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Back to being ‘Productive’

27 Aug Stopwatch

Stopwatch

Veri Ivanova

After a rare night out on Friday (by rare, I mean the first time that Stuart and I have gone out since I had Baby M), I really didn’t want to get up on Saturday morning.

Stuart, M and I arrived early enough at parkrun for us both to chat with friends. I was quite grateful that I didn’t have to run with M, but I wasn’t feeling up to doing a hard run.

As usual, the start was fairly slow because of the size of the crowd. I spotted a friend up ahead and managed to weave through a couple of people to catch up with Nat.

It was really nice to be able to run with someone and have a bit of a chat (but not too much as I’m not fit enough to run and chat at the moment). Thanks, Nat, for keeping me going 🙂

Southampton parkrun 26 August 2017

After the run, Stu and I were supposed to be rushing over to Riverside Park to take part in a Brooks 5km run, but I knew we wouldn’t make the start of the race, so we just had a leisurely cuppa with friends. I had the chance to check my Garmin and was delighted to see that I’ve finally got my Training Status back up to ‘Productive’ again.

Did you parkrun this weekend?

Monday Morning Motivation: We are marathoners

21 Aug marathon runners

I’m not sure this video qualifies as motivating, but the number of stereotypes that it includes made me smile, so I thought it was worth a share.

Marathoners are a different breed. Their world is full of meticulous planning; of getting up before the sun; of personal sacrifice; of lungs gasping for air as they struggle to finish that last mile…

But that’s not all there is to it.

They do it because they love it. They do it because it’s addicting; and, most of all: they do it because it’s FUN. Be inspired by the attitude, energy, and passion of that select group of runners who are proud to call themselves ‘Marathoners.’

Faster than Mo

12 Aug Family at Penrose parkrun

On Saturday, we went to Penrose parkrun – Stuart, my mum, baby M and I. It was a bit grey and overcast, but surprisingly warm. Stuart and I had chosen to test our ‘new’ buggy – it’s an old Mountain Buggy Terrain. We’ve bought it to take on holiday with us, so that if it gets broken, we won’t be upset.

Family at Penrose parkrun

On arrival at Penrose parkrun, their photographer came to take a photo of us (she was taking pictures of all of the visiting tourists).

Stuart was running on his own, whereas I’d agreed to run with my mum. My mum positioned herself appropriately and then I positioned myself at the back. This is one thing I hate about parkrunning with a buggy – “If possible start from the back of the field and try to keep to one side of the main body of runners.” In my opinion, it would be better to start with runners of comparable speed (but to the side). I’ve comfortably run under 27 minutes with Baby M, so if I start at the back, I have to pass a lot of people which seems more dangerous than starting at the side.

Anyway… after a few minutes, M and I managed to catch up with my mum. It was her 8th parkrun and she decided to push herself for a PB.

Penrose parkrun is an out and back course. It’s not as beautiful as when we first tried it (the old course went out on the cliffs and was much tougher), but it’s still a nice run.

I thought mum and I were doing well until the first finisher passed us just 1.2km in. I was quite surprised and glanced at my watch. The runner looked quite comfortable – he was a cani-cross runner. I guessed that his finishing time would be around 16 minutes.

[In the evening, I looked up the details of the first finisher (a chap called Ben Robinson from Bristol and West AC). His dog-assisted time was 13:23, which is less than a minute slower than the 5000m world record and 11 seconds slower than Mo’s last 5000m! Wow!]

Some time later, Stuart passed us and called out. For someone who had said they were going to take it easy, he was looking quite quick (he finished in 21:09)..

Mum, M and I continued to the turn around point. The course was much busier than usual as it’s in a tourist area, so it was nice to see that there were quite a few people behind us on the course.

At about 3.5km, we passed another cani-cross runner – a reluctant dachshund and his owner.

We continued running. I felt so proud of my mum as she ran almost the entire parkrun, just stopping to drink some water as it was very warm.

My mum finished in 45:01, which was a new PB for her. She was also pleased to have beaten 15 people. (Some people might argue that this isn’t the point of parkrun, but as my mum is almost always the penultimate finisher ahead of the tail walker, it was a victory for her).

Penrose parkrun 12 Aug 17

Next stop, sub 45!

What now?

7 Aug

So, although I’m not feeling like things have been going well this year, I’ve now done my ‘A’ races. This year has not been the year for me to do an Ironman (not least for financial reasons), but I have managed to do a 5km (3.1 miles) swim, a 100 mile (160km) bike ride and a marathon (42.2km/26.2 miles).

Since RideLondon, I’ve been trying to get my life back in order. On Tuesday, I did a Tai Chi class; on Wednesday and Thursday, I did Buggy Mums and on Saturday, I did parkrun.

Southampton parkrun 5 Aug 17

On Sunday, I met up with my lovely friend, Inez. We went out for a really long walk around Testwood Lakes and then Inez picked me lots of fresh produce from her garden.

I’ve never tried callaloo (amaranth leaves) before, so I was interested to cook them at home. Inez showed me how to prepare them and then I cooked them with garlic, chillies, paprika and tomatoes and served them with rice and peas – delicious!

In the evening we had minted new potatoes and runner beans for dinner, followed by rhubarb crumble – all from Inez’s garden.

I don’t have much else planned for this year, so I’m planning my events for 2018. I’d like to do the Long Course Weekend and am still dreaming of doing an Ironman… but it will depend on whether M ever decides to sleep through the night. I’ll also be going back to college and will be sharing more info about that soon!

What’s your next big challenge?

Monday Morning Motivation – Angela Shartel

31 Jul

I’m guessing that first thing in the morning probably isn’t when you have time to watch a 20 minute documentary, but please do yourself a favour, save this link and schedule time to watch this brilliant 20 minute documentary this week.

Ultra Angela tells the story of Angela Shartel who has battled depression and poor health to become an ultra runner.

You can read more about Angela on her website.

Pacing at parkrun

15 Jul

A few weeks ago, one of my friends commented on Facebook that her 8-year-old son was speeding up and that she felt she was holding him back at parkrun. At the time, he was running at around 27 minutes, so I felt that it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. A date was set… and then the young lad blew everyone away by running just under 24 minutes at a flat local parkrun!

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pace someone to sub 24 (I’ve only run at that speed once myself), but I still felt confident that I could help the young man to a Southampton PB.

I met up with my running buddy before the start of parkrun and we positioned ourselves towards the front for the start. Although there weren’t as many runners as usual, it was still quite congested. We did a little bit of weaving amongst other runners and also ran on the grass at the side a bit.

At the top of the hill, we moved onto the grass at the side and I told my pacee that if he wanted to go faster then I would make sure that I kept up. He replied that he was saving some energy so that he could have a good sprint finish.

We carried on down the hill and were soon caught by Stuart and baby M. The continued with us as we went up the hill towards the crossroads. We had some support there as my running buddy’s dad and brother were there cheering the runners on.

On the second lap, the young runner pushed much harder on the downhill, so I had to work reasonably hard to keep up and talk to him.

We turned the corner for the final uphill towards the crossroads and ‘mini Mo’ started to kick. I knew that if we stayed together then I would hold him back, so I shouted to Stu to run with him to the finish.

I turned onto the final downhill section and heaved a sigh of relief that my pacee would be able to achieve a good time… and also drew breath as I slowed down to a steady jog.

After I crossed the finish line, I was pleased to see that I had still achieved a sub 25 minute run.

Southampton parkrun 15 July 2017

Massive congratulations to ‘runner boy’, who was 30 seconds quicker than me, which is an impressive performance for an 8-year-old!

HOWL aquathlon 2017

14 Jul Finish of HOWL aquathlon

This evening Stu and I took part in HOWL aquathlon. It’s the second year that the event has taken place and it was my second time taking part. Last year, I was pregnant when I took part, so I was grateful just to be able to do so. This year I was hoping that I would make it through the swim and would put in a good run leg.

Our lovely friend, Jez, has offered to babysit for us several times, so we decided to take his up on his kind offer. We figured that we shouldn’t be away from M for too long and if she was having a bad night then several of our other friends would be around to help out… plus Jez is a sporty guy (and amazing runner), so we thought he might like watching the aquathlon.

Tamsyn and M

We registered at 6:30pm and the event wasn’t due to start until 7:30pm, so there was

Waiting at the start of HOWL aquathlon

As well as the individual competition, there were also team prizes up for grabs. We had assumed that the first two men and two women from each club would count as a team, but were told that we had to pre-register as specific teams. This proved to be a little challenging as no-one was sure of their rank within the club – especially as many people are significantly better at one of the disciplines. In the end, Stu and I were registered in STC’s team 2.

STC at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

STC at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

Most of my clubmates were representing Southampton Tri Club in their club lit, but I only own an STC gilet and I wanted to wear my lovely kit from The Athlete’s Palate.

I set up my stuff in transition and then had some more time to chat with friends. Before long it was time for the race briefing. I should have been fully focused, but I suddenly realised that my swimming hat was missing. Panic! Panic! Jez kindly ran over to registration and picked up another hat for me, so I was able to start thinking about the race. [As an aside, it was great that women were given blue hats and men had the red hats – such a refreshing change!]

After the briefing, we were straight into the lake for a deep water start, so there was a bit of a warm up. To my dismay, wetsuits had been banned. I really feel the cold when swimming (because I am sooooo slow) and I also appreciate the extra buoyancy, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just got in.

Getting in the water at HOWL aquathlon

Getting in the lake HOWL aquathlon start

I positioned myself towards the back, but was almost in line with the buoy as I didn’t want to swim any further than was necessary.

Start of HOWL aquathlon

I found the swim challenging, although I managed to get into a rhythm. I had forgotten how much I enjoy open water swimming as it’s so peaceful. I didn’t see anything strange out of the corner of my eye – usually, I spy my hand a lake monster and get freaked out, but not today.

I knew I wasn’t going quickly and this was confirmed when I got clopped in the head by one of the leading ladies heading towards the end of their swim.

I acclimatised to the water temperature fairly quickly, but was disarmed by some of the extremely cold patches that we had to traverse. I had thought that the water would get stirred up a bit by all of us swimming, but that didn’t happen.

I didn’t have a very quick transition. I tried not to faff, but I did exchange a few words with spectators.

My running is significantly better than my swimming, so I was pleased to see some other runners up ahead who I was able to hunt down. I haven’t seen the splits yet, but I think my run was quite good.

Running at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

On the second lap, there was a lady in a yellow top up ahead. I chased her for a significant portion of the second lap. In the end, she beat me by about 6 seconds and was 3rd V40 lady. Maybe next year, my swimming will be back on track and I’ll be able to chase her down!

Finish of HOWL aquathlon

Last year, I managed:

Swim time: 21:47

Transition time: 1:16

Run time: 30:06

Overall: 53:09

Here are my (provisional) results for this year (based on my Garmin):

Swim time:  21:12

Transition time: 01:05

Run time: 24:30

Overall: 00:46:44.274

So, it was a PB 😀

I was 16/21 senior ladies and 19/35 women.

It was also great to learn that Stuart was first V40 finisher – well done, Stu!

Stuart finishing HOWL aquathlon

Buggy Mums, parkrun, JPCC and a sundae

2 Jul Turbo session

Wednesday was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop me from going along to Buggy Mums. I knew that Christine would have planned a session that would keep us moving and I wasn’t wrong.

Unsurprisingly, we were a small group of just 7 people today, but that didn’t make it any less fun. One brave lady came along for the first time despite the weather.

We kept moving around the Common, stopping in various locations to do exercises, including squats, tricep dips and walking lunges. We also managed to run 4km.

Buggy Mums June 28

© Christine Saunders

Today’s Buggy Mums session was at a new venue: Riverside Park. I’ve run in Riverside Park lots of times, but it was nice to use a new venue for Buggy Mums as there were new options for training.

Buggy Mums Riverside 1

©Christine Saunders

Buggy Mums Riverside 2

©Christine Saunders

Buggy Mums Riverside 3

©Christine Saunders

On Friday, I went out shopping with M. I’ve been struggling with finding enough baby-free time to ride, so I thought I’d better do an hour on the turbo trainer. I have no idea whether I’ll be fit enough to tackle #ridelondon in a month, but I’m not going down without a fight!

Turbo session

Southampton parkrun was cancelled again this week (Pretty Muddy), so it was another chance for me to do some parkrun tourism. Stu and I chose to go to Whiteley parkrun and we gave our friend Rob a lift. It was Stu’s turn to run with the buggy, so I was free to go as fast or slow as I liked. Yesterday, my Garmin told me I was ‘detraining’ after a week of berating me for being ‘unproductive’, so I thought I’d better run hard! 24:22 is 42s away from my PB, but not a bad run considering my lack of training and the humidity.

detraining Whiteley parkrun

Hopefully, having put in a decent run will improve my Garmin’s comments about my training!

training data after Whiteley

On Sunday, I went on a lovely sunny ride with Julian Porter Cycling Club. We cycling from Eling tide mill out to Beaulieu before stopping for drinks – I was a bit surprised as that’s only about 7 miles.

Mettricks Beaulieu

We then headed off towards Buckler’s Hard, but didn’t do the loop that I’m used to. Instead we did a very short loop that was being used as part of a triathlon. I cheered a few people on and was able to say hello to club-mates who were manning an aid station.

We then turned towards The Drift Inn where we were to regroup with the faster riders. It was quite warm, so I appreciated a glass of coke, but was aware that really I needed to be doing more pedalling and less drinking!

When we left, Angela, a speedier rider joined us, so Lou and I picked up the pace towards Ipley Cross. At that point, Angela left us and we turned back towards Southampton.

Just a few miles from where we started, we turned a corner and Lou shouted that her chain had come off. On closer inspection, we realised that she had broken her rear mech hanger 😦 I agreed that I would cycle back to the car park, collect my car and retrieve Lou and her bike. What a disappointing end to a lovely ride for Lou.

I enjoyed this social cycle, but think I probably should have gone out on my own for a training ride as although I was out for 4.5 hours, I rode less than 30 miles :’-(

To top off a busy week, Stu and I walked to Sprinkles for an ice-cream sundae.

Stu and Sundae

What did you do this week?

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 😦

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 – ParkLives

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 😦

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 😞

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!