A full marathon in my home city

27 Jul

I was so excited to learn that there will be a full marathon in my home city of Southampton next year. I’ve already entered the half marathon, so am now thinking about upgrading my entry to the full marathon.

Southampton marathon

I’ve loved running ABP Southampton Half for the last two years and think the marathon would be a great comeback race (although training with a small baby might be a bit of a challenge!) I’ve already added this race to My scheduled events for 2017

I was also interested to learn that TryTri may be running a triathlon in Bournemouth next year. Stuart’s family are from this area and it isn’t far away, so I’d like to take part. It features a sea swim, which is something that I enjoy.

Are there any races in your home town? What do you think of them?



What’s in your kit bag?

26 Jul

On of the aspects of triathlon that can be off-putting for beginners is the sheer amount of kit that is required as this can represent quite an outlay for many people in comparison with running, for example, which just requires a pair of trainers (and a decent sports bra for some of us).

I’ve been training for triathlons for 4 years now and have amassed a quantity of kit. Some of it is still very much entry-level basics whilst other items are more expensive.

I thought it might be helpful to share what I have in my kitbag…

First up is the kit bag itself. I use a fantastically spacious StoPro sports bag – it’s got a brilliant waterproof compartment as well as storage cubes and plenty of pockets.

My bag in front of St Michael's Mount

Really, any bag will do, but it’s helpful to have somewhere that you keep the items you need to take to swim training and other things that are race-specific.


  • Hat. I know some people like to wear hats that they’ve got from races, but I’m kind of picky. I don’t like wearing latex hats, I only wear silicon hats. I tend to rotate between 3:
    • shark hat (gift from my husband)
    • bright pink Ironman Dublin 70.3 hat
    • blue hat (birthday gift from Teri – chosen to match my SOAS kit!)
  • Goggles. Now that I don’t need to wear prescription goggles, I can wear any goggles I like. My current favourites are Zoggs Predator Flex Reactor goggles. They are photochromatic, so I can use them in the pool and for open water swimming.
  • Swimming costume. I have quite a few… but many are reaching the end of their useful life :-S I prefer swimsuits that have modest legs as I find them more flattering. Aquasphere make quite a few in this style in a range of colours. They are always comfy.
  • Fins, hand paddles and pull buoy. The coach insists that we bring all of our toys to every training session!
  • Ear plugs. These were a new discovery for me last year. They make swimming much more pleasant!
  • Towels. I usually use microfibre towels from Decathlon as they are lightweight and don’t take up much space.
  • Wetsuit. I bought a new wetsuit in 2015. I now have a Zone 3 Aspire.
  • Flipflops. These are especially important for open water swimming when I have to walk across pebbles to the lake. I love my SOAS flipflops, although I’ve recently been trying Oofos, which seem really comfortable.
  • Body glide. This is another essential for open water swimming to guard against chafing.
  • Talc. I put some talcum powder in my shoes if I’m doing a duathlon or triathlon as it helps to soak up the excess moisture, which can lead to blisters.
  • Chip holder. I’ve not used this a lot, but occasionally I’ve been to races that have very uncomfortable chip straps, so having my own has been preferable.


  • Helmet. This goes without saying.
  • Head band. I don’t like wearing my helmet without a headband. It keeps my ears warm:-)
  • Bike shoes. If you’ve not invested in cleats yet, why not make the leap this year?
  • Bike gloves. Some people don’t bother with them to save time, but I’d rather not risk my hands!
  • Clear glasses/sunglasses. No-one wants to get a fly in their eye.
  • Water bottle x 2. For a sprint race, 1 bottle should be enough, but for longer rides and races, it’s best to take two.
  • Pump/gas, spare tubes and tyre levers. You need to be able to use these – don’t rely on others.
  • Race belt. This makes it easy to wear your number on your back when cycling and on your front when running.
  • Gel sweets/chocolate. I like shotbloks, but dark chocolate can also be a great pick-me-up.
  • Arm warmers, leg warmers and a buff. All of these items of clothing can easily be added or removed, depending on the temperature.
  • Waterproof jacket. I have a lightweight Castelli jacket that packs very small, so I can stow it in a pocket.
  • Inhaler. I don’t want to risk an asthma attack when racing. It happened during my first time trial and was a scary experience.
  • Bento box. To help stash all of my snacks!
  • Lipsyl. This helps if I’ve swum somewhere less pleasant before cycling.


  • Cap/visor. I usually wear a SOAS visor.
  • trainers with elastic laces. I’m currently trying Phoenix Fit elastic laces.
  • sunglasses. I wear these if it’s too windy for a visor.

Depending on what I’ve worn to training/a race, I may also pack some clothes for afterwards, which will probably include a SOAS hoodie, and maybe a beanie if it’s cold outside. (Having a cute and cosy hat makes such a difference when doing a lake swim early in the year!) Having spare socks is also good:-)

Post race/training:

  • Shower stuff
  • Underwear
  • Warm clothes
  • Inhalers
  • Wetwipes
  • Hairbrush

What are your kitbag essentials?




Mini Team Sky

25 Jul

I LOVE these Mini Team Sky videos, so am sharing them because they make me laugh.

Episode 1: Hydration

Episode 2: Aerodynamics

Episode 3: Culture

Episode 4: Recovery

Episode 5: Teamwork

Which one is your favourite?

Thunder Run weekend

25 Jul

I’ve been so busy recently that I haven’t been able to fit in as many activities as I’d like to, so sending my bike off for repairs with The Bike Guy meant that I had to ride to work on my road bike. I’ve not used it enough recently, so getting a ride in on a sunny day made me happy:-)

Post-work road bike ride

Post-work road bike ride

I had hoped to take part in a local cross country race on Wednesday, but a series of medical appointments that over ran meant that I didn’t make it😦

However, this weekend, Stu and I headed up to Derbyshire Thunder Run – a 24 hour team relay on a tough 10km cross-country race. This is one of the highlight’s in my running calendar as it combines running with camping with friends. We drove up to Derbyshire on Thursday and checked into a hotel for the night as the Thunder Run campsite doesn’t open until Friday. This gave us a bit of time to go out for a walk and enjoy a meal with Kim, Rob, Rikki and our other team mates.

We got up early on Friday and headed to the campsite, so that we could get a good spot close to the course. We pitched our tents as quickly as possible (although I’m sure my tent gets harder to pitch every year!) Some of our team-mates (Pete, Kate, Andy, Mike and Steve) weren’t going to join us until later in the day, so we left a bit of space for their tents. We then headed back to the hotel just after 9am to eat breakfast and shower.

The start of our Thunder Run camp

The start of our Thunder Run camp

As Thunder Run doesn’t start until midday on Saturday, we had plenty of time to spare, so after we checked out of the hotel, we decided to explore the National Memorial Arboretum. It’s a stunning location and the memorials are very moving.


National Memorial Arboretum

National Memorial Arboretum

There was also a children’s play area, so some of our team mates couldn’t resist having a go.

Rikki testing his balance

Rikki testing his balance

This obstacle was just too hard for Rikki

This obstacle was just too hard for Rikki

We stopped off at the local Morrisons to pick up supplies for the weekend and then headed back to the campsite.

The stalls had started to open, so I rushed over to the Buff stand with Rikki. Rikki is a Buff-afficionado who has been known to ‘double buff’ in cold weather (one on his head and one round his neck). Last year he missed out on the limited edition Thunder Run buff, so he didn’t want that to happen again. I had a look at the buff, but the colours didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to save my money this year.

Thunder Run buff 2016

Thunder Run buff 2016

In the evening, we had a barbecue – quorn sausages for me and burgers and sausages for the others. We had camped further down the campsite than last year, so were unaffected by the noise of the generators, but the campers next to us not only had a lot of children with them but they also seemed determined to drink as much alcohol as possible, so we were glad when the 11pm quiet time came around.

We usually try out a local parkrun on Saturday morning, but I’m trying not to over do it at the moment, so we decided to go open water swimming instead. We had intended to swim at Barton Marina with Derby Tri Club, but because of water quality issues, swimming is temporarily suspended there. A quick google found that we were only a few miles from Meynell Valley Hunters Tri Club’s home lake in Hilton, so we headed off there instead.

Hilton lake Hilton lake

The lake has basic facilities (a burger van in the parking area and a shipping container for the admin tea to use), but the sun was shining and the lake looked beautiful. It was 21C in the water and the swimming loop was 550m. I’ve not been OWS without my wetsuit so far this year, so this was a pleasant introduction. I did a few laps before getting out and watching Stu for a bit. He has quite a distinctive swimming style and it amused me to see his bare arms whizzing past all of the others who were wearing wetsuits.

We then headed back to Catton Park for the start of Thunder Run at midday, but were too slow to make it into the team photo😦

Thunder Run 2016 team mates

Thunder Run 2016 team mates

Marafun (the organisers of Southampton and Winchester Half Marathons) kindly gave us some t-shirts. Kelly’s Heroes Rebooted had the red-sleeved tops; Brontophobics (my team) had the turquoise-sleeved tops.

Start of Thunder Run 2016

Start of Thunder Run 2016

It was incredibly hot, so I was glad that I was 4th in the line up for my team. I started my first lap at 3:30pm and decided that I would take a bottle of water with me, but this was a bad decision. I never usually run with water, so it just annoyed me and I ended up abandoning the bottle at the 5.5km drinks station. Luckily, Stu had bought me a ‘Secret Training’ bottle, which entitled me to free refills. There were a range of falvours on offer, including watermelon and blackcurrant & elderflower, both of which I liked. I didn’t like the lemon and lime flavour as it was too strong. I also didn’t love the mango flavour.

Secret Training

My 2nd lap was at 11:45pm, which was a lot cooler. I’ve got a good head torch, but was extremely careful (i.e. slow!) in the technical tree section as I didn’t want to fall or twist an ankle like my friend Liz did last year. I really enjoyed the night time lap, although I was glad to be able to get into bed. I hoped that I would get to sleep quickly, but despite it being a warm night, my feet felt very cold. I was so glad when Stu got into bed as he’s a great foot-warmer!

My next lap was at 7am, but I didn’t get much sleep as I Stu and Rikki were running at completely different times from me and so they had to come and go from the tent. It was cooler than my previous day-time lap, but was still warmer than I like running in and also my ankles were starting to ache. I wasn’t as quick as I’d hoped to be, but no-one minded.

I then agreed to do a 4th and final lap at 9:30am with Michela. It was really hot by that time, so again it was a slow lap. We got back just in time for Aaron to go out for a final lap.

End of Thunder Run 2016

(L-R: Pete, Kim, Kate, Tamsyn & Rikki – Aaron and Michela were getting drinks!)

We then had to pack our belongings and take down the tent as well as collect our medals. My ankles were really sore and tired by this point, so I was grateful to be able to remove my trainers and put on my Oofos recovery flipflops. They are so soft and comfortable.

I can strongly recommend this event. Stu and I have taken part every year for the last 5 years. It has grown massively in that time, but is still as friendly as the first time we took part.

Thunder Run t-shirt, race number and medal

Thunder Run t-shirt, race number and medal




Monday Morning Motivation – Blazeman

25 Jul

Jon Blais was born in Massachusetts, but moved to San Diego because of its sporting reputation. He worked there with students with disabilities. At the age of 33 he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and was permitted to enter the 2005 Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, which was a lifelong dream.

As Blais put it, “Finishing the race is huge for me. No one is beating ALS. No one has done anything but walk away and die.” His resolve to finish the race was unwavering as he stated, “Even if I have to be rolled across the finish line, I’m finishing.” With a total time of 16:28:56, more than half an hour before the cutoff, he “log-rolled” across the finish line and is the first person with MND to start and finish this race. He died on May 27, 2007. Some international triathletes continue to honour Blais and show their support for the fight against ALS by doing a “Blazeman-Roll” across the Ironman finish-line.

To learn more about this incredible athlete, visit: http://www.triathloninspires.com/jblaisstory.html

Monday Morning Motivation – Strive

18 Jul

I love Strava’s latest campaign: Strive

Being an athlete is simple.
It doesn’t matter how fast you are, how many races you win, or if you even race at all.
All that really matters, all you have to do, is just be…
be on the road
be on the trail
be relentless
be daring
be a teammate
be happy
be proud
be yourself.
Strive to be an athlete… and you are one.

Be a team mate:

be tenacious:

Be persistent:

Be lighthearted:

Be a friend:

Be “that guy”:

Be committed:

Be a training partner:

Be relentless:

Be a fighter:

HOWL aquathlon

15 Jul

I didn’t enter the HOWL aquathlon until the day before the event as I wanted to be sure that my chest infection had cleared up. I was feeling more confident that my swim would be OK as I survived 1.9k in the sea in Tenby. I was also excited to be able to do the aquathlon as I’m a bit nervous about cycling with others that I don’t know well now I’m pregnant, so triathlons are off-limits.

Allegedly the lake was 22C, but I’m not convinced it was quite that warm. I have happy memories from a couple of years back when the lake got so warm that it felt like getting into a warm bath and no-one was wearing wetsuits. For this race, some people chose not to wear wetsuits, but I thought the speed gains when swimming would outweigh the time it takes to remove my wetsuit.

I’d chosen to wear my 2014 SOAS Ambassador kit. It’s one of my favourite kits and also one of the larger ones that I own, so I thought it might be the best to accommodate my growing belly! I then roped in Jenny and Liz from STC to help zip me into my wetsuit, which just about fits!

I’d asked Steve Cooke from HOWL whether there would be time for a warm up before the event as I need to acclimatise before taking part in any open water race. Steve had said that my best option would be to get in the lake as soon as possible, so I was first in the water! It wasn’t too bad, but a few more minutes might have been helpful.

The swim was 2.5 laps of the lake (750m). I knew I should be able to do the distance, but I’m also acutely aware that I’ve never been a good swimmer and I’m even less aerodynamic than usual, so I glide through the water with the elegance of an elephant. It was a floating start, so I positioned myself near the back, as I didn’t want to get kicked in the stomach.

I had thought I would see Liz from STC during the swim, but she was nowhere to be seen, so I assumed that she had a cracking race. (She later explained that she had only swum 1.5 laps, like some of the others). Liz and I usually swim at a similar pace and her wetsuit has a distinctive flower on its rear, so it makes her easier to spot.

Before the start of the race, I’d had a chat with the man next to me. He’s said that he wasn’t much of a swimmer, but I always take comments like that with a pinch of salt. It turns out that he was being honest. He was probably a slightly better swimmer than me, but my sighting was better than his, so I had a slight edge and was able to exit the water before him.

Swim time: 21:47

I briefly wiped my feet (and silently cursed for having forgotten to bring talcum powder to put in my shoes) and put on my socks.

Transition time: 1:16

I was looking forward to the run. It consists of two laps around Lakeside (5km), which always reminds me of my first parkruns. There were slight changes at the end of the route as there have been some major building works at Lakeside, but it is back to being a more appealing place to run as the trees that were cut down when a development took place next door have now grown up again. The run goes around the edge of the lake before a slight incline and then a run through a shady avenue of trees. There is then a (miniature) railway crossing before the back straight which is on a gravelled path. There is another slight incline to go up onto ‘the bowl’, where the grass is quite long. The next section has a down and an up before heading down again and across some more railway tracks before heading down onto a narrow path. There’s yet another small incline before an immediate descent and the path to the finish/second lap.

It was good to see a few of STC’s faster runners out on course (speeding past on their second lap as I was on my first) and also lovely to catch up with cheery Liz. We had time for a brief chat before I pushed on.

Run time: 30:06

The marshals at Long Course Weekend were some of the best I’ve ever encountered, but the marshals at the HOWL aquathlon were also great – cheery, encouraging and most of them knew me so they were able to call out my name:-)

I was pleased that my run time was close to 30 minutes. Usually, I would expect to be several minutes quicker, but that’s very close to my current parkrun time and I can’t push as hard as I normally would. Overall, I finished 3rd from last, so it wasn’t a terrible night out. Sadly there were no split times for the swim and the run as I think I may have beaten several people based on run times. My best time last year was 46:37 – Swim: 20:22, Transition: 1:10, Run: 25:04, so my swim and transition times were reasonably close to the best I’ve managed.

There were quite a few entrants from Southampton Tri Club and many of them did well (with Sonia and Jacqui placing first and second in the Vet ladies category). The men’s category was tougher with entrants coming from as far afield as Weymouth (Bustinskins Tri Club!). Southampton Tri Club won the team event.

STC at Howl aquathlon

STC at Howl aquathlon

I loved taking part in this event and wish it were part of a series. I’ll definitely be back next year and aiming for a PB!






Long Course Weekend: Run

13 Jul

Following the sportive, Stu, Roelie and I went out for something to eat. I didn’t really have the energy to eat anything, but managed to force down a falafel as I knew I’d need the energy. We then headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Our room was much less cluttered as our bikes had been locked away in the car, so it was easier to move around and get everything ready for Sunday morning. Also as Stu’s marathon didn’t start until 10am, we knew we could sleep slightly later, which was good.

After an excellent night’s sleep, we went down for breakfast. Corinne, who I had met before the sportive, was at the table next to us and as her husband wasn’t joining her, Roelie was able to  take his place. The couple at the table on our other side were also staying for the Long Course Weekend, so there was a lot of chat about what we had done so far and what the day might bring.

After breakfast, we went back to our room to get ready. The marathon started in town, whereas Roelie and I needed to get on a coach at 11am to go to Manorbier Castle, where our 10k would start. We decided to take our stuff with us and go to watch Stu and Sergio start the marathon.

Wales 10k race number

After the horrendous weather on Saturday, the fog had lifted and we could see right across the bay again.

View of Tenby

Before the marathon started, the 5k runners were set off, so we watched the start of that and then Roelie and I walked down to the start corral with Stu and Sergio. Stu has had quite a few calf niggles recently, so he had decided to start conservatively towards the back of the pack. I was a little worried about him as it’s not long until his Ironman and I really don’t want Stu to get injured. Last year, Stu went out for a training ride a week before Ironman Dublin 70.3. He swerved to avoid a pothole, hit gravel, went over his handlebars still attached to his bike and tore his calf muscle. The injury was so bad that he was unable to even swim, so I’m keeping everything crossed for Copenhagen.

Zoe was in the start corral just ahead of Stu and Sergio, so I managed to have a quick chat with her. She’s a fantastic ultra runner, so I imagine this was the part of the event that she was looking forward to most.

Stu, Zoe and Sergio starting the marathon

Stu, Zoe and Sergio starting the marathon

After the marathoners had gone, Roelie and I decided to watch the fastest 5k runners finish. The first finisher was a young lad who just squeaked under 18 minutes, but only the top 5 finished under 20 minutes. By 10:25, Roelie and I decided that we had better go and find out coach. We crossed over the road… and heard our names being announced as finishing the 5k. Oops!

We walked up to the registration hall in the hope of sorting out the problem as we were worried that our chips would no longer work for the 10k. We were then sent back to the finish of the 5k, where we spoke to a member of staff who said that it wasn’t a problem. The minor problem meant that we then had to hurry to get our coach.

We got onto the coach, which had all of the heating on. Roelie was able to open a vent in the roof, but it didn’t make much of a difference. People were stripping off as many layers as they could.

Finally we set off. The 6 mile coach trip seemed to take a long time and we were afraid that our coach was going to break down as there were some bad smells coming form the engine.

When we got off the coach, there was a short walk to the start. After getting hot on the coach, it felt quite cold outside and it started to rain again. I felt a little grumpy, but had to keep reminding myself that it would be cooler for everyone running the marathon.

There were lots of runners milling around at Manorbier Castle, but there was nowhere else for us to go. We had over 90 minutes before the start of our event. We sat down in a gatehouse archway for a while and decided to have a snack. I had a Powerbar and some water.

It was uncomfortable on the ground, so Roelie and I had a look at the event information and realised that we would be able to see the fastest marathoners and half marathoners go past, so we went out onto the road.

After a while, the first runner went past, but there was quite a wait before we saw anyone else and even then, there were coming through singly. Roelie and I chatted to one of the other spectators and then suddenly Stu arrived. I was so excited to see him. He had hit the 20 mile point in just under 2:45 and was looking comfortable. The sun had come out again and we were feeling hot spectating, so I was worried that it would be too warm for Stu, but he didn’t look red or sweaty, which made me feel better.

Roelie and I then took our bags to the bag drop van – we were just in time as there was a final call just as we were walking away.

We lined up in the grounds of the castle and were led to the start by a band. There was a brief countdown and then we were off.

My plan had been to stick with Roelie for as long as I could. She had started at her comfortable half marathon pace, but I’ve always been bad on hills and with no warm up, I really wasn’t doing well, so just a km in, we parted our ways.

One of my aims had been to try to run the whole 10k, but it was a lot hotter than I expected. All of the rain had cleared up and there were beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine. Much of the course did not have much shade. At the first big hill, many people ahead of me started walking, so I decided to conserve some energy and join them.

For the first 3.5k, i felt a pain in my side. It wasn’t quite like a stitch – I think it was the little one making her feelings known. She didn’t mind me running uphill, but did not want me to run downhill. I felt a little depressed as I wondered whether it signalled that my running days were over, but after 3.5k the pain eased and I was able to run as normal.

I managed to pick up my pace and found that I was catching up with people who had passed me earlier, which was a good feeling. As we got towards Tenby, there was a fantastic downhill section. I started out quite cautiously, but as I was feeling good, I let rip a little bit. It was so much fun and felt the best that running has for weeks.

There was another hill heading to the finish, but I knew it wasn’t long and could see that I was nearing the end.

I heard someone shouting my name and looked up to see Stu who shouted that he would meet me at the finish.

I was so pleased to cross the finish line in 1:10:52. It’s the slowest 10k that I’ve ever done. I finished 212/325 overall, 113/195 female and 27/39 in my age category, so although it was slow, I definitely wasn’t last:-)

I was presented with a 10k medal – it’s not quite as nice as the marathon medal, but it does stack with the other two medals:



I met up with Roelie on the way to find Stu. He had already got changed and was in a really good mood as he had paced his marathon really well (based on heart rate) and despite being cautious, his finish time was 3:25, which I think is amazing.

Roelie and I went to get our bags back, but the van had not made it to the collection point, so we had to wait for a short while before we could get changed. We cheered on some more runners until it arrived and then we got changed.

It was then time to head off for a panini and chocolate milkshake before Stu had to go for his 4th medal ceremony. he did really well, finishing 35th overall, 33rd male and 28th in his age category with a combined event time of 11:26:52. I’m so proud of him.

Stu receiving his 4th medal for LCW

Stu receiving his 4th medal for LCW

It was good to see that other friends did well this weekend. Gemma Marshall was 9th female and Sergio and Zoe also completed all three events.

Sergio and Stu

Sergio and Stu

After the awful day on Saturday, the weekend ended on a high. I have to admit that I felt a little bit jealous of everyone who managed to complete this gruelling event. The people of Tenby were so friendly and welcoming that although I still have no desire to take part in IM Wales, I definitely hope to return for the Long Course Weekend one day.






Long Course Weekend: Bike

13 Jul

I didn’t sleep well last night – possibly because of the adrenaline coursing around my body after the swim and also because I was really nervous about the bike ride. I can’t fault the hotel – for the first time ever, we managed to stay in a hotel that didn’t seem to have a big event on the night before a race and the room was also a pleasant temperature.

Stuart and Roelie’s 112 mile bike ride was scheduled to start at 7:30am, so they went to breakfast early. I discussed joining them for breakfast, but I realised that in order to watch their start, I would need to cycle down into town and then back again, and we agreed that it wasn’t worth it.

After Stu had left, I was unable to go back to sleep, so I had a quick look online. I went to the Long Course Weekend website and was surprised to see that Stu was listed in the top 10 swimmers:

Top 10 LCW swimmers

I never doubted Stu’s ability, but I knew that he was totally unaware of how well he placed. Being in the top 10 entitled Stu to a special TT start at 8am, so I immediately started trying to phone him. I called three times and left him a text message, before trying to phone Roelie, in the hope that she would see Stu. Sadly, I was unable to get hold of Stuart before 7:30am, so he set off unaware of his exalted position.

I wasn’t scheduled to start until 12:45, so I had a leisurely morning. I went for a delicious vegetarian English breakfast, but I didn’t manage to eat much of it – I’m not used to eating that kind of food first thing in the morning. On my way out, I met Corinne who was staying in the hotel and was also doing the short distance sportive. We agreed to meet in the lobby just before midday. This made me feel a bit less nervous that I would fail to find the race start!

The weather was looking bleak – at times the rain was torrential – so I needed to decide what to wear. I had originally hoped that I’d be fine in just my SOAS jersey and shorts, but I decided to go for the knee warmers and arm warmers, topped off with a waterproof jacket. It was quite warm, so I decided not to wear a buff or my base layer, even though I had packed them.

My charming sister (who lives on the other side of the world) keeps saying that she wants to see how ‘tubby’ I am, so I took a photo in my kit, just for her. I don’t know that everyone would recognise that I’m pregnant, but I certainly look and feel fat these days!

Cycling at 6.5 months pregnant

Cycling at 6.5 months pregnant

I met up with Corinne and we headed off towards the event start. Because of our hotel’s location, we had to cycle for a short distance on the event route. It was a little embarrassing to have people clapping when we weren’t racing. We met Corinne’s friend and then headed to the start on foot.

When we got to the start location, we were surprised to find that there were very few people around. The event instructions had been very strict about people’s start time, but we were allowed to go whenever we were ready.

The weather started out with what we’d call ‘mizzle’ in Cornwall, it quickly turned to rain and fog, which made me more nervous about cycling. I knew the course was ‘undulating’, but hadn’t realised there are virtually no flat bits. I decided to ride at a very steady pace so that I would not get out of breath or feel at risk of falling.

At about 10k in, I heard someone call out my name. I glanced over my shoulder and saw someone on a gorgeous pink bike – it was Zoe, who I know via Facebook as a 2015 SOAS brand ambassador. It was great to finally meet her. I’d strongly recommend that you watch her account of the weekend:

Because, I hadn’t manage to eat much for breakfast, I stopped at the first feed station just 12k in for a piece of banana and a piece of Mars bar. I also made sure that I drank more water. (Throughout the ride, I drank something every 20 minutes, so that I wouldn’t get dehydrated).

By 30k I was tired and by 39k, I had to stop to eat a Powerbar. I’ve never considered calling to be picked up before, but I just felt shattered and knew that the end was not in sight. I think part of the problem was the lack of sleep and the start time of the event. I should probably have tried to eat a light lunch before starting as I need to eat more regularly now.

I’m not good at descending in fair weather, but being unable to see more than 25m ahead, combined with slick roads meant that I was exceptionally cautious. I’ve also got an uncommon blood type, so I’ve been told that whilst pregnant if I have the slightest accident I must go straight to hospital, which has made me even more wary.

Just 1km after I ate my gingerbread Powerbar, I got to the second ‘feed’ station. I had hoped to have another piece of banana and mars bar, but the only food available was a bacon roll or beef burger from a van. As a veggie, I decided to keep pedalling.

At Narbeth, I was feeling exhausted, so when I saw someone else get off and do the ‘walk of shame’, I decided to join them. It was a wise move as it was a very long steep hill with a lot of traffic.

At 50k, it felt like I had got my ‘second wind’, but it turned out that I had found the only flat bit of the course! It was nice to feel better for a short period, but as soon as I hit the next incline, my fatigue came back. 5k from the end was a 16% hill climb section that had me beat, so yet again I got off for a walk.

I was so grateful to arrive back in Tenby. I had initially expected the ride to take just under 3 hours, but it took me almost 5. It was far harder than any of the century rides that I’ve done and I felt more exhausted than I did when I got to London after cycling from Lake Windermere! Whilst Tenby is a beautiful place (when not obscured by fog), it is not somewhere that I will ever choose to do an Ironman! I wasn’t the final finisher, but coming in at 4:52, I was only 50 minutes ahead of the person in last place. I have the utmost respect for anyone who managed to cycle 112 miles on those roads and in those conditions.




Some turbo trainer basics

13 Jul

My most popular ever blog post is: My first ever turbo trainer session. I wasn’t sure why it has become so popular, so I decided to analyse the search terms that people have entered that have led them to this post. The top results could be categorised as follows:

  • Turbo training/cycling/Duathlon for weightloss
    • turbo trainer workouts weight loss
    • cycle turbo training for weight loss
    • turbo training for weight loss
    • can i lose weight on a turbo trainer
    • duathlon weight loss
    • turbo training weight loss
    • turbo trainer weight loss
    • cycling shed fat
    • weekly training schedule for aquathlon and weight loss
  • Workouts for turbo trainer
    • turbo trainer dvd
  • Music for turbo trainer
    • turbo training sessions music
  • Clothing for cycling
    • long bike ride training underwear
  • Cycling for the first time in a long time or after injury
    • getting back on the bike
    • getting my bike back on the road
  • Choosing a bike
    • girls ironman bike
    • best bicycle for girls
    • how much is a dassi road bike
  • Specific cycling events
    • There were too many posts to list about the Challenge Weymouth bike course.
    • wiggle new forest sportive
  • Curveballs
    • cycling and food festival
    • who won vankru winchester bike guess
    • fat chick bike blog
    • girl cycling
    • hybrid or road bike with asthma
    • fat bike journeys
    • cutshall weightloss

I’m guessing that many people arrive at that blog post as WordPress uses it as the first link when someone gets notified that I have liked or commented on a post on their blog, but some people also search for something and end up there… apologies to those people who are probably disappointed by what they find! Anyway, in this post, I’m hoping to address some of the things that people are searching for.



Turbo training/cycling/Duathlon for weight loss

OK, first up, I’m going to tackle the easy part of this request: ‘Duathlon for weight loss’. I’m not convinced that a single race will make any difference to a person’s weight loss, although with a strict training plan before the event and continued effort afterwards then it may help as a motivational factor. I also believe that combining sports means that you give some muscles more recovery time and challenge your fitness more than spending all of your time on a single sport.

I think that being on a turbo trainer can certainly make you work harder than just going out for a ride… but it does depend on how you use your turbo trainer. As I live in a city, then if I want to go out for a bike ride, I spent at least 15-20 minutes in stop start traffic trying to get out of the city, which isn’t terribly effective training, whereas every minute on my turbo trainer counts. However, if I were to do some leisurely pedalling on my turbo trainer whilst watching a TV programme or movie then it may not be an effective workout.I try to make sure that I have a clear idea of the workout that I want to do before getting on my turbo trainer.

Another factor that can make cycling on a turbo trainer feel like hard work (and may cause temporary weight loss) is the temperature. When cycling outdoors, there is always a breeze (or at least the feeling of breeze as you cut through the air). As you are static (and usually indoors) on a turbo trainer then there is no cooling breeze, which may cause your body temperature to rise more quickly… and many people end up a hot sweaty mess on a turbo trainer in a relatively short period of time. It is therefore important that you have access to plenty of water/suitable drinks whilst on a turbo trainer and that if possible there is some air movement, whether it’s from open windows/doors or a fan.

Turbo trainer workouts

I tend to do a variety of interval sets on my turbo trainer, so that I have to put in hard efforts followed by short recoveries. If you’ve ever been to a spinning class then you may be able to adapt what you have done there. I don’t feel that I’m qualified to give advice on turbo trainer sessions, so here are some of the best that I’ve found online:

I also like the Train with GCN videos that are available on YouTube. Here’s an example of one:

What’s your favourite turbo trainer workout?

Music for cycling on the turbo trainer

I’m not someone who ever runs with music and I wouldn’t think of cycling with headphones, but I love listening to motivational music when I’m on my turbo trainer. I tend to prefer tracks that I used to listen to in spinning class… and these have the advantage that they are usually about the right rpm for me to maintain good cadence. These are the tracks that can usually be found somewhere on my turbo trainer playlist:

  • Titanium – David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Wake Me Up – Avicii
  • Break Your heart – Taio Cruz
  • Bounce – Calvin Harris (featuring Kelis)
  • Wild One – David Guetta
  • Don’t Wanna Go Home – Jason Derulo
  • Give Me Everything – Pitbull
  • Turn Me On – David Guetta
  • You Make Me – Avicii
  • We Found Love – Calvin Harris (featuring Rihanna)
  • Where Them Girls At – David Guetta (featuring Nicki Minaj)
  • Dynamite – Taio Cruz
  • Sweat – Snoop Dogg Vs. David Guetta
  • Little Bad Girl – David Guetta
  • Hey Brother – Avicii
  • Higher – Taio Cruz (featuring Kylie Minogue and Travie McCoy)
  • She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) – David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Duck Sauce – Big Bad Wolf

Erin at Sweet Sweat Life often recommends All Day by Girl Talk for trainer sessions. If you’ve not listened to it before then I’d strongly recommend it – it’s a free download:-) If you use Spotify, you can also find some great turbo trainer playlists there.

What do you listen to when you’re on your turbo trainer?

Clothing for cycling

The question that gets asked a lot is ‘what underwear should I wear when cycling?’ The sensible answer is not to wear any – cycling shorts are designed to be worn without! I have quite a few different pairs of cycling shorts, tri shorts, bib shorts and tights. In very cold weather, I prefer to wear my fleecy bib tights, but for most of the year I wear SOAS Racing tri shorts either with or without knee warmers. I find tri shorts with minimal padding are significantly more comfortable than padded cycling shorts, but it’s definitely down to personal preference, so you may need to try a few pairs before finding out what is best for you.

Whenever cycling outside, I always wear at least mitts (and windproof/waterproof gloves in winter). It may waste time in a triathlon, but I’m nervous that I may have an accident and damage my hands. I also always wear a helmet and glasses (clear or tinted)… but my helmet, mitts and glasses are the first items of clothing that I ditch when cycling on my turbo trainer as they are not needed.

I usually wear a cycling jersey when outside as the pockets are useful for carrying kit/snacks, and it’s good to be able to unzip the neck a bit when it gets hot. When I’m on my turbo trainer I usually find that a wicking t-shirt is fine – I don’t need to carry a repair kit or snacks and I don’t worry about wearing something close-fitting as wind resistance is not an issue!

One advantage of using a turbo trainer for novice cyclists is that it gives you a chance to get used to wearing cycling shoes and clipping in and out. I’ve never ridden my road bike with flat pedals, but I know that it’s something people worry about, so this can be a way of getting used to it without the fear.

Have you got any tips about cycling clothing?

Cycling for the first time in a long time or after injury

If you’ve not ridden your bike for a long time then it’s important that you make sure that it’s in good working order, whether you’re going to ride it outside or on a trainer. If you’ve had an injury then starting off on a trainer means that you can stop immediately if you feel any niggles, rather than having to make it back home.

I’m not qualified to give medical advice, so I can only recommend that you start gently and make sure that you have a good warm up. Make sure that you build up over a period of time, rather than trying to start back exactly where you were before you were injured.

Choosing a bike

The bike you choose will depend on a number of factors, including what you want to use it for. I’m fortunate enough to own a hybrid that I commute to work on, a relatively cheap road bike that I use for touring and a carbon fibre road bike for racing (and most of my long rides). I’d also love to own a cyclo cross bike. I don’t have a tri bike or aero bars because I don’t think I’ve got good enough bike handling skills and most of the courses that I am interested in racing tend to be undulating and hills are not friends with tri bars!

There is a lot of debate about the merits of women specific design. My main road bike is unisex and my other road bike is a man’s bike (Giant Defy). The women’s version of the Giant Defy is a Liv Avail. I compared the dimensions and the only difference I could find was 5mm on the top tube. As someone who used to be a gymnast, I am quite flexible, so I’m fine with the slightly longer top tube. The most important thing to do is to visit a bike fitter and get them to confirm whether or not the bike you are interested in will be suitable for you – obviously you need to do this before you but the bike!

I hope that answers some of the questions that people want answered!





The Small Hall

Cycling ever after

No Glory

There's no glory in practice, but without practice, there is no glory. Blog about triathlon adventures fueled by kale smoothies.


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