Tag Archives: run

#Getfitback…. 3rd & the best so far !

Happy Easter !

So its my 3rd week back on the training plan and at the end of the week, it felt great ! I was able to stay motivated all week, even with life’s up and downs but was tired by Thursday so my rest day was greatly appreciated !

What was on my plan ? Anything new ?

Monday : Spin & swim

Tuesday : Abs blast class (New), weights and run

Wednesday : Swim, spin and circuits

Thursday : Rest day

Friday : Swim and bike ride

Saturday : Spin and run (swapped this for a long ride instead !)

Sunday : Run

The best session was my run on Tuesday. I increased the time spent running and made sure it included some hills. I was determined to show a ‘clean pair of heels’ as I took off up the last one….. Felt fantastic ! Next week the plan will include a ‘hill’ workout (10×2 mins hills) as nothing makes me feel stronger than facing an incline and not being afraid.

Driving vs running ?
Why drive when you can run ?

I tried a new class too – Abs Blast, and it does what it says on the tin ! Phew I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to move the next day and definitely no laughing, but a few aches but nothing major….. perhaps I didn’t work hard enough perhaps ? Booked in for next week again as it was fun.

Looking back on the plan, you’ll noticed that at the beginning of the week I’m focusing on ‘spinning’ and then planning my ‘real riding’ over the weekend. This is a conscious decision at the moment to get the fitness back on my legs by spinning and working on ‘riding skills’ later in the week. The hills of Lanzarote and the route from London to Paris are in my near future and I don’t want to get left behind !

Real vs spin ?
Real vs spin ? Time to hit the road

We did take advantage of the long weekend and rode for 3 hours on Good Friday and all day on Saturday ! Most of this was on trails which was perfect for working on my skills…. or lack of them, given a couple of spills along the way.  We had some great conditions and had lovely views along the way 🙂

A ride to coffee through the bluebells
Riding through carpets of bluebells
And then yellow carpets
And then yellow carpets

What will be different next week ?

Swim : I’ve been more structured this week, but more is needed ! Drills, drills and speed sets are back 🙂

Boxercise : Another new class ! I think others should be afraid……. actually I think I should be afraid !

Races : I do have to sign up for some things – yikes, I commit to getting off the fence and pressing the ‘register now’ button.

Time to enjoy the last of my Easter Sunday – I hope you’ve had a lovely day. The last words go to Eric Morecambe, Bring me Sunshine…. a tribute to him on Sustrans, route 6

Bring me sunshine, Eric !
Bring me sunshine, Eric !

Speak soon


Age Group girl



Ironman 70.3 Auckland, Jan 19th 2014

Good morning bloggers ! How are you this fine Friday morning ?

In January I took part in my second 70.3 event in Auckland, New Zealand and it proved to be a tough, tough day ! The race was in the first stage of a 3 month adventure that was to take me to New Zealand (with my volunteer / support crew mum), Australia (some solo travelling) and a quick stop in a couple of South East Asian countries on the way home. What a way to start my adventure – a highly competitive 70.3 !

I have to admit that writing this race report without it sounding like a nightmare is going to be hard, so I will endeavour to remember the highs as well as the lows. We do this for fun, right ??

Everything in my preparation had been going well – good running times, more efficient swim, improved bike handling and fitness – until I caught a cold early in December. I tried to do the right things by hydrating and resting, but I was starting to panic and rushed back to the last big training sessions. That was a mistake and the bug hung around until 3 days before race day, wiping out 5 weeks of proper training.

The IM circus comes to town
The Ironman circus comes to town

Given this and the long flights, I was anxious in the lead up to the day but once I started to work through the jetlag, took my rental bike for a spin and enjoyed some good open water swims in my rented wetsuit, the race day butterflies started to appear. This was my first IM event and wow, you know why they are so popular and have a high race fee – it’s so well organised and the little touches make all the difference. My name attached to my spot in transition made me feel like a pro !

Feel like a pro
Feeling like a pro


Back in a few hours to RACE !
Saturday bike drop, back in a few hours to RACE !

Before I knew it, it was RACE DAY !!

The buzz of race morning
The buzz of race morning

Everything that could have been done was done and before I knew it we were walking to the race start, zipping up, adjusting my goggles for the 100th time and jumping in the water

Swim : Wave 4 start. 19 degrees c water and it was like a swimming pool, without the lane lines ! Calm and clear, or at least as calm as it could be with 2000 highly strung triathletes racing each other over a 1.9km course.

It was 19 degrees & like a pool
It was 19 degrees & like a pool

My swim went ok, other than a little course correction on the way between the 4th and 5th buoy – I lost the 5th marker in the beautiful sunrise ! I remember thinking what an incredible sight that was, but I didn’t stop to admire it, just kept on swimming !

Coming out of the water, I was pleasantly surprised with my time as it felt like I was out there for a long time, but actually matched my first 70.3 time.

T1 : my target was to be on the bike within 45 mins of the start time and a quick removal of my wetsuit, helmet on, bike shoes on I was on my way, right on schedule. Check !

Bike : The majority of the bike course was very beautiful with the toughest parts being in the initial sections, across the Auckland Harbour bridge. It was pretty cool to find that they had shut 3 lanes of the bridge for us (strict cut off times enforced though) and once you reached the top of the climb the ‘free speed’ coming down was awesome and cooling given the quickly rising temperatures of the morning.

View from the bike course
View from the bike course, Auckland Harbour Bridge

The second half of the course was 2 loops, out and back of flat road to St Heliers. Quick, quick, quick and I have to admit to having a little bike envy hearing the disc wheeled super bikes behind me.

The St Heliers loop, head for the tower !
The St Heliers loop, head for the tower for transition !

If I’m like other triathletes, my mind is constantly calculating times based on my progress on the bike and as I made the last turn back to transition, I was very happy. My time was faster than my previous 70.3, even with a heavier and unfamiliar bike and fuelling had gone to plan. The only nagging doubt was had if I had pushed too hard on the bike and how would the body hold up on the run after missing the December training. I guess I was going to soon find out !

T2 : I was very pleased to get reach the dismount line – a different saddle was a little challenging, ouch ! After some deep breaths, applying more sunscreen, grabbing my gels, pulling on my cap, I headed to the run start.

Run : Very quickly I knew this was going to be a long 13.1 miles. We all know the ‘my legs don’t belong to me’ feeling after coming off the bike, but this goes after a while, right ? Not today, no ‘13.1 miles of smiles’ for me….. 2 loops of a flat, out and back course in the hot sunshine with no breeze on 2 empty legs !

But finally the finished shoot appeared, I had a new PR and the medal was around my neck.

Job done - then I could smile :)
Job done – THEN I could smile

It was a tough day and I was initially disappointed with the overall time, but ater a few hours I began to feel more positive and reflected ont he positives ! Hey, a PR is a PR, an achievement in anyone’s book.

‘Never, ever, ever again’ was my thought at the end……… Really ? Until the next time, lol

Speak soon


Age Group Girl

The day before the big day !

Good morning bloggers – its Saturday morning ! Best time of the week I think 🙂

Big day tomorrow,  Grand Union Canal 1/2 marathon for me (http://www.purplepatchrunning.com/races/grand-union-canal-half-marathon-) with a very clear time target to focus on ! We all have our own ways for preparing for races, depending on the type of race, distance etc and  I’ve learnt a lot about this over the past year – I used to think I needed a taper and to eat as much pasta as I could find before a 5k or sprint tri, or not do any exercise in the week up to a marathon – but I’ve come a long way since then and wanted to share the things I will be doing ahead of tomorrow.

So what’s my preparation going to be today ?

1. Trying to stay off my feet : it’s a local race so no fabulous new city to visit or massive expo to walk around thankfully as I am bad at that ! Especially when there are cobbled streets to explore and views to see from the top of those uneven stairs. I do have some chores to take care of so I’ll be active, but saving those legs !!

2. A good stretch : a set of dynamic stretches will warm up my muscles and help remove any lactic acid that’s still there after the past week. I have to admit my quads felt sore this morning climbing my stairs, so that’s another reason to work on them and stay off my feet. Another option for later will be a foam roller but I find that does more harm than good before a race, so will likely be used as recovery instead.

3. A swim workout : I have a swim workout in my plan which will focus the mind for an hour or so on something else. It will use lots of different muscles and loosen the body.

4. Getting my kit together : I have learnt that it’s not cool to leave this to the last-minute ! I think my brain has fallen out since I turned 40 as I have forgotten key workout kit this week, so I pulled out my favourite socks and sports bra last night and will have everything ready by noon today 🙂

5. Fuelling enough, but not too much : here’s an interesting one, fuel enough vs too much ! Lots of debate about what to eat the day before, the day of etc etc. I won’t eat much differently today to a normal day, other than perhaps drinking more water (I’m a tea drinker and don’t take in enough plain water) with some simple food, nothing too spicy or rich and staying away from those foods that take longer to digest, that’s red meat for me ! My one guilty pleasure may be a glass of red wine at dinner tonight though…….. well it is another birthday dinner, so it would be rude not to !

6. Think about the race : I didn’t want to say ‘visualise the event’ as that sounds a bit posh, but yes I am going to think about the race, think about how I am going to stay relaxed, how I am going to maintain my pace especially in the narrow sections of the course, when am I going to take in fuel. I’m also thinking about how I am going to feel crossing the finish line with a new PR………. now that makes me smile 🙂

7. And think about the whole day : Each race is different and some have really simple logistics while others are more complicated. Tomorrow involves an early morning 20 mile drive to the finish point, finding a parking spot, catching a shuttle bus to the start, starting in a specific wave etc etc. I will make sure I have a full tank of diesel, a 2nd breakfast packed and warm clothes that can be discarded if needed. I’ve also planned the rest of my day – something fun planned for tomorrow afternoon that means I won’t fall asleep in front of the tv !

8. Relax, think about other things : The work has been done and there’s no more that I can do ! I am feeling excited and a little apprehensive but its time to enjoy myself and reap the rewards of the work :). After steps 1-7 are done, I am going to relax with a group of friends tonight over dinner (and that glass of red wine) and think about non-workout things !!

So that’s it, as simple as that but of course, even the best laid plans can go awry………

Speak soon

Catherine, Age Group girl

Winter Triathlon Training weekend

Happy Thursday !

A couple of blogs ago, I talked about training / coaching camps and how they are a great way to spend quality, focused time on training. This past weekend I went to Lancaster to take part in a 2 day triathlon training camp organized by Up and Active (http://www.upandactive.com/site/) a company run by Tanja Slater, previously an elite cyclist and GB triathlete (http://www.upandactive.com/site/about-us). This is the 4th time I have spent time being coached by her and each time I learn so much. For me, this has been the perfect partnership with Dana Staggs, my own triathlon coach who is based back in California – he sets my schedules and monitors my progress, while I can have some shoulder to shoulder coaching with Tanja and her team – I am very lucky.

Car packed with all sorts of triathlon kit, we set out mid morning and had a very eventful journey from Hertfordshire to Lancaster, by way of the Peak District – I had never been to this area before, so it was lovely to see it but sat in 2 hours worth of queuing traffic ? Not so much !

The plan for the 2 days was full ;

Saturday : 7am swim at the Lancaster University pool, 4 hour bike ride through the Lancashire rolling hills and a canal run with hill sets at the end of the day

Sunday : further coached pool session, shorter recovery ride with a ‘run off the bike’ and a review of the swim footage over the 2 days

Lancaster Uni pool
Lancaster University pool

Both of the swim sessions were focused on technique rather than volume, with some immediate feedback on what’s working and not working on our swim stroke. Tanja also shared some new drills with us, and oh, how we loved the one with the kick-board under our cores !! That’s my new ‘favourite’ lol………… The 2 sessions and subsequent video analysis session showed that I have some work to do : head position a little too low, some over-rotation so its back to the pool with new drills.

After a ‘hearty’ breakfast on both days, we wrapped up in multiple layers and headed out for long rides. Split into 2 groups off we went through some amazing countryside, small villages and different weather conditions……… rain to hail to brilliant sunshine and back again ! Day 2 brought with it some strong winds and the team were great in finding routes that were as sheltered as possible.

At the top of the first hill, phew more to come
At the top of the first hill, phew more to come !

The recent riding focus has been to build confidence when taking corners and descending, especially when the 2 are happening at the same time ! I was able to get more feedback and advice on this, as well as some coaching on riding out of the saddle – most of my climbing is seated, as I have worked on getting strong legs, but they do blow up sometimes. I also know my running off the bike will be better if I can ease my legs sometimes during longer rides. Practice, practice, practice 🙂

We saw a double rainbow after the hailstorm
We saw a double rainbow after the hailstorm

The 5pm run was quite a difficult session to get ready for : it was damp, dark and cold outside, and the hotel was warm, cosy and had a good bar, but we did it !! A brisk warm up along the canal took us to an isolated hill – 3 or 4 sets for us all – up into the swirling headwind and driving hail !! Its interesting though, we were all smiling throughout and the thing I remember most was looking across to Blackpool and seeing the tower, lit up in all its glory 🙂

The canal alongside the hotel
The canal alongside the hotel

In between all of this activity, we had food (oh the wonderful, wonderful food !!) and rest in our lovely hotel, The Mill at Conder Green (www.themillatcondorgreen.co.uk) and some fun times : birthday cake, 30 mph winds and rising tides that isolated the hotel at the wrong time !!

The Mill Hotel, Condor Green, Lancaster
The Mill Hotel, Condor Green, Lancaster

I’ve come to expect a high quality training camp from Tanja and her team and I wasn’t disappointed : thoughtful training sessions, feedback, coaching solutions and lots of laughter. At the end of the weekend I felt like I had known everyone else for a long time and will keep I touch with my Winter triathlon training camp buddies !

Winter Triathlon training camp buddies !
Winter Triathlon training camp buddies !

Time to sign off………. pool practice, practice, practice time !

Catherine, Age Group girl

How many shoes does it take to be a triathlete ?

Happy weekend bloggers – hope you are enjoying your weekend so far !
I decided to write this blog after reading a few things over the past week about cycling and running shoes and it got me to thinking ‘wow how many shoes do I have and do I really need all of them to be a triathlete ?’

So how many do I have and do I have too many ? I can answer the first part, but the second, well that’s the real question isn’t it, how many is too many ? Whatever the answer here is my collection and I can justify every single pair, trust me !!

Let’s start with the run and from right to left we have :

Trainers !!
Trainers !!

Race shoes : These are light, very flexible and the ‘go-faster’ tri laces 🙂 . I have only recently started to run in these as have always felt the need for a shoe with more stability, but with the work I have done on my core this summer all is going well wearing these. I even tried them on a 2 hour run the other week and there was no soreness afterwards, so fingers crossed, they are good to go for my upcoming running events.

Stability shoes : These are heavier, have thicker soles and have built-in stability. Its amazing how heavy they feel now compared to the above but they need to stay in the pack, just in case.

Gym shoes : The white pair are my gym / workout class shoes as all of my other trainers are dirty ! And I don’t want the gym staff to have to follow me around, picking up the remains of my most recent outdoor activity from the floor…………… 🙂

And the new kids on the block, trail shoes : My new toys, arrived yesterday morning and were caked in mud by 3pm as I ran my first ever cross-country course in North London. They have great grip and allowed me to run from the mud to the pavement to the grass without wrecking the sole. Loved running without the fear of slipping and I’m keeping the mud attached just for the ‘hardcore’ credit !!

The new kids on the block !
The new kids on the block !

Now to the bike, from left to right this time…….. 3 pairs and each pair has its place in the plan !

Spin bike shoes : These only used inside at the moment which is why they look as good as new ! I These will get more wear once I acquire my ‘pub bike’ in the near future as they are designed for mountain bikes really. I do sense they have the desire to get out there and get some proper action.

Winter bike shoes : exclusively worn over the first couple of years of my cycling and have been retired to winter wear as they are black (I’m all for something that doesn’t show the dirt) and warmer.

Tri shoes : the newest of the bunch ! But already showing the dirt…… white wasn’t the smartest decision was it but they matched the new bike, so what does an Age Group girl do ?? These will be put away for the winter and used only my race in Auckland, New Zealand, in January 2014

For inside and outside !
For inside and outside !

And so to the swim……… shoes for the swim, I hear you cry ? Well yes………. flip-flops and fins are worn on the feet aren’t they !!!

We wear these on the feet too
We wear these on the feet too

And of course, what do we wear when our feet are a little sore or cold a workout or race ??These sloppy boots must be the best purchase out of the bunch – £6, lined with fake-fur and the softest shoe I have ever owned, and then when you add some soft and fluffy post race socks, this triathlete’s feet are in heaven.

Fabulous value and comfort for recovery !
Fabulous value and comfort for recovery !

Post race celebration event shoes ?? This Age Group girl is able to strut her stuff with the rest of them wearing a pair of these beauties ! However, for anyone that knows me well knows that I am really clumsy so heels are only allowed on very, very, very, special occasions to minimise the risk of a broken ankle or neck 🙂

Post race parties mean fancy shoes !
Post-race parties mean fancy shoes !

There we have it, justified one and all……………….. !!

Bye for now everyone and see you in the week

Catherine, Age Group girl

Race day photos : a Triathlete’s friend or foe ?

Greetings age groupers, happy Sunday ! Well its a wet and grey Sunday here, so instead of doing a 2 hour run, I am being inspired by watching the finish line of Ironman World Championships in Kona on the other computer.

Today is all about race day photos and whether they are our friend or foe. After a race, I used to rush to open the email when it arrived a couple of days after the event, look at the photos, buy a couple and cringe at the rest – then delete the email, as if that would erase the bad photo from the world ! Now I look at them in a very different way and use what they show me to improve my technique.

When I lived in the US I spent a Sunday afternoon taking part in a running clinic and at the beginning of the session the coach asked each of us why we were doing the clinic. One of the attendees was honest enough to say ‘I’m here so one day I can get a great race day photo’ ! We all laughed a little but I think everyone actually nodded and agreed, we want evidence that we look like we think we look out there.

Now I’m not talking here about making sure we have the best possible photo to use for our Facebook profile, that can happen after a few recovery moments and with the medal around your neck. I’m talking about those ‘in the midst of battle’ moments when your face and body gives away all the thoughts and feelings you were experiencing at that moment.

How many of us think that we

– have the grace of a mermaid when swimming ?

– dance on our pedals as we climb like a pro Tour rider ?

– bound along local trails like a graceful gazelle ?

Of course we all do, right ? Well, photos don’t lie and they give a view of reality.

Here are few of my own examples that I dare to share with the world :


– Sighting : I was taking part in a 3km swim race and thought my ‘sighting’ technique was improving, instead photographic evidence shows that instead I was using the ‘meerkat’ approach……… head fully out of the water which of course stops me in my tracks. Fortunately I was attending a training day the following week and had some great suggestions from the coaches as to how to improve this. (I wanted to post the photo, but have had a few technical difficulties making that happen, but I think you get the visual ?)

– Exiting the water : the photo below brought home to me the need to keep swimming as long as possible in the open water. The swimmer alongside exited the water sooner as, of course, it is much easier to swim than walk in water :). Another comment about this photo – someone once asked if this was my husband. Hmmmm, had a look at my weight training and nutrition plan after that comment !

Just keep swimming !
Just keep swimming ! Up and active training camp, Lanzarote 2013


– Riding position : pictures have told me that my overall riding position, from seat height to handlebar width, was cramped, giving me a limited range of motion and feeling really uncomfortable. A recent bike fit has helped me with this and the knee discomfort has gone.

– Hunched shoulders : like many, I hold tension in my shoulders – a good bike fit and generally working on relaxing while riding are areas I am focusing on.


– Relaxed and efficient arms : I’ve spent a lot of time working on keeping my arms and shoulders relaxed and working efficiently when running too, until I get in to a race apparently ! Lots of swinging is still going on which wastes so much energy and here’s just one example………

Crazy swinging arms, Upandactive training camp, Lanzarote 2013
Swinging arms, Up and active training camp, Lanzarote 2013

– Being airborne : it took me a while to understand the different running styles and the need to have minimal contact with the ground to help you cover the ground quicker. Again race photos have changed over time and there are a few occasions when I can see clear daylight under both of my feet, at the same time !!

Obviously there are many ways of getting feedback on your technique : running on a treadmill or riding a bike trainer in front of a mirror, video analysis, asking a buddy or attending a coached training event (see these links for a couple of companies and coaches I have used http://www.activetrainingworld.co.uk/ and http://www.upandactive.com/site/ ). All of these are helpful and one day we may all swim like mermaids, dance like Tour riders and glide like gazelles – one day, just one day !

And just one more that really proves that every picture tells a story…….. Suggested comments on what I am thinking ?? Answers on a postcard please !

Mile 17 & the heavens opened
Mile 17 & the heavens opened, LA Marathon March 2011

So I will ask again, Race day photos : friend or foe ? I’ll let you decide 🙂

Time to wrap up as the race coverage has finished and the rain has stopped – trails and some swim drills are calling. Before I go, next time you will read about my recent ride out with the Team Sky cars……..apparently its not all about the bike, there are planes, trains and automobiles involved too !

Catherine, Age Group girl