What's it all about?

I decided to write a blog following my training and triathlon season. For me, I have always participated in sports for as along as I can remember, whether it was being one of the only girls playing football with the boys, playing hockey at numerous clubs or running around cross country circuits in the pouring rain. This year I plan to work hard on my swimming, cycling and running in an effort to qualify for the World Championships in Triathlon and represent my age group. I hope that you enjoy my blog or rather my ramblings and feel free to comment.

Kerry X

Friday, 21 December 2012

2012 done and dusted, what will 2013 bring?

What a few weeks!
With Christmas fast approaching I have been conscious more than ever with my training to concentrate on consistency and being strong and motivated to get out running even when i felt like staying home. I have managed to do a consistent 6-8 hours training each week for the past 5 weeks (on week 6 now) culminating in 21 miles ran last week.
This week has been a bit more difficult with a slight calf strain meaning that I did my 1st run this week, and have left a few days to recover the pull in my leg. Today will be a run instead and then my long run on Sunday of hopefully around 16km. I have been supplementing my running with core work and gym/weights in order to improve my flexibility and strength as well as overall  body conditioning.
So with 2012 coming to a close, it is probably right for me to reflect on my year and also my year of writing a blog! I cannot believe that it has been almost a year that I first started this blog. I had no intention of doing it this time last year, in January it really was a spur of the moment thing when I wanted to start running again after my injuries.
2012 has had some real ups and some low points but also has helped me learn and progress as an athlete.
Under Will's guidance and training program for starting to run again, I developed some confidence in my abilities and was able to increase my training and speed through the hard work I put in, which meant that I qualified for not only 2013 Europeans, but also the 2012 World Championships in NZ. It has been a great year in terms of my performance, and I would like to add that I think it was my best triathlon season ever, and really it wasn't that great in terms of times, so I know that I can get faster and better even more so!
I think one of the lowest points for me has to be the continued poor weather for a majority of the races that I competed in. It really made things quite difficult and I have learnt from this that being over prepared and training in all weathers is SO beneficial to you as an athlete, and it can make all the difference in where you end up finishing in a race. Mental strength is also crucial here, as I have raced in some pretty miserable conditions this year, and having the mental capacity to believe in yourself and get to the end and finish strongly has been tough.

So what are my 2013 goals then???
With London marathon coming up in around 4 months time, I want to continue my good work with my training running 3 times a week (possibly 4) each and ever week, week in week out. I want to get to the start line injury free. I have stopped thinking in terms of race fit, as i know that by that point I will be pretty tired from the full on training, so I must take the taper very seriously. I just want to get there without a serious injury so that I am able to run the race. I won't be going for a specific time, but in my preparation for the race, I am doing Silverstone Half marathon so I want to make it sub 2 hours at that race.

After this point it will be back to the bike and working on my bike strength heading out in the lighter evenings 4 times per week and spending time in the gym to prepare for a few triathlons ending with my A race- The Vitruvian on the 31st August. I know that this will be a huge step up and I need to get back into the pool. I feel as if I have been lazy with my training lately, but I think that it is just to do with the fact that I am either running or in the gym. I miss the bike and swimming, so by getting back on it after the London Marathon, I know that I will be highly motivated by that point! My goal at the Vitruvian is to complete the race and just enjoy it. I probably will readjust my goals throughout the year, but for now I have to concentrate on the marathon training and getting to London.

So for now, happy training and all the best for 2013 whatever your goals may be!

(PS enjoy Christmas, remember that you can have that extra mince pie, so long as you have a tough session to help work it off!!!)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Marathon Training off to a great start!

Another Monday, another week of training DONE! I am now onto week 4 of marathon training with 3/3 long runs successfully completed over the past 3 weeks. I have been trying to be consistent with my running, completing 3 each week (as well as a hockey match!) all as part of my 24 week plan. This last week was a bit more unsuccessful with other parts of my training (hockey match cancelled, and a night away from home) but I still got my three runs completed, culminating in a 14.5km run yesterday in the bright sunshine and icy roads! This time of year is particularly tricky for cycling and running (not  so much swimming!) as the roads and weather certainly play the largest consideration for what you decide to do. Earlier this year I had to go off on the MTB (see Feb post) as the snow and temperatures dictated that going out on the road bike would have been suicidal.
Will has been turboing an awful lot more than he ever has, which is great as he is still getting those miles in, and his back seems better now so is back running again (see his blog http://meinlycra.wordpress.com/) for regular updates on how he is getting along.
Anyway back to me and my training!
I have been aiming to complete around 7/8 hours training each week and building up the running miles slowly with Body Balance classes and weights and core training each week to help build up my strength and conditioning. I am missing the cycling, and I actually thought I would be able to fit it in somewhere, but with the dark nights and icy roads, I really do not want to compromise my running training, and have had to find it within myself to accept that this winter running HAS to be my priority and if there comes a night where I could get on the turbo, I would actually rather get in the pool for some low impact training. I am missing the saddle, and come April time after the marathon, I have got quite a few triathlons in mind to sharpen the speed and get ready for the all important middle distance event at the end of August.
It is quite weird and different to have running as my primary focus, but I am really relishing the change and enjoying it. I have the aim now of going out for a run and enjoying it, trying to keep a constant pace and just really keep going. I have been incredibly lucky with the weather, and also with the company I have enjoyed whilst doing these long runs.
My Sunday runs have looked like this:-

  • Sunday 18th November : 9.5km around Hambleton Peninsular- a fairly flat start and then the second half is rather undulating. I was lucky enough to tag behind my friend Andrea for this run as my first one to break me in slowly.

  • Sunday 25th November : 11.5km from Normanton Car Park over the Dam to Whitwell and back. A challenging run not least because the wind was howling an absolute gale, but luckily I had another friend Tim with me to shelter me from the wind somewhat on the Dam!

  • Sunday 2nd December : A lovely sunny day greeted me, rather than the hangover from Stamford Tri Club Xmas party! The run was to be 14km and I was to set off from home. Taking a look at a couple of running websites where people share their routes, I was pleased to find one of the right length. I took Will's Garmin with me and managed to record the actual time and distance rather accurately. I completed 14.43km in just under 1 hour 24 minutes (1:23:55) recording an average pace of 5:49 per km.
Looking at the data from yesterday's run I was really pleased and this has boosted my confidence massively about my ability to run this marathon. Although the pace was fairly slow, I was really pleased that I managed to get around and felt like I would be able to run further should I need to. I also found that my pace generally got a bit quicker as I was more warmed up.
Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come, and taking it steady and surely is the right way forward considering how I was injured last year.
This week is a fairly intense week with an hours bike session for a research study I am taking part in (VO2 max test was a month ago) and finishing the week off with a 16km run on Sunday. Here's hoping for more good weather this Sunday! 
Happy Training!


Friday, 16 November 2012

What's next in store?

For those of you that have been following my ever rambling blog posts you will have noticed that I have been quiet for a couple of weeks. This has nothing to do with anything really! In fact i have just been having a couple of weeks of R & R (rest and relaxation) and eating, drinking and doing whatever I felt like, which in all honestly was nothing!
I also had my 26th birthday during this time, so really it was well planned with the drinking and resting on my schedule for the time being.
But hey ho, you didn't tune in to read about my wild party animal ways- of which I am glad to say there are not many, but you came to read about what I am up to at the moment and what 2013 has in store for me.
Winter is virtually upon us now with those shorter days and longer nights, (cold dreary and defiantly not motivational at all!) and I have this very week started to ease back into training. For me the next few months have taken a bit of a change from the norm (norm being 10-12 hours of running, swimming and cycling each week- if that's normal for any person then you must be a triathlete as well?!) to mainly just running. Running. Running. And maybe even a bit more running!
This photo is taken from a couple of years ago when I completed the Chester Half Marathon in May. It was my second ever Half and I missed the crucial 2 hour mark by 1 minute! Gutted.
Anyway, as many of you that regularly read might know, I got my coveted spot into the London Marathon 2013. I had actually got this place to run this April (2012) but due to chronic shin splints I deferred my place.

I have drawn up a plan as helped by My Asics and I am able to see exactly how far each run needs to be. I am basing my winter miles on 4 runs per week with the longest one naturally being on a Sunday. This won't increase much past 10 miles before the end of 2012.
I have entered a few running events in order to prepare me for the actual Marathon where I know there will be tens of thousands of people running and therefore I want to have some kind of racing experience prior to this.
The races which I am doing are:-
  • 20th January 2013- Folksworth 15 (15 miles)
  • 17th February 2013- Stamford 30km (Valentine's 30km)
  • 3rd March 2013- Silverstone Half Marathon
Realistically I want to get to the start line in as best possible shape that I can be and then I want to be able to have run a couple of long runs (18-20 miles) to be as well prepared as I can be without getting injured. The other point is that I want to be injury free as much as I can be. On the back of this thought, I have begun to go to Body Balance classes at my local Gym. Even though it sounds quite poncey and fuddy-duddy, it is anything but. As a mixture of Tai-Chi, Yoga and Pilates, it relies on good core strength and strong mindset as well as thighs of steel! It has made me so much more aware of my body and what needs strengthening. Supplementing this will be two core sessions each week of around 45 minutes in order to give my body the best grounding as possible.
And even though swimming and cycling look as though they will be getting a back seat for the meantime, I plan on trying to cycle at least once a week and swimming twice a week to relieve the stress and impact of the running.
From January onwards, the mileage will increase and then taper off towards marathon day.
After this my year is looking towards the Vitruvian at the end of August. Being my first ever Middle-distance event will be challenging and tough, but something that will be a good aim for next year. I had so much internal pressure to qualify for the Worlds this year that I think having a different goal and challenge will be something that I can put my mind and body into.

Hopefully this Winter will be uneventful and I will manage to get those all important running sessions done.

Happy Training everyone! :)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Final race of the year: Auckland World Triathlon Championships 2012

Grab yourself a cup of tea...... this will be lengthy!
Having qualified for the World Triathlon Championships back in July at the Deva Triathlon and deciding to go, I worked hard in those last couple of months with regards to training (apart from going to South Africa of course!) to the point where not only was my body at breaking point, but my mind as well. I had been making very regular visits to the physio up until I went to NZ with problems with my back, with the physio keeping me going. I was also making quite a few visits to my sports therapist as well! Anyway the point being that I was literally waiting like a coiled spring ready to race, with the race being on 22nd October, making my season exceptionally longer than most other triathletes. The pros also had this to content with having the grand final race in Auckland on the 20th/21st October.
Having packed my bike up and finally getting to the airport on the Monday morning in the M25 rush hour traffic, I was on my way! It was to be a mammoth journey via Kuala Lumpur with the usual anxiety and nerves about the bike making it there safely.
Arriving into Auckland on the other side of the world, I was lucky enough to have a few others that I knew racing there and we kept each other company for the rest of the time there. The first day I decided to check out the race expo and the race HQ which was down on the waterfront. With sunshine but harsh gusts of wind, it was very similar weather to what the UK had been experiencing a few weeks earlier.
Meeting my friends, (some of whom I hadn't seen in a long while) was really great and we settled down to watch Kenny compete in the Aquathlon.
Below shows Kenny in action out of T1.

This picture shows how the swim was sheltered between two piers. For the Olympic distance triathlon, we swam far beyond the shelter of these wharfs into the swell beyond!
With the chance for a bike recce on Thursday, Kenny, Dean and myself took to our trusty steeds to try out a lap of the bike course. We soon found it to be fairly testing with three pretty sharp hills and descents along with one of the fiercest head winds as you came back into the city. It was a case of put your head down and get on with it!

Thursday was the Parade of Nations, and after a LOT of hanging around, we were walking along the waterfront into the Cloud (built specifically for the Rugby world cup 2011) to have a dinner of pasta and salad. Luckily my friend Sara who had just landed managed to find us and we scoffed the dinner and it was early to bed for the both of us, with jet lag looming.

Friday's plan was to give the swim course a bit of a try and having managed to get our wetsuits on, Sara and I made our way to the swim pontoon to give it a go. The water temperature was really not that bad, but it was the waves that began to hit you as you swam beyond the piers. Anyway, we gave it one lap before deciding that we had tried our best. By this point I had started to sneeze quite a bit and my nose was running on an almost permanent basis, it was then that I realised that I had caught a cold. Be it the long flight with an ill person, or the air conditioning on the plane, or simply that my immune system was low due to the fact I had been training so much, I simply didn't feel all that great! Saturday for me was to be a bit of a day of rest. After initially planning to do another swim down at Mission bay (the turn around point on the bike course), I decided that it would be better for me to rest and get better. Sunday was to be a similar affair although the weather had taken a real turn for the worse. Saturday involved sunshine and burnt foreheads watching the elite women battle it out, with Lisa Norden winning the champs and a stirling performance from Jodie Stimpson coming 5th in the race and Annie Haug putting the pedal down in the closing kilometres to take the win. Sunday for the men was a real battle through the elements and this was to be one of the closest races yet for Brownlee (Johnny) and Gomez. Sara and I found shelter in the Cloud to watch the race on one of the big screens. As you can see from the photo the conditions were really awful and I was glad to be sat inside rather than out on the streets!
The organisers had decided to plan that all GB athletes were to rack bikes on the Sunday. This was fine, however being from 3-4pm, at the end of the elite men's race was to cause quite a bit of traffic with all the closed roads and specific crossing points! Racked and ready to race, but with a huge thunderstorm that night, all I kept thinking about was the poor bike sat on the pier getting blown about!
Monday morning dawned and the weather had improved although the wind was still quite gusty. We made our way through the HUGE transition, which by the way added around 1km total to our running from swim to bike and bike to run, and sorted out bits out ready to rock and roll. Wetsuit donned and three toilet trips later it was time to get in the holding pen. Unfortunately I then decided that I needed the loo yet again, but already in the waiting area for the swim it was too late and I would have to wait until the swim to do my business!
Getting onto the pontoon and then into the water, we were literally elbow to elbow and this was really going to get tough. The hooter went off and I held back for a brief moment before setting off. I really managed to swim quite well initially and held my own, drafting from many feet before edging my way forwards. Then it hit............ after the shelter of the wharf we soon had to turn left. We basically swam in the formation of a capital T but withe the 3 metre swell, the buoys became impossible to sight, and it was a case of fight against the crashing waves and try my hardest. The swim across the top was absolutely shocking. I sat up a couple of times to sight and literally swam into a couple of lifeguards who proceeded to tell me I was going the wrong was. I was about to tell him what for, and looked across to around 10-15 other girls in red hats all next to me, grumbling I set off again for the tiny red buoy in the distance. It was an absolute fight to the very end with the buoy seeming to get further and further away not matter how hard I swam. Finally coming back into the sheltered water, green hats of the next wave began to pass us. It was then that my heart sank, as they had set off a full 10 minutes later. Finally making my way out, I was wobbly as anything and my heart sank even further when I noted my achingly slow time of over 32 minutes. Running the 400m or so into T1, wetsuit off pretty much, I had a couple of other girls come through with me into T1 and all I heard was, 'that was totally awful- we were well off course!', and believe you and me, I was then relieved to see so many bikes still racked next to mine!

Setting off on the bike and trying to make up lost time, it was off onto the course with grit and steely determination. Or so I thought! I was making quite good progress with the wind behind me. It was on the turn around that the full force of the wind stopped you in your tracks. I had been going at a steady 44kmph with the wind behind me on the flattish parts. The support on the hills was phenomenal, parents had their kids out on the streets in their PJs, the hills were covered in chalk names, and having your name on your trisuit meant that people were calling out your name. Coming back into the city against the wind was tough, and on the start of lap 2, I called out to the crowds for some cheers, they were mainly there for the Kiwis and Aussies, so I tried to rally them up! Coming back into T2 was a bit of a relief, I had not began to even try to go in the swim for my 'toilet break' and therefore the entire bike ride became a race against myself trying to get back into transition to relive myself. I honestly didn't know whether I would make it! My T2 time was abysmal, luckily having the long run into T2 meant my time wasn't too bad, but I had to dash into one of the conveniently placed portaloos. I was then very glad that they were there as I doubt I would have made it around the run course without stomach cramps! The pancake flat run course was 2 laps of 5km.
I thought initially that I was OK on the run, however the bonk and fatigue kicked in around 4km into the twisty turning run course. Lots of dead turns and it never seemed like you ran further than around 100m without turning a corner which really broke up your rhythm!
It was all going so well until nearer the end when I really struggled to make it back.
I finished the race well down on my expectations but was immensely relieved to have it finished and done and dusted!
Having time to reflect on my efforts now post-race, I was able to see that my preparation running into the race was not the best, with a 2 1/2 week holiday 4 weeks prior to the event and also coming down with a cold a couple of days before. Also having the tightness in my back and not really functioning properly was another blow. However these are all excuses that I should try to see past and really I should be pleased that I was there in the first place! Which I honestly am! I think that it was a great event, although honestly speaking it was possibly the worst event I have ever done with regards to conditions, and that is speaking from someone who has competed in 9 events this year with our British Summer!

On the whole a really worthwhile trip and something that I think I may want to try and repeat for years to come, but not next year with London being the final race. I have entered the Vitruvian Middle Distance event held on my home turf here in Rutland on the 31st August 2013, and have just entered the Dambuster Triathlon (22 June 2013) as a warm up.
For now it is R & R (Rest and recovery) as well as my upcoming birthday to enjoy some time away from training, get my body back to a good base and begin my London Marathon 2013 training. I have downloaded a very handy training plan that begins in the middle of November, so that will mean lots of running, lots of core work and the occasional swim/bike to break up the monotony of running. I plan to still blog about my training, but it might take on a slightly different format of documenting my actual runs. The plan is really to build up slowly and surely with mileage not really exceeding half marathon until January when I begin to increase my long runs. I have also entered the Silverstone Half marathon on the 3rd March so that will be a good gauge of how I am doing in my prep.

So for now, get back into that winter gear and happy training everyone!

PS I hope that you enjoyed reading!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

First day in Auckland

What a great 48 hours, or is that 60? Well whatever the time, so far things have been interesting! My flight to Auckland via Kuala Lumpur was pretty much split over two flights with the first flight trying very hard to sleep with a family of 6, four children, two sets of twins all under the age of 2 right next to me. I felt quite sorry for the parents, up until I saw that they were then getting on the next flight to Auckland, and wondered what they were doing taking four very young children all that way! This was amongst the anxiety of wondering whether my luggage and bike were going to make it to their final destination! 
Arriving at Auckland finally after 24 hours of flying and airplane food, I was relieved to finally collect my bag and bike and transfer to my hotel. It's been a real nice surprise and the hotel is really lovely. We have a kitchenette and rather large room with two beds and plenty of space to build the bike.
After settling down for bed around 2am and waking at 7.30am (body clock is a bit fudged!) then I decided to shower and build the bike before heading out to explore the streets to find some shops. I also had the best ever breakfast at a tiny theatre cafe which I certainly will try and visit again! Then it was time to proceed with my map and awesome navigation skills to try and find the team GB hotel. After only ten minutes walk, I arrived and sought out the info I needed before walking to the waterfront to find the main race HQ. 
Auckland have put on a real show and it is super organised! The expo is ok, and they are charging for grandstand tickets for the elite races, but other than that, the organisation is cracking. 
I have had such a great day as I am fortunate enough that some great friends from Chester triathlon club are also either out here competing, or are travelling and living in Auckland. Reunion over, it was time to support Kenny Begley in the aquathlon. With the wind whipping up and the clouds blowing out, it appeared to be a beautiful, if somewhat fresh day. 

However the blue skies were hiding the ferocious wind, as Kenny reported from his race experience that as soon as you hit the main body of water, the waves were really quite powerful. Something I will have to try out myself on Friday in the swim familiarisation. 
I am excited to race now, but having Dean and his partner Mandy, Kenny and Rachel here has been such an added bonus as I have now got plenty of other things to do and see with a tour guide! 
This evening was finished off at Rachel's home stay with a BBQ and overlooking the fantastic lake on which we are going to go paddle boarding next week after the race! I have also been fortunate enough that Dean and Mandy have a car so were able to drive me about! Tomorrow is a bike recce with Kenny and Dean, and I really must sign out now as tiredness is creeping into my bones! I think I have done pretty well and just hope that the jet lag doesn't catch me too soon! 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

2013 and going longer

So many of you might know that I am planning to run the London marathon in 2013. But in addition to this, I have been considering longer triathlons and have decided to enter the Vitruvian middle distance triathlon in August 2013. 
Having this race on my own doorstep and having watched many friends competing, including Will, and also having considered what I want my goals to be, I felt that this would be a great natural progression. 
Of course this is early days for making my 2013 season goals, but seeing as the entry opened this evening, and places selling out faster than you can say Vitruvian, you have to be quick to get one of the 1000 places. It was sold out in under 18 hours last year and entries have opened even earlier than usual. 

Anyway for those of you interested, take a look at the promotional video from this year's race http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=S3pTyJgfdRA&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DS3pTyJgfdRA

Pretty impressive stuff! 

Here's to a successful race in Auckland, I will probably blog next week as my final run up into the racea
Let you know how it's going!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Stretching to your limits

With two weeks to go until Auckland (three until race day) I have been trying to keep the motivation going for the final couple of weeks. I have been running and swimming regularly but since coming back to Rutland, my cycling has suffered.
Last weekend (23rd September) saw my second attempt at the London Triathlon after completing it back in 2010 as my first ever Olympic Distance. Race preparation had been far from ideal with the two and a half week break away in South Africa eating and drinking what cannot be said to be all that healthy for a triathlete!
Anyway, the run up into the race was a long busy week of catching up with work and a conference in Leeds before our journey to London on the Saturday.
Arriving with another friend of ours who was also racing on the Sunday we arrived at our hotel in plenty of time with Tom's family and his girlfriend Kelly to support us. After a brief walk around Canary Wharf, we decided to eat at Jamie's Italian early on in the evening to give us plenty of time to sleep, or so we thought! I have since decided that the Travelodge was probably not the best place to sleep as I probably only managed a couple of hours kip before my earlier start time than the boys.
I was up at 6am and breakfasted before creeping out to drive to the Excel.
With all the diversions due to the race, traffic was totally mental and I was late in getting to the centre. The weather wasn't too bad, but not entirely good either with heavy overcast clouds and a slight chill in the air.
The Excel centre is immense with huge arenas for parking and the transition. But I was quite confident as I had done this all before. Annoyingly the boys weren't off until 2.30pm, by which time I would have been long finished and ready for bed!

Getting ready for the race in transition was interesting as you had no allocated position, and having arrived later than I planned to, chip was collected and I struggled to find a suitable place to rack my bike. The other issue is that with over thousands of bikes and racking, you really have to know where you have placed your bike and bits.
With plenty of first-timers there it was quite obvious really as people had spread all their bits all over the place in front of their bikes or to the side. I had to ask one girl to move her menagerie of materials so that I could place my bike on the rack. Having raced a few times now, I literally only have my running shoes (sometimes my running cap if hot) next to my bike. I have learnt that you don't need all that much really! Anyway after finalising my position, it was over to the swim warm up and briefing where we were informed that we were the largest ladies wave with over 450 people there. I missed my opportunity to get in the first wave of these ladies and ended up in the second wave of swimmers.
Walking out to the water, a guy then came over to interview me with a huge camera! It was quite off putting as I was psyching myself up for the race. But clearly I must have look relaxed!
Getting into the water, it was quite fresh but not as cold as I have swum in, and positioning myself around 2nd row back, I found that I was in the ideal position, or so I thought!
On the starting hooter, it was legs and arms everywhere, but being quite confident, I was able to work my way up through the swimmers quite confidently. It was only really on the turn around that I managed to get into some free space as I had caught up the stragglers of the previous wave.
Exiting the water, I was surprised to see what I considered a slow time of 27:42, however on reflection I was probably in the first wave of swimmers, and after watching Will's swim time of 23:14 later on, I felt a lot better about my swim performance.
Weather forecasts had been predicted the mother of all storms to be approaching the UK on that Sunday and it was to begin with some fairly strong easterly winds. This meant that the out leg of the bike route down to Westminster was fast, however the return leg with the ever increasing winds was getting more and more difficult! Anyway after the second lap and on returning into the Excel centre, you have to go up a fairly sharp ramp into T2. I was a little bit under prepared and changed down gears on the ramp and suddenly my chain was off. I then had to hop off the bike and try to put the chain back on. It was firmly stuck however and I had to take off my shoes and run the extra bit into T2. I felt like such an idiot!
My bike time of 1:16:03 was a slight improvement on 2010, but I felt that with a different route to the last time (i did the Tower Bridge route in 2010) I was a bit stronger and therefore 2 minutes was still an improvement.
By this point the heavens had began to open and I was quite cold, but I knew that I would warm up for sure on the run.
The run is a torturous 4 laps of 2.5km but is effectively out and back so you end up running back on the same path with the hundreds of other competitors. I was trying to focus on a strong core and body, but my back just wasn't playing ball. My left calf also decided to cramp up so it was a case of mind over matter! Time to dig deep and pull out all of the stops. It was also becoming a game of dodge the walker and avoid the elite junior boys who were racing through at top notch speed! It did make me smile though every time I passed the Charity tents with their loud cheers for pretty much every single person running. This is probably what makes this race one of the best really. It is great for spectator support and good when it rains as you can watch the race pretty much under cover.
Other than that though, it is an expensive race and even though you get a medal at the end, you do somehow feel a bit shortchanged, especially given that you have had to stay the night before as well. A goody bag wouldn't go amiss from this event.

All in all a good race, but I don't know if I would go again given the amount of hassle it is as well as having to enter the race a full 10 months or so in advance.

And so it is back onto training. I have started to play hockey again after a break for a time and I find it is really great to supplement my running training as it is like interval or fartlek training with a bit of skill involved! I used to play a lot when I was younger and really enjoyed it so have decided to get back into it. I am coming away from training pretty tired but it is all good fun and I have played a few matches.

This week has also been quite tough on my body. Normally come September and it's time to have a bit of a rest for the body so that you can recover not only physically but also mentally. It can become a bit of a battle of the mind and body when you have raced over the year and want to wind down.
I have visited my physio and sports massage therapist lots over the past week, and therefore I have to give them full credit for keeping my body together at the moment. Although I have been asked that I do rest and recover after the race! I certainly will take their advice on that one.

 My plans are that after the race in New Zealand I will have a few weeks off to eat, drink and do what I like and then get back into some training. My year will be focused on the London Marathon, the ETU Sprint Triathlon in Turkey and possibly thoughts of a middle distance come September 2013.

Hopefully your training/season has been a successful one, and I hope that you are recovering nicely for the winter training to kick off soon!

Happy training! :)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

All a bit too quiet

So... where have I been all this time I hear you cry! I have been an exceptionally busy bee. Firstly I have been away on my holidays to South Africa... a few photos below and secondly in that time I have been away I have exercised a grand total of once! My time was greatly taken up with visiting family in Cape Town and exploring the sights and sounds there before heading to Johannesburg for a family wedding before topping it off with a visit to one of the world's best places- the Kruger National Park. Although I took both my running things and swimming stuff with me, it was very difficult to even try and get out for a run. And truth be told it was great to get away from the UK and visit all of Will's family and not exercise for a change and try to put some weight on whilst I was away. I was also in desperate need of some relaxation and recovery time and I think my body was at it's last breaking point before New Zealand in exactly 4 weeks time.
The holiday was wonderful but with coming back to the UK and it's dreadfully cold weather (South Africa was heading into its Summer!) I was prepared and more than motivated to come back and train hard.
We arrived back yesterday and after a 3 1/2 hour nap in the afternoon to combat the lengthy flight home, we went for a 6.5km jog. I say jog but my muscles are feeling rather sore and stiff today. I have also booked to see a physiotherapist as my hip problems are just not shifting. I thought that with a couple of weeks rest and recovery it would help, but no..... still there!
I have got 4 weeks left to train what I can and refine my fitness and get some strength and speed back. I have not really lost the overall base fitness, but just the sharpness that comes with two weeks off.
I am off to a hard swim session tonight which will probably floor me, but all the while I know I can probably hold my own. Will is going to write me a 4 week plan which will take me up until the Worlds and then I really plan on some serious time off for a few weeks.

In other news... I am going to be writing for Rutland Cycling as a blogger, so watch out for some original material on their website. http://www.rutlandcycling.com/content/
As well as this I am racing this weekend in London at the biggest triathlon ever at the Excel. A bit of a funny arrangement as I am racing at 8.30am and should be done by 11am and Will isn't racing until 2.30pm! It will be strange to finish and then get to watch him race as well.
Report will follow this weekend.
Happy Training!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A Big Fat Thank you!

I haven't blogged in a wee while and thought I better say a big thank you to everyone that has helped me within the past few months to help me to get to New Zealand.
Two weeks ago, Sara Mickleburgh and I (she is also going to New Zealand too) held a raffle and bake sale in Oakham park. We managed to raise an exceptional amount of money. I have also had a very kind donation made to me by the Lions of Rutland. I have to say the raffle prizes donated were amazing and we raised lots through ticket sales as well as through cake sales on the day. We were blessed with amazingly hot weather (although the cakes did suffer a bit) and we had the help of Sara's family to assist us on the day.
I want to thank all of those that bought raffle tickets but also to those who kindly just donated money. Raising money for a trip of a lifetime has been really hard work, but thanks to everyone's help and generous spirit I will now have the chance to race in GB colours.
Thank you!
In other news, I have been asked to blog for Rutland Cycling, so that will be happening after my holiday to South Africa (family wedding and family visit- Will's family!).
Training has been going well, although I have found that the weather has played a huge role in what training I am doing. I am going away this weekend for 18 days and therefore before I go I am doing a huge bit of training before my return. 23rd September is the London Triathlon at which I hope I beat my previous result and with a distinct lack of training too!
Happy Training everyone!


Monday, 6 August 2012

Faster than a bolt of lightening.

I hope that you are all enjoying the coverage of the Olympics?
I certainly have been. After watching the opening ceremony on the 27th July it has been non-stop TV Olympics in our house. I have to say that watching a home Olympics has been truly inspiring, but also I don't think I have ever watched this much television!
I have been good enough to avoid most of it during the day whilst working, but in the evening, most social activities or training is totally planned around the events that we want to watch.
We have managed to see most of the medal events which we have won, I was even lucky enough to go with some friends to watch the very first Gold medal being won at Eton Dorney Lake. Thanks to Alex and Michelle for taking me with them to watch.
After the rowing event, we managed to work out that we could just about make it over to watch the Men's Cycle TT event. We were incredibly lucky as we got there with about 30 minutes to spare and watch the 40 or so men blitzing their hearts out over 44km. It was with a huge roar that we knew Bradley Wiggins was about to come through, and watching him zoom past us I was absolutely amazed that a man could go that fast on two wheels. It appears that he completed the course in a little over 50 minutes. He was averaging around 56kms per hour.

Next time you are out on your bike, just see how fast you can manage. I clocked around 63kms per hour on Saturday out with Will on the bikes. That was downhill, tucked into the aero position and absolutely belting it on the pedals. Just goes to show you what some people are capable of is beyond most people, which is why I suppose it is the Olympics and it is the best of the best of the best and they are peaking for that one day. It is amazing.
Team GB have really done us proud this year and Saturday was no exception. Super Saturday pulled us a record 5 gold medals with three on the track and field. Our poster girl Jessica Ennis didn't let us down. I was enthralled by the Women's Triathlon on Saturday morning at Hyde Park. I was absorbed by the event and thrilled to see so many supporters. Will and I were also scouting the best places to stand for tomorrow. We are heading to London tonight to stay at a hotel close to Hyde Park to be there when hopefully we will see the first ever British Men to win a triathlon medal since it was introduced in the Sydney Games in 2000. I am beyond excited that I imagine tonight I won't be able to sleep. I watched as Helen Jenkins was brought on by Lucy Hall who showed how strong she really is on the swim and the bike. I was then willing Helen on during the run where the strongest runners were really pushing the pace. It was around 1-2 miles from the finish that Helen began to drop off. I then knew it was all over. I even got quite teary and emotional, knowing that after all that hard work, time, effort and sacrifice there wasn't to be a medal at the end for her. At the end of the race, I was left speechless (as were probably most people) when after 2 hours of flat out racing, the win came down to a sprint for the line with Lisa Norden being edged out by Nicola Spirig by a cat's whisker. They clocked the same time, and a photo finish had to decide the gold, which is unprecedented in triathlon!
Crossing the line in 5th position, Helen Jenkins, our golden girl of triathlon was holding back the emotion as she explained that she had been training through injury for most of the last 10 weeks after her win in San Diego. I was in tears watching this lovely quietly spoken Welsh-girl just apologise for not being the winner. In my opinion, she had tried her hardest and had been hiding an injury that threatened her even being on the start line.
I was appalled however by the absolute blatant patronising from the BBC interview 2 minutes after Helen had finished. With a simple "Bad luck Helen" as she walked away. What a way to congratulate an athlete on a stellar performance which at the end of the day was not her best, but was the best she could manage given the circumstances which became known at the end.
I can only go on to say that the Team GB girls tried their up most and even with a crash for fellow athlete Vicky Holland (again which the BBC failed to show!- ITU coverage is much better maybe they could learn a trick or too) which meant that she was in the back group for the bike and worked her way back up the field on the run into 26th position.
I am now waiting in much anticipation for tomorrow's event.
Let's hope that Stuart Hayes can help the Brownlees as much as possible (well that's what he was selected for right????!) and can bring home some shiny medals. And if they can sprint against each other as the ladies did, then that would just go down as brilliant.

Enjoy the rest of the games!
 (a bit more inspiration for you all!)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My First Win!

With a fair few of my friends competing at Bedford Classic Triathlon, I thought I would put my oar in and compete in the Mini Tri due to take place on the same day.
With my step-dad also trying his luck at his first ever open water event, it was to be a rather good affair with a couple of friends also attending to watch.
What blighted the atmosphere before we had even raced was the fact that registration needed to be done on the Saturday which meant that we needed to do the trip twice over the weekend with Bedford over 1 hours drive away.
Aside from the grumbles about the registration, there would be a very very early start (4am!!!!) in order to get up and head to the race for my 7am start. Will wasn't to race until 8:20am and so would need to wait about, however a couple of good friends (Zim and LJ- Lean Jake) were there in support as well as Jono as his girlfriend Kat was also racing.
Having a late start however led to a bit of a stressful start for me. I needed to be racked by 6:45am (when transition was closed) with a short walk over to the swim start. I had also decided quite a while ahead of this event that I would be swimming without a wetsuit, whatever the water temperature would be. It was an option for those completing the mini-tri as at 200m, this wasn't to be a qualifier and also would not really make much of a difference.
Anyway I managed to rack in time and get my stuff together to walk over to the swim start with Mike. It was good to spot so many people racing that I knew and was nice to calm the stress of the earlier situation.
Anyway I picked out the buoy to swim to and getting in the very temperate water, I made my way to the middle of the pack. I tried to get a bit more confidence and try to make my way forward, and when the hooter went, I was kicked a few times and tried to get clear water for myself. I was surprised that the water was so warm and felt that if I had been in the longer event, some people might have found it rather warm! Anyway before I even knew it, it was time to turn around and I was shoved to the side after being kicked in the ribs and was soon in the shallow weedy bank. I made my way back over to the line of swimmers, also straight into the sunshine so i was partially blinded and then finally got my way to the swim exit.
Being a scaffold meant that they needed to haul you out of the water, however it did mean that there was a kind of queue developing and I had to wait for two others to be lifted out before me.
However those two places were soon made up as I sprinted past them to T1. In fact I passed three people as I ran into transition and was soon donning the helmet, race belt and grabbed the bike for the off. I had noticed only a couple of bikes had gone ahead of me,so was thinking that I must have been well placed.
With the sun shining and the course description as 'pancake-flat' i was keen to get pushing the gears as quickly as possible. the route soon took us out to a couple of villages and it was exceptionally flat.
Soon enough it was bringing us back to the city again. I had three men come past me, but no ladies and I managed to hold on the two of the ones that had passed me with around 100m between us all.
The roads were marred by rather a lot of holes and breaks in the concrete which made for a bumpy ride, but I was soon coming back into the roads leading to the river.
I was quick to hop off the bike with a rather good dismount according to my Mum. It had been an interesting ride as I normally am passed by LOTS of people. I know that I was doing a rather smaller race with a field of 60 or so, but it was still strange to only see a couple of guys on bikes on the route.
As i ran into T2 and got my shoes on for the run, I was soon out of T2 with shouts from the boys that I was the leading lady, 2nd being only a minute or so behind, which really stuck a rocket up my bum! I didn't want to push too hard although I had the incentive of one of the guys who passed me on the bike only literally a couple of yards in front. I managed to keep with him for a majority of the run, and then on the home straight managed to overtake him and put the pressure on finally losing him in the closing stages. I was unsure where the run finish took me, as it went round the back of the park, but soon enough I was on top of the finish. I had won!
being only a 200m/15km/3.3km race meant that it was pretty much a training event for me, but I was still really pleased with the result. I had even managed to come 8th overall ahead of lots of guys which was rather pleasing. I didn't manage to catch Chrissie Wellington's time of 43minutes set a few years back, but I do believe that her record was broken today by one of the guys.
I had finished in 51:47 which was really a good achievement. Mike managed just over the hour and was really pleased with himself, as was I, as he came first in is age group. A great first start!
It was then I wanted to watch Will and my other friends racing. Unfortunately Will ended up not even doing the bike and had a DNF- his first of the season. An unlucky flat tyre meant that he couldn't even start the ride. it was a real shame, especially considering it was the only European Qualifier we could go to and he is in really good shame at the moment. it was good however to cheer on the rest of Stamford Tri Club. I also got to meet another fellow blogger that I follow- Sam Anderson. It is always great to meet others that you chat with over the Internet. I suggest you check out her blog too:-
I was super pleased to end up with my first win and my first ever prize. It is a good continuation of my Worlds Campaign. I probably would have ended up doing the Olympic distance had i known that I had qualified before I entered this race, but it is always nice to have some silverware!

In other news regarding the Worlds, I have managed to secure prizes for a raffle due to take place at Picnic in the Park in Oakham on the 19th August. Sara Mickleburgh and I are both trying to raise funds to head to NZ together.
I have to say a huge thank you to the businesses that have been ever so generous in donating prizes so far:-

Beyond Whitening and body Beauty

There are many more prizes on offer, so please get in touch if you would be interested in donating a prize, or any sponsorship to my cause.
I want to also thank my main sponsor, Pearson Assessment who have been amazing in helping me to achieve my dream of competing for team GB in triathlon!

Happy Training and enjoy the Olympics! Go Team GB!!!

Rutland Chandlery
The Osprey Project
Gearbox Gifts
Braunston Sports Clinic
Castle Cottage Café
Anglian Water
Rutland Water Sports Centre
Rutland Cycling
Horse and Jockey
Windmill Wheels
Paul Brewster

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Mud, Grass, Rain and my first ever Off-Road Tri experience

As promised here is the race report for what was my first ever (not my last I hope!) off-road triathlon experience at Box End lake in Bedford.
I had been feeling really down the week before last about training, but with my qualification for the Worlds, I was feeling brighter and more motivated than ever. In my down dreary week I had decided to find something fun to take part in that was local and that would be smaller in competitors and short in distance.
I stumbled across the Box End Off Road Evening Tri series which was taking place over the summer. I repeatedly kept checking the information about the race which would be an enter on the night job, and would involve a 750m swim in one of the boating lakes, a 10km off-road bike course which would involve 2 laps around the lake and would be fairly bumpy, and then to finish off a lap of the bike course as the 5km off-road run.
I decided that it would be good to aim for a top 5 female finish, not considering times, as I have never raced on a mountain bike before.
Above is my beloved Boardman mountain bike which I bought myself last year as a present to myself after breaking my wrist! It didn't end up looking this clean after finishing the race last week I can tell you!
So after loading the car and checking the weather for the millionth time that day (it was forecast showers at 8pm) I made my way down the A1 for the race at Box End park. As I approached Bedford, the blue skies were becoming more and more grey and before I knew it, it was raining (5.45pm was the time noted that this started!).
I arrived at the watersports centre to register and then took a look around the site. It soon started to rain a little bit more so I decided to place my bike on the racking on the other side of the bridge over the boating lakes and then go and get myself ready and keep warm.
The race wasn't to start until 7pm, and as I was already mostly ready, it was a case of keeping out of the rain and chatting with a couple of ladies who were also getting ready in the changing rooms. I wasn't really that nervious, just more annoyed that it was raining and I hadn't raced much this year in the dry or warm!
Soon enough it was time for the race briefing, and making my way back over the now very slippery bridge, I finished putting what I would need out next to my bike (just my running shoes) and was ready to go.
Slipping into the water I was really pleasd that the water temperature was really pleasant and in fact much warmer than the air temperature. I had been deliberating whether to wear a jacket for the bike, but in the end I decided not to wear it (and it infact got totally soaked laying in transition!).
The starter went and we were off. I settled into a nice rhythm and got plenty of feet to draft from. It was easy enough to spot the feet and with a straight out and back around two buoys, it was easy enough to sight and keep a good pace up.
I exited the water in 12:43 (which I have since seen was around 12th place overall and in fact I was the first lady to exit the water too) and managed to get the wetsuit off in super quick time. I was then FREEZING! Grabbing my shoes and helmet I was then onto the bike and I was really really cold. I hadn't realised that it was going to be this cold! Anyway I was then passed around 1km into the bike by a lady who looked on a real mission and then another one hot on her heels. I wasn't too bothered about this (at the time I had not idea I was in 1st position) but I was there to enjoy it. Another issue was the fact i didn't have clips or MTB shoes and my feet kept slipping on the pedals. I am sure that I would have gone a bit quicker if I had clips on. So the bike took me around the lake on the flat initially and it was quite grassy, but this grass was painfully slow and I was really trying very hard! The route then took you up and around the back of the lake and up some steep inclines. One particular section was so muddy and steep I had to jump off the bike and run just to get up the hill.
Having made it round successfully once, I was pleased that only a couple of bods had passed me- it was fairly difficult to pass anyone anyway as the track had a definate easier line of travel which soon developed into a muddy line upon the second lap.
I was pleased to see that there were still a fair few people behind me as the course often switched back on itself, but then you could also see who was up ahead of you!
I hadn't a clue of my bike split as I forgot to push the lap button on my watch, but there again it was probably a good thing! Just coming into T2 a lady came past me and was absolutely caked in mud up her back (my legs were totally covered in grass, but not mud) and I shouted to her 'Does my back look as bad as yours?!' to which she replied- 'It's ok- you can tell me that I look as though I am covered in sh*t!'.
Laughing into T2 I then managed not to fall over and grabbed my cap after racking my bike. Even though the sun wasn't shining, I decided that it would keep the hair out of my face. Out of T2 and I thought, Wow- that lady has ran really quickly as I can't see her anymore! Turns out she had clips on and so was a bit longer in transition than me. She was gaining on me however and it wasn't long before she managed to catch me up on the first incline. It was an interesting run which saw me pass three ladies still on their bikes (poor girls!) and nearly stack it twice. It was a slippery affair which was kind of fun at the same time!
It was great to finish the run on the flat and just sprint my heart out for the final 200m or so.

Coming over the finish line I was quite relieved but also pretty darned pleased with myself. I had managed to come 4th lady which was a huge achievement. I had also managed to come 29th overall out of a field of 60 people (15 ladies were racing). It was a tough old course and with the bike split coming in around 38 minutes and run at 27 minutes (nowhere near my best times) it just goes to show you how the terrain, conditions and equipment can make a whole world of difference. I managed a pretty good time of 1:20:08 in total which was only 9 minutes behind the leading lady. Obviously my swimming is a real strength, but I need to work on the bike strength if I am to try and hold onto a lead of some sort!

A real challenge and tough weather conditions. I have to say that the state of my bike was a real reflection of what we encountered. In fact it is still sat in the shed waiting to be cleared of the grass tangled around the tubes!

Anyway for now happy Training! :)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Qualifying for the ITU Worlds Championship Auckland

Its just a quick blog today.....
Having found out that I have qualified for the Worlds ITU Championships in Auckland for my age group, this week was spend deliberating whether or not I realistically could afford to go. Not only in monetary terms would this be expensive, but also on my body as it would be then another 4 months of solid training up until then event.
However after much discussion with family, friends and even a Facebook vote I have decided to go! I have the fantastic support of my company Pearson who have helped me before when I went to Budapest, and also the support of my friends and family.
I hope to make this my best race this year and hopefully it will be one to remember.
I can party hard afterwards!

Hopefully I can update you further on my Off Road Tri later this week.

Happy training guys!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Doing what you like as and when

This past week has been about enjoying some well deserved time doing what I like and when I like. It finished off with a break to the Norfolk coast with my lovely girlfriends from university days. I had raced my absolute heart out at Chester triathlon (Deva) and felt really deflated afterwards as I knew that my two main goals for the racing season had been achieved. I had raced hard at Dambuster and Deva and last Monday I was feeling really down about things. I then decided after discussions with some good friends and Will that it would be good to just do what I felt like in terms of training. Also with a weekend away coming up I knew that I would have little opportunity to train anyway. I did however manage a run on Saturday morning which was glorious in the sunshine and around the country roads of Blakeney. Anyway after my run I was pleased to see that the British Triathlon website had been updated with the latest people to have qualified for the World Triathlon Age group Championships in Auckland. My name had a Q next to it! Just that little bit of news was encouraging and even though I am unsure as to whether I will even go, it was the best news for me and greatly cheered me up and gave me my mojo back!

Today was the start of another big block of training and began with an early morning swim. Getting into the pool again was great and I have the motivation now to train hard and enjoy myself with a few more goals on which to focus on before the end of the season. I have outlined these below- 1) Take part in an Off Road triathlon and try and smash it to place well. 2) Bedford Mini Triathlon- come in the top 5 female category. 3) Beat my previous records and times from the past club relay events. 4) Beat my previous London Triathlon (2010) times Having evaluated what I have already done this season I decided that I can focus on these goals, even if they are smaller than my other ones as it gives me more motivation to go for it. I think I want to make October the fun month of doing what I want as and when I feel like it, so if I go to New Zealand then that means extending my season above and beyond what I think my body can cope with. I am just about managing with the help of will's coaching plan and my great sports therapist Cheryl who keeps my body in check. I have done so much more than what I expected of myself and I am pleased to bits with my efforts. I have also been looking forward to 2013 and what I feel will be my major goals. I know that this is far off yet, but having qualified for the Europeans and gained a coveted London marathon place, I have a couple of events to aim for which are my main priorities. I think that it is good to have in mind what you want to achieve and have goals for your season as well as goals for your individual training days and training weeks and blocks. Had I trained last week, I would have felt even worse and I think I needed the break mentally and physically. Giving yourself the chance to take a step back and evaluate is a good thing. I didn't feel guilty about not training as I made a specific point knowing that I wasn't going to train to give myself that rest. I wasn't going to lose any fitness but if I had another few weeks off then certainly I would have lost form.

So this Thursday is my first ever go at an off-road triathlon at box end in Bedford which I am really looking forward to. I think it will be a challenge but I am fit as I will ever be! I will let you all know how I get on! Happy training! Kerry PS Sorry the font has changed, I can now update you on the move with my new IPad courtesy of my job!