Starting Pilates

27 Jun Pilates

I’d hoped to get my week off to a good start with a swim, but after getting home late on Sunday evening, there was a lot of organising that needed to be done yesterday ūüė¶

However, today turned into a very good day…

First up was a new class: pilates. I’ve done pilates a few times before with varying success. The first time I tried was at Bournemouth Uni. The teacher was lovely, but young and inexperienced. She was extremely nervous and we didn’t seem to cover much in the class. In contrast, the yoga teacher at BU was absolutely fantastic and had lots of experience. I could have chosen to do both classes, but at the time, I enjoyed the yoga more, so I did that and replaced the pilates class with spinning and strength and conditioning.

The last time that I did a pilates class was when I was on holiday with Embrace Sports. One of my fellow triathletes was Nicky Green – an elite marathoner and pilates instructor. One rainy afternoon, Nicky offered to lead a class. It was really enjoyable, but as Nicky lives hundreds of miles away, it wouldn’t be practical to go to her sessions!

Anyway, today’s pilates class is part of Park Lives Southampton. I’ve posted about this initiative before – it’s free outdoor activities sponsored by Coca Cola. I already go to Buggy Mums twice a week and really enjoy the classes led by Christine, so when I saw that she was offering pilates, I knew the class would be good.

I intended to arrive early, but took M along to be weighed first. Unfortunately, the weigh in over-ran, so I ended up being 5 minutes late, and Christine had already started introducing the class. I had brought along my own mat, so I quickly got myself set up and joined in.

After a while, M got a bit bored in her buggy, so I sat her on a mat with some toys (*and my keys – not hygienic, but her current favourite plaything) and she occupied herself for the rest of the session.

Pilates

A shot that was taken during today’s session – we’re working hard, not sunbathing!
 ©Christine РParkLives

Christine explained all of the exercises really clearly and although there were people of varying abilities in the class, exercises were layered so everyone could work to their own level. I’ve signed up for the next three weeks and am really looking forward to doing more sessions.

After the class, I met up with my friend Sarah and we went for a run. It was a bit too muggy for us to run quickly, but that’s fine as it’s a combination of social event and fitness for me. My Garmin disagrees and has admonished me by giving me a training status of ‘unproductive’, which is the first time that has happened since I got my new watch. Apparently, “Your training load is at a good level, but your fitness is decreasing. Your body may be struggling to recover, so you should pay attention to your overall health including stress, nutrition, and rest”. I’ve had a cold recently, which took it out of me and I’ve not been eating as well as I should this week. I can’t comment about sleep as I never have enough. I also think that most of my recent runs have been with M in her buggy, but my watch doesn’t know that! Hopefully, I’ll be able to become ‘productive’ again soon. Anyway, Sarah and I had a lovely run that was about 7.5km.

Tomorrow is Buggy Mums and food planning followed by grocery shopping… and I’m hoping to finish off some blogposts that are missing photos. It’s so annoying to have written most of what I want to say, but to know that the accompanying images are trapped on my broken laptop ūüė¶

What are your plans for the rest of this week?

Swim the triangle, run the prom

24 Jun Jubilee aquathlon medal

This week I’ve been down in Cornwall visiting my mum for her birthday. There are loads of events on this weekend (including Lordshill 10k and Southampton City Ride), but I had intended to do St Ives Biathlon. This is a race that involves running and swimming, not skiing and shooting. It’s a 2km run then a 1500m sea swim. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years, but in the end I didn’t pack my wetsuit as I thought a mile in the sea off the back of no open water swimming would be silly. I’m now feeling a bit of regret ūüėě

I looked up local races and found there was a 7 mile cross country race in Truro on Wednesday, so I planned to enter that… and then Stu struck gold. One of the Jubilee aquathlon races would be on on Wednesday night. Hurray!

Stu and I last did a Jubilee aquathlon back in 2013 before the beautiful lido was storm damaged. (It’s been repaired now). You can read my blogpost about it here:¬†Swimming, cycling and running in Cornwall

I’ve not been training as much as I’d have liked this year, but I hoped that I could beat my times from 2013:

  • Swim: 4:39
  • Run: 17:30
  • Total: 22:09

Jubilee Pool

We arrived at the pool fairly early as it is on the day entry only and is limited to 200 places. We had printed out forms in advance and completed our details. We’re both BTF members, so entry was only ¬£7. We were allocated number 25 and 26.

Lido 2

After a long wait, Stu and I decide to set up in transition. I chose a spot fairly near to the steps from the pool and Stu went next to me. Last time, I was not set up in a convenient location, so I was hoping this would save me some time. Some teenage girls came and set up their kit next to me and had a long discussion about how ‘no-one wears socks’, which made me dither a bit… however, I decided that I would wear socks as I’ve not worn my shoes without them before and couldn’t cope with blisters at the moment.

Lido 1

The organisers have decided to try a new tactic this year by asking participants to self-seed (according to some times on the wall). I figured that I might take around 25 minutes because of my lack of training, so positioned myself reasonably near to the start. Stu was towards the back of the group.

waiting for the start of JA 1 waiting for the start of JA 2

The weather had been lovely all day, but by the time we were lined up on the side of the pool, it was overcast and getting a bit chilly. Fortunately, the water in the pool was thought to be over 20C.

Swimmers were set off at 30 second intervals, so there was a bit of a wait before it was my turn. Finally, I was off. The temperature in the pool was perfect and the visibility was good. It was hard not to get distracted by the lovely surroundings.

The Lido is triangular in shape and the race follows the sides of the pool, with some buoys to ensure that no-one cuts the corners. I was unable to catch up with the swimmer in front of me, but on the plus side, no-one passed me.

I climbed up the steps and had to shout my number to the marshals waiting by transition. I barely had enough breath to call out 26!

I removed my hat, goggles and earplugs, put on my socks and shoes, messed up mu Garmin (pause instead of transition – oops!) and was off.

There are a few flights of steps out of the lido and as it’s Golowan Festival (Cornish midsummer) this weekend, there were a few fairground rides to be dodged.

It was then out onto the promenade, which was made famous by the Newlyn School artist Norman Garstin in his 1889 painting ‘The rain it raineth every day’.

The rain it raineth every day

Jubilee aquathlon 1

Although my swimming isn’t good, I knew that I ought to be able to catch up with some of the other participants on the run. It was a muggy evening and my breathing wasn’t great, but I soon got into my stride. I managed to pass the lady who had started immediately ahead of me, but then had to work hard.

I should have re-read my blogpost about the last time I did this event as yet again I was taken by surprise by the steps and shingle on the run!

I passed a few other female runners, before I was passed by a fast male runner. I then managed to catch up with and overtake the chap in the photo below.

Jubilee aquathlon 2

Finally, the end was in sight and I put on a sprint finish.

I was delighted to find that my time compared favourably with my last attempt at this event

  • Swim: (4:39) 4:26 – 13 seconds quicker
  • Run: (17:30) 16:28 – 62 seconds quicker
  • Total: (22:09) 20:54 – 75 seconds quicker

I finished 75/120. 7/15 in my category (30-39) and 28/60 female.

Jubilee aquathlon medal

After finishing, I went and watched Stuart do his swim and start his run. I then met up with my mum (who was walking my baby) and we watched Stu finish the race. He finished in 14th place in 16:16.

Jubilee aquathlon selfie
There are three other races in this series – I hope that I can at least do one more of them!

Lee on Solent parkrun and some info about Hants Run Blogs

17 Jun The sea at Lee on Solent

Southampton parkrun was cancelled today because a large event (Gung Ho!) was taking place right across the Common, so this gave Stuart and I the chance to do a bit of parkrun tourism. I’d like to try the new(ish) event at Whiteley, but I knew that would be busy, then I got an invitation that I couldn’t refuse…

Fellow blogger Roger from I Run Off Road put out a call on Twitter inviting Hampshire running and tri bloggers to a meet up at Lee on the Solent parkrun Рperfect timing!

Stuart, M and I drove to my friend Sarah’s house before parkrun and then we all walked to the start of the event together. I had no idea that Sarah lives so close to the beach – that’s definitely something that I miss about where I live now. We had time for a bit of a chat before Roger arrived to meet us. It was a bit like a blind date situation – I’d explained that I would be wearing a purple parkrun t-shirt and would have a red running buggy and Roger described his white North Devon marathon t-shirt.

Roger found me before the start of the run and we had a brief chat before the run started.

Sarah and I had positioned ourselves terribly – we were trapped at the back and could not run around anyone – so we took the opportunity to chat.

I think Lee on Solent parkrun has doubled in size since I last ran there, so it felt extremely congested. I was also feeling congested (thanks hay fever!), so a slow run was probably a sensible option.

After the first turnaround, the path didn’t feel as busy, so we were able to pick up the pace a bit. We were right by the sea and the water looked stunning, but there really wasn’t a breeze, which surprised me.

Tamsyn and SarahTamsyn and Sarah

Towards the end, Sarah started picking up the pace, so I felt that I should keep pace with her. I’m glad it was only a 5k and not a 10k, otherwise she might have killed me!

The sea at Lee on Solent

I really wanted to go for a paddle or a swim.

Selfie with Sarah

I take the worst selfies!

Overall, it wasn’t one of my speediest runs, but it was definitely fun.

Lee on Solent parkrun 17 June 2017

Afterwards, we met up with Roger and went to the cafe for some well-earned refreshments and the chance to talk about blogging. If you are a running or triathlon blogger in Hampshire, please get in touch with @hantsrunblogs on Twitter. Roger and I would love to link up with more like-minded local bloggers and try to organise some blogging meet ups, perhaps with guest speakers.


Did you know that it’s Women’s Sports Week from 19th-25th June? I’ve pledged to take part in a variety of activities:

My pledge for women's sports week

If you’re female, are you going to pledge to get involved? (If you’re male, maybe you could agree to exercise with a female friend or relative).

Back on it – a weekly round-up

16 Jun

Hello again! I feel like I’m finally getting back on top of things, so here’s a round-up of my week…

Saturday – Volunteering at parkrun

For the second week in a row, I was a volunteer at parkrun – this time as a Run Director.

Southampton parkrun 10 June 17

Because of building works, we’re currently on an alternative route at Southampton parkrun that starts near to The Cowherds pub. I quite like Run Directing with this start as there’s a bench for me to stand on. There was also some excitement as our long-awaited PA system has now arrived, so I now longer need to rely on my teacher’s voice projection!

RDing at parkrun

That’s what 767 runners looks like ¬© John Grant

 

Sunday – Southampton Tri Club event

On Saturday afternoon, Stu and I finished sorting out our bike trailer, so that M is able to go out cycling with us. I recently traded in my beautiful Fiat 500 for a Citroen Berlingo that we affectionately refer to as ‘the mum bus’. It’s not a beautiful car, but it’s comfortable and there’s plenty of room for bikes and more. Stu reconfigured the car to fit all of our kit in, but we learnt the hard way on saturday night that Baby M is allergic to peanuts. This meant that we didn’t manage to join Tri Club friends for a social bike ride on Sunday morning. We could have joined in with the run, but were shattered after a long night.

STC BBQ

©Darryl Marcus-Hanks

Stu took part in a sea swim, whilst I sun-bathed and played with M on the beach. We then had a lovely barbeque. Southampton Tri Club is such a friendly club and this was a great opportunity to meet some of the new members. After a few burgers, I went off for a walk by the beach huts.

Calshot beach huts

 

Monday – swimming

The Quays

I finally got myself back to the pool on Monday night. I think swimming will always be the hardest part of a triathlon for me. I prefer open water swimming, but it’s hard to get to the lake and reasonably expensive, so I need to make sure that I attend tri club sessions at the pool.

It was the first time I’ve swum since I got me new watch, so it was interesting to see what data it would show me. We did quite a few 100m sets, including some with fins. Coach Steve called me over and explained that he had identified the problem with my front crawl – apparently my stroke looks like a bear crawling along and it’s basically my strength that gets me through as my technique is awful. Steve had a new torture device swim aid that he got me to try – a Finis Forearm Fulcrum Positioner that “holds the hand, wrist and elbow to position the forearm optimally”. It definitely felt different, but I still don’t think that I can visualise what correct technique should be – it doesn’t come naturally to me!

I positioned myself at the back of the lane for the swim as I’ve not been swimming for a while, which meant that I didn’t feel too much pressure. We covered just over a mile in the session, which was enough for me!

 

Tuesday – Run with Sarah

At lunchtime I went for a run with my work colleague and friend, Sarah. It was quite warm, but we were out for nearly an hour. I had M in her buggy and that combined with the humidity and my asthma/hay fever made for a challenging run. Sarah and I kept the pace slow so that we were able to have a much-needed chat. I love running for keeping me fit, but I also love it because it really helps to keep me sane. Some people might swear by a glass of wine at the end of a hard week, for me nothing beats a chatty run with a friend ūüôā

 

Wednesday – Buggy Mums and Mile of Miles

On Wednesday, I went to Buggy Mums, which is one of the highlights of my week. It was a hot and sunny day, so we did a mix of intervals and exercises in the shade. It was lovely to see some mums that I know from elsewhere (Sing and Sign and my running club). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate as much as I had hoped to as M wasn’t in her happiest mood and my hay fever was playing up.

On Wednesday evening, Stu, M and I walked down to the Sports centre to take part in Mile of Miles, which is a 10 x 1 mile track relay. Southampton Tri Club had two teams: a fast team and a fun team. Stu was originally on the fast team, but he’s been under the weather, so switched to the slower team. I was on leg 8 and Stu was leg 9. I did a brief warm up, but my hay fever and asthma were making breathing difficult, so I knew that I would find it hard. I also struggle to pace myself on the track and the relay format meant that I wasn’t running alongside others, which usually helps to push me.

My final time was 7:29 which is quite a lot slower than my recent PB of 7:10. I had thought about doing the Lordshill Magic Mile on Tuesday evening, but decided against it as I wanted to save my legs… however on Tuesday I was feeling well and on Wednesday I was shattered. Hopefully, I’ll feel better by the next mile event as I would love to achieve 6:59. My splits were all over the place: 1:41; 1:59; 1:55; 1:54!

Tamsyn at the track

© Di Mattingly

Tamsyn at the track

© Di Mattingly

Tamsyn at the track

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn running on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at MoM

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn running on the track

©Paul A. Hammond

STC at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

A rare pic of me with my baby © Paul A. Hammond

STC at Mile of Miles

Thursday – run at Weston Shore

I drove to Weston Shore early on Thursday as I was keen to be there ready for Buggy Mums. I had a bit of time to answer some emails when I arrived, before going over and chatting to friends. After a short while, one of them looked on Facebook and saw a message saying that the class had been cancelled ūüė¶ All was not lost as one of the others agreed to go running with me. We did an out and back – one direction was easy, but the other was into a headwind. I did just over 4.5km, but couldn’t motivate myself to make up the extra distance with the wind!

Sadly, I’ve heard that there won’t be any more sessions at Weston Shore… however, they will be replaced with sessions at Riverside Park, which is a bit closer to home.

 

So that’s my round-up of this week. Southampton parkrun is cancelled tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to going to Lee on Solent parkrun. My friend, Sarah, lives nearest to that parkrun, so hopefully I’ll get to run with her. Also, I’m going to meet up with a few Hampshire-based running and tri bloggers, which should be fun. Then I’ve got some really exciting events planned for next week, including an aquathlon in a stunning setting.

What are you looking forward to next week?

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Eating healthily and trying MYHK

15 Jun MYHK pea risotto

I’ve been working hard to eat healthily this year. I’m fortunate enough to be supported by The Athlete’s Palate, but it’s still hard for me. I expected to have an increased appetite whilst marathon training (especially as a breastfeeding mum), but I’d forgotten that that hunger sometimes lingers after the race. I’ve also been struggling with my appetite because I’m so tired. My baby looks like my husband, but she definitely has some of my personality traits. I’m sure I’ll be glad that she is extremely determined at some stage, but right now, I’d love it if M would sleep. She just wants to run around all the time. She might only be 7 months old, but she can already walk a bit (and can run when she holds my fingers!)

To make my life as easy as possible, I always make sure that I plan my meals in advance. This ensures that I have the necessary ingredients at home and that I don’t have to make meal decisions when I’m hungry. I also prepare my breakfast the night before, so that when I get up it’s easy for me to finish making it. In the evening, Stuart usually looks after M whilst I make our dinner – this gives them a chance to play and gives me a break as I enjoy being in the kitchen. However, I find lunch the most challenging meal as M needs lots of attention. Sometimes I choose to have a salad that i can prepare the night before, but at other times, I just need something quick, easy and filling. I try not to resort to ready meals as most of them are bland and unhealthy. Lots of supermarkets have ‘healthy’ ranges, but they are often uninspiring or there aren’t many vegetarian options.

I was given the chance to try three new ready meals by MYHK (my healthy kitchen), which sounded like a perfect solution for my problem. The meals are all under 500 calories with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. They include fresh ingredients and have other (specified) nutritional benefits.

The three meals that I was sent to try were:

  • Chicken Paella
  • Prawn Katsu
  • Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto

I’ve been a vegetarian virtually all of my life, so I recruited my husband to try two of the dishes. (The other flavours that are available are: Moroccan Prawn, Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto and Oriental Chicken).

Chicken Paella

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s low in fat and high in protein and fibre.

MYHK chicken paella

I’m definitely not a food blogger and neither is my husband – we completely failed to take a photo of this, so here’s one that we’ve ‘borrowed’ from the MYHK website.

Stuart says: “Paella wouldn’t usually be something I’d choose but I enjoyed this one. The chicken was a step up from the majority of ready meals and was good solid pieces and nicely flavoured. The chorizo was less oily than some and was a nice addition. I would have preferred a slightly stronger flavour but the meal wasn’t bland.¬† It did feel like the meal was balanced and the ingredients went well together. The portion size is broadly equivalent to most common supermarket ready meals and I would have preferred a slightly larger size (particularly if I were undertaking a higher training load).”

 

Prawn Katsu

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s high in protein and low in saturated fat and sugar.

Stuart says: “This was my favourite out of the two. I enjoy a curry and this includes katsu which I’ve eaten in Japan. The split of sauce to the ingredients worked really well with this meal as the rice didn’t get soggy when being microwaved but was easy to eat and mix together. The prawns were reasonable quality and a bit more generous than seen in some other meals. The sauce was really nice albeit the pickled carrot packs a punch and it was spicier than I expected – I don’t mind relatively hot food but I know Tamsyn would have really struggled with a vegetarian version. The lighter jasmin rice helped balance the heat but I could see some people getting put off. As with the paella I would have preferred a slightly larger size although this would be filling compared to the usual ready meals seen.”

 

MYHK prawn

 

Pea, mint and rocket risotto (vegetarian)

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s 1 of your 5 a day, and it‚Äôs also low in sugar and saturated fat.

MYHK pea risotto MYHK pea risotto close up

Risotto is one of my favourite meals, but I’ve never made it at home. There are several reasons for this – firstly, my favourite risotto is mushroom risotto and Stu hates mushrooms, but secondly, I believe that risotto can be time consuming to make as you need to stir it continuously.

This risotto isn’t just made with Arborio rice, but also with quinoa. I liked this as it gave it a slightly different flavour as well as increasing its nutritional value.

As soon as I opened the packaging, I could smell the peas and mint – they were really aromatic and got my taste buds watering.

The risotto was topped with rocket (arugula). This is quite a bitter leaf, but paired with the creamy onion sauce, I thought it balanced nicely. Another interesting touch to cut through the creaminess was the addition of some pickled red cabbage. I adore red cabbage and would never have thought of pairing it with risotto before.

Overall, I really liked this meal. It was a reasonable size for a ready meal (although I’d have preferred a slightly larger portion with a few more calories) and looked appetising as well as tasting good. The price is more than a lot of ready meals, but comparable with the types of things I like, such as Bol ready meals.

 

These meals are currently available from Waitrose and Ocado with an RRP of £3.95.

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Missing in Action

11 Jun Drowning

Drowning

Hi! I’ve not been blogging much recently for a variety of actions. I’ve been desperately trying to stay afloat and I’m not managing it very well.

I really appreciate everyone who reads my blog and especially those of you who take the time to comment, but I need to acknowledge why I started this blog – as a way to keep myself accountable. I’ve also found it therapeutic to be able to write things down, but I’m struggling to find the time at the moment.

I articulated my goal in February 2013 as being to complete an Iron distance triathlon within 5 years. At the moment I feel like I’m a long way away from that, but perhaps I need to ‘big myself up a bit’:

  • Swimming: I completed a 17.5km swim in 2015 and even managed a 5km pool swim this year off the back of next to no training. When I started this challenge, I couldn’t even swim 25m crawl
  • Cycling: At the start of this challenge, I hadn’t cycled much and had never ridden a road bike. I’ve only cycled outside 5 times this year (a gentle ride to parkrun, a 10 mile TT, a triathlon and two short rides with friends), so I need to get on top of this if I’m going to complete RideLondon this year.
  • Running: This feels like my biggest success. In the past month, I’ve set new PBs at a number of distances, including 1 mile (7:10); 5km (23:40) and marathon (4:14:44).
  • Triathlon: I’ve managed to get a PB in a sprint triathlon so far this year and am still hopeful that I can take part in a longer distance event in the autumn.

However, even with those achievements, I’m feeling a bit lost at the moment and as if my identity is fracturing. I’m trying to fulfil all of the following roles:

  • mother
  • wife
  • learning designer
  • parkrun Run Director
  • Tri Club member and press officer
  • blogger
  • running coach

I feel that I’m just about managing to be a wife and mother and I manage to fit in being a Run Director, but the rest of it is all falling apart, so I need to come up with some strategies to get it back together again. One idea I have is to try to do one thing a day on my blog. It might not be writing a full blogpost, but I need to get back on top of things.

Sorry if I’ve let anyone down – onwards and upwards.

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Southampton Marathon – possibly the best race I’ve ever had!

24 Apr

When I heard that there was going to be a full marathon in Southampton, I immediately wanted to enter. I’ve never been lucky enough to get a place in London Marathon, so this is the next best thing (for me). I also thought it would be a good comeback race after having Baby M… there’s nothing like fear of failure (and a hungry baby) to get some ‘quick’ training miles in.

My training plan was somewhat unconventional. Previously, I’ve relied on the FIRST three runs a week training plan. This year, my schedule was 1 STC swim, 2 Buggy Mums classes, a parkrun and a long run combined with leading fortnightly half marathon training runs.

I tried to rest a bit this week and had a 90 minute nap on Saturday afternoon, which is just as well because although Baby M went to sleep at 9pm, she woke at 10pm, 11pm and midnight. After that she woke up half hourly until 7am. Not my best race prep!

We picked up my training partner, Pete, and drove into town. On leaving the car park, I was surprised (and pleased) to see that mist had descended. Hurray! I can’t bear sunny weather for running.

We walked to the Sir James Matthews building, where the pacers were congregating, where met up with my friend, Kate. After a last-minute snack for M, I hurried out passing Sandra and Barbara from the Tri Club, but there was not enough time to chat.

Chris Rees sneaking up on Tamsyn

Chris Rees and Tamsyn

©Aron Kelly


Kate, Pete and Tamsyn before the race

©Kate Budd

We walked past the warm up and lined ourselves up in the appropriate area. It was nice to see my old friend, Dave, who was tackling his first marathon as part of a series of challenges he is undertaking this year. There was also enough time to chat with my lovely sports masseur, Becky, who was taking part in the half marathon.

All too soon, it was time to go.

On leaving the park, I stepped on someone’s dropped gel. It exploded and covered my legs – yuk! That is not how I wanted my race to start! I also realised that I had tied my shoes too tightly, but it was too busy for me to stop and adjust them.

We looped around and then went up the High Street where various friends from Lordshill Road Runners were watching the start of the marathon.

Crowd of runners

©Teri Pragnell

The agreed plan was to maintain a 6:00/km pace to the Uni and then press on a bit at the downhill. The plan for lap 2 was to hold on for as long as possible and to walk up Church Lane.

The route to The Common wasn’t exactly as I had expected, but there weren’t major changes, so it was fine. When we got there it was lovely to see some friends who were waiting to cheer us on.

Pete, Tamsyn and Kate running on The Common

© Lawrence Chen


Pete, Tamsyn and Kate running on The Common

© Lawrence Chen

The first real hill of the course is on The Common and we tackled it well. We were still in a group and Pete warned me that we were going a bit quickly. We slowed a little and after turning at the crossroads, we saw Jo, another running friend. That’s what I like about local races – seeing familiar faces running and spectating.

Tamsyn and Kate

©Jo Findon

We then had another slight route change before a lovely downhill section. However, at the end of the downhill is the toughest hill on the course: Church Lane. Kate and I pushed up it, but Pete had a slight breather to save his legs, before catching up with us.

After passing University of Southampton, we were onto a fantastic long downhill section, where we were able to let go a bit.

Pete, Tamsyn and Kate

©Kelly Kilpin

After an ugly urban section, it was great to be in Riverside Park, where my favourite race photographer, Paul, was positioned.

Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

©Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Pete waving his arms

© Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Tamsyn surrounded by other runners

© Paul Hammond


Pete, Tamsyn and Kate

© Paul Hammond


Pete, Tamsyn and Kate

© Paul Hammond


tamsyn giving a thumbs up

© Paul Hammond


Close up of Tamsyn

© Paul Hammond

Kate had a comfort break in Riverside Park, so Pete and I pressed on alone. I was feeling a bit enthusiastic, so Pete had to keep telling me to slow down. I was trying not to go too quickly, as I hoped that Kate would catch us up again.

We saw our friend Di who was on her bike. She commented that we must have passed her husband, Mike, but I was fairly sure that we hadn’t so we must have started ahead of Mike.

Unfortunately, by the time we got to the 10 mile marker Pete started getting calf cramps, which got worse as it got hotter. He had trained really hard and prepared perfectly this week, so was very unlucky.

We had a short walk at the start of the Itchen Bridge and then started running again. I love race sections where you see others who are taking part. It doesn’t bother me seeing how many people are ahead of me as I know that on the return, I will see people behind me (or at least, that’s how I always hope it will go!)

At the far side of the bridge, I saw Steve Doncom. I used to do karate with his sons and haven’t seen him for about 5 years, but he recognised me and shouted out, which was nice.

As we were finishing the bridge, Pete and I saw the lead 10k runner (Abdi Mahamed) starting to cross the bridge. He was looking very fast.

We ran through a small park, where lots of children were cheering and offering water bottles, before turning onto Below Bar. I could see my in-laws and Baby M at Boulangerie Victor Hugo. We were ahead of schedule, so they didn’t expect us!

We ran past the Bargate and then turned into the park, ready to begin the second lap. In the park, I heard Sergio cheering us on, which was a nice boost.

The first half took 2 hours, which is far too fast for someone whose marathon PB is 4:29, but I was still feeling comfortable. I think that if I had been doing the Half Marathon, I could have gone for a PB.

As we got towards the Cenotaph, we were passed by the lead 10k runner… but he was on the wrong course. Oh dear. Apparently several people took the wrong course during the race, which is a shame for them.

The route up to The Common was hot and felt hard. At this point, Pete and I were joined by Mike and Patrick in their Beefeater costumes. Pete and I stopped for water  and lost Mike and Patrick at that point.

As we went past the pond on The Common, I saw a familiar face – my friend, Isabel from Buggy Mums. She had been out cycling with Laura earlier in the day and was doing a brick run as part of her training for an Olympic distance triathlon. It was great to have her company all of the way up the hill.

Pete’s calf was starting to hurt, but he was able to pick up the pace a bit on the downhill towards the crossroads, passing Patrick on the way. We went through the subway and then walked up the slope. I heard Patrick talking to us and assumed that he was ‘telling us off’ for walking, but then realised that he was saying he had fallen in the subway. His back and legs were covered in mud, but he seemed to be uninjured, which was good.

When Pete and I got to Church Lane, we walked up it again. There were quite a few students there cheering people on. It was hard to ignore them and walk, but I didn’t want to leave Pete.

There was a water station by the University, so Pete and I had another drink, before starting the downhill section. We hadn’t got far before we spotted the bring orange shirts of the motivators.

Kim and Vicki

Kim and Vicki ©Rees Leisure

It was lovely to say hello to Kim and Vicky and have a bit of a laugh.

Pete and Tamsyn

©Kelly Kilpin

As we got towards Bitterne, Pete was struggling more. He kept telling me to go on, but I felt bad as he had kept me going through all of our training runs, even though I was very slow when we started in January. At 31k, not far from Cobden Bridge, Pete finally convinced me to leave him.

I was feeling good on my second run through Riverside Park and spoke to a few other runners, which was nice. However, the section out of Riverside Park and back to Bitterne Triangle was very hot. I managed to get a pebble in my shoe, and hoped that it would work itself into a less uncomfortable position. I passed the first-placed wheelchair half marathoner on this section and was impressed by how hard she was working as I imagine the course must be very tricky in a wheelchair.

As I got to the ukulele band at Bitterne Triangle, I saw Kim and Vicky again. I wasn’t expecting to see them, so I guess that their last place walker must have dropped out.

I enjoyed the section towards Bitterne Station. There were some shady areas and I was feeling strong. As I passed the pub, there were people outside with pints of lager that looked really refreshing.

I started to get annoyed by the pebble in my shoe. My friends think it’s funny that I always get pebbles in my trainers – I even picked one up in my hallway before I went on a training run with Pete. When I shake them out they are often tiny, but definitely big enough to be seen and not figments of my imagination. I started looking for a bench or wall that I could sit on. I didn’t want to sit on the kerb as I have low blood pressure and worried that if I sat down that low I might faint on standing. After a while I saw a wall that was the perfect height, so I stopped, took off my shoe, shook the pebble out and then retied it more loosely. If I’d thought about it, I should have done the other shoe at the same time as I then had one comfortable shoe and one that was a bit tight.

After crossing Northam Bridge again, I headed towards the stadium. It was sad to see a female runner sitting on the ground by the underpass. She didn’t have any obvious injuries, but was in tears. Luckily, there were people with her.

This time, there were very few people with me as I went through the stadium, so I imagine there are loads of terrible photos of me taken by the automatic cameras.

As I headed towards the Itchen Bridge, I saw fellow tri club member Sandra, who had been a bike marshal earlier in the day and was now enjoying seeing the runners. It was lovely to see a friendly face.

The Itchen Bridge felt like a bit of a slog the second time around. I had a brief walk and then forced myself to start running again. I saw Paul and Chris from LRR on the other side of the bridge and for a few seconds I wondered whether I would be able to catch Chris. Unlike the first time around, the crowds of supporters on the bridge had thinned (and I definitely don’t think they were as vocal as last year, which was a shame).

On my way back across the bridge, I saw Tim from LRR and was also surprised to see super speedy former SUTRI team-mate Flo. She caught up with me and we ran together for a while, but I think we were both quite emotional at that point. It was Flo’s first marathon and I realised that even if I ended up walking, I had a strong chance of getting a PB.

As we got to the park by Ocean Village, Flo really picked up the pace, but I was unable to run that quickly.

I wondered whether Stu and his parents would be by the cafe where I saw them earlier, but there was no-one there. As I got to the Bargate, I realised how busy town had got. It was a little disorienting as there were a few people in the way who didn’t care about the race.

I then headed into the final park and saw Stu, his mum and Baby M. I gave them a thumbs up, before continuing towards the finish.

© Stuart Smith

The last half mile seemed to go on forever. The streets were lined with crowds and there were lots of familiar faces (and strangers) shouting my name. The barrage of noise for the last 200m was overwhelming and I managed to break into a sprint.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was immediately in front of my friend Dave who had spoken to me at the start. he had called out to me, but I think I assumed it was people in the crowd – sorry Dave!

My time of 4:14:44 was a massive improvement on my previous PB of 4:29:33. I didn’t quite manage to make the top half overall, but was pleased to finish in the top 25% of females ūüôā

After the race, I caught up with a few friends before meeting Stu and the others. I got changed and then Pete arrived back. Although his race hadn’t gone to plan, he still finished in 4:26, which is great. We then waited for Kate who got a PB, before heading to Nando’s for some food.

Medal photo with Pete and Kate

©Kate Budd

We also had time to watch the mascots race, which was quite funny.

Mascots lined up for their race Chris organising the mascot race The start of teh mascot race

I have no idea which mascot won.

Overall, I had a great day and would do this race again. I didn’t train as much as usual, but managed to knock 15 minutes off my marathon PB!

Finisher t-shirt and medal

Finisher t-shirt and medal

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Swimming with a legend

5 Apr

As you may know, I’m currently training for Swimathon, which is going to be a massive challenge for me. I’ve not been swimming as much as I used to because it’s a logistical challenge with Baby M, so when I was offered the chance to have a swimming lesson with Duncan Goodhew, the President of Swimathon, I leapt at the opportunity.

After a challenging journey (running buggies are not the smallest mode of transport for a baby and definitely not designed for the underground), we made it to a beautiful pool at Pancras Square Leisure.

I got changed and Sam (our Swimathon contact) introduced me to Adele, another Swimathon ambassador. Adele completed 5k last year, so she knows what she’s letting herself in for this time around (and she’s wisely chosen to do 2500m faster than she has before). (If you’d like to find out more about Adele’s training, please check out her blog: Fit Artist Running Blog).

Then we were introduced to Duncan. He is such a lovely person and clearly remembered meeting Adele last year. Duncan is a great example of someone who found where their talent lay at a young age and who has built a successful career around it. He’s clearly as passionate about swimming today as he was in 1980.

Duncan chatting to Adele and Tamsyn poolsideDuncan Goodhew chatting with Blogsquad

We had a discussion poolside and talked about the importance of warming up before discussing our training and what our goals are. I know that my technique has lots of flaws (and that I just haven’t been in the water enough recently… but that’s not something that Duncan could fix!), whereas Adele wanted to work on her speed.

Duncan Goodhew discussing stroke with Tamsyn and Adele

Then it was into the water. We did a warm up and then Duncan started giving us specific advice and drills.

Duncan Goodhew in the pool with the Swimathon Blogsquad

As you can see, Adele and I had a spacious lane to share and I was surprised that the rest of the pool was much quieter than I am used to. It was such a beautiful and clean pool that if it were my local, I’d be happy to swim there every day. Southampton Tri Club is now so popular that there are usually at least 5 of us in a lane and sometimes as many as 8!

Duncan Goodhew in the pool explaining drills

One of the first things that Duncan pointed out is that I hold my fingers tightly closed. When I first learnt to swim, I was accused of having ‘banana hands’ as my fingers were so far apart. I now need to learn to relax them as the latest research has shown that it is better to have gaps between the fingers.

Duncan Goodhew explaining catch up drill to Tamsyn

Some of the first drills that I did with Duncan were to help me with lengthening my stroke. One of them was ‘catch up’ which I’m familiar with.

After doing this for a while, Duncan identified that when I start to tire, I don’t finish my stroke properly, so I miss the final push phase of my crawl. I know that I can do it when I’m thinking about it, so I need to make a conscious effort to focus on that until muscle memory makes me do it every time!

Duncan Goodhew trying to refine Tamsyn's technique

Duncan then pointed out an imbalance in my stroke. My right hand side has worse technique than my left. Back in 2014, I had a cycling accident in the Pyrenees. It took months for my right arm to function properly and although it’s fine now, I’ve lost a lot of flexibility on that side. Duncan explained that on that side in particular I lead with my hand, instead of leading with my elbow, so in effect I’m doing an exaggerated doggy paddle :-O Obviously, that’s not something that I can fix quickly. I really need to make time for shoulder flexibility exercises, ideally every day. Unfortunately, I think carrying an increasingly heavy baby in a car seat is only adding to the problem, at the moment.

All too soon, the session was over and we were onto the cool down (and some posing for pics!)

Adele, Duncan and Tamsyn in the pool

Adele, Duncan and Tamsyn by a Swimathon banner

This was an amazing opportunity for me. I really appreciate Duncan giving up his time to help us.

Swimathon takes place this weekend, but it’s not too late for you to sign up. You can do a range of distances from 1.5k-5k, or could form a team and take part in a relay.

Finally, before leaving I had to ask Duncan for a quick selfie with his amazing medal! Isn’t it amazing?

Tamsyn, Duncan Goodhew and Duncan's Olympic gold medal!!!

When I’m battling my swim on Friday morning, I’ll definitely be thinking back to Duncan’s wise words and will try to

  • lengthen my stroke
  • consider my head position
  • finish my stroke when I get tired
  • lead with my elbow on my right hand side

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How to deal with stinky cycling shoes

24 Mar

Spring is finally here with longer daylight and sunny days – hurray! For me, I’m hoping this means that there will be more opportunities for cycling (certainly by the end of April when my baby will be old enough to go in a bike trailer). However, I’ve just got out my neglected cycling shoes and in comparison to my shiny new bike they’re not looking great. (They’re not smelly, but they don’t look clean!) I turned to the internet for inspiration on how to make them beautiful again and was surprised by some of the answers that I got…

Low risk suggestions

  • Replace the insoles
  • Use Odor eaters
  • Use Stuffitts Shoe Savers
  • Put sneaker balls in the shoes
  • Store the shoes with detergent pods inside (be very careful if you have young children or pets!)
  • Use ODOBAN

Medium risk solutions

  • Put the shoes in the freezer overnight
  • Put your shoes out in UV light/sunlight
  • Put newspaper and baking soda in your shoes after each use
  • Spray white vinegar in your shoes
  • Put baking soda and tea tree oil in the shoes and place them in the sun
  • Spray your shoes with Lysol
  • Use sports equipment spray on your shoes
  • Put a spray top on a bottle of surgical spirit (aka rubbing alcohol) and spray inside your shoes
  • Put some drops of essential oils (like lavender or peppermint) in your shoes
  • Use dog urine odour remover
  • Put Gold Bond Foot Powder in them (not readily available in the UK)

High risk solutions (washing)

  • Scrub them and leave them to dry with some newspaper stuffed inside
  • Wash them dawn in the shower, then put newspaper and dryer sheets in them. Put them on the rack in dryer, kept running the dryer all day and changing the paper and dryer sheets.
  • Put them in a sink full of warm water and a box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) before allowing them to air dry
  • Wash them in a utility sink with baking soda and sport laundry detergent
  • Throw some hydrogen peroxide in them to kill the bacteria
  • Wash the insoles in the washing machine and let them air dry
  • Put them in a bucket of water and napisan or oxy-clean to soak, then press the fabric area and hang them to dry in the sun

Extremely high risk solutions

  • “I put mine in socks then put them in the washer with a load of towels.” and “Throw them in the washing machine and let them air dry, with insoles out and they do great!” (Does the washing machine?!)
  • Put them on the top rack of the dishwasher (for two cycles if they’re really stinky). – This was the suggestion that surprised me the most, but which also seems to be the most popular suggestion!

Photo credit: thenoodleator via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

What is your preferred method to keep your cycling shoes box fresh?

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Have you entered Swimathon 2017?

14 Mar Stuart and M swimming

I’ll be posting a lot about Swimathon in the next few weeks as I’m thinking about it a lot. I’ll be completing my 5k swim at The Quays in Southampton on 07/04/17 (I hope), although I’m a little worried about just how long that will take. (It’s 200 lengths! I’ve swum 5k before, but it was wearing a wetsuit in a lake and it took me 2:05!)

swimathon

If you’ve not heard of Swimathon before, it’s a nationwide swimming event with Marie Curie as its official charity partner.*

This year‚Äôs event is the 30th anniversary, which really surprised me as I hadn’t realised that it had been going for so long. There are also some amazing swimmers who have taken part every single year! The event has some great supporters, including its President, Duncan Goodhew. I was fortunate enough to meet him recently and will be sharing some tips later this week. There’s still plenty of time to enter and lots of different options including 1.5k, 2.5k, 5k, team relays or ‘SimplySwim’ where you do your own distance in your own time, so there’s the perfect level of challenge for everyone. If you’re not sure how to tackle the training, there are some excellent training plans for the various distances available on the Swimathon website. They’re divided into Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner, so there’s bound to be something for you.

I’ve found it hard getting back into the pool after having a baby. Stuart and I don’t have any relatives who live close to us, so we have to carefully schedule when we are going to swim. This makes me feel like a slightly lazy member of the Swimathon blogsquad, but I’m sure some of you can relate to the challenges I face. Our Tri Club has two one hour sessions on a Monday night from 7-8pm and 8-9pm, so Stu swims in the first session and I swim in the second session. This means that the baby gets passed from one to the other by the changing rooms!

I was chatting with Stu about Baby M recently and expressed a desire for her to be able to swim well, to which Stu responded, ‘Oh, I just want her to be happy and healthy’. I had to explain that I’m not going to be a pushy mum who is expecting her to aim for tumble turns in her first lesson, but that I think being a competent swimmer is an essential life skill like being able to read or to cook. (Although I will admit that I’d like her to swim better than I can… and cooking better than me would also be good.)

I don’t often share pictures of Baby M, but we recently took her for her first swimming lesson in the hope of fostering a lifelong love of the water. She had so much fun that I don’t think that will be a problem, and I’m sure she’ll be taking part in Swimathon in future!

Stuart and M swimming

Last night was my first swimming session for a couple of weeks. When I met Stu, I went to pass him M who was in her car seat and he gave me a look before saying that his arms were dead after a tough session. Luckily, they were strong enough to get M home safely.

I was a bit concerned about what my session might consist of, but Stu and I swim at different levels, so we have different coaches. After my usual 400m warm up (200m crawl; 100m pull buoy; 100m crawl), it was onto some technique work. We did various drills using fins and hand paddles, to make us think more carefully about the catch phase of our stroke. After that it was onto a pyramid:

  • 50m off 1:10 (x3)
  • 100m off 2:30
  • 200m off 5:00

and then we repeated some of that with fins.

I know my technique and endurance have fallen apart since having M, but I felt quite comfortable throughout and was easily recovering in the allocated time, so I’m feeling a bit more positive. Now I just need to work on my flexibility.

Have you ever taken part in Swimathon or another swimming challenge? What’s the best piece of advice you can give me about how to tackle it?


* Several of my friends have asked me what the difference is between Marie Curie and Macmillan, as they are similar organisations. Here’s the info:

WHO THEY NURSE:
Macmillan – people with cancer
Marie Curie – people with all terminal illnesses

WHAT DO THEY OFFER:
Macmillan – advice & info to people with cancer, from the time they are diagnosed.
Marie Curie – hands-on care to people with terminal illnesses in their homes, usually in the final weeks/days of their lives.

WHEN THEY VISIT PATIENTS:
Macmillan – usually for 1 hour at a time.
Marie Curie – usually for 9 hours overnight or 3-6 hours in the day/evening.

WHO FUNDS THEM:
Macmillan – 100% NHS funded after the first 3 years.
Marie Curie – approx 50% Marie Curie and 50% NHS.

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