25. March 2015 · Comments Off on London Beckons · Categories: Marathons, Weekly Roundup · Tags: ,

The London Marathon is now just a month away, or another way to look at it is 4 or so weeks left of training. April 26!

Crossing Tower Bridge – and passing my old office

I ran London last year, and it was every bit as fabulous as everyone says.  I’d lived in the city for over a decade but it was my first time in the marathon and I couldn’t believe the crowd support, the organisation, the water stations – everything was done pretty much as perfectly as possible considering there were some 36,000 runners.

London Marathon 2014Last year’s race went pretty much as perfectly for me as a race can go.  The results page shows all sorts of cool statistics that allow you to find out how every single runner is, in some way, amazing, and these were my two favourites from the page:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 17.51.51Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 17.49.28I kept it pretty steady throughout the race, as the first graph shows, and the second graphic shows what good pacing does for you in the final leg of the marathon. (See here for more stats and fun graphics.)

I would be thrilled if I could run as steady a race this year – and perhaps just a wee bit faster too….  well, it never hurts to try! But was last year too perfect to match again?

And now we are some 4 weeks away.  The time has come around again fast.  Training, for the most part, has been going well.  Last year, I was training for Ironman Lanzarote and the London Marathon was my “B” race a few weeks before (I had a Good for Age spot that I didn’t want to miss out on).  So my only concessions to the marathon training were weekly track sessions and a Sunday long run.  Otherwise I focused purely on the Ironman training.

This year, while not being completely strict about it, I have been following the London Heathside plan so kindly provided by Coach Jacob, and I’ve been doing my best to fit in as many of the tempo runs and marathon pace runs as I can (ow ow ow!).  I’m hoping that will make a difference, because in general, if anything, I feel like I am running slower than ever due to the Florida heat and humidity.

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Club runners and vampires gather before 6am for the time honoured tradition of the Sunday Long Run

This past Sunday I survived the longest run on the schedule, just over 24 miles (or just under 39 km). Thankfully, I ran most of it with the Wellington Runners’ Club, and with my friend Ben step-by-step for 20 miles.  I will admit I was dreading the run – it loomed large on my training plan – but like many of these runs, especially group ones, they are often more enjoyable/easier than you think they will be.  I felt strong from start to finish and we kept a decent pace.  Now we just need to run the race 1 min/mile faster…..

In general, I am realising that to do any sort of faster running at this time of year, I need to do it before the sun comes up.  I say that because I tried to do a marathon pace run on Thursday in the heat of the day and it could very easily be classified under One of the Worst Experiences of My Life. Having learned my lesson the hard way, here is a very nice photo of me from my next run, long before there was any hint of sunlight:

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Me on the left. Palm tree on the right. Or is it abstract art?

Did I mention there are no streetlights where I live?  And that I have terrible night vision? (See here for another look at the deep depths of darkness.)

Weekly Update

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This upcoming weekend will bring more pain for both Tom and me.  Tom is doing the HITS Ocala Half Ironman (you may recall that we both did HITS Naples and we thought HITS put on a great race) and I’ve just signed up to do a 5K race in Lake Worth as part of my Sunday long run.

Do you prefer to run in heat or cold? I like cold running best, but heat for cycling.

 

After my last post about giving myself a bit of a break, I’ve had two weekends of racing – fun and exciting!

The first race was a guaranteed PB (or PR in American speak), because it was a 1 mile relay race in Albacoa, FL in support of a children’s charity, Bella’s Angels – and I’d never raced a mile.  I’ve never raced shorter than 5k before so I went into it really having no idea of pacing. I had never done a relay, either.  Our team was only assembled the day before but we managed to find 4 strong women and we had a blast.

I ran the first mile.  Given that it was 4 x 1 mile, I had expected perhaps a straight out-and-back course – silly me!  No, it was a fun crazy course that included running around a baseball stadium and up the bleachers – yes, you read that correctly, we had to run up, and then down, STAIRS in our 1 mile race.  It deserves a photo:

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I ran my mile in 5:43.8, and as a team we ran the 4 miles in 24:46.2 and were the first placed all-females team.  It was raining all morning which helped keep it cool, and Nina, Mary Sarah and I enjoyed a sopping wet 7km “cool down” (more like “swim down”) afterwards in the rain.  April headed off for the treadmill instead; fair enough considering she was running the New York City Half Marathon the following weekend!

This past weekend Tom and I ran the Palm Beach Road Runners‘ Shamrock 10 Mile Run.  Tom has been coming back from a running injury and is still taking it easy, so he agreed to pace me for the race – whoohoo!

[Tom last paced me in the Toronto Women’s Half Marathon in 2013.  Yes, you read that right.  Women’s.  We were flying in from London for a wedding and the race was the same weekend; I wanted to do it. I emailed the race organisers to ask if men were permitted too, since I couldn’t find anything on the website to the contrary.  They replied saying that Tom was very welcome to run the race.  Race day:  1000 women, 4 men.  A huge bonus because Tom ended up staying with me and pacing me to a big PB at the time.]

The course was 10 miles around Lake Osborne in Lake Worth, FL (yes, that geography confuses me too.  A lake in a lake?).  Around 400 runners did the 10 miles, and another 600 ran the 5k race, meaning a whole lot of mock-Irish green, including some fabulous fancy dress:

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This race was a big test for me in terms of seeing how training is going and to determine what pace I should be looking to do in the London Marathon next month.  My goal was to run 6:50-7:00 min/mile (or 4:15-4:20 min/km).  It didn’t quite happen.  It was 30 degrees out, bright sunshine, and whether that’s the reason or whether I’m just not strong enough yet, I ended up with an average pace of 7:04 min/mile (or 4:22 min/km).  But I gave it my all (as my heart rate shows, and Tom can attest to my extreme breathing towards the end), so I was happy with my efforts.  You can only do what you can do!

150314 Tom Shamrock 10 Mile Race

Tom powers it home!

I finished in 1:10:41 and was 2nd woman overall, 1st in my age group, and 18th out of everyone.  The first lady and I played a good game of chase and I did catch her about 2 miles out, but she had a whole lot more left in the tank than I did in the last mile and she caught me again and finished 24 seconds ahead of me.  (As a funny coincidence, when I shook her hand at the end of the race, she ended up being English, from Manchester). All in all, a good result for me and a fun day out – once I’d forgotten the pain of those 10 miles.

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And post race?

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Refreshing!!!

 

These weeks in training:

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Not much running last week, but the Monday night group ride pretty much killed me (very windy, full of sprints, and we were 25 men and just me as the lone woman) and then it was a bit of a mini-taper for the 10 mile race. The race also meant that I got to skip my usual long run, hurrah!  Not that I don’t enjoy long runs – I do – but it’s always nice to have a bit of a change.

Doggy news (stop reading if this ain’t your thing)

1.  We took Haile to the beach again, where he learned that he really enjoys water.

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2.  I mean, he really enjoys water.

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3.  And he definitely enjoys the after effects:

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What’s your favourite race distance? I like ultra marathons the best!

 

It’s hard to follow up with another post about mundane life after the Leanda Cave tri camp earlier this month.  But this is what has been going on:

1.  Marathon training.

In a big way.  I’m following London Heathside‘s amazing coach Jacob’s plan, and it’s not for the faint-hearted.  While I’m not following it to the letter, it still makes for big mileage, fierce tempo runs and really really long long runs.  Jacob has produced countless sub-3 hour marathoners; he knows what he’s doing.  I certainly don’t have any aspirations to join that club yet, but I’m still trying my best.  Last weekend’s long run was 22 miles (35.5 km) and the distance is still growing.  Worse yet, soon it instructs us to do the middle 6-10 miles at marathon pace.  I managed it last year running with London Heathside’s fast group – I’m not sure how I will manage to do it this year by myself.  I’m hoping Tom will be in full running form by then and can at least pace me for the faster segments.  The tempo runs are also pure agony!

Ben, who is willing to share the pain with me!  22 miles on trails last weekend.

Ben and me after 22 miles on trails last weekend.  Can you smell us?

2.  Old friends!

My best friend from schooldays, Alex, was visiting for a week with her 7 month old baby, Will.  I swear, he didn’t cry once (at least within our earshot) the entire time he was here.  He made best friends with Haile and was pretty much the star attraction for the whole week (oh, it was good to see Alex too!).  We went to the beach, we walked through gator-ridden trails and bird sanctuaries, we did baby yoga.  Amazing.

Does it get any cuter than this?

Does it get any cuter than this?

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The dog beach was a revelation in itself.  Haile loved it.  We will be back.

3.  Winter came, then left

We had a few days of relatively cold weather.  Yes, it even got down to freezing for 2 nights.  We had to bundle up in jackets for our dog walk and wear gloves when we went running.  I forgot how to dress for cold runs.  I get so hot that I don’t actually need to wear that much, especially when the sun is out.

We got hot.

It was cold.  We got hot.  Those are my gloves sticking out of my waistband.

The cold was actually a true blessing for running.  It’s a whole lot easier to run when you’re not sweating 3 pints’ worth the moment you press start on your Garmin.

And when the cold left and the heat returned, well, we had to celebrate with a nice cycle to the beach:

4.  I cantered down memory lane

Horse sport was my original passion, once upon a time.  It was pretty much all I lived and breathed up until my 20s, and I spent a great summer working as a rider/groom in Ireland.  When I was in law school in the UK, we somehow managed to get funding for a polo club and I got to play heavily subsidised polo for 2 years – so much fun.  And then after that, zilch.  I used to get the occasional pony ride when visiting family, but I hadn’t jumped in probably around a decade or so.  Well, my sister wasn’t feeling well this week so she asked me to exercise her mare Zoey for her.  Next thing I knew, she was setting some jumps and I got to relive my youth.  Zoey took good care of me.

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I rode her again the next day and then went to a track session.  I tell you, doesn’t matter how much sport you do – do something different, using different muscles, and wow, you’ll be in pain after!  Or is that just me?!

We also discovered that fearless Haile thinks it’s great fun to chase the horses’ tails as they canter along.  Thankfully Zoey is super good-natured.

5.  Haile, Ballon. Enough said.

I keep sharing puppy photos, but did you know I also have the most beautiful cat in the entire world?  Her name is Ballon and she is International Feline of Mystery.  She is originally from Ireland.  She had a very serious accident there that resulted in 2 broken back legs.  She was flown to the UK for surgery by the wonderful charity Cats Protection.  3 major surgeries and a year later, she found a home with us in our London flat.  She walks a bit crooked and can’t jump, but that doesn’t stop her.  Now she lives with us in Florida and enjoys sunbathing and getting Haile in trouble.

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Ballon actually had an incredibly intense fear of dogs, but Haile seems to be winning her over (when he isn’t chasing her).

6. And finally, training in general

There have been some laments that I haven’t posted my normal weekly training updates – but I don’t want to bore you.  For those that are interested, I’ve put the usual weekly calendars below.  I had to take a disheartening chunk of time off due to some really seriously bad asthma issues, quite scary actually – but I’m pretty much back to normal now.

The week of the Leanda Cave tri campScreen Shot 2015-02-26 at 21.41.33

And the 2 weeks since the camp:

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Have you noticed I’ve not been foam rolling?  Why aren’t you yelling at me? Seriously!

 

02. February 2015 · Comments Off on Ten fun things that happened · Categories: Run, Trails, Weekly Roundup · Tags: , , ,

TEN fun things that happened this week:

1.  Brunch with my sister (and brother-in-law, not pictured).

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2.  Tom came back from California and we had our first ride together in a month! Oh, how I missed that sweet drafting pull!

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3.  We took Haile shopping.  Here he is enjoying his first ever ride on an escalator.

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4.  Tom bought some crazy shoes.  Hoka Bondi 4.  First time trying Hokas!  And I also bought crazy shoes – On Cloud!

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5.  We cooked up cat for dinner.image

6.  We watched some polo and then ate BBQ’d lobster.  I know, it’s a tough life!image

7.  I ran 27.5 km along the Apoxee Wilderness Trail with Ben, which was so so fabulous.  I love trail running, and this was a great trail with great company.  The miles flew by.  I wish every long run could be like this.

  

8.  Tom and I did yoga.  With candles.

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9.  We had a puppy play date with Ben’s dog, Alice (who is crazy fast!).  Haile conked out for the ride home!image image

10.  We generally eat pretty healthily, but sometimes you need to just go for it… and Sunday night we gorged on veggie cheese burgers with avocado, onion rings, sweet potato fries, baked beans and vanilla milkshakes!  It was definitely worth it!

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How was your week?  

Weekly Update

I am now starting to focus on training for the London Marathon, which means less cycling and swimming.  That results in less time spent training in general, but more time spent doing nasty things like tempo/threshold runs.

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Totals:  14:23

Swim:  0

Bike:  38 km, 1:19

Run:  73 km, 6:38

And….

Totals for January:

Swim:  8.04 km, 3:07

Bike:  412 km, 13:39

Run:  222 km, 19:54

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This past weekend was the HITS Naples Triathlon.  I did the Half Ironman while Tom, still recovering from a running injury, did the Aquathon.  It was a fantastic event.

We registered and racked our bikes the evening before:

And checked out the beach where we would be swimming the next morning:

And readied our nutrition for the race…

No, we didn't actually take all of these!

No, we didn’t actually take all of these!

 

 

We had a typically sleepless night, woke at 4:44am and got ready to do battle.

It was so cold.  So so so cold.  I was so unhappy!  (12 deg C is 53 F.) It was cold, dark and windy.  It’s not supposed to be windy at 5 in the morning!  Water temperature was around 18 C / 65 F.

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I will be the first to admit it – I am a huge wuss when it comes to the cold.  I hate being cold, and I get cold extremely easily.  I don’t perform well when I’m cold, either.  My first instinct is to make myself as small as possible and not move at all, which isn’t really compatible with a half Ironman triathlon.  And c’mon, we are in Florida – it’s not supposed to be cold!

I have never come so close to backing out of an event as I did Saturday morning!  I was shivering hard while still dry and couldn’t even imagine how I would cope coming out of the water into the wind.  But as always, when the horn sounded, I forgot everything and dove in for the fight!

Swim – 1.9 km Half Ironman / 3.8 km Ironman

The chop!  The wind was up and the water was very choppy.  And I lost my timer chip off my leg as soon as I started.  Argh!  I had to stop and search for it and then when I couldn’t get it back on, I stuffed it down the front of my wetsuit and dove back into the fray.  The water had zero visibility – I couldn’t even see my arms as I swam.

I was certain that it would be my slowest swim yet due to the chip incident and the strong chop, but once I made the first turn I found my own space and a good rhythm and was surprised to come out of the water and back into transition in 32:11, my fastest half Ironman swim yet.

Tom also had a good swim, doing two laps of the course in 1:03:37, which was the exact time he swam in Ironman Lanzarote!  Although in this tri, the swim time included the run from the ocean to transition, about 400m, which means that we both had our best swims to date.

Bike – 90.1 km Half Ironman / 180.2 km Ironman

The course was flat and fast and amazingly marshalled by the local police – we had a clear run through every single stoplight, fantastic!  My feet were frozen through and my hands shortly followed suit, which made changing gears and opening shot blocs challenging.  I kept it a steady Zone 2 heart rate throughout – arguably too low, but that’s what felt right so that’s what I went with.  There was a good cross-wind on the bike which meant that we had some head wind for nearly the entire course – can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I hit the halfway turnaround point and discovered that I wasn’t getting the tailwind that I had been looking forward to the whole way out!

The course was out and back but would you believe I nonetheless managed to make a wrong turn?  I only mention this because that wrong turn cost me 2 minutes extra which then later caused me to go just over 5 hours, arghhhhhhh!  Live and learn!  Oh well, mustn’t dwell on it.

I finished the bike in 2:42:42, which was a PB by 10 minutes for me.  Very happy!

As for Tom, he crushed it!  180.2 km in 4:52.46.  I’ll do the maths for you – that’s an average speed of 37 km/h or 23 mph!  He was in second behind RW Training coach Rich Wygand until poor Rich had his tyre explode*, after which Tom got to follow the lead motorcycle around the course and was first bike back from the full Ironman distance bike leg.

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First off the bike in the full Ironman distance!

Tom won the Aquathon! Yay Tom! (And then he got to rest.  He says Ironmans are much better when you don’t have to run a marathon too.)

Run – 21.1 km

The run course was again out and back.  My feet were numb from ankles downwards for the first half hour, always a strange sensation.  I took it easy for the first half, a steady Zone 2 heart rate and a comfortable pace.  When I reached the turn around point, I knew I could survive an hour or less of suffering, so I upped the pace and pushed, ending up with a nice negative split and an overall half marathon run of 1:40:36.  Maybe I should have pushed harder earlier, but it was still a significant half Ironman PB for me so I was happy!

I finished the race in 5:01:19 – a thrilling PB, but so disappointing that I would have gone sub-5 hours if I hadn’t take that wrong turn!

I was 8th woman overall (out of around 70 women) and 49th in the whole race (around 300 people).  I was particularly pleased to see that my run was actually the 29th fastest run out of everyone.

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The best moment of every race!

 

*Rich Wygand had to wait around 45 minutes for the support vehicle to swap him a new tyre, but he somehow managed to make a storming comeback to finish sub-10 hours, 2nd overall in the full Ironman!  Legend!  Meanwhile his wife Carol Wygand won her age group in her first Half Ironman in 5:13!

 

Do you do any races in your off season?

 

Weekly Roundup

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Total time:  10:28

Swim:  3km, 53 min

Bike: 124 km, 3:55

Run:  38km, 3:10

 

 

January is, supposedly, a time for New Year’s Resolutions, fresh starts, ending bad habits.  So just to switch it up a bit, what are your guilty pleasures, your indulgences?  A few of mine:

  1. Garmin data.  It’s ridiculous but I love it.  I upload within minutes of getting home from a workout and I study the data meticulously – even if it’s just a silly slow 5km run.  I go nuts when an upload loses my data.  I love the maps, the splits, the weekly tallies, the stats, all of it.  And I love seeing yours, too. (Follow me on Strava!)
  2. Sports kit.  The worst offenders are LululemonSweaty Betty* and Oiselle. During peak Ironman training I calculated I was wearing (and sweating in) 3 sports bras a day, sometimes 4 ((1) morning workout; (2) cycle to and from work; (3) yoga at lunch; (4) evening workout) which means really that I need at least 15 to get through the week.  I probably have double that number…. not to mention everything else.  We do a LOT of sports kit laundry in this house.
  3. Popcorn.  I love the stuff.  In the UK it was all about Tyrrells.  I used to buy about 6 bags in our weekly shop!  If anyone can tell me where to get Tyrrells popcorn in the US, I will be grateful! In the meantime I’m making do with a poor replacement from Fresh Market. (Yes, I make my own too.  But it doesn’t taste as good as Tyrrells).

*Want to try Sweaty Betty? At checkout, click on “been referred by a friend” on the right side of the page, and enter “Julia Kelk” for a cool $20 off your first order.  Alternatively, you can enter your email here to receive a $20 coupon.

What are your guilty pleasures?  As above.  Also, chocolate.  Ice cream.  Corn on the cob (6 cobs being the most I ever ate in one sitting).

Weekly Roundup

New Year’s happened.  I was in bed by 10.  Because I was tired (and happy) after doing a mock tri on New Year’s Eve that consisted of a 2700 m swim, a 30 km bike and a 5 km run.  It pissed it down while we were cycling and it was all a totally awesome way to end a brilliant year of training and racing.

 

Feeling that chilly December air!

Add in another 2 brick sessions, 3 swims in a week, and even some yoga and strength training and all in all it was a great and exhausting week.  The best type!

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Total:  15:34

Swim: 5730 m, 2:14

Bike:  213 km,  7:53

Run: 34.5 km, 2:59

 

Now for a mini-taper – I have the HITS Half Ironman in Naples on Saturday.

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My sister and brother-in-law at the pool with us – new tri recruits?!

 

 

 

I like numbers.  Data.  Stats.  I’m addicted to my Garmin (I use a 810 on my bike and a 910 for running and swimming). I log every mile (or rather, kilometre) without fail, although I have never included my bike commuting as part of that (slowly weaving my way through London traffic for 10km never really counted as cycling in my mind).

So here we have it, my 2014 in numbers, minus the bike commuting (which would roughly have amounted to an additional 2500 km):

Swim:  193.21 km I  73:24:56

Bike:  6513.00 km  I   273:17:58

Run:  2393.34   I   232:30:17

Strength training & yoga:  24:14:18

 

And now for….. 2015 RACING!!

I only started racing in 2012, but I do have a history of competing.  When I was a kid, I competed in ice skating and then in my teenage years I competed in hunter/jumper horse riding.  So when I started racing in 2012, it was no surprise to find that I absolutely loved it.  The nerves, the expectation, the goals, trying to smash those goals.  Back in my horse riding days, my coach used to say that I had a hunger for it, and I think that still holds true.

With Dream Catcher at Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair in 1997



This hunger means I train consistently and hard (yay!), with a tendency to rest less than I should (boo!) and a strong penchant for entering too many races every year (uh oh).  In 2014 it included a six week spell of London Marathon, Ironman Lanzarote and Sierra Leone Marathon (with just a week between the last two).  In 2014 I raced/participated in a total of 14 events, and 15 in 2013 (see here for more info).

 

 

Race plans for 2015, subject to change:

January:  Hits Triathlon Series Half Ironman, Naples

April:  London Marathon, UK

July:  Laugavegur Ultra Marathon, Iceland

September:  Ironman 70.3 Augusta, Georgia

November:  Ironman Florida, Panama City

 

I’ve actually entered all of these already, apart from the Icelandic Ultra (registration opens on Jan 9, and it looks awesome).  I suspect I’ll probably find a couple of shorter races to pepper throughout 2015 too.

And eep – the first half Ironman is 10 days away!

 

What was your 2014 like?

What’s your 2015 race calendar looking like?

 

29. December 2014 · Comments Off on Beasting the Big 100 · Categories: embrace the bike, Weekly Roundup · Tags: ,

We all have one.  A scary number.  Something that looms large.  For some it might be the 10K, the half marathon.  For others, the marathon, the Ironman, the ultra.  Whatever it is, the size of the number isn’t the issue – it’s the fear factor that matters, the associations with that number.  For me, it’s the 100 MILE CYCLE.  The Century ride.

Fear of the number isn’t bad.  It creates motivation and drive to train, and the sense of achievement that comes with completing the challenge.  But I will admit that I’ve had a bit of a strange relationship with the big

Why?  I mean, I’ve done an Ironman, and I’ve cycled the 100+ miles quite a few times now.  So why does it still make me anxious?

Because it’s a bloody long way!!!

And I’ve failed a few times.  And here’s the thing.  I’m not good at failing at things.  Nobody likes to fail, and if you work hard, push hard, try hard, it’s hard to accept that sometimes things just don’t work.  But there you go.  Sometimes they don’t.

First Attempt – Fail!

With friends Dalia & Jojo, at the start of the ride

With friends Dalia & Jojo, at the start of the ride – our first 100 mile ride

May 19, 2013.  This was the Wight Riviera Sportive, around the Isle of Wight.  Now, I should say – the Isle of Wight is really really beautiful.  It’s a stunning place to cycle, and it has non-stop hills.  Welcome to cycling in the UK – May 19, and it was barely above freezing, and raining off and on.

This is not me. You can tell because I was NOT smiling that day.  But you can see the route was stunning.

A view of the Needles

 

 

Stunning.  Except it was cold and raining.  Cold, raining, and 101 miles /163 km and 2219m of climbing.  Gulp.

I suffered.  I wasn’t ready for it.  Jojo quickly disappeared off with a speedier pack, while Dalia kindly stayed with me throughout my suffering.  Dalia had some mechanical issues, so we had to wait for a mechanic to fix those while the clock ticked on, and then when we did pedal onwards, it was pretty much at snail pace.  Yes, so slow that when, chilled through, nearly delirious, we finally arrived back at the finish some 7 hours later, my GPS showed that we had only done 145km, not 163km.  What happened?  I was just so thankful to be back that I didn’t dwell on it, but on the ferry journey back to the mainland, a kind official explained that the broom wagon crew had altered the route at the end to bring us back a bit quicker.  Thank goodness but….  my first failed attempt at 100 miles.  Wah!

 

Second Attempt – Success!

Sunshine makes me happy!

Sunshine makes me happy!

What a difference sunshine makes.  Second attempt was while on a (highly recommended) cycling training camp with Andy Cook out of Club La Santa (sport heaven), Lanzarote, in January 2014. We cycled in a group, it was warm and sunny, we had a couple of stops where we drank coke and ate cheese sandwiches and it was, point blank, a fantastic experience.  We took it slow and steady and I survived the 2700m elevation.  It was awesome.  (Strava link here.)

 

Third attempt – fail!

Don't be fooled by the smile.  I was frozen.

Don’t be fooled by the smile. I was frozen.

Sadly the third attempt was back in the rain.  Except no, it wasn’t so much rain, as snow, sleet, and hail. C’mon, seriously?!  There isn’t much wore than sleet while cycling.  It was the Lionheart Sportive in Wiltshire.  Again, long and hilly (there is a theme here…).  I was so frozen that when I got to the halfway point, I turned my bike and followed the signs to the 100 km route, saying goodbye to my dreams of getting another 100 miler under my belt. (NB – friend Dalia, mentioned above, soldiered on and did the 100 miles.  Beast!)  I drove home shivering and then ran a frozen miserable 17 km, cursing Ironman training.

 

Fourth attempt – Epic fail

Before

Before

After

After

Just to make sure my confidence was well and truly shot, my fourth attempt at the 100 miles was the one where I had the mega-crash and totalled my bike after 105 km.  Read this to hear more about that.  I won’t dwell on it here.  Moving on!

Fifth Attempt Success!

Rain rain rain, always rain!

It always rains!

Ironman Lanzarote was just 5 weeks away when I had the crash, so I really needed to get another 100 miler in, if only for the sake of my confidence.  One week after the crash, I did the Wiggle Ups and Downs Sportive, a hilly 103 mile route in Surrey, with my friend Zoe.  Guess what.  It rained.  It rained like Noah’s Flood.  (Would we expect anything less of April in England?) It was torrential rain, and it was cold, a wet spraying filthy muddy clinging cold that bit into our hands and feet and sodden clothes for the full 103 miles.  That’s right, the full shebang. Zoe and I made it around.  It was misery but we did it!  I couldn’t have done it without Zoe slowly chugging along beside me, a faint silhouette of relentless support in the pouring rain!

Do not be fooled by this brief moment of sun!

With Zoe, photo taken in the brief 5 minutes of sun we had the whole ride!

Sixth Attempt – Success!

This one had to happen!  Ironman Lanzarote!

Ironman Lanzarote

Ironman Lanzarote

112 miles, no problem at all! (Other than bad stomach, but that’s a story for another day.)  Have I mentioned I cycle a whole lot better in the sunshine?

Course profile of Ironman Lanzarote

 

Seventh AttemptSuccess!

Sunshine = smiles!

Sunshine = smiles!

June 2014.  My friend Rebecca and I rode 178km with 2646m climbing around Kent on a beautiful sunny day.  It didn’t rain.  Bliss!  A great ride.  Sunshine makes all the difference!

 

Eighth AttemptSuccess!

I call this one a success, but it was a bitter success if there ever was one.  This was the White Rose Classic put on by the Ilkley Cycling Club in Yorkshire, and we rode part of the route the Tour de France would be doing the following week.  I had been warned – this one is known as hard, and it truly was.  From our start at the nearby hotel to the finish, we rode 191 km /119 miles and 3658 m of climbing.  Brutal ride.  It hurt. It hurt for some 11 hours.  I rode again with my friend Rebecca who kept saying to me, You’re an Ironman, you can do this.  With 25% grade climbs it nearly killed me, but I crawled around it at snail’s pace and made it to the end.  Magnificent.  (Yes, it was truly beautiful too.)  And yes, it did rain a bit too.  Obviously.

 

Ninth Attempt – Success!

Christmas Eve 2014, yes, just a few days ago.  Maybe now I can stop labelling them success vs failures in my head, given that I’ve had a run of successful rides.  But as I said, it’s hard to get a scary number out of your head once it’s lodged itself in there.

This was a successful ride in a new way, however.  Since moving to Florida, I’ve been learning how to push harder on the bike than ever before.  All the other 100+ mile rides were very hilly, and often snowing/sleeting/raining.  Here, I can focus on just the bike, riding hard on big open roads. And I thrive on the bike in the sunshine.

This was the Santa Pull 100, a fantastic group ride organised by pro team Rich and Carol Wygand of RW Training.

At 25 miles in

At 25 miles in

We rode to the ocean! I still can’t get over how amazing it is to ride along the ocean.  In total Tom and I rode 186 km / 116 miles in 6h17, with an average speed of 30 km/h.  (See the ride here.)  BOOM!  Thanks RW Training for giving me back my 100 mile confidence!

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The sun rises over the beach – we started cycling at 5:30am

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Drinks refill stop, around 75 miles in

 

 

Filthy happy faces after 186 km.

Filthy happy faces after 186 km

Nine 100+ mile rides attempted to date.  Six successes, three failures.  100 miles is still a long way, but I’m getting a bit less scared of it now.  And those failures would only be true failures if I had never made the attempt again.

Lessons learned:

  1. I hate cycling in the cold.
  2. I ride better with friends

Morals?  Move to somewhere warm.  Cycle with a great group.  DONE!

 

What’s your dreaded number? 

What scares you?

 

Weekly Roundup

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Total Time: 16:11

Swim:  4.7 km, 1:40

Bike:  284 km, 9:30

Run:  39 km, 3:48

 

 

The holidays have snuck up on us.

What my surroundings do NOT look like.

What with moving to another country, another climate, leaving my old job, getting a puppy, selling a flat, buying a house, starting a business, and training, it has been a busy few months and the time has gone by in a flash of heat haze.

Both Tom and I got hit by a bad cold that we picked up in cool California last weekend, which impacted our training and general joie-de-vivre.  I skipped the group intervals session and long rides and did my own thing instead, which included one of the best brick sessions I’ve ever had, never mind feeling poorly.  But today the cold has slapped me in the face with a big R for rest day, and sometimes it’s best not to argue.

Last week:

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Total:  11h43

Swim: 51 min

Bike: 6h18, 186 km

Run: 2h19, 20 km

This included the Eggnog prediction mile on Wednesday night at the track, where we had to drink a cup of eggnog per 400m and predict what time we’d finish in.  I don’t work well with miles so I took a stab in the dark, going for 10:30, only to finish in 9:19 – but the winner predicted 10:00 and was bang on the dot!  Impressive! (Also, it was the hardest track session I’ve ever done.  20 x 200m?! with 20-30 seconds recovery.  It killed me.)

It also included the “Dog Jogs” which, to be honest, barely count as runs at all.  We’re trying to teach our puppy to run with us… slowly slowly!

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Jumping for joy after my brick session yesterday. (Note the very holiday-spirit atmosphere.)

I miss winter for the holiday season – nothing like a frosty run, the crack of ice under your feet, the stillness of a cold night and your breath fogging and steam rising off you when you stop running.  But all in all, I’m loving how often I’m getting out on my bike and how much more fun it is when you’re not a coasting icicle on a bicycle (sorry, couldn’t resist).

In other excitement, we have gone from having 8 bikes in a small flat in London, to 4 bikes in a big suburban garage.  It’s pretty awesome.

LONDON:

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FLORIDA:

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Those of you in London, or other major cities, will certainly appreciate this.

What are your holiday seasons looking like?

Do you like eggnog? NO!!!!

Tom was taking a course this weekend in California, and I got to go along for the ride (run!).  Nothing makes me happier than trail running.  Running in crisp air, leafy mountains?  yes please!  It was every bit as good as I imagined it would be.

Day 1

No running yet – this was a day in San Francisco with Tom, to be enjoyed.  First stop in the pouring rain was breakfast at Dottie’s, then a wander around Union Square and a coffee with friend Mariko at the Market at the Ferry Terminal.  A walk to Fisherman’s Wharf, and we visited a great running shop, Fleet Feet, for me to buy some new trail shoes.  Cuz guess who forgot her trail shoes at home?!

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7 hours in San Fran.  Then zoooom in the rental car over the bridge to WALNUT CREEK!  Where Tom’s course was taking place.

 

Day 2

The excitement!  While Tom was learning, I got to play.  I hit the trails early, while the hills were still deeply hidden in dense fog.  It was wonderful.  I ran up and around the Diablo Foothills.  I was so, so happy.  I ran 11.5km through the trees, up the hills, through the mud, through the fog, across the top. See map of my run here, or let the pictures speak for themselves:

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The new trail shoes!

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This is me having fun, in case that’s not apparent.

 

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I was in heaven. Not exaggerating.

 

 

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Yeah, I did get a bit lost up there, but it was amazing.

Then I rushed to Oakland to meet my friend Mariko and her girlfriend Heather, and off we went (via huge breakfast) for some hiking up Mount Tamalpais.  Time for more pictures!

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Mariko leads the way

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One of the things I love most about trail running is feeling hot in cold climates.  Does that make sense? I’m one of the coldest people you’ll ever meet (hence moving to Florida!), but there is something about being active and working up a sweat when it’s cold outside that I just love.

 

Day 3

Trails again, this time the Redwoods Trail near Oakland, a 13km run up and around a densely wooded canyon and back down again, with 408m of climbing.  I have a thing about loops – I will always prefer to run a loop than an out-and-back.  My run, and some photos:

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This is running at its best! Through the Redwood trees.

 

I met Mariko and Heather for a coffee in Oakland at their local farmers’ market for a coffee and then headed back to the hotel, only to realise that Tom wouldn’t be done his course for another 4 hours.  Surely I wasn’t going to sit in the room and wait for him, was I, when I was in such a paradise of trails?  So back on went the running kit and my trusty OMM jacket and I headed off to Mount Diablo, the tallest mountain in the area at 3849′.

Mount Diablo, beckoning

Moment of truth:  keeping in mind I’d already done a decent run that day, and darkness would loom in around 3 hours… I didn’t start from the bottom.  Instead I drove up, white knuckled (I hate driving on mountain roads!), parked, and ran up to the summit, just 5km up and down but 307m of climbing in the ~2km up!  See the run here, or admire the view:

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An amazing weekend of trails.

Now trying to avoid thinking about the fact that I’m living somewhere with no mountains or hills…..

What’s your favourite type of run?

Weekly Roundup

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Total:  10h22

Swim:  2200 yards

Bike:  80km, 2h40

Run:  52km, 5h30

Ps, did you notice I finally got to the swimming pool this week?  That’s because I’ve signed up for another Half Ironman in January….

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