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southern athletics league (abingdon)

Today you get a double-whammy of posts, as otherwise I’ll never catch up with myself!

So, my friend Chris, a lovely and insane chap, belongs to Bexley Athletics Club.  I’ve known Chris for a while and he and I see each other at the gym regularly.

In April, he suggested that I should come and run for Bexley in the Southern Athletics League.  Despite my protestations that I couldn’t run fast enough, had never run on a track and didn’t know what athletics meets involved, he persuaded me that any performance was an okay performance because even the worst performance earned the club points.

The day itself arrived and I can truly say that I’d never been in worse shape.  The day before I’d done the Fan Dance – a 24km military test in which you climb Pen Y Fan in Brecon twice – and I was absolutely shattered, had a twisted ankle and legs so stiff they closely resembled the Tin Man’s.  It’s stunning but it’s definitely steep!

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However, I drove out to Abingdon like a good – and terrified – little runner, and arrived just after midday.

The first thing I noticed was quite how friendly everyone was.  Chris was out throwing things (legitimately, not in a temper tantrum way – shot-puts and javelins and that sort of thing) so I didn’t know anyone when I got there.  I just headed for the sea of bright orange and was immediately drawn into the circle of athletes.  This didn’t actually make me feel any better at all, I must admit, because I really didn’t want to let them down by being so rubbish!

Eventually my event, the 3000 metre, came up.  We headed out on track, having done a couple warm up stride lengths down the back straight first.  3000 metres is 7.5 times around the track so it’s a difficult distance because it involves both pace and endurance.  This was something I hadn’t quite appreciated – never having done the distance before, as usual, well prepared! – and I went out quite hard on the first couple of laps.  I then proceeded to blow up nicely some time in lap 3 and practically have to crawl home.  I kept jogging though and eventually finished in a time of 14:34:8.

Although I was last, Bexley nonetheless asked me at the last minute to do the 1500 metre as well (as Chris had said, they really were desperate at the time for runners!).  I liked the 1500 metre a lot more mostly because I’d paced it a bit better, but also because someone even slower was in the race – woo hoo!  So although I was slow as slow – 06:59:9 – at least I’d managed not to come last.  Win.

Overall I enjoyed the day although I was so shattered at the end I almost had to be poured into my car to go home.  The people were absolutely lovely and so non-judgmental, and it made me far less scared of the entire process.  The best bit was that if you were a member of England Athletics (which I got as part of my Bexley AC membership, since I had to join Bexley to run), you get a Power of 10 profile!!  Oh yeah!  How to feel like a real athlete … specially since, as there’d only been four people in the 3000 metre and two in the 1500 metre, I look like I didn’t do so badly!  Ha!

xx

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tri try may day winchester triathlon

Can I get a hill please?  Or rather, could I not get a hill please?

Transition

Transition

Yeesh.  This was one seriously hilly triathlon.  You know the old phrase “what goes up must come down”?  Well, I think that this triathlon successfully disproved that particular theory.  The entire thing was one damn uphill!

I signed up for this shortly after Andover A2C because I liked that triathlon and I liked try tri (sorry, did I hear someone say “bitten by the triathlon bug”?!).

It took place on the first May bank holiday, another lovely day, although this one was quite warm!  Luckily, unlike Andover, it was a nice out and back course with just the one transition area (very nice).  It started off at Winchester Boys School, where the 400m pool swim took place.

Winchester Boys School is on the top of a rather large hill, and immediately out of T1 you ride your bike down a short steep hill to start off the 21K bike course.  At the time, you don’t appreciate that it’s the only downhill you’ll be enjoying for quite a long time (save for the same downhill on the second lap).  From there, you start climbing a gradual incline … which gets steeper … and steeper … and steeper … until you’re back at transition.  Thereafter, you do the same thing again one more time.

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Once you’ve entirely annihilated your legs on the cycle, you get to go off on the 4K run.  It follows more or less the same course, but slightly shorter, so that once again you fly down a short steep hill to start with, followed by a long, long, long, long, long, long. long uphill.  Sorry i’m not sure I’ve been quite clear – it was a very long hill.  Eventually, you re-enter the school through a gate in the fence and run through the fields to the finish.

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Although I really enjoyed this triathlon – the course was beautiful, through country roads with almost no traffic and some really lovely scenery – I  was incredibly glad to be back at the top of the hill (there is a theme here).  My time wasn’t that great – 01:45 overall – but I wasn’t too disappointed because I’d had a good day.  The organisation was also really good, and trytri puts a race briefing on YouYube which is the best idea ever, especially if you’re not local.

my splits:

swim:  10:31 (so consistent!!)

t1:  01:49

bike:  01:03:59

t2:  01:38

run:  27:45

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xx

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wimbledon womble triathlon

Have you ever had a hug from a womble?

If you do the Wimbledon Windmilers womble triathlon you could join the elite club who have!!

When I’d been searching for novice triathlons, I’d had real trouble finding one in London.  Eventually i signed up for the A2C Andover triathlon, that being the one that seemed the right time and the right distance, and about as close to London as i was going to get.  However, just after i signed up for it, I found out about the Wimbledon Windmilers womble triathlon, which – given that I live in Kensington – really was local to me.

I read the description and it sounded fantastic – an event put on by the Windmilers annually, which was intended to include only people who were real novices (ie, had done a maximum of one triathlon previously).  it was a super-sprint, being a 430 metre pool swim, a 10K bike and a 5K run, all taking place on and around Wimbledon Common.  Even though i was already doing andover, I signed up because who can resist a womble?

On the day i was super-nervous.  Wimbledon is a scary scary place when it’s full of people wearing lycra and carrying expensive looking bikes … and I’ll never really believe that I’m going to be any good at sports, so it was all a bit nerve-racking.  Specially when I couldn’t find the damn entrance to the school where it was to start!  Luckily I found some lovely people to follow.  as at Andover, I discovered that triathletes really are a lovely bunch – friendly, as nervous as I was and totally ready to chatter away to settle pre-race nerves.

The organisation was absolutely superb.  We started off registering in the hut (it was yet another beautiful, but freezing day) where we were marked up with our race numbers and given our sticker packs.  Because it was specifically designed for novices, everything was explained properly, and my new-found friends and I wandered off to transition to rack our bikes feeling a bit less lost.   Bikes racked, and it was off to the pool to pick up our timing chips and listen to our race briefing before watching the waves ahead doing their swims.  The pool is very long, at 33 metres, which is a bit unnerving, so luckily the loos are right there for a nervous pre-race wee or four.

Once the swim was over, we ran over the – thank god – grass, lovely soft grass, to our bikes.  I had decided to ride without cleats, just wearing my trainers instead, because it was so damn cold that I knew I’d struggle to get my cleats on and off.  This was a MIS.TAKE.  As well as being too cold to get my cleats on and off, it was also so cold that my pedals were slippery as hell, meaning that every six seconds one or the other (or both) of my feet would slide off and make its bid for freedom.  This didn’t make for a relaxing ride, but I quite enjoyed it anyway.  It was down a long hill and then up a short steep hill, three times.  I didn’t mind it really, I was quite good on the uphills (thanks to my very light bike) though I struggled a bit more on the down hills … but you can’t have it all.

After three times round the hills, it was back to transition for t2.  Despite a small set-back when I tried to run off with my helmet still on – classy – I managed to get out in a relatively respectable time, mostly because I didn’t have to change my shoes.  Although there’s a picture of me looking utterly traumatized (when I discovered that my shoe was coming unlaced) I really liked the run.  It was 5K over Wimbledon Common, and there were loads of people coming the other way and yelling encouragement to us going out.  Similarly, coming back you got to see how close you were to the end by how tired people were looking!

The best bit however was the end.  Not only did you get a hug from a womble (who might or might not have been a marshall dressed as a womble), you also got a chocolate brownie and a free sports massage.  Is there any cooler way to finish?  Specially when it was topped off with a medal with a womble on it.  I love this.  LOVE.  IT.

My results in this weren’t bad either – 10th overall and 2nd in category with an overall time of 01:10:58.  my splits were:

swim:  10:32

t1:  01:40

bike:  30:42

t2:  01:18

run:  26:42

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Not bad to have my best run of the year off the back of a tri!

xx

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tri try andover a2c super-sprint triathlon

I’m a triathlete!

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As y’all know i’d signed up to the virgin active london triathlon … before realising i couldn’t swim, didn’t have a bike and hated running,  huh.

So i bought a bike, pootled off to the pool now and again over the winter, and made my friend let me come running with him (and by “running”, i refer to what he did.  i … followed).

I thought it might be a good idea to have a couple of test events before virgin london, so i did a bit of research for non-scary triathlons (i think i actually put that into google at one stage) and came up with try tri.   It seemed like a nice event company and it was about as local to London as i was going to get, so i signed up.

As well as being my first triathlon, it was also my first time travelling to an event and staying overnight the night before.  i’d never been away by myself and i definitely hadn’t been to Andover (which, while very nice, isn’t necessarily on everyone’s top-ten holiday destination list).   Luckily, being a west Londoner, the trip itself was pretty easy – straight down the motorway with my bike in the back of my mini, singing along to capital fm.

When i arrived in Andover, i checked myself straight into my hotel before doing anything else.  i’d booked myself into the premier inn, being only £19 for a double room (can i get a BAR.GAIN) and, despite being extremely purple, it was so nice!  the biggest bed i’ve ever seen in my life, coupled with a giant tv and loads of room for my precious bike and tri-kit to be laid out, meant pre-race perfection.  it was slightly in the middle of nowhere, but – by total coincidence – happened to be very near the end of the race, so it worked out very well.

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The race itself is very unusual in that it’s a point-to-point course, meaning that it started in Andover and finished in Charlton (hence A to C).  Whilst this made for an interesting route because there was no double up, setting up in the morning was an absolute nightmare in circumstances where I had no idea where I really was, not being local.   It was, at least a beautiful day (if freezing) … otherwise setting off at sunrise would’ve been suboptimal.

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The route starts at Andover Leisure Centre, where the pool-based 400m swim took place.  You then hop on your bike and ride the 15KM to Charlton, where you rack your bike in T2 and set off along a traffic-free 2.5K run route around a field.  It wasn’t the best route – the cycle was hilly and on relatively traffic-heavy roads, and the run was boring, but it was pretty enough (especially coming into T2, which was lovely).

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The bigger problem was having to go to T2 first thing in the morning (bearing in mind that the race started at 08:00), set up your T2, try and find your way to T1 with your bike, register and rack up, attend a race briefing and then get ready for the race.  There simply wasn’t enough time in the world for that before an early morning race, specially when you’re trying to take nutrition on board and relax and focus on the race.

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Having said that, i did really enjoy the race.  it was my first tri so i had nothing to compare it to, but the pre-race organisation was great and there were some lovely people doing it.  it didn’t hurt that whilst absolutely freezing (-3 at the start) it was a beautiful day.  I felt immediately that i’d been bitten by the triathlon bug … especially when the results came out!!

overall placing:  10th

gender placing:  2nd

category placing:  1st

That wasn’t something i was expecting on my first tri and i was thrilled.

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Overall i wouldn’t necessarily recommend this race to anyone non-local because of the point-to-point nature of the course which makes it really difficult logistically.  it was a good first experience though!

xx

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livability rabbit run 5k

the livability rabbit run was a new event which debuted in 2013 and took place on easter sunday.

with your (incredibly cheap) entry fee, you got the benefit of a luverly bunny suit, which was compulsory to wear during the race.  the kids got bunny ears too … since i’m so miniature-sized i tried to get away with getting some but no luck.  boo!

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the race itself took place around regent’s park.  with well over 100 bunnies lining up at the start, it must’ve been quite a sight for the poor unsuspecting public who were out for a sunday stroll!   the course was lovely, though not flat (regent’s park, for the record, is not flat – it’s undulating, despite numerous optimistic race organizers’ descriptions).   the course wound around the central east side of the park, so although the scenery was nice (what you’d usually expect in a park, trees and grass!) it didn’t lead past any of the particularly picturesque parts of the park.  the only real attraction was the sir cowajasee jehangir fountain … but we did go past it twice!

it was the first race i’d ever done where i felt, even before i started, that it was a bad idea to do it.  i was tired, i had a niggling tight calf and i felt generally unwell, but i wanted to do it as it was the first one of these races and the organisation before it had been lovely, with loads of encouraging emails and also emails that were grateful to the runners for joining in, which was really nice.

so i turned up … and i immediately learned the benefit of listening to your body when it tells you not to race!  it was -2* when we started off at 10am, so those bunny suits – whilst undoubtedly responsible for taking years off the lives of a number of small children – came in well handy, i’ve never been so grateful for a comedy costume.  that was, however, one of the two high points.  within 500 metres the niggling tight calf had become a raging torment.  after 1500 metres i heard it pull … literally heard it.  by then i was warm enough not to feel it too badly, so i finished the race, though i almost hopped over the line.  i was glad i did though because the other highlight of the race was the goody bag – maltesers chocolate bunnies, an awesome medal and some more chocolate.  that’s my kind of goody bag!

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the race itself was great, with a good atmosphere and it was particularly good for beginners because it felt very inclusive, specially since we were all on a level playing field with our bunny costumes.  there were some more elite racers, but generally the level was more towards the beginners end.

although time-wise i didn’t do so well – 27 minutes, 54 seconds – i was nonetheless pleased that i’d finished with my calf injury.  it was also a real lesson to me not to race knowing that i wasn’t fit for it – the calf injury put me out for a couple of weeks and it wasn’t worth it really.  but onwards and upwards to the next one!

xx

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clapham common series 5K (march 2013)

first race of the season is always scary.

This year it was cold and scary.  I’d finished last season on a massive high with the battersea park mo-run, which i absolutely loved.  it was a beautiful day, in my favorite park in London (also my training haunt) and i got a pb.  What better way to end the season?

In order to keep motivated, i decided to enter the innovation sports clapham common 5K series through 2013.  I’d done one of the clapham common 5K races before and it had nearly killed me.  It was my first ever 5K and i breezed off, thinking a 5K must be so much easier than a 10K (which I’d done before).  Haaaaaaaa … it was nooooooot easier than a 10K!!!!!!  I had no idea about pacing, didn’t know what sort of distance 5K really was, and collapsed and died in a small and steaming heap at about 3.5K, practically crawling the rest of the way to come in at about 32 minutes.

However that had been in 2009 and i was sure i could be better in 2013.  The way the clapham common series works is that there are five races across the season, starting in March and ending in October.  You can enter one race at a time, or you can enter the entire series for a slight discount plus a free t-shirt.  Either way they’re great value – something like £60 for the entire series.  Each race day has a 15K, a 10K, a 5K and a 2K fun-run, so there is something for everyone.

Since i had signed up for a couple of sprint-distance triathlons, where the running-leg is 5K, i really wanted to focus on my 5K time over the season.  Therefore i thought that the 5K series would be perfect for me.  I liked the idea of comparing my race times across the season (well, provided that i got better of course) so i signed up for the lot, dreaming of shaving minutes off my time between the first and last races of the season.

The race itself is over the same course each time.  It’s almost in a star-shape, starting in the middle of Clapham Common by the rotunda and fanning in and out in a circle across the common.  It’s a lovely course, running on grass and mud for the most part rather than the roads and it’s traffic free, being entirely within the common.  It’s also really well organised, with loads of friendly volunteers and a well-marked course, together with a group warm-up with some banging tunes, plenty of portaloos, a coffee van (vital) and a good goody-bag and medal at the end.

So … the race day.  I turned up for my 10:02 start-time at 08:45.  I don’t know why.  I just misjudged it (my usual total inability to judge travel times had a lot to do with this!).  It was freezing.  not just cold … freezing.  I must’ve been a lovely shade of blue by the time the race finally started.  However i like running in the cold and wet so it kinda suited me … i felt pretty good throughout the race really.  I find the terrain there difficult because i’m not so used to running on grass, but i enjoyed the race overall.

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Overall it was a great start to the season even though I didn’t do a very good time in it, nearly a minute slower than the end of the season before.  However that didn’t bother me too much (loads of room for improvement!) and i was so glad i’d signed up for the rest of the series – fun times!

xx

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running not writing

hi all!

sorry about the massive radio silence.  I think it’s been nearly a year … and I haven’t any excuse.  I’ve had loads to say.  I’ve done loads of sport.  I just haven’t blogged about it!

one of the things that I’ve done a lot over the last year is events.  E.VENTS.  I’ve done more events this year than I have combined since I started running.  Therefore I thought I’d give a bit of a run-down of each event … I’ve been keeping my events in a scrapbook (and my medals on the wall) like a good little running geek so I haven’t forgotten anything!

my race season has looked like this:

  • 3 march 2013:  clapham common series 5K
  • 30 march 2013:  livability rabbit run 5K
  • 7 april 2013:  tri try andover a2c super-sprint triathlon
  • 28 april 2013:  wimbledon womble super-sprint triathlon
  • 6 may 2013:  tri try may day winchester sprint triathlon
  • 18 may 2013:  southern athletics league 3,000m and 1,500m
  • 26 may 2013:  bupa westminster mile
  • 15 june 2013:  southern athletics league 3,000m, 1,500m and 400m relay
  • 18 june 2013:  landaid summer 5K
  • 14 july 2013:  british 10K
  • 14 july 2013:  london colorrun 5K
  • 20 july 2013:  clapham common series 5K
  • 27 july 2013:  virgin active london sprint triathlon
  • 11 august 2013:  london summer 10K
  • 18 august 2013:  clapham common series 5K
  • 1 september 2013:  tri together sprint triathlon
  • 5 september 2013:  beat the banana 5K
  • 21 september 2013:  brownlee super-sprint triathlon
  • 6 october 2013:  bournemouth marathon festival half-marathon

i’ve still got two more events to go – the final clapham common series 5K on sunday 13 october and the mo-run battersea park on 17 november, bringing my total events for 2013 to 21, excluding parkrun which i also started doing this year (on 6 july 2013, to be exact).

i’ve decided to do a race report for each, partly to bring back all the good memories!  for now i’m looking forward to a rest, but i’m also sorry that the season’s over because it was fun.  i kissed my race shoes goodbye after the bournemouth half-marathon and sent them to shoe-heaven … it was the end of an era!

i hope you’ve all had fun seasons as well and looking forward to hearing all about them!

xx

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