Saturday, 24 December 2011

An Eggy Christmas Carol - Chapter 2

It had been a very busy day. Eggenezer Scrooge was feeling the slightly uncomfortable but strangely pleasant muscular ache that meant a thoroughly good workout had been had. She took a deep breath and hastily emptied the 'bag of contamination', tipping out sodden socks, muck-covered trainers, festering swim kit, a range of bottles containing dregs of carb and electrolyte drinks and a collection of food wrappers. She shiftily screwed up the evidence of packet of Tesco Finest Triple Chocolate Cookies and shoved it in the bin underneath the salad bags so she could pretend she had never eaten them.

Friday, 23 December 2011

An Eggy Christmas Carol - Chapter 1

It was a clear, crisp December morning. The frosty blue sky was speckled with only the slimmest strips of pink-hued cloud and the winter breeze was raw and bracing. A warming aroma of fresh coffee and sizzling bacon drifted through the still, cold air; Eggenezer Scrooge had just gotten in from an early morning gym session and was ready for a serious feed.

After drizzling a small Canadian forest's worth of maple syrup on her bacon and pancakes, she heartily devoured the lot and sat down with her calendar to plan to her training up until Christmas. Scheduling in all the training she wanted to do around Christmas parties, family commitments and various festive social celebrations was very tricky indeed. Scrooge slunk back into her armchair in despair, "How on earth will I ever manage to keep fit and stay lean with all these opportunities to eat lots of food and get drunk!? I'll have to spend valuable exercise time on doing my hair and dressing up. By the time January comes, I'll be a big sluggish mess and have an extra stone of Christmas food sitting in my belly. Maybe I should leave all the partying and revelry and just keep training hard, bah humbug!"

Scrooge sat and frantically set about scribbling everything out of her diary and replacing it with turbo sets, kettlebell classes, strength training and long, offroad runs. She even threw in a few swim sessions for good measure. After ringing around her friends and thinking up many an imaginative excuse as to why she would be unable to make all these social arrangements, she was exhausted and decided a 30 minute powernap would be the answer.

She awoke with a start as she could hear something: an eerie, creaking noise coming from the back door. Stealthily, she picked up the nearest weapon, a syrup-covered fork, and crept slowly towards the door. Suddenly, the door flew open and Scrooge leapt backwards, covering her face from the fierce, swirling blast of air. When she finally uncovered her eyes she gasped in shock as right there in the doorway, a mangled, rusty carcass of a bicycle frame had appeared. She edged towards the frame for a closer inspection and a wave of nostalgia washed over her as she realised it was the bicycle that had taken her through her teenage years, the bicycle she had whizzed around the woods on without a care in the world, in a time long before she ever knew that cycling would become an obsession.

The metal frame groaned and screeched and to Scrooge’s amazement a bellowing voice sounded from the rickety framework “Scrooge, you’ve got this all wrong. You’re life balance is so off I’m surprised you haven’t fallen over.. in fact, that probably explains why you do keep having accidents!”. Scrooge scrunched her eyes and opened them again, thinking that this apparition could only be but a dream, “You can’t be real, just a figment of my imagination. Perhaps there is such a thing as too much cake, maybe the sugar is playing tricks on my mind.. I should go for a run to clear my head!” The frame replied “More exercise is not the answer to all your problems Scrooge. I’ve come to tell you that on this eve, you will be visited by three spirits who will come to show you the error of your ways, by the time Christmas comes maybe you will have a better perspective”. “Nonsense!” Scrooge scoffed, “Be off with you, I don’t have time for this mumbo jumbo. Clear off so I can go for a run”. With that, the frame vanished and Scrooge was left feeling a little shaken. “I obviously haven’t eaten enough food”, she thought to herself “I must be a bit light-headed”.

After preparing a light packed lunch of fruit, nuts, a couple of protein shakes, a few sticks of celery with peanut butter and raisins, a cereal bar and a triple-layer chicken and bacon sandwich filled with satisfyingly large chunks of meat and stuffed with a stupendous amount of salad, Scrooge set off to engage in an afternoon of good physical activity…

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Little of What You Fancy

"A little of what you fancy is alright", that's how the saying goes. The saying is absolutely correct, that's why people have been saying it for so long. I've been going a bit wrong for the last week and a half; instead of having a "little of what I fancy", I've been having "everything I could possibly want in incomprehensibly enormous volumes".

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Eggs First Half Marathon

It was always my intention not to race the Downton Half Marathon. My plan was to run nice and steady, ignore the watch and enjoy the course. This plan did actually start remarkably well; instead of my usual trick of using my small stature to weave my way to the front and then realising after five minutes that I really am physically unable of running a seven minute mile whilst trying to regain some sort of breathing control, I started out at a very gentle, relaxed pace.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lifting the Curse of the Hellrunner

On no less than my third entry to a Hellrunner race, I was very pleased to actually make it to the start line. Having had such bad luck in the past every time I have entered this race, I couldn't help thinking that maybe the universe was trying to warn me off somehow. I probably should have felt a bit edgy at the start line with the curse hanging over my head, but I didn't feel anything except for utter excitement, mostly due to the fact that the Clif Bar stand had samples galore and I had a perfect opportunity to ensure I was fully fed and energised before the race began.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Kettlebell Masochism

It's been a while since I've done kettlebells; I was a little bit tentative about getting back into it since being injured but last week, I thought it was about time I gave it a go again. Starting out with the little kettlebells I assessed my back situation. A whole load of encouragement and solid advice on good technique from the brilliantly enthusiastic instructor meant that throughout the session my confidence built and I got back up to throwing the bigguns around = happy Egg.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bicycle Bliss

I have been noticeably grumpy for the last few months. On many an eve I have gazed mournfully at the bent-out-of-shape Bianca, remembering the adventures we had, personal bests we trashed together and all the good times we shared. I despaired as I thought life without her and her garish orange handlebars would  never be the same again.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Running Out of Time

It took me a long time to learn to love running; hours upon hours of struggling to keep up, blaming my trainers for my sore knees, aching limbs and breathing so forced it made me wheeze. I nearly gave up on a daily basis, but with such vital motivations as losing weight and getting fit enough to enter a race, I just about managed to hang in there. Joining a group made a big difference; pain is better shared and having a good natter (in between fighting for air) certainly helps take your mind off the trauma you're going through.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Finis Tempo Trainer

I bought this little gizmo a couple of months ago as a last ditch attempt to motivate me to get in the pool and do some training. You can set it so it beeps after so many seconds, allowing you to swim up and down whilst keeping to a certain pace. I was a convert the first time I used it as it suddenly dawned on me that regulating my erratic pace made the whole thing so much easier. Unfortunately it doesn't make you magically swim faster.. at least I didn't think it did until yesterday..

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Having a Nice, Steady Stroke

I've been trying really hard recently to ignore the urge to try to swim quickly. I know the minute I try to power down that lane, all the good technique I've been learning will fly out the window. As coach Steve says, "get your technique right and the speed will come".

As a result, I've dropped my usual style of breathing every other stroke and gone exclusively bilateral; everything has slowed down and I plod up and down the lanes at a pace that allows me enough time to think about everything that has to happen to enable forward propulsion, and that is a lot of stuff.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The November Detox 2011

I've been a little bit low recently; for some reason I haven't been sleeping too well and as a result I've been a woman on the edge. Training of any kind has been a bit hit and miss and I've been lacking the usual motivation and energy.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Lil Ride

I am currently undergoing the biggest bike-buying drama that I think the world has ever seen. I decided I would hold off buying a new road bike until after the winter and all I want is a pretty (and by pretty I mean not red or black), small-framed cyclocross with decent components to double as my commuting bike, winter trainer, general packhorse and possibly even an actual cyclocross bike if I ever decide to sign up for a race.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A True Love/Hate Relationship

I went through a small era earlier this year where I could not get enough of swimming. My 50 metre sprints were fast and I was game for any opportunity to get in the water regardless of time, place or temperature. I even got a bit told off by coach Shaun for wanting to get up and do a quick 2k in the lake before a massive cycling day on the Alpine Training Camp

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Never Drinking Again

On a Sunday morning, many thousands of people around the world are saying the same words, "I am never drinking again". At that moment in time, I am sure every single one genuinely means it. A few days later, the pain is forgotten and the remnants of kebab have disappeared. Saturday night is merely remembered as "legendary" and those fuzzy flashbacks only include the fun stuff, not the bit where you fell over on the dance floor or decided to share your woes with a bouncer for an hour or gave your number to someone wholly inappropriate.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Multisport Mutation

Triathletes and other multisport or endurance athletes tend to be - on the whole - a fairly hardy bunch. Training needs to get done whatever the weather and it's often more a case of how to fit life in around the training regime rather than the more common problem of "how to fit exercise into the daily routine". The training schedule becomes the daily routine and it's only when you finally take a rest day that you realise you have all this extra time to do the normal things people do such as sit down and eat lunch, or watch a couple of hours of TV in the evening.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Slowly slowly

In the last week – despite starting to feel physically improved – I have been seriously struggling to find my motivation, except for when it comes to sitting about doing nothing at all. The usual get up and go attitude has been more along the lines of get up slowly, go unwillingly then finish early and have a little rest.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Being Insanely Healthy

The blog has been very quiet recently, mostly because I have been doing very little (except sleeping, which I have done in plentiful amounts), and certainly nothing blogworthy. I originally intended to spend all this injured downtime making incredible foodstuff and filling the blog with nutritious and wonderful recipes but there does come a time when you have so little to do, that doing anything at all becomes a real effort.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Green Pepper and Tomato Soup

If we are honest, whenever people purchase a bag of mixed peppers, they only really want the red, orange and yellow ones. The green peppers just aren't as sweet and tasty, so they sit about in the fridge until you either happen to make a curry that they can be thrown in to or they are wrinkly enough to be thrown out.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Mildly Perilous Emsworth Epic

I am finally starting to come to terms with the fact that rest and relaxation is the only answer if I want to speed up the back healing process. As you all know, R+R is not something that comes easy for me and I have been trying to think up ingenious ways of doing little bits of exercise without hurting myself such as making far too many cups of tea to increase the amount of time spent lifting the kettle.

With relaxation in mind though, I headed off to Emsworth for a calm couple of days by the sea where I would not be in the danger proximity zone of the gym or be tempted to do anything too active. A land where the greatest danger would be the village patisserie.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Food for Weight Control

The first few days of the Cheer Up Challenge have actually gone very well. There have been a number of cakey temptations in work that I have smugly evaded and I managed to walk away from half price Ben & Jerrys in Tesco (after spending probably two minutes staring longingly into the freezer cabinet).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Raw Chocolatey Slices

After scanning raw food websites, selecting the best bits of different recipes for raw food brownies and experimenting a lot with stuff that really doesn’t blend together very well, I decided on my final combination of ingredients.

Then, I told one of my friends I was going to bring “special brownies” for a treat after dinner one evening. She was very excited indeed. However, she ended up being enormously disappointed when I turned up with these, not because they aren’t yummy, but because if you are expecting anything resembling a brownie, you would be disappointed too.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Breakfast Muffins

Forget Starbucks with their calorific coffee and their "pretending to be good for you" muffins. These muffins are super satisfying and contain a whole load of good stuff to start your day with. They're really easy and quick to make too.

This recipe makes 6 muffins (one to taste test, and one for each morning before work, ideal!)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Spinach and Mushroom Carbonara

Carbonara is one of those really gooey delicious dinners that tastes amazing until you realised how much fat you just consumed through cheese and cream. This recipe is a much lighter alternative!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cheer Up Challenge

It turns out having an achy back doesn't really suit my lifestyle. As much as I hate to admit it, I have been a little bit grumpy for the past few days. Of course Egg-style grumpy is most people's normal emotional state but I need to pick myself back up and get back to my normal overly-cheery self.

As a result of not being able to do my usual exercise and having serious bike withdrawal symptoms, I've even been laying in bed lazily in the mornings rather than the usual jumping up and hitting the day with a running start. Not only that but the eating has gone downhill too, more than downhill actually, more like fallen off a cliff! I've been finding myself exhibiting zero willpower and have been letting myself have any treats going "because I have a sore back". I amazed the ladies in my office as I recalled my attack of the munchies one evening last week, I'm even too embarrassed to say what I ate but it was pretty impressive.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Courgette Loaf

When someone told me you could make cake from courgette I really wasn't convinced. I quickly learned though that it gives a fantastic moist texture and nobody can really tell what the random ingredient is that you're using! 

This recipe is a great alternative to fruit cake or tea cake, it's sweet enough to satisfy a cakey craving but still healthy enough to make it fairly guilt-free!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bouncing Off Cars

My post-Canada training plan was going marvellously; I had come back with fresh motivation and was even keen to get in the pool and get some serious swimming time in on the lead up to Bala in September. My intention was do to the Swanage Olympic distance triathlon this weekend as a bit of a tester, mostly to see how I would find the swim but also to have a good, hilly blast on the 25 mile course.

Unfortunately this plan was scuppered by a man in a silly orange car that decided to not look in the direction of oncoming traffic and to drive straight into the side of me instead as I cycled home from work earlier in the week. It wasn't a very dramatic, high-speed collision - in fact it was almost slow-motion - but it was enough to give me a good jolt and cause Bianca a bit of damage.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Change of Perspective

I had a marvellous holiday in Canada. After trying to "be good" for a couple of days I realised how boring I was being so I just got into the holiday spirit and indulged in anything I wanted. Many a Canadian was in awe at my disgustingly impressive food tolerance levels, which appear to grow with every alcoholic beverage consumed.

Suffice to say, when I returned home I felt like a blob. A very relaxed, refreshed and happy blob, but a blob nonetheless. The thought of a hardcore detox did cross my mind but honestly, I had been having so much fun whilst away and I realised that at home I'd been denying myself of a lot of the things I enjoy all in the name of being healthy. So a detox didn't appeal at all. In fact, I think there is a lot to be said for my mental and emotional well-being. It's like something clicked in my brain whilst I was away and instead of being racked with guilt about putting on a few pounds, doing very little exercise and eating my body weight in cake I just felt like it had all been a very worthwhile experience.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Syrup for Fuel

The whole ‘healthy holiday’ plan had a very promising start. I made a lot of good food choices as I journeyed towards Canada, including a very tasty wholemeal salmon and beetroot wrap and loads of fruit. The was a minor incident at Rejkavik airport as I purchased a dried fish snack which I wasn’t entirely certain was definitely intended for human consumption; it was next to a picture of a very happy-looking dog and had zero discernable English on the packaging. Nonetheless, it tasted marvellous and had no less than a whopping 81% protein so either way, I was onto a winner!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Having a Proper Holiday

The whole point of a holiday is to get away from the daily grind and do something different. Some might even say do something relaxing, or do nothing at all. Doing nothing seems to be an utterly pointless waste of time to me though; if you're going to do nothing you might as well not bother going on holiday at all!

On the other hand, I know people (and when I say people, I mean triathletes) who have taken a week off work and stayed at home just so they can "train like the pros", putting in some hard sessions with a good amount of recovery and plenty of time to make delicious, healthy food.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Andover Triathlon 2011

I thought today was going to be one of those days. Firstly, a last-minute bike check showed up that Bianca had a flat back wheel. I was less than impressed, especially as earlier in the week I thought there was a slow puncture somewhere and so had changed the tube. What was actually wrong was a big old stone was wedged into the rubber that I had completely failed to spot! Fortunately, I had one spare tube left and a spare tyre knocking around so I got her fixed up and race ready.

Once I had made my post-race peanut butter and jam rolls, donned the tri suit, packed my bag and consumed vast quantities of coffee,  I was feeling a lot more relaxed. That feeling lasted all the way through arrival, registration and transition set-up. Even as the rain started coming down I was feeling pretty good about the race, I knew what to expect from the course and it was all good.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Second Tri at Andover

A whole year ago I did my first ever triathlon and I was spending the whole day before completely freaking out. This year I am really happy to be repeating the event courtesy of Andover Tri and seeing if I can knock some time off.

I've been very sensible with training this week and have had the prescribed rest and all that stuff, now I just need to manage not to get into that 'carbo-loading' zone where I somehow make myself believe that two tubs of ice cream and a triple pack of jaffa cakes will benefit my race.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Egg's First Track Session

As anybody who has ever had the pleasure of running with me will gladly tell you, it takes a lot and I mean a lot, to get me to stop talking. It is often said that you can tell when somebody is at their anaerobic capacity as it’s the point at which you only receive one word answers in conversation; but I always have far too much to say to make this a feasible option. Sometimes I even wonder if I am missing that important brain to body link that tells you to shut up before you run out of oxygen.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Five a Week

I think I could be on the verge of a massive health breakthrough. Since September – and starting my new job – I have been attending college twice a week. Each visit to college involved walking through town; which added up to walking through town a minimum of four times during the week, but often more due to going home and back again for lunch.

A combination of factors has made this journeying detrimental to my health:

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bath Amphibians Mega Midweek Monster Duathlon

I'd had my eye on the Bath Amphibians midweek duathlon series since it started in May; it takes place on the first Wednesday of each month down at Castle Combe race circuit and I have had many a blissful daydream about putting Bianca on that smooth, flat tarmac.

As it turns out, this particular event was the middle one of the series and was not just a plain old duathlon, it was a monster duathlon i.e. run, bike, run, bike, run. Instantly I knew if there was just one of these events I went to, it would have to be the monstrous one. My ever-enthusiastic pal, Holly, was up for the road trip and we decided we were going to do a relay, with me hammering the bike and with her cracking out the runs.

Whilst this event was intended as a bit of Wednesday evening fun, we couldn’t pretend that we weren’t going to be competitive and the car conversation involved figuring out what times we wanted to achieve and what sort of level everyone else might be and a lot of “oh my god, I hope we’re not really slow!”

Monday, 4 July 2011

Sleeping, Napping and Having a Kip

The last few weeks have been hectic to say the least and I have gotten myself into some bad habits. I always said that June would be "the month of fun" after training so hard in April and May and piling in the miles to prepare my legs for the Tour of Wessex. The problem is that in this month of fun I have said yes to almost everything; be it a social occasion, training session or some other event.

Gradually I have been having less and less sleep and doing more and more stuff and last week, the body finally gave me a signal that it needed a rest. I thought I had somehow strained my neck muscles from lifting (obviously massive) weights but quickly realised it was something rather more glandular. Within 24 hours I was feeling like death. I - very sensibly - make the decision to rest up and allow complete recovery. As much as it pained me to do so, all training was scrubbed out of the diary.

Sleep, it turns out, is the best recovery tool in the box. One of my goals last year was to prioritise sleep more and that one appears to have slipped away a bit so I'm bringing it back! From now, I'm going to be all over the early nights and even have naps after particularly hard sessions.

On a positive note, I haven't binged on 'comfort' food during these last few days and have instead indulged in things filled with Vitamin C and chunky vegetable soups. As a result I feel mentally okay about my rest and haven't been filled with that 'loss of fitness' dread that usually consumes me during these times of illness.

Anyway, less blogging.. I'm off for a kip.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

How Clean is Your Triathlete

There are sometimes days - and bear with me here for just a moment - when I really have to have a good think about when will be the best time to wash. In regular life all you need to do is get up in the morning, have a shower and make yourself look presentable. Easy.

Even a normal person who does a bit of exercise might get their workout in first thing, get clean and head off to work or have a shower after an evening of exertion and wake up in the morning still just about fresh enough to go out in public. In triathlete world though, it is not so simple.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Back to Bad Habits

It all started on Thursday which - surprise surprise - was my rest day. There should be a rule where I never go to Tesco on a rest day, as I have all that excess time to peruse the treats and wander slowly through the bakery section inhaling the amazing aromas. I bought a bag of cookies, my first bag in about five weeks. Finest Triple Chocolate. They were the absolute perfect amount of squidge versus crunch and I was momentarily whisked away to a chocolatey utopia.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

25 Miles of Pain

If I am honest I didn't ever really intend to enter a 25 mile time trial. I had it in my head that it was going to be a 10 mile and had already invited Lewis 'smash it' Andrews along for the sufferfest before I scanned down the calendar and realised. In fact I didn't even think about the potential consequences of any of this until I had talked him into it, rang up the club secretary and booked our places.

Neither of us had done a 25 miler before and spent the journey over discussing what times we thought we could do and how much it was going to hurt. 25 miles is a long time to spend at threshold. Very unmathematically, I came to the conclusion that it would be around an hour and twenty five minutes of pain, based on the fact that it's two and a half 10 mile times plus a bit extra because of the extended exertion.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Summer Solstice 8k

In April last year I did my first ever running race; a women's only five miler in the familiar Woodford Valley. I was absolutely chuffed to bits to get through it and was even more pleased with a time of 50:01. Five miles at ten-minute mile pace was a massive achievement for me.

Fourteen months later and it was time for my second race at this distance. I actually only heard about this race on Wednesday at running club and I - being the very encourageable girl that I am - was easily talked into signing up.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Egg vs.The Sea

I love the carnage of open water swimming. Being in the mix with flailing arms, disorientation and that race mentality of getting to the front no matter what brings together two of my loves: endurance sports and contact sports. In a group session at Ellingham Lake last Saturday I even managed to get myself a bad reputation in a matter of minutes as I got carried away in our faux 'mass starts' and unwittingly bullied my fellow swimmers and swam over everybody. Swimming over someone - incidentally - is a very bizarre sensation, more so for the recipient though I imagine.

I was therefore, very much looking forward to swimming in the sea at Bournemouth, between the piers. All the goodness of open water but with a bit more splash. I thought I was being very clever by making my own electrolyte drink before heading off. I mixed orange juice with water and added some salt - simple. There was a minor salt spillage during the drink-making process but I thought it would be fine, so I gave it all a shake and threw it in the bag.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Eggathon

It may look like a pepper with a bad case of d&v, but it
tastes delicious!
I haven't really been doing anything in particular for the last couple of weeks, without a big event on the horizon or any sort of major goal to aim for I have been trundling along and filling my time with random but very enjoyable training, creating more dubious combinations of food and marshalling other races.

Whilst I like having my goals to work towards it is actually really nice just to be training for the sake of enjoyment and doing all the stuff that I love without any of the pressure of "must do this session this week". 

I also think that I may have sort of reached a bit of a milestone. As I tucked into my very tasty spicy couscous with sesame and pine nut stuffed peppers I got to thinking:

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Getting Battered with Kettlebells

You hear all sorts of things about Kettlebells; excellent all-over body workout, great for toning, good for building core strength, a strength session that is also a banging cardio workout.. blah blah blah. I never pay that much attention because they say all that stuff about every new exercise class. Plus, who even cares about all of that when the best thing is that you get to swing a colourful cast iron weight around the place?! 

Luckily the class was small, so there were less people to potentially take out with dangerous manoeuvres. Everybody gathered around to select their kettlebells for the session and to be honest, I was a little bit surprised at the size and weight of these things that we would be brandishing about the studio. Some of them are absolutely massive!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Eastleigh Parkrun

"Fancy a free 5k at the weekend after lake swimming?" I asked Holly at running club on Wednesday. "A free race? Really? That sounds good! We could even race against each other". Holly and I have a pretty similar pace and we push each other on Wednesday night runs. We pretty much always end up running a little bit quicker than we expect but never really reach our full potential due to the common female mistake of engaging in far too much chat.

Having enjoyed Basingstoke Parkrun so much (despite the hangover, lack of breakfast, lack of water and non-existent warm up) I thought it would be fun to check out our other fairly local one and see how it compares.

We arrived at Lakeside in Eastleigh with fifteen minutes to spare and we did everything right; we hydrated, had a good warm up and checked out the absolutely vast range of participants. We estimated there was somewhere between 150 and 200 people taking part, from children to hardcore runners to people in fancy dress.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Swimming Without a Nose Clip

 I've had a bit of a swimming lull since the Alps, in fact I haven't been swimming at all. Despite good intentions in the week I have avoided the pool like the plague and made really lame excuses to everybody else and to myself.

Conscious of slipping back into bad habits, I knew I couldn't miss the Saturday morning lake swim at Ellingham. I wouldn't want to miss it anyway; as much as I'm not the biggest fan of pool swimming, I do love a splash about in the open water.

Last night whilst I was packing my kit I remembered that I didn't have a nose clip, as I'd lost it on race day in the Alps. On the last day of the holiday a very patient Claire took me off and tried to coach me in how to swim without the clip. I've always struggled with water up my nose and I can't think of anything worse than that chlorine in the back of the throat sensation you get when the water weans its way all the way up to the top of your nostrils.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tour of Wessex - Day 3.. almost

I woke up early this morning and spent a good hour tentatively peering out the window at the grey clouds. The weather report had not been promising but I could see puddles on the ground and it wasn't raining so I thought maybe, just maybe, that huge band of rain had swept past early.

As I waited at the start there was only the slightest hint of moisture in the air and I had a feeling it was going to be my lucky day. Ten minutes later the water was dripping from every part of my face, my jacket was so wet it was completely stuck to me and I couldn't feel my toes.

Ride Plus Chamois Salve Review

Chafe is a bit of a cyclist taboo. It's like talking to men about menstruation, as soon as the topic rears it's head everyone has a sharp intake of breath whilst grimacing and the subject changes very quickly.

I got handed two tubs of freebies whilst on the way to registration at the Jurassic Sportive. The tubs were identical in size and shape. In one tub was a deep heat muscle rub and in the other tub was a 'chamois salve'.. or for the less articulate amongst us, chafe cream. I was too scared to try either of these on the day just in case a freak accident or mislabelling catastrophe caused any sort of mix up with the two products leaving me with either a very well lubricated neck and shoulder area or.. well.. I'll leave that to your imagination.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Tour of Wessex - Day 2

Yesterday had gone so well that I wasn't entirely sure that I hadn't dreamt it. I woke up as fresh as a daisy and checked that it was definitely Sunday, it was.. bonus! Pacing and hydration were definitely the successes of day one (two things I am normally rubbish at) and so today I had planned for more of the same. The plan didn't quite come together...

I started steadily, but was trying to pace a little quicker than yesterday as I was conscious of time and today was a long day mileage-wise. After a good warm-up I hit the first long, draggy hill that was made better by the scenery of some very picturesque Somerset villages and eventually, Sherborne Castle. This led into a brilliant rolling route where I was powering down little country roads and generally loving life.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Tour of Wessex - Day 1

If there is one thing I hate about cycling, it's jacket faff. Stopping to continuously change clothing really infuriates me and I would usually rather just be a bit cold and get on with it than faff about. Today however, much to my disdain, a substantial amount of jacket faff was required.

Fortunately jacket faff was the only thing about the first day of the Tour of Wessex that I didn't enjoy. The route was absolutely cracking! After going through Glastonbury and past Glastonbury Tor, we then shot sharply upwards through Cheddar Gorge. The road kept rising steadily, leading into an awesome descent fuelled by a colossal tailwind. In fact the tailwind was so strong that at one point I terrified myself as I only just slowed down enough to make it around an uphill bend!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Unnecessary Eating

Yesterday I had a bit of a blip. A wonderfully light and crumbly, home-baked scone made by a brilliantly talented office buddy had left a sweet taste in my mouth. I was walking home past Waitrose and decided to go in and torture myself. I started out well; perused the bakery aisle, oogled the cakes and the freshly-baked, chewy, chocolately cookies. I spent some time in the baking aisle and briefly daydreamed, realising I was surrounded by world of limitless, delightful possibilities.

The biscuit and confectionary aisles called out to me. In Waitrose the force in these aisles is stronger than other supermarkets because there are some seriously scrumptious and exclusive products to tantalize the taste buds. I scrutinised the posh biscuits and managed to tear myself away only to be faced with an enormous range of biscuits for cheese! I stood and imagined a smearing a thick layer of Boursain atop a salted and cracked black pepper thin or a slicing a well-softened brie onto a hovis digestive...

More mental agony occured in the frozen section as I ran the tips of my fingers over the cool, frosted tops of many a luring and luscious flavour of ice cream.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

After Alps

The last big day in the Alps was a good one. Another Tour de France climb up wildly unpredictable Col de Saisies finished me off. My heart was so tired from a really solid week of training that it refused to play the game and I puffed and panted my way up very, very steadily. The descent was absolutely fantastic as my confidence at cornering had improved vastly throughout the week. 

I returned home a broken girl, not broken in the usual 'egg fell over and forgot to put her hands out' sort of way, but just completely and utterly exhausted. It's nice to know that I do actually have a physical limit - as I have often thought that so long as I keep eating, I'll be able to keep going.

Speaking of eating.. the food in the Alps was certainly not the healthiest and I blame myself entirely for failing to a) make healthy choices and b) put any sort of limit on portion size. The trick now is to not dwell on the bad choices but to get back on the wagon. A plethora of salads, chunky vegetable soups and protein shakes have had me back on the straight and narrow and there isn't a baguette or a chunk of cheese in sight.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Triathlon Training Camp 2011 - Part 4

It's a well known fact that you never try anything new on race day. Everything from your bike set-up to clothing to what you put in your drinks bottle must be tried and tested. Today was our training camp 'race day', but the difference was that it was a chance to try out anything we wanted to see what would work and what you would never do again.

Whilst the rest of the girls were gearing themselves up for an all out battle on the super sprint, Marie and I were trying to determine how long we would be out for on our extended course and therefore how much food we should bring.

This 'testing race' for me wasn't just about trying out kit and food choices. It was going to be the longest distance I had ever attempted in terms of triathlon and so it was also about testing whether or not I was physically able!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Triathlon Training Camp 2011 - Part 3

When you’re given massive bowls of salted peanuts and a good dose of vienetta with your dinner from the people who are supposed to be ensuring you are well nourished for sport, that’s when you know the next day will be a hard one.

This morning after a good breakfast we set off for the hills. We had a good hour or so on the flat, valley floor to warm up the legs for the thrashing they were about to receive.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Triathlon Training Camp 2011 - Part 2

If from this day forward every cycle I ever did was an alpine climb I think I would be a very, very happy girl. The little bits of ascending I’ve done over the last couple of days have been absolutely superb; perfect gradients for a banging cardio workout but just gentle enough that you feel like (with enough fuel) you could keep going forever. Of course for every bit of up there also comes a down and descending is a whole lot of fun too on lovely, smooth French tarmac.

We were practising our swim to bike transitions today. There is something very unusual about finishing a swim and starting to run upright out of a lake. With ears full of water and the sudden rush of a blood in a whole new direction, you end up looking like a neoprene-clad drunk emerging from the depths. As you stumble out of the water doing the whole “ooh, ahh, foot on stones” thing, it’s very difficult to regain your composure, let alone start running to your bike. If that isn’t bad enough you then need to attempt a speedy exit from your wetsuit, which of course you bought at least at size too small to be “more streamlined”.  It was an entertaining session to say the least.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Triathlon Training Camp 2011 - Part 1

I arrived at Geneva airport and anxiously awaited the arrival of my enormous, gaffa-taped bike box (which I had been generously leant by My Dan Brunton, thank you very much!). The brilliantly efficient Swiss came through without fail and I had what was by far the quickest airport transition of my life.

I littered Jon with questions as he drove me very patiently back to the chalets: How big is the lake? When’s our first mega alpine cycle climb? How many sessions a day are we doing? Am I ridiculously unfit compared to the others? And then most importantly: How many times  a day do we get fed?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Shocker at Salisbury Tri

With around a year of racing under my elasticated belt, I was ready to take on my local triathlon: Salisbury.

I did the classic triathlete thing that we all do but pretend we don't do.. I trawled through some results for previous years and picked out people that I thought I could beat and people I knew I'd get nowhere near.

From these results and my own, optimistic ideas about my abilities I created a series of mini goals: sub 8 minute 400 for the swim, an hour for the 19 mile bike and a 32 minute run. Of course they were all best case scenario times and I knew it was unlikely I would hit any of them. Factoring in a bit of extra time for each one and the transitions, I was aiming for anything under 2 hours, but secretly I wanted to go under 1:50.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Jurassic Sportive 2011

After weeks of being spoilt with glorious sunshine, the heavens opened and torrents of rain stormed down, washing vast amounts of muck into the roads just in time for a blinkin' hard 100 miler. As a result, there were more punctures than there is in our bathroom after Liz has been having a DIY session. This meant that each downhill and potential speed gain was scuppered by fear of blowouts or just losing grip on all the mud and gravel that was littering the tarmac. 

Whilst I can't complain too much about the weather - as we didn't see a drop of rain for the whole ride - the breeze was something else. Every now and again in moments of sheer brilliance the wind would get behind you and you'd have a mile or two of pure tailwind utopia, then out of nowhere an enormous gust would take you by surprise, thrusting you into the middle of the road or into the nearest hedge. The vast majority of the ride was spent fighting some sort of angle of wind, but you were so busy panting your way up really big hills that you are beyond caring.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

How Not To Parkrun

Parkrun is a brilliant scheme that sees free 5k runs organised and run by volunteers every Saturday morning in various parks all over the country. I had been keen to try one for ages and whilst arranging a bit of a girls night in Basingstoke the idea was thrown out to have a few drinks on Friday and then do the Basingstoke Parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning. Ideal. 

Well, it would have been ideal had it not been for some hefty Pimms consumption followed up with a good dose of sparkly stuff. I had set the alarm for 07:45 and awoke - ever so slightly fuzzily - to the sound of bucketing rain and thunder. I cheerily woke up the girls with cups of tea but they definitely weren't as keen as I was to go ahead with the run.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Schwalbe Ultremo R.1 Review

I am not a girly girl. I don't care if my hair is a mess, I am not excited by things that sparkle and I wouldn't have a clue what belt to wear to match my shoes. In fact I don't even own any shoes.. except for the cycling variety. Imagine then my surprise when somewhere from deep within my feminine subconscious came a squeal of sheer delight as I realised I'd found a road/race tyre that not only came in different colours, but came in a shade that was a perfect match to my bar tape. Now THAT is accessorising!

However, apart from coming in a spectacular array of fun colours, these tyres do have some other pluses..

Monday, 2 May 2011

Bank Holiday Bail

In exactly four weeks time I will (hopefully) be sweating my way up Dunkery Beacon and be over halfway to completing the last day of the Tour of Wessex. I am having a few concerns with a niggling knee and hoping that this will be sorted by the end of the month and that all I'll have to worry about will be my fitness and ability to cram enough calories in!

Discussions with all sorts of other cyclists, triathletes, coaches and anybody vaguely sport-related have left me with a whole wealth of different reasons that the knee is playing up from overuse to cleat-position. One of the interesting discussions I had was about the fact that the knee that is playing up is the one that always pushes off whenever I start cycling. The outcome of this chat was basically that I should just use the other foot for a while when I cleat and uncleat and see if it makes a difference. Simple. 

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Sensible Stopping

When you have set yourself a challenge, or been set a challenge or even just told a few people what you're planning to do, the pressure is on for you to complete it. Once I have my head set on doing something, I want to see it through to the bitter end and the idea of having to give up - whatever the reason - fills me with dread!

As I have discovered in the last week though, stopping can be the most sensible option. I was feeling massive excitement and slightly nervous anticipation about doing the South Downs Way on mountain bike. A goal of mine for ages, this would be one to tick off the list. I was feeling particularly smug as I managed to cram everything I needed (including a sleeping bag, spare clothes AND vast amounts of food) in an 18 litre sack; small and light enough to make for a very comfortable ride.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Banbury with the Browns - going South

I awoke on day two a bit confused. It must have been either the champagne or just utter fatigue, but I had fallen asleep as soon as I'd sat on the bed. It was still perfectly made. Either that or the compression tights were that good that they had held me completely still. I was actually a bit scared to take them off in case my legs spilled out everywhere. 
Easter treats!

 I decided I would have breakfast first, to build up the strength required to pull the tights from my enormous calves. We indulged in muesli and home-made marmalade on toast and watched the weather with anxious anticipation. Fortunately the wind direction hadn't changed and it looked like we were going to have a tailwind for our homeward journey.

Once Sarah had gotten over her grumpy morning bit and ranted at the birds for "making too much noise", we were away. Five minutes later and we were back in happy cycling mode; enjoying quiet, smooth and mostly traffic-free roads.

I mentioned before the 'phases of cycling' that occur over the course of a long ride. They go something like this:

Monday, 25 April 2011

Banbury with the Browns - going North

Who needs gels when you have quality street?
"Are you up for an adventure Egglet?" Sarah B asked me last week, knowing full well that I would be. This one would entail a trip up to Banbury on the bikes, an evening of compulsory wine drinking in compression tights with Mr and Mrs B and a cycle back the next day. Ideal for me as that would make for two long rides that I didn't have to think up a route for.

We set off from Salisbury in high spirits but quickly realised that we were battling a stiff northerly breeze and that it was going to be a tough ride up. There would be only one thing for it: many, many carbohydrates. Luckily for me Sarah was carrying enough food to feed a small army both of us and was keen to ditch some weight. I was happy to help.

We decided to take the scenic route and discovered some really fantastic country roads in Northern Wiltshire. It was whilst on this journey of discovery that we noticed how enormous Wiltshire actually is. It took us FOREVER to find our way out of this ever-expanding and inescapable county (which Sarah - in some carb-overloaded delirium - put down to Wiltshire-based aliens and something about corn circles and coming in the night and moving county border signs). We cheered heartily as we hit Berkshire and meandered into the Cotswolds.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Loving the Lake

Ellingham Lake is definitely one of the best places you can be at 6:15 on a Saturday morning. Seeing the sun rise over the trees and glisten off the cool, clear water far surpasses any of this laying in bed nonsense. If the early morning exercise or idyllic location doesn't do anything for you then it's worthwhile going just to see buff, neoprene-clad men whimpering as they enter the water past thigh level.

AJ showing the blokes how it should be done
There's something a little bit hardcore about open water swimming in April; it's still cold enough and early enough in the year for some (wussy) people to think that it's an absolutely bonkers idea. I thought I was one of the gnarly ones as I avoided the whole 'dipping the toe in' thing and strolled - nonchalantly - down the ramp. I had, however, forgotten just how slimy the ramp actually was and I stopped looking gnarly the moment I slipped in up to my neck made an exclamation that must have been something along the lines of "gosh, it's jolly chilly isn't it!".

Hannah provided the early morning entertainment with her
dinosaur/centurion impression

After a few minutes of paddling out, that initial cold burst subsided and the water felt lovely. I have a feeling my swimming lull might be over. Swimming just doesn't get better than this!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A Note About Hills

No matter how much technology advances,
Paint will still be the greatest program ever
I love hills. I love walking up them, I love running up them, I love finding big grassy ones and rolling down them but most of all, I love powering up as fast as my legs and lungs will take me on my bicycle.

Technically, I am not particularly skilled in the act of ascending and descending on the bike. In fact I really need to do a whole lot of improving my hill climbing before I attempt the Tour of Wessex. However, I do think that what I may lack in technique and fitness I make up for in mettle, tenacity and a positive ment-hill attitude!

The trick is to not fear the hill. Don't go into it thinking you won't get up it. Don't even think "Gah.. I hate this but I know it's good training". Think of the hill as your sworn enemy; whom you must strike down with every centimetre of black, rubbery weapon at your disposal. Attack each fiendish lump of tarmac with the intention of riding your noble steed over it's fallen body and enjoying the exhilarating rush of speed as you depart the hilly battlefield.

What's that? Don't have your carb drink at lunchtime Egg you loon?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Egg's (and Mike's) First Time Trial

I've wanted to do a proper time trial for ages, so when I saw that the New Forest Cycling Club were running a series of 10 mile time trials I knew I had to go along and try it out.

Me and Mike full of excitement at the start
Fortunately I had Mike for company, who had never done a proper one either so I knew I wouldn't be the only newbie out on the course. We arrived at "Race HQ", which was actually a woman sat in the boot of her car in Ringwood Market Place car park. In fact we probably wouldn't have found her had it not been for the crowd of brightly coloured cyclists mingling in the vicinity, some of whom were so aerodynamic it's a wonder they can stop to talk at all. There were a lot of seriously nice sets of wheels around; I think it’s fair to say that my bike probably weighed more than several of these carbon beasts put together.

A few of the very professional-looking time-triallers were in full on one-piece lycra suits with those special sperm-shaped helmets and tight covers around their shoes, because imagine how bad it would be to put all that effort in whilst wearing a silly looking hat and then find out your shoes have slowed you down, I would be aghast!

We warmed up a bit by going for a spin around the first part of the route, but we were back at the start to see the first cyclists go off. As everyone was set off at one minute intervals, it actually turned out to be quite a long time to wait (we were number 28 and 29). So here’s the question: do you a) do a very, very long warm-up and use up some of your energy reserve or b) save energy but stand around getting cold? After standing around debating this, Mike decided that next time the answer would be to register, then get a Burger King and sit in the warm car until you have five minutes to go. This time however, we stood about getting cold, which could have put me at an aerodynamic advantage as I’m sure my nipples were ready to cut through the air faster than most of the men’s.

I struggled to trust a man I'd never met to hold me up on the bike for about 40 seconds whilst both feet were clipped to the pedals and had visions of being pushed off and immediately falling into the kerb in front of all the seasoned pros.. luckily the whole push-off thing worked successfully and before I knew it I was pedalling my little heart out.

My bike computer is broken so I had no idea what speed I was doing but my tactic was just to go as hard as possible. I was feeling pretty strong for the first ten minutes or so and then I pulled back a little bit to ensure I didn't burn out before the end. The out and back loop was great as you see all the other cyclists coming back in the other direction and you get to see that everyone else is in pain too!

I hit the Sopley turn around quicker than expected, only Mike and one other bloke had whizzed past me and I was feeling good, I was just over halfway. I made the most out of the wonderfully smooth tarmac and flew around the little circular one-way system, cornering like a fiend and building the momentum in readiness for a super fast second half. Then as soon as I exited the last corner the headwind smacked me in the chest. I tried to maintain the speed but I just couldn't do it. 

In the second half I was really running out of steam. Each time another pair of chiselled calves overtook me I got a little burst of enthusiasm but I couldn't hang on the back of anybody. I was pushing hard but my body just wouldn't go full throttle. 

I came into the finish where Mike was waiting. I don't think I've ever been more happy to drop the gears and spin my legs, the half a mile back to the car park was a joy! 

There was a buzz in the air when we got back; the woman with the board was receiving real-time updates as people were coming through the finish line and was writing them up as everybody crowded around to see what times they had done. I came in at 32:05 which works out at just under a 19mph average, I had wanted to get to 20mph but for my first one, I was pleased. More importantly, now I have a time to try and beat!

I very much enjoyed Mike's analogy of it all, he said he "went through a whole range of emotions" which involved firstly feeling really good, then feeling a bit sick, then totally knackered, then a sudden burst of energy at the end before finishing and feeling like you could have pushed harder. An excellent summary of the whole experience I think!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Challenge 5000

To be honest I started this blog so that my family could keep updated with my antics and so that I could indirectly inform them when I've fallen off the wagon and am lying face down in a ditch covered in cake.

Ten and a half months later and I have a core reading group of family, friends and random people from 45 different countries! Who on earth my readers are in Ecuador,The Philippines and South Korea I may never know.. but I really appreciate the support and the kind and funny comments that people send me either directly on the blog or on facebook, twitter, email and text.

On Sunday I was absolutely astounded to reach the 5000 hit marker, and promptly decided that 5000 hits calls for a celebration. To celebrate a whole lot of going healthy, I thought that a challenge might be in order! I put this idea out to the masses and recieved some excellent, some wildly outrageous and some utterly ridiculous ideas!

One that kept coming up again and again was to "eat 5000 calories".. not exactly in the spirit of Egg Goes Healthy methinks but even more importantly, not really a challenge either. I could easily do that accidentally at an all you can eat buffet or at one of my mum's Sunday roasts!

I had to veto "wing walking at 5000ft" on the grounds that I'm trying to stick to my New Year's Resolution of staying out of A+E. My sister came up with an inspired idea that for every 50 portions of fruit and veg I have to have 0 bars of chocolate and 0 cookies (but at every 50 I would be allowed a treat), but I would need to come up with some sort of counting system for fruit and veg.. this may be something I take forward at a later date!

However, a few people suggested a 5000m swim. I love this idea as it would indeed be a bit of a challenge and something I would have to put in a bit of training for. Another idea was to ascend 5000 steps; and to give you a bit of an idea of how many that is, there are 1860 steps up the Empire State Building!

As I really like these ideas, I'm going to do both.. in one weekend epic. I need to locate a 5k organised swim and figure out the best way of climbing 5000 steps. Time for a bit of research!

I'd be very happy for any (sensible!!) suggestions.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Epic Lent Fail

At the moment weight loss is not one of my official goals. I keep an eye on it and so long as I stay a few pounds below my 9 stone limit, I am happy. Obviously I would love be closer to 8 stone but I'm not going to go on a crazy diet to make this happen. I actually started to get closer in the last couple of weeks without even really trying; my weight plateau was broken a remarkably simple combination of sensible eating and sensible training - it really does work!

So on Friday last week I hit a new lowest weight ever and was sitting at just under 8 and a half stone, I felt fantastic! Then, I began the "carb-loading" for the race. Sadly all my sensibleness went out the window and I used this as an excuse to satisfy my inner gluttonous instincts.

I won't tell you everything I ate because there is a limit as to how many words a person can read before they fall asleep, but believe me when I say it was really quite a lot. I visited relatives on Friday night and it would have been rude to say no to cake and biscuits. I could have stopped at one portion of cake, or one biscuit.. but I didn't.

On Saturday I ate not one, but two easter eggs (massive fail!) and all the associated yummies that come with it. In my head I justified this with it being fuel for race day, but in reality I know I slipped up. I ate pizza and ice creams (note; plural) because this is pretty much all I ate before my first triathlon and it seemed to really work for me. 

Basically out of everything I gave up for Lent, I pretty much managed to have a bit.. or a lot.. of all of them!

What a lot of people would do now is to say "Right, I've failed, it's over!", but this is where you should take your inspiration from and start afresh. It's very easy to get back into old habits but the real trick is just accepting that you messed up, letting it go, and getting yourself back on the straight and narrow.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Ringwood Triathlon 2011

I felt almost serene when I woke up this morning. I'd packed everything and sorted all my food and drink last night so all that was left was to enjoy my breakfast and use the toilet as many times as is physically possible in the space of about forty minutes.

I thought I would have a quick hop on the scales and see how much affect my 36-hour carb-loading epic had had... on Friday morning I weighed in at 53.8kgs. This morning I tipped the scales at 55.9kgs! That is a fairly impressive 4.5lbs, I figured (and hoped) it must just be water weight. I also hoped that the extra energy given by all that food would outweigh the extra effort required to haul those extra pounds uphill on the bike!

My very minimalist transition set up
Suffice to say once I'd arrived, registered, been drawn on in permanent ink and set up my transition I shared what must have been a fairly good portion of all that food with the Ringwood Leisure Centre sewage system in what can only be described as an extremely explosive manner.

Despite feeling enormously fresher and lighter after the gastronomical explosion, the pre-race nerves had started to kick in and my stomach was fluttering more and more with every minute that passed. I watched friends in the earlier waves complete their swims and get out on the bike course. When I eventually got to poolside I felt a huge relief as loads of people looked just about as nervous as I was! 

The swim started well and I felt that I paced myself without trying to sprint the first 100m. The other two men in my lane lapped me somewhere around the 350-400m mark and as much as I tried to stay on their feet and draft, I couldn't keep up. It all went wrong in the last 150m as my nose clip kept sliding off and I had to keep stopping to readjust it at the end of the lengths. I tried to swim whilst holding it for one length which was a ridiculous thing to do as it threw my breathing off completely and meant I was swimming with a fist instead of an open hand - what a plonker!

I could see other swimmers in my peripheral vision as I jumped out of the pool, not being the last one out made me very happy indeed but I realised I'd forgotten to start my watch so I had absolutely no idea what my time was. Into transition and I was trying to be quick but I knew I was being a bit faffy; in between hopping about getting my socks on, having issues with the buckle on the race belt and dropping my glove I definitely wasn't as quick as I could have been, but it wasn't too bad an effort!

When I started running with the bike my glasses steamed up and I nearly ran into the race official. I veered to the right, found my way out and immediately began to have all sorts of issues that I've never had before with my cleats. I don't know if it was nerves, excitement, adrenaline or what but it took me ages to clip in and once I'd finally managed to, my race belt (which apparently I hadn't buckled fully) fell off so I had to stop and put it back on. To make matters worse I got overtaken whilst I was messing about with it. Basically from T1 to about a mile into the bike was one massive, faffy fail! 

However, I then got my head down and pushed hard on the bike, really hard. I kept that little blighter that had overtaken me in my sights; on every hill I got closer and on every flat he got away again. For over half of the whole course I didn't see anybody else at all and whilst I was happy I wasn't being overtaken I felt a bit disconcerted that I wasn't catching anybody up either. At one point a random cyclist started tucked in behind me, he stayed on my wheel for a couple of miles which was very bizarre but good to know I was going fast enough that someone wanted to draft me!

After a very brief stint on the A35 I turned off into Bolderwood Ornamental Drive. Normally I love slogging up this hill but today it felt especially hard as the legs were starting to tire. Just as I started to slow, a couple of guys shot past me. That was the kick up the backside I needed and I started to push again. With just under ten miles to go, the legs were starting to hurt and I was getting hunger pains. I was gutted to find that the gel I had stuck on my handlebars had fallen off somewhere (note: use tape and not elastic bands next time!). I tried to chug down as much water as possible to stave off the grumbly belly and I just kept pushing. 

Coming into the finish
I flew through the last, flat five miles and with a rush of overkeen-ness nearly skidded past the dismount point at T2! I pulled the trainers on (elastic here was the right option!), grabbed a couple of sweets and tottered off. My legs were heavy from the bike and I felt like I was running really slowly. I was being overtaken by loads of men and I figured I must have been running at about 4mph. Breathing was easy but I just couldn't make my legs go any faster.

I hit the final stretch and tried to stride out, speeding up for the last half mile or so. After finishing I tucked into melon and orange chunks and enjoyed a free sports massage, massive bonus!

We hung around for the results ceremony as we suspected that a couple of clubmates had won some age group prizes. I was completely astounded when my name was called out as an age group winner for 20-29. Not a bad result for my second ever triathlon! 

We celebrated by heading to the pub where I indulged in a Sunday roast - lovely. However, as I type I'm munching on carrot sticks because I really need to lose that carb-loading weight! Moral of the story: 1. don't be a glutton and use carb-loading as an excuse 2. do affix gels properly to the bike 3. this tapering business actually does work! 
A few of us after the race, showing off the trophies!