“The only thing that lasts forever is quitting”.
“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than yesterday.”
Scotty Boxa posts his own motivational messages every Monday.
“The only thing that lasts forever is quitting”.
“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than yesterday.”
Scotty Boxa posts his own motivational messages every Monday.
The first time I ran the Heartbreaker Half Marathon (14 miles) was in February 2012. The course changed slightly in 2012 to remove a downhill start and move the turnaround point, so that it is now 13.1 miles and not almost 14 miles, however, that hasn’t affected my time very much:
I chose not to run the race last year, but Stuart persuaded me to enter this year as he thought it would be a good preparatory race for him as he’s doing London Marathon in April.
The course is quite picturesque. It takes place in the New Forest and most of it runs along a ridge way. Essentially, the course is shaped like a capital T – runners start at the bottom of the letter, run up the ‘stem’, turn left and head out to the east, before turning around and heading across the top of the letter to the west, then turning around until the ‘stem’ and heading for home. (That’s not my best description – it might be easier to look at the map).
My goals for today were to beat my previous times and to go under 2:10. An optimistic goal was to go under 2:05, with an optimistic goal of going under 2:00… however, having been ill recently, I knew that would be a very optimistic goal.
We got up early and I ate a bowl of apple and cinnamon porridge before we headed out to the car. We had a hailstorm last night and then when the temperatures dropped overnight, everything froze, so the pavements were quite slippery. Stu’s car was also covered in ice, but the magic of a heated windscreen and wing mirrors meant that we didn’t have to scrape the ice off (I wish my car had such luxurious features!)
I had checked the weather forecast several times: dry, but cloudy until midday when rain was expected. The New Forest looked beautiful as we drove out to the start of the race. We had to arrive quite early to collect our race numbers and didn’t want to get in the way of the marathon runners who were to start at 9am. Fortunately, we didn’t have to arrive quite as early as the marshals. My friend, Donna, from tri club was helping out at the event and she managed to snap several beautiful shots (including the one below) before getting down to work.
We parked the car at the campsite (which is humorously called ‘Sandyballs‘) and said hello to various members of Lordshill Road Runners before heading off to race registration. I was given number 543, which I pinned to my SOAS vest. Stu and I then went to sit in the briefing room to wait for 45 minutes.
It wasn’t long before we were joined by some other runners that we knew… and I also saw some running celebrities, including Martin Yelling and Steve Way. (I’m told that Tony Audenshaw [who records the ‘Tony’s Trials’ section of Marathon Talk] was also there, but although I recognise the sound of his voice, I’ve never seen Emmerdale [the soap opera that he appears in], so I have no idea what he looks like.
There was a lot of discussion about what people were going to wear, based on the ice outside, however, I didn’t think the temperature was too bad, so I had opted to wear my SOAS vest, a pair of double-layer shorts and calfguards. I chose not to wear gloves or a headband as I thought I would probably warm up so much on the first hill that I wouldn’t need them. I accessorised with my inhaler, which was definitely a good move as I was so nervous at my last race without it! Most of my friends were wearing long tights and long-sleeved tops, with most of them also wearing jackets, gloves and hats. This made me start to question my choice, but I know that I get a lot hotter than most of my friends when I run.
Eventually, it was time to start. We were led down to the bottom of a deep ravine and then the race started. I tried to pace myself cautiously as I knew how hard I had found the first hill previously, so I started with a 6:27/km pace. This turned out to be a sensible move as it didn’t take me long for me to recover my breathing. After leaving the campsite, we turned to the east and headed out along the road. After a few minutes, I was passed by Lisa, a club mate. I know that she is running very well, so I didn’t try to stick with her. We then turned off the main road and out onto a forest trail. It was a lovely long downhill… but it was also a little daunting as we could see the long uphill that came after it… and there were already runners all of the way up the next hill.
It takes a while for my breathing to relax, so I found the long hill quite challenging. At one stage, a runner I know who is 30 years older than me came alongside me, which made me want to fight harder and push on. Finally, I was onto a flat section, when Jenny a friend from Southampton Tri Club and Run camp said hello to me. I had completely forgotten that Jenny was doing this race. I tried to keep Jenny in my sights and when we came to the next downhill, I was able to pass her again. A male runner called out something about taking care of my knees, but I love running downhill and didn’t intend to slow down.
Then came a section that I had been dreading – a river. It’s not large, but I knew I would have to cross it and that it would be cold. One year, it was so dry that I could leap it, but not this year. Fortunately, I was able to spring across fairly quickly and didn’t notice my feet getting wet.
On the next uphill section, another member of LRR, Paul, passed me. Again, I decided not to try to stick with him as I wanted to maintain a steady race and just do the best that I could do. Chasing someone else’s time would jeopardise my ability to stay strong until the end.
We then arrived at the aid station, where we had to turn left to head out along the ridgeway. I love this part of the course as the runners all pass each other and shout encouragement (especially as there were already plenty of marathoners out there). It’s also very difficult to see who is running the marathon and who is doing the half – maybe next year the organisers could give people different coloured numbers. I was watching out for runners I knew and managed to spot Andy Griggs, but I couldn’t work out how close to the front he was – it looked like maybe he was about 5th. Then I saw Mike Akers, who also looked to be having a strong race. Stu was aiming for a steady tempo run as part of his marathon training, so it was a little while before I saw him, but he looked to be running well, which was a relief as he has had severe back problems recently. A short while after Stu, I saw Steve who I used to lead a running group with. He looked like he was running really well, so I felt pleased for him.
Lisa was just ahead of me at the turnaround point and I was then able to see how far ahead of my other friends I was. It was lovely being able to shout hello and cheer on Jenny, Gary, Carol, Paul, Sarah, Rachel, Loraine, Sharon, Cary, Inez and Mike D. I also cheered on a couple of girls who had spoken to me at the start and told me that it was their first half marathon. I didn’t know their names, but hope that my words of encouragement helped them.
The path back to the aid station included a steep uphill. I ran up most of it, but decided to conserve energy and power walk some of it. Fortunately I didn’t feel the need to walk for long and was soon running again. Gary passed me on the hill and looked to be catching up with Lisa. When I got to the aid station, Lisa was having a drink and Gary was tucked behind a bush! I grabbed a cup of water and chose not to stop, but I knew that Gary and Lisa would pass me again soon.
As I expected, Gary and Lisa passed me, but I didn’t mind as I was enjoying myself. We had had a tiny bit of drizzle that had cooled me down and the sun was starting to peep out from the clouds. I kept watching for my club mates, but the very fastest ones had already passed by. I was delighted when I saw Stu and he was still looking strong.
The path to the west felt like it was going on forever, so I was happy when I saw the long downhill to the turnaround point. I ran down it as quickly as I could. It felt great to be passing other runners. At the turnaround point, I could see Gary and Lisa, which helped to spur me on and I knew that I would see plenty of other friends as I was heading back. As I neared the top of the hill, I could see an official race photographer. Why do they do that? It’s so mean! There was nothing for it, but to grit my teeth, smile and do my best to run with perfect form… however, I haven’t seen the photos yet, so I probably still look terrible!
When I got back to the aid station, I took a sip of energy drink and also some water. I had no idea what the energy drink was and I can’t even remember the flavour, but my stomach si generally fine with such things. In hindsight, I probably should have drunk more, but I didn’t want to stop. I headed down the hill towards the river. Unfortunately this time two men were crossing it very gingerly, so I had to slow down. This meant that I didn’t spring through it and my feet got wet :-(
I was starting to get tired, but I would not let myself slow down as I knew that wouldn’t help, so I just kept pushing myself to catch up with whoever the next person ahead was. On the last big descent, I passed a few men who gave me a cheer and encouraged me. I knew I had to make the most of it as my legs were feeling strong, but my lungs weren’t. I did my best to charge up the final hill, but halfway up, I knew that I was slowing significantly. I decided that I would walk as quickly as I could for 100 steps and then would start running again at that point, no matter where I was. Fortunately, this strategy worked and I was back in my stride by the top of the hill.
I turned left back out onto the road and was pleased that I was nearly back at the campsite. Unfortunately, I was also feeling really tired by this point and although it was mainly downhill, I just couldn’t muster up any more energy. Also the road had become quite busy. There were uneven grass verges at the side of the road and the gutter at the edge of the road was made of rough paving, so running in the road was preferable, but the traffic meant this was not possible.
I was really starting to flag when Stuart arrived. I hadn’t expected him to run back as he has had back problems, but he decided to extend his run and come for me anyway – what a hero! Stu had a bottle of water with him, so I took a sip. I also asked him if he had a gel, but he didn’t have one on him. He said a few encouraging things and kept reminding me of how close I was to the finish.
Eventually, we could see the turn into the campsite. Donna was waiting there cheering people on. I put on a massive final sprint (registered at 3:07/km on my Garmin), so that I looked strong crossing the mat.
I had done it! My final time was 2:04:21, so I achieved almost all of my goals. It’s 12 minutes slower than my HM PB, but it was a tough course!
I received a lovely medal and a bottle of water. Baggage collection was mercifully swift as it started raining hard shortly after I finished. I quickly put on my hoodie and tracksuit trousers, but that wasn’t enough to stop me from getting cold. I had the free soup and roll that was on offer, but Stu and I decided not to make use of the swimming pool and hot tub as we were both tired and just wanted to go home. Overall, this is a great race.
My Garmin data shows that my average pace was 5:55/km, which I was pleased with. My fastest pace (excluding the final sprint) was 3:27/km, which was when I got to a lovely downhill. I LOVE downhill running – it’s so much fun! Sadly, this is a net uphill course, with a 337m elevation gain.
I’m now feeling tired, but happy (and no, I don’t intend to have a spliff to help me push on to a longer distance next time – Marathons and marijuana: the loneliness of the long-distance dopehead!)
Well done to Andy Griggs for finishing 2nd overall (1:24 ahead of Martin Yelling!) and to Mike Akers for finishing 11th. Coach Carol from LRR was 3rd female Supervet (what a great category name!) Despite Stu’s plan of ‘jogging it’, he finished in 1:36:03 and was 21st. I was 138/272… which is frustrating as I was hoping to finish in the top half. However, I was 27/111 females and 17/98 in my category, so that’s not so bad!
My next race will be Salisbury 10 mile on 8th March. I’ve had mixed experiences at this race. It is my 10 mile PB course (87:44 in 2013), but I’ve also had some horrible runs there on the two years it was hot and they ran out of water (2012 and 2014 – 96:08 and 1:40:42). I’ve run 11x 10 mile races and my times for this race rank 1st, 8th and 10th. Anyway, I’m hoping the weather will be kind for the race this year – preferably cold and dry. I’ve been emailed my race number: 647. Let’s hope it’s a lucky number and that I get my first PB of the year!
I need to get back to being organised as I’m not blogging very consistently these days. To try to catch up, I thought I’d share a few photos that illustrate what I’ve been up to.
Stu and I went for a Valentine’s Date to a new coffee shop that has opened up. GL has a lovely range of home-made cakes (although they seemed a little pricy) and the decor was cute and quirky.
I’ve also been trying to eat more healthily – sometimes it works, but I’m not winning often enough as I seem to be addicted to sugar at the moment.
I’d love to share a recipe for my vegan chipotle chilli with quinoa and amaranth, but it was mainly throwing in what I could find in my kitchen and hoping that it turned out OK! A very simple recipe that I made this week and can share with you is for a delicious, healthy, paleo, vegan chocolate mousse:
I’ve read several variants of this recipe that call for the addition of almond/coconut milk and something as a sweetener (agave nectar/dates/sugar/honey – yes, I know that’s not vegan), but I didn’t feel the need to make it sweeter.
Have you ever tried this dessert? What ingredients do you use?
As you may know, Stuart and I are fundraising for the Chestnut Appeal this year, via justgiving. The charity kindly sent us some running vests this week. Stuart wore his out for a training run, so I made him pose for a photo. I’ve also worn mine for a training run with some work colleagues, but I didn’t take a selfie… maybe next time!
Despite a hailstorm yesterday, spring finally seems to be on its way. Buds can be seen in gardens and I’ve left work in daylight a few times recently, which is fantastic. I’m looking forward to being able to go out for bike rides after work. Another advantage of arriving home before it’s dark is that I get to see my neighbour’s pug. I have no idea what his or her name is, but they’re s/he’s adorable!
There are also likely to be some big changes at work soon with some colleagues leaving and new staff being recruited. The first person to leave is my friend Kerry who is going to work in Australia. I’m so jealous of her! My colleague Anna and I took a quick selfie to bid farewell to Kerry.
I admire Kerry for being brave enough to change her life in such a dramatic way. A lot of people talk about how they want to change their situation, but never do anything about it.
On Monday, I went to swimming as usual and ended up being observed by not one, but two coaches for almost 45 minutes. Everyone else was carrying on with the planned swim set (I think it was 400m reps), whilst I swam up and down, 50m at a time, with fins on whilst being given a whole stream of adjustments to make. Coach Peter has been trying for over a year to make me a good swimmer and I think he’s starting to run out of ideas. He regularly tells me: ‘You’d be a good swimmer, if you didn’t have to breathe”… of course, the problem is that I do need to breathe. I try so hard to do exactly what I’m told, but I always seem to end up lifting my head out of the water. This week, Peter go Coach Jo to come over and observe me as well. Jo told me that I needed to lift my head higher in the water. This felt more comfortable, but very different as I’ve never tried swimming with my head in this position before. I’m hoping that it will create a bow wave so that I can breathe without choking. Peter also identified that there seems to be a timing problem with my breathing, but I’m not aware of it myself. It would make sense for me to be filmed soon so that I can see the problem – I find that this makes it easier for me to work out what I need to change.
At the very end of the session, Peter got me to stand against the wall with my arms stretched out against the wall (palms outwards) at shoulder height. I then bent my elbows at 90 degrees, so that my hands were at head height. I then had to rotate my arms at the elbow, until my palms touched the wall. I found this very difficult and told coach peter that I have tight shoulders. It turns out that was what he was looking for… I could have told him that a year ago! I now have to do exercises twice a day every day in the hope that increasing the range of movement in my shoulders will improve my swimming.
On Friday, I had a fantastic shoulder massage from my running friend Becky, which has helped to loosen up my shoulders a bit. Becky thinks the problem is probably located in the supraspinatus muscle – as it was gristly when she massaged it there, I reckon she’s right!
Saturday morning’s swimming session turned out to be a session that focussed on legs and kicking drills, so I didn’t really get to feel the benefit of Becky’s massage. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be able to see whether there has been any improvement!
If anyone can recommend any shoulder exercises that will benefit me as a swimmer, I’d love to hear them :-)
Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, which is now often referred to as ‘Pancake Day’. For many people, this involves an evening of indulging in crepes topped with lemon and sugar… but it doesn’t have to be a fattening event.
There are lots of recipes for healthy savoury pancakes online, but I’m more interested in sweet pancakes.
Last year, the lovely folks at MyProtein.com sent me some maple syrup protein pancake mix to try. If you’ve been following my blog, you may have seen some of my earlier posts where I tried it out. It’s really easy to make, you just need some of the powder and some milk:
Heat some oil in a pan (I used coconut oil) and then pour some batter in.
a skilful cook lucky, then your pancake will turn out golden brown and even:
Alternatively, if your cooking skills aren’t quite up to scratch, you may end up with a slightly messier pancake, but I can guarantee that it will still taste delicious!
The mix that I used is the maple syrup flavour. It smells and tastes exactly like maple syrup, but there are several other flavours available:
Have a look at the great offers available on the website.
Are you going to have pancakes tomorrow? What’s your favourite topping/filling?
This short film (<13 mins) brought a tear to my eye. Kayla is a young woman with multiple sclerosis, but that has not stopped her from pursuing her dreams. If she can continue training and achieving, what’s stopping you?
I’m a stats geek, so I love looking at the stats dashboard in WordPress. This week has been a great week for me in terms of numbers – I tweeted for the 1000th time and my blog follower figures topped 2000, so THANK YOU to everyone who is now following my blog. (Remember that if you’d like to have every blog post delivered to your in-box it is possible to subscribe!)
a little bit competitive, so I’m always trying to get new PBs in terms of views and viewers, but the bit that intrigues me the most is the searches that people type in that lead them to my blog.
Unsurprisingly, ‘fat girl to ironman’ is the key search term that people have used, with ‘running motivation’ a close second. Here’s a Wordle showing the search terms that people have used:
There were some truly bizarre terms that people searched for, including “the majic number 96″ and “iceberg lettuce collecting” as well as many that were too obscene for me to repeat here!
How did you originally find your way here?
I am from home-made school uniform, from a class of four and lots of attention. From a bed full of toys and hours spent dancing. From days on my bike and jumping down sand dunes.
I am from a slate-fronted home tucked away by the towans where the whisper of the sea can be heard and children’s laughter echoes down the lane.
I am from gorse bushes and brambles, marram grass and bluebells.
I am from lime and lemonade and a packet of peanuts shared with my sister over-looking the sea. From hours with my brother in tutus and dresses.
I am from a fondness for sweet treats, a sweetshop and home-baking.
I am from Andrews and Trevillions, by way of Detroit. From generations of Cornish and from siblings in Australia.
I am from the fear of failure and the importance of education. From a home filled with books and beautifully penned letters from my father at sea.
From ‘you’ll have worse than that afore ‘e die’ and ‘ah, gusson with ‘e’. From ‘do what you’re told, when you’re told and not when you feel like it’ and ‘do as I say, not as I do’.
I am from an old parish church dating back to the 5th century, from congregations on a Sunday where I tried on my mother’s rings and searched my father’s pockets for Polos. I am from a winter spent bell-ringing and the close proximity of granite graveyards surrounding by blocks of slag.
I am from the Kernow of old; home-made pasties, Lancia tart, honeycomb mould and clotted cream with everything.
From the cosy aga in Grandma’s kitchen, from watching her kneading saffron buns and hevva cake. From the baritone of my grandfather singing in the bathroom. From the smell of my Grandpa’s pipe and my Grandma’s traditional tea set.
I am from the centre of a column of graduation photographs and the middle of a proud display of eight grandchildren. From a home far from here but always in my heart.
Here’s a template to write your own.
The start to this year has been full on with lots of things happening… and my blog has been a bit of a casualty, so I’m hoping to change that this weekend. Apologies in advance to those of you who receive email updates from me!
I may have mentioned that I’m going on a little cycling trip later this year – a couple of weeks of cycling across Japan. I’m so excited about it! It was my intention to refurbish my dad’s old road bike, but I’ve bene really busy recently and haven’t had the time to do that. I could have paid someone to do it, but I’m not sure that it’ll fit and I’d like to learn more about bike maintenance, so I think it’ll do me good to do it myself.
Anyway, this has meant that I needed to sort out a new bike. A touring bike would be the ideal option, but I’ve not had a lot of luck finding something. There are very few second-hand or new bikes around in my size within my price range.
I went to Cycle World and was delighted to find that they had a Cannondale CAAD8 available in what I thought was my size (54cm) and even better it was reduced from £700 to £300. Unfortunately, I took it out for a test ride and although it was lovely, it just wasn’t the right size for me. However, the shop also had a Giant Defy 4 in a small which turned out to be the right size for me, and it was reduced to under £400 so I bought it. It feels comfortable to ride and the brand is reliable – Stuart has a top of the range Giant Defy from the previous season.
The sales staff in the shop pointed out that the bike matches my shoes, which is true, but that wasn’t why I bought it (and I’ve got a new pair of cycling shoes, rather than tri specific shoes that I’ll be wearing on it).
Unfortunately, the purchase of a new bike means that my dining room is now looking more like a garage.
We do have a shed, but it’s filled with the usual stuff people have in sheds (plant pots, BBQ, paint etc) as well as my work bike, Stu’s old bike and my dad’s old bike. As soon as the weather gets better, we’ll need to have a clear out.
After purchasing the new bike, I went for a bike fit with Garth Kruger at Vankru bike fitting.
Garth made various adjustments to the bike (including raising the seat significantly). He also turned the stem over to make the position of the handlebars more comfortable. The handlebars are quite wide (and also deep), so I may be better off getting new handlebars, but I think I need to try going on a long ride before I make a decision.
Sadly, we realised at the end of the bike fit that the front wheel was buckled, so I had to take it back to the shop to be trued last weekend. I’d love to be able to tell you how the new bike is going, but I’ve not had a chance to ride it. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares with my Kuota Kharma.
I have been attending weekly spinning classes with SUTRI, which I hope will help to get me fit for Japan and I need to start going on the turbo trainer at home. My friend, Teri, has said that she’d like to join me for a turbo trainer session, which should be fun as it’ll be easier to chat than when we’re out on the road!
I also cycle to work every day, although it’s been a bit icy recently, and we even had a dusting of snow.
Stuart has also been looking for a new bike. He has wanted a nice bike for a while and it is the section of tris where he tends to lag. He is a great swimmer and a very good runner, but he’s not got the cycling experience that a lot of the other athletes have and he doesn’t have the same quality of kit. However, he has made great progress in the last couple of years. He has got stronger, fitter and (surprisingly) more flexible. In the past, Stu and I were like Penny and Sheldon:
Stu liked the look of a Canyon road bike and having heard nothing but positive reviews of them from our friend Jules, he decided to order one. Sadly, there were some delays before Stu’s bike arrived (including the wrong bike being delivered), but on Friday last week we were able to go to Vankru where Garth built and fitted Stu’s bike.
The bike was carefully packed and there were some lovely touches such as motivational messages on the box it was packed in.
It didn’t take Garth long to build the bike. He was impressed with some of the attention to detail, such as the information on the handlebars to help adjust the angle and line them up… however, he had to make some minor adjustments to ensure that it was level.
Once the bike was set up, it was time for the Retul fit to start. This involved sticking little velcro dots on Stu, so that he could be wired up.
However, it’s not a purely computerised process, it takes skill on Garth’s part… in a way it’s like walking into a traditional lingerie shop where the elderly ladies can size up a bra with a look or a gentleman’s outfitters where the sales assistants don’t need a tape measure to decide on an inside leg measurement.
The precision involved is unbelievable – Garth pays close attention to mm measurements.
Several people have asked me about having a bike fit – what it entails, how much it costs, what the benefits are etc. If you do have any questions about bike fitting, I’d recommend that you tweet Garth @Vankru_cycling For me, I would say that it’s hard to put a price on comfort and that although many bike shops will say that they have ‘fitted’ a bike, what they mean is that they have put the saddle at roughly the right height. (That’s not true of all bike shops, but there aren’t many who employ a full-time, experienced fitter).
Garth is used to working with all manner of cyclists from complete novices to pros; mountain bikers to time triallists. Some women fear cycling as there are plenty of opportunities for people to baffle them with technical talk. A fitting with Garth is not like that – he asks questions in plain English and will clarifying anything that you’re not sure of… however, if you’re a veteran cyclist, he’ll be happy to discuss your experiences. That’s one of the things that I love most about going to Garth for a bike fit – he’s passionate about cycling and his job and can always share some interesting thoughts about the sport. Although Vankru is based in Southampton, Garth also travels for bike fits, so do contact Vankru if you want to find out more.
If you’re undecided about whether you’d benefit from a bike fit, read these articles:
Finally, this video shows the essentials of a bike fit in under two minutes:
Have you had a bike fit? What kind was it and could you feel a difference afterwards?
Until, I got ill, my training for :
was going well. After being unable to run for a month because of having laser eye surgery, my parkrun times started out quite slow
but have started to pick up again.
I’m hoping that when I’m well, I’ll be able to run 5km in under 25 minutes again.
Next weekend, I’m doing Heartbreak Half. I didn’t run it last year, but I did do it (and blogged about it) in 2013. It’s a challenging course, so it took me 2:14:53. My aim is to run it in as close to 2 hours as possible (and ideally in under 2 hours). There are some tough uphill sections, but the race finishes with some great downhills.
As preparation for the Heartbreak Half, I went out for a long training run with Pete and Aleesha, last weekend. We met on The Common and followed almost all of the route for Southampton Half, so that by the time I got home, I had run 21.2 km in 2:00:16. This was much faster than I had expected to do on a training run, but my Garmin has frustrated me and refuses to upload the file as it has somehow become corrupt.
I also signed up for an Endomondo challenge a while ago and was emailed a certificate to recognise my participation :-)
I had been intending to do a long run on Sunday morning followed by a bike ride in the afternoon, but I’m now unsure whether I’ll be able to manage either of those, so I may just sit down and start planning my training more carefully. I’ve got so many evnets lined up that I keep forgetting that I’ve entered Ironman Dublin 70.3
Whilst browsing the internet today, I saw this:
How many of these apply to you?
I also saw a humorous graphic about different types of runners.
Which type of runner are you?
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