Monday Morning Motivation – Don’t stop living

20 Oct

Hector Picard

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

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

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


Monday Morning Motivation – 101 questions to ask yourself

13 Oct

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

The Self-Reflection Manifesto

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

Monday Morning Motivation – Be phenomenal or be forgotten

6 Oct

Diary of a headless chicken

4 Oct

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

The header of Dean's blog

The header of Dean’s blog

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

Technology and running

2 Oct

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

I recently read this New York Times article:

For Fitness Bands, Slick Marketing but Suspect Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last tri of the season – HOWSC 100

30 Sep

My first triathlon, last year, was HOWSC 100, so I was excited about entering the same event this year in the hope that I would get a PB (and some proof that I have made progress). I know that I’m more confident and my swimming has improved, but I wanted to know that my progress was about speed as much as endurance.

On Saturday evening, Stuart and I registered at HOWSC and then had a drive around the bike course. It seemed a little undulating, but none of the hills were particularly steep, so I felt reassured that it wouldn’t be a problem.

On Sunday, we got up early, racked our bikes and then went to watch the start of the Olympic distance event. Suzanne, Katherine, Jenny and Sonia were just some of our friends who were taking part in the standard distance. It was the first time that most of them had tackled the distance. Teri, Liz and James had opted to do the sprint distance with Stu and I.

HOWSC brief

Ben getting everyone’s attention for the start of the Olympic brief ©Try Tri

After the briefing, we watched the swimmers enter the water and make their way over to the start point. There was a count down from 20 to 1 and then they were off. At that point we headed back to transition to put on our wetsuits and make any final adjustments, before heading back for the start of our race.

After arriving at the holding pen, we were given chips and had a quick briefing before heading for the water.

HOWSC swim 1

I’m quite easy to spot here – I had on my shark hat (and put a red hat over it before getting in the water) © Try Tri

HOWSC swim 2

In case you’re wondering why my hands are up, I was holding my goggles up so that I could see through them (prescription lenses) © Try Tri

The bottom of the lake was very squishy and unpleasant, so I tried to swim as soon as possible when I got in, rather than wading. The temperature wasn’t too bad, so I felt reasonably confident that I would have a good swim. Unfortunately, I positioned myself badly. I forgot how many of the people had never done a triathlon before and I would imagine that many of them had never swum in a lake before either, so I think I started too far back. There were 105 swimmers and so it felt like quite a large pack in a confined area.

I tried to get into a rhythm as early as possible, but found that I was hemmed in by other swimmers. As a novice, I hated aggressive swimmers who seemed to be trying to swim over me… now I feel guilty that I might have become that person. At one point when I breathed, I realised that the person next to me didn’t even have goggles on, so clearly their intention was to do the entire swim using ‘old-lady-breaststroke’.

It was a two-lap course, so by the time I was half-way around the first lap, it had thinned out a bit and I even managed to draft someone for a little while, before deciding that I needed to move faster. I realised that I was much further back than I had hoped to be, but it was a good feeling to know that I wasn’t last.

The second lap felt much smoother, but I couldn’t really make up for lost time.

Last year: Swim: 22:19.6 (44/46)

This year: Swim: 18:36.8 (81/105)

So, an improvement of 3:43 since last year, but I think that if I were to position myself better then I could have been at least another minute faster.

Last year’s transition was a bit of a disaster with a fall and a battle with my wetsuit. This year, I moved fairly quickly to transition, but didn’t fall over. I removed my wetsuit quite easily, but had a few problems with my contact lenses. This has not happened before and annoyed me, but I don’t think it wasted too many seconds. Liz arrived in transition as I was there. I probably shouldn’t have spoken to her, but it was quite nice to see her.

Last year: T1: 3:54.75 (44/46)

This year: T1: 3:17.60 (91/105)

It’s still not good enough, but that’s an improvement of 37 seconds.


Stuart came out of the water in 5th place, but it all went wrong on the bike

I ran to the mount line as quickly as I could, but felt very frustrated that there were two men there who were faffing around and not just getting on their bikes and going. Finally they moved off and I was able to start pedalling. I quickly over took a few people and then had a nice clear stretch of road.


I hd no idea what position I was in, but I knew I wanted to maintain a good average pace.

The course was definitely a technical course with quite a few sharp turns and plenty of undulation. I managed to pass men on almost every uphill, but they would pass me again on the downhills – I think it was a combination of their greater body weight and lack of fear.

It was meant to be a non-drafting race, but there were quite a few pelotons out on the road, which was a bit frustrating.

In the latter half of the road, I saw a familiar trisuit with union jacks on the sides… it was Teri. I managed to catch up with her and passed her going up a hill, but I knew she wouldn’t give up that easily. Sure enough, Teri was already back with me on the next downhill. I carried on and managed to pass her, but I didn’t look back to see where she was as I was focusing on my own time, rather than trying to beat anyone.

A little while later, about 16km into the ride, I saw someone at the side of the road. Another glance at the striking orange and black trisuit told me it was Stu. He appeared to be dealing with a puncture. I called out to him and he said he was fine. I felt really sad, as I knew he was hoping for a good result. I started to worry about Stu and as a consequence was not focusing on my ride. Teri caught up with me and shouted that I had slowed down. I explained what had happened and we chatted for a couple of minutes. fortunately, this did not distract me too much as, on a sharp bend, we encountered a couple of motorcyclists who were so far over the road that they nearly hit us.

I pedalled on and felt pleased when I took the final turn onto the main road. I had no idea how far behind Teri was, but I wanted to get up some speed, as I knew i would slow a bit when I started taking my shoes off. I also wanted to try to drink some water as I hadn’t drunk anything so far in the race, and it was starting to get warm.

I was pleased with my flying dismount and realised that I was coming into transition right behind Katherine.

Last year: Bike: 1:01:33.4 (34/46)
This year:
Bike: 50:06.65 (73/105)

That’s an improvement of 11:27. Again, I still think I can do better.

I ran to transition, had a little fight trying to lift my bike onto the rack (my bike is super light, but the rack was really high), put on my trainers, grabbed my visor and started running.

T2: 40.85 (20/105)

T2: 1:36:20 (41/46)

That’s a (comparatively) massive improvement of 56 seconds. If Graeme has taught me anything, it’s how to dismount :-)

On the run, I could see various runners as we started in a field. I couldn’t see Teri, but had no idea whether she had run ahead of me. I was also concerned as I hadn’t picked up an inhaler and my breathing wasn’t great. I settled down at a steady pace of 5:45/km – not as fast as I wanted to go, but I knew that if I could maintain it then I would definitely finish the run in under 30 minutes.


I didn’t see the photographer, so I have no idea whether this was on my first or second lap!

Partway around the course, I saw Chris and Ben. Chris was armed with a camera and ben appeared to be ready for a high-five…

HOWSC high 5 1

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 2

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 3

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 4

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 5

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 6

© Try Tri

HOWSC high 5 7

© Try Tri

The course was a loop of the field, a tricky steep little hill and then a lap of the lake – and then repeat. I quite enjoyed the course and felt good when I was able to overtake a few people. I had no idea whether they were doing the sprint, novice or Olympic distance, but passing someone is always motivational.

One of the marshals called out that she liked my kit – people are always commenting on it and I feel so proud to be able to wear it.

Finally, I could see the finish funnel. I could hear someone coming up behind me, but I didn’t look back… I was totally focussed on running my own race… then I heard a voice – it was Teri again. We crossed the line together (well 0.05 seconds apart!)

HOWSC finish

© Try Tri

Run: 32:21:05 (34/46)

Run: 27:36.15 (72/105)

That’s an improvement of 4:45.

I’m quite pleased with my run result. I know that I can run faster, but my running has been terrible this year nd I was just hoping for a sub 30 minute finish, so this was quite a good result.

After the race, Teri and I met up with James for a quick photo:

HOWSC Teri James

© Try Tri

Overall: 2:01:45.05 (37/46)
I was 10/15 female and 4th in the F30-39 category

Overall: 1:40.18 (78/105)
I was 20/35 female and 2nd (out of 5) in the F36-40 category

Overall, it was a very successful day. I loved the event and improved in every discipline with a total improvement of over 21 minutes in comparison with last year. What a great finish to my season, and proof that I am progressing towards my ultimate goal :-)

Work has submerged my world

29 Sep

I’ve not been posting much this summer as I’ve been so busy with my day job (which currently feels like a day and night job). It’s just as well that I really love what I do, and get to work with some amazing people, otherwise I could really start to resent it.

Anyway, it’s now just one week until my latest project goes live. I’ve been working with an amazing team of people from the University of Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology to create a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) called Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds. The course will start on October 6th, but it’s possible to sign up now and the accompanying blog is also available.

Monday Morning Motivation – Heart (the pregame speech)

29 Sep

“What will you do every day to ensure success?”

Fit and fun – the link between happiness and exercise

26 Sep

The information in this infographic is fascinating (N.B. Click on it if you want to view a larger version):

Info graphic about the link between fitness and happiness

Do you set ‘Goldilocks goals’?

This article from Runner’s World on What time do people run? is absolutely fascinating. I tend to run in the evenings during the week, unless I’ve planned to go to Run Camp, which I usually attend in the mornings. However, at the weekend, I prefer to run first thing to free up my time for the rest of the day. I prefer to run when it’s cool. When do you run and why?

Final aquathlon of the season

25 Sep

This week has been so busy:

Saturday: Lake swim followed by a run (and then a bit of cheering the junior triathletes at Lakeside)

Sunday: 40k bike ride followed by a 30 minute run

Monday: 1 hour of swimming with some challenging drills

Tuesday: 1:06 on the turbo trainer

Wednesday: 70 minutes of intervals… on my own… in the dark – autumn is definitely here :-(

Thursday: Aquathlon time!

I also signed up for the Uni tri club (SUTri) yesterday and met the president. I’m hoping to join in with quite a few of their training sessions in the next few months and am particularly looking forward to spinning as I’ve not been to a spin class since I left my old job in September 2012.

It is so sad that we’re at the end of the open water swimming season. I know that some people swim outdoors all year around, but I struggle with the cold, so I don’t think I’ll become one of those people any time soon… unless I emigrate to somewhere warmer. (Apparently the water is 26 degrees C in Mallorca at the moment!)

Stu and I headed to Lakeside for the final aquathlon on the season. I wasn’t feeling well and was struggling to breathe this afternoon, so I was feeling a bit nervous and started wondering whether I should drop down to doing the short distance. In the end I decided that I would do the long swim and see how I felt on the run. It’s a two lap run course, so I figured that I could stop after 1 lap if I were struggling (although everyone who knows me know that I would be more likely to crawl 2.5km than drop out of a race).

Sept aqua start

Swimmers entering the water © TryTri

As usual, I didn’t get in the water early enough to acclimatise. Fortunately, it didn’t feel as cold as it did on Saturday, and parts of the lake were surprisingly warm.

Sept aqua start 2

Lining up for the start © TryTri

We all lined up for the customary wave before the start. My partner, Stu, is in the foreground looking directly at the camera (with red bands on the sleeves of his wetsuit). I’m just a tiny head in the background!

As soon as we started, it seemed as though only the really good swimmers had turned up as within seconds, I could see swimmers way out in front. My breathing was ragged, but I decided to focus on having a good time and try not to wear myself out too much before Sunday’s triathlon.

I realised that there were some other swimmers near me, but that they mostly had on white hats indicating that they were doing the short distance.

My goggles steamed up, but I didn’t have any problems with leaks and I maintained front crawl throughout the swim. There were a few other swimmers who were fairly close to me who ended up doing a medley of crawl and breaststroke. It was a bit of a battle between another lady and I, but as we completed our second lap (out of 2.5), I managed to surge ahead.

It’s become apparent to me over the last couple of months that my wetsuit no longer fits. I’m not sure whether that’s because I’ve lost weight or changed shape or because the wetsuit has stretched. Anyway, whatever the cause, it now tends to fold up on me and fill with water, which isn’t much fun and I can’t imagine it does a lot for my streamlining. As I’ve only one triathlon and a triathlon holiday left this year, I’ll live with it, but definitely need a new wetsuit before I do more open water swimming.

Finally, I got to the exit, where I could hear Ben shouting encouragement. I couldn’t see much, but assumed that he was pointing his camera at me, so I thought I’d better look cheerful.

Sept aqua swim 1

A quick thumbs up and smile that the swim was over © TryTri

Sept aqua swim 2

Look at all of those fantastic wrinkles in my wetsuit… at least that’s what I hope they are and not rolls of my flesh :-( © TryTri

Stu was doing the race as a relay (with Jez running for him) as he has a leg injury, so he was in transition when I arrived. I asked him to pick up my belongings when I’d finished, stripped off my wetsuit, put on socks and trainers, put in my contact lenses and was off. It definitely wasn’t the fastest transition – laser surgery had better save me at least a minute!!!

My breathing had calmed down a bit, so I tried to pick up the pace a bit on my run, but my Garmin decided to give me crazy data that kept fluctuating, so I couldn’t rely on it to tell me how fast I was going. I saw Jez go flying by on his second lap, followed by two men and a female runner. I felt great on the first lap, but I think I slowed on the second lap as I was starting to tire. I heard another running catching up with me, but I just couldn’t pick up the pace enough to stay with her and didn’t want to over-exert myself.

My final thoughts were that I needed to ensure that I finished well. My finish photos from Weymouth look truly dreadful – I don’t look happy that I’ve finished, I just look saggy. I sprint for teh line and tried to keep my head up whilst waving my hands in the air. Unfortunately, Ben didn’t quite capture my moment of triumph and it’s a bit blurry, but I’ll take it :-)

Sept aquathlon

Sept aqua results

In the final results, Stu is placed first, but he was in a relay team (although he reckons that he could have run a similar time). I still need to work on my swimming (and hope that a new wetsuit has a magic effect), but I don’t think my run was too awful.

I’m a bit sad that it’s the last aquathlon of the season, so I’ll have to console myself by entering some of the TryTri duathlons over winter.

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