Tag Archives: nutrition

Eating healthily and trying MYHK

15 Jun MYHK pea risotto

I’ve been working hard to eat healthily this year. I’m fortunate enough to be supported by The Athlete’s Palate, but it’s still hard for me. I expected to have an increased appetite whilst marathon training (especially as a breastfeeding mum), but I’d forgotten that that hunger sometimes lingers after the race. I’ve also been struggling with my appetite because I’m so tired. My baby looks like my husband, but she definitely has some of my personality traits. I’m sure I’ll be glad that she is extremely determined at some stage, but right now, I’d love it if M would sleep. She just wants to run around all the time. She might only be 7 months old, but she can already walk a bit (and can run when she holds my fingers!)

To make my life as easy as possible, I always make sure that I plan my meals in advance. This ensures that I have the necessary ingredients at home and that I don’t have to make meal decisions when I’m hungry. I also prepare my breakfast the night before, so that when I get up it’s easy for me to finish making it. In the evening, Stuart usually looks after M whilst I make our dinner – this gives them a chance to play and gives me a break as I enjoy being in the kitchen. However, I find lunch the most challenging meal as M needs lots of attention. Sometimes I choose to have a salad that i can prepare the night before, but at other times, I just need something quick, easy and filling. I try not to resort to ready meals as most of them are bland and unhealthy. Lots of supermarkets have ‘healthy’ ranges, but they are often uninspiring or there aren’t many vegetarian options.

I was given the chance to try three new ready meals by MYHK (my healthy kitchen), which sounded like a perfect solution for my problem. The meals are all under 500 calories with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. They include fresh ingredients and have other (specified) nutritional benefits.

The three meals that I was sent to try were:

  • Chicken Paella
  • Prawn Katsu
  • Pea, Mint and Rocket Risotto

I’ve been a vegetarian virtually all of my life, so I recruited my husband to try two of the dishes. (The other flavours that are available are: Moroccan Prawn, Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto and Oriental Chicken).

Chicken Paella

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s low in fat and high in protein and fibre.

MYHK chicken paella

I’m definitely not a food blogger and neither is my husband – we completely failed to take a photo of this, so here’s one that we’ve ‘borrowed’ from the MYHK website.

Stuart says: “Paella wouldn’t usually be something I’d choose but I enjoyed this one. The chicken was a step up from the majority of ready meals and was good solid pieces and nicely flavoured. The chorizo was less oily than some and was a nice addition. I would have preferred a slightly stronger flavour but the meal wasn’t bland.  It did feel like the meal was balanced and the ingredients went well together. The portion size is broadly equivalent to most common supermarket ready meals and I would have preferred a slightly larger size (particularly if I were undertaking a higher training load).”

 

Prawn Katsu

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s high in protein and low in saturated fat and sugar.

Stuart says: “This was my favourite out of the two. I enjoy a curry and this includes katsu which I’ve eaten in Japan. The split of sauce to the ingredients worked really well with this meal as the rice didn’t get soggy when being microwaved but was easy to eat and mix together. The prawns were reasonable quality and a bit more generous than seen in some other meals. The sauce was really nice albeit the pickled carrot packs a punch and it was spicier than I expected – I don’t mind relatively hot food but I know Tamsyn would have really struggled with a vegetarian version. The lighter jasmin rice helped balance the heat but I could see some people getting put off. As with the paella I would have preferred a slightly larger size although this would be filling compared to the usual ready meals seen.”

 

MYHK prawn

 

Pea, mint and rocket risotto (vegetarian)

The special advantage of this meal is that it’s 1 of your 5 a day, and it’s also low in sugar and saturated fat.

MYHK pea risotto MYHK pea risotto close up

Risotto is one of my favourite meals, but I’ve never made it at home. There are several reasons for this – firstly, my favourite risotto is mushroom risotto and Stu hates mushrooms, but secondly, I believe that risotto can be time consuming to make as you need to stir it continuously.

This risotto isn’t just made with Arborio rice, but also with quinoa. I liked this as it gave it a slightly different flavour as well as increasing its nutritional value.

As soon as I opened the packaging, I could smell the peas and mint – they were really aromatic and got my taste buds watering.

The risotto was topped with rocket (arugula). This is quite a bitter leaf, but paired with the creamy onion sauce, I thought it balanced nicely. Another interesting touch to cut through the creaminess was the addition of some pickled red cabbage. I adore red cabbage and would never have thought of pairing it with risotto before.

Overall, I really liked this meal. It was a reasonable size for a ready meal (although I’d have preferred a slightly larger portion with a few more calories) and looked appetising as well as tasting good. The price is more than a lot of ready meals, but comparable with the types of things I like, such as Bol ready meals.

 

These meals are currently available from Waitrose and Ocado with an RRP of £3.95.

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The Athlete’s Palate

11 Feb

I’d been hoping to share this post with you a while ago, but I’ve had more than my fair share of setbacks. Firstly, I had a cold, then Baby M hit the dreaded ‘4 month sleep regression’ early (cue waking every 45 minutes at night!!!) and the finally, my beloved MacBook Pro’s hard drive failed. Fortunately, things are looking up this week: I no longer have a cold; M is back to sleeping for 2 hours at a time and completely amazing Ben has fixed my MacBook… so now I just need to get my blog back on track.

If you’ve been reading recently, you’ll know that I’ve managed to find some free mum and baby fitness classes (Buggy Mums). There’s hope that there will be a free ante- and postnatal pilates class coming soon. I’ve also found that a local leisure centre runs a variety of mother and baby classes during the week, including Buggy Bootcamp; Legs, Bums and Tums; and Baby Spin. I’m hoping that I can book onto some of the spinning classes soon as I’ve not managed to use my bike much recently.

So… the big part of the puzzle that is missing is tackling my nutrition. I was fortunately that I only gained about 7lbs when I was pregnant and I weighed less than before I got pregnant after having Baby M, but Christmas and broken sleep have taken their toll on me.

The Athlete's Palate Ambassador

A while ago, I applied to be an ambassador for The Athlete’s Palate and was delighted to be chosen. This year there are 7 ambassadors. If you’ve not heard of The Athlete’s Palate before, here’s some information:

The Athlete’s Palate is dedicated to empowering athletes by encouraging wellness through holistic nutrition and sports. Our goal is to increase athlete’s involvement in sports and understanding the benefits of holistic nutrition – mind, body, spirit & sports.

Our athletes promote sport, have good sportsmanship, are involved in their community and lead a healthy lifestyle. They are of all ages and range from recreational to professional.

One opportunity leads to another, so the brand is collaborating with some other great brands – don’t be surprised if you hear me mention:

I had a fantastic phone interview with Julie from The Athlete’s Palate and agreed to keep a food diary for a week. However, this was a food diary with a difference. I had to take a photo of everything that I ate and drank. This is a clever idea as it means that Julie is able to see my portion sizes and also I always have my phone with me, so I could just take a quick snap of things… however, it felt a bit more challenging than that. I had to overcome some inhibitions when I was out with others as I felt a bit embarrassed about it. When I explained to my friends what I was doing, they were really interested. It has made me realise that I couldn’t be a food blogger/Instagrammer as when my food is in front of me, I want to eat it, not style it and take pretty pictures!

Here’s a sample of what I had in that week:

One of the challenges that I encountered was the current shortage of leafy greens, including spinach, courgettes and lettuce. When I was working, I ate salad for lunch every day, but it’s much harder when the key ingredients are not available!

I also had to note down my mood and the state of my health. It was unlucky that my week coincided with having a heavy cold. I always seem to get ill at the end of January 😦 It didn’t help that I’ve been really disorganised and my reliever inhaler ran out.

Julie also came up with some ‘food for thought’ for me. I’ve always believed that I drink healthily. My favourite drink is water and I drink a lot of it. If I’m cold I will have jasmine tea or hot chocolate, but try not to indulge in too many hot chocolates. My local tap water does not contain fluoride, but I had not considered the other chemicals that are added to make it safe to drink. Stuart and I moved into what we hope will be our ‘forever home’ just over a year ago, and I am now looking into reverse osmosis water filters. If anyone has any links to academic papers about drinking reverse osmosis water, I’d love to read them as there’s a real mix of information online.

I now need to plan my next week’s meals based around some key nutritional information from Julie.

Do you plan your meals in advance?

Please visit The Athlete’s Palate to read about the other ambassadors.

Banana Bready-cake

31 Aug

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Last week I was chatting to Sam (my nutrition coach from Solent Strength + Nutrition) and he suggested that I could try making some banana bread using protein powder. This would be ideal for my long swim next weekend. I don’t often bake, but I thought I would give it a try. Here’s my recipe.

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350g bananas (250g mashed and 100g chopped)
100g plain flour
80g Smart Protein vanilla*
2.5tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
160g BaliNutra coconut syrup*
2 eggs
60g butter
50g walnuts

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1. Preheat the oven to 170C.

2. Grease and flour a baking tin. For it to be ‘banana bread’ a loaf tin should be used, but I don’t have one, so I used a 21cm square cake tin.

3. Whisk the BaliNutra coconut syrup, eggs and butter. (An electric mixer would be great for this – I used a food processor as I don’t have an electric mixer).

4. Fold in the bananas, flour, Smart Protein, baking powder and salt. Then fold in the walnuts.IMG_6181IMG_6182

5. Spoon into the tin and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a rack to cool completely.IMG_6187

7. Cut yourself a chunky slice and ENJOY!

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I’ve not baked using BaliNutra coconut syrup before and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked in this recipe. It doesn’t taste of coconut, but has a rich flavour, so would be a good substitute for any recipe that calls for Demarara or muscovado sugar. There are various benefits to using this syrup, including the fact that it’s organic and low GI, so it’s suitable for diabetics… and there are also environmental benefits to choosing it. I’ve also tried it in porridge this week as a replacement for honey or agave nectar and found that it worked well.

I’ve tried quite a few protein powders, but have tended to use them in shakes, yoghurt and pancakes, rather than baking with them. When devising this recipe, I chose to use Smart Protein vanilla protein powder in place of some of the flour. This particular protein powder has an authentic vanilla flavour and it mixes easily. Have you baked using protein powder before? What’s your favourite recipe?


* I was provided with these ingredients free of charge in return for reviewing them.

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My first DNF and I’m OK about it

2 May

Everything seems to have been going so well recently. My running has been going well, I achieved a new PB for distance swimming and I’m starting to work with a nutrition coach, so I’ve been feeling positive… however, my home is a bit chaotic as I’ve not kept on top of housework. I’m so grateful that this is a bank holiday weekend.

The weekend started with parkrun. I’d had the option to go for a run with Teri and James beforehand, but I decided that I needed a bit of a lie in, so I turned down that opportunity. After dithering about what to wear as I couldn’t be sure what the temperature was, I decided to wear my new Team SOAS shorts and vest. I’ve worn the vest before, but the first pair of shorts that I received were too big. The new pair fit well, but I generally prefer to keep my chunky legs hidden a bit more – hopefully, I’ll lose some weight from my thighs to make running in shorts more comfortable.

I’d forgotten that the Southampton parkrun route has changed at the moment, so I spent a while chatting to a former colleague at the finish funnel and then had to jog towards the start. At this point, I realised there was a problem.

On Wednesday evening, I helped Ben to lead a Lordshill Road Runners training session. One of the runners is having problems because she has very tight hips, so I explained some stretches that might benefit her. She wasn’t sure about all of them, so I demonstrated some. Unfortunately, I was quite cold as I had been coaching and not running, so I managed to pull my hamstring whilst demonstrating pigeon pose. It wasn’t too much and I didn’t think any more of it.

Yesterday morning, as I jogged across the grass, my right thigh started hurting where I had pulled it on Wednesday evening. I hoped it would ease off, so I met up with some friends and the run started.

I had been feeling quite confident that I could manage a 25 minute running, but I started feeling in pain on the way up the hill. I continued chatting to Tim, but the pain increased instead of easing off, so that about 1.5km, I decided that the sensible thing to do would be to quit.

I pride myself on not being a quitter. I’ve never DNS’d or DNF’d a race or event before, but I have such big plans for this year that I don’t want to struggle with injuries. I’ve pushed on in races where I’ve felt exhausted and have even collapsed at the end of races, but finishing a parkrun is not about proving something to someone. It would have been my 149th run, but I’m OK with that. I’m trying to discipline myself to train smarter and I think this is a step in the right direction. Likewise, there has been a lot of peer pressure this week to enter a marathon, but I’m not going to. I have other goals at the moment and I need to remain focused. I’d love to have a chance to do London Marathon, but if it doesn’t happen next year, that’s fine. This year will be my year of swimming and 2016 will be my year of cycling.

The walk back to the start/finish area at parkrun was tough because my leg hurt and I started feeling cold, but I was heartened by the huge number of runners who stopped their run to check that I was OK. This to me embodies the spirit of parkrun – it’s just a run and there’s always next week. Also, Southampton parkrun had over 760 finishers today, which is a new record (perhaps they were all inspired by Southampton Half Marathon last weekend), so maybe my presence next week will help to create another new record!

I spent most of yesterday desperately trying to get my house in order as housework has taken rather a backseat recently. However, under coach’s orders, I’ve been doing the tidying in compression tights and have been trying to rest my leg whenever possible. I took this as a reason to do a bit of DIY, instead of going up and down stairs with laundry.

I’ve never been particularly bothered by medals, but as I have them, I feel I should do something with them. A while ago, I bought some Bygel rails in Ikea, with the intention of using them as medal hangers (I can’t afford fancy medal holders), but I never got around to doing anything with them. Then I saw a photo of Julian ‘King of Bling’ Porter‘s medal display and it spurred me into action.

An impressive display of medals that is a couple of metres long

Jules’ medal display © Julian Porter Photography

I can’t claim that my medal display (or more correctly Team Smith’s medal display as the medals on the left were earned by Stu) rivals Julian’s, but it’s a start. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of screws and rawl plugs, so I can’t put up the 4th rail at the moment, but it will get sorted by the end of the weekend 🙂 [OK – all sorted now!]

Rows of medals

The medals on the right are mine for running, swimming and triathlons; the ones on the left are my husband’s

I’m hoping to spend a bit of time planning my meals for next week and making a shopping list. I’ll be meeting with my nutrition coach tomorrow and on Wednesday, Stuart and I will have a delivery from Gousto:

  • Lebanese Halloumi
  • Posh Burger ‘n’ Chips (not vegetarian, so Stuart will eat this!)
  • Asian Nutty Noodles

We were persuaded to sign up at London Marathon Expo and as my cooking repertoire is quite limited, we thought it would be fun to try it. If you’d like to try Gousto, visit http://www.gousto.co.uk and enter TAMSY54389 to get £20 off your first box (I’ll get £15 credit).


I read an interesting article today that explained ‘How to predict your Ironman time‘. The formula is:

186.3 + 1.595 × (PB for Olympic-distance triathlon) + 1.318 × (PB for marathon)

so for me that’s

186.3 + 1.595 × (220) + 1.318 × (270) = 893.06 = 14:53:06

Which isn’t far off my HIM PB x2 (7:24:54). I’d love to know how accurate people have found this calculation to be. I’d be delighted with that kind of time!

Free ebook

6 Jan

OK, so I’ve posted a few times about New Year’s Resolutions and taken part in various debates online about whether or not they work, but whatever you think, there’s nothing stopping you from trying to change your life and doing it one small step at a time is a move in the right direction.

In 2014, I was contacted by the lovely people at Monster Supplements, who asked me whether I would be interested in contributing to an ebook about protein, nutrition, healthy eating and working out. I jumped at the opportunity and was delighted to finally see a copy yesterday evening. Now you too can download the ebook:

Link to free ebook

KickStart2015_FitnessEbook

Giveit100 – what am I focusing on?

5 Jan

I’ve started my Giveit100 challenge today:

I’m going to focus on healthy eating and making sensible food choices for 100 days.

This morning I weighed myself. The scales read 67.2kg, which is 148lbs or 10st 8lbs. It’s not horrendous, but my goal weight is 10kg (22lbs) lighter, as I want to weigh 126lbs or 9st. I got down to that weight when I did Weight Watchers and I think it’s possible for me to get back there. I know that if I lose weight, I will find it easier to run and it should also help with my asthma.

I’m not following a set diet. My intention is to do my best to make healthy choices and to track what I eat. I’m not going to use an app like MyFitnessPal as I end up getting frustrated with how long it takes to find everything online. I’m not going to count calories and I’m not going to think about WW points. Instead, I intend to just write down everything I eat, so that I’m more conscious of what I’m putting into my body.

I’m not going to share my entire food diary here, but when I do, please feel free to comment. I don’t always eat enough protein and I need to make sure that I get enough iron.

Today started with 30g porridge (made with water, as usual) and some dried mango. I know dried fruit is quite calorific, but it tastes nice and is better than eating oatsosimple or some other ready-made breakfast. I drank a pint of water, but since then I’ve only had a large mug of Earl Grey tea, so I should drink some more. I also had a couple of chocolates in the office (a malteaser and a Bounty from a box of Celebrations – oops!) I\m not going to beat myself up about this – I’ve managed to ignore the entire box of chocolate biscuits all morning.

Avocado, tomato, rocket and watercress salad

For lunch I had a lovely salad. I decided not to have my usual salad with smoked cheese and instead opted for half an avocado with six cherry tomatoes and some rocket (arugula) and watercress. I’ve also got a couple of raw carrots and a small Granny Smith apple as snacks. I have a banana, but I might not eat it.

For tea, I intend to eat some of the chilli that I made yesterday with some rice. I may eat a yoghurt later if I am hungry.

Top 10 things not to eat whilst cycling

4 Nov

This was so funny that I had to share it:

Global Cycling Network is a great channel to subscribe to on YouTube. There is a combination of humorous videos and ones with useful and informative content. Here are a couple of other videos that amused me:

If you’ve an hour to spare, you might want to watch ‘Ride of my life: the story of the bicycle’

This is a BBC4 documentary where author Rob Penn travels around the world collecting hand-built parts for his dream bicycle and charts the social history of one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

Day 6 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports

6 May

Tuesday started with a ‘fun’ aquathlon. Before my injuries, I had hoped that I might not be last or at least that I might not be last out of the water and that this would spur me on to run as hard as possible, but my painful arm put paid to that.

Originally, the aquathlon was going to be a 1200m swim, but this was amended to just 2 x 400m loops, although to make it more challenging, we had to get out and run around a cone between the two loops. The run was 3×1 mile loops, so before we got into our wetsuits, we went for a test run.

I had decided to try out my Team SOAS kit. I’ve worn the tri shorts lots as they are the most comfortable cycling shorts that I’ve ever tried, but I’ve never worn the tri top before. It was really comfortable, although perhaps I need a slightly smaller size.

After the run, I managed to put on my wetsuit, but because of my arm, it took a while, so I didn’t have long to get acclimatised to the water. I also spent some time faffing with my goggles. I haven’t quite worked out how to adjust the strap on them yet.

We were set off at 15 second intervals. I think if I hadn’t been injured, I might not have been set off first, but I know that I’m a weaker runner than all of the others.

I did just a few strokes before I realised that my goggles were filling up with water – doh! I stopped to empty and adjust them. My breathing was also bad as I hadn’t had much time to get used to having my face in the water. My arm was very painful and by the time I got to the rocks, I think I had been passed by everyone. As I rounded the corner, I realised that I had to make a decision – I could either quit after one lap or continue and complete the event. My arm was in pain, but it I figured that it couldn’t get any worse and my breathing was improving. As I neared the bank, I could see runners who were already on their second laps.

End of lap 1

End of lap 1

Helen made the most of the photo opportunity

Helen made the most of the photo opportunity

Neil asked whether I wanted to continue, but I decided that I needed to, so that I wouldn’t feel like I had quit everything on the holiday. I got back in the water and started swimming as well as I possibly could, but my arm was really hampering me, so it was mainly front crawl with just one arm.

Eventually, I got out of the water, ready for transition. Jose came over and helped me to remove my bad arm from my wetsuit, and I knelt down to put my contact lenses in. To save time, I decided to run without socks, but I didn’t dry my feet very well.

Whilst I was in transition, I saw Stu and Helen run past and 200m into my run, Jonno caught up with me. He was desperately trying to chase down Stu, who had passed him in the swim. I kept moving and soon completed my first loop.

Elena enjoying the run ©Embrace Sports

Elena enjoying the run ©Embrace Sports

On the second lap, I realised that my shorts are quite big for me and when they’re wet, they start to hang down a little bit, so I may invest in some smaller ones! I also noticed a patch on my left foot where my shoes was rubbing it. They are designed to be seam free, but something was definitely rubbing my foot. I kept going and when I got back to the start, people started clapping and I heard Bernie shouting to me about where I needed to finish the run, but I knew that I still had a third lap to do. I kept moving, but was aware that I was slowing down. As I reached the turn, I put in a big effort to improve my pace, so my final kilometre was my fastest one in the event. It wasn’t the kind of pace that I’d been hoping for, but at least it wasn’t terrible.

Overall, I finished last in the event, but even with my slow transition, it wasn’t the slowest one of the event. Coach Alan finished first, but Stu was the first triathlete over the line because of his strong swim and good run. Go Stuey!

The sun was out when we got back, so there was some time to go in the hot tub and also time to lounge in the sun with the lizards.

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In the afternoon, Kat took us into the local village to explore the chocolatier. It was a small shop, but it smelled wonderful!

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Stu and I just treated ourselves to a tiny bag of assorted chocolate pieces.

When we got back, I had time to get changed before the masseur, Peter, arrived. He was a nice chap who was originally from Dorset, but who had also raced in Cornwall, so there were quite a few events that we were both familiar with. Peter helped to loosen up my tight calves, but I don’t think that he really managed to do anything to my neck and shoulders, which were still aching.

Later on, there was a nutritional chat with Alan and Graeme. Graeme also talked about lots of different ways that people can trim their race times (including investing in race wheels and an aero helmet), but I don’t think I’m at that level yet. He also discussed the importance of practising transitions. I think that if I have laser eye surgery then that should help to speed up T1!

What are the best tips that you’ve heard to minimise your race times (apart from training!)?

Fresh

27 Mar

Here is my IDEAfit photo a day image for March 27th: Fresh.

Fresh - the lovely healthy food in my fridge

Fresh – the lovely healthy food in my fridge

I toyed with the idea of joining the Lordshill social run this evening, but was so tired that I thought I’d be better off spending a bit of time organising at home and going to bed early. I decided that tidying up would help me to feel less stressed, so I didn’t spend much time online in the evening and managed to get to bed early. I’ve been told repeatedly that rest/recovery is as important as training, so for once I’m listening to others! Hopefully rest will make me feel fresh 🙂

 

Weekend round up

2 Mar

It’s been another hectic weekend, where I’ve managed to cram in an awful lot and have no idea how I’ve managed it. I’ll try to keep this post briefer than the last one, but brevity is not my forte!

A while back, I answered a Triathlon Industry Association survey and was informed this week that I had won a pair of tickets to the Triathlon Show. As I already had quite a lot of activities planned and booked, I decided to go on Friday evening after I had finished work, as it was on until quite late. I was concerned that the traffic might be bad, but I thought the show was likely to be quieter than at the weekend. Fortunately, I was proved correct as there were very few people there by the time that Stuart and I arrived.

On arrival, we were given a goody bag with various samples in it including some Powerbar gel shots that I like, a nuun hydration tablet and some men’s shower gel

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There were a lot of wetsuits and swimwear on sale. I’ve only ever worn my own 2XU wetsuit, but I’m perfectly happy with it, so I didn’t spend long looking at wetsuits. Stuart bought a new pair of goggles as he only owns one pair. I would have liked to look at goggles, but as I wear prescription ones, there would be no point. Maybe one day I’ll have laser surgery.

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The Zoggs stand was in a prominent position near to the entrance and there were a couple of endless pools. I would love to have one (especially if I could have it set up with video cameras, so that I could analyse my technique). These were being used for demonstrations when we arrived, which was quite interesting, but as I already have many technique points to work on, I don’t think there are many other things that I could pick up on right now!

I was surprised at how few bikes were on display. We went to a local triathlon show in Bournemouth a few months ago (organised by Primera, a local bike store) and there were more bikes on display there. Stuart would love to have a new bike, but none of the ones that caught his eye had prices on display, which is never a good sign!

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We hadn’t been at the show for long before we were accosted by a company called ‘Sport Stiks’ who sell number transfers, which are apparently ‘classier’ than a number written on with a marker pen. I agreed to have a number put on me in return for the chance to win a watch. I didn’t win and I learnt that the transfers are just as difficult to remove as pen (I had to do parkrun with mine on as I couldn’t scrub it off). The transfer didn’t work on Stu as his forearms are too hairy – within an hour it was impossible to read the number!

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After we browsed some of the unusual swimwear that was on offer (do adult men really wear multicoloured holographic swimming trunks?!) I said to Stu that I’d really like the BlueSeventy swimming costume that I saw at the London Triathlon Expo. We found where the BlueSeventy stand was and I was pleased to see that the swimming costume was in stock.

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It’s really striking and attractive, although it has a much lower back than any of the other swimsuits that I own. I think I may lose a few pounds before I wear it in public!

We also spent a while at the Alton Sports stand. You may have noticed that in many of my running photos (and all of my cycling pics) I have one of a selection of headbands on. Almost all of them are made by Bondi bands. I find them very comfortable and like the fact that they keep my ears warm, as I am prone to earache. The slogan below caught my eye, so I decided to treat myself to a new one:

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Katherine had given Stuart and I stern instructions that w were to bring her back a present. I dithered about buying her a swimming hat with a Portuguese flag on it, but then thought a Bondi band would be a good choice. I couldn’t find one that said ‘Will run for CAKE’, but I thought that the one below perfectly demonstrated that Katherine isn’t picky as long as there’s some reward in it for her!

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(I gave the headband to Katherine at parkrun, where she declared it as perfect for keeping her hair off her face when running. Unfortunately, by the time I saw her after the run she had already lost her gift. She had taken it off after running and thought she might have dropped it. She rummaged in her tights (where she stores her gloves), but couldn’t find it there, so we assumed that someone must have picked it up. Fortunately, when Katherine got home she found it in the sleeve of her jacket!)

The next item that I selected at Alton Sports was a new running belt. My belt is a couple of years old now and has a few problems – the only pocket that my phone will fit in is ripped and one zip won’t open, so it’s not much use. My friend Teri highly recommended her iFitness belt, so I thought I would get one of those. It has toggles for a race number, 6 loops for gels and a stretchy neoprene pocket that will fit my phone. (I never used to run with my phone, but now that I’m blogging, I’m trying to take a few more photos to make my posts more interesting).

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I also bought a couple of bottles that fit onto my belt. This will make it more flexible than my current belt which has four hard plastic bottle holders.

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I’ve tried running with an adidas race belt that Stuart has, but it hasn’t worked very well for me – I found that it was difficult for me to drink from the bottles, so I didn’t drink enough. I tried the new belt today whilst trying to do a long run and it seemed perfect. I carried one bottle and found that it was comfortable didn’t rub me at all (I had bad friction burns from Stu’s belt).

After we had finished investigating the main hall, we went upstairs and found out about a few triathlon holidays and races. There was one that caught my eye – the Midnight Wo/Man Long Distance Tri that takes place at night. It appeals to me as it’s on closed roads and it’s unlikely to be hot at night, so I’m less likely to overheat… but I’ve signed up for enough this year, so I’ll put it on my list of races for future years.

The last stop was the basement where the masseurs and nutrition products could be found.

Tucked away in a back corner was a shiny silver stand of Jack Oatbars.I tried a piece of a cranberry one and thought it was delicious. I then started chatting to the rep on the stand, who was impressed that I had already heard of the brand and followed them on Twitter. I then mentioned Chris Collins, which got me a free bar – thanks, Chris 🙂

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The next stop was at the ShotBlok stand where I tried a few samples and then selected three packs of cherry with caffeine, one of tropical fruit and one of strawberry. That should be enough to get me through my training and marathon!

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I was then lured in by the High5 stand as I like High5 gels. I bought a goody box with £23 of products in it for £5 – not a bad deal!

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Finally, just before I left, I made a bit of an impulse purchase of a bike box. It had an impressive review in 220 Triathlon and was reasonably priced, so I decided that it would be a good buy. (I’m hoping to take two triathlon holidays this year, so it will be used twice).

Originally, I intended to do my long run on Saturday, but I was tired after my late night, so I decide to run for fun for a change.  It was a beautifully crisp and clear day with just a hint of frost.

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As I’ve been overheating whilst running, I just wore shorts and a t-shirt, which was comfortable. As you can see, it wasn’t a fast run, but the lack of pressure meant that I enjoyed the run far more than most of the runs I’ve done recently:

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It took me nearly 30 minutes to do 5km, but I enjoyed a chat with Teri. Despite finishing in position 392, there were over 100 people behind me!

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In the afternoon, I used a voucher that I had for Sweatshop to buy a new t-shirt.

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It fits well and is really comfortable. A bonus is that it matches a pair of purple shorts that I have but don’t wear very often!

I also managed to fit in an opticians appointment, where I was pleased to learn that my eyes are healthy and my eyesight hasn’t changed and I finally managed to get my hair cut. I’ve gone for a slightly different style, although as most people only ever see me with my hair tied up (or I’ve got on a swimming hat/bike helmet) I don’t expect many people will notice. Now I just need to hear back from my doctor.

CC6 at Wilverley Plain

CC6 at Wilverley Plain

Today I knew I had to fit in a long run and I also wanted to do the final cross-country race of the season. In the end, I compromised. I picked up my friend Tim who I haven’t seen much recently, but who got me through the toughest parts of my first marathon. We then ran the CC6 at our own paces before meeting up afterwards with Sarah (another club runner) for a ‘long run’.

Tim, Sarah and I after our run

Tim, Sarah and I after our run

Originally, I wanted to do 20 miles, but I’m trying to be realistic about what I can do when I’m not 100%. I also know that it’s harder to run long after racing and the terrain for the cross-country race was tough – not only was it very hilly, but it was also muddy and slippery almost all of the way around. In the end, our run totalled about 12 miles. In the past, I might have been disappointed with that, but I need to be kinder to myself.

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So, overall, it’s been a busy weekend, but I feel much more motivated that I’ll be able to get back on track this week with both training and blogging 🙂