Cycling with a legend

15 Sep

I was feeling too tired to go to the track this evening, which is frustrating as I haven’t done very much exercise this week. I’ve also realised that I may not be able to do parkrun on Saturday as I need to be at an antenatal class by 10am and the others might not appreciate it if I turn up a bit late (and sweaty!) However, I am still considering whether it’s possible to squeeze in Netley Abbey parkrun (which is the run nearest to the class).

I’ve got Friday and Monday off work as I need to use up my annual leave before I go on maternity leave. There’s loads of housework and decorating that needs to get done, but I think it’s only reasonable that I have a little time for myself. I saw the following advert and couldn’t resist signing myself up:
Cycle with Dani King

I’ve not done a lot of cycling recently, but I do still tackle some great hills on the way to and from work, so I’m hoping that I have plenty of energy for this ride. It’s downhill from my house to Fleming Park, but I hope that the post-ride refreshments will give me enough energy to cycle home from the ride as there’s a big hill to get up!

There are still places left on this ride, so if you’re near to Eastleigh (Hampshire, UK) and are female, why not book a place?


Looking forward to the first cross country race of the season

13 Sep

Last night I managed to get myself back to swimming. It seems that there are a lot of people who really love swimming when they are pregnant, but I’m finding it incredibly frustrating. I can no longer go as quickly as I can and I find that my breathing is off… and my additional ballast is making me roll around in a way that makes it feel so difficult. In comparison, I’m much more accepting of being slower when running. I’m wondering whether it’s because even when I do parkrun, it’s very much on my own terms, whereas lane swimming with others means that I feel under pressure to go faster.

swimming pool

Anyway, it was an interesting session with a variety of sets. I can’t remember them all, but the main set was 200m steady front crawl; 15s rest; 125m hard front crawl; 25m recovery; 30s rest – 3 times. I didn’t do all of them and am not convinced that my fast was significantly different from my steady pace, but at least I completed the whole session.

I’m also incredibly grateful every morning when I get my bike out. The process takes a little longer than it used to, with multiple locks on the garage door and then further locks inside, but at least it means that my work bike is still there.

Every day I wonder whether today will be the day when I have to dismount and push my bike up the hill, but so far I seem to be doing OK. I’m a little out of breath at the top of the hill, but that used to happen when I first moved to the area, and I’ve still a few gears left. I’ve got 9 more days left at work, so hopefully I can keep going for that long.

This weekend, I’ve got two events lined up: parkrun on Saturday and then the first CC6 (cross country league race) of the season. The CC6 is at the same venue as Eastleigh parkrun, so it shouldn’t be too muddy this early in the season. It’s also one of the shorter races (assuming it follows the same route as previous years): 3.9 miles. I’ve not run that far for a few weeks, but I’m confident that I can do it. I now just need to source a vest or t-shirt from someone who is not built like an elite athlete as the rules stipulate that I need to wear a club vest. It’ll be the first CC6 that I’ll be doing wearing Southampton Tri Club colours instead of Lordshill, which will be a bit strange, but I figure the tri club needs me more than LRR… and there’s a hope that I might make one of the first 4 teams for the tri club, rather than being in at least the 10th team for LRR!

Monday Morning Motivation – The Iron Nun

12 Sep

Feeling old this morning? Watch this and feel inspired!

If you’d like to learn more, you can watch a ‘behind the scenes’ video – ‘I realised the only failure is not to try’:

If you have half an hour to spare, then you could watch a longer video:

Which older people inspire you?

Catching up

11 Sep

The last few weeks have been hard work, which is why I haven’t been blogging regularly. It’s taken me a while to shake off the despondency of having my bikes stolen. Fortunately, I have my work bike back, so I can cycle to work. We’ve improved the security on our garage and are seeing a specialist about additional measures this week. This has been prioritised over getting new bikes as I know a number of people who’ve replaced stolen bikes only to be hit again a few months later.

A friend has recognised that the photo of my bike that was shared on Gumtree was taken outside the Bright Water Inn (Wetherspoons) in Shirley, Southampton. If any of you live in that area and can keep an eye out for my bike (or any of the other 3 that are still missing), I’d be really grateful.

I’ve been quite tired recently and am looking forward to finishing work in 3 weeks time. I’ve been doing parkrun every weekend, but haven’t done as much other training as I’d like.


Southampton parkrun 27th August

Southampton parkrun 3rd September

Southampton parkrun 3rd September


Southampton parkrun 10th September

I’m a bit annoyed with my time for the last run as I recorded a quicker time on my Garmin and the friend I ran with (and finished with) had a finish time that was quite a bit faster. We’ll just have to make sure we go faster next weekend! I find it strange that running is more comfortable than swimming – I seem to get out of breath a lot faster in the pool, but perhaps it’s because we’re all more competitive there.

I fitted in a track session with Southampton Tri Club this week and really enjoyed it. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the track, but it’s one of my favourite types of running.

I had a bit of excitement recently as Runners’ World sent out a photographer to take pictures for an article that will probably be in the October 2016 issue. It’s about ‘running inspiration’ and running with friends. I was interviewed about how my friend, Jez, inspired me to start running and how that has made me go on to run 5 marathons and become a Run Leader before becoming a coach. The photo shoot was great fun – Jez and I went down to the track, which was fortunately very quiet.  We had to do all sorts of posed pictures including ‘tying our shoelaces’ (I had elastic laces on) and stretching whilst holding onto each other. I can’t share any photos yet, but after the embargo is over, I should be able to post a few here. There were also a few photos taken of us running together, and then we came back to my garden to have a few more pictures taken in front of a white screen. I laughed throughout the whole shoot, whereas poor Jez found it rather awkward. I also made sure that I dressed in my finest for the pictures – my 2016 SOAS team vest and shorts with my matching Brooks trainers.

Although I haven’t been doing my usual amount of training, I have spent hours in my garden and have managed to turn it from a derelict wasteland to something that doesn’t look too bad. I just need the weather to stay nice so that I can spend a couple more days outside. (I’d also make more progress if I could get rid of the garden waste more easily).

Tidier garden

I really should have taken before and after pictures… and since taking this, I’ve removed the enormous bush on the right hand side.

I’ve also painted a few rooms and my mum has been up to help finish off my kitchen renovations. My fitted bench seat finally has cushions on it, which looks really good and is much more comfortable than just chipboard!

Having spent most of this weekend decorating (changing our bedroom from a hideous shade of rose-pink to pale blue has taken hours), we decided that we needed to do something fun, so Stu and I went off to look at bikes in a couple of local bike shops. I’ve got a few bikes in mind, but none of them are as unusual as this bike I saw when we were in Denmark:

wooden bike in Denmark

Sadly, none of the bikes that were stolen can be replaced like-for-like as they’re not available any more, so Stu and I are both having to make some tough decisions about what we want. I think I’d like to get a nice carbon road bike (but perhaps with tri bars) to replace my Kuota, and a cyclocross bike to replace my Giant Defy. It’s been a few years since I bought a bike on the cycle to work scheme, so I may see whether I can find an appropriate cyclocross bike in a local shop.

First of all, we went to Hargroves Cycles in Totton. We’ve looked at their bikes online and have visited the store previously, but I was disappointed to find that they had a disproportionate number of mountain bikes in stock, with relatively few road and cyclocross bikes. Also, most of the bikes didn’t have their sale prices on them, so we had to look a few up on the Hargroves website. However, it was refreshing to see a female member of staff who was really lovely.

Then we went over to the Giant Store. I bought two of my three bikes there when it was CycleWorld Wessex, so I know the staff are good. It also has a reasonable range of Liv bikes, including some of the triathlon and road bikes that I wanted to see. The Envie Advanced Tri bike sounds like a good option – it’s a lovely aero road bike with tri bars, but I don’t love the colours!

Reduced Liv Envie Advanced Tri

I love the colour scheme of the Liv Avow Advanced Pro (black, jade and purple), but don’t think a TT bike is right for me. I don’t have the bike handling skills and also I like to take part in group rides.

I managed to identify my Kuota on Gumtree fairly quickly as not only did it have a women-specific saddle on it (plain black instead of the usual black and white), but it also had my name visible on the crossbar. I hated this when I first got it (especially as the font was unattractive and didn’t match the rest of the bike), but it served as a good identifier, so I’ll make sure my next bike has some distinguishing features. Orbea bikes can be completely customised and I’m keen to look at the new range from Ridley (but their website hasn’t been fully updated yet). Have you seen any interesting or unusual bikes that have caught your eye? I definitely want something that isn’t too common.

I’m also interested in getting an anti-theft bike tracker. A few years ago, there was a surge of these (mainly through kick-starter projects), but none of them seem to be available any more. Ideally I’d like something discreet, such as a spybike top cap tracker, as that would be unlikely to be noticed by an ordinary bike thief. A friend has recommended TrackR. It’s for sale in the UK and there seem to be some local users. This review was interesting: If anyone can recommend a similar product, I’d love to know about it.

Recently, I’ve been eating Dr Zak’s high protein peanut spread on toast. I love porridge, but just can’t eat very much in the morning at the moment, so this has been a life saver. I’ve tried it in two flavours:

  • sweet banoffee pie
  • chocolate fudge brownie

Dr Zaks peanut butter

I can’t decide which I like best. They both taste good, but I think the sweet banoffee pie one spreads a little more easily. They’re also both suitable for vegetarians and do not contain palm oil, so I don’t feel guilty consuming them. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered there are five other flavours, which sound equally delicious:

  • Salted Caramel
  • White Chocolate & Coconut
  • Apple & Cinnamon
  • Cherry Bakewell
  • Fresh Raspberry

…and I’m sure I saw pictures of some other new flavours on Twitter. Yummy! Have you tried any of the new flavours?

I’ve now only got 10.5 days left at work before I go on maternity leave, so I’m starting to think about my plans for next year (alongside the challenges I’m likely to face). I’m looking whether it will be possible to do some training courses whilst I’m on maternity leave to get me closer to my goals. ideally, I’d like to find something that is distance learning or else a blend of online and evening/weekend sessions. I’m looking at the following:

I’d really like towards becoming a personal trainer. I’ve also looked at a lot of nutrition and dietetics courses. Sadly, I don’t have the time or money to go back to university for another degree (and can’t afford a part-time/online degree), so I’m thinking of doing a Precision Nutrition course. I’ve worked with a Precision Nutritionist before (Sam) and found him to be very helpful.

I also need to think about my race goals for next year. I have no idea how long it will take me to get back to training, but would really love to do Southampton Marathon in April 2017, and am still considering doing Ironman Weymouth in September 2017 (as per my original plan)… but if Stuart would like to have a fair shot at an Ironman next year, I wouldn’t stand in his way as I was so disappointed on his behalf by what happened around his attempt at Ironman Copenhagen. When I’ve firmed up my plans, I’ll decide whether I’m going to work with a coach, or whether I’m going to go it alone. I’m also keen to take part in some cyclocross training in Southampton and perhaps enter some races.

Have you started thinking about your race goals for 2017? What will be your A race?







Monday Morning Motivation – Under these gloves…

5 Sep

This Girl Can advert

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I rarely appear in pictures where I’m not wearing sports clothes. Part of that is because of the topic of my blog, but it’s also because I rarely ‘dress up’. I’m most comfortable wearing jeans and a hoodie… but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about my appearance. I may never wear make up and I try to avoid wearing high heels, but I still like my clothes to match (to an extent that my friends find humorous).

Being a strong woman doesn’t mean you have to give up on femininity, but it also doesn’t mean you have to be dressed from top to toe in pink. It’s about being confident with whatever makes you happy.

Another award – thank you :-)

31 Aug

Running 200

Thanks to the feedspot panel for including Fat Girl to Ironman in their list of Top 200 Running Blogs. These blogs are ranked based on following criteria

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Yet again, my blog is in great company. If you’re searching for running inspiration, make sure that you check out some of the other blogs on the list!


Phoenix Fit UK elastic lace system giveaway winner announcement

24 Aug
colour choices
The winners of the Phoenix fit UK elastic laces giveaway on were selected at random on Rafflecopter.
Congratulations to: 
1. Izzi Normanton
2. Ellie Wood
3. Franny Tran
The prize is a pair of Phoenix Fit UK elastic laces in the colour of the winner’s choice. Hopefully, the winners will love these laces as much as I do🙂





DNF and I feel fine – a guest post from my husband

22 Aug

Originally I had planned to write a post for Tamsyn’s blog after IM Copenhagen but things didn’t go quite to plan and following on from that I wasn’t feeling what I thought I should be feeling so hopefully this post will also help me explore that a bit. 

Firstly, I entered IM Copenhagen back in September 2015 as I wanted to have a challenge for myself ahead of my 40th birthday at the end of this year. At that stage I was reasonably confident about the running and swimming but had never ridden over 65 miles. Those regular readers of the blog will know that I don’t have a great injury track record and at the time of entering I was recovering from a torn calf muscle which happened the week before IM Dublin 70.3. 

I realised I needed a bit of help with my goal and after not being able to find a local coach I signed up to online coaching via Training Peaks (Carson at Fascat Coaching if anyone is thinking about a coach) in November. 
To cut a long story short, I completed around 450 hours of training in the build up to the race with the support of friends and especially Tamsyn who took on more housework to help me have more training time and put up with me being tired and grumpy a lot. There were a few bumps on the way with niggles and illness but this was probably the best training block I’ve ever had. Good to go for race day. 
The short term preparation was badly hampered by our bikes being stolen – not really an impact on training but very stressful and time consuming trying to obtain a race bike and deal with police and insurers. Thanks to Darren at Estrella Bikes I was lent a road bike to race on although I wasn’t able to get any long rides in ahead of the race. I managed to get a last minute bike fit from Garth at Vankru so was confident I would be OK with the position despite that lack of time on the machine. 

Copenhagen is a great city and whilst expensive, I’d recommend a visit and the race to others. A few days here getting registration, racking etc. done with a bit of light tourism and I was ready to race. 

The swim went pretty well – it’s a fast route being in a lagoon with the benefit of salt water but not having waves or strong currents to worry about. Age group athletes get set off in groups of 6 every 5 seconds so there is nowhere near as much stress at the swim start as many other races. 

It did get hard to sight at times with fog but I was really happy to come in at 58:05 with around half without any drafting and having done an extra 200m as a result of sighting issues. Transition was fairly standard and out onto the bike course. 

I got about 3k into the bike when another rider swerved in front of me trying to correct themselves after going onto the wrong side of the road and nearly head on into a bus. I took a bit of evasive action but unfortunately caught a pothole which then resulted in me clipping the kerb. 

I was probably riding around 35kph / 22 mph and went down. Nothing spectacular but a bit of a shock all the same. Some spectators helped pick up the bike and walked me down to some nearby marshals. I could definitely feel the road rash down my right side but of more concern was a gash in my wrist. At the time I was struggling to move my fingers a lot (which subsequently is absolutely fine) and I was not confident it would last the vibrations of another 175k and be safe and enable me to brake. 

Another factor was a crack in my helmet which meant I was likely in trouble if anything else happened. I was looked at by the race doctor who confirmed I would need stitches in my wrist and arranged for an appointment at a local clinic. I rode there having no other transport and after that back to the hotel. 

I knew Tamsyn would be really worried as around 90 mins had passed since the crash and I hadn’t been able to contact her. 

What the big surprise for me was the realisation that came to me waiting for the doctor – despite the hours of training, emotional investment and cold hard cash required to get me onto the start line in the best shape I have ever been in, I wasn’t devastated, angry, frustrated or anything I would expect to feel. It’s hard to rationalise this and I’m not sure I understand my own feelings on this but in hindsight I had no doubt I could complete the race and the only question was how quickly. I had hoped some months ago for sub-11 hours but actually sub 10:30 was realistic on a good day. I’m not competitive with others generally and really just with myself and my own abilities so maybe I had proven to myself what I needed to. 
These, combined with more important things in life (looking after Tamsyn ahead of our baby being born later this year) left me feeling that it was ok. I have no regrets over the decision made on course – it was the right one. 

The only disappointment I have is not seeing the bike course and more of Denmark and feeling the support of the crowd on the run route through the centre of Copenhagen. 

We went to spectate and the support was superb. I’d really recommend this race – the course is beginner friendly and fast as well as having good support on the run. 

I’m not sure what the next step is for me – I could look to race long distance again in a few weeks or alternatively may call it a day for the season or just race a marathon. I’m going to take a few days to decide whilst my body heals. 
I never though I would say this but I just DNF’d a race I’d spent 8-months training for and I feel fine. 
– Stu

My first international parkrun at Amager Faelled

22 Aug

We didn’t arrive in Copenhagen early enough for the Ironman 5k run that took place on Wednesday, so I was keen to take part in parkrun on Saturday morning. Denmark was the first country outside of the UK to have a parkrun and we knew that there were three in Copenhagen. We quickly realised that the view from our hotel room window was of Amager Faelled, which is where Denmark’s oldest parkrun takes place.

We got up early on Saturday morning and dressed in our running clothes before heading down for breakfast. I was worried about Stu doing too much ahead of his ironman, but his coach had told him to do a 20 minute run, so he said he’d be OK to do parkrun with me.

We went to the nearby Metro and took the next train to DR Byen, which is the stop nearest to the start of the parkrun. We crossed the road and started walking across the park.

After walking for quite a while, I started to get worried as there was no sign of a parkrun. We then saw an olde lady running, so we asked her is she knew about parkrun. Of course, she spoke impeccable English, but she apologised that he was unsure where the start was and said she thought we should continue in the direction we were going.

There were quite a few runners around, but none of them looked like they were intending to do parkrun as they seemed focuses on their own workouts.

A little while later, we saw some more people who seemed to be looking around. They turned out to be more English people looking for the start of parkrun.

Although this event has been running for 7 years, it is very low key. We found a patch of grass and a couple of people who has stopped there with bicycles. Apparently, somewhere nearby was a sign, but we think it was in the opposite direction.

There were a number of English people who had arrived to run – mainly friends and family of people taking part in Ironman Copenhagen, like me. Everyone gathered on the patch of grass where a tarpaulin was spread out as a place for people to leave their bags and jackets.

(C) Henrik Poulsen

The Run Director gave a really good briefing in English and Danish. She also asked who had done the double. We were a little confused until she explained that because of the Ironman set up the parkrun at Amager Strand had had to take place at 8am, so some people had already completed that event.

After the briefing, we walked a few hundred metres to the start line that was marked in organic flour. We had been told that there would be no marshals on the run course, but that all of the turns were marked with flour.

I set off quite slowly as I was at the back. It wasn’t long before I got chatting with a group of parkrunners who were mainly from the Milton Keynes area. This was good because it meant that I maintained a steady pace.

The course was mostly flat, with only very minor inclines and declines. I was surprised to see one of the runners emerge from a thicket, but assumed that he had needed a ‘comfort break’, so I thought no more of it… Until he stopped again a couple of hundred metres later and I realised that he was picking blackberries as he ran and filling a small bag!

I hadn’t realised from the race briefing that it was a two-lap course, so it came as a surprise to pass the flour start-line. I glanced at my watch and could see I was doing quite well, so I decided to maintain the same easy even pace and see whether I could finish in under 30 minutes. Just after 4K, my right leg started to feel a bit tired and achy, but I figured that wouldn’t do my baby any harm, so I kept going!

Amager Faelled parkrun result

I was delighted to cross the line in an official time of 29:47, which isn’t bad for 32 weeks pregnant. I definitely think the flat course and cool breeze helped.


After the run, Stu and I chatted with a few other parkrunners before thanking the Run Director for holding such a lovely event. If you ever have the chance to take part here, I strongly recommend it. It is a small and friendly event.
All photos by Henrik Poulsen.

Monday Morning Motivation – Power of She

22 Aug

athleta advert

This is the day we stand up for standing together.

We commit to:
Put an end to undermining
Live on the healthy side of competition
Lift our fellow sisters
Realize our limitless potential

Alone we are strong, united we thrive.
Together we create the Power of She.




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