London Duathlon, 2015, I did it!

Do you remember last year, when I tried really, really hard, forgot to take on fuel, had a tough time, then threw up at the end? Well this year was going to be different. When you have such a very long time to work towards a goal, it’s motivating, but also seems so far away that you only really address any big issues as it gets nearer. I had all summer to train, but ‘all summer’ includes the school holidays, where training gets a little less intense due to lack of time. I felt fit and strong in the run up to this race, but was struck by a particularly nasty cold about a week and a half ago. This meant my last full week of training was cut short and taper week was spent drinking lemon and honey tea and blowing my nose. Somehow I managed to keep the cold away from my chest and rather nervously gathered together my stuff and re-read Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography to give me a little psychological boost (it’s very good).

Lasti-laces

Lasti-laces

So, when Sunday morning came round, I did the quietly-trying-to-get-dressed-and-have-breakfast-without-waking-anyone thing and swept out of the house while it was still dark. Last year my two-strong support crew did a splendid job of cheering me around the course but, due to an earlier start time, they decided to do junior parkrun and swimming instead 😦 By the time I got to Waterloo Station, there were a few slightly tired and nervous-looking people with bikes. I got chatting to a chap called Andrew who was taking on the Ultra distance. Respect. It was turning into a beautiful morning, with blue skies and pink-tinged vapour trails and, when we arrived at Richmond Park, things were really getting going.

To transition

To transition

Once I’d faffed about a little, racked my bike, said hello to a fellow Kent AC runner, David and pinned my number to my top, it was time to leg it to the loo before starting the 10k run. It was at this point that I really wished I’d gone sooner, there definitely need to be more loos next year, people were hopping about anxiously, though the entertainment was quite good, watching men wrestling with tri-suits as they entered/exited the urinal area (yes, I was trying to distract myself here). When I eventually left the portaloos I had to run over to the start which, by now, consisted of a rather long line of people waiting to be ushered through the staggered start area. This is all organised really well, minimising the chances of crowds of runners filling the road which, in places is shared with cyclists. I would like to have positioned myself a bit further forward though, to avoid waiting around, getting nervous!

To the start

To the start

A countdown of beeps sounded and off we went. I could feel from the start that this was going to be difficult – the couple of runs I had done in the week, to test my cold-stricken body were very laboured and wheezy, so I took it steady, feeling the need to warm up fully in the first couple of miles. I quickly found myself in a to and fro with another runner of a similar pace, she would overtake me, I would overtake back and so on, pulling each other along. She did apologise further into the run for using me as a pacer, no need to apologise, I was doing exactly the same! The temperature was rising and I reminded myself of my fuel plan to avoid a repeat of last year. In the last kilometre, the other runner pulled away as I slurped messily on an overly sweet gel (they really are quite disgusting). T1 involved a quick drink, shoe change, grab bike and helmet and go.

I loved the bike course, I always look so much happier in the bike photos than the run! The stretch of road out of transition is quite narrow, with runners coming in the opposite direction and faster cyclists overtaking with an ‘on your right!’. The course was familiar and I knew what to expect as we rounded a corner and started to ease upwards. This hill is tough-going, especially on the fourth lap! There was a timer van at this point and the little speed-bump type mats felt rather big! It was always a joy though, to hear the cheers from the little crowds that had positioned themselves here, really encouraging people on, even running alongside someone who was pushing her bike. Once up and over, there are some great downhill stretches where I really let myself fly, well by my standards anyway, I was still being overtaken by braver folk. Some very tight corners, complete with straw bales and onto the flat for a bit. It was here that I had one of my loveliest moments, when a magnificent stag stood feet away with his family, lifted his head, opened his mouth wide and sort of mooed/roared at me! Not something you see in many races!

I knew from my watch and from how my legs felt (cramp had set in as soon as I got on my bike) that I was coming up to transition time, but couldn’t find a chance to take on another gel. I had stuck to my plan and had plenty to drink on the bike, so had the second gel as I changed my shoes again. This is where things get really hard. Running from the bike is always difficult, but somehow more so in a duathlon where you have already completed a run. I kept it steady and worked my way through the nasty cramp that had hold of my quads. A little walk. A little jog and so on. I overtook a man I had talked to briefly at the start, he told me I was doing well. I kept going. Another gel. I passed the spot where I had stretched then crumpled slightly last year. Another walk. I grabbed some water from a volunteer and we both did a double-take – a fellow club runner! I was now doing the ‘I’ll walk to that cone, then jog’ thing. For the last two kilometres though I really wanted to run, I didn’t want to take any longer than last year, so kept it steady and encouraged other runners that I passed along the way – you see many people stopping with cramp in this run, it’s really hard work. The finish was in sight and I pushed on through, grabbing my medal, t-shirt, water and a banana. I had done it! I had hoped to get under three hours (last year was 3 hours 4 minutes), but I had no idea at this point if I had achieved that goal (I doubted it), but now my only goal was to refuel quickly without being sick. I managed half a banana and a Goodness Shake before I felt a bit bleurgh, so sat down and took the obligatory selfie 🙂

Bling

Bling

Duathletes continued to trickle through and lots of people stood around stretching and refuelling, it’s always a rather slow journey home! Feeling ok, I gathered up my stuff and headed to the station on my bike, a nice gentle ride to loosen my already stiff legs. I hadn’t hit my time goal, finishing in 3 hours 10 minutes 31 seconds – the time was lost by running a slower 10k and taking a bit longer on the bike. Having a stinking cold is not the best preparation, but I’m glad I managed to finish and not suffer too much! Once I’d got home, had big hugs from the boys, drank tea, bathed and had a little lie down, it was time to enjoy some good roast dinner to really refuel, I definitely got to eat the last roast potato this time!

Roasties

Roasties

Thank you to London Duathlon for giving me the place. If you want to enter next year’s race, register your interest here and check out the distances – you can take a shorter challenge, or even a longer one if you’re feeling epic! I’d love to race at the London Duathlon again, it’s an excellent course and really well supported and organised…and I really want to go under three hours!! For now I will rest and recover, massaging my aching muscles and fuelling my body for Sunday’s triathlon – eek!

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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?! 😉

London Duathlon, why not join me?

Do you remember last September, when I made my duathlon debut at the London Duathlon? If you read back over my experience, you might be surprised to hear that I’m going back for more! Aside from feeling decidedly dodgy at the end, I had an amazing time and my time of 3 hour 4 minutes and 44 seconds definitely needs to be smashed – anyone for sub-3? I certainly learnt my lesson that day, and now know that you can’t compete for three+ hours without drinking and fuelling…oh dear! With a few more events under my belt, I feel confident that, this time, I will feel fresh-legged and raring to go as I exit transition for the final 5k leg (no repeat of the jelly-legs, please!). I will be taking on the Duathlon distance again, so a 10k run, 44k bike and 5k run, there are other distances to choose from, so you don’t have to dive straight in: take your pick from the Duathlon, Half-Duathlon, Duathlon Relay or, if you’re super tough, the Ultra Duathlon. Places are selling fast, so you’ll need to be quick – to make your decision a bit easier, you can use my discount code to get £15 off the entry fee, just type AdelePB in the correct box when filling in the entry form.

Good luck and keep an eye on here to find out how my training is going 🙂

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

London Duathlon, Sign up!

*Types really quickly so you can stop reading and get a place*

I’m all signed up to take on the challenge of the London Duathlon in September. I thought I should really go for it, so got myself a ‘Classic’ distance place, that is: 10k run, 44k ride, 5k run. Gulp. Last time I looked there were still places, but they’re going fast. Other distances still available are in the Sprint and Super Sprint (10k, 22k, 5k and 5k, 11k, 5k).

Jenni Falconer, Ambassador

Jenni Falconer, Ambassador

This is what Jenni Falconer, Ambassador for London Duathlon has to say: 

“The beauty of London Duathlon is that there is a race for everyone. Whether you are starting out on your first run-bike-run experience with the Super Sprint or are a seasoned pro ready to take on the Ultra – there is a challenge to suit all.

The event combines two of my favourite pastimes with running one of my favourite ways to unwind after a stressful day, while at the weekends I love cycling with my family as a way to keep fit. London Duathlon combines the two with a fantastic event village to keep the family entertained while you race. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy an unforgettable Sunday.’

London Duathlon offers four individual and one team challenge:

  • Super Sprint – the ideal distance for those new to multi-sports and aiming to set themselves a fresh personal challenge. Broken down into a 5K run, 11K cycle and 5K run, providing an achievable race for all abilities. Entry from £68.00

  • Sprint – suited to those short-distance specialists wanting to give themselves a new challenge over a 10K run, 22K cycle and 5K run. Entry from £70.00

  • Classic – the most popular distance at the world’s best duathlon testing duathletes over a 10K run, 44K cycle and 5K run distance. Entry from £80

  • Ultra – for the very toughest out there! The biggest challenge in multi-sports with participants taking on a 20K run, 77K cycle and finishing with a 10K run. Watch out for those jelly-legs after the cycle! Entry from £120.00 – SOLD OUT!

  • Classic Relay – get the team together and split the challenge between two or three friends each taking on one discipline over a 10K run, 44K cycle and 5K run. Entry from £125.00 – SOLD OUT

So quick, get yourself booked up and in training! I will be sharing my training on here, so join in and share yours too, advice and tips are always welcome, this is whole new world for me!

Run-Bike-Run, London Duathlon

No, I didn’t, but Cathy Jogblog did, in the wind and rain, go Cathy! I have, however, agreed to get myself over to Richmond Park next year for the 2014 London Duathlon, really! I can hardly complain that I don’t have long enough to train, and maybe I can somehow get a better bike in that time, but I think this is a goal that could take my training in some interesting directions (and moving into another discipline means a whole new world of apparel geekiness).

Competitors heading off

Competitors heading off

Here is some text about what happened on Sunday, when determined run-bike-runners battled some horrid weather to achieve their race goal:

15 September 2013, London UK: Over 3,000 runners and cyclists gathered today in the stunning surroundings of Richmond Park to put their cycling and running abilities to the test at the 2013 London Duathlon – the world’s largest event of its kind.

From 8:30am, athletes of all levels and abilities took to the roads of Richmond Park to tackle one of the five sold out run-bike-run challenges, either the Ultra distance (20K run, 77K cycle, 10K run), Classic (10K run, 44K cycle, 5K run), Classic Relay (10K run, 44K cycle, 5K run) Sprint (10K run, 22K cycle, 5K run) or the Super Sprint (5K run, 11K cycle, 5K run) ideal for beginners.

To ensure duathletes were in tip top condition, returning race partner RG Active were helping competitors get race ready with ability-specific training programmes and training sessions in Richmond Park, as well as other venues across London. Also supporting athletes was Totally Bikes (www.totally-bikes.com) specialist bike hire firm, which offered bikes for hire to fit all race budgets.

As the race began, whistles and cheers from spectators filled the air and Official Charity Partner, Macmillan Cancer Support cheered on its dedicated athletes from the sidelines.

To celebrate their achievement every athlete received a medal and goody bag featuring a snood from Official Sportswear Partner, Crewroom (www.crewroom.biz).

Following the excitement of the race, duathletes and spectators tucked in to hot food and drink in the Event Village. The Village played host to a range of experts including Bikelab (www.bikelab.biz) to solve any last minute bike maintenance issues and Move Clinics (www.moveclinics.com) which provided complimentary massages for finishers to banish post-race niggles.

Athletes could also commemorate their success with official merchandise from Crewroom’s dedicated stand.

London Duathlon was supported by Official Media Partner, Dennis Publishing (www.dennis.co.uk).

NOTE! This year’s event SOLD OUT, so make sure you book your place for 2014 here: http://www.londonduathlon.com

More than ‘just’ running

I was just reading this article on the Guardian website by the triathlete Eddie Brocklesby, who only started running at the age of 52 and now holds various triathlon and Duathlon records. Eddie is seventy. I do wonder sometimes if ‘just’ running is enough, or if ‘just’ running is a bit tough on the body, with the relentless up and down pounding. I wonder also if I would have the stamina, time and determination to train in three disciplines, and is training in these three areas kinder or tougher for our bodies, after all, an Ironman does run a marathon as the final leg of their event!

I received some information the other day about the London Duathlon, which is taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Richmond Park in September. This would be a great way in to multi-sport events, especially if you are uncertain about the swim section of a triathlon, as I would be. If you don’t know what a duathlon entails, there is some information here about the event and the various distances. It’s basically a bike-run-bike challenge and you can push yourself further by entering one of the longer distance sections or get together with some friends and work as a team in the relay event. Of course, I know I would be fine in the running sections, but can’t really picture myself in the cycle pack, trundling along on my heavy old mountain bike. I was reassured to read on the website though, that mountain bikes are allowed, but it is advisable to use road tyres. If you fancy trying something new to freshen up your training schedule and take your running in a new direction, have a look at the website and get yourself registered (there are discounts if you register before August 4th).