Summer Round-Up

Arrrghhgh! Where has the summer gone?! I’m braving it and trying to keep the toes out for as long as I possibly can, but I felt decidedly chilly on this morning’s first-school-run-of-year-four (I know, year four!!). It really does seem like yesterday that I was picking Hector up from school with the whole, long, warm (?!) summer holidays ahead of us, and here we are in September. It was a lovely summer holiday, with lots of fun activities, many active…

Body Boarding in Dorset

Body Boarding in Dorset

Some less active…

Crumble-bound

Crumble-bound

Some that involved getting muddy…

In Deptford Creek

In Deptford Creek

And some that involved getting wet…

Royal Victoria Docks

Royal Victoria Docks

This last image shows the Royal Victoria Docks in East London. Some readers might know this from the London Triathlon – this is the same body of water that thousands of tri-hopefuls leap into each year. You can now go swimming here on a regular basis, so I thought I’d give it a try. The opening times are limited obviously, so I found myself setting my alarm for silly o’clock one Sunday morning, in an attempt to cycle over there, swim and get back in time to volunteer at Hilly Fields junior parkrun. Phew! It was, incidentally, the same weekend as the London Triathlon and some of the roads were closed and already being sped along by eager athletes, so I sort of got lost-ish on my way. It was ok though, because I found an equally bemused cyclist heading in the same direction. We chatted open-water as we pedalled and it turned out this chap was training to swim the channel. Yes, the channel. I bowed as much as you can bow whilst riding a bike. Needless to say, he was off in his speedos as soon as we got there, whereas I, in my usual nervous-numpty mode sat sadly on the side, unable to get in. You see, the steps that are usually there were not there, they had been removed because they were not safe. I was told it was ok though “…because it’s about twenty feet deep, so you can dive in”. To many swimmers this would be an invitation to splash, but I instantly froze at the thought of:

a) twenty feet deep

and

b) dive in

and gently swished my toes in the perfectly still, calm, golden sunrise water while others jumped in and swam off into the distance. A very kind coach came over and chatted to me, giving me some tips about what to do when I got in (roll onto my back, allow some water into my wetsuit). I knew I would be fine once I got in, but I was stuck. Eventually I gave myself a good old talking to and reminded myself that there was a kayaker lifeguard there to call out to if I really couldn’t do it. And shalumph, I plopped in and rolled onto my back. It was fine. I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful morning for it and set off towards a big red buoy at a steady heads-out breaststroke. Numpty. I had decided that I would swim the 400 or so meters around and back to the pontoon and maybe go around again if I felt good. I did and I did. Maybe trying to do this kind of thing on a tight schedule is not a good idea and I should give myself more time. To get in.

Lots more open-water swimming was done on our camping trip to Dorset, some lovely sea swims after sandy runs along the beach at Studland. I am ok once I’m in the water, I just need to be able to ease myself in slowly. Maybe diving is the next challenge, but I’ll need to be pushed…anyone?

So, what’s next?

In three weeks I will be taking on the London Duathlon again. Remember last year when I pushed so hard (and neglected hydration and fuelling so much) that I threw up at the end? Well, this year I will be finishing with a smile on my face and hopefully not needing to lie down in a crumpled heap. The following week I will be stepping up to the Olympic distance triathlon at Hever Castle. I am properly nervous about this. Every time I read about it, it’s billed as being tough, with a ‘technical’ bike course and challenging trail run. But hey, the swim is in a beautiful lake (and river!) in the grounds of a stunner of a castle! Eek! There are events following these, but I’ll just get these two out of the way first shall I?! 😉

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Juneathon Week 3, A Round-Up

Are we really into the last full week of Juneathon?! It’s flown by! I always find June flies and start to feel particularly pressured at this stage, as Hector’s birthday approaches. Looking back over last week, it was another varied and fun week of activities, with a good mix of run/ride and swim.

Some highlights of the week were the fun club session on Tuesday evening, where coach Adrian had us sprinting around the park, doing step-ups in the playground, running fast hill repeats over the spirally footbridge, doing *ten* planks in a row and some relays in pairs 🙂 On Thursday I ventured out with my wetsuit to see if I could get into the Serpentine without getting right back out again. I did – my coached session the week before had given me so much confidence – and found myself really enjoying it and pushing myself to swim 2k of the 100m lido (with the occasional flip over to bob around and enjoy the view).

Lido

Lido

As always I loved my ride around the road circuit at the Olympic Velopark, I pretty much smile all the way…Saturday saw me jumping on my bike and heading over to Burgess parkrun as Hilly Fields was cancelled because of the fayre. A whole load of HF runners were there, so a great atmosphere and lots of chatter at the start. It’s very different from Hilly Fields that’s for sure…flat as a pancake! As a result, I found myself pushing hard and running my fastest time this year (not a PB, but so lovely to see I’ve ‘still got it’).

Hilly Fields on tour

Hilly Fields on tour

The most fun of the week probably happened yesterday, with a trip up to the Olympic Park (again, I certainly make use of its ‘legacy’!) with our bikes for a Father’s Day present of a ride on the mountain bike circuit. Edward hired a mountain bike because his hybrid road wheels wouldn’t have withstood such a bashing and off we went.

Happy Father

Happy Father

I think Hector was pleased that it was less ‘mountain’ and more ‘bumps’ – he told me he hadn’t been sure about coming, good for him for going for it anyway! So, we bobbed up and down with lots of whoops and joyous sounds and found a nice little spot to enjoy our picnic in the sun. As we rode around, Hector kept looking over to the road circuit and asked if we could go on there. Of course, I was overjoyed to be able to share this with him, so we left Edward to enjoy the rough and tumble of the mountain course and headed onto the smooth road for a quick three miles. I did feel a bit odd on my mountain bike and wearing jeans, but so lovely to show Hector around.

Smooth

Smooth

We even decided to go there together over the summer holidays and do some road riding 🙂

Monday: A quick lunchtime swim, not a good idea (lane hoggers and ladies-bouncing-up-and-down class)
Tuesday: My favourite summer time club session, with planks, bridge repeats and relays, fun
Wednesday: Lovely evening run with a friend
Thursday: My first solo swim in the Serpentine 🙂
Friday: My weekly date with the Velopark
Saturday: parkrun tourism with friends
Sunday: Super family Father’s Day fun on bikes

All in all, a lovely active week 🙂

Running: 19.2km
Swimming: 3km
Cycling: 56.5km

Juneathon, Week 2, A Round-Up

We’re half-way through, already?! What a week! A varied, hot and sticky, cold and wet, fast and furious sort of a week. I continued in my quest to overcome my open-water fears by jumping into the Serpentine Lido in my lovely new wetsuit:

Suited up

Suited up

I took part in a beginners’ session with RG Active, which saw me putting my face in the – slightly green – water and even managing to swim in a straight line! (I will write more about this in another post).

On Friday I got myself back into my date-with-the-velopark, which I missed for two weeks due to a certain Sir Bradley smashing the hour record and half-term getting in the way. I love my little trips up to Stratford with my bike. A quiet spin around the road circuit is just what I need at the end of the week, I always feel invigorated and floaty afterwards.

Post-ride feet up

Post-ride feet up

After a wet and wheely week, my weekend was all about the running. On Saturday I volunteered up at Hilly Fields parkrun then headed over to Wimbledon in the afternoon for a lovely 10k trail race (more about this in another post).

Blingy

Blingy

Sunday was all about Hector, the boy who ‘doesn’t like running’. A little while ago, if you asked Hector if he enjoyed running, he would say: ‘I like cycling and swimming, but not running’. Quite firmly. Since he started junior parkrun, he seems to have caught the bug! I had signed us all up to run the City of London Mile and, when I told Hector he would miss junior parkrun on Sunday, he left the dinner table to have a little cry. So we did both!

junior parkrunner

junior parkrunner

After some running (and volunteering from the parents), we rushed over to St Paul’s where I quickly took part in the women’s mile, then a quick number change and Edward, Hector and I ran our first race together. I was so very proud of Hector, he ran all the way, steadily keeping pace and, when I asked him in the last stretch if he wanted to hold our hands or go through by himself, he picked up the pace and said ‘By myself!’.

First race number

First race number

Monday: Last-minute before bed run, oops!
Tuesday: School run run, swim session in the Serpentine
Wednesday: Local pool swim
Thursday: Slightly feeble cycle to the station and back, too busy for anything else 😦
Friday: Ride around the Velopark circuit (sigh) and a quick swim during H’s lesson
Saturday: 10k Summer Breeze race in Wimbledon (tenth lady!!)
Sunday: Women’s Mile and Family Mile at the City of London Mile.

All in all, a lovely active week 🙂

Running: 24.4km
Swimming: 3km 300m
Cycling: 43.7km

The Fit Family

The Fit Family

Juneathon 2015

Errr.

You remember Juneathon? I used to throw myself wholeheartedly into this (and its colder sister, Janathon), but in recent years I have decided I need to focus on my training and not knacker myself up by trying to run every day for a month. This June I’m sticking to that plan but still participating in Juneathon. ‘How so?’ you may ask, well I normally do something active every day anyway, so why not share it with everyone else and encourage others along the way? I will be doing my usual run/swim/ride combination, but making sure I log it (mostly via Twitter, but with a weekly round-up on here) and maybe pushing myself out of the door/into the water on days where I might normally have opted for the pyjamas/sofa combo.

If you’re a regular reader, you will know that I have been trying to overcome my slight fear of the open-water and this has become especially pressing as I have now gone and entered an open-water triathlon in July. Eeek! Action stations! Juneathon will be about me getting my head and body around this challenge so, to really get myself closer to that goal, I have signed up for a couple of coached sessions in the Serpentine in Hyde Park (yup, where you watched those elites showing off their nerve at the weekend). If you’re one of those people who happily leaps off a tree branch into a river, cheering as you go, you might wonder what I’m so afraid of. It’s certainly not the swimming, remember I took on a 5k swim (and all the training leading up to it) in April? I’m now a strong swimmer, I can carve up and down the fast lane with my head held high (though not too high. You know). I guess I’m afraid of the unknown, the darkness of open-water, the creatures, the weeds that might curl around my ankles, the cold, not being able to breath and – in competition – the other swimmers thrashing around me. But I am going to overcome this.

I do need to get myself kitted out with a wetsuit though. My lovely friend Siggy has lent me her wetsuit, but I am yet to actually get it wet! I have taken it on tour, but it has stayed very neatly packed in its nifty bag…

Wetsuit on tour

Wetsuit on tour

If anyone has any tips on (budget) wetsuits, that would be great. I have been looking at the Wiggle DHB wetsuit, and if anyone has tried it and can recommend it, I’d love to know (though they are out of my size at the moment!).

Something else I am going to use Juneathon to focus on is my diet. I do eat healthily, I don’t drink alcohol and rarely succumb to the take-away leaflet, but my default lunch or snack seems to have become toast, which can’t be a good thing can it? I am a typical Mum: my child is well-hydrated and full of fruit and I’m parched and probably only reaching my one-a-day. I keep reading fellow bloggers experiences of the Whole30, so decided I’d try and stick to that for the month (and beyond?). It’s not about losing weight or going hungry, it’s a kind of re-boot towards a healthier diet. Since it means no bread for a month, I can see the toast-for-lunch thing getting smashed to crumbs (though this will be hard!). My book arrived today, so yesterday I just did a combination of guess-work and gleaning ideas from blogs. Now I’ve got the literature, I can try out some recipes and be a bit more informed. I shall update you on this when I write my round-up at the weekend…this will be way trickier than being active…mmmmm…toast.

Magnificent March, A Round-Up

At the beginning of the month I decided to re-brand March as ‘Magnificent March’. I didn’t share this with anyone, it was just in my head. It wasn’t one of the ‘-Athons’ or ‘-Tastics’, just me and my challenges to overcome. When I was struggling with a run or tiring mid-swim, I would shout ‘Magnificent March!’ to myself and the pace would lighten and a little surge would happen.

It was a busy month, with two half-marathons and some of the longest swims I’ve ever done. After a PB at the Brighton Half, I went on to run a *tiny* bit faster at the Richmond Half, securing another PB. On a roll, I decided (prompted by Edward) to undertake another half-marathon to see if I could go that little bit faster and hit 1.50 mark. The next ‘local’ race was the Paddock Wood Half, but it was sold out. Luckily I was able to transfer a place from a friend of a friend who couldn’t run (why don’t more races do this?). Unfortunately the PB streak wasn’t going to continue, with the conditions (wind and rain and general grimness) not being in my favour and a hideous state of GI discomfort from the half-way point rendering me pretty useless (yes, I did have to duck behind a much-welcome wall at around the nine mile mark). Eek!

This was my first race wearing my Kent AC club vest (I’ve had the vest for about a year, but have never really thought about wearing it!). Sorry I didn’t do it justice, fellow club runners!

Clubbing

Clubbing

As I turned a corner into some serious head-wind at around mile eleven, I slowed to an uncomfortable walk, only to be picked up by a friendly ‘Come on Adele!’, a fellow parkrunner, who accompanied me to the finish line, thank you Ian! It was a great race and certainly does have PB potential, being flat (ish) and scenic. It’s very well organised, with efficient baggage storage, well marshalled and friendly support and even a marshal telling you which portaloo to go to. I’ll give it another go next year, maybe that’ll be the day for a super-PB.

Lovely Medal

Lovely Medal

In my post-race state of illness, I didn’t register how lovely the medal was, just felt happy to get home, into the bath and then to bed (very weird for me). You do see this scene all around the course, so it’s worth entering just to see a bit of Kentish countryside.

Alongside all this running, my swimming has been going from strength to strength, with the Swimathon just around the corner. I have been following the schedule closely, so closely in fact, that I noticed a discrepancy in a couple of the weeks’ distances. I like to scribble the lengths down on a piece of paper and seal them in a little waterproof bag to peruse poolside, but found the lengths didn’t add up, meaning a shorter distance. I got in touch with the Swimathon team and they sent me an amended schedule promptly 🙂 This week I have completed two swims of 2k and today I swam 3k. The furthest so far has been 4k – 4k!! I know! Only another 1k to go and that’s the full distance. I really didn’t think it was within my reach when I signed up, but I’m proving myself wrong <<<this is good.

“But what about the cycling?” you may ask. I did dust off my road bike and give the tyres a little pump a few weeks ago, when I was invited to meet the people of ashmei at their headquarters in the Hertfordshire countryside. I had been shortlisted, along with a fair few others, to possibly become an ambassador for the brand. The plan was to either join the others on a run or a ride and I decided it was the perfect chance to get out on my bike, and made my way up, all lycra-clad and eager. Getting off the train in Tring, I met a few other would-be-ambassadors and headed over on my bike, to be greeted by a gate that opened as I approached. Small pleasures. We were quickly mingling and exchanging Twitter names (I found I already ‘knew’ quite a lot of people already) and then listened intently as Stuart, ashmei’s founder, told us all about where they were coming from and where they were going. You might already know about ashmei’s (rather lovely) products, which are made from merino – super wicking, non-stinky, soft as – and have a distinctive colour-way and cut. We were all treated to a pair of socks to put on straight away and test on our ride or run.

Soft socks

Soft socks

People quickly gathered outside, next to the lovely AirshopPhoenix and off we went.

Runners

Runners

Having a look around at the other cyclists (and triathletes, I discovered) and their super-bikes and top-notch gear, I felt a little out of my league, but I’m not one to be put off by such things, so got chatting to a couple of people and set out to enjoy the ride. It was so good to be out pedalling again, but I soon found myself away from the pack with another cyclist, Cav (thankfully!), and well, lost! The group had pulled away and left us behind, turning a corner and going out of sight. Oh dear. We looked at a fork in the road and went on instinct. We may have lost the group, but we would enjoy our outing. After a few ‘this way, or that way?’s, we made it back to HQ just as the runners were tucking in to the post-exertion snacks (and a little ahead of the other riders 😉 ). The volume levels increased as people chatted, all glowing from a good, sociable run/ride. Photos were taken and off we headed.

Photo-taking

Photo-taking

I spent the return journey in the company of new friends, talking endlessly about running/riding/adventure (oh yes). Goodbyes were said and Twitter buzzed with the excitement of the day and a slight curiosity about what ashmei were looking for in an ambassador. I didn’t get selected, but you can read about the three people who did here, here and here. Maybe Google them too, they have done some interesting things!

And so into April I go. Awesome April maybe? My Swimathon is two weeks away and then I will be focussing on the Crystal Palace Triathlon. I can’t wait 🙂

Adventures in Open-Water Swimming, Part 2: Brockwell Lido

On Thursday I decided I would head over to Herne Hill on Friday morning to get myself some laps at Brockwell Lido. When I woke on Friday it was slightly cooler and a little overcast, but I thought ‘Oooh, rain! Rain!’ imagining it might be fun swimming in an outdoor pool in the rain. As I made the journey after the school run, the clouds moved slowly away and the sun started to emerge. I stepped off the bus and was immediately stopped in my tracks by this beauty:

Stag

Stag

I then went up the steps to the promise of prosecco…

Nice signage

Nice lido signage

There’s a quite tantalising feeling as you approach the entrance and pass an old-fashioned turnstile exit, catching a glimpse of the bluey water. The chap on the desk was friendly and directed me to the indoor changing, where I found myself straight into conversation with a regular swimmer. I get the feeling there are lots of regulars here, with lots of camaraderie and jolly chatting going on. I talked about how I was embarking on a tour of London’s lidos, but had to cut short any detailed questioning by pointing out this was only number two! I did say that, although Charlton Lido is heated, it’s still pretty cold. A knowing look passed quickly across my fellow swimmer’s eyes as she relished the moment I stepped into ‘her’ pool…

The pool

The pool

I found the lockers at the edge of the pool (£1, returned) and sauntered slightly gingerly towards the steps. Up to my knees I went – gasp! – to my thighs – gasp! – to my waist – yelp! – and one, two, three, dunk! Well, it is most certainly colder than Charlton! This was, of course, the moment when my fellow swimmer chose to walk past, turning to me with a cheeky smile. Once I had bobbed about a bit and attempted to immerse my face, I noticed that everyone went through the same routine as they entered the water (this would make a lovely little film…). There were lanes marked out to one side, but these were being used by a club (I think it was the Windrush Triathlon Club, some wetsuit wearing going on), so the rest of us were resigned to a bit of lane-carving activity and much polite avoidance. I have noticed during my 50m pool swims that everything evens out a lot more easily over this longer distance, more time to move over and a generally more patient and respectful sort of environment. I did find the cold water quite a challenge, with my breath catching in my chest and shallow gulps stopping me putting my face in for a while, so a few breaststroke lengths before I could commit to full-face immersion.

When I did put my face in, I noticed the pool had a rough concrete surface, painted that lovely blue, with a brown line of dirt gathering along the edges and, as I approached the deep end, it suddenly came back to me that I once stood in the pool when it was empty! All those years ago, when I was an aspiring dancer at Laban, I joined a group of other dancers as we planned a performance in the then disused and run-down lido. How magical it was to climb down the steps and walk and move around in a space that had been invaded by buddleia and left forgotten and crumbling. And now here I was swimming in this space again. I carved my way through a mile of swimming, occasionally lifting my head to take in the clouds, the birds and passing planes.

The difference between water and air wasn’t as marked here as at Charlton, so I hung around a moment while two other swimmers finished in the two pool-side showers, oh the joyous feeling of warmth as the showers restore some colour to your limbs! Time for a brisk rub-down and a quick cossie-spin in the cool cossie-spin-dryer (I wish all pools had these, genius) and a saunter over to the cafe to try and reduce the blueness in my lips.

Cafe pom-poms

Cafe pom-poms

The cafe here is a bit swankier than over at Charlton, and can be accessed without a swim, so gets busy, meaning you are not always guaranteed a seat outside. This time I was actually happy to cosy up indoors and warm myself back up with some coffee and cake (I was shivering, really!).

Restorative

Restorative

And then to head home…but I can’t visit Herne Hill without popping in to the Oxfam Bookshop. Well, it is next to my bus-stop!

To the Spitfire

School holidays are always tricky for someone who likes a bit of consistency in their training, but I seem to have managed to keep up my training over Easter (although the swimming took a bit of a back seat). I was starting to get a bit anxious about the lack of cycling going on, as the triathlon gets ever closer ( just over three weeks to go now!), so Edward suggested getting out on my bike on Easter Monday. I was a bit excited about this prospect and lay awake, twitching at the thought of whizzing along the roads on my lovely bike. My main worry has been getting lost…I know, I know, so Edward suggested using Google Maps, which can be set to give directions, so I got that going and, after way too much faffing, I set off on my merry way.

My solo ride gave me the opportunity to try out my new cycling shirt from Tribesports. I have found it hard to find a cycle top that is long enough, doesn’t ride up around my middle but is nice and close around the arms and shoulders, but this one does the trick and also looks rather lovely too.

Selfie with cheeky imposter

Selfie with cheeky imposter

The stay-in-place ability of the top is helped by these neat little rubber grippy nobbles on the seam around the bottom. Another nice detail is the little zip pocket in addition to some larger pockets, allowing you to secure a bit of money, or your phone (though I found the bigger pockets more easily accessible and deep enough to keep a phone safe).

2014-04-24 14.26.18

So, bedecked in lycra, I took to the roads of South East London, and was soon heading into unknown territory on a quiet Bank Holiday morning. In my state of general nervousness, I had to stop every time I came to a new junction and check my map…numerous cyclists passed me by, doing the nod and probably muttering ‘Amateur’ under their breath. Whenever I reached a quieter stretch of road, I went for it, picking up speed and noticing just how smiley cycling makes me…I can’t be the only person (adult person that is) who goes ‘Weeeeeeee’ as they cycle down hill.

Magnificent

Magnificent

In what seemed like no time at all, I was seeing signs for Biggin Hill and was soon speeding along the road that takes you to the Spitfire. Of course, I had to pull over and take a photo, I was pretty chuffed to have reached this point. As I looked at my map, I could see that I could keep on going towards Westerham, but decided I should turn here and head for home. The return leg was less consumed with map-studying – it always seems much easier to navigate home. My competitive streak kicked in as I tailed some fancy-schmancy riders and I felt fresh, with enough fuel in my limbs to go further. Next time.

So that’s 40k of solo riding.