Week In Review – The Final Countdown!

I made it! As I write this the school year is over at long last and I’m settling into “holiday mode”. Read on for a bit more about life and training in the last week of term as I join Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL for their weekly linkup.

 

As usual, I followed my established routine for the week (for the most part):

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – rest

On Monday I was feeling pretty exhausted. My brain was fried from the demands of the year, especially my recent exam marking which is enjoyable but takes a lot of brain power. I was also a bit daunted by everything I had to do in order to move classroom before the end of term. Getting into the pool for some gentle lengths was exactly what I needed, and I took it fairly easily as my whole being has been screaming out for rest! My swim always makes me feel refreshed though, so it was a worthwhile visit.

Admittedly, the last thing I felt like doing on Tuesday was a set of bike reps, however I also knew that this was the last set of reps before heading away on holiday and a repeat of last week‘s set. The knowledge that it was the last one and that I had successfully completed the same workout the week before gave me enough motivation to get to the gym and work my way through the reps. Finishing felt like such an accomplishment! After hitting the mats for some stretching and mobility work, I headed to the sauna to relax and unwind for a bit.

Last week I skipped my Wednesday run partly to allow the tightness in my right leg to settle and partly because I had a prior commitment. This week my leg was much better, but it still didn’t seem like the best idea to be doing a set of hill reps. Instead, I decided on a short run, but somehow getting myself home from work and organised for a run seemed to take forever. I was definitely procrastinating, but knew a run would make me feel much better. I told myself I could either run a 2.5 mile loop or a 3.5 mile loop – one meant turning right at the bottom of the road and the other left. Of course as soon as I got to the bottom of the road I was settling into the run and turned left for the 3.5 mile loop. This left me feeling energised for the remainder of the evening.

Thursday was the day I had been waiting for – the end of term! It was a half day and I headed into school knowing that I could get the classroom move sorted out quite quickly. I had already packed up the contents of both my classroom and the one I was moving into, so simply gathered a crack team of movers (pretty much any pupil who turned up in my classroom!) and got the whole thing done really quickly. I still have to go and sort out where I want everything, but that can wait until later in the holidays.  By the time we finished up at lunchtime I had already taken over 7000 steps just from marching up and down the stairs with boxes! I spent the afternoon getting a few things organised at home before heading to my Ashtanga yoga class. I LOVED the class this week. I don’t know if it was that end of term feeling or if it was something else, but it just felt really good. I mentioned it to my teacher who said that she had felt it too – like everything just flowed really well that night. I guess sometimes you just get classes like that. Whatever it was, it was such a nice way to begin the holidays.

On Friday morning I had intended to sleep a bit longer, but my body had other ideas, pre-programmed as it is right now to wake early. Still, being up gave me the chance to do some tidying and organise my life a bit before heading to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna before taking care of some pre-holiday errands. A relaxing day made that night’s meal with Steve even more enjoyable!

Saturday was in some ways a little different. Steve headed off to Edinburgh to get organised for his Ironman 70.3 the following day, while I headed to parkrun where I was the 27 minute pacer. Once more I was a little fast, finishing in 26:46, but I know I helped some people so that was great. It was a really busy parkrun and we got a new attendance record of 295 runners!

After getting showered and changed I walked to the hairdresser for my holiday haircut and reached my step goal on the way back home. That brings me to a full year of reaching my step goal and that makes me really happy. More about that in my forthcoming update on my 7 goals for 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also took delivery of the medal from a virtual race I had signed up for. Wonder Woman is ALWAYS going to sell it to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of my day was pretty relaxing, then Steve arrived home (complete with sliced hand from a sharp rock he got up close and personal with whilst checking out the swim course!) in time to eat then he had to get the last of his gear ready for an early start on Sunday.

I declined the chance to leave with him at 4:30am (!!!), instead getting a couple more hours of sleep all snuggled in with the cat. We had worked out that there was little point in me being at the swim start as it would be so hard to actually spot Steve or work out what was going on and much more interesting to watch the bike and run. After some checking of various options, I got the first train to Edinburgh at 8:50am and walked the short distance to the finish area at Holyrood Park (where the 5k and 10k of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival take place).

I arrived just in time to see the first finisher cross the line then battled for a bit with the online tracker to try and work out where Steve might be. In the end I discovered that there were some problems with that tracker and found another one that was a bit more helpful. Having established that Steve was out on the bike course (I was afraid I might have missed his transition to the run) I watched the first female finisher as well as the podium ceremonies (I got a bit too close to the women’s one and got splashed with champagne – cue me spending the rest of the day smelling of alcohol!).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then made my way back over to the transition area and was able to spot Steve coming in then got some photos a few minutes later when he emerged from the transition tent.

The run course was three laps but I sought some shelter from passing showers during Steve’s first lap then caught him on the second.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was then just enough time for a cup of tea (the weather had by this time completely forgotten that it’s July and I had several tops on!) before taking up my position to get a photo of his finish – a respectable 6:19:48!

I have to say, it was a bit strange watching the event. I knew the swim had been shortened due to the weather conditions and the bike course certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted, so spent the first part of my spectating thinking NOPE, not for me. But the more I watched delighted athletes crossing the line (and of course I was watching running, a familiar discipline) the more I thought “maybe one day…” and now feel inspired to refocus on my swimming again as I feel my progress here has stalled a bit. What I’m doing complements my running well enough, but it could still be much better. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring there…

Would you ever try a 70.3 triathlon?
What sporting event scares you the most?

Race Report – Relay Wild Triathlon 2016

Disaster! I don’t mean the event, it’s well-organised and slick, I mean myself. I was an absolute disaster and made a pretty poor show of being a triathlete. Let me explain…

It all started innocuously enough. Steve entered a mixed team in this event, and having enjoyed it in 2014 I agreed to be part of the team. Back in 2014 I was only just learning the front crawl, was still riding a mountain bike (with road tyres) and had been off running due to an injury. I figured that with more pool time in the bank, a zippy road bike and some decent running form at the moment I should be able to perform better. My pride was about to take an almighty fall!

The event is straightforward enough. Each member of the team completes a short triathlon course (200m pool swim, 6km road cycle and 1.2km cross country run) before tagging the next member of the team and so on until all four have competed. The order was to be female, male, female, male and I was third after Ella and John, before handing over to Steve for the anchor leg. There was some thinking behind this: Ella was our strongest swimmer (Steve does a fine doggy paddle and I still swim single lengths!), John is a great cyclist and duathlete, while Steve was our faster runner. I may have just been making up the numbers haha!

I really didn’t think about it too much in the days before as I knew we weren’t looking to be competitive, rather to have fun and complete the course. Having taken part before and spectated the year before that, I felt quite comfortable that I knew what was going to happen.

 

The event didn’t start until lunchtime so I had plenty of time to lay out my kit and pack it into a backpack as Steve and I had decided to cycle there (it’s only about 6 miles). This would give me a chance to get used to my bike, Trixie, again as to my shame I’ve not been out with her for a year and only just got her serviced in the week before the event. I really needed to ride and get used to the gears again so I would be happy on the bike leg, so cycling to the venue seemed the ideal solution.

 

It was a nice cycle out and on arrival we met Ella, then Steve went to register the team. Next it was time to get our arms and legs marked with our race numbers and get ourselves set up in transition. This bit caused me a lot of stress last time, and although still a bit jangly, I was definitely better this year!

After a race briefing which mainly served to remind us of the rules regarding passing in the pool (only at the ends) and keeping a distance on the bike (no drafting!) Ella headed off ready to start. We cheered her on each time she came into transition and when John set off I got myself ready.

So far so good, but this was where it all changed.

To conserve energy on the swim, I knew I would have to be slow. I fully expected to be passed and was ok with this as I knew I had to stick to my own race plan. Having collected the timing chip from John, I slid into the water and set off on the first of my 8 lengths. I believed I was going slowly and hoped to settle into a rhythm quickly. The pool was about 5 metres longer than the one at my gym, but I figured that was really only one or two more breaths in each length. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

About halfway through that first length I felt the firm tap on my foot that alerted me someone wanted to pass at the end. No problem, I told myself, just keep going as you are and stop at the end. But from that point on I kept feeling the person behind me grabbing at my feet and it really freaked me out. I felt like I couldn’t kick properly, I lost all sense of rhythm and completely lost my breathing. I don’t know if they thought I hadn’t felt the first tap and kept doing it, or if they were just swimming too close and kept catching against me with each stroke, but it felt horrible. It was like someone constantly pulling at me and with my lack of swimming experience, it really started to cause a problem.

It seemed to take ages to reach the end of the pool. I stopped to let the other swimmer pass and realised I felt out of breath. My heart was pounding and I felt unsettled. Almost as soon as I set off again for the second length, I felt like I couldn’t do it. I was struggling to catch my breath and just couldn’t put my face in the water so switched to  heads up breast stroke, but even that felt practically impossible. At the end of the length I stopped and clearly didn’t look good as the swim marshal tapped on the head to ask if I was ok. I said yes, but in all honesty I wasn’t. In that moment I just wanted to cry. I wanted to get out of the pool and say I couldn’t do it. I felt scared because I couldn’t breathe and my limbs felt heavy through the lack of oxygen. I was probably as close to an all-out panic attack as I’ve ever been. And alongside all of that I felt so angry and ashamed that I was struggling to swim just 200m, something I should have been able to do relatively easily. The only thing that stopped me quitting was the knowledge that two other people had already completed the course and I couldn’t let my team down.

So I finished the swim. A further 6 slow, breast stroke lengths. I did try to start the front crawl again, but every time I put my face in the water, I panicked. Every time I saw another swimmer behind me I freaked out all over again that they were going to grab at my feet and I was stopping at the ends to let people pass. It was one of the most awful experiences of my life. Each length felt like a mammoth undertaking with the water seemingly stretching out for miles ahead of me. I hardly seemed to be moving, yet my body was exhausted. I’ve never been so pleased to see the pool steps before!

As I emerged from the pool Steve and Ella were waiting to give me a cheer, but all I could do was pant, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t swim.” At that point I really wasn’t sure what had happened, but it had already affected my mental state for the two disciplines to come. Even as I made my way towards my bike I felt overwhelmed with the noise. I felt like people were shouting things at me, but had no idea what. Were they giving me encouragement? Shouting advice? Telling me I was doing something wrong? I had no idea. There was just a swirl of noise and me walking mechanically towards my bike.

Somehow in my brain fog I remembered to put my bike helmet on first. I pulled on the socks I had sprinkled with talc earlier and slipped on my pre-laced Ultra Boosts before taking my bike off the rack and wheeling it to the mount line. I was so stressed that I couldn’t get my foot into my pedal properly, and the more the marshals shouted about other cyclists coming up behind me, the more I struggled. Eventually, I set off, heart already hammering, and followed the path down to the main road where I found myself cycling straight into a headwind.

I just couldn’t settle throughout the cycle. I felt on edge, my heart rate was probably too high and I was cycling into a wind. It was only towards the end that I started to feel a bit better and as I made my way back up the path towards transition, I was trying to turn my attention to the run, the bit that I should be best at, and willing my legs to carry me round the short course without incident.

Back in transition I racked my bike, grabbed a quick drink and removed my helmet before heading off to run. Despite knowing I had to turn my belt round so my number would be on my front, I still managed to forget and a nice marshal had to remind me, but at least my legs didn’t feel too shaky.

Ella had warned me that she just about went head over heels down a hill at the start of the run, so I set out carefully. I wasn’t using a Garmin so had no idea of the pace I was running, but it felt pretty hard. There was another runner alongside me so I just tried to get into some kind of rhythm and keep on going. The hardest part was coming back up that hill again, but at least the run was over quickly and I was able to cross the line and transfer our chip to Steve. It was over. I still want to cry, but it was over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I collected my goody bag then found Ella and John who wanted to know how I’d done. I told them the swim was awful, but I don’t think anyone on the team realised just how hard a time I’d had. I was really disappointed in myself as I felt like I’d let everyone down and had been wasting my time going to the pool every week if that going to be the result, and just couldn’t shake that awful feeling for the rest of the day. All I wanted was to grab my bike and go home, but transition didn’t open until the last competitor was done so I had to stay and put a brave face on it until I could get my stuff. Ordinarily I would have taken loads of photos, but didn’t even manage to really do that.

 

 

Eventually, the buffet was eaten (I barely touched it), the prizes were awarded, and it was time to head home. Another 6 miles on the bike when all I wanted was to curl up into a little ball and feel sorry for myself, but I made it home and sat quietly for the rest of the day.

It took another 24 hours before I could reflect on the event more sensibly and realise that it was nothing to so with my swimming ability and everything to do with how I coped in that situation when my legs were being constantly “attacked”. I may be disappointed in the times I posted, but the fact that I managed to finish, despite every fibre of my being wanting to quit, is what I need to focus on instead. I even went for a swim the following day as I knew that if I didn’t get back in the water straight away, I probably never would again. I had no problems at all and swam 20 lengths perfectly comfortably. I know my swimming still needs a lot of work, but that one session has given me back a bit of the confidence I lost that Sunday afternoon as I panicked in the pool.

I was actually in two minds about whether or not I wanted to write this post at all, but then when I read this post by Hels Bels, I knew I had to. Helen’s post reminded me that things don’t always go perfectly, and knowing that someone else experienced something similar made me feel better. I’m sad that this happened to her as I know how dreadful I felt, but I think we both learned something about ourselves from it. It also reminded me that it’s easy to gloss over the tough stuff in a blog post or on social media, to paint a rosy picture of life and make every event sound like a success. Life isn’t like that, and races certainly aren’t. There are always tough moments and some days things just don’t go your way. The more people share those moments, the more we can help others to realise that they are not alone when those things happen to them. And so my post, this very post you’re reading, was written after all.

And those times? Hard to say. There are no transition times listed so I can only assume they’re included in some of the other sections. That means I have no idea how it compares to last time. I think the bike was a bit quicker as I had a Garmin set up on the handlebars and the time I recorded is a minute or two faster than the time listed, so I’m guessing transition is included. The run looks slightly slower than last time, but I have no idea how long I was in transition so if a that time is included there, then it was probably a faster run too. At least there was some improvement! In the name of honesty (and embarrassing myself online), here they are:

 

I can’t help but wonder how things might have gone if the swim had been more successful, but there’s no point dwelling on that now. It happened, I survived and now I’m motivated to get back in the pool and keep working on my swimming.

Would I do it again? Who knows. At the time, it was a definite no. I decided that triathlon wasn’t for me and vowed to stick to running and the odd cycle. A week further on, I’m less firm in my resolve, but know that I would need to do A LOT of work on my swimming before I felt able to have another go. Let’s see what the next year brings…

 

Have you ever had a bad race experience? How did you handle it?
Any advice to help me improve my swimming and feel more confident?

Currently…(June 2016)

Despite my best intentions, I’ve just not managed to write as many posts as I would like recently, so I thought this would be an ideal time to fill you in on what I’ve been up to lately…

Running
Since my recovery from the Paris marathon, I’ve been pretty sensible about my running. I decided to stick with the three runs per week that I was doing during my post-inury return to running, rather than the four I’ve scheduled previously. My thinking is that if I had an injury based on repetitive high-impact, then reducing that impact would be a good idea. Those three runs all have a different focus so that I can continue to build my fitness and gradually stretch my mileage a bit again (I don’t want a sudden leap in mileage as that will inevitably result in some kind of bodily breakdown). At the moment that means a tempo effort during the week, parkrun on a Saturday to get some speed in my legs and a longer, slower run on a Sunday to build endurance. I’ve probably been guilty in the past of running too fast on my long runs, so I’m really focusing on keeping that pace down and running comfortably. My parkrun times have come down and I’m almost back to where I was pre-injury; my longer runs are up to 8 miles, although I know I could easily do at least 10 and I’m generally running 4-5 miles comfortably hard during the week. In terms of racing, I ran the Great Women’s 10k in early June and have a couple of summer 5k races on the horizon, but other than that it’s been good to just run with no pressure of time or distance to constrain me.

Training
The change from four runs per week to three was part of a complete overhaul of my training plans. When I thought about what I had been doing in the past, I realised that there was just too much impact on my body: four runs, one or two Metafit classes and a PT session which involved lots of hopping drills. There were very few days with low/no impact and that had to change. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and consulted with Steve over some of the details, to arrive at my new weekly plan:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – tempo run
Wednesday – bike intervals at the gym or a cycle
Thursday – run specific PT session plus ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun plus hatha yoga
Sunday – long slow run

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a couple of yoga sessions in there, something new to my weekly routine. Yoga didn’t feature in my goals for the year, but I’ve believed for a while that adding yoga to my training might be really beneficial to boost my flexibility (especially around my hips) as well as strength and balance. I began a weekly ashtanga class at the start of May at a local yoga studio and am absolutely loving it. I can already see some differences in my flexibility and can’t wait to see how much more I progress. Recently, a friend of mine completed her yoga teacher training and has started a Saturday morning hatha class at her studio. Since I felt that one yoga session wasn’t quite enough, I decided to go along to that as the timing is perfect to grab a quick shower and change after parkrun then head along. I’ve found the combination of parkrun followed by a really good stretch in yoga feels fantastic and helps me to recover before my Sunday run. In an ideal world I’d like to do much more yoga during my summer break from school, so fingers crossed that works out for me. So far this new training plan has felt really good. A bit of me misses that fourth run, but I also know that this is best for my body and it makes me enjoy my other runs all the more.

Listening
Regular readers know that I’ve become a big fan of podcasts. I listen to the Tough Girl podcast on my Tuesday run and Marathon Talk on my longer Sunday run (if you see me laughing during my run, that will be why!). I also like to listen to podcasts in the car on my way home from work so am always on the lookout for something else I might like. Recently I began listening to the Runner’s Connect Run to the Top podcast hosted by elite athlete Tina Muir and have really enjoyed it so far. The interviewees are really informative and it’s been interesting to get a bit of an insight into the training of an elite along the way.

Celebrating
So many celebrations recently, ranging from a number of significant birthdays in Steve’s family to the imminent retinal of one of my colleagues. This month also sees Steve and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. That’s right, we’ve managed to put up with each other for six whole years filled with madcap schemes and some utter lunacy like Steve “doing a hairy” and my 4 races in one weekend adventure. We’ve not done anything truly mad in a while, preferring to be a bit middle-aged and talk about things like garden sheds, lawn mowers and watering the freshly laid lawn at our new house, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something else crazy soon!

Planning
With the end of the school year almost within touching distance, it’s time to start thinking about the summer and all the possibilities it offers. We’re making plans for our trip to Florida, plans for the house and plans for our ongoing training. It’s not been an easy year, and I really can’t wait until I can lie on my sun lounger with the pool in front of me, sun above me and my Kindle in my hand. Bliss!

 

What have you been up to lately?
Any exciting plans for the summer?

Friday Finds – 14th August

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Just about every day since June, a new story has emerged with regard to allegations of doping in athletics. I’ve featured this several times in Friday Finds, and it’s a story that is by no means over yet. But today, I want to counter all that negativity by highlighting some stories of women doing fantastic things to inspire, motivate and challenge themselves and others. After all, getting more women involved in sport is one of my passions.

Part of the inspiration for this post comes from The Independent, which earlier this week published its first power list of the 50 most influential women in sport. Running the full gamut of involvement whether as a participant or in more strategic role, it’s a pretty comprehensive list. That’s all well and good, but it’s not just those in a position of power who can influence, you only have to look at the average marathon or similar endurance event to find ordinary people pushing their limits. And sometimes, that’s even more inspiring.

The recent #ThisGirlCan campaign has done much to highlight the issue of encouraging more women to get involved in sport, and the campaign website features all kinds of articles to help inspire and keep us all on track. As has been well publicised, fear of judgement is cited time and time again as a barrier to participation, hence why it was so pleasing to see the US edition of Women’s Running feature a plus-size model on the cover recently. In a similar vein, the winner of the blog category in the 2015 Running Awards was The Fat Girl’s Guide to Running, a running resource specifically aimed at plus-size female runners, currently working in partnership with the This Girl Can campaign. And in this post featured on the website Empowering Women, the creator of the blog sets out just why we can all lace up.

Also challenging attitudes to female runners is Lindsey Swift. Heard of her? She’s the Barnsley woman whose Facebook post of an open letter to the driver who heckled her whilst out running has gone viral. Her attitude is fantastic, pointing out that everybody has to start somewhere, precisely the point that many people tend to overlook. Not everybody can be an Olympic athlete, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all better ourselves and make positive changes. I wish Swift all the best for her continued training.

But it’s not just in running that tenacious women are taking the bull by the horns, as this recent story featured on the BBC shows. 18 months ago, Alex Goodier decided it was high time she lost weight and got fitter. Before she knew it, she was signing up to the sprint distance at the Blenheim Palace triathlon, despite not having ridden a bike since she was a child and being frankly petrified of open water swimming. Undaunted, she set about training, overcoming a number of hurdles along the way to get her to race day. And despite being the last one to cross the finish line, Goodier is thrilled to have met her challenge and is a great example of the fact that it’s never too late to get involved in sport and anyone can give it a go.

I also want to draw your attention to two women I have come across who are doing fantastic things to motivate and inspire others. First up, Sophie Radcliffe whose blog Challenge Sophie has been featured on a previous Friday Finds. Adventurer Sophie is “on a mission to show that challenges in the great outdoors are accessible and achievable for everyone.” I always enjoy reading her blog posts and was particularly struck by this recent post which focuses on the power of the mind, using her participation in the recent Race to the Stones ultramarathon as as example. Proof indeed of this quotation from my favourite movie, Back to the Future: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

And on the subject of Race to the Stones, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with runner Sorrell Walsh on the Marathon Talk podcast. Last year, Walsh won the women’s event at Race to the Stones in 10 hours and 38 minutes, which I believe set a new course record. However Walsh was struck by the disparity in numbers between male and female participants, the usual split in such events being 80:20. So she did something about it. Under the banner of Wmn Run 100, which she helped found, Walsh set about recruiting a team of female runners with the aim of having a 50:50 split at this year’s event. And she came close, with a final ratio of 60:40 (and many in her team had never trained for a marathon, let alone an ultra distance event before). An amazing achievement and I for one will be following her future endeavours.

When all is said and done, there are countless inspirational  (and influential) women out there doing their bit to get more women involved, but there is still more work to do to bring female participation in line with that of males. You never know, maybe one day we’ll outnumber men, and to get us started, a recent parkrun newsletter highlighted the fact that for the first time there were more women registered on their database then men. Let’s hope this will be a continuing trend.

Happy reading
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 31st July

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

There have been a number of uplifting stories around this week, and given the miserable weather we’ve been having here in the UK (where I live we’ve experienced a massive  225% of the average July rainfall!) a few uplifting stories seem to be in order!

First up, a story I came across a few weeks ago about James Lawrence (aka Iron Cowboy) who had come up with the astonishing challenge of completing 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 US states over 50 consecutive days. Yes, you did read that right! Last weekend Lawrence completed the challenge in his home state of Utah, bringing him to a total of 120 miles swum, 5600 miles cycled and 1310 miles run in less than 2 months! Along the way he raised $68,000 for charities aiming to build dams in Africa and also to raise awareness of childhood obesity. I couldn’t begin to imagine taking on even one Ironman triathlon, so this is a quite phenomenal challenge and incredible feat of endurance. Well done Iron Cowboy!

Next up, the story of charity runner Iva Barr, who was the oldest female participant in this year’s London Marathon. Now 87, Barr took up running when she was 55 and over the last 30 years has raised over £10,000 for charity. Her efforts have been recognised through the Point of Light award, which is given to those who have made a change in their community and inspired others through voluntary work and fundraising. I suspect she’s not quite done yet though, as Barr plans to keep on running until she’s 90. I hope I can keep running for that long too!

Which leads nicely to this interesting piece in The New York Times about older athletes. It seems that studies show the fitness age of such athletes to be a whopping 20 years younger than their chronological age! Apparently, at any given age fit people are relatively younger than those who are unfit. And given that some of the athletes participating in the study didn’t take up exercise until later in life, this is yet another clear inspiration for anyone to get out there and start exercising as it CAN make a difference, regardless of age. I’m all for encouraging more people to exercise, and hopefully having access to more information like this might help.

But by far my favourite story this week is that of Bailey Matthews, an 8 year old boy with cerebral palsy. Bailey became interested in athletics after his dad began pushing him around their local parkrun course, before adapting a walking frame for Bailey to get around the course himself. Soon, Bailey wanted to try a triathlon and began training on a bike fitted with special stabilisers and swimming locally. And last weekend this inspirational boy completed the Castle Howard triathlon, casting aside his walking frame to run the final metres unaided. The determination of this young boy is one of the most inspirational things I’ve read lately and a reminder that we can ALL overcome our limitations and achieve great things.

And if, like me, you’ve also considered giving triathlon a go, then you might enjoy this piece from The Guardian in which runner Ben Thomas explains some of the ways in which training to swim-bike-run could benefit your running. We all know that cross training is beneficial but often fall into the trap of believing that the only way to improve our running is to run, an approach that all too often results in burn-out or injury. I certainly enjoy my time in the pool or the saddle and it’s good to know I can still get a decent workout even when I need to ease off the running.

Happy reading
The Running Princess

Friday Finds – 8th May

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Whatever your sport or exercise of choice, fitness always presents challenges. Whether it’s those first tentative steps out the door, the desire to be stronger or a gruelling physical challenge, once we become addicted to those endorphins, we always want to be better, to improve on what we can already do. For most of us, this means setting goals, training hard and trying to be the best version of ourselves we can be. But there are also those who take it that bit further, the pioneers who try something new, something crazy, something that others say can’t be done. Recently I’ve come across a few stories about people pushing themselves to the limit in the pursuit of a goal, and that’s what I want to focus on this week.

Whilst driving to work earlier this week I heard an interview with adventurer Sean Conway, who has just completed a 1000 mile run from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Impressive. But even more impressive is that this run was also the culmination of what is being termed the “Ultimate Triathlon”. The thought of running an average of 25 miles per day for 6 weeks without a support crew is incredible, but the fact that Conway (who is sporting a rather Forrest Gump-like beard!) has previously swum and cycled between the same two points makes it even more so. And it sounds like the taste for adventure has not been satisfied as Conway hints that once recovered, he’ll challenge himself to something new soon. I can’t wait to find out what he’s up to next!

And speaking of triathlons, I also came across this article in The Telegraph about writer Lucy Fry and her new book Run, Ride, Sink or Swim: A Year in the Exhilarating and Addictive World of Women’s Triathlon. An increasing awareness of the number of people around her either getting involved in or learning about triathlon led Fry to investigate possible reasons behind the growing popularity of swimbikerun. This led to an intensive year immersed in triathlon, taking on several events and learning a lot about not just the world of triathlon, but about herself too. Taking on 5 triathlons of varying distances from sprint to Olympic in that year was the challenge Fry set for herself, no mean feat given her novice status, but she wanted to know what would happen when faced with her own limitations. What drew me to this was that I could identify with Fry’s fears of bike maintenance and mass swim starts. Fry overcame her fears and successfully completed her challenge, in often tricky conditions. To do so, she had to juggle hard training around the rest of her life, just like any “ordinary” (tri)athlete, proving that anything is possible when we really want it. I’ll be adding this book to my summer reading list and maybe even dabbling in a little bit of swimbikerun myself one day!

A more well-known athlete looking to push themselves to glory is Olympian and former Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins. Not content with his victories so far, Wiggo now has his sights set on the track cycling one hour record, a record that has been broken four times in the last eight months, most recently by Briton Alex Dowsett. The record is much as it sounds: to cycle as far as you can in one hour. Dowsett’s record stands at a whopping 52.937km, but Wiggins is aiming for 55km! To put that in perspective, that’s around 34 miles, meaning Wiggins would be pedalling at a pace that would break the speed limit in an urban area! I think I’m doing well if I can hit about half that speed, so just can’t imagine maintaining that pace for a whole hour. That would be full-on, eyeballs out, jelly-legged, furious pedalling. It will definitely be impressive if he does it and Wiggins certainly seems confident. Allez Wiggo!

Returning to the more familiar territory of running, this week I also came across this clip from a BBC programme about pioneering marathon runner Kathrine Switzer. After famously running the Boston marathon at a time when such feats were reserved for men only, Switzer became an avid campaigner for women’s sport, particularly the marathon. These days, the number of women running marathons, whether in 2:20 or 5:20, is steadily increasing, and while more recently we may have ‘The Paula Effect‘ to thank for some of that, without Switzer blazing a trail for women, the feats of a great like Paula would never have been possible, and ordinary women like me would certainly not be out there making 26.2 a regular event. Switzer’s is an inspiring story and one I can never help but marvel at.

Finally, I want to share a recent post from adventurer Sophie Radcliffe about what it means to be ready to perform and deliver on the day. Radcliffe has taken on some incredible challenges including cycling from London to Paris in less than 24 hours, completing the world’s first Alpine coast to coast and taking on Ironman Wales. Radcliffe aims “to show that challenges in the great outdoors are accessible and achievable for everyone,” regardless of whether that challenge is running your first race or cycling across a country. Her blog posts are about focus, stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to new and better goals. As I prepare to step into the unknown with my cycling, this post served as a timely reminder that we may never feel truly ready for a challenge, but the important thing is that we dig deep and give it our all on the day. Something I’ll try to remember when it counts.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Spectator Sports

While most others were still wrapped up in their duvets sleeping off the effects of the night before, on New Year’s Day I was up early and on my way to Edinburgh to support Steve in his first event of the year. Clearly fuelled by his participation in the Relay Wild Triathlon back in August, he had signed up for the NYD Triathlon organised by Edinburgh Triathletes, an event which boasts huge numbers of triathlon first-timers every year. Although tempted to join him, I had decided that this was not the right thing for me to do at this stage as I thought it would be too much for me to train for three disciplines whilst returning to running post-injury at the tail end of the year, so on this occasion spectator duties fell to me. I knew I would be watching with interest though as a triathlon is something I would like to try in the future.

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We set off around 9am so we could be at the Royal Commonwealth Pool to register at 10am. The weather was not ideal with strong winds and rain so I was wrapped up in lots of layers and had waterproofs with me (I was even wearing my wellies!). At this point I was quite glad not to be competing as the conditions were going to be “character-building” to say the least but Steve was taking it in his stride as ever! The place was a bustling hive of activity when we arrived and I waited with Steve’s bike and kit while he registered then helped him get set up in transition, after which there was quite a lot of waiting around as the event itself did not start until 12:15 (and Steve was scheduled to start about an hour later). Time for a coffee and a few photos of the pool:

There were around 400 competitors and with Steve’s later start time we were able to sit in the gallery together for the race briefing and to watch the first of the swimmers set off. I was immediately struck by the range of swimming styles/abilities and realised that my currently inconsistent front crawl would probably have been ok for this particular event. About 20 minutes before he was due to start, Steve headed off to warm up then take his position in the line. He looked a bit nervous at this point (probably something to do with the fact that he can only do the “pensioner-style breaststroke” right now) but he soon settled once he got in the water and took his time. He had been advised to just get through the swim, take it easy on the bike then smash it on the run and this was very much the tactic he was sticking to.

After his 8 lengths of the pool, Steve headed off to transition and I headed outside to find a spot to watch him. The bike section was 3 laps around Arthur’s Seat (12 miles) then it was 1 further lap for the 5K run. I found a position towards the end of the lap and amused myself with my weather app and cheering on other competitors as I knew it would take around 15-20 minutes to cycle each lap.

It was hard to get action shots given the conditions, but I did manage a nice photo of Steve on his last bike lap:

 

And another as he set off on the run:

 

When he was in transition between the bike and the run, I moved position slightly so I could see him set off then headed down to get as close as I could to the finish. Although I had initially been glad not to be competing in that weather, spectating turned out to be pretty tough too as I was standing still and despite all my layers was still getting cold. I was quite jealous of those taking part as I was desperate to be moving, even if it was into a headwind!

Fortunately, Steve’s race plan was working out well and he had a really good run so I didn’t have too long to wait. Sadly I couldn’t get beyond the finish line for a photo of his trademark finish pose so had to settle for one of him running towards the finish:

 

Since I was cold and Steve was likely to get cold very quickly, we took a quick photo of him with his medal then gathered all of his things from transition so he could take them back to the car before heading off for a shower.

I had a chance to warm up while he got changed, then had a nice hot cup of tea and piece of caramel shortbread (it had been a VERY long time since our breakfast) before the day was wrapped up with the prize giving and spot prizes (no luck I’m afraid).

There was just one thing I had to do before we left and that was to have my photo taken with yet another “new pal”:

 

I found it really interesting watching the triathlon and it definitely inspired me to keep working on my swimming and have a go myself. Despite the tough conditions, Steve really enjoyed the event and you can read his report on it here.

Have you taken part in a triathlon or is it something you would like to do?
When were you last on spectator duties?

 

2014 – What a Year!

As the dying embers of 2014 begin to flicker out, it’s high time I reflected on what has been one of the most unbelievable years in my running history so far. There have been incredible ups and seemingly endless downs, but I learned a lot about myself and discovered some new joys along the way.

This time last year I set out my challenge for 2014: 3 marathons and 2 half marathons, with the sole aim of completing that challenge in one piece. Ultimately, my challenge became something quite different (for a variety of reasons) and although for some time it looked like it might break me, I am finishing the year feeling strong and ready for 2015.

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After a difficult 2013 plagued by illness and injury, I began 2014 feeling strong and successfully worked my way through my marathon training programme, a programme which ultimately saw me complete the Paris Marathon with a huge new PB of 4:05:07. This was without a doubt the high point of the year, however it was in my recovery from this race that things began to go wrong.

In hindsight, I know what I did wrong and I have learned from my mistakes. In the days following the marathon I felt good. Ok, so I had the obligatory soreness for a few days (probably not helped by an ill-timed sprint through Brussels airport in order to make our flight connection home!), but by the end of the week I was champing at the bit to get my trainers on again. Sometimes in the aftermath of a marathon people are more than happy to take a break from running, but not me, I was desperate to run! If I had run 4:05 in Paris, what was I capable of doing in Edinburgh? So I put my trainers on, and I ran.

And that was when it all began to unravel.

Three weeks after Paris I was given the opportunity to run in the Balmoral 10k. The route features a notoriously tough hill and runners are advised not to aim for a PB, yet I came very close to actually getting one and was determined to nail that PB a couple of weeks later in Glasgow. But my ambition came with a price. I was beginning to feel a bit of a grumbling from my left leg, the same left leg where I had suffered problems with my tibialis posterior late in 2013. It didn’t feel all that bad, so with a bit of stretching (and my tape on standby ready to strap my leg if necessary) I ran through it. By the time I finished the race in Glasgow, I was in a lot of pain. I may have secured that new PB, but it cost me dearly, and so began my descent into a prolonged and seemingly never-ending abyss of injury.

So what did I do wrong? Simple, I started running again too soon after the marathon and I failed to listen to my body when it was telling me to stop. I should have read the signs, but I ploughed on regardless, leading to my third mistake: I ran the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May, putting the final nail in the coffin.

I know now that I am my own worst enemy. I actually thought I was better at listening to my body than I had been in the past, but quite clearly I was wrong. It was a week until I could walk properly again, and even longer before I was walking pain-free. I didn’t run at all in June, the first time I’ve recorded a “0” month since I began tracking my mileage in 2010, and the impact on my wellbeing was obvious. Until I found cycling.

 

If it hadn’t been for the suggestion that I start cycling (something I hadn’t done since I was a child), I really don’t know how I would have coped. I didn’t feel quite the same sense of achievement as I did with running, but it was a pretty good alternative. Cycling got me outside when I had been cooped up in the gym; cycling gave me the freedom to explore new routes and discover new places; and cycling gave me a new challenge in the form of the Macmillan Cycletta which I completed in early October. For me, cycling was just the lifeline I needed to lift me out of my despair at not being able to run (what a difference to my mood without those running-induced endorphins!) and gave me something to focus on. After one or two tentative test runs in the summer, I had to make some tough decisions and pull out of both the Loch Ness marathon and the Scottish half marathon. I had to alter some other plans, resulting in me WALKING the One Big Weekend 5k (yet not coming last!) and being sweep cyclist in the Perth 10k. My leg improved enough to allow me to take part in the Relay Wild Triathlon in late August, but I knew that longer distances were out of the question and at that stage I actually put off a return to running in favour of devoting more time to cycling. This delay no doubt did me good in the long term as I was able to start running again in late October without any problems.

 

What started out as 3 marathons and 2 half marathons, ended up being 2 marathons and 1 cycling event. For the first time in years, I did not run a half marathon (one of my planned ones was cancelled and I had to withdraw from the other). My year may not have gone to plan, but somehow I still managed to fill my medal hanger, with the final (glow in the dark!) medal from a virtual race arriving today!

 

A key thing I learned from this year (apart from taking a longer break after a marathon and listening to my body more closely!) is to be adaptable. I always advise people looking for marathon training programmes to look for something that fits them, rather than trying to shoehorn their lives into something that just doesn’t fit, and to be flexible about changing the plan if life gets in the way. This applies equally well to our goals – life has a somewhat inevitable tendency to affect our plans, but rather than giving up we need to refine our plans and create success. I may have pulled out of some races this year, but I still consider my year to be a success: I ran a marathon PB, I discovered cycling and I raised over £5000 for my chosen charity. How can that be anything other than a success?

 

I’ll remember 2014 for many things: I’ll remember the high of a PB in my favourite city in the world and the floods of supportive and congratulatory messages I received as I kick-started my challenge; I’ll remember the low of lengthy injury and weeks of physiotherapy & podiatry appointments; I’ll remember the joy of getting out on a bike for the first time in years and buying my first road bike; I’ll remember making new friends through blogging and being able to meet up with Danielle, Jaynie and Julia, as well as having a Skype chat with Kyla; I’ll remember the satisfaction of helping others learn to run and seeing them reach their goals; I’ll remember my first tentative steps towards triathlon (my swimming still needs a lot of work!); I’ll remember the generosity of others in donating to my cause, especially my friend Ian (who wrote about his motivation for supporting me via his business in a guest post) and most importantly I’ll remember the difference the money raised will make to the lives of those affected by cancer.

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And now, on the cusp of 2015, it’s time to start afresh. I don’t mean in a “new year, new you” kind of way, I mean a fresh challenge. Some people are already aware of parts of my plans for 2015, but this is the first time I will “officially” set them out, and that means the challenge ahead is much more “real” than it was before!

In 2015, I am going to continue my fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Why? Because not only is this a charity close to my heart, but I also feel I have unfinished business from my 2014 challenge. I committed to running three marathons for Macmillan, but ultimately “only” ran two when injury intervened, so with that in mind I am going to complete that commitment by running the Paris marathon again in April. I’m going to train sensibly and keep my fingers crossed that I can break that elusive 4 hour barrier.

Not only that, but I’m going to continue cycling in 2015 with an even bigger challenge. This year I took on my first ever cycling event with the 40km Cycletta (about 25 miles) but in 2015 I will be going big and taking on the Etape Caledonia in May – an 81 mile event (yes, you read that right, 81 miles!!). I’m both excited and nervous about this one and really only aim to finish (preferably in front of the sweep vehicle!) without any particular time goal in mind.

Enough? Never! I’m going to conclude my spring racing with a bit of madness in Edinburgh. I’m not quite barmy enough to take on the madness of all 4 races like Steve did this year (read: I can’t run the half marathon quickly enough to then get back for the start of the full marathon) but there is still a way to run in all 4 races. That’s right, in 2015 I will be running the 5k and 10k on the Saturday, followed by the half marathon and final leg of the Hairy Haggis Team Really on the Sunday. There are going to be some logistics to deal with, but provided I pace myself right, it is definitely possible and I’m excited about the prospect of taking on something new.

After that, I think I’ll have a bit of a rest, but all being well I’ll round of the year with some autumn races, perhaps a half marathon or two. I’m definitely due a PB at that distance!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed following my adventures in 2014 and will stay with me on my journey in 2015. Remember you can also follow my page on Facebook for updates or subscribe to the blog (links on the right hand side of the page if you’re viewing this via a web browser) so you never miss a post. In the meantime, I wish you a very happy new year and invite you to share your goals for 2015 in the comments below.

The Running Princess x

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Gift Ideas for Runners and Triathletes

Running: An Inspiration and Triathlon: An Inspiration by Ali Clarke

(Disclosure – I was given copies of these books in return for an honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.)

 

Running isn’t a hobby. It’s a way of life.

We all need a little inspiration sometimes. Whether it’s to lace up those trainers for the first time and take the first tentative steps towards becoming a runner, or whether it’s the motivation to get out the door when it’s dark and the weather is terrible, we all need a little push in the right direction from time to time. Maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but I do love an apt quotation, so often find that an inspirational quote does the trick in reminding me just why I love to run and provides part of the boost I need to get out the door and keep training when the lure of the sofa seems a bit too much. After all, I’ve never regretted a run!

And inspiration is just what these two books provide. Filled with photographs featuring stunning scenery, happy runners (and the odd bit of kit to covet!), Running: An Inspiration features mantras and quotations from a diverse range of sources such as great runners (Mo Farah and Kara Goucher) and inspirational figures (Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi) all designed to provide the motivation to fire you up for a run or keep you going in the tough moments. Companion book Triathlon: An Inspiration is additionally packed with exciting photographs from across all three triathlon disciplines and a similar range of inspiring quotes ranging from Paula Radcliffe and Chrissie Wellington to Albert Einstein and Nelson Mandela. Some of the quotations may be familiar, but the photography is beautiful and the aim remains the same throughout – to inspire – and for that reason, I really enjoyed flicking through them and coming across some quotations I had not heard before.

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible”

-St Francis of Assisi

But these are not the kind of books that you buy for yourself, these are the kind of books that you buy for other people. They are the kind of glossy, hard-backed books that sit prominently on a coffee table and are dipped into from time to time, either to seek inspiration or to revisit an old favourite. As a bookworm (the sort of bookworm who covets pretty, shiny books with that glossy new book smell) they are the sort of thing that I love to find under the Christmas tree, and so would make an excellent stocking filler for the runner or triathlete in your life. And if you happened to draw the office athlete in your Secret Santa (let’s face it, every office has one – in my department I suspect it might be me!) then one of these books might just solve the problem of what to buy them since most running kit doesn’t exactly fit the average Secret Santa budget!

Whether you’re buying for a seasoned competitor, a nervous beginner or simply someone who needs a little boost to their motivation levels, these titles are certainly worth a look.

“It’s when the discomfort strikes that one realises a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all”

– Chrissie Wellington

 

Race Report – Relay Wild Triathlon

The Relay Wild Triathlon, organised by Perth Tri Club, was first held in 2013. Competing in teams of 4, each member of the team completes a very short triathlon before tagging the next member of their team. The event aims to attract people who have never tried triathlon before, as an introduction to the discipline, although there are teams of experienced triathletes taking part too. Steve entered a team last year and as I watched, I realised that it was something I could manage too as there was no need to be an especially good swimmer or have lots of expensive, specialist kit, so this year Steve entered two teams: the guys and the girls.

For me, not only would it be my first experience of triathlon, but my first running of any kind since seeing the podiatrist in July. Yet despite the fact that I’m a terrible swimmer, not very fast on the bike and a bit rusty when it comes to running, the thing which filled me with the greatest fear was transition.

The night before the event, I laid all my kit out on the bed and tried to think through each stage of the event and what I would need to do in transition. It all seemed so much more complicated than just running, and I was conscious of rules like not touching my bike unless I had my helmet on and fastened – so much so that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I ended up running with my helmet still on!

 

Fortunately, I was in a team of girls who felt very much like me. Only one of us could actually swim, two of us were injured runners and none of us had done a triathlon before. Unlike the guys, who were having in-depth discussions about practising transition so they would be as quick as possible, we were simply looking to survive (the swim), complete the course and have fun!

But my unease about transition stayed with me and surfaced when I arrived at the triathlon site (a nearby private school) to set up. I was the first of my team there and Steve was away talking tactics with the guys. I racked my bike (initially the wrong way round but a friendly and patient member of the tri club sorted me out!) then got all my stuff out before realising that I wasn’t really sure of the best spot to lay it out or if there was an “optimum” way to have it. When Steve came to help, I immediately jumped down his throat because I was fed up of people (including him!) telling me that I couldn’t have my stuff spread out so widely as there wasn’t enough room. I was well aware of this, I just needed help to put my kit in the correct place! Eventually, though, I sorted it all out, the rest of the team arrived and we were ready to get started.

The race director talked us through the course and the relevant rules then there was a narrow window of time to return to transition for any final preparations before it was closed. I was the third member of our team to go (we sensibly put the swimmer first!) so I had time to get organised and watch some of the other participants so I would feel a bit clearer about what I had to do.

Before I knew it, my turn was approaching. When the team member before me set out on the run, I headed to the tag zone to don my swimming cap and wait for her to arrive and hand over the tag (which was our timing chip). We had agreed that it would be easier for the team member taking over to remove the tag and reattach it to their own left leg, so we had a quick turnaround and before I knew it I was heading for the pool.

The swim leg was 8 lengths of a 200m pool in a “chain gang” style. I regularly swim 20-30 lengths of dodgy head-up breaststroke in a similar pool at the gym, but haven’t done so in ages as I’ve been beginning to learn the front crawl. I knew that I wasn’t ready yet to swim 8 lengths of crawl, but thought I might manage a length or two. So I started off on the crawl then reverted to breaststroke for the 2nd length. I must have been swimming quite hard though as this made me feel tired so I opted to carry on with breaststroke for the remainder of the swim. About half way through, a marshall alerted me to the fact that my tag had come off my leg, but they had it (along with one or two others which had suffered the same fate) so I had to reattach it when I got out of the pool and before  crossing the timing mat on the way into transition. Thank goodness this wasn’t a super-serious event!

I made my way to my kit, conscious of people shouting encouragement and conscious also that I should get my helmet on as quickly as I could: a quick dry of my feet, team Tshirt on, helmet on, shoes on, number belt on and sunglasses on then I was ready to unrack my bike and head off for a 3.6mile loop around the outside of the school grounds.

Just like with the swim, I have been regularly cycling much further than this, but with no experience of brick training sessions and some of the stress of my first triathlon no doubt catching up on me, I quickly realised that my legs felt quite weary. But this was still a race so taking it easy and pootling round was not really an option, I had to keep pedalling. Thankfully the cycle route was fairly flat and familiar to me as it’s part of a running route I use for some of my longer training runs so I had a good idea of how far I still had to go.

Soon enough, I was back in transition to rack my bike, remove my helmet and head out for the final 1.2km cross country run. As I jogged out of the transition area I felt ok, but I wasn’t far into the run before I realised that when people talk about feeling like they have jelly legs when they begin to run after a cycle, they’re not joking – even over a short distance! I wasn’t wearing my Garmin watch so I had no idea what pace I was running at, all I knew was that it felt hard yet I was convinced I was dragging myself along at a snail’s pace.

The run section was within the grounds of the school, hence its cross country nature. It began heading downhill, followed by a loop around the far end of the grounds before returning UP the hill. Despite the weariness in my legs, I was pleased that there was no pain or flare up from the injury that has been plaguing me for months, however the lack of running in that time was certainly apparent as I huffed and puffed my way round. My legs and lungs were screaming at me to stop, but with such a short distance and one more team member to go, I had to keep going. Worse still, Steve was the 4th member of his team and as I returned up the hill towards the finish line the marshals were telling me that he wasn’t far behind. Drat! I couldn’t let him catch me up, so it was time to grit my teeth.

Rounding the final bend towards the finish, I could hear guys I know from the tri club telling me to go for it. In my mind I did,  but I’m not sure that my legs actually moved any faster!

Exhausted, I was handed my goody bag and I got a print out of my times before going to find the guys, get myself cleaned up and take some team photos:

Once showered and changed, there was a super post-race spread and the prize giving. The guys won first local team, while the girls were pleased to discover we were not (quite) last! There were also some spot prizes which were throw among us and I scored a Tshirt which turned out to be female fit. Perfect!

 

Once home I was able to take a proper look at the goody bag: water, chocolate, cereal bar, sweets, wrist band, fridge magnet and leaflets all in a Perth Tri Club drawstring bag. Nice.

 

Although tough, I really enjoyed my first triathlon experience and can definitely see myself having a proper go at a tri in the future. I know I need to do something about my swimming so am booking another session with an instructor and I’m in the process of buying a road bike as my mountain bike just isn’t going to cut it for more serious road cycling. Hopefully I’ll also be able to start building up my running again now too. If you’ve ever considered having a go at triathlon, then I highly recommend finding an introductory event like this and having a go.

Maybe I’ll see you out there sometime…