08. November 2016 · Comments Off on Zombie Mums’ Run · Categories: Race Report, Run, Sportlight on.... · Tags: , ,

I’ve just had a wonderful visit with my friend Juliane, her 2 year old son Joey, and her friend Barbara. They flew in for the weekend from the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Tom and I first met Juliane in 2005, when we were all working in the BVI. She forced me to run back then, and I hated it – as detailed here. In 2013, I went out to visit Juliane and her family in the BVI, and together we ran a BVI Athletics Association 5K race on Tortola:

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I’m wearing the long socks. Juliane has a pink bra and a grey cap.

As it happened, this was Juliane’s very first race (first of many!), and it was also my first race in the heat (also the first of many!).

After Juliane heard that I ran a 5K race last weekend, she asked if I could find a race for the two of us to do together again. A quick google and I found the Phantom 5K held at the Palm Beach Outlets. Juliane was arriving on Friday late in the evening and the race was early Saturday morning, but it would work.

…and then her flight was rerouted to Orlando due to a fire at Fort Lauderdale, so it ended up being after midnight by the time she got to our house. With her two year old. I asked if she was sure she wanted to race early the next day – “absolutely!” she said.

Just to make sure we were well and truly exhausted, our babies both picked that night as the one to be difficult.  Eva needed feeding at 4am and it wasn’t long before I heard Joey up too. So, 3.5 hours sleep before the race. When we arrived at the race venue in the dark and saw all the Halloween decorations, we declared it the Zombie Mums’ Run rather than the Phantom 5K. We did a half-hearted lap around the car park to warm up and both declared ourselves spent. Juliane couldn’t stop shivering in the “cold” 26 deg / 79 F (that’s what so many years in the tropics will do to you!) and bounded off as soon as the gun went. I tried to run steady and managed pretty even splits, as slow as I was (now at 12 weeks postpartum). The course was two laps around the Palm Beach Outlets car park, not the most glamorous of runs.

Juliane finished in 23:11 and came second in our age group, her best time since Joey’s birth, and I ran 25:01, which was a good improvement over last weekend’s race and enough for third in the age group. It’s going to be a long road back to fitness….but I’m taking it day by day.

The next day, Juliane, Barbara and I enjoyed a 10km easy run through the local bird sanctuary – my longest run since Eva’s birth. It feels so good to be back out there.

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Eva: for photo purposes only

 

25. November 2015 · Comments Off on SPORTLIGHT on Bob Becker, Double Badwater record holder! · Categories: Sportlight on...., Ultramarathons · Tags: , ,

We recently attended a talk given by Bob Becker at the Delray Beach Running Company Bloody inspirational. I had read of Bob’s epic Double Badwater run in various magazines and websites, but I had no idea he was local to south Florida or that he is race director for two big local ultras.

Bob running in Badwater

Where even to start? How about some quick facts:

  • Bob is 70.
  • Bob ran 292 miles (470km) from the Badwater to the top of Mount Whitney and back, in July.
  • The average daytime temperature in Badwater was around 125° F (50° C).
  • Badwater’s elevation is -280 ft (-79 m) – that is to say, it is below sea level.  Mount Whitney is 14,505 feet (4,421 m). That means he climbed 14,784 feet (4,506 m) from the basin to the top.  There are additional big big climbs en route. His total climbing and descending was 23,346 feet or 7116 meters.
  • Bob set a new age record for the accomplishment.

Have you picked your jaw off the floor yet?

Bob at the top of Mount Whitney – having run 146 miles, and about to turn around to run another 146 miles back to Badwater

What running with a tyre looks like. Very hard.

Bob looks twenty years younger than he is and trains harder than any of us. He told us that he didn’t do crazy mileage while training for his Double Badwater attempt, usually running around 70 miles a week (113 km), but that he really focused on cross-training. He showed photos of him running while dragging a large truck tyre. Someone in the audience asked how long he would drag the tyre for. He said, “Maybe around 6….” I waited for him to say “minutes.” “… miles, with the tyre, and then maybe run 10 miles later in the day without the tyre.” Gulp.

As an experienced ultra runner, Bob had most bases covered going into the event.  But the unexpected can always happen. Bob developed devastating blisters under his callouses (not usually an issue for him), resulting in the need to completely tape his feet and making him run much slower than he had originally planned – but he never stopped moving towards his goal.

He completed the iconic Badwater race (135 miles to the Mount Whitney Portal), plus the additional 11 miles up to the top of Mount Whitney, in 67 hours, 25 minutes. The total 292 miles, including catching a few hours’ sleep here and there, took him around a week.

If you’re hard to impress, let me also tell you that I learned that Bob only ran his first marathon at age 57, and that he also overcame prostate cancer a few years later.  He has run the Marathon de Sables, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and completed Badwater several times.  He is also the race director of two local races: the Everglades Ultra (distances of 50 miles, 50 km, and 25 km) and the Keys 100, an iconic 100 mile race than runs the whole of the Florida Keys (shorter distance options are also available).

Listenting to Bob’s little talk about his Double Badwater success reminded us of why we got into ultras in the first place – the excitement, the camaraderie, the challenge, the sights. He said, only half-joking, “Multi-sport people will roll right over you in their rush to the finish line. In ultras, the leader will stop to assist a fallen runner. That’s why I love this sport.”  Ironman Florida is now a distant memory and we are definitely considering signing up for Bob’s races in 2016 – anyone want to join us?

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With Chip Corley (also a very accomplished ultra runner) and Bob Becker after Bob’s talk at the Delray Beach Running Company

With thanks to the Delray Beach Running Company for arranging the brilliant talk, and of course to Bob himself for giving it.

20. December 2014 · Comments Off on True tales of hating running in a Caribbean paradise · Categories: Holidays, Run, Sportlight on....

Many years ago, Tom and I spent a year living and working in the British Virgin Islands.  We met a lot of good people out there and I accumulated a lot of freckles.

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Me at Spring Bay Beach, Virgin Gorda, BVI, in 2005

We lived in a very remote location, Biras Creek Resort – boat or helicopter access only.  This was before my triathlon days but I still swam and I tried, begrudgingly, to run.  I was a truly terrible runner.  But my good friend Juliane made me run with her whenever she could drag me out the door.

I couldn’t say it was too hot, because it was hot there every day.  But it was bloody hot, and running hurt, a lot.  I would trail behind Juliane panting and puffing.  I have no idea how far we’d run, but we ran maybe half an hour to 50 minutes max, so I doubt we ever ran more than 4-7km.  We did this maybe once or twice a week.  I hated it.

Juliane loved to run.  She would coax, beg, plead, encourage me – anything it took to get me to flick off my flip-flops and lace up my running shoes.  Sometimes we’d run to the beach, other times up the trails, and once we even took the thick cactus trail over to the neighbouring resort, The Bitter End (which pretty much epitomised how I felt on that run).

I ran because I lived an otherwise sedentary life on this small piece of Caribbean sand, and if I’m not going to waste words – for fear of getting fat.  I wanted to love to run, but I wasn’t there yet.  I was very far from feeling that love.  Ok, I dreaded every run.  I envied Juliane’s desire to get out there and run in circles in the heat.

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Juliane with Tom & me after getting hit by a big wave, BVI, 2006

So what does it take to learn to love to run?  Because now I love running, love in a way I always aspired to but could never actually believe would happen.  Juliane (who now, as a mother of 3 boys and still living in the BVI, regularly wins races and triathlons) still says to me, “What happened?

I wish I had an easy answer (that I could package up and sell!), but of course it doesn’t work like that.  What happened was I started running for me, not for worries about weight, I started seeing other friends doing it too, and realised that learning to enjoy running was a process, not a black & white yes/no, and I learned about using my own psychology to my advantage – for me this came in the shape of my very first Garmin GPS watch, the Forerunner 110.  Once I started tracking my mileage, I was hooked.  Have I mentioned I’m a geek for numbers?

I went back to the BVI to visit Juliane 18 months ago and we finally got to run together again, this time as equals, up the craggy hills of Peter Island.  It was bliss.

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Juliane, I thank you for never giving up on me!

When did you fall in love with running?

01. December 2014 · Comments Off on Sportlight on Tom · Categories: Sportlight on....

I’ve mentioned my husband Tom a few times already.

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(He is embarrassed about this post already.)

Tom rescued me when I crashed, he says “rest is best” when I say “more is more”,  and he has crazy bike skills.  Or should I say skillz?

 

Tom and I first met in London in 2003.  Neither of us did triathlon then.  Rock climbing and mountain climbing was more the name of the game:

 

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Climbing in the Peak District, 2004

 

 

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Climbing in Scotland, 2005

 

 

 

But from a small age, Tom was always a cyclist.  And with a rugby background, he ran.  It didn’t take much to venture into triathlon, and after several years of watching him, I finally joined in too.

 

 

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Poole 3km swim race, UK

 

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Royal Parks Ultra Marathon, London

 

 

 

In London, Tom ran a great bike shop, Cycle Surgery.  But in 2015 we are opening a premium triathlon shop in south Florida with customised bike fitting services.  And Tom knows what he is doing on a bike!

 

 

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Wiggle The Long One 2013

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Ironman Lanzarote 2014

 

 

 

Since I joined him in this madness, together we have completed 2 ultra marathons, 1 Ironman, 1 half Ironman, 1 marathon, 3 half marathons, countless bike sportives, and a 3km swim race.  And more separately, but the ones together are always fantastic.  We have both signed up for Ironman Florida and Ironman 70.3 Augusta in 2015, so lots more training together ahead!

 

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“The Long One” Sportive, Arundel, UK July 2003

 

 

Tom swims well, rides like a demon and is a good runner.  And he gets stronger and faster each and every Ironman.

Most of all though, he is my number one fan, my number one coach, and my number one inspiration!

 

 

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Ironman Wales 2012

 

 

Who keeps you going when it gets hard? Tom, of course, but a number of other friends too!