Tag Archives: women

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.

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!

Why women don’t participate in sports

Forums and chat As a regular forum user, and competitive female athlete I am often frustrated and upset by comments that are made on forums regarding womens participation in the sports that I enjoy. As a minority in these sports I also feel intimidated to post a response, even when I am offended. This is why I decided to write this post. If you choose to read it hopefully some people will take the time to think about their words and choose them a bit more carefully. One of the reasons that I don’t challenge comments that frustrate me is that I don’t want to upset anyone, but obviously some of the men posting on these forums do not feel the same way as I do. Twitter_chat_image My experience I would consider myself to be a reasonably confident woman, but when starting out at Triathlon I often felt that I was not “good enough” to participate in time trials and I waited until I was at a fairly high standard before I attended one. I know I am not the only one to worry about this, women that I have spoken to are often concerned about coming last or being too slow. I also participate in mountain bike events, which are very poorly attended by women. I am usually faster than men uphill but slower downhill, but instead of just riding in these events at my pace, I will let men go ahead, as I have been conditioned to believe that men are faster and better than me. I have discussed this with friends and they also react in a similar way. In the pool, I worry about getting in peoples way if they are faster, and I frequently see women giving way and jeopardising their session in order to let someone faster go ahead of them. I recently watched a poem being performed called take up space it is about being yourself and allowing yourself to take up space. If I sometimes feel like I can’t take up space then imagine what women with lower self esteem must feel like. Sad-Depressed-Silhouette-The-Trent-e1390586144853 Facts Obesity and low self esteem are a growing problem, girls and boys are subjected to stereotypes and social pressures from an early age. I am going to look at this from the female angle, as I am female, and I feel that women are often overlooked and marginalised by sports, we have to fight to get recognition, and equal opportunities, as the world has been run by men for so long. There are systems in place that are unfair to women purely because men are the people who made the rules, and often they do not consider women, for example; the Time Trial scene. A look on their forum reveals some attitudes that, frankly, belong in the dark ages. Usually there are less prizes for women. The reason being that there are less women competing. How this encourages participation is beyond me, when you don’t even get recognised for your efforts, and believe me, the women that compete in these events DO put in the effort. Generally speaking the women who enter these events are highly committed, they have to be, to overcome gender stereotypes. However these women are a different group to the group of women who need to be encouraged in to sport. A Sport England Report identified areas in which women aged 15-19 are dissuaded from participating in sports, and found that what one group disliked about sport and physical activity were “feeling intimidated and self-conscious, and the competition associated with doing sport.” This would support what I have seen in a local time trial where results are not published from the event. I saw more women at this time trial than I have seen at any other time trial in the area. “This research also investigated the role of three main determinants upon participation in sport – the environment, lifestyle transitions, and psychosocial issues. Overall it was found that: Young women did not consider environmental issues, including the provision of facilities, as very important when explaining their current level of sports participation. Transitions, including lifestyle changes for example from school to college or from education to employment, had a negative impact upon sport participation, due to a decrease in levels of spare time, money, and energy. This finding was consistent regardless of current level of participation. Psychosocial issues were very important when explaining levels of sport participation. In particular, family and friends were considered to be the most important factors influencing participation in sport, regardless of participation level. Furthermore, complex psychosocial issues such as self-confidence, and perception of personal ability, were also found to play a significant role in the decision to participate in sport.” 3120882.large What to do There are a lot of good campaigns out there to empower women to participate in sport and break through stereotypes, for example This Girl Can, we just need to bring these attitudes and ideas into clubs at grass roots level and not just pay lip service to “there should be more women participating”. Women will not respond to bullying or male banter, they need acceptance and encouragement. If clubs really care about women participating then they would do well to read the report by Sports England and implement the recommendations. They could also consider the words used on public forums and think about how these may affect other people.