Thursday, 29 October 2009


I have been in discussions for a while now for Herbalife to come on board as the key sponsor to this event. Well the contracts have been signed and I am finally a full sponsored athlete! The package Herbalife are offering is fantastic and provides me with financial, nutritional and clothing support. It addresses all the key concerns I would have about the challenge and has taken a huge burden off me. Now I just have to concentrate on raising charity sponsorship and, of course, doing the training!

Herbalife is the perfect sponsor as they encourage a healthy lifestyle but also social responsibility and as part of my work with them I shall also be raising money for the Herbalife Family Foundation which is involved in many projects from disaster relief, to bringing good nutrition to children worldwide (http://www.herbalifeww.com/uk/company_overview.shtml). To the team at Herbalife good nutrition is essential whether for weight management, a healthy lifestyle or sporting achievement and they are supporting me with their nutritional products to help me train and recover well. I am using their H30 Pro in training and their Formula One shakes to aid recovery. I am also supported by a raft of supplements and am feeling great at the moment despite training twice a day, 6 days a week!

I absolutely couldn't do this challenge without the support of a corporate sponsor as the financial implications would be too great so I can't thank Herbalife enough for choosing to support me and my World Record Attempt on the Enduroman Arch 2 Arc.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Henlow 10

Wednesday saw the running of the Henlow 10, a local 10miler that finishes at RAF Henlow. This was to be my first B race of the season and the first chance to assess how these first few months of focused run training have improved (or not!) my speed endurance. The race started at 12.30pm from an old aerodrome near Old Warden. I wasn't sure I had quite got my nutrition correct before the race and set off feeling a little heavy-legged which wasn't surprising given I had raced on Sunday. The aim was to complete the 10miles in 1 hr 25 which meant averaging 8.30min/miles. The first mile was very fast and I thought the mile marker came up a bit short, my new RS200 SD beeped its autolap mile marker around 15seconds later.

A quick word on the HRM. Dom Phipps of Generation Bikes Ltd (www.generationsportsandcycles.com) provided me with this to help aid my training and I love being able to see how fast I am running though it is mighty distracting as I need to keep sneaking a peek at my wrist every so often! As I learn what different paces feel like hopefully this will pass! It is a funky red colour and I am really enjoying it and I am sure it will help my trg come on in leeps and bounds!

The second mile however I was still under target but this time the mile marker was about 15 secs after my autolap had beeped. This was the case for the rest of the race with the markers progressively getting further from the actual mile point as measured by my new friend. I did mapmyrun it later and found it was a good 200m long which wasn't surprising as they confirmed afterwards that they had measured it using a car odometer - not the most accurate!

I had forgotten quite how lumpy the course really was or 'undulating' as race directors like to term it and certainly for the first half the downs did not outweigh the up. Still, I was easily under time hitting the half way in about 42mins. There are some faster miles in the second half, notably the seventh which is a nice long run down into Shefford but the long drag coming out of Shefford more than takes away the speed it has just delivered. I felt like I would easily make it as all my splits had been under 8.30 but as the time ticked down I felt sub 1hr25 slipping away. The course was definitely long but a sustained push to the end, which saw me make up some places, took me across the line in 1hr 25mins and 24mins. I definitely begruadged the course those 24secs but knowing it had been more like 10.2miles definitely helped, the HRM had me cross the 10mile point a 1hr 22 44mins which I would have been thrilled with and I still took 3 1/2mins off last years time so everything is headed in the right direction.

I had really wanted to have a short break, eat and change and then hit the treadmills for another 5miles to really help start shoring up the endurance work but the gym had been closed for the run and I couldn't face heading back out into the rain so I called it a day and used the opportunity to head home early.

It was a wonderful surprise when I headed into the pool for a swim the next day to find that B/W/H had actually won the Men's and Ladies team prize. The team prize counts the first four qualifiers and I had actually recorded the faster B/W/H Ladies time leading the team to victory! This was totally unexpected as I never win anything so I was quite shocked - I should have stayed for the medal ceremony after all! I have now received a little wooden shield which will take pride of place on my desk. A fourth place at the local 5k and now winning the Ladies prize, it's not international glory but it is a definite step in the right direction and shows me that maybe the middle/back of the pack attitude I have always had needs to be rethought! :)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Du Blues 2 (sort of...)

So, you will remember I posted last week about going to watch Adam and his friend Chris in their first duathlon and Chris got a puncture and couldn't finish. Well, having been training hard I think he was a bit despondent to get a DNF in his first foray into multi-sport. He was extremely keen to get another one under his belt whilst he had the momentum but Adam was working the next two weekends so yours truly agreed to keep him company at the 1485 No Frills Duathlon.

I have NO idea what possessed me to agree, it must have been Chris' newbie enthusiam. Considering I view duathlons as basically triathlons without the fun part and with double the evil part, the thought of doing my FIRST EVER duathlon was pretty unappealing. The only joyous thing about it was the fact that the start time was at 10.30am so at least it wouldn't be a really unsociable start. I met Chris in Market Bosworth feeling nervous and, as there was a bit of a chill in the air, dithering about what clothes to race it. I eventually went for an odd combo of cycling jersey and arm warmers, tri shorts and topped off with running gloves and a buff to keep my newly coiffed hair out of my face. Despite the nip in the air I manage to nearly boil myself to death on the first run and gladly ripped off the gloves and buff in transition.

Setting up transition had been interesting. Having not raced multisport for three years now I felt like total newbie again and was stressing about forgetting things and not remembering what order to do stuff in. I think it helped that I had chose not to run with lock laces (used my trainers which normally see the more sedate pace of ultras/Ironman where gadgets such as lock laces are not a normal feature and didn't want to thread them with lock laces only to have to undo them again for training the next day) and so knew I was going to be slow in transition anyway so I didn't need to panic too much.

The first run went fairly well. Dom Phipps from Generation Bikes Ltd (www.generationsportsandcycles.com) has kindly supplied me with a Polar RS200SD which means I can finally tell how fast I am going during a run and this feedback was great as I cantered round the first 5k. I entered transition in around 25mins and was feeling ok. The aims for the race was to try and have two steady and well paced runs of 26mins each and to push the bike as hard as I could. Transition was slow but steady and I headed out to the bike course. It was a pretty good course and I passed a number of the quicker runners and made up a few places. My biking is still slow as it is the bit that I have the least background in and has been the most neglected but I was pleased that I pushed as hard as I could without worrying about the 2nd run. Off the bike for the second run I felt pretty strong and once I got my legs moving I seemed to be tapping along ok. Unfortunately the HRM foot pod had gone onto stand by whilst I had been out on the bike so I didn't get any measurements but I thought I was doing ok.

Unfortunately within the first km I was struck by the same agonisingly debilitating stitch type pain that I got last year in the Henlow 10. It feels like an extremely severe stitch but isn't cured by the normal hands-above-your-head, breathing out on opposite foot fall etc. When I saw a doctor after the race last year he wondered whether I had a mild abdominal or intercostal tear. The biggest problem is I can't really run as each footfall causes a stabbing pain and it is so severe that my breathing gets out of control and then I get a bit panicked. Hmm, not good. I knew it was only 4kms to go and so I tried so fast walking stints and then running when I could. I found that if I jammed my fingers into the spot where it hurt then that gave some relieved so I hobbled on running with only one arm going and stopping for walk breaks when necessary. I finally staggered over the line where Chris was waiting. Poor Chris! The first time we had raced together and I was a bit teary due to the frustration and the pain. It wasn't as bad as at Henlow and subsided within a few minutes after I had stopped but it was so frustrating that it had impacted upon my race. I thought I was probably be down in the 29mins or so for the second run and was chuffed to find that I had actually managed to hold it to 26mins all the same so my total time ended up around 1hr 42.

Chris had a good race ended up slightly outside his prediction of 1hr 30 at 1hr 33mins but consdering it was his first race it is always hard to judge and I thought he did fab. We watched the last finishers over the line and the presentation then headed back home. All in all it was a good morning's work as the stitch obviously didn't impact as much as I had initially thought and we were home by 2pm feeling chuffed. Considering I was fearing the worst, I actually thought my first duathlon went pretty well and I was pleased once again with how my running is progressing. I just hope the residual pain of the stitch thing goes before my second race of the week on Wednesday - my first B race of the season and the first opportunity to really guage my running progress over the last two months- the Henlow 10!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Pamper (?!) time

If you can count sports massage as pamper time then I guess I have been truly pampered this week! I had my first visit to Andrew McKenna, who is going to do my massage for the challenge. We both trained as therapists through the London School of Sports Massage (I was with the North London School) so I understood the way Andrew went about the treatment and could talk about various aspects of it with him which was really helpful. Andrew is a former international runner and has studied and trained both here and America, having someone with that level of knowledge supporting you is a fantastic help. His Dad is also a coach and has links to Milton Keynes Athletics Club so he knows all the haunts round our way!

The real pampering began when my wonderful products arrived from the Green People. Green People specialise in organic face and body care and is one of the biggest names in organic beauty in the UK. They have sent me a wonderful selection of products to pamper my poor body with when it all gets too much! I am racing a duathlon this weekend and my reward for completing it is a lovely hot bath and a full session with all my new potions and lotions. They have also sent me some of their suncare range which is fantastic as I try to use organic products where I can but always find it difficult to get a good cream that offers protection aswell as utilising organic products. I know I will be slathering it on especially during some of my longer swim sessions.

Training continues reasonably well - the consistency part is definitely getting there and I am really pleased with how running is going. I had two days off Sunday and Monday and actually I felt much more tired and run down from having the two days off in a row than I normally do from just having one. I also have a day off today so rescheduled my long run for this afternoon. I really didn't want to go out and do it and having been up early for a promotional shoot in Swindon that was then cancelled (darn!) I went back to bed. The nap really helped and I feel much better than I have been doing for the last few days. I forced myself out for my run on a mile loop round the house. The Double Ironman format is 42laps of approximately a mile so I thought I may aswell try and mentally prepare for that. It also meant I could have access to a nutrition stop as I passed the house every mile. It actually went very well and I completed the 12 laps in 1:42:44 including a two min stop for the loo and refuel. Maybe I have the sub 1:50 half mara in me I so want! The Henlow 10 is next week and is my first B race off the season - I'd love to go sub 1:25 and I did the 10miles today in 1:26:15 with the 2mins break included so it is possible though the course is more challenging that the loop I was running.

The big break through today though was that I actually felt like a runner. My heart rate settled within the high 150s within the first mile and settled between that and the mid-160s for the rest of the run. I felt like I was actually 'running' and pushing and focusing etc the whole way run instead of just plodding. I didn't start slowly because I was worried about bonking and I kept a constant pace all the way - it was a controlled 'hard' feeling which after this run I'm not scared of anymore - I've realised this is how running is supposed to be and, don't get me wrong, jogging can be hard work too if you go long enough but I am going to try and be a 'runner' from now on! We'll see how it goes. :)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Du Blues

I went to watch Adam and his friend Chris compete in their first Duathlon last Sunday (Ad sporting his nice warm Chocolate Fish merino wool socks!). They both had a great first run in what were pretty wet conditions then headed out on the bike. As it was his first duathlon Chris had borrowed a bike and disaster struck about half way through the course when his tyre popped. I was duly summoned from my support/photographer spot at transition to come and help him out. Unfortunately he hadn't realised he was racing on tubs so we couldn't fix the problem with the tools we had so I had to pick him up and bring him back. Such a disappointment in his first race. However, he has picked himself up and promptly signed up for another one (the 1485 No Frills Duathlon). As Ad is at work it has been left to yours truly to race with him for moral support. I shall basically train through it before having a few days taper before my first 'B' race of the season - the Henlow 10. Ad finished in a little over two hours which given he had stopped with Chris to try and help him out, he is pleased with.

On our way back to transition one of the other racers veered off the road and had a fall into a ditch at the side. We couldn't see what had caused the problem but unfortunately it was a nasty fall resulting in a dislocated shoulder and me having to call 999. High drama! Luckily, one of the next racers along happened to be a doctor so she assessed him and agreed he could be moved down to transition where a St John's ambulance crew would be able to help him. She was probably cursing the Hippocratic oath as any chance of a good time faded away but I am sure he was very grateful!

This has been my first recovery week in the cycle and sessions have been shortened and a swim and weights session removed. Had a good hour run yesterday despite feeling very lethargic before I started. When I get out of the routine in things like recovery weeks or tapers I tend to get very tired and demotivated but actually once I am in doing the session, I tend to feel quite strong. So these weeks are a good psychological challenge more than a physical one and, as we know that doing the events I have chosen it will always be a mental battle, they're probably good training!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Does Autumn make you go crazy......?

And no I don't mean anger and frustration at the horrible cold and rainy weather that seems to have appeared nearly overnight, I mean actually clinically insane? If that was the case, it might explain why, for reasons best known to others, I decided today that doing a Double Ironman would be a sensible idea. After an Ironman. A fortnight after.

Not really sure what possessed me to sign up. I had been considering it after seeing that all the other women who are trying to complete the A2A already have this in the back and I did speak with Steve Haywood, Enduroman's Director, who told me it would be a 'good warm up'. However, since the event was full I could put that level of madness to the back of my mind. Unfortunately it appears that some other competitors have recovered full use of their mental faculties and have withdrawn which early yesterday morning left a big gaping hole with my name on it. Maybe it was the pressure of knowing the place would be snapped up within minutes and I didn't want to get left wondering 'what if' that encouraged me to whip out the credit card and get signed up!

I have justified it thus: There is a 52mile run involved - this will let me know what it feels like to go long in the run. Said run will also be in the dark for some of the way thus I will get used to running in the dark. I can also practice my feeding strategy. I may also have to cycle in the dark which gives me practice for this aspect of the A2A. Training for a longer event such as this as opposed to 'just' an Ironman will give me less work to do to build up to the required distances after the IM next summer. I'll be almost there on the run distance front anyway thus I can throw all my resources into the swim and just keep the run ticking over as opposed to having to tackle them both. Plus, after racing the IM only a fortnight before I'll be knackered and thus will learn if I have what it takes to race tired.

See, I knew it made sense really! :)