wasn’t going to be a PB, there just didn’t seem to be any point. I finally crossed the line in


which is about 20 minutes faster than I had hoped for, so I felt quite pleased.


Here’s all of my Garmin data for the race.

Garmin data for Brighton Marathon

Garmin data for Brighton Marathon

I’m quite pleased with my cadence for the race as I really struggled towards the end. I didn’t check on it during the run, but was hoping to keep it at 180spm for the race.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 20.54.39

You can’t see how slowly I was running after 30km (which might be a good thing), but until then, I wasn’t doing too badly!

After crossing the finish line, I had to collect my medal, finisher’s t-shirt, a foil blanket, a carrier bag, a banana, some breakfast biscuits, a bottle of Gatorade and a carton of water. I was grateful for all of these items, but it would have been much easier if they’d all been placed in a bag for me.

I was desperate to just curl up and sleep, but we had to keep walking and I’d agreed to meet Stuart in the finishers’ area by the ‘S’ sign. When I got there, I sat down and removed my shoes before eating some of the food. It didn’t take Stu long to arrive and after I’d used the foil blanket as a modesty sheet to change out of my shorts, we started walking in the direction of the buses… or so we thought. We crossed a road and asked the people there for directions to the park and ride. They pointed west, so we walked quite a long way before we decided to ask someone else for directions. Aaaarrgghh – we had walked nearly two miles away from where the buses were collecting people, so we had to walk all of the way back.

We finally got on a bus and after quite a while, we were dropped off at the bottom of the park and ride. I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t a field or a car park, just a long steep hill with cars parked at the side of the road. Stu’s car was about a mile away, just a few cars from the end of the line. It probably did my legs good to keep moving, but I hadn’t planned to walk five miles after running so far!

When I got home, I had a large glass of water before showering and putting on my t-shirt (and medal)

With my finisher's tshirt and medal

With my finisher’s t-shirt and medal

I like the ribbon that the medal is on and it’s not a bad medal, but I was a little disappointed that the t-shirt is a cotton t-shirt and not a technical t-shirt, which means that it will be relegated to the back of my drawer, never to be seen again!

I’m now trying out the Actipatch that I was sent, whilst kicking back with a pizza!

Celebration pizza

Celebration pizza

All-in-all, it hasn’t been a bad day!

Here’s the stats:

I was 505/956 in my age group (Women 35-44)

5438th/8506 overall in 4:39:44

1453/3031 out of the women (although I think this is incomplete data)




Hello & Welcome!! I'm Kecia...a wife, a mother of 2 black labradors, an 8th grade science teacher, a triathlete, a lover of fitness and outdoor adventures. Come with me on my journey as I push my limits and cross new finish lines!!


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