I love swimming

Really, I do. This is me trying to remind myself, with Swimathon now just four weeks away, that I do, in fact, love swimming. As the training for the 5k distance increases, so does the time spent in the pool and, of course, this gets harder to squeeze into an already busy week. Last week was half-term and I didn’t make it into the pool once 😦 so this week is all about rekindling my love of the water. As part of the Swimathon blogsquad, I was lucky to be invited along to a swim training session with none other than Olympian, Duncan Goodhew! Yes, I was very, very excited to be meeting a childhood hero – I used to watch him on TV in total awe. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from a swimming legend and also to meet some of the other blogsquad team: Lucy, Emma and Victoria. Sadly, Tess wasn’t able to come, but I hope to meet her some time in the future. First of all, I met Duncan and got to hold the gold medal he won at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. It is very heavy!

Image credit: Swimathon

Image credit: Swimathon

Once in the water, we got stuck straight in, with Duncan first of all taking a look at where we are currently at. I was pleased to be told I ‘have a lovely stroke’ (phew) and was given some drills to work on, with the goal of lengthening my reach a little and for me to think about bilateral breathing (oh yes, that one). I loved the drills, being someone who normally just carves up and down the pool, you can really feel the difference when you focus on one aspect of your stroke. After focussing on freestyle for a while (a few of us are working towards triathlons, with the aim of swimming freestyle throughout), Duncan showed us how breaststroke should really look. At this point we all went very quiet, with a little gasp hanging above the water. Disappearing under the surface, Duncan only reappeared after he had covered about half of the pool, when we had the pleasure of witnessing that gold-medal-winning style. Wow! Then we had a go…

Image credit: Swimathon

Image credit: Swimathon

I could have continued all night, hanging on his every word, soaking up the tips and eagerly trying to put it all into practice but, of course, it was over in no time and we were saying our thank yous and goodbyes, wishing each other luck in our various challenges. But not before doing a daft pose in the water…

Image credit: Swimathon

Image credit: Swimathon

Yesterday, I had a bit of time where I was going to be near a pool, so took the opportunity to get back in the water. I had my notes in a little waterproof bag, my pull-buoy and a bottle of water (well, half a bottle of water, since it decided to turn upside-down in my bag and pour itself down my back), so eased into the water with a goal. But it wasn’t to be. The first few lengths were great, I had lots of space, the sun was pouring through the windows and I was gliding. Then two men got in and took over, the lane Mafia I called them in my head. Overtaking, cutting up, glaring, pushing in. It was too much for my sensitive little soul, so I climbed out after 1km. Defeated. Today was a different matter though, I wasn’t going to let my head take over and I did reach my goal. The schedule said 3,400m and I swam 3,400m. I had the lane to myself for some time, then shared with a faster, smoother woman. When a school class came in, we shuffled across to the ‘middle’ lane , but this didn’t stop me, I was set on that goal and I did it!

Advertisements

New Year’s Resolution!

Really, that’s what a parent at the school gate had the cheek to call out the other day as I ran past. She clearly doesn’t know me!

Happy New Year and good luck to any of you who are trying to stick to new year’s resolutions, I don’t have anything against them, I just think January is a crap time of year to deprive yourself! It’s the perfect time to try something new and commit to getting fitter though and, with so many group initiatives to help you along, you won’t be alone. This year I’m logging my activities on Jantastic as part of the Hilly Fields parkrun group. I did this last year and found it gave me a real focus and helped me commit to a set number of runs/swims a week. Another group endeavour I’ve taken part in previously is Janathon, where you jog, blog and log every day for the month. It’s a great way to receive some support and encouragement to get you out there (and there are prizes too!).

I thought this might be a good time to look back over some achievements in 2014 and look forward to some new challenges in 2015. Last year was a fantastic year for my running, with a new direction and a new pace. My regular involvement with Hilly Fields parkrun helped me make lots of new running friends and encouraged me to become a regular at Kent Athletic Club, which inevitably helped me to get a bit faster, at last ducking under the 25 minute mark for 5k, something I had been aiming towards for a long time. This sense of camaraderie also saw me entering more races and smashing my 10k PB along the way. 2014 was also the year I tried triathlon, with a local race at Crystal Palace really giving me the bug. This new interest made me realise just how much I love cycling and led to me competing almost to the point of collapse at the London Duathlon in September (it hasn’t put me off wanting to do it again!). I also took part in my first sportive, hopefully the first of many.

It was a good, consistent year, giving me a strong base to move forward with this year. First up is the Brighton Half-Marathon in just a few weeks. I haven’t run this distance in a very long time, with the Cabbage Patch 10 being the longest recent race, so I’m steadily building up towards the 13.1 miles. This is going to be a very sociable one, with a group of us heading down from Hilly Fields, and Edward and Hector coming to cheer us on. A month later I’ll be facing the distance again, with the Salamon City Trail Richmond Half-Marathon – I enjoyed Richmond Park so much in the duathlon, that I wanted more! There are still places available, and you can also enter the 10k race alongside it. I’m hoping to get a place in the Crystal Palace Triathlon again, it was such good fun last year and, for my birthday, I was given entry to a triathlon, so went for the Hever Tri in September. I decided to set myself a greater challenge by entering the Olympic distance race, so that’s a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run. I’ll definitely need to work towards this one, especially the swim, which is in open water, expect lots of posts about tentative dips in slimy ponds…

For now I’m ticking off my four runs and three swims a week on Jantastic, and keeping it interesting by visiting some lovely locations. Good luck with all your running/swimming/riding adventures in 2015!

Aquatics Centre Mile

Aquatics Centre Mile

A mile in my, er, cossie

I have been thinking I need to swim in a 50m pool ahead of my triathlon in just over a week (!!). I could have jumped on my bike – or the bus – and headed over to the actual pool I will be swimming in at Crystal Palace, but I decided to take the chance to try out the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre. Once I’d made the decision I was ridiculously excited and twitched as the DLR snaked slowly towards Stratford, and there it was, Zaha Hadid’s ‘pringle’ in all it’s watery glory.

Temptingly close

Temptingly close

As I approached the building, I mingled with a group of school children, who were going there for their lesson – imagine that! The woman on the desk was friendly and directed me towards the ‘Competition Pool’, and my excitement levels rose a little bit more. The changing rooms were big, with lots of space to change and plenty of lockers (take a pound coin) and a row of hair-dryers for people who don’t have hair that goes into a frizz when meeting with direct heat. I quickly changed into my swimming gear and sauntered out to the pool, where I was told to put my towel in my locker, which filled me with slight horror because I like to minimise the time spent exposing flesh between the changing room and the water.

Competition Pool

Competition Pool

The (lovely) 50m pool was divided into slow, medium and fast lanes and swimmers quietly carved up and down, respectfully allowing faster swimmers to over-take and finding a nice space to do their own thing (none of that hanging about at the end, chatting lark here, thank goodness). I assessed the pace and opted for a ‘slow’ lane for my breast-stroke warm-up, then ducked under to the ‘medium’ lane for my faster lengths (I really should accept that I am a ‘fast’ lane swimmer and stand my watery ground there). I was worried about getting into the 50m pool at my triathlon and feeling overwhelmed by the size and depth of it all (no shallow end), but this felt great, no problem. I had to get my head round the counting lengths thing – two ‘normal’ lengths for each 50m length…it went quicker. Before I knew it, I had swum 60 ‘normal’ lengths, so did four more to make it a mile. I didn’t want to get out, it felt so good to be in such an amazing space, the pool where all those medals were won two years ago. I looked up at the diving boards as I swam, marvelling at how anyone could throw themselves off. I think I might just make this a regular trip – all that loveliness for just £3.50!

Splashy selfie

Splashy selfie

Getting involved

The past week has been all about the Paralympic Games. On Wednesday I got on my mountain bike and Hector got on his Isla Bike and off we headed to Deptford to track down the Paralympic Torch Relay. This journey is a new thing, Hector has usually ridden in the child seat on the back of Edward’s bike, but is now confident enough to cycle the four or so miles there and back, what a joy! Though my old mountain bike has been dependable, I do now yearn for something a bit more lady-like, something I can cruise around town on in a skirt and not have to get changed into hot jeans whenever I want to pop to the shops, something like this would do the trick. Thanks. So, we arrived in Deptford for a pre-torch swim, and while we were in the pool it started to rain, boo. Lunch was eaten at the wonderful ‘Train Cafe’, otherwise known as The Deptford Project, and we did our usual read-every-book-in-the-childrens’-section at the library. Gradually the library got busier and busier and the rain came down heavier and heavier and news came in that the torch was running two hours late. Oh my. Thank goodness for the numerous friends and neighbours we bumped into, who kept us entertained and gave us the energy to stick it out until the sun came out and around the bend came the Paralympic Torch.

The torch team arrives

Deptford Lounge looking golden and lovely

It was a challenge convincing Hector he should get on his – now wet – bike and cycle home when it was soon-to-be dinner time and the rain was coming down, but he did it. True grit.

And over to the incredible Olympic Park for some  more true grit on Friday. We were lucky enough to see both the Olympic Beach Volleyball and the Modern Pentathlon due to generous friends with spare tickets, but our family day out to the Olympic Stadium for the Paralympic athletics had been booked long ago. I don’t think I have smiled this  much in a very long time. The atmosphere was fantastic all the way there, with even the guard on the DLR taking our photo as we sat up front, Hector ‘being the driver’. Crowds poured out of Stratford Station with Gamesmakers high-fiving all the way and little glimpses of the stadia prompting ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’ all round.

We’re in!

It was a truly inspiring day, with a combination of track and field events and the general buzz of the stadium to entertain us. My highlight at this point was seeing Shelly Woods in action, especially after I had the opportunity to meet and run with her a few months ago, but we certainly weren’t the only ones backing Shelly – she even commented in an interview that the crowd was amazing, the best support she had ever received. In addition to this, I think one of Hector’s highlights was seeing Mandeville close up, the real Mandeville.

The Real Mandeville

It’s been great having the Olympic/Paralympic buzz back in London, and the excitement at the number of medals and amazing performances our Team GB athletes have been putting in is at an all time high, something I noticed on Friday was that you get more records and PBs for your money, every race or event seemed to offer up a Paralympic Record or World Record, so it’s not surprising that the crowd were jumping for joy.

In the stadium

On Sunday I think we will head out to see the wheelchair marathon and then enjoy the closing ceremony. Then it’s back to school 😦 ‘Inspire a generation, inspire a generation…’ I must keep this in my mind when the ticker tape flutters away.

Win, and train with Jessica Ennis!

I know, how exciting is that?! With Olympic fever now being swiftly followed by Paralympic fever, all you armchair athletes are hopefully being inspired to get up off your rear ends and give a new sport a go – I’ve certainly been seeing many more runners, cyclists and general fitness-seeking types about since London 2012 hit our screens. I was given the chance to up my activity levels by having a go at the brand new Adidas MiCoach Game but, since the game is accessed via Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move for PlayStation 3, and I have no such thing in my possession, I thought I would hand over this opportunity to you lovely people.

You may have gathered that I know absolutely nothing about computer gaming, so won’t even begin to try to explain how it all works, so you should watch the video here. Watching this made me wish I did have access to a games console and could get in some extra sessions in the comfort of my own home (with the curtains drawn I might add!). There are programmes featuring 18 of Adidas’ athletes across six different sports so there is something for everyone here – I imagine Edward would be elbowing me out of the way to try out the footie sessions. Watching Jessica Ennis in gold-medal-winning action at the Olympic Games made me want to get out there and train hard and, if this game can get your abs anywhere near as rippling as hers, then it has to be worth a go!

So, what do you have to do? Just send me an email (adele [at] adeleprince.com) with ‘Train with Jess’ in the subject line before September 16th and I will pick a winner at random after this date. The winner will be informed by email and then announced here so we can chase them up on their MiCoach training progress later on 😉

In the meantime, you can keep up-to-date with MiCoach on Facebook and with regular Tweets over on Twitter.

Achievement

I’m sitting here looking at the pouring rain and thinking I’m rather glad I got my run out of the way earlier! I am finding that my running has been slightly neglected lately, not in terms of frequency, I am still getting out at least four days a week, but in terms of distance. When I go to the gym, I tend to rush my run so I can get there and get stuck in, so I have been running around three miles at the most. Today I decided to give the gym a miss and run a bit further, just to make sure I still can! A quick run to school with speedy bike boy and up the hill I went, turning for a moment at the summit of Blythe Hill and admiring the gorgeous view (I must take my camera some time) then carrying on along the Waterlink Way, taking a breath at the far reaches, while a passing walking lady said: ‘You’re not running back?!’ then reaching home at the five-mile point.

I found it interesting that this walker was surprised that I was turning and ‘running back’, since she had no clue as to how far I had already run. Maybe she was taking her clues from my panting and my dripping brow, but to her this appeared to be an achievement in itself that she felt she should comment on. I have recently been talking to a fellow school-gate mum who also runs, the difference is though that she has three children, one of whom is just ten weeks old! She has far more in her life to juggle in an attempt to fit a run in, so I wasn’t surprised to see her passing our house this morning as we ate our breakfast. Last week I saw her in the park and we ran part of the way together. She was telling me how she had measured herself and found that her waist was now 27 1/2 inches, I dream of such neat girthage! So, she sees me and admires the fact that I run a little further than she is managing right now, I see her and admire the fact that she is a master juggler who is back in her skinny jeans just weeks after giving birth and other parents at the gate admire us both for getting out at all!

Soon we will be enjoying the spectacle of the Olympic Games, admiring those who are achieving international greatness in their chosen field then, further into the summer, we will admire those athletes who have overcome disability to compete in the Paralympic Games. I’m beginning to tire of the negativity being shown towards the Olympic Games, when I see many positive outcomes such as celebrations at school where the children are given the opportunity to try new activities, enthusiastic sports days at the running track (I heard loud cheers this morning, even though the rain clouds were coming in) and a little group of pre-school children in the park earlier with Olympic flames made out of tin foil and cardboard. If the presence of the games in London increases participation in sports at all levels and encourages otherwise inactive people to get out and try something new, it has to be a good thing.

Distance: 5.07 miles

Time: 50 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 10.02

Best Pace: 5.23

Calories: 267

The three stages of cold

Slowly. I am emerging from a fog of a different kind, the kind of fog where your head is pounding, your vision is fuzzy, your nose feels like you’ve walked into a door and every time you inhale you end up doubled over, barking like a seal. Hello from the other side of a cold! It wasn’t so bad at first, yes, the sore throat was painful, very painful, but I sounded like this:

Rrrraaaaarrr!

Then the pain in the throat became gradually worse and I sounded more like this:

and then my nose began to drip and, what with all the sniffling and snuffling, I started to look like this:

After a recent return to running enthusiasm, I was knocked back with a bang to a point of zero activity. There’s nothing like a bout of illness to vanish your running mojo in a puff of Vicks. But now I am feeling stronger, my lungs are fighting back and I am – almost – ready to pull on a pair of really warm running pants and a really warm running top, with long sleeves and little thumb holes, and some really warm gloves and maybe even a really warm hat, and I might just head out of the the door and run.

In other news, the boys Eating Trees and Hauling My Carcass have been making me jealous by schlepping through mud, Jogblog has won herself a fantastic support package to get her across the finish line of the London Marathon in one piece, Helsbels has her sights set on the Olympics (torch) and Travelling Hopefully has put us all to shame with her early morning wanderings.