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.


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:


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:

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 13.50.27

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:


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.


And post race?




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.



2.  I mean, he really enjoys water.


3.  And he definitely enjoys the after effects:



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


This morning I was meant to run an early morning intervals session of 9*800m at 5k pace, with 400m jog in-between each set.  That’s a tough session.

Instead I got up, played with my puppy and ate a grapefruit.

I say that so off-hand, but actually making the choice not to do the workout was a tough one.  11045389_873075352736017_1218951752553398124_n


The internet is full of memes, slogans, quotes etc like the one above, but I don’t think they are necessary.  Most competing athletes tend to do too much, I think, rather than too little.

It’s hard to know when to rest, especially when your training plan is hammering away.  I had a pretty killer track session on Wed night, which ended up being nearly 15km of speed work.  Thursday morning early I got up and ran my 70 min easy, or as I logged it – “dead man’s shuffle.”  While easy runs are supposed to be at an easy pace, I’ve run ultra marathons faster than I ran yesterday morning.

I should have taken yesterday off so I could have done a quality intervals session today.  But it is what it is, and tomorrow I have 20 miles to run and I am deeply weary and to put it simply, my butt is killing me from the 200m sprints we did at the track.  So I took a big breath and put my trainers back into the closet.  For today.

I’ll be back tomorrow.


Weekly Update – last week

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 08.04.15

Last week was a decent training week.  I got in two tempo runs, a track session, and a long run.

And some horse riding, as I mentioned last week!  I’ve had some questions on the riding, so if you’re interested:

  • My heart rate for a tempo run is usually around 175 bpm (beats per minute);
  • my heart rate for an easy run is around 130-145;
  • my heart rate while riding was around 100 when trotting and 120-145 while cantering.

This shows that riding – at least for me – is a good fat burning sport, but it really doesn’t burn a whole lot of calories compared to running or cycling.  Good for core strength, though!

February totals:  56 hours

Swim:  5 km / 2 hours 18 min

Bike:  323 km  / 11 hours 28 min

Run: 267 km / 24 hours 32 min

I’m always amazed at how marathon training (versus Ironman training) takes much less time overall, and yet I feel more tired… !

03. March 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Triathlon · Tags:

I am fascinated by tattoos.  And no, I don’t have a single one.  But I love them.

I love that people have the passion for something, or the interest in, or the will, to put something permanent on their body.  To go through the pain, and to be marked for life.  Or even just the simple love of the beauty, or the desire for the memory.  I’m sure there are thousands of distinct reasons people seek out their individual tattoos.  If tattooed people don’t mind the questions, I love to hear the stories behind the artwork.

If I were going to get a tattoo, it would have to be something Polynesian.  I love the designs, the strength and beauty.  I particularly like them creeping up the side of the neck to the ear, which I saw on many a lady when in the region – but was hesitant to get my own, as I thought my City of London law firm job wouldn’t really appreciate the artwork in the same way.

A few of my top picks:

Why haven’t I done one on a hidden spot, if not my neck?  Well, truly I am too indecisive, and while I think these tattoos are stunning, I don’t have the passion behind them to sit for needles for that long.

So why am I discussing tattoos in what is ostensibly a sports blog?

Now that Tom and I are based in Florida, we have seen so many more tattoos here than we ever saw in the UK.  We can’t quite figure out if it’s just because there is generally more skin on show due to climate, or if people are more likely to get tattooed here.  And there is a huge prevalence for MDot Tattoos:

This is the logo of the Ironman brand, the best known brand that puts on long distance triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run, for a total of 140.6 miles covered by the athlete).  There are other races of the same distance, including the increasingly popular Challenge Family.  But Ironman cornered the market with its name – it sure sounds better to say “I’m an Ironman” than “I’m a long distance triathlete“, doesn’t it!

There is no doubt that it’s a massive accomplishment to finish each and every Ironman (or any long distance triathlon!), let alone do all the training to get to the start line, so I can understand why people get these tattoos.  But why do more people seem to sport them here than in Europe? We have competed at Ironman brand triathlons in Lanzarote, Spain and Haugesund, Norway, and competed/attended countless triathlons in the UK, all featuring scantily-clad athletes, same as in Florida, but we never noticed the MDot tattoo featuring so heavily as we do here.

A friend of ours (who is a truly exceptional Ironman triathlete and has an MDot tattoo with fantastic personalisation) told us a story about once meeting someone else with an MDot tattoo.  He asked him which one he had done, only to hear that the man had never done an Ironman, but that he hoped to one day, and the tattoo was his inspiration.  This again provokes some thought – is that fair to those who have put in the time and did the deed?  Or is there no such thing as bad etiquette when it comes to what art you choose to put on your own body?

I would love to hear people’s thoughts!

Do you have a tattoo?

Do you have an M-Dot?  If not, would you get one?