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I managed a sprint tri in the space of a week

13 Nov Fitness instructor course materials

I really thought that I was going to get back into a routine of work, training and blogging with M starting nursery… but three weeks in and her attendance is 25% 😦 The poor thing has picked up every illness going and shared it with the household, so I’ve not had a lot of free time.

One thing I have been doing is getting out on my bike. I’m really enjoying my cycle commute – I had forgotten how much I love my quick trip to work, although it’s definitely more challenging with a trailer – and the logistics of adding it on and removing it have taken a bit of getting used to.

I’ve got back to doing a bit of swimming, starting off with a lunchtime swimming session with Liz and then a week later, I did a 1 hour swim set on my own. I really need to plan my swimming sessions more carefully (and ideally swim more than once a week). Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to swim at the weekend as Stu and I are planning to take M to the pool on Sundays. It would be good to also schedule a midweek swim session.

Last week we went to Southampton parkrun, where I had a steady run. I spoke to a few people on the way around and was pleased that my time wasn’t terrible.

parkrun 04 Nov 2017

This week it was my turn to run with the buggy, so I joined Rachel, Phil and Felix. We started off at a slow pace because of the congestion, but definitely picked it up by the end of the run. I’m not as fit as I was, so it felt really difficult.

parkrun results 11 Nov 2017

I love the chance to talk to so many friends at parkrun. I had a quick catch up with my friend, Teri, and we agreed that we need to schedule in some social runs. We discussed perhaps going for a run on Sunday morning, but I decided to have a lie in instead. It was the right decision as I felt shattered.

On Saturday afternoon, we drove down to Bournemouth to go to the Primera Cycle Expo at the BIC. I’ve been a couple of times before and have picked up some real bargains. This time, there was a lot of Sugoi kit for sale at bargain prices (£5 per cycle jersey and £10 for shorts!)… but everything was in enormous sizes, which was disappointing. Maybe we needed to go earlier in the day. After checking out the reduced kit, Stu, M and I walked around and had a look at the bikes. I still really like the look of Kuota bikes and the paintwork on some of the Specialized bikes was gorgeous… but what really caught my eye were the adorable Cannondale Lefty balance bikes. A sales assistant kindly got out an Allen key and put the saddle down so that M could have a go. She is still a tiny bit short, but I think by Easter, it may be possible for her to have a balance bike. (However, I can’t afford to fork out £200, so it’s more likely to be a bike from Decathlon than a new Cannondale!)

Cannondale Lefty balance bike

One of the most exciting parts of my weekend was visiting Bournemouth University to pick up some course materials. Next weekend, I  take the first step on a new career path (although I love my job as a learning designer and can’t see me quitting that any time soon!) I’m going to be doing a course to become a Fitness Instructor, so I’ve been busy studying anatomy and physiology in preparation for the course. It’s a bit challenging as I haven’t studied any biology since the age of 13, but I’m really motivated and excited to be learning.

Fitness instructor course materials

On Sunday afternoon, Reena and Mike came over to collect the Mountain Buggy running buggy that we took to Australia. I hope they enjoy running with it as much as we did. Like me, Reena has a place in London Landmarks Half.

Afterwards, we went and watched some of the cyclocross at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre. I had planned to watch the event a year ago, but ended up back in hospital that afternoon instead, so I was pleased that I got to see some of the action as well as meeting friends.

In the evening, I read that there will be a new route for Southampton 10k, half marathon and marathon in 2018, which sounds exciting. I loved running the marathon this year, but I think I’ll drop back to the half in 2018 as I’ll be running a marathon in July and don’t want to have to sustain the training for that long.

Hopefully, things will settle down a bit for me in the new few weeks and I’ll be able to get into the swing of regular swimming, cycling and running with a yoga class thrown in for good measure. It’s not going to be easy fitting in blogging and studying, but I’m sure I’ll find a way!


Because of baby M’s illness, I’ve not been online much this week, so I was late to visit Rafflecopter to draw the winners of Haseeb Ahmad’s book From Blind Man to Ironman – apologies! The lucky winners who will each receive a copy of the book are:

Sarah Wakely

Michelle Dorrington

Congratulations, ladies! The books will be in the post to you very soon 🙂

 

First run after returning to work

21 Oct Southampton parkrun 21 Oct 17

It’s hard to believe that my maternity leave is over and that I’m back at work. I’m now working a compressed week (8-6pm, Monday-Thursday), which means that I’ll still have some free time during daylight hours when I’ll be able to cycle/run. I’m also intending to make use of my lunch breaks to do some training – especially as my colleague, Sarah, will be training for London marathon.

We kick-started our training by going for a lunchtime run on Thursday. I can’t say it was a speedy run as we’re both a bit out of practice, but it was good to have a run and a chat.

Today, despite the dire weather warnings about Storm Brian, Southampton parkrun went ahead, so I was able to take a step closer to my 250th parkrun.

Southampton parkrun 21 Oct 17

I’m feeling so unfit at the moment that my result wasn’t too bad, but I hope that I can get myself back to a 25:XX time in the near future.

Tomorrow, a lot of my friends will be taking part in the Great South Run. Today’s events relating to GSR have been cancelled, so I hope the weather is kinder tomorrow. I’ll be getting wet whatever the weather as Stu and I are going to take Baby M swimming!

Are you racing this weekend?

 


Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

parkrunning Down Under

18 Oct

As soon as we had booked our flights to Australia, I got online to check out where the nearest parkruns were. I found that there was a parkrun at Gosling Creek in Orange, just a couple of miles away from where my brother lives and that just two weeks before we were due to arrive a new parkrun was starting in North Wollongong, which is near to where my sister lives. Sadly, there are no parkruns in Hong Kong (yet – see this page where someone is trying to set one up), so we knew we’d have to miss one run whilst away.

The first parkrun that Stuart and I did was run #3 at North Wollongong parkrun. It seems as though there has been some disagreement with the local council about parking, so the start of this run has changed from being in Wollongong to being at Fairy Meadow, which is a shame as there are no facilities there, whereas there are lots of cafes and coffee shops in Wollongong.

It is an out and back course, starting in a small park before heading off on a sandy path. It’s an interesting route with a little uphill, a board walk section and a section on grass. It is picturesque and not too busy. Also, it starts at 8am, which is earlier in the UK, but not as early as parkruns in Queensland which usually start at 7am!

Near the start of North Wollongong parkrun

The original plan had been for Stuart to run with M in her ‘new’ running buggy, but my sister and her husband decided not to run, so M was able to wait with them whilst Stu and I ran.

Nearing the turnaround point

I always perceive Australia to be a very sporty country, so I was surprised at how few competitive runners were taking part – more people were jog/walking with quite a few children. I think it’s great that it’s such an inclusive event. It might be because the weather was quite warm, which made the conditions challenging – maybe the speedier runners are out earlier?

North Wollongong parkrun

The lack of lots of super speedy people meant that I came 11/121 females and was 3/15 in my age group.

My next Australian parkrun was Orange parkrun. This is a much more established event that takes place at a nature reserve called Gosling Creek.

The Run Director did a nice briefing and there were quite a few tourists at the event – I’m guessing that some of them were in Orange because of the mine, rather than just as sight-seers. We got a huge round of applause for having come from the UK, possibly because Orange is off the tourist trail, although there are some lovely wineries in the region.

This time, M was joining us in her running buggy, so Stu agreed to push M and to run with me. Neither of us is on form, but even with a running buggy, Stuart is much faster than I am, so it was quite a challenge.

Again, this parkrun was a nice mix of surfaces. It is a looping course with some reasonably steep inclines that are fairly short. There are sections on grass, trail and board walk and the scenery is lovely.

The Run Director welcomed each runner back individually and then took a photo of the three of us. As you can see, M was exhausted by her early morning exertions!

Orange parkrun

My time was relatively slow for me, so I was pleased to find that I was 7/76 females and 1/5 in my age group!

Our final parkrun was again at North Wollongong on our final morning in Australia. M had not slept well, (she’d spent a lot of the night screaming) so I really appreciated Bryony and Jonno getting up early to take us.

M stayed at the beach with her Uncle and Aunt and Stu had a foot niggle, so he agreed to run with me. I realised at the start that I had failed to bring my inhaler with me. That was a bad move as the path was very dusty and it made breathing extra hard. I also didn’t have a drink with me.

Second parkrun at North Wollongong

I couldn’t remember how long my previous run had taken me, so I decided that I would aim to finish in the top 20 females. I set off towards the start and when we got towards the turning point, we saw the fastest runners on their way back. I started counting the female runners and could see that I was in the top 20, but that I would need to keep pushing to retain that position.

2nd parkrun at North Wollongong

I was really pleased to finish 15/107 females and 2/17 in my age group. I also achieved a PB for this course.

Overall, I really enjoyed being a parkrun tourist in Australia. There are so many interesting courses and I’ve never been to a parkrun event that wasn’t friendly. I’ve now done 3 international parkruns, but am still stuck on 19 different UK events, so maybe that’s something I need to do more of next year.

Which is your favourite parkrun and why?


Fat Girl to Ironman has been nominated for the 2018 Running Awards. I would be really grateful if you would vote for me. Thank you 🙂

 

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

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: Why not now?

17 Jul
Vivian Stancil

©Jeff Lewis

I love this video about an amazing woman who took up swimming as an adult – please do spend 3 minutes watching it.

Why Not Now: Vivian Stancil from Riley Hooper on Vimeo.

If you’d like to read more, have a look at this article: Doctor’s weight-loss order pushed her into the pool; now she’s a champ.

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

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!

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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Swimming with a legend

5 Apr

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

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

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

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

Duncan chatting to Adele and Tamsyn poolsideDuncan Goodhew chatting with Blogsquad

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

Duncan Goodhew discussing stroke with Tamsyn and Adele

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

Duncan Goodhew in the pool with the Swimathon Blogsquad

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

Duncan Goodhew in the pool explaining drills

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

Duncan Goodhew explaining catch up drill to Tamsyn

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

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

Duncan Goodhew trying to refine Tamsyn's technique

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

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

Adele, Duncan and Tamsyn in the pool

Adele, Duncan and Tamsyn by a Swimathon banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Have you entered Swimathon 2017?

14 Mar Stuart and M swimming

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

swimathon

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

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

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

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

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

Stuart and M swimming

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

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

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

and then we repeated some of that with fins.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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