What have I been doing since my holiday?

Gosport Half Marathon

I’ve been so busy in the fortnight since we’ve been back from Portugal that I’ve not been able to update my blog as much as I’d hoped. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to.

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The Sunday morning after we got back was a cross-country race out in the New Forest. It was hard getting up in time for it as I was feeling shattered from the previous day’s travelling. I knew I had to if I still wanted to be in with a chance at winning the club’s participation award.

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Near the start of the CC6
Near the start of the CC6 (all CC6 photos © Paul A. Hammond)

It was not an easy race, with quite a lot of it being muddy and hilly. The last section was a hard uphill slog.

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CC6 © Paul A. Hammond
CC6 © Paul A. Hammond

I played cat and mouse with Kathy for a while. Towards the end, her superior speed won out and she was able to finish ahead of me. I felt quite pleased with my performance. I didn’t give up and I knew that I was running on tired legs.

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CC6 © Paul A. Hammond
CC6 © Paul A. Hammond

Swimming lessons

It was good to be back at my swimming lessons. I hoped that I would be stronger and would not have picked up any bad habits whilst I was away. Swimming with a wetsuit on makes me lazy!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but in the last session before my holiday, I dived into a pool for the first time in my life. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it was massive. I’ve spent so long standing on the edge of a pool feeling terrified. Would I get too deep and be unable to breathe? Would I hit my head on the bottom? These fears meant I just couldn’t bring myself to try it. I’m now desperate to go swimming with Stu as I really want to show him how well I can dive.

Chris got us to practise quite a lot of butterfly, which is not (and never will be) one of my favourite strokes. I’ve had two lessons since I’ve been back and I know that I really need to work on keeping my head more streamlined during front crawl as I lift it up and don’t even realise that I’m doing it. I was also given a few pointers when doing breaststroke to try to keep my hips lower so that my feet don’t come out of the water. I’ll report back on my progress soon!

Video analysis of my swimming

I received the video of me swimming in Lagos, which has really shown me where my swimming is going wrong, so I’m keen to get in the pool and practise:

Lordshill training

On my first Monday back, I coached a session on hills, so we went to Holly Hill and I got my group to practice various aspects of downhill running which I think went quite well, but it involved more running (to and from the venue) than I had anticipated and my legs were a little bit grumbly!

This Monday, I had planned to do a core session. I had a long list of exercises, but unfortunately, it rained and I didn’t think it would be a good idea to make my athletes lie on wet ground 🙁

Southampton Tri Club

Straight after my LRR session on Monday, Stuart and I rushed down to The Quays to have a go at our first session with Southampton Tri Club. Katherine had originally tried to persuade me to wait until she was back, but I wanted to join asap and Huw at work persuaded me to go.

I was in a lane with three others: Liz, James and Jo – all of whom are bloggers and LRR members! We did a 200m warm up, which felt like hard work, before being asked to do ‘200 off 4:40’. I didn’t know what that meant, so the coach explained that we had to swim 8 lengths of front crawl and have a break within 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Unfortunately, I’m slow, so it took me over 4:30 to swim 200m. This would have given me no break, so I waited for the others to do 2 lengths before joining in again.

We had to repeat the set 5 times, which felt hard. I don’t often swim that far. (Later when I asked Stu what he had done, his main set was the same!!! How is that fair?!) We also had to do a variety of sculling drills. I had to work extra hard as I didn’t have fins.

Overall, I really enjoyed the session. I need to work on my technique if I’m going to do OK at Challenge Weymouth. Yesterday, I signed up to Southampton Tri Club and am now an official member 🙂

I’ve now done a second swimming session and know that it takes me 4:44 to swim 200m. I’m definitely towards the bottom end of the group, but I am not the slowest and I hope that I’ll start to make good progress.

Yoga

On Tuesday evening, I went back to yoga with Stu. Our usual instructor, Wai, is away, so we have a different instructor. It’s nice to mix up the sessions a little. We did a few shoulder stands and plough pose, which is one of my favourites… although I can’t seem to stop my feet from going right over and touching the ground, whether or not my legs are straight!

Weight Watchers

At my first WW session after our holiday, I found that I had lost 4lbs. I went again today and had lost another pound. I had thought that I might have lost more as several people commented on how good I looked today and I felt that I was looking more trim. My WW leader said that she didn’t think I needed to lose more weight and as my BMI is now 24.47, which is within the healthy range. I am happy to be classed as a gold member again as the money that I save can be used for my tri club membership, but I would still like to lose at least another stone – I’m sure that it will help me to run faster! Every time I so much as glance at something ‘bad’ I ask myself whether Kat would eat it and the answer is usually ‘no’!

Interval training and social run

On Thursday morning last week, Stu, Liz, Katherine and I met for an interval session. This is when I usually have a Run Camp session, but as there are no more until after Christmas, we decided to have ‘Run Gang’ instead (it’s like ‘Bike Gang’, but with running!) Stu had devised times for us to do 400m intervals, but my Garmin decided to amend my pace and breaks, so I wasn’t getting any rest. In the end, I reset my Garmin and just did the best that I could. My last interval felt really good – for 200m I felt like my technique was as good as Mo Farah’s or Usain Bolt’s – but I was unable to sustain the pace.

On Thursday evening, I went for a lovely 11km run with Teri. It’s nice just to be able to run and chat. We had intended to run around Portswood, but we ended up going through Bevois Valley and then back towards the Common.

This week on Thursday morning, Stu and I met Liz and Katherine for a gentle run around the new parkrun route (Route C). I didn’t want to get out of bed, but was glad that I did the run when I had finished.

Sports massage

On Friday I had a sports massage at You Massage Therapy. The masseur, Pete, is a really nice guy who is interested in sports. I’ve had sports massages from other people, but Pete seems to get the pressure just right. I thought that a massage would be a good way of preparing myself for my forthcoming race.

parkrun

On Saturday morning, I was Run Director at Southampton parkrun. It was meant to be Stu’s turn, but I wanted to save my legs for Gosport Half Marathon. It was the first time that Route C had been used and quite a few people got PBs, so I’m looking forward to trying it.

Tri Expo

After parkrun, we drove down to Bournemouth for the Primera Triathlon Expo. I ended up buying various goodies for myself:

  • Overshoes (Endura)
Endura overshoes
Endura overshoes
  • Toe covers (Endura)
Endura toe covers
Endura toe covers
  • Bike bag
Topeak top tube tri-bag
Topeak top tube tri-bag

I also bought three bags of blueberry protein powder.

Superlife blueberry super protein powder
Superlife blueberry super protein powder

We were both given Bustinskin swimming hats and USN bottles and vooma gels.

USN vooma gel and bottle
USN vooma gel and bottle

Stu decided to check out the bike porn and decided that he liked a Storck bike, but at over £9.5k, it’s a bit out of his price range!!!

Stu admiring a Storck bike
Stu admiring a Storck bikeIMG_1597

To console him, I let him buy a couple of sachets of recovery hot chocolate.

Apres recovery hot chocolate
Apres recovery hot chocolate

Christmas presents

After we left the tri expo, we went to visit Stu’s parents with an ulterior motive in mind. Members of Southampton Tri Club have to bring a pull buoy, fins and hand paddles to every swimming session. Stu and I had added these to our Amazon wish lists but realised that we need them now. Unfortunately, Stu’s mum had already done her Christmas shopping, so we collected our presents early – thank you, Brian and Sally!

My Christmas presents from Brian and Sally
My Christmas presents from Brian and Sallyspeedo-8-027610006-zoomspeedo-8-017910004-zoom

Gosport Half Marathon

I have kept Graeme’s words in my mind about self-limiting beliefs, so I decided to aim high despite not being on form since April 2012. My strategy was not to look at my watch for the first two miles of Gosport HM as it takes me nearly that long to warm up. When I finally glanced at my watch, I was happy to find that I was running at a reasonable pace. I chose to continue running according to how I felt and was delighted to achieve a 5 mile PB (42:10), which meant that I was on track to get somewhere near my HM PB of 1:52:19.
It was an overcast day that was about 6° C with no breeze. It would seem that those conditions would be ideal for running. My breathing was comfortable and my legs felt good. However, between 8 and 9 miles, I started to overheat and got tunnel vision. I had to slow down. I took on plenty of water and was fully hydrated before the race, but I could not cool down. At 10 miles, Stu was by the side of the course (he had cycled to the event). He could see that I looked ill, so he kept popping up for the next three miles as he was worried about me. I was determined to finish. Even if I wasn’t near to my PB, I hoped I would still get a sub 2 hour time. I was also aware that I was my club’s leading FV35.  Would be able to retain my position?

Gosport Half Marathon result

Alas, it wasn’t to be. In the final mile, I was passed by many of my clubmates. Full On Sport’s chip timing system failed, but according to my Garmin, I finished in 2:00:13. I was incredibly disappointed, but Stu has pointed out to me that not only did I get a 5 mile PB, it was also my second fastest ever HM and it was over 30 seconds faster than I did the race last year. I also managed to complete it (and a cross-country race on the day after I got back from Portugal), so as long as I complete a cross-country race on 1st December, I will win the Lordshill Road Runners Championship participation award alongside Di Mattingly.
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dsc_4789(1) dsc_4790(2)dsc_4791(1)dsc_4792(1)dsc_4793(1)dsc_4794(1)Gosport Half Marathon Running and smiling at Gosport Half Marathon © Paul A. Hammond

Shopping

As I know that I need to work hard on my cycling, I realised that I had better buy myself some winter cycling clothing. I went online to Wiggle and ordered myself some bib tights and a long-sleeved jersey. There wasn’t a lot of choice, so I chose the DHB Team Wiggle Honda kit as it had great reviews. Orange isn’t my favourite colour, but it all arrived today and I think it looks quite nice.

My new Wiggle Honda kit
My new Wiggle Honda kitIMG_0032

I was also lured in by SportPursuit. It’s such an evil website, as it knows just how to suck me in. I just wanted to get a pair of plain black shorts. However, I ended up ordering a pair of black shorts, a Pearl Izumi jersey and a Pearl Izumi winter jacket for cycling.

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I think these goodies should arrive just before Christmas 😀

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