Tri’s, Round Norfolk Relay – its been a busy few weeks!

Two massive weekends!

Sunday 14th September, I did my first tri! I enjoyed it, was pleased with my time and yes, I am going to do another. So Tri’s start early – I am used to road races starting at 10 or 11am. Tri’s start at 8am or earlier. Thank goodness it was local, just 15 minutes away. Even so, I was up just before 6 to get my porridge before arriving at the site in St Neots at 7am.

The Anglian Water Triathlon run by Nice Tri was meant to be at Grafham Water, but due to a problem with water levels it was moved to St Neots. A river rather than a lake swim. A fellow club member and Ironman, was already there and helped me set my gear up and calmed my nerves.

The river was cold! 15C – my sister regularly swims in a quarry in Bristol and seemed to think that was a fine temperature. I dont do cold so was glad of the wetsuit. Time to get the wet suit on. Slapping body lotion on to make sure I could get it off again seemed the priority. I wriggled and heaved and got it on, listened to the briefing and then  got in the river for a ‘warm up’.

Then without warning the hooter sounded and we were off! I was taken my surprise, there didnt seem to be a particular start line and I wasnt where I wanted to be. Anyway I set off and worked my way up the field – thinking I was being strangled by the tri suit I had borrowed and the wetsuit – a severe talking to was required to get me settled and continue swimming. I continued to pass people so that was good. Finished the swim and out the ramp, into transition and slid out of the wetsuit – not that elegantly!

Off on the bike and 25km of undulating terrain and I was back. Nearly fell over when I got off the bike, my legs were shaped like an S and my knees didnt seem to want to work. Jelly legs they call it, boneless legs more like. Tottering into transition and racked the bike. I dont have bike shoes so it was straight off to the run. Still tottering I was passed by another club member, now I knew he would finish in about 1.30 so I was happy I wasnt too far adrift of my target time. Two laps later I had finished.

Swim 750m, Bike 25.5km, Run 4.51km
Pos  Overall  Swim   T1      Bike     T2       Run
93   1:46:30  14:44  2:25   59:36   42.0   29:03

Without drawing breath, I turned my attention to Round Norfolk Relay. This is a relay event where 17 runners run around the borders of the county of Norfolk in England. 197 miles in 28hours (or less). To aim to get all the teams finishing at roughly the same time, the start time is staggered, with the slowest teams starting at 5.30am and the fastest at 12noon.

The logistics of getting 17 runners, plus cycle support during the day, and a car with an orange flashing light following the runner at night into position across the county, where from the base in Kings Lynn to the furthest points takes 1.5 hours to drive was a nightmare. We didnt have the luxury of extra support volunteers so all the runners had to take turns in cycling, driving and generally getting no sleep at all.

We arrived on Friday evening and pitched our tents, the bike had a flat tyre so we had to get that pumped up. 5am and ready on the start line with our first runner ready to start off on roads and then on the beach for a 16 mile run to Hunstanton. The bike was ready, the car was loaded with snacks and water and 5.30 we were off. It mostly went smoothly, with all the runners arriving at the right place at the right time. Our target was to get back at 10am on the Sunday morning – the cut off time. We had a mixture of strong fast runners and slower runners. We knew we weren’t going to win any prizes – the club that won, Cambridge and Coleridge, had runners who were all going to run at about 6 min/miles. We had people who could run at that speed and others who were going to do 11min/miles, for us it was doing it, the experience that mattered.

It was exhausting, I got to bed at midnight on Friday and was up at 4.30 to help get ready for the morning and then did drive support round to Wells next the Sea, then took my runners and cycle support back to Kings Lynn. We set off again at 1pm with 2 runners (and myself) and a fresh cyclist to get to Mundesley for 3pm to take up the support. We cheered our runner in (we were second at that point!) and then started the car support. At the next transition, I was the runner, whilst someone else drove my car. I took back over at the next transition. Halfway through it was getting dark and we put the bike back on the car, the cyclist collapsed into the car and we followed our runner through to the transition. There we handed on to another support vehicle and we drove back to base arriving (via McDonalds) at 10.30pm. Up again at 3.30 to get in position for the last 3 legs, where I was cycle support.

Great weekend, tinged by sadness as a member of City of Norwich Athletic Club collapsed and died at the end of Stage 4. Huge sympathy to his family.


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A week for getting wet!

Definitely a wet week! WE had guests all weekend so when they left on the Bank Holiday Monday morning, I thought I must go for a run – despite the fact it was raining. Hard. So eight wet miles later I got home. At least it was still warm and it was a lovely run through Houghton.

Wednesday I was nominated for the ice bucket challenge. One of the advantages of being run leader for the Wednesday club run is I can pick the route if I like (especially if there isnt one listed). So I ran to the meeting point across Port Holme (the largest meadow in the UK, allegedly) on a lovely evening, and then we ran back across Port Holme, round the Godmanchester Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve and back to mine. Just over 7 miles which was good for my training, but also, crucially meant I was at home for the challenge.

So my good running club friends all cheered as they threw a bucket of water over my head. Alice_IBC

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The tri is almost upon me, and the half marathon is looming up too quickly

How do triathletes (particularly those doing half or full ironman) ever fit in all that training and still go to work? Running, cycling and swimming it all takes so much time – do they ever get a day off – or time to do something else?

This is only a sprint tri, but I feel that I am constantly juggling getting out on the bike, swimming and running – and with a half marathon in October, I am feeling that I need to start upping the distance on my longer runs to train for that. So while I know I can do the triathlon, I am feeling under pressure.

I have enjoyed being out on my bike again, I had forgotten how much I enjoy cycling. And when a kind friend (who also sold me her second hand wetsuit) lent me her old road bike, well what a revelation! So much lighter, so much easier to get up hills, so much more frightening come down them! She has said I can borrow it for the tri as well – that might help my times!

I have been swimming in our local lake with the BRJ Run and Tri Club over the summer, and it has been absolutely delightful, the water has been warm and although it is not a clear lake it has been just lovely swimming outside. Last week, with the recent drop in temperature and so much rain the water was distinctly colder. What will Grafham water (a much bigger, deeper reservoir) be like in three weeks time? Brr – I am not good at cold and have been known to faint if I get too cold. The thought of coming out the water all wet and having to cycle in wet shorts and a skimpy top (I don’t posses a tri suit yet) is not appealing.

On the running plus side, I did go for an 8 mile run yesterday – very wet – but it felt ok, so just need to increase steadily over the next few weeks.

Off to Somerset this weekend, and a bit of parkrun tourism at Montacute House, should be lovely!

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Its been a long time

Well failed completely to post about the marathon, and everything since. So a quick recap of the last year!

I completed the marathon – just outside my target time of 5hours, doing it in 5 hours 3 minutes. I got cramp from mile 13 on, at one point both calves seized up and I fell into the arms of two runners in front of me. It was walk run from that point on. I was planning on doing a marathon this year – 2014, but in late May, I had an accident. Getting on our boat in the dark, I managed to slip and fall heavily on the side of the boat. I landed up standing up to my waist in cold water, thinking ‘that really really does hurt’. So as all good women do, I put my handbag in the boat and then fainted into the water. My husband says he couldnt see me – only the bubbles. To cut a long story short, I had broken five ribs and punctured my lung and was in hospital for a week. Nothing that would get me out of breath for 6 weeks and to took a long time to get back to where I was.

So along with a crowd of others from my club, BRJ Run and Tri I have entered for next year’s Brighton Marathon, 12 April, 2015. I have also entered London but I dont suppose for a minute I will get in. I have also entered my first triathlon!

It is a sprint triathlon – not like Run Hemingway Run who seems to aim high – ironman first go! This is a mere 750 swim, 20k bike and 5k run. All very doable, individually. But the couple of times I have gone for a bike ride and then got off and run! Well, pathetic might be the only word to describe it! I am back to swimming, and as my club is a Tri club, we have access to a lake to swim in, with no boats to cut us down.  I have also been going on bike rides with my club, but they all have very nice road bikes and I huff and puff behind them on my heavy hybrid!

So this blog will be about the tri journey before returning to marathon training. Though of course, I am no longer a first time marathon runner!

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The weather hasnt been kind to us training for Spring marathons

I expected to be getting out in the cold and dark this winter to clock up all those miles to train for the marathon. I didn’t expect the winter to be quite so cold and snowy for so long!

I live in East Anglia (for those in other parts of the world, that is the bulge on the right hand side of England), and the part I live in is close to the Fens. These were huge marshes, so very flat. The East wind howls across them, cutting you into little pieces and spitting you out somewhere near Oxford. Generally we dont get much snow, it is too flat – the aforementioned wind whips straight across taking the snow with it to dump it on the first set of hills it gets to, about 40 miles west of here.

Since Christmas, we had snow for couple of weeks of January that just froze to a slippery sheet of ice, it was cold all through February, and last weekend more snow! So not only was the race planned for January (Folksworth, see my earlier post) postponed, my last long run and race, the Oakley 20 in Bedford was also cancelled due to snow. They had no choice and it was a shame, but we still had to get out there and do our run.

after 20miles 230313 So here is my running buddy and I at the end of our 20 miles in the blizzard!  Good run though and I was pleased that we got round in 3 hours 45, I hope that means that on race day I scrape past the wire in under 5 hours. 4:59:59 will do me fine. Actually getting round will do me find.

I have my number now, I have a hotel, I just need to work out how I am getting down to Brighton, and more importantly, how I am getting home. Am I going to be too stiff and tired to drive for 2.5 hours after a marathon. I might need someone to come and lever me out of the car if I do make it back!

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32 days and counting

And the email arrived today with a link to a 66 page book on ‘everything I might need to know about the marathon’! Goodness, it will be a marathon just to read that – when will I get time to go out and run! I plan to take it to work and print it out, I have not yet got to the point of reading that type of material on screen. I take it that gone are the days when the directions were: “Pitch up here at this time, with your number and chip, and the rest will fall into place”.

Even in the few short years I have been running (about 6) the number, variety and type of runs seems to have proliferated. Road runs, trail runs, tri’s duathlons, hell runners, 24 hour races, the list seems endless. I think my favourite are still those organised by clubs, raising money for a local charity or to support the club, runs organised by runners for runners. Small, low key, but that does not necessarily mean easy. Folksworth is a case in point – organised by a local club, well marshalled, challenging, spot on for marathon training, everything you need as a runner without the razzamatazz of the big ones.When you enter you get an email from the organiser – a real person, they will often do swaps, and your entry money is used for a purpose. Brighton is £55.00 to enter – seems a lot of money to me, and whilst much will be spent on the organisation of the race, it is a commercial enterprise.

The biggest runs I have done (in terms of numbers of participants) are the Bath half  marathon, Great Eastern half marathon and in 32 days (and counting) Brighton marathon. Bath was about 11,000, Great Eastern 3000 (can never work out why more people dont do that run, its a great pb run), and Brighton I think will be about 11-15,000 people. Personally, that is enough for me. The thought of 40,000 runners at London or the Great North seems too daunting, I don’t like big crowds. It will be interesting when I go and spectate at the London for the first time this year.

My brother is running London, his first marathon, and he has really only been seriously running for a year (and he is faster than me, and he is older than me, humph!) He has done so well, and finished the Spitfire 20 mile race (run at Dunsfold aerodrome, home to Top Gear) in just under 3 hours, with a negative split. Pretty awesome.

My last weekend run was not one of the better ones. I was definitely not feeling particularly motivated and my running friend was feeling sick. I am therefore feeling slightly anxious about the 22 miles we have planned for this Friday!

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That horizon is getting closer

Last week I ran (well, ran most of it) 20 miles! At the end I felt I couldn’t run another step. My running friends tell me that this is normal – in training I feel there is no way I can run another mile, but on the day there is no way I wont finish that marathon.

It was a good run, I was pleased with the time, my goal of getting under 5 hours (by a second will do) seems to be slightly more achievable now.

So glad I had my friend Mel with me, she never stops and keeps me going to the end, it makes it so much easier running with someone else.

This week I am going to have a slightly easier week, going out tomorrow, Saturday with another friend, to do 15 miles. Hope it isnt raining too hard! Have just been out to get more gels to keep me fueled up for the run, they are fairly revolting but seem to do the trick of getting me round.


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