Tag Archives: running

September (the road to Kona)

Another month, another 100 mile time trial, this one in polar opposite conditions to the one in June. The weather was cold, wet and windy, as opposed to one of the hottest days of the year! Not ideal for Kona preparation, but one hundred miles all the same. My result was good. I held 10 watts more power and knocked around 9 minutes off my PB, for the course. I also felt lot better mentally and was able to break the ride down, and focus on each part a bit better. On the last stretch I managed to pick my pace up a bit and was only 1 second off the winning female for the last section. Final results are here, as you can see the result sheet was full of DNS/DNF!!

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After the TT I had a horrible run to do, which I managed OK but spoke to Mark on the Tuesday, he gave me a bit more recovery before the next push.

The weekend after, I got to watch Ironman Wales, as I had THE WHOLE WEEKEND OFF! Unfortunately the weather was appalling, rain, and wind most of the day. I cycled up to Templeton and was soaked through within 10 mins, so I stayed for one lap of the bike before going home to dry out so that we could catch the train from Kilgetty to Tenby to watch some running. It seemed quite quiet compared to previous years, (probably because of the weather) and we managed to get some spectating in before dinner and the train home. I must admit I was happy to be spectating and not participating this year!

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I only had a couple more big weekends to go until the big day, the first of which seemed to kick start my period a week early. I have been tracking this like a hawk, as it has IMG_0887physiological effects on your body. What this meant, if my period started early, was that I would be around 1-2 days from my next period on race day, which is the worst time, especially in the heat, as blood plasma volume is lower which means you are at extra risk of dehydration, my core temperature will also be naturally higher, which makes things harder in the heat; however after a couple of days it decided to go away and reappear for Dale Half Marathon, its still not ideal as I will be in the second half of my cycle for Kona, and have the same problems as above, but nothing I can do except prepare for it to be tough, stay hydrated, and on top of my nutrition. If you want to read more about hormones and how they affect your training then there is a link here.

The day before Dale I had a longish ride so lots of fatigue in my legs. It was a tough weekend, but should be worth it! I was happy with my time at Dale, only a few minutes off my PB for a half so everything is still looking good.

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The following week I had to go back to some heat prep, which sounds OK (40mins in a hot bath) but really isn’t very pleasant, as its 40 minutes in a 40 degree bath after a training session. The first time I did it, I managed 25 minutes before feeling dizzy and sick and had to get out, the next time was 35, then I finally managed 40mins.

We had a final appointment in Cardiff for Patrick to have his bladder scanned and a consultation with Professor Kyneston. Everything was positive, and he recommended having an MRI to check on prostate cancer in a years time, then probably another 5 years after, so we can go away knowing that everything is OK, for now. We were both happy and relieved to get home, after that! The next stage is getting to Kona, which will be a mission in itself, but I’m feeling positive and excited about being there.

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July (The road to Kona)

Before, and after a storm, comes calm. I have been preparing myself for the next storm at the end of the month, when Patrick is booked in for his operation. We have been here before though, and have support to get through, so we are feeling pretty positive about this next chapter.

The beginning of July saw us driving up to the Lake district for Patricks dads 70’th birthday. On the way we were passing the spot where I had left my water bottles from the 100mile TT, I asked Patrick if he thought they’d still be there. He thought they would be but I had my doubts, happily I was wrong! I was really excited about reclaiming my bottles. (its the little things)

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In the Lakes I just took my running kit, and was up at 7am to run both mornings. Its always great to run somewhere new, and do a bit of route finding, however on the second day I found myself quite high up, with just shorts and a running vest, thinking that I probably should have had some extra layers. Its easy to forget how exposed you can be in the mountains.

When we got back I continued with quite a heavy training block, still putting out some good numbers. Towards the middle of the month, I travelled up to Loughborough to visit my coach, and get a bit of swim input. We went out on the bike on the day I arrived, and Mark recorded and went through my swim stroke, correcting a few faults in the afternoon/evening, and then continued in to the next day. It was good to have some time away and focus on myself for a few days. I saw some definite improvements in my swim stroke after spending a couple of days swimming and revising drills.

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When I got back to Pembrokeshire, I needed to start a bit of heat prep to find out how I coped. This involved making the bathroom hot and steamy, then setting up the turbo in there, to do some bike sessions. The first session was on a beautiful sunny day, which made me wonder what the hell I was doing! The 2nd session was horrible, 5 lots of 8 minute efforts at FTP building each set, which needless to say, DID NOT HAPPEN!! The 3rd session felt a little easier, probably because it was, and I ended up faffing around with my garmin for half an hour, as it decided to crash, just as I got on the turbo to do the session, which meant that the bathroom lost a bit of heat! This was all done in-between ferrying children to various birthday parties.

The last Saturday in July was The Wales Triathlon (race report here), a good test of where I was physically before Patricks operation on the Monday.

May and June (The road to Kona)

I have combined May and June, because such lot has happened, in these last 2 months at home. At times it has been very stressful and sad, but I’m hoping that we are through the worst of it now.

The month started with an easy week leading in to Llanelli Half marathon. I was planning on doing a local 10km race, but the date was changed to the week after, so I checked to find another local-(ish) race and found Llanelli. I checked with Patrick to see if I could go, and with my coach, they both said yes, so early on Sunday morning I found myself driving to Llanelli. I was feeling pretty fresh, so hoping to go under 1:30, which was a goal last year at the Cardiff half. I didn’t manage it, I’ll blame the weather! The field was quite small and as I set off there was only one woman in front of me, so I stayed  within around 10 meters behind. When I got to around 10 miles I thought I would have to make a move now or not at all, so I started to speed up to catch her. I remembered to put some pace in, as I passed, and hold on to the pace, so that I could open up a good gap,  I managed to get a fairly good lead. The last few miles were painful (I kept reminding myself it was only 5k!) but I held on to 1st place and went under 1:30 which I was very happy about.

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The week after, it was back to it, after a couple of easier days. Patrick had a hospital appointment on the Wednesday so I rode out to meet him at Glangwili. When we finally got in we asked our prepared list of questions, and then the consultant dropped the bombshell, that they had found cancer cells in one of the samples that had been sent off, after Patricks prostate operation in February.

We were pretty shocked and didn’t really ask the questions that we wanted to ask, and were sent away with a leaflet and a phone number. Patrick was put on the list for an MRI scan, and given another appointment with the consultant. Since then we have done a lot of reading, and are hoping for the best (that the cancer is localised and has not spread anywhere else.) Obviously there has been a lot of stress and upset associated with the information that we were given. Until Patrick has had the results of the scan we don’t really know what the future holds. I went in to some training sessions wondering what the hell I was doing, but training has also been a way to forget everything, and focus on something else for a while.

As far as training has been going, I have continued improving and breaking PB’s, but it all feels a bit empty at the moment, until we have some more information I suppose it will be like that, and I’m just going through the motions. It didn’t help that we all got ill at the end of the month, and Patrick came down with a kidney infection. Hopefully next month things should become a bit clearer.

June

June started, with a race. The Deva Middle distance Triathlon. You can read the race report here. It was touch and go as to whether I would race or not, as the week leading in was so stressful. Patrick had a kidney infection on Tuesday and was very ill with a high temperature in bed for 2 days. This was during half term, so the kids were off school and everything was a bit harder. Thankfully my mum lives down the road, and has been very supportive, so I could carry on with my planned training, which was a bit lighter anyway. I spent quite a bit of time crying and feeling pretty low during the week.

The week after Deva, Patrick had an MRI scan, followed by an appointment with the urology consultant in Glangwili. We were told that the cancer was T2, and his PSA scores are low which means that it is a low risk prostate cancer. This was a big relief for us. The week after, we had an appointment with a consultant in Cardiff, to discuss this, and a possible operation on Patricks bladder, which may mean that he can stop having to self catheterise. The consultant confirmed our thoughts about the prostate cancer, which is that the cancer cells were found by chance, and that they are no immediate risk, so Patrick has opted for active surveillance. However he will be having abdominal surgery for his bladder problems at the end of July which means that he can’t drive for 4 weeks during the school holidays! Its good to have some positive things happening though and I hope that the operation improves his quality of life. Its been pretty hard for the past few years.

After a couple of easy weeks I travelled up to Llanwrda for the West Wales Cyclists league 100 mile TT. It was looking to be a hot day, so the night before I made up 5 bottles of Skratch labs hydration and put them in the fridge. In the morning I dropped them off in a lay-by near Llandovery for pick up later. After about 10 miles I was already in pain from saddle pressure, which wasn’t a good sign, and for the rest of the ride I was shifting about trying to find a comfortable spot (there wasn’t one!) I pushed fairly hard up to Brecon, then there was a bit more ascending before some great downhill into Llandovery, where I tried to keep up power, but not too much! From Llandovery I know the course, and this was the bit I was dreading, the road surface is horrible in places, and I kept having to lift myself off my saddle to relieve the pain, my head was in bits really, not giving myself very positive self talk! And I just rode it out as best I could to the finish. I came in in a pretty decent time of 4:48:59 and picked up 2nd female. My £20 cash prize was quickly spent on new water bottles, as I left my spares in the lay-by, oops!

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The week after was an easier week, and we had another appointment with another consultant in Swansea, cue, waiting for 2 hours in hospital to be told what we already knew. It was good to go though, as we have more confirmation that we are making the right descision for Patrick.

So next month is the last month before the school holidays, with only 15 weeks until Kona, I’m looking forward to getting a good block of training in.

 

April (The road to Kona)

April started with an FTP test, and a park run in the first week, double fun! and then the Easter holidays started.

My FTP on test day was lower than I thought it should be, but I was feeling a little down on that morning. I redeemed myself, with a  20 minute best power, the week after, at the Redberth 10 mile TT, organised by Milford Tritons. At the weekend I did Colby park run and had a PB, so everything seemed to be going pretty well.

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On the first Sunday of the holidays we travelled over to Northern Ireland to visit my grandad again. We stayed in Coleraine, and luckily there was a pool near the hotel so I was up early both days for a swim. I enjoy visiting different pools as they all have different atmosphere’s! I emailed before we went, to check if I could use fins etc, but they said no. I arrived the first morning for the hour long lane swimming session, and there was a queue of people waiting and only 2 lanes. The rest of the pool was open with people swimming lengths. I decided to go in the lane that looked faster, but it had 4 people in it already, and I was catching one of them up every 50m, so I decided to move into the open part of the pool, and managed to finish my set next to the wall.

The next day I was politely asked if I wanted to join in with the tri club who were using the lane. I finished the set against the wall again! I was too tired and ran out of time to run in the afternoon, as we were spending time with my grandad, which was lovely, and Northern Ireland was a great place to visit with the kids.

When we got back to Pembrokeshire I still had quite heavy training weeks, we managed to plan things to fit in with family time, and what I needed to do. Holidays are difficult because I want to spend time with everyone, but also want to do my training. I don’t get the balance right, but I know that this is a temporary state to be in, so everyone pulls together and I had a great block of training where I felt like I was making really good progress. Patrick took the boys away camping for 1 night so I could do a long ride and so that he could see his brother.

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My last session before going away, and a recovery week.

At the end of the month, (bank holiday weekend) Patrick and I went away for a much needed break to Liverpool, which I had booked as a Christmas present. It was good to get away for a couple of days and we did a lot of talking which we don’t get the opportunity to do with kids around! On the way up we drove past Chester which is where my first race of the season will be. We drove over the river Dee which I will be swimming in, in a few weeks time! We came back refreshed and ready for the next training block.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path final stage

Day 18  Moylegrove to Poppit Sands

5.6 miles. Elevation gain 1227ft.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 November

Day 6 Pwllcrochan to Neyland

11.9 miles. Elevation gain 1017ft.

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I photographed the map for this section as it was through Pembroke, and I was sure I would miss some signs!

I was about to leave Pwllcrochan when a family started walking back to their car, it was a couple that we haven’t seen for about 5 years! We had a chat before I left, running through muddy fields and leafy paths, after about 10 minutes I turned my ankle over, which was pretty painful. I thought I would have to call Patrick and get picked up, but after walking fro a few minutes I lost the feeling of sickness and carried on. When I got to Hundleton I missed the first sign of the path but noticed quickly and got back on track. I missed another in Pembroke, and as I was approaching Asda I had a phone call from Patrick to let me know that they were on the roundabout.

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Meeting at Neyland was easy as there is the cycle track their for the kids to ride on, they had cycled over the bridge and I we went back over together until the coast path dropped off road on the left, and the cycle path went right. We met back at the car for soup, and welsh cakes, then sat in the sun at the cafe.

Day 7 Neyland to Sandy Haven

9.9 miles. Elevation gain 948ft.

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This was a really interesting part of the run, going past the refinery, wind turbines, and over unusual bridges before arriving back on the wild bit of coast path, I found my mum at Sandy Haven, she had enjoyed running along part of the path while waiting for me!

Day 8 Sandy Haven to West Dale

11.8 miles. Elevation gain 1063ft.

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The forecast was for 40mph winds and rain, and as we drove through Haverfordwest I was not looking forward to getting out of the car, the rain was lashing down on the windscreen, but as we approached Sandy Haven the sky cleared, and by the end of the run the sky was blue.

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There was lots to see along the way, the estuary, a little fort and lighthouse. I have walked the Dale headland with Patrick before, so remembered those times while running. When I arrived at West Dale the boys had done a mini beach clean and were waiting by the car.

Day 9 West Dale to St Brides bay

8.5 miles. Elevation gain 732ft.

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I had planned to run all the way to Broad Haven, but was a bit apprehensive as I had mapped it out as being more than 14 miles. As we drove towards Dale I made up my mind to just run to St Brides bay, as the weather wasn’t looking great and I was feeling quite tired, as I started running from West Dale, I was pleased that I wasn’t going all the way to Broad Haven, the wind was really strong and it was tough running. Spotted lots of mushrooms! and it was still very beautiful so I stopped to take a few snaps along the way. Met my mum in the car park at St Brides Bay, where she was pleased to tell me they had a defibrillator!

Day 10 St Brides bay to Newgale

11.5 miles. Elevation gain 1444ft.

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Weather was wild today,  but it wasn’t raining! The boys were very excited by the wind, and I left them with Patrick, in St Brides car park, climbing up a tree. I stopped to video some dramatic waves and turned around to find a lot of cows watching me, so I took their photo and moved on.

Windy out on the #coastpath today #running #Pembrokeshire #coastal

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I got my timings wrong again, and found Patrick at the end of Newgale beach, so I had plenty of time to stretch and get dressed before heading to a cafe.

Day 11 Newgale to St Non’s

10.1 miles. Elevation gain 1355ft.

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The weather forecast was terrible again today, but I decided to go ahead with my run. I thought I was going to stay dry, but no such luck, within 20 minutes I was soaked through and running into strong winds, I enjoyed the run though, and it made me feel alive, really I’m so lucky to be able to do this!

Day 12  St Non’s to Whitesands

7.6 miles. Elevation gain 666ft.

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Urgh, is all I can say. The night before, my mum looked after the boys so we had a rare night to ourselves! We decided to try out the new restaurant in Narberth. We had a glass of wine at the bar and then a bottle with our meal. Afterwards we went to The Eagle for a rum, and we spotted a bargain offer on Prosecco £8.95. I was inspired when I saw the table next to us with a bottle, and I also saw someone drinking a pint of guiness. We ordered the same and mixed our own black velvets 😦

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Anyhow we had a fun time, and running was still enjoyable, the section was beautiful and interesting to see “the bitches” in full flow!

Day 13  Whitesands to Porthgain

9.5 miles. Elevation gain 1306ft.

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Lovely run today, if a bit windy. Managed to avoid getting soaked and then stopped for a cappuccino at The Sloop in Porthgain with my mum, not a bad way to spend the morning. I’m starting to feel a bit sad now I know I’m on the home straight! Maybe I should run it the other way round!!