Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A shout out!

a.k.a. Flow

I've just seen that I got a shout in the Blogger News section of my favourite podcast, Two Fit Chicks And A Microphone! That's made my day, especially as I can now download the new episode to listen to as I fly to Vancouver tomorrow... thanks, Fit Chicks! But how embarrassing to be caught out being a blogging slackarse... *blush*

Photo: a.k.a. Flow by lars_in_japan, on Flickr

Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting adventurous

Something a little different - a Questars three-discipline adventure race weekend, comprising kayaking, trail running and mountain biking. I took part in this along with Clare and Rosie (as Tri-Girls Cubed), and Trish, Debbie and Debbie's friend Birgit (as Adventure Girls), making up two teams of three in the Novice Ladies category. The overall event consists of a number of rounds combining kayak, run and/or bike with a few other activities. In each round you have a map and notes for number of checkpoints for each activity; CPs have a points value attached and you 'dib' an electronic widget to get the points. The route and the number of CPs you do are totally up to you, but there's a bonus for completing a colour set and a penalty for coming back late.

The weekend went like this:

Friday evening: arrived and set up camp. The campsite (ok, field - this was not glamping!) was gently buzzing and the friendly atmosphere was one of the things that really made the whole weekend. Clare, Trish and I got our tents up in the dark, tucked into nachos (pre-race fuel of champions) from the catering tent, enjoyed a fabulous view of the stars in the absence of light pollution, and then retreated for the night as the cold and damp drew in. Well, Trish retreated to her four solid walls at home, while Clare and I toughed it out under canvas...

Saturday morning: a dewy and misty start (and early, with trains whooshing past from 0630), but the temperature soon rose as the sun appeared just in time for breakfast. Our team mates arrived and we prepped the bikes and enjoyed the campsite banter before heading off for the race briefing - thankfully pretty comprehensive, which allayed some of our novice nerves. An hour later it was time for round 1: up to 50 minutes' kayak, followed by running to make a total time allocation of 200 minutes. Paddling straight in a two-person kayak was the most difficult of the weekend's activities, and must have provided much entertainment for those watching. Still, we got a few CPs, returned the kayak on time, and headed out on the run. By now (~11am) the sun was blazing but thankfully the trails included many shady forest paths. We completed about 7 miles of running plus the teambuilding type activity (a compulsory check-in, even if you chose not to complete it) to finish in around 150 minutes - strategic thinking having suggested that finishing early and saving our legs for the bike was better than breaking our necks to try and get to and from just one more CP. Our score of 185 put us in third place for our class, with Adventure Girls ahead on 195.

After a couple of hours' break and it was on to round 2, a 150 minute mountain bike course with the challenge activity being a sample of the High Lodge orienteering course. We found this tough going after a morning on foot, but with 40 points on offer (as much as the highest-value CP) for a couple of miles, we decided to go for it at the start of the round. After that we clocked up around 13 miles on the bike trails around Brandon Country Park, and a rather nice fast stretch of the High Lodge exit road, pausing to help out when we stumbled over Trish dealing with a puncture, but clocking up 190 points to come top of our class in that event.

Another change of kit, some dinner (curry was on offer from the caterers, not ideal but it was that or nachos again!), and round 3 saw a night trail run of up to 75 minutes and the surreal experience of scampering around the forest with a bunch of other people wearing head torches. Feeling pretty weary by now, and mindful of the big final round in the morning, we took it easy and stayed close to home while the Adventure Girls ventured a little further and picked up 20 more points. We weren't the only ones run-walking, with some people obviously limping or otherwise suffering a bit. I managed to twist my ankle on an uneven track, and Clare's knee was also becoming painful, but we both held up well to complete the round and pick up 15 bonus points for coming in under 60 minutes. We sat around for a little while to wind down, but again it was getting chilly so we called it a night pretty early.

Sunday's round was all three disciplines, 240 minutes for novices, with a fixed 60 minute slot for the kayak and then the split between run and bike up to each team. With a couple of injuries between us and some impressive blisters that I seemed to develop overnight, Tri-Girls opted to play to our strengths and maximise bike time.We still had to hit one run CP to avoid a 100-point penalty, but with one about half a mile from transition that requirement was taken care of quickly to leave us three hours for the bike and the challenge activity (a brain teaser this time). We followed our previous successful strategy of heading for the distant, high-value CPs and covered around 18 miles in total, with just one "where the hell is it?" moment and one particularly slow trudge up a tortuous sandy hill (Harling Drove, which some may remember as the old off-road section of RNR stage 13). We came in with 15 minutes to spare and 335 points gained, second in our class just ahead of Aventure Girls with 300. We celebrated our finish with a dip in the river (some dipping more than others...)

All told, we amassed 800 points in just over 9:30 total time, coming second in Novice Ladies, with Adventure Girls hot on our heels in third, getting 753 points in 10:30. Nice job, ladies!

Overall verdict: absolutely fantastic! Of course, the incredible weather helped, and I'm not sure what I'd be saying if it had been pouring all weekend, but we had the most amazing time. We came home tired, sore, sunburned, blistered and bruised but with very big grins! The best thing was that the whole weekend was really friendly with lots of hellos and smiles when you passed other competitors on the trails, and a good buzz to the campsite. The team aspect was also a nice contrast to the often solitary nature of triathlons.

The season's over now, but I would really recommend these races to anyone looking for something different for next year. Entries open soon, and you can enter solo as well as in a team of 2, 3 or 4, and you can do a Duo event if you don't want to kayak. This particular one's right on our doorstep (and uncovers some glorious bits of Thetford forest to boot), but there are others, mostly down south, and including one-day events as well as weekends. The challenge is pitched just right so that you can push yourself a bit whatever fitness/experience level you start from - it needs a bit of thought and strategy as well as speed and endurance, and of course you can have your own little competition going if you're with friends! Here's hoping for more next year...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Heavy, man

Weight & Horoscope

I've neglected the blog a bit. Been bimbling along, same old same old - running seems to be a bit of a struggle in terms of getting faster, but it's still enjoyable so I keep getting out there. My niggly hip is not quite so bad at the moment, and doing non-running sessions seems to sort it out. Strange, but good!

The weekly routine is looknig approximately like this at the moment, but how it can be a routine when it seems to vary week by week I don't know!

Monday - club run in the evening
Tuesday - aerobics, provided there's no holiday substitute (as they're never as good!)
Wednesday - swim
Thursday - club efforts session
Friday - Gym
Saturday - parkrun
Sunday - social bike ride

I am making a concerted effort to get one good weights/strength session in per week. I'm feeling the benefit and enjoying the buzz of upping my weights/reps. At the moment I don't want to drop anything else from my week, but I know another session would be good... after Waveney I may give swimming the boot for a bit and really focus on strength. Or maybe aerobics, but that's *fun* where swimming, honestly, isn't really.

Today's session

Row, 5 mins
Plank, 3 x 38s (42s rest) (new time)
Twists, 3 x 15 @ 5kg (not sure what weight the next ball up is - might have to use a dumbbell to increase?)
Half pressups - 3 x 13
Biceps - 3 x 8 @ 8kg (new weight)
Squats - 3 x 10 @ 12kg (first time with weights - 6kg dumbbell each shoulder. Next time: grab an advisor to get the lowdown on the squat rack)
Lats - 3 x 8 @ 35kg
Triceps (cable): 3 x 6 @ 20kg (not so new, but done *properly* today, i.e. elbows fixed. Less rest at the top, harder work!)

So - a few weight increases, pleasantly fatigued afterwards, feeling good :) :)

Photo: Weight & Horoscope by wblj, on Flickr

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quick roundup


Back to normal on the knee front, so a fairly normal week/weekend (sort of):

Thursday eve: crikey. Sprint efforts on the cinder track with Richard in charge. 200m pairs relays, mixed-distance pyramid relays, 50m shuttle runs, all kinds of short sharp delights. The final 400m was about the hardest thing I have ever done. A very slow run back to base (all together, which was nice) with some severe cases of jelly legs. Wowsers. Come back Nigel!!

Friday: feeling the after-effects a bit, but managed a 3.5 mile lunchtime run with Natalia and Alice. Not fast, but not bad at all. My arms ached more than anything, evidence of my amazing sprint technique (and you can take "amazing" in any way you like...)

Saturday: parkrun not happening, uh-uh, no way. I thought the Friday run would loosen me up and leave me ready to at least amble round on Saturday, but no. Two sleeps is the killer for that old friend DOMS...  so, a quiet morning and the off to Essex (above) with the girls for a nice weekend :)

Sunday: "the usual", quick evening bike ride with Clare - biggest achievement, not getting wet! Had a little daft panic moment starting off on a barely-there hill, but no harm done apart from feeling an idiot. It was a good pace.

Photo: Wally, by me! From Mellisa's hen weekend.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back in the swing of things!

zero gravity

My knee seems fine. Wheeee!

Weekend: no actual exercise (oops) but I did cycle to parkrun (volunteering) and the shops, stand for hours on Sunday volunteering at the tri, and go for a little swim in the river.

Monday: 3.7 mile run with the club - all fine. No problems with my (mostly healed) blisters either.

Tuesday: aerobics, being careful of twisting and changing direction, but again no ill effects during or afterwards. We had a good old cardio set in the middle, which rocked, but I am looking forward to a new routine! Might miss next week due to a school group session in the lab though :(

Wednesday: 30 min steady but strong swim (short because I was fitting it in between classes). My right ankle (I twisted it a while back slipping on wet grass, but seem not to have blogged that...) started to ache, but my knee didn't! The whole swim felt good and today I'm feeling it in my shoulders, which is a pretty good sign of having worked well.

Thursday (tonight) will be efforts, Friday a gentle and probably short lunchtime run (meeting at 1.30pm), Saturday parkrun, and if I can make it (and if clean kit allows), a little run on Sunday morning too (hen weekend away).

Photo: zero gravity by [auro], on Flickr (CC-BY-ND 2.0)

Friday, July 1, 2011

After all that...

Othello Tunnels - Stretching into the Light

...I seem to be on the mend! A day strapped up yesterday, a good night's sleep with my knee on a pillow, and today is almost, well, normal. I'm being careful, and haven't had time to run anyway, but it's looking OK. I cycled in to work and that was fine. Clearly my knee is an attention seeker.

Volunteering at parkrun and then the Norwich tri this weekend, so no epic workouts for me, but I might try a little jog up the lane and back, maybe a bike ride on Sunday evening, and some strength work at home (no squats or lunges, though!).

Photo: Othello Tunnels - Stretching into the Light by That Guy Who's Going Places, on Flickr

Thursday, June 30, 2011


No Cop, No Stop, I Don't Care *Explored*

Still not able to exercise. My knee can go from being almost normal to making me hobble and sound like a chimp ("oohh! ooh! aahh!") for no apparent reason. Even though I figured it would be futile, I went to the medical centre this morning. Rest, elevate, ice and heat, painkillers, bandage, come back on Monday if it's bad, yada yada. At least I got a free tubigrip, but even that keeps rolling down.

I am going stir crazy. I really hope it's eased enough to allow a swim (with pull buoy to avoid kicking if necessary) tomorrow.

Photo: No Cop, No Stop, I Don't Care *Explored* by Sean Molin Photography, on Flickr

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ouch :(


What the...? I woke up this morning, and my knee hurts. (That sounds like the start to the worst blues song ever.) I feel like I'm not going anywhere for a little while.

I had a good night's sleep despite the 20°C temperature, don't think I was tossing and turning too much, but when I turned over first thing there was a definite OW moment. It seemed to settle down, I was able to get up and get myself to work (favouring one leg on the bike - SPDs would have been very handy), but after sitting on my arse for a couple of hours, it's bloody painful and I'm hobbling around like Long John Silver. Feels like I have twisted or otherwise strained it, rather than a bruise or knock. Barely any swelling, if at all. Hmph.

Until this point, it had been a good week. Well, possibly until last night, when I forgot my socks but decided to run anyway. Bzzt, wrong answer. Heel blisters threatening after 2 miles, and a walk home, with bare feet on the grass when possible. They don't seem too bad today but that's because I have a knackered knee occupying my thoughts!

The weekend got off to a good start with a gentle Friday run and then a guided river swim followed by a barbecue. Nothing on Saturday but a good day on Sunday, starting with 20 miles in the forest with Trish on her spare mountain bike, and then the usual circuit in the evening on the road bike with Clare and Alice. Followed by a cheeky dip in the river because it was bloody hot :) Feeling a tad saddle sore after all that, but a good day - biking the trails is fun, but hard work.

Photo: Pink by *Kicki*, on Flickr

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Successful outing for the stripes

Stripes @ Wollaton Park, Nottingham

My Conac club vest (not pictured above, but similarly stripy) had its second outing at the Broadland 5k series tonight. The rain poured just before and after but stayed off for the race (although with plenty of puddles around to ensure we got wet one way or another). I ran without a watch, not necessarily by design but it worked well - all I could do was go for it and not be tempted to slack. I ran a good strong race for the first half, including the hill just after 2km, and hung on to 3km but as soon as that downhill ended I ran out of steam a bit. About 4km I found a bit of energy and kept going right up until that last hill when (guess who) Mr "I'm going to take it really slow tonight" Mark appeared on my heels. Grrrr. He obliterated me on the last corner to beat me by 5 seconds, and I had nothing left to come back at him. SO ANNOYING! Still, I was a minute faster than the previous race, so I am well pleased with 26:40. But one of these days I shall have my revenge... (and in any case my age graded % is better than his, so ner)

Alice ran well at 25:35, and Claudia was under 30 minutes so pleased with that. Andy picked up an individual and a team prize, so a succesful night all round. Especially as Sue brought cake! Just not sure whether some people went to the wrong pub...

Since last week, I've mainly been running - Friday lunchtime (Bowthorpe marshes), Saturday parkrun (28:52 - nice easy run), and Monday (also lunchtime to fit it in around other stuff). Sunday was a rest day, including a massage and lots of lounging around at the spa/pool at Sprowston Manor :) On Tuesday it was back to aerobics again, definitely not a very high impact routine at the moment but Sarah did have us doing the old run around the room in the middle of the set, which helped raise the old heart rate. The final abs work felt very hard at the time, but there's not too much sign of that a day later! So on the whole I felt much fresher and more rested than I did for the last race, and it showed, but I need to sort out that last km for next time, dammit.

Photo: Stripes @ Wollaton Park, Nottingham by timparkinson, on Flickr

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Get lost!


I tried a little trail run* with the orienteering club tonight - not only did I not get lost, but I won a prize :) And (carto-geek alert) I got to keep the map.

It was great fun, although it somehow feels a little bit like cheating to know the area well beforehand - the paths were 99% ones that I run often at lunchtimes. There was only one that I hadn't been on, which I did miss first time around because it was deceptively narrow, but it didn't make a big difference to the route. Nonetheless I had to do the distance like everyone else, and think on my feet. It was an interesting experience to find myself catching up with people who were clearly much better runners than me, while they were standing looking at their map (usually followed by them overtaking me a few seconds later). However, on an unknown course that would undoubtedly be me scratching my head, so I consider myself to have enjoyed it while it lasted.

It was an informal affair, with a small number of edible prizes (I am liking this orienteering lark more and more already). My Mars bar was gained for "fastest lady over the final stage, barring those who already won a prize or went home before the presentations". My time (over my own personal route of 3.3 miles) was 32:26 or 9:49/mile average. Given that I ran out of steam at one point, that's not bad going. It was a good strong run but better than that it was bloody good fun. I think I shall do more when the season starts in September. Thank you, Norfolk Orienteering Club!

Since the last update, I have been a busy bunny and am feeling on top of the world. Friday saw a social run with Tally and Alice, a nice steady pace after Thursday's efforts. After helping rather than running at parkrun on Saturday, I went out for a bike ride around the usual loop with Kerry and Clare in the evening sunshine, which was lovely, and then when it rained (finally) on Sunday I did the without-weights bit of my strength/core circuit from the gym. However, on Monday my legs were pretty stiff from the lunges etc. so I hung out at the back on the club run and walked the last bit with Hannah and a couple of newer ladies. On Tuesday I made a return to aerobics and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially since I found I could cope with both the routine and the intensity - but only some of the abs work at the end. I think I will keep that session up for a few weeks. Then today included a swim as well as the trail run - my first foray into the pool since Waveney, I think, so just 30 minutes getting reacquainted with the water and seeing how my technique has fared. Not too bad, I think, but a more structured session next time will tell.

Photo: IMG_5802 by timbobee, on Flickr
* no, this is not an actual control point from the UEA course...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not quite ten thousand men...

Oh, The Grand Old Duke Of York..

...and I'm not quite elevating Nigel to the aristocracy (king of efforts though he may be). But yesterday there was certainly a lot of up and down hills going on, essentially just for the sake of it, but then again we know it's good for us. Over at the playing fields, we did 2 sets of 3 easy-ish hills to warm up, and then the last "set" was a cheeky surprise consisting of three hills per lap. I was in the "two laps" group, needless to say.

I just wish I hadn't decided to add weights to my squats in the gym the day before. Lazily (!) I started with 7kg each side, because that's what I use for the bicep curls in between lunge sets and I didn't want to be swapping (or hogging) 2 sets of dumbbells. I dropped down to 2 sets of 10 static lunges each side, and was certainly feeling it a day later if not at the time. Poor old quads... It was a good progression session (ha) overall, as I did 3 x 40s on planks, 3 x 15 on twists, and 3 x 20kg triceps.

Other than that, my week has involved a round the (Ketteringham) block cycle with Clare, a commuter-bike ride to Wroxham and back (24 miles), Monday night club run, and Friday lunchtime run with Natalia and Alice (actually a good gentle stretch for my tired legs). Not too shabby - plans are now that the weekend will see another bike ride and maybe a swim.

Photo: Oh, The Grand Old Duke Of York.. by zawtowers, on Flickr

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shady ladies

Through trees

Bloody hot again for a lunchtime run - mad dogs, Englishmen, yada yada. Natalia and I stayed in the trees as far as possible. A surprisingly comfortable run given it's #3 in a row for me, but probably because it was slow, only about 3 miles (although it's hard to map the twists and turns in the trees so maybe it was further) at 11 min miles.

Photo: Through trees by Autumnsonata, on Flickr

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Back to efforts


Thursday night efforts, in Eaton Park with Nigel at the helm. Two 1-2-3-2-1 pyramids, a minute in between each effort and 3 minutes between the two sets. It was my first club effort session for, oh, a million years or so. But... I wasn't at the back. I was kind of at the front of the back if that makes sense. I don't have any handle on pace, really, but I tried to imagine what I'd like to be able to run a 5k at (looking at it in terms of realistic aspiration rather than pipe dreams).

It was a hot day and it was hard, sweaty work turning myself into a human beetroot - but that's the point of efforts. I'd describe it as tough but do-able, so I reckon I pitched it right... calf cramp was threatening on the way back to base but it didn't appear during the session so that's good. I did wish I'd taken a drink - I was probably dehydrated by the end, which can't have helped.

I haven't done anything other than running since the lake swim at the weekend - the next day my nose/head was totally stuffed (allergic reaction?) and so I gave it a rest. Now I hear there's suspected blue-green algae at the lake, so I wonder if that's what it was?

Photo: sweaty. by dearsomeone, on Flickr

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First open water of the year

A point of view

Is it down to the lake I fear? Yes it is. Too early - Saturdays don't need two 8ams really.

The lake was colder, greyer and greener than I remembered. I always think of still summer mornings with the sun in a wide clear sky, the lake like a mirror, and the water a balmy umpteen degrees. Today wasn't like that.

After 100m I could breathe. After 200m my goggles had more or less demisted. After 400m I had feeling back in my face again. After 800m I turned around the buoy and into a headwind that was whipping up a few choppy waves - coming back took 3-4 minutes longer than going out, and at times I was aware of the swell.

Still, I'm glad I went. There's something hypnotically satisfying about just swimming continuously, getting into a rhythm and not turning. If I could swim in a straight line it would be even better :) Today's highlight was the hot shower and the cup of coffee afterwards - bliss. Even though there weren't any biscuits left :(

Photo: A point of view by angelocesare, on Flickr

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A little record

Not a PB, but a year's best at last night's Broadland 5k. So just a little record (groan). Perfect conditions, not too hot and not too cold, quiet roads, lovely countryside, a little bit of up and down but nothing serious. If they hadn't said it had been organised quickly due to some problem with the old Wroxham venue, you'd never have known. Loads of marshals and the best cake stall around (not that I had any!).

I had a really good run, considering I did squats and lunges the day before - a warm up eased my stiff legs (more or less), then the race was comfortable and rock steady at around 5:30 for each km. Although it was chip timed, there was no start-line chip mat so the official results say 27:43. It was 27:21 for 'im indoors, who sped off in front for the first km, slowed up for the second, dogged my heels for the next two and then pulled away up the last hill. Sneaky bugger. I'm not going to the gym the day before the next race, that's for sure.

Photo: Untitled by maxw, on Flickr

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blustery day

Trees and wind

Despite the energetic dancing of the trees outside, I agreed to go for a bike ride with Clare and Marie. Definitely a bit gusty at times, but not nearly as bad as we feared, and the sun and lack of traffic at 4-5pm on a Sunday definitely made up for the headwind. A lovely social ride - 24 miles via Barford and Wramplingham.

Yesterday I did parkrun (number 9 for me), 28:28 which is a personal second best - ran without a watch, with mp3 player, just doing what I felt like and could have sworn it was much slower than that. So the result was a nice surprise!

Photo: Trees and wind by nyoin, on Flickr

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm still here!


Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat since the tri, but I am still here, honest... I'm not quite back into the full routine but I'm getting there. I've veered between a shocking run(-walk) and a great 10k averaging 9:20/mile. I've been out around the block on my bike, had a just-stretching-out swim which was nice, and returned to the gym (just yesterday, as my muscles insist on reminding me).

I'm aiming for a parkrun bimble tomorrow and the Broadland (previously Wroxham) 5k next Wednesday. If the weather's good, a bike ride on Sunday is on the cards too. It's nice having no particular focus, but it may also be my downfall if it means I start skipping too many sessions. I'll keep an eye on that.

Photo: *shrug*, by me, on Flickr

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Back in the saddle (just about)

'08 06-07 171

My first sprint tri for two and a half years (!). The training I'd done was somewhat undone by a week and a half away from home immediately before the race, and it was a bit of a struggle at times - as reflected in my slow times for the bike and run, leading to a PW for the race. All of the newbies I brought along beat me fairly comprehensively, but I don't care. It was fun :)

The forecast heavy rain stayed away and instead it was pretty warm with a strong breeze. Nothing untoward apart from a minor gears issue while setting up, which was fixed with a bit of help from Alice's Andy. I did have to stop for a few seconds to be overtaken at the end of length 14 of the swim, only to then find myself stuck behind the guy. I've never had to let someone past before and it was kind of annoying especially to be then on his toes, but at least it was only for 2 lengths.

Alice and I started in the same wave - she was mere seconds behind me out of the swim as she had to wait twice to be passed, but caught me about 1/3 of the way into the bike and then gradually pulled away, even on the main road where I thought I might make up a bit. However, a bit of faffing in T2 let me catch up with her again and we started the run together. Not that we were together for very long - I had totally leaden legs for the first mile, which in a 2-mile run is not great. It definitely added a certain something to have someone else so close though.

Barney and Rom also did brilliantly, with Barney only just over the hour and Rom around 1:03.

Now to get fitter and bounce back at Waveney 2... hopefully a good summer will see me improve on the bike. Or maybe even a new bike would help :D

Results: W1'11 {W2'08} (W1'08) [W2'07]

Swim: 7:57 {7:28} (8:01) [8:46]
T1 + bike: 41:43* {39:50} (40:02*) [40:47] *includes T2 as well
T2 + run: 19:15* {18:05} (18:12*) [17:57] *does not include T2
Total: 1:08:55 {1:05:23} (1:06:15) [1:07:30]

Overall position: 97/150 {61/114} (88/130) [72/115]
Women's race position: 19/48 {9/29} (10/31) [15/36]
Age group position: 3/9 {2/5} (2/7) [5/10]

Photo: '08 06-07 171 by JeepFleeb, on Flickr - of course I look like this when I do a tri...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I Did On My Holidays

open to possibilities 2

Sums it up...

Well, not quite. But after the (relatively) super speedy swim from my previous post, I got stuck into some much needed spring cleaning and DIY over the (for once, glorious) holiday weekend and didn't do any training. The following week saw a 2-day conference where I did at least get out for a 30-minute run each morning, just to keep myself ticking over.

I had reasonably high hopes for the field course the following week, and duly packed two sets of kit. Sunday morning saw a 5-mile walk, but on Monday I finally got out for a wander along the path by the Ley, and back up through the village, trying to make it back so as to be able to shower before breakfast at 7.30am.

Little word, "up". But Devon has steep hills, for a girl from the flatlands, and "up through the village" might as well have been the north face of the Eiger. Ouch. So, what turned into a run-walk was actually the last of my training, as the rest of the week saw me too tired to do anything in the early mornings that were the only realistic time to go. And I freely admit that spending a few nights at the pub over the course of the week might not have been the best way to spend a taper... but dammit, I slept well :)

So, there we go. Excuse-ducks all in a row! I'm not feeling as excited about the race as I could be, just because I haven't had full control over the past week, but I'm still up for it. More "let's give it a go" than "bring it on", but sometimes life gets in the way a bit and all you can do is bumble on. Let's see what tomorrow brings. The forecast says heavy rain!

Photo: open to possibilities 2 by Chris Blakeley, on Flickr

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On fire in the pool

The water's on fire!

Yesterday's run was truly rubbish, and I felt crap about it all afternoon. I had a long stressful day after that, and this morning didn't go much better. I wasn't even supposed to be in the office, really we get Thursday and Tuesday as additional closure days, but I had too much to do. I planned to leave at lunchtime via the pool, but finally hauled my arse away from my desk at 3pm. I nearly, SO nearly just went home, but my swim stuff was right there... I gave myself a swift talking to, ignored the fact that I hadn't had any lunch (I'd had a banana and my two remaining Graze punnets, hardly starving), and went up to the pool for at least a short swim.

Once in there, I realised this may well be the last swim I get before the tri, seeing as I am away from Weds 27th to Fri 6th, just 2 days before. So, time for one last time trial, even if I'm not feeling up for it - 2 slow lengths to check goggles and nose clip (pah), and then off.

It was hard going. My stroke felt scrappy, desperate even. I had to fumble my nose clip back on twice, and then dumped it in passing at the end of one length in disgust - immediately getting water up my nose. I was breathing hard, every 2 strokes almost, and it felt like my legs were not kicking so much as having some kind of fit. I knew it was going to be bad, but I forced myself to push on. "If you can't swim fast, at least swim strong" was what I was telling myself as I reached and grabbed on to the water in as big handfuls as I could manage, but it felt leaden and messy, not at all efficient or smooth.

I counted lengths all the way, determined not to mess up like last time. Four, I'm a quarter there... eight, that's half... ten, into double figures... twelve, that's three-quarters done... fourteen, come on, last two... push that last one all the way to the end... grab, stop the watch, squint at it... HUH?


7:46 !!

No way. Is there any way I could have miscounted, should have swum an 8:46? No. It felt slow but not that slow. So 7:46 it is. That's 10 seconds off - insane.

After that I did four recovery lengths in a state of shock (and exhaustion), and then chanced my arm with 5 x 25m sprints - all at 23-24 seconds. Another four recovery and I called it a day and went home. Still stunned.

So, a rough and scrappy, slow-feeling 400m - 7:46.

Goes to show you never can tell... sounds like the cue for a song :)

Photo: The water's on fire! by Mukumbura, on Flickr

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Lyle's Black Treacle

Sticky weather, sticky suncream, sweaty hair, unwilling legs, sore hip, crap run. Bah humbug.

I don't know what I have done/am doing to my right hip. After running, it's getting quite stiff, especially if I then go and sit on my arse for a while like I do when I run at lunchtime. But it doesn't hurt as such, just feels like it needs a good stretch. Today my knees felt like they were coming out in sympathy, kind of creaky - often I just felt like I was running through treacle, pushing hard to barely move at all. Yet there were times when I felt I was running strong, if not fast, I was holding decent form and could just about maintain the pace.

Oh yeah, pace? Ha - not timed, not mapped, a few walks thrown in for good (bad) measure... maybe 35 minutes? This is not good. I have 2 weeks to pull this together, most of which I am spending away from home. Back to the spreadsheets I think.

Photo: Lyle's Black Treacle by Sifter, on Flickr

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Catch up

Friday: Gym session. Up to 3x10x8kg on biceps, 3x12x15kg on triceps, 3x35s plank, and other Good Stuff. Listened to the last Now Show of the series, managed not to drop any weights while giggling.

New Estate.
Saturday: Riverside run from the Aylesbury Premier Inn. Rock and roll! Actually it was quite nice... wide, surfaced paths along the immediate floodplain of the Thame, a minor excursion up to the top of a hill (bump) to look at the voo (as they say in Norfolk), and then across the river to follow an older path all the way over to the Bicester road, and back again. Lots of dog walkers out, but no poo in evidence (hurrah). Only later was I told about the woman who was murdered down there not so long ago. Damn. I'd have gone faster if I'd known.

Sunday: cheering on Tally (and 34,999 other people) in the London Marathon. And just for a change, not walking 10 miles while doing it, which Mark was probably pleased about.

Monday: Campus run with Conac, didn't log time or distance, probably 3-3.5 miles @ 10 min miles.

Today: biked the Intwood/Ketteringham loop with Kerry, not really a training session as such but I did reach the heady heights of 55kph on the downhill between East Carleton and the Ketteringham monument :)

Photos: 40/365 by Jack Fussell, Flickr, New Estate. by dlanor smada, Flickr, Tally at 14.5 miles by me, Footbridge across the River Yare, UEA by Nigel Chadwick, Geograph Cattle pasture south of High Ash Farm, Ketteringham by Evelyn Simak, Geograph

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bluebell run

Bluebells in Alsa wood, Elsenham

A bit early, they are only just coming out, but in a week or so this will be glorious!

3.5 miles (ish - there's more zigzagging in the woods loop than I can see from the aerial imagery) in 33:32 (so close...) = 9:32/mile, which is not bad for offroad. More to the point, it was pretty (but not as pretty as Monday when the sun was out and I went for a walk!).

Photo: Bluebells in Alsa wood, Elsenham by hungrybrowser, on Flickr

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


swimming polar bear.

The pool was quiet today, which was odd - I thought (school) Easter holidays would cancel out (university) Easter holdays. But no - I had a choice of 3 empty lanes. Perhaps the fact that it was BLOODY FREEZING had something to do with it (or maybe the pool suffered from the lack of bodies to heat it up?).

Anyway, 7 x 100 max (at uninspiring times ranging from 1:55 to 2:00) and 5 x 50m sprint (ditto, 55s to 58s). A guy got in with me and proceeded to do slowish front crawl, but I just timed the rests so as to keep out of his way completely or overtake him early on. When I moved to the next (empty) lane later, for the sprints, he was keeping pace with me doing breaststroke...

Photo: swimming polar bear. by Brad Cross, on Flickr

Monday, April 11, 2011

I dunno...

Question mark in Esbjerg

About 4.5 miles at Conac, with Jeanette and Emily and a few others. In the rain, but leading to a lovely sunset and, opposite, sunlit dark clouds. No idea of the time I ran for. Probably about 10 minute miles, but my pace sense is not the most reliable... Ah well. Call it a recovery run!

Photo: Question mark in Esbjerg by alexanderdrachmann, on Flickr

Sunday, April 10, 2011


P ä i v ä n s ä d e k ä s

Same bike ride route as last week. One more companion (Kerry). Same lovely weather. Added in three sprints (High Ash Road, and two on the B1135) after realising that I only have this and the Easter weekend left to do any proper bike training. Eeek.

The sprints felt great... for about 30 seconds each time. Then my quads started complaining - gently whingeing at first, but moving into full on Monty Python Dead Parrot mode. I was wary in case I got cramp, but that never materialised, so I pushed on. No idea how fast I went for the most part, because my bike computer was being temperamental, but on the last (flat, straight, headwind) sprint I was nudging (and struggling to keep) 30kph. I think gym + parkrun + lots of cleaning isn't really the best way to prepare (so no housework for me before the race :)

Photo: P ä i v ä n s ä d e k ä s by Pörrö, on Flickr

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Weak? Thought ee, too?

First parkrun in yonks today. There were about 199 more people than in the photo above :) Glorious weather, not a cloud in the sky - perhaps a teeny bit chilly in the shade, but that's all to the good. Keeps me moving. The cool headwind along the only incline was welcome too.

No watch so no pressure for a particular time, I was just out to enjoy it and I did. Despite stiff legs and various other aches from yesterday, it felt good to run and I was steadily passing people all the way. I couldn't put a finger on a time while I was running, but judging my pace as best I could I thought I was in with a reasonable chance of a PB (previous PB 28:35). It turns out I knocked 43s off, running 8:58/mile to get 27:52. Wheeee :D

About halfway I looked back down the course as I rounded a corner and saw Mark (training regime: bugger all) about 20-30s behind me. For the rest of the race I expected him to appear over my shoulder but he never did, and I had the fun of watching him sprint finish with a bunch of other guys (it was the timekeepers I felt sorry for!). It's not often I beat 'im indoors in a race so clearly the training is paying off - although I have to say I won't be doing weights in the gym the day before the tri. Now I'm wondering what I could do on fresh legs...

Photo: Weak? Thought ee, too? by harry harris, on Flickr

Friday, April 8, 2011


Strong Man Bot

Time seemed to fly by today at the gym, and everything felt good. Tricep pulldowns: 3 x 12 @ 15kg, no problem. Dynamic lunges: went on for ever, but fine. Bicep curls: need to go up to 8kg next time. Half press-ups: 3 x 10, not quite "no problem" but I did it :) Planks: 3 x 35sec, ditto.

Bring it on, world.

Photo: Strong Man Bot by Jenn and Tony Bot, on Flickr

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Steamy windows


By the time I got my goggles to actually stop leaking today, they were so steamed up I could barely read the (big, red, illuminated) clock, let alone my watch (had I even remembered it). I couldn't face removing them and having them start leaking again, so I just went with the fog. So, no timing for me this time. My nose clip was misbehaving again too - I wonder if it's just lost its springiness? Grr.

250m warm up
pyramid @ mod/hard effort: 50, 100, 150, 200, 150, 100, 50; 50, 100, 50
250m cool down

1500m total, just under 40 mins incuding rests and goggle faff.

Not concentrating on blistering (?!) speed today, but staying strong and keeping form. Turns were mostly pretty decent (one was a bit early and I barely touched the wall... duh), I was doing OK at kicking slower and from the hip, and given the way my shoulders felt by the end, catch and pull were not too shabby either :) I probably had longer rests in between the pyramid elements than I usually would, but it worked well for form (if not for developing endurance at that speed).

Photo: Heat by AmoraInk, on Flickr

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Phew what a scorcher


Today I went out for some of these (above), making the most of the short time I had at lunchtime for a run. Well, to be honest, being where I am, the hills are more like:


What made it tougher, though, was lots of this:

Blue Skies!

Which meant I had to run here:

Spring Green

So, 35 minutes. Didn't really count the distance but I did 10 hills altogether around the pitches/Colney lane/metal bridge area, with minimal resting (but slow active recoveries), playing around on the paths through the woods which were in very welcome dappled shade. Running back across the plain to the office, I could have sworn it was July, if only the leaves had all been out. I reckon 20-21ºC, easy. Plenty of people out enjoying the sun.

The hill reps were OK, given they were the first for a while. I felt good at the start, and even at the start of the later reps, but by the top of each I was gritting my teeth. Recovery jogs down again helped, though, and wending my way back after the last one felt a bit like the cool down on a swim, when I'm just flowing easily, all the effort done and dusted. Well, it felt like that until I hit the blazing sun and the sneaky slight uphill leading back to the office.

After all that, I definitely enjoyed this:


Photos: Nestled by .aditya., A-Molehill by tölvakonu, Blue Skies! by ..::K2::.., Spring Green by Turkinator, Shower by Woman of Scorn, all on Flickr

Tuesday, April 5, 2011



Woohoo - finally went sub-8 minutes on 400m today. Got off to a bad start by losing my nose clip after 6 lengths (weird, as usually it stays firmly put), reluctantly deciding to stop, and then noticing I never zeroed my stopwatch before I started. However, subtracting my memory of last night's run time I reckon I had done 6 lengths plus a push-off in 2:55, so it wasn't looking too shabby.

I did a couple of slow lengths to check the clip was sorted out and staying in place, then started my 400m again. It was a good swim, but I could tell it was getting sloppy as I got more tired, especially the kick - I reckon from behind I probably look like I am having a convulsion. It ended up as about 7:56, which (although some way off my best) is great. I'm very happy to be sub-8 again, and hope I can shave a little bit more off that over the next few weeks.

After that I did some drills as a mid-session recovery, and then pairs of 25m sprints, taking 35s for the first one plus a rest, and then having a longer rest after the second. I cranked out the first 25m in 23s, 22s and 24s (woohoo!), but was more like 24-27s on the second of each pair. Three of those wiped me out, so I called it a day and cooled down. Not bad for a lunchtime's work.

Photo: 7 by duncan, on Flickr

Monday, April 4, 2011

Team pink

Floating Marble

Club run tonight, youngster Chloe was there again so Claudia and I ran with her - 3.5 miles, just under 37 minutes tonight. Chloe and I were matching in hi-vis pink, and I'm running out of inspiration for a blog picture today so that will do :)

I could have gone for a quick trip around the Fiveways block after I got back, thought about it and probably should have done it but unless I get out there straight away it doesn't happen - if I pause and chat and stretch, I'm done. Next time I shall declare my intentions up front and then it'll be less easy to wimp out. I do need to up my speed training before the tri.

Photo: Floating Marble by spettacolopuro, on Flickr

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Social ride and sloshy run

Chaos in a Cup

After spending the morning marshalling at the Diss Duathlon, I went out for a lovely hour-long social ride with Clare - so lovely to have company on a ride, the roads were really quiet and the weather was perfect too. It's all good for getting used to the bike again and feeling more comfortable, having someone to chat to instead of fretting about stopping and starting.

I couldn't really call it a brick, but I did go for a run after I got back. There was a few minutes' gap between the bike and run, and I only went for 25 minutes' slow shuffle around the marshes. Mainly it was tough because I stupidly glugged half a bottle of water after getting off the bike and my stomach felt like a washing machine on slow spin cycle. Slosh slosh slosh... after about 20 minutes it eased, but my legs had had enough by then :)

Photo: Chaos in a Cup by DillonH, on Flickr

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wrong, wrong, wrong


Wrong frame of mind, wrong headspace, whatever. I had to force myself to go to the pool, and I just couldn't keep count, focus or do anything useful at all, so I just swam. Didn't help that most of the lanes were full, for some reason, and I was in with a lady doing 2 lengths for my 3 (even at my "just swim" pace). One of those days. At least I went!

Photo: meh by Яick Harris, on Flickr

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Noises off


For a change I didn't have my mp3 player on today - went over to Bowthorpe marshes for the usual circuit. It was a lovely spring day, I was enjoying the birds singing and the ducks quacking and the lambs across the river bleating... and then a pony I was running past farted really loudly. For a few minutes I couldn't run for laughing (as opposed to the usual situation of couldn't run for toffee).

Still feeling very stiff from Monday, I deliberately went out for a plod, and achieved my aim. 3.8 miles in 40 mins. But a slow run and a laugh were probably just what the doctor ordered :)

Photo: #98/365 by crumpart, on Flickr

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Catching up

Two of Arts - 2000 Visual Mashups
Sunday: a little swim and a little lounge in the jacuzzi, giving a few tips to Rom to help improve his swimming for Waveney. He's currently on 11 minutes, let's see how he does on the day! A little R&R was certainly on the cards, Saturday's 330m of climb also involved, let's not forget, 330m of descent, something my glutes are keen to remind me about every time I move.

Monday: double the fun, or should that be double trouble. A lunchtime gym trip (the usual, but swapping lateral lift out and shoulder press in, and moving up to stepped lunges rather than static) so as to leave myself free to help with the beginners' running session later. Except I wasn't needed on the run 1/walk 1 session and instead chaperoned new youngster Chloe on her first club run and longest ever at 34 minutes. We didn't quite make 10 min miles (3.2 miles in the 34 mins) but she was pleased and, given my lunchtime efforts, I was too!

Tuesday: feeling pretty stiff and sore today, but dragged myself off to the pool and managed 250m warm up, 8x75m max (1:25, 1:28, 1:27, 1:25, 1:28, 1:30), 200m drills, 4x50m sprint (55, 58, 56, 55), and 250m cool down to make 1500m total. Surprised at how good the times were considering how I felt, especially around my core. Since I worked out how to do russian twists properly, my obliques certainly feel it the next day.

Photo: Two of Arts - 2000 Visual Mashups by qthomasbower, on Flickr

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something different

Friday saw us in Preston for a wedding. Having had no time to do anything on Thursday (thanks to travelling), I squeezed in 4 miles first thing, choking for the first 5-10 minutes on fumes from the M6 and the traffic held up by nearby roadworks - I forget how clean and fresh Norfolk air is! Just under 10-min miles, which is not bad given the initial effects on my lung capacity.

On Saturday, after only a slight (cough) diversion en route from Preston to the Peaks (who knew the M60 just magically turned into the M62 and whisked you off to Huddersfield with no warning?), we met up with Emma and Rom at the Fairholmes car park of Ladybower/Derwent reservoirs, and went off for this walk. Total: 8.5 miles, 330m of climb, a chilly wind, and a blister. Day-old sandwiches (sorry, barms) hit the spot too. They were bought from local sandwich shop in Grimsargh that I'd spotted on my run, and intended to stave off any hunger pangs before the late-afternoon wedding breakfast, but were so northernly huge that we had no more than a couple of bites. After 330m they were absolutely delicious, although not quite as good as the burger in the pub that evening...

The photo's not mine, although I took a couple - will drag them off the camera later.

Photo: Back Tor (SK1991) by ron layters on Geograph

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If you go down to the woods today...

Blackthorn at Otmoor

...you're sure to end up completely knackered.

No, it doesn't really work, does it? Nor do my legs, now.

It was just too beautiful not to get out today, even though I had to squish a run in between a course and a seminar, which left me sitting in said seminar in my hi-vis pink top, with hi-vis pink cheeks and sweaty hair, eating my lunch and trying very unsuccessfully to be inconspicuous.

I did what turned out to be 3.5 miles with Alice, taking in as much nature and general greenery around campus as possible. The blackthorn blossom is out in abundance along the hedgerows and in the more open bits of the woods, but the trees are still more or less bare so there was lots of sun and blue sky to be had as well.

Going with Alice made it a bit quicker than I would have gone on my own, 33:40 or 9:37/mile. And I know there were some very slow bits in there (the map doesn't show all the wiggles through the woods) so there must have been some fast ones too :) But with the last 3 days being 8 miles, then 5 miles, then a mile swim plus 10 miles extra on the bike, I think I'm pretty happy with that. Must be all that sunshine.

Photo: Blackthorn at Otmoor by Jon Evans, on Flickr

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Throw me a line


250 warm up
150 drills
50 kick
600: 8 x 75m @ max (1:21, 1:24, 1:24, 1:26, 1:27, 1:27, 1:25, 1:26)
300: 6 x 50m @ sprint (54, 54, 56, 57, 56, 56)
250m cool down

End state: pooped, but pleased. Working at keeping my form even when tired and/or pushing it is paying off, little by little. And getting out of the office for a break certainly was a lifesaver today!

Photo: salvagente by ganaverre, on Flickr

Monday, March 21, 2011

'B' run

letter B

B for boring? Not really, an unusual route tonight if anything, although fair enough it wasn't exactly thrilling :) Brilliant? Hmm, not outstanding in terms of pace or distance, so no. Bracing? Hardly, it was quite mild. Just B-class as opposed to A-class? Yeah, perhaps. Good and solid, showing potential but nothing too special.

Actually I just thought the route was B-shaped. In my head, anyway. On the map... err, no.

3.4 miles, I was under 34 mins but not by much - however I know I had a strong last mile or so as I overtook a few people on the way back to base, so definitely an uneven run. Oh for a GPS ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eight and cake

Countdown to Spring

I did eight miles (eight!!) with Natalia this morning. She arrived on my doorstep bang on time having done 6, and made her way home via another 4, and we had a rock-steady 11:30/mile run out to the Ketteringham monument and back. It was excellent, the longest run I have done in ages, and I just really enjoyed being out there. It was good for both of us to have company, and I was reminded of my admiration for anyone training for a marathon. I like to think I could have done more miles but I would probably be telling porkies, so I shall shut up and donate some cash instead.

There was hardly anyone around, which is a real shame as it was shaping up into a lovely day. Not quite as glorious as yesterday (when I did nothing but cycle to the city and back), but the sun peeked out and there were daffodils on the road verges. Surely the next best thing to a cheering crowd.

The run was followed up later in excellent style by Tally's fundraising tea and cake afternoon. How very civilised. Cake in abundance, and £200 raised for her marathon charity. Fan bloody tastic.

Photo: Countdown to Spring by aussiegall, on Flickr