Category Archives: running

March (The road to Kona)

After I had written my last blog I had started back up with some easy training, but after 3 days I started sneezing again so had to rest again, I found this very hard and felt like all the fitness that I had was going out the window, even though I know it is not the case.

The last 2 weeks of February were very stressful at home, and on top of any training stress must have pushed my immune system over the edge. If you want to read more about stress and how it affects you then there is a useful article about it here. At least I have still been able to get to my weekly yoga class, which is invaluable, and on 1st March I felt ready to start training again with just under 4 weeks until the Mumbles Duathlon

I entered the Daffodil ride that week and was planning on riding, but issues at home again stopped me from riding. It was a tiring and emotional day, however I tried to look on the positive side and thought that there must be a reason that I didn’t do the ride!! (Not easy)

Going in to the Duathlon things settled down a lot and I managed to get a decent months training under my belt. My swim and bike are still generally tracking higher than this time last year so I’m still making improvements which is great!

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At Mumbles I had a pretty good race, coming in 2nd overall and 1st FV, race report is here. Then it was an easier week and back to it, in time for the Easter holidays which will be interesting!

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Pembrokeshire Coast Path final stage

Day 18  Moylegrove to Poppit Sands

5.6 miles. Elevation gain 1227ft.

Strava data

The final stage seemed like a bit of a short run. The plan was, to all go up North (my mum, Patrick, the boys, and myself) and have Sunday lunch afterwards. We arrived at Moylegrove to heavy rain, but it soon cleared, and I checked out the oystercatchers in the bay. The terrain on this section was hard going, as it has been raining practically non stop, the path was very wet and slippery. My pace was the slowest so far on the first 3 miles, (there are also a lot of short but steep up and downs)

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After 3 miles it started to get a bit easier underfoot with some more rock rather than field on the path, and the terrain levelled out to a lovely path where I could see Cardigan bay ahead.

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A flat bit!!

After turning the corner, the path turned to road for the last 15 minutes. As I was running down the hill to Poppit Sands I saw a familiar figure, in a hat, running uphill, it was Carwyn Phillips, who organises The Preseli Beast we stopped for a chat,  and I have just discovered that he has run the path in just over 4 days!!

I arrived at the car park and got a picture of the coast path sign, then met my family, and a friend on the beach who told me that the end was in St Dogmaels (ARGHH!) and sure enough as I returned to the car park to get changed I saw the sign one and a third miles to St Dogmaels. I decided not to run there as everyone was on the beach and I was getting changed. I may do the run the other way round some day, then I can complete the whole path!

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My driver.

It is great to have this path on our doorstep, and I really enjoyed running it. My mum and I had fun driving around Pembrokeshire, and she enjoyed running parts of the path too. I know there are some other people running it at the moment I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Pembrokeshire Coast Path December

Day 14  Porthgain to Pwll Deri

11 miles. Elevation gain 1634ft.

Strava data

I had no lift today, as my mum was away, so Patrick came up with the idea of leaving my bike at the end of the run and then cycling back to the car. Having checked the forecast I thought I would give it a go, only 20mph winds for today rather than the 40-50 gusts that we have been used to.

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It was actually dry on the north coast when I got there, and I left my bike attached to some wooden railings at a viewpoint. The road was a single track dead end, so I figured it would be safe; however there is always a little bit of worry when leaving your bike chained up! I then drove to Porthgain and started the run. This is another unfamiliar part of the path, I spotted geese, and a sheep with its head stuck in the fence, which I tried unsuccessfully to free. I spoke to a couple of local dog walkers further down the track to let them know and if they knew the farmer to let him know. I really enjoyed the last bit of path from Abermawr to Pwll Deri, a bit like moorland, very rugged and lots of rocks. I arrived back at my bike, and bag which had drink and snack in and then cycled back to Porthgain into the headwind, feeling a bit tired after that one!

 

Day 15 Pwll Deri to Fishguard viewpoint

11.2 miles. Elevation gain 1444ft.

Strava data

This was a long one, the path is quite twisty with lots of little ups and downs. There was nowhere really that you could stride out and get into a rhythm, and I managed quite a spectacular fall, landing superman style in the mud, but no damage done, I stopped quite a few times for photos, and saw a load of seals relaxing on the beach.

I decided to meet my mum at the viewpoint outside Fishguard so I wouldn’t have to run up it at the start of the next section, however I wished I had asked her to meet me in Goodwick when I arrived there. Often seem to have that feeling! When I arrived back we stopped off for coffee in Fishguard and we discussed the next few sections. (There are only 3 more runs left and I was hoping to get it finished before the end of the year,) but after a few calculations realised that my mum would be away on the last run. She has done most of the driving to drop me off and pick me up at various points so she was quite keen to have a little celebration at the end of the challenge! So it looks like my last run will have to be after New Year, so we can celebrate together.

Day 16 Fishguard viewpoint to Newport.

11 miles. Elevation gain 1601ft.

Strava data

I mapped this run on Map my ride the night before and it came up as 9.8 miles so I was expecting a shorter run than last week, my mistake! It was 11 miles of slippery path with a couple of ankle deep bogs thrown in. Luckily it was pretty dry and not too windy, but by the end I was longing for a path with some friction. I finished running on the welcome gravel path from the Parrog up to Newport so I got my wish eventually. After meeting my mum in the car park we went for a coffee and toast at the newly opened VicNorth cafe, which was lovely.

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Day 17 Newport to Moylgrove

8 miles. Elevation gain 1375ft.

Strava data

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I ran this section on Christmas eve, the weather was windy and it was quite hard going. There were some really boggy sections again, and I caught the culprits trying to look cute around a gateway. There were about 8 ponies who had been churning up the path and making it difficult to run on!  When I mapped this run I had mapped it at 7 miles so when I got to 7 miles I was at an inlet and not sure if it was Moylgrove or not. I dithered a bit then carried on as I had thought the road would be more visible, luckily my senses were correct as I found Patrick and the boys at the next inlet a mile away. Next run is the last section which I have planned for January so we can all enjoy the occasion! Looking forward to it but also will be sad to have finished.

Pembrokeshire coast path October

The Pembrokeshire coast path is stunning. I have really enjoyed running along parts of it this year, and I needed something to keep me a bit focussed during the off season. I didn’t want to be under pressure, but felt like I needed a goal, so I decided I would try and run sections of the coast path. I mentioned it to my mum and she offered to drop me off and pick me up along the route. I started to get excited about the idea, and checked out a few maps before I found this useful resource that breaks down the sections into distances. I got my notebook out and started planning!

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Day 1 Amroth to Tenby

7.7miles. Elevation gain 1132ft.

Strava data

We were meeting a friend in Tenby for a meal out, as it was her birthday, so I asked Patrick to drop me off in Amroth then I could run to Tenby and meet them. I took a picture of the starting point with its plaque, and started along the flat section of Amroth seafront. I chose to go South to North as I thought it would be easier to get to the Southern sections for me, and the terrain gets tougher as you get further North, and also prettier so I thought it would be nice to finish at the most dramatic point! The run was lovely, I had run it recently as an out and back in preparation for The Snowman, but its nice to run to a point and not have to retrace your route. There are some steep steps in the section from Saundersfoot but the view makes up for it! I arrived in Tenby quicker than I’d thought and had time for a shower at the leisure centre before enjoying pizza with the kids and my friends.

After dinner!

After dinner!

Day 2 Tenby to Manorbier

7.3miles. Elevation gain 719ft.

Strava data

I was not feeling great today, as my son has been off school with a cold. I woke up in the night a few times with a sore throat and headache but I was keen to run this section today as my mum will be away next week, she drove me to Tenby and then I said I’d meet her in about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half in Manorbier. The weather was beautiful today and I loved the views again. When I was about a mile from Manorbier I spotted my mum having a chat with a couple who were out walking, they had been looking at some seals. I got the car keys and ran back for my stretch at the car.

Day 3 Manorbier to Broad Haven South

9.3miles. Elevation gain 1312ft.

Strava data

As it was the weekend I was dropped off in Manorbier by my husband, while he took the kids to Broad Haven South where they started walking towards Barafundle. It was a nice day again, but it was starting to get a bit chilly when I got to Broad haven, I spotted the boys and they wanted to run with me for a bit, so we ran up to a gate where Patrick took the boys, and I ran back to the car to get warm, and stretch.

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Day 4 Broad Haven South to Freshwater West

9.4 miles. Elevation gain 367ft.

Strava data

I had to delay the next section, as all of the off road section is closed when Castlemartin range is open for firing. I didn’t really fancy my chances so I waited until the weekend!

The mileage quoted online had been inaccurate so far, and this run was supposed to be 14 miles (it was 9!) Broad Haven South was wet and windy and I was running into the wind the whole way. This is not the most inspiring section as you run along a gravel track for part of the way along the coast and then turn off to run the rest of the route on the road to Fresh West.

I arrived at Fresh West after an hour and a quarter, so had plenty of time to get changed and stretch before the boys found me shivering in the car!

Day 5 Freshwater West to Pwllcrochan

14 miles. Elevation gain 1457ft.

Strava data

A long one today, and very windy, which was fine for the first hour as the wind was behind me, but when I got to Angle the wind blasted into me and it was hard work.

I haven’t run this far for a long time I was feeling it, and wishing that I’d gone with my original shorter route! I could also see where I had to go and it looked a long way, but it was all fine. I found my mum waiting at Pwllcrochan, she had been for a run too and we compared notes! Pwllcrochan was not the best spot to be picked up, as there is nothing much there, but I wanted to get the next section done in a couple of runs, as its though Pembroke, Neyland and Milford.

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The best laid plans

Stick to the plan? I am a great believer in plans, but sometimes unexpected things crop up that are not part of the plan. I have had a few of these this year, and how you react to these unexpected “challenges” are what makes you you. We can learn a lot about ourselves by observing how we react in these situations. If the way we react is harming us in some way then hopefully we can change in order to develop and grow.

My year I have not had the best year this year. The plan was to have an easier year doing 2 half Ironman distance races with a view to doing Ironman Wales again in 2016. I planned my season around my A race The Wales Triathlon. I was feeling pretty good, I had accepted my DNF at The Titan, (you can read about that here) and improved my FTP by 10 watts this year, a goal I had set myself last year. Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.14.37 A week ago I was in the sea with my boys and I jumped over a wave and landed on a stone that impacted in to the arch of my foot, it hurt quite a bit at the time but I thought it was ok, and stayed in the water. When I got out I could hardly walk up the beach. My mum drove me home, and I tried to convince myself that it was fine and it would be ok in a few days. I iced it and rested. The next day I went out on the bike, tried to run and couldn’t so rested again. On Sunday I did a brick session. I ran for 20 mins and felt fine, On Tuesday I tried to run again, no chance, and exactly a week later, my ankle was still swollen and foot hurting. Throughout the week I have had many different thoughts in my head. First feeling I needed to stick to my plan and watching my fitness on the decline as my taper did not go as planned. Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.28.48 Then realising that I couldn’t run, so maybe I could just do the swim and cycle, and then feeling like not doing any of the race, but entering a race at the end of September, as I didn’t know if I could face starting a race knowing I wouldn’t be able to finish. I decided it was time to get my foot looked at!

Foot diagnosis

I went in to A&E, the nurse examined it and confirmed my initial thoughts that it was just a bruise on the bottom of my foot that had caused soft tissue damage. This had been aggravated by me continuing to try and train. I told her I had a race the next day and had been training all year for it, and she said that if I did do it then to expect it to swell up again after. So I went away still in 2 minds.

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Decisions, decisions…

After a lot of thought I decided that I wouldn’t race, my heart just wasn’t in it, I couldn’t run on my foot anyway, (too painful and would cause too much damage) so I would have been going in for just the swim and cycle. My husband has also had health issues the past few weeks and we are dealing with the stress and anxiety associated with that too, so I feel that the stress of not finishing another race may have been too much for me.

How I got my head round it

It is so hard to make decisions like this, especially when your whole season has been geared towards something that you had expectations of. I was really hoping to do well in this race, and my fitness is at a peak, so I have had to let go of that fitness, and my expectations from the race. I have had to accept the decision that I have made, and believe that it was the right one to make, there is always next year, and I have goals for that too.

I have entered The Snowman which is at the end of September so that at least I complete a triathlon this year, my fitness won’t be what it is now because I had planned to have the summer off training, so we have a few camping trips booked, and I won’t be able to train as much, but I’m looking forward to the race and I’ll be going up with Patrick for the weekend without the kids so we get to spend some time together too.

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Takeaway lessons

It is important to be adaptable and able to change your expectations.

Remember the positives from the season, if you are in Triathlon for the long term then you have still benefitted from any things that didn’t go exactly as planned, endurance builds up over years so the training that you have done in one year adds to the next years training.

Accept any obstacles that come your way, the sooner you do this the less energy you will waste fighting against an uncontrollable, accept what has happened, you can’t change it, and make a decision that you feel happy with, then stick to it.

Enjoy it, there is always another goal out there for you, and sometimes things are sent as a wake up call to check how much you really want your goal.

Don’t underestimate other factors in your life, you may feel that your stress at work or in your family has nothing to do with triathlon, but any stress impacts on your life and affects your ability to train and race.

Nice to go away, but nice to be home, The Big Cheese.

February and March

We have been away twice in the last month, and it is beginning to take its toll! Much as I love visiting friends and family it can also be tiring, and my immune system has taken a battering. During half term we went to visit family in Sheffield, I was looking forward to visiting Ponds Forge, and having a swim in the 50m pool, but there was a gala on so I had to sneak out early in the morning and go to the nearest pool at Graves leisure centre. I enjoyed it anyway, I used to work in the school next to the centre, so it was good to be in familiar surroundings. The next morning I managed a run, and bagged a QOM.

My brother in law is KOM, he does lots of fell running.

My brother in law is KOM, he does lots of fell running.

 

I have discovered that its quite easy to get out first thing and do a workout if you are visiting people, they don’t even notice you are gone, especially if you have small children who wake up early! This is also who I blame for the run of colds that I’ve had, 2 days after returning from Sheffield I came down with a cold, and I am now suffering again after going away to visit friends in Cheddar at the weekend. I have come to the conclusion that disruptions to my sleeping, weaken my immune system, it could also be the 15 mile off road race that I did with Rachel on Sunday, called The Big Cheese, read more about it here.

 

Jet setting

Last week was a busy one with the 4 up Time trial on Thursday evening and a wedding in Jersey at the weekend.

4 up TT

The 4 up time trail was on Thursday evening an hour and a half away, so we left Pembrokeshire at about 4pm and were back home at about 10.30pm, which is a late night for me! Our team consisted of Mel, Clair, Kirsty, and myself, and we had practised a couple of times.

I had never done a Time trial like this before, but it was great fun. The first part of the course is mostly down and I think the wind was behind us. I was checking my speed and we averaged about 27.5 mph on that stretch, so I was feeling pretty good. As we approached the turn of I was at the front, and I didn’t want to peel of at the junction, so I stayed at the front for a bit longer than I would have liked and I could feel it on the way back, as I was watching our average speed drop going uphill and into the wind!

spot when I was on the front!

spot when I was on the front!

It is amazing how much easier it is at the back drafting, as you can see from the power graph above. At the beginning I was desperate to get on the front, but by the end I was not looking forward to my turn so much! We beat the women’s Velo’s time by about 4 minutes so everyone was pleased with that.

Results are here, we were the 3rd women’s team.

Checking the times

Checking the times

Jersey wedding

On Friday we flew to Jersey for one of my husband’s friends wedding, we arrived there for a bbq overlooking the beach, the weather was fantastic, and it felt like we were on a holiday abroad, (I suppose Jersey is abroad!) On Saturday before the wedding Patrick and I went for a swim around the headland, although I think we went for a bit too long, as we didn’t warm up until we got back to the hotel, even though the sun was out!

After our swim

After our swim

We then went out for a run, I had planned to do 3 minute anaerobic intervals, and I managed to persuade Patrick to do the same, I went a lot faster than I would have on my own, as I could hear him breathing down my neck!! So I think he will be on fine form for the Long weekend half marathon, and will probably beat me!

Ouch!

Ouch!

Anyway I’ll leave you with a picture of me and a postcard that we found in the pub!

Obviously true!

Obviously true!