Catching up

Dr Zaks peanut butter

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

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

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

Southampton parkrun 27th August
Southampton parkrun 3rd September
Southampton parkrun 3rd September
Southampton parkrun 10th September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wooden bike in Denmark

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

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

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

Reduced Liv Envie Advanced Tri

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

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

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

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

  • sweet banoffee pie
  • chocolate fudge brownie
Dr Zaks peanut butter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


5 Responses

    • Thanks. I regret being in Denmark when my bike appeared on Gumtree, but am going to try the pawn shops in the area of the city where the photo was taken, so maybe someone wil have seen it.

  1. I signed up for an evening class in art when I was on mat leave. As soon as the baby was born it went out of the window – I just couldn’t get there, no baby sitter and my husband wasn’t going to finish work early to look after the baby so that I could go out! So just to say that if you can drag yourself away from your baby, you will need really good support to achieve any career type goals on your mat leave ? So think carefully!

    • Most of the courses I’m interested in have either a September start date (which I know isn’t practical), or a May/June start date. As they’re in the evening (6:30/7pm start), my husband would be fine with being at home at that time… but I’ll wait and see how things go before booking anything 🙂

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