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?! 😉

Advertisements

Lidl Bananaman Triathlon Race Report

Who wouldn’t enjoy a race that involves this journey to the venue?

Happy cyclists!

Happy cyclists!

As we don’t have a car and I needed to transport my bike (and Hector was super keen to try out his new bike), we took all of our bikes on the train to Windsor and rode the two or so miles to Eton Dorney along the Thames Path. At the station we saw people dismantling their bikes to put into taxis…no need, just ride! And look at what greeted us on arrival!

The lake.

The lake.

I was a little taken aback at the vastness of the lake – with it being a purpose-built rowing lake, it’s loooooong. I took it all in, clocking the inflatable buoys and breaking it down into the little chunk that I would actually be tackling later on in the Lidl Bananaman Triathon. Phew. It is a stunning venue and the party was already in full swing, with little ones tearing around wearing medals picked up in the Scootathlon and older athletes already exiting the water for one of the earlier waves of the triathlon. Feeling relaxed and a little bit excited, I got myself a cuppa and headed over to registration where I was given everything I needed, promptly and with a big smile.

Registration

Registration

As the event was sponsored by Lidl, there were mountains of bananas, as much water/juice/crisps/cereal bars as you could ever need and a barbeque for competitiors and spectators, now how many events boast such hospitality?! With it being about 10.15, my support crew needed a pre-lunch lunch.

Hungry boys

Hungry boys

I paced up and down, checking out the swimmers, making sure the entry into the water wasn’t too scary and making sure I could see the bike out/run out points – not sure why, but the signs for these are often placed at ground level and, once transition is full of bikes and people darting about, it’s difficult to see where they are. Any chance these could be identified by a flag or something? After numerous nervous loo-visits (oh, how the tri-suit is the enemy of such pre-race nervousness!), I decided I should just get on with it and set up in transition. At this point I switched my Garmin on to get a signal and found that the battery was flat. After a minor hissy fit, I decided that it didn’t matter and I would embrace ‘going naked’, could be interesting!

Still relaxed!

Still relaxed!

Before long I was pulling on my wetsuit and heading to the water. Eek! Now, I’ve been very carefully preparing for my first open-water triathlon, with wetsuit-specific coached sessions and solo swims to build confidence, so I was totally thrown when given the option to go without a wetsuit – if the water reaches a certain temperature you have a choice. After much umming and ahhing I decided to stick with what I had planned – Edward pointed out that I had taken on this particular race as a practice/test event for future races and should use it to try out the wetsuit in the swim and transition. I’m so glad I did, the water didn’t feel that warm! I was in a women’s wave (complete with bright pink hats, oh yes) and we all bobbed about, acclimatising while the race organiser gave us a briefing then quickly sent us on our way with a loud parp of the horn. Cue lots of ‘Ooh, sorry!’ and ‘Oops!’ comments from my fellow swimmers, really! And I had heard horror stories about being kicked, ducked and having your goggles removed. How very civilised!

That's me, there!

That’s me, there!

Interestingly, I found this open-water swim easier in terms of managing panic than the pool tri in May, as there was nobody tapping at my heels, I could take some deep breaths, compose myself and do as much breast-stroke as I liked 🙂 And I did. Even after swimming front-crawl up and down the Serpentine Lido, I found myself bobbing along, head in the air. I did a few stretches of front-crawl as I grew more confident and off I went. I did it! I climbed up the ramp towards transition, whipped off my wetsuit like a pro and legged it to bike out. Yesssss!

The bike course was 21.2km, so four laps of a perfectly flat and lovely smooth road (it was pretty twisty and turny in places though and quite windy). The bike is always my favourite bit of a triathlon and I flew around, smiling all the way. Each time I reached the start area I was given a huge cheer by my crew and sent off into the next lap. After all my training sessions at the Olympic Velopark, I was swiftly pulling out my drinks bottle and taking a swig, unlike previous races where I’ve ended up dehydrated and turning green. Oh, what a difference a few swigs of electrolyte replacement makes.

Time to hang up my bike and pull on my running shoes, but not without banging my head on the bike rack first and shouting ‘B*ll*cks!’. Sorry. By this point it was hot and the run route was an out and back stretch fully exposed to the sun. I kept giving myself little pep talks: ‘Relax your shoulders. Light on your toes. Head tall. Arms lower.’ – this all really helped, especially at the point where I realised it wasn’t just an out and back, it was an out and back and out and back again. This is also where I appreciated my on-bike hydration and enjoyed a tri-run without crippling cramp. Carrying on the pep-talk, I soon turned to face the finish and picked up the pace towards the barbecue smoke and the giant Erdinger glass to give a little sprint through the arch and a very happy ending.

Thank you Hector for the photo!

Thank you Hector for the photo!

A few sweaty high-fives, a hug from a giant banana and I found myself holding a pint of ice-cold beer and a burger. Result! (I must point out that this was alcohol-free beer and bloody good it was too!). Hector punched in my race number to the machine that pumps out results and I could see how I had faired, competing somewhat blindly without the Garmin feedback…

The numbers

The numbers

I can’t really compare directly with my last triathlon because the swim distance is shorter and the bike slightly longer, but it’s a tri-PB for the bike and run (and check those transitions!), so I’m very pleased. Best of all was the fact that I could see that my training is paying off, I didn’t have cramp and I felt amazing afterwards as we cycled back towards Windsor. Thank you to Human Race for giving me a place – I’m already looking up future events at Eton Dorney and will be back next year to see if I can smash those times.

Juneathon Week 4, A Round-Up

Oops, sorry, it was a busy week last week (an eighth birthday to plan and enjoy), so my Juneathon round-up is ever-so-slightly late! I’ve kept at it, I’ve been consistent throughout the month and really enjoyed having that little push on days where I might have given it a miss. My final week was a very wet one, trying to keep cool in the water. I swam a total of 6.5km over the week, not bad! Starting at my local pool, heading over here for Olympic Day:

50m of loveliness

50m of loveliness

and heading back to the Aquatics Centre for some birthday-boy fun at Extreme Aquasplash:

Extreme!

Extreme!

I must admit, I slightly wussied out on this one: I managed one circuit and quickly realised I’m not a natural faller-inner, preferring to cling on tightly with a fearful look in my eyes. I left the boys to their wildness and opted for a lovely swim in the 50m lane, pausing every so often to enjoy watching Hector’s antics. My Juneathon came to a slightly abrupt halt on Hector’s birthday, when I simply couldn’t fit in a formal activity (I was running around like a loon) so made up for it the next day with two activities (I’ve doubled up on quite a few days actually, something I hadn’t really realised I was doing!).

Wow!

Wow!

On the last day of June I ran hard in the heat, tackling some local hills, then found myself stuck on a hot train on my way to the Serpentine Lido, where I should have been carving through some refreshing water. I got there in time for the second half of the session and realised that I might just have got over my fear of the open water.

Lovely lido

Lovely lido

…which is perfect timing since I have my first open-water triathlon this Saturday!

Monday: A lovely swim
Tuesday: For Olympic Day, a swim in the Aquatics Centre then a tough hilly club run in the evening
Wednesday: A hot and sticky run with a friend
Thursday: An errand-running bike ride
Friday: Friday road date at the Velopark and a swim during H’s lesson
Saturday: Some fast and furious setting out of cones for parkrun and lots of mobile cheering 🙂
Sunday: An awesome birthday Extreme Aquasplash session at the Aquatics Centre

Monday: Just a lot of running around after the birthday boy and friends!
Tuesday: Hot hill session (to make up for Monday) and a swim in the Serpentine

Again, another varied and fun week!

Running: 12.9km (oops!)
Swimming: 6.5km
Cycling: 51.7km

So, my total for the month is:

Running: 70.8
Swimming: 11.55km
Cycling: 116.2

…all across 35 activities 🙂

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.

Jumping Straight In

In my last post I talked about my experience at the Crystal Palace Triathlon, where I was once again overcome with panic in the swim…even after my epic 5k Swimathon and the many miles of training that got me there. Not one to be put off by a bit of fluster and wheeze, I’m diving straight in and have another triathlon in my diary in July, one with the colder, more exposed kind of swim, one with a swim that doesn’t have clear water and a blue line along the bottom to keep you heading in the right direction. Gulp.

Smiley Swimmers

Smiley Swimmers

The lovely people at Human Race have given me a place in the Lidl Bananaman Triathlon and I’m opting to tackle the shorter, more newbie-friendly ‘Banana Fritter’, which will see me glide (!) through a 400m swim, spin out a 21.2k bike ride and leap, gazelle-like over a 5k run. Yes really, that’s exactly what it’s going to look like on the day, I promise you 😉 I see this as the perfect way to tackle working towards an Olympic distance triathlon in September: this one will be fun, I won’t put any pressure on myself to achieve certain times and I will tuck in hungrily to the barbecue afterwards!

The Human Race triathlon series has just been released for 2015 and there are 15 different events to choose from, ranging from shorter events for first timers and those looking to smash a PB over a sprint or super sprint distance, to longer events for triathletes who want to step up and test out their endurance skills. There is even an event aimed at women who might be new to triathlon or simply prefer to participate with other women and take the chance to encourage their friends to come along and join in too. The Shock Absorber WomenOnly Triathlon is on 12th July and offers a supportive and encouraging environment which is perfect if you’re a slightly nervous first-timer.

Discount!

Discount!

To give you that little nudge towards taking the plunge, Human Race are offering £5 off your entry to any of the triathlon events left for 2015! Just take your pick from the events on offer and type in the discount code KISDISCOUNT and, if you happen to be there on July 11th, leave some barbecue goodies for me!

Crystal Palace Triathlon 2015

Oops, I did it again, or something like that. Yup, this time last year I did my first ever triathlon and on Sunday I had another go at it. This time I had Edward’s company (and the little fella, who cheered us on alongside our friend Sally). Having a fellow triathlete in the house meant dealing with someone else’s stresses and niggles in the run up and only added to my own stresses and anxiety levels (I do sometimes wonder why I do these things). So off we went, with Hector saying: “It feels like we’re going on holiday” and met up with our friends down the road at Crystal Palace.

On our way

On our way

We all had different start times (you give an estimated swim time) and, at one point, it looked like Edward would be hotter on my heels than we had anticipated, but (thankfully) there was a delay and chips (timing chips, calm down) were being handed out then we were called in number order. This delay meant we got to sit in the viewing gallery with our ‘fans’ for a bit…and I got to build up my adrenaline a little bit further. You may remember that last year I didn’t particularly enjoy the swim and experienced panic as I took to the water. This year was going to be different. In training for my recent Swimathon, I have covered many kilometers, reaching my goal of 5k in one go, so this would be a doddle. But it wasn’t to be. I climbed down and straight away felt a sense of deja vu, my breath shortened, my chest tightened and my limbs felt weak, I was panicking again 😦 A length of heads-out breast-stroke, a tentative face-in-the-water, some more breast-stroke and a few stronger lengths of front crawl. By now the faster swimmers (Edward included) were coming up behind me, wanting to overtake. I felt a tap on my foot so moved aside at the wall to let someone through (an excuse for me to take some deep breaths). What was happening?! I felt so upset, after all my hard work. About half-way through the 750m swim, I stopped at one end and lifted my goggles off, I was going to get out. Looking around I saw Sally and Hector jump up, waving the Hilly Fields parkrun banner, I felt such a surge of support from them, I couldn’t let them down. On I went, slow and steady, I wouldn’t get anywhere near the time I know I can do, but I would make it and get on my bike for the next leg.

Where's my bike?!

Where’s my bike?!

Of course, the bike was excellent fun, though I did notice that things feel a little different when you start a bit later…there seemed more evidence of bike knobs and some really aggressive and thoughtless riding (yes you, silly arse who undertook me on the chicane and had the nerve to have a go at me, you inconsiderate tw*t), it also felt more crowded than last year which meant you really needed your wits about you. This is a nine lap, 20km course with a sharp hill that slows everyone right down, a steady climb then some super speedy descents (with a tight bend at the bottom, cue me holding tightly to my brakes, wuss). During this leg I was overtaken by Edward and also Stephen, this messed with my head slightly – because everyone starts at different times, you lose a sense of where people are and how far they have left to go…these two were fast and were basically leaving me behind 😦 I didn’t see any of our other friends en route, but I smiled each lap as Sally and Hector leapt up and cheered for me, banner in the air. Somehow I managed to keep track of the nine laps (this is so hard! Many people employ various tricks such as tape on handle bars. I feel for those – some of our friends included – who mistakenly added a lap). Into transition and the wobbly legged run. Both transitions I ran in to the wrong section, I really wasn’t focussed, so had to duck under with my bike until I located my stuff! Quick faff and a fumble and off I went.

Caution!

Caution!

Numb toes. This is what I remember most about the run, my toes had gone numb during the ride. It sort of helped in that it distracted me from the challenge of running 5k after the other two exertions. Up the little hill I plodded, onto the humid grass section, around the tedious car-park bit and – weeeeeeee – down the hill…twice. It’s a relief to head left into the stadium on lap two, a brisk trot around the track, a cheer from Siggy: “You look strong!” (‘I don’t feel strong’) and a last little push to the finish line. Once I had composed myself I gave Hector an extra big hug and congratulated my friends, who had all done brilliantly – Edward smashed his first ever tri, with a time of 1:23 (on no training, jammy bugger), he does now appreciate just how hard it is, telling me that he thought he might vomit during the bike leg (no thought of slowing down though)! One of our parkrun friends, David, who is a regular triathlete even took to the podium as the winner in his category. Wow!

Comparing my times with last year, I can see that even with a disastrous swim, I improved on that section, took a whole minute longer on the bike and a similar time in the run. Transition has improved (though I really faffed about) and I achieved an overall PB. I can’t say I’m over the moon, the horrible swim experience spoilt it for me, and I really, really want to sort this out ahead of my open-water tri in September…any tips welcome! But Hector said to me afterwards: “You should just be proud that you did it Mum”. Wise words.

One year on

One year on