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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!

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 – perfect 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 🙂

 

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 😦 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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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 🙂

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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PBPB – getting back on form

28 Feb

Well, I’m fully into the swing of marathon training now. On 16th, my buddy Pete managed to get me around 17.5 miles, which is the longest run I’ve done for a very long time. I had been nervous about doing the run after doing Buggy Mums, but that class was cancelled, so I went for a long slow walk with some of the others instead and saved my legs for the run.

Pete is really good at planning routes – we go somewhere completely different every week and I’m seeing parts of the city that I’ve never seen before as well as visiting locations that I’ve not seen for a few years.

Our long run took us through Riverside Park in the dark, which would have been fine, but the river was so high that the path was flooded. Pete and I thought we had found a way around, but in the end we had to wade through freezing cold ankle-deep water. This part of the run was fairly near to home, but the last section of our run was all uphill. We were nearly there when I suggested a minor shortcut, which brought us out by my house. I was delighted, but Pete was less pleased as my house is at the bottom of a steep hill!

I was delighted that the baby slept really well that night… but I was so full of adrenaline that I just couldn’t get to sleep 😦

That weekend, I had my first jogging parkrun with baby M. We had to start at the back (like all buggy runners) and as Southampton is a very busy parkrun, that meant that the first km was tough going. I tried to go on the grass at one point, but that made it even harder, so I went back onto the path.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the run went:

Southampton parkrun February 18th 2017

Southampton parkrun February 18th 2017

I’ve now got a bench mark for future buggy runs 🙂

Last Tuesday, I had another long run with Pete. We covered 14.5 miles, which was tough, but not as tough the previous week’s run. It was also a lot warmer, which was good. At one point, I thought we were heading towards home, when Pete turned towards town. I had a moment of panic, but Pete said to trust him. He then stopped at a friend’s restaurant, where he was able to refill our water bottles 🙂

I had been told that Buggy Mums was cancelled for half term, which was incorrect, but did give me a lazy week last week. Instead of doing Buggy Mums on Thursday, I went for a lovely long walk in the New Forest with my friend Ellie. It probably wasn’t our most cunning plan because of Storm Doris, but we got home safe and sound!

In the evening, Teri came around and we did a turbo session. I can’t say that either of us broke into a sweat, but it was good to be back on my bike… and also to have a catch up.

Turbo training with Teri

The next day, my legs were fine, but I was glad I didn’t have to sit on a saddle again!

On Saturday, I got in some more gossiping with Teri, as we ran parkrun together. Well, we chatted for the first km, but after that our competitive urges kicked in. I was delighted to get a PBPB – post baby personal best.

parkrun PBPB 25th February 2017

I was 344/829 runners, so in the top half. I was also 65/343 women, which is in the top 20%! I was 9/53 in my age category. I’m still 90 seconds away from my ‘real’ PB, but I’m finally making progress. It was also my 29th fastest parkrun (out of 208). I’ve only gone under 26 minutes 19 times, but I am absolutely determined to do it again this year (and to eventually beat my PB of 24:42). I’ve not run that quickly since January last year 🙂

I felt particularly pleased with my run as Teri and I were chatting at the start and the crowds meant that we had a slow start. Teri is still coming back from an injury, so it was also a comeback PB for her.

The following day was Sunday Runday. It was fairly tough as my legs were more tired than I expected after parkrun. However, the distance wasn’t a problem. Stu was pushing the baby, but he joined us in the 10 minute/mile group, which was nice.

Another exciting thing that has happened this week is that I finally ordered a replacement road bike. It’s currently being shipped and should be with me by the end of the week. I deliberated for a long time between a pretty bike and a better spec for the same price point… and eventually bought a pretty bike, with an even better spec at a higher price point – oops!

Today, I booked Stuart and I onto Decathlon 5k in Southampton. It clashes with a local 10k race, but I’ve prioritised this as we’ll be able to run with the baby.

Decathlon 5k 2017

My full tri club membership kicks in again tomorrow, so I’ll be able to get back in the pool. I’ve found another baby friendly exercise class (kettlercise), so there’s lots to look forward to.

How’s your training going?

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Pride comes before a fall

12 Feb

Last week didn’t start so well as I felt shattered on Monday and didn’t go to swimming. I know that I need to swim regularly in the hope that I can swim 5km by April.

On Tuesday, I went for a run with Pete. I took my head torch with me, but didn’t need it for the first part of our run as it was still daylight. As it has been so cold recently, I decided to wear my new adidas tights.

Pete and I ran down through Chilworth and North Baddesley and out towards Romsey. We ran on some country lanes with no pavement, but Pete had cleverly attached a red bike light to his belt, to make us more visible.

Once we got back to Southampton, we had to run up a very busy road. We had run 12 miles at a fair pace and I was feeling quite proud of how well we were doing. Well, the saying is ‘pride comes before a fall… It might usually refer to a metaphorical fall, but for me it referred to an unseen tree route on the pavement.

I hit the deck hard, with my full body weight being divided between my hands and my left knee, which was quite a shock.i sat on the pavement for a minute or two, before getting Pete to haul me to my feet. I had minor grazes on my hands and could feel that I had jarred my shoulders. I also felt a bit limpy, but was relieved to see that my tights were intact.

Pete and I jog-walked the remaining 2.5 miles back to my house, which was a disappointing way to end my longest run since 2015.

When I got in, I realised that my knee was bleeding quite badly, and a large bruise has developed over the past six days.

On Wednesday, I went to Buggy Mums. I arrived a little late, so the group had moved by the time I got to our usual meeting point. Laura was also late, so we jogged up The Common together. Fortunately, it didn’t take us long to find the group.

We did a variety of exercises on the grass, which was a little boggy. Then, we jogged down the hill towards the Bellemoor. Laura and I were so busy chatting to each other that we had to be told to slow down.

The session finished with some intervals on the grass, whilst a few people were interviewed by a member of the ParkLives team.

The following day, I was really stiffening up, but I went to Buggy Mums again. I was relieved that the class didn’t include any press ups or tricep dips as I don’t think I could have managed them. The second part of the session involved some shoulder work, but Christine gave me some alternatives. I’m really enjoying these classes and am amazed that they aren’t always oversubscribed… I’m guessing that people just don’t know about them.

I walked to Costa on Friday. Morgelyn fell asleep on the way there, so I was able to go online and answer emails for an hour. I’m tempted to make this a weekly habit, but it might not be good for my pocket or my waistline. As an alternative, I could go to a social area on the uni campus, which also has wifi.

When I got home, the post had arrived:

Ride London magazines

I had to defer my place in RideLondon last year, so it’s nice that Stu can do it with me… Assuming relatives can help with babysitting.

I met up with my friend Teri for Saturday’s parkrun. The flakes of snow (and my scabby knees) had put me off wearing shorts and I was glad I had tights on. My asthma has been playing up a bit recently and I was still achy from this week’s exploits, so Teri and I decided to have a social run. My time wasn’t awful ut I really want to get fit enough to knock a couple of minutes off it.

Southampton parkrun 11 February

When I got home, I was pleased to see that my personalised parkrun barcodes had arrived. I bought some a few years ago, but a couple of them have gone missing, so I now have to keep moving one between my trainers. This way, I can put one on each of my pairs of shoes. This isn’t just handy for parkrun as they each have an ICE (in case of emergency) number on them and my medical details, so if something happens to me when I’m out training, the necessary information is easy to locate. I also ordered some barcodes for Stuart and my mum.

parkrun barcodes

Yesterday was another Sunday Runday training run for Southampton Half Marathon. Baby M is now sitting quite confidently, so Stu and I have agreed that some light jogging on smooth Tarmac should be ok.

The route involved an initial loop around The Common before heading up the hill. I decided to start as soon as we got there and to miss the initial short loop, so that I would have a head start on the slowest group.

The fastest group passed me by the underpass and I was nearly on the University campus before the next group went past. I headed towards Portswood/Swaythling and was soon passed by the next group.

The next part of the route I was unfamiliar with, so I had to read the instructions carefully. I ended up running between some apartments and the river before finding myself at the bottom of a long flight of steps. I didn’t think the real route included steps, but as this was a shortened version for a training run, it didn’t surprise me. I was tempted to look for an alternative way, but didn’t want to kiss my group, so I ended up picking up the buggy with M I it and carrying it up the steps. As I got to the top, a man came to offer help… Isn’t that typical?

I continued on to Northam Bridge, expecting one of the two slower groups to catch up with me.At the far side of the bridge, I glanced back and saw a group of people running wearing turquoise t-shirts. I had to wait for a while at the level crossing, so I thought they would catch up with me there. It was only afterwards that I remembered that the 11 minute mile group had a different longer route.

I headed back through Bevois Valley to The Avenue, where I was passed by Jon’s group again. Soon I was back on The Common. I had kept a steady pace and walked the uneven parts (and some steep bits), so was pleased to have finished my first proper run with Baby M.

How was your week?

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