Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2017

 

Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2017

Photo credit: Colin Henderson Photography

Friday morning my support crew Sam and Eilidh, and I drove to Sheildaig in preparation for Celtman. We headed straight to registration at Torridon Community Centre to register, had a quick lunch and then back to the community centre for race briefing. I saw a few friendly faces, we caught up and talked about our excitement for Celtman the following day.

Race briefing commenced with a short film of last year’s race, with a musician playing music that inspired him during his race at Celtman in 2015. It was inspiring and emotive, I nearly had a tear in my eye watching the film! This was followed by the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team, who support athletes during the mountainous part of the course. They are currently fundraising for new facilities, they are a vital volunteer team that save lives in the mountains in and around Torridon (including 17 Munro’s!). Please donate: http://www.torridonmrt.org.uk/

The rest of the race briefing was the usual do’s and don’ts as per the race pack. After leaving the race briefing my nerves well and truly kicked in! We arrived at the accommodation: I checked my bike over; had a quick spin and short run. I made up all my food ready for the race. We all had dinner and I was in bed by nine. Eating dinner was a real struggle, I was extremely nervous and quiet (very out of character). I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous the night before for a triathlon before. This race had such a big build up, seven months of training and sacrifices all for one day. I wasn’t even this nervous before my own wedding! I knew I could complete it but that didn’t settle my nerves. I was also a little worried about the weather, it was forecast for strong winds and rain all day.

I awoke at two, got ready and slowly forced myself to eat my bowl of porridge. I double checked, then tripled checked I had everything ready for transition. I was convinced I had forgotten something. Sam and I made it to transition, leaving Eilidh to sleep. I collected my GPS tracker and set up my bike and bag at transition. I stupidly forgot my midge spray (I was right) and got bitten lots in transition. I had about twenty fluid filled blisters a few days later! Sheildaig was a little windy and warm so I was optimistic about the weather. Once I got acquainted with my surroundings and my kit in transition, I got my wetsuit on and walked over to the swim pick up point on the other side of Sheildaig.

celtman

I saw Kevin who I did a recce of the bike course a few weeks earlier by the coaches and boarded the coach with him to the swim start. Sam waved us off. I was so lucky to sit by Kevin, he was chatting away, whilst I was so nervously thinking about the race. He was a great distraction, and put me at ease, thanks Kevin! The journey was short but once we were off the coach I felt an instant relief. I had a quick toilet stop, donned my neon pink Celtman swim cap and had a group hug from Andrew, Kevin and Robin (Celtman recce crew). Before I knew it… the Celtman sign was lit, bagpipes and drummers started playing, followed by a group photo before heading into the sea. The majestic start to Celtman that everyone sees on the videos and clips I didn’t really absorb or enjoy, I was too focused on getting in the water for the start on time. It all seemed like a blur looking back.

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

Once I was submerged in the water, I was pleasantly surprised how warm the water felt, in May on the recce it felt so cold. The water was still only 12-13 degrees but having a heat vest under the wetsuit and gloves on definitely helped or maybe it was also the adrenaline pumping through me. I made it to the start line between the canoes just in time and we were off. I was a little too wide at the start so initially felt quite far away from the front pack. For once I didn’t have my usual panicky start in the swim, I kept my cool and swam at a comfortable pace. I didn’t want to overdo it on the swim as I had a long day ahead. I was able to pick people off one by one, I could see the fast swimmers ahead so I was sighting them and the White House on the hill (as per race briefing instructions).

Photo credit: Steve Carter (I’m on the left looking at the rock/ tree with blue goggles)

The jellyfish appeared about 20-30minutes into the swim. There were so many however I was fortunate that they were about a metre below me, apart from one that touched my face, yuck! I actually found it quite fascinating watching hundreds of them swim below me, the water was so clear. I was mesmerised by the volume of jellyfish dancing beneath me, it was a great distraction. I found I was breathing every five so I could observe them all flout in the water. It was like they were performing and I would have been disappointed if I didn’t see them. They have become such an iconic part of the swim in the race.

Towards the end of the swim at Sheildaig the water got a little choppy but I managed a fast finish. I was assisted (yanked) out the water by one of the volunteers, thanks! I always get a dizzy feeling after a long swim from horizontal to vertical. Sam met me by the water, kept me steady and held my hand going up the ramp. Swim time one hour, twenty five seconds, I was aiming for under an hour but pleased as I felt really fresh for the bike and what’s a few seconds in a fifteen hour race?

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

Both Eilidh and Sam helped me out my wetsuit and into my cycling gear, I had a quick sip of hot chocolate, and was ready to go. Suddenly I started feeling this burning feeling on my neck. I had crazy neck burn which developed the following day into what looked like ligature marks around my neck and proceeded to scab over. Maybe I forgot to use my bodyglide? Luckily I had a long bike ride to distract me! Transition was 6 minutes, 17 seconds and whilst getting changed I was interviewed by one of the camera crews. It had started raining so started the bike with the waterproof on.

Neck burn!

Photo credit: Meg Jones (Just out of transition and on the bike)

Out of transition and onto the bike, the course starts with a short steep hill. The first twenty miles, to Kinlochewe, were quite challenging- the rain was lashing down with strong cross winds, I was barely on my TT bars even downhill as it felt so unstable and unsafe. Some parts I was clinging onto the bike, praying I wouldn’t fall off. A few competitors overtook me during this period but I couldn’t have gone any faster. I did manage to eat and drink well. My watch was only showing me my overall time but not my distance and pace. When my support crew appeared, I was getting them to work out my pace. As I had previously done on recce of the course I did have a fair idea of what distance I had done so I had a vague idea what pace I was doing. It wasn’t until I started the run I noticed I must have pressed my watch twice so my transition two time was actually my bike time, pants! When I first saw Sam and Eilidh it was about two hours into the cycle. I got them to pull over, I had drunk two bottles in 90 minutes, so had a quick toilet stop and swapped my bottles. The rain had stopped so took the waterproof off, as I was hot. The wind was an absolute killer, and the roads wet. I tried to go as fast as I could when it felt safe to do so.

Photo credit: Ross Millar

Just after Gairloch I caught up with American Parker, we were chatting prior to the race. I got him on the hills and he would pass me on the way down or flats. We had a little chit chat about the great Scottish weather and encouraged each other on. I didn’t see Parker after seeing the seals on the rocky beach by Little Gruinard. I also have to mention Parker’s partner she was full of cheer and support on the bike course thanks!

Photo Credit: Ross Millar

Second quick stop, for the loo and topped up my food and drink. I was feeling a little tetchy, I hadn’t eaten enough so after a talking to by the team, I ate as much as I could stomach. It really helped and I felt good going over the last of the big hills. From mile 70 the pace slowed down, the cross winds were strong, I just kept peddling and eating when I could. I stopped for a third time, kept needing the loo, I was drinking lots as I did really struggle eating. Both Sam and Eilidh were great at giving me updates, encouragement and making me eat during a pee stop. My stops only lasted 1-2minutes so I was speedy and back on the bike quickly.

Photo credit: Ross Millar

After mile 100 I had well and truly bonked. It was raining again and the head wind was so strong (20mph). I had my emergency cheese twist and thought I was going to be sick. I got lots of support from my team and other support crews as they drove past. I kept drinking, having gels and eating when I could. I had Eilidh’s voice going round my head, “you have to keep eating and drinking”. Bananas went down easily so kept eating them. I was genuinely worried I couldn’t finish the race and felt awful, cold and was in a ‘dark place’. I loathed my bike at this point. I didn’t want to stop as I thought I wouldn’t get back on my bike. It felt like other athletes were flying pass me, when I was almost at a standstill. The last twenty miles were tough and more about survival. I knew at this point, it was unlikely I would get to the check point for the blue t-shirt time. Surprisingly, in the last 3-4miles on the bike I got a second wind, felt alright and went as fast as I could towards transition.

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

When I got to transition cars were turning around and blocking the road, I had to go between cars and cycled up the ramp to finish. My bike time was 8hrs 25mins, I was disappointed and I know I could have gone quicker but the conditions were horrid and I should have eaten more on the bike. My goal was 8 hours. I’ve also got to stop being so harsh on myself, only a few weeks before I cycled my first hundred miles on the bike and last year I hadn’t cycled more than sixty miles. I am still relatively new to triathlon and this was my first long distance event. I met Eilidh in transition two, had a quick change of shoes, toilet stop and we commenced running together. I spotted other athletes with fold up chairs, changing. I was pretty jealous, whilst I looked and felt like Bambi on ice changing my shoes.

The heavens had well and truly opened, the rain was lashing down. It felt amazing to be off the bike and running. Eilidh informed me that no one was going across the mountain because the conditions weren’t safe so everyone was doing the lower course. The run starts with a long hill up Coulin pass, I was picking off people up the hill and was the only competitor running all the way to the top of the hill. That was down to Eilidh pushing me and distracting me from my groin pain, that settled after a couple of miles.

Down the hill the path was a mud bath, I was so glad I had trail shoes on. Eilidh kept me going and telling me to eat and drink. I was having small sips if water and gels when told. We both knew after the hill it was unlikely I was able to run a personal best run time to make the blue t-shirt cut off of 11 hours to Transition 2A(T2A). I felt alright so kept a steady pace to T2A, so my race plan changed to trying to get the best white t-shirt time and enjoying the race. I got to T2A in 11hours 14mins 55secs, 15mins short! I had my mandatory stop for two minutes for a kit check and I ate a banana. A few of the volunteers for Celtman were from Edinburgh triathletes and I had a quick chat before I set off for the second part of the run.

In the second part of the run, I was feeling good, running up the trail and walking only at steep or rocky parts. The trail was really water logged and felt like we were gorge walking and river crossing rather than running. I started to get cold at this point as I couldn’t run due to nature of the course and we were completely soaked. We both swapped our wet tops for dry tops and put on our waterproofs, hat and gloves (I was so glad of my mandatory kit!). I didn’t think we realised how cold we were until we did this!

Photo credit: Alligin Photography (looking tired)

Along the ‘trail’ we regularly passed the Torridon mountain rescue teams, cheering us on and providing us with homemade cakes and gummy bears thank you! We also passed a bag piper playing in the pouring rain which kept my spirits up, thanks!

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

My pace slowed but when we got closer to the road the trail became a path so started running again. Back on the road I was overtaking the runners that overtook me on the rocky parts of the path, most were walking and I ran all the way to the finish. The rain finally stopped during the last couple of miles and Torridon looked beautiful.

When I saw the finish after the last hill I sprinted to the finish. I was so elated and sore, and so very glad to have finished! I hugged Eilidh, then John (race organiser and Edinburgh Triathletes coach) and Mandy (fellow ET member and John’s wife). It was wonderful seeing friendly faces at the finish. Sadly, Sam missed my finish. I received my beer from John- I completed Celtman!! Overall time 14hours 37minutes, 47secsonds, little disheartened I didn’t make the cut off for the blue t-shirt but I wasn’t far off. This was my first long distance and extreme triathlon in awful conditions. It didn’t go to race plan but I kept going and finished.

Post Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Post-race, we all had a meal at the community centre-macaroni cheese- and caught up with other finishers and volunteers. I was even talking about doing the race again to get the elusive blue t-shirt! We headed back shortly afterwards for a shower and set off back to Edinburgh. I was going on holiday the next day. Sadly, I couldn’t go to the ceremony the next day but received my white Celtman finishers top before I left. Celtman was a truly amazing experience. This race is a community of friendly like-minded nutters, like no other. I’ve enjoyed the whole journey from training, to the organisng and the race itself. It really did live up to expectation despite the weather, typical Scotland!

Me and Andrew post Celtman

I honestly couldn’t have done it without Sam and Eilidh, they kept my spirits up and supported me amazingly throughout the day.  I need to thank my coach Barron for his support and training plans. My friends and family, I have to thank you for all your encouragement and understanding this year. A special mention for Sam who has supported me during these last seven months of training, including lots of early 5am alarm starts and mood swings from hunger after training. I can’t thank you enough, I’m a lucky lady!

Dream Team!

 

Now a month on from the race, I definitely want to return, surely it can’t be bad weather two years on the trot?

Go pro Video of my Celtman race coming soon.

Jenwaar

 

 

 

 

 

Australia – Sydney

 

Australia- Sydney

Our Australian adventure started in Sydney.   We arrived on Saturday evening, had a quick bite to eat and headed out to Newtown, King Street to stretch out our legs and have a few drinks.

We stayed at Meriton serviced apartments in Mascot, close to the airport, the train station was a 2 minute walk away from the apartment with regular trains into Sydney. Mascot is only two train stops into the city centre. The apartment was clean, spacious and had air conditioning (essential in summer!)

On Sunday we had a leisurely start to the day, with late Aussie breakfast (avocado and poached eggs) and headed to Bondi beach. To get around Sydney we chose public transport using Opal cards, similar to London’s Oyster card for trains, buses and ferries. The Opal card gives you cheaper travel and sets a limit of cost per day $15. The card itself is free, all you need to do is top it up to pay your fare. Bondi beach isn’t next to any train stations, so we travelled to Bondi Junction and got a bus to Bondi beach. We sunbathed all afternoon, and had a dip in the sea. Bondi beach has good waves, strong rifts and most of the beach is used for surfers, one section of the beach is flagged for swimming and the life savers and lifeguards monitor this area from 7am to 6pm every day. This beach is where the famous TV programme Bondi rescue is filmed; lucky we didn’t see any rescues whilst we were there.

In the evening we stayed in Bondi for a few drinks and nibbles at Mamasan, the cocktails were good and the Asia fusion tapas was delicious, we would highly recommend it. We went on for a few more drinks at Beach Road Hotel outdoor area and then Bondi Hotel.

I was still training whilst on holiday (less than normal but enough to not hinder the last few weeks of training). Monday morning, I headed over to North Sydney Olympic pool, it’s a very picturesque pool with amazing views of Sydney harbour bridge. The outdoor pool uses seawater, but is cleaned so the water is clear. Great facilities, big pool and sun loungers. Make sure you apply sun cream prior to swimming; I totally forgot and got a burnt back afterwards!

The rest of the day we fully embraced being a Sydney tourist. We walked over the Sydney harbour bridge, and walked to the Sydney Opera house. We had lunch at one of the outdoor  restaurants at Sydney Opera house overlooking the harbour bridge, called Opera Kitchen. The Food was nice, a little more expensive but worth it for the views. I had chicken laksa and dumplings and the portion was massive, I couldn’t finish it!

In the afternoon we got a ferry to Manly beach from the harbour. The slow ferry takes 30 minutes and use can use your Opal card. There is a quicker ferry which takes 16 minutes but costs more and you cannot use the Opal card. We took the slower ferry, it operates every 30mins and you can take bikes with you at no extra cost.

Once you’re off the ferry it’s a short walk to the beach, Manly is a vibrant town with many shops and restaurants. Manly beach is much bigger than Bondi but personally I preferred Bondi. We spent the rest of the day on the beach, soaking up the sun. On the way, home we had a cheeky doughnut from Doughnut time, I had the salted caramel one. I found it quite doughy, the filling is put in the top of the doughnut (instead of the side) so it wasn’t evenly spread but still enjoyable. Maybe I just chose the wrong one.

Tuesday, we got up early, 4.45am and not for a flight! We got early tickets to climb Sydney harbour bridge at 6am. Prior to traveling to Australia I was contemplating whether or not to pay so much to climb the bridge (it was $565 for two adults). All my friends who have been before raved about it so I kind of thought-would I get this chance again? I chose the early slot as we had plans later in the day but it was also the cheapest time to go. When we arrived, we were put in groups, had a full safety briefing and changed into ‘jazzy’ boiler suits and caps. Our group had ten people in and we were guided up the bridge by Chris our climb leader.  The climb isn’t too strenuous, it’s a slow pace and we stopped a few times during the climb for photos taken by Chris. There are even water fountains to have sips of water during the climb. We were given headphones prior to the climb and Chris describes the climb, bridge and local landmarks with a few jokes for good measure. The climb up and back down took about 2hr 30mins in total (about 3 hours from entering to leaving). I really enjoyed it, the views were amazing, going early meant it wasn’t too hot and we had the rest of the day to do other things. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, thanks to Fiona for encouraging me to book it!

After our climb, we went to FairPlay cafe by the harbour for breakfast, it did not disappoint. I had breakfast bruschetta, we shared corn fritters and Sam had a chicken sandwich, all very scrumptious, I particularly enjoyed the corn fritters.

For that day we hired road bikes from Livelo Sydney, good quality bikes with all the extras (bottles, puncture repair kit, helmet), all we needed was our bike shoes and they put on the appropriate pedals prior to our arrival. The staff were friendly and very accommodating. We headed north through Sydney and over the harbour bridge. Initially, we cycled on the A8 but the road was very busy, so we went along the coast line, stopping at most of the beaches to top up our water bottles. We ended up at Newport Beach and stopped there for lunch. Afterwards we cycled to Manly beach and got the ferry back to Sydney, 46miles in total. It was 34-36 degrees, very hot, so we took the ride easy and enjoyed the scenery. Ideally we should have cycled in the early morning when the temperatures are lower and less traffic on the roads. I’m at freshwater beach in this photo, sadly my phone battery died so didn’t take many photos that day.

Wednesday, we dropped the bikes off and I ran back to the apartment. We headed back to Bondi, I had a swim at Icebergs, outdoor Olympic pool by Bondi beach. The pool is filled with sea water and every Thursday they empty the pool to clean it. Swimming on Wednesday meant the water was quite murky, I couldn’t see the bottom of the pool and much in front. This was good practice for the open water conditions I require during open water swimming in triathlons. Being so close to the sea, occasionally you may feel the waves crashing over the sides into the pool as you swim. I was at Icebergs late morning, early afternoon and the pool lanes were not marked by ability but lucky the lanes are wide enough to overtake with ease. The swim was an experience in a beautiful setting.

From Bondi we walked to Coogee beach with my little brother James and Sam’s friend Jordan. The coastal walk takes you along seven beaches before getting to Coogee. It took us all about an hour and a half to walk at a leisurely pace in the heat.  At Coogee beach we stopped off at the Pavilion for a few drinks and food. The pavilion has spectacular rooftop bar, with views over Coogee beach. The pizzas were delicious and very good value, although you had to go downstairs to order and eat them.

James and I, with Bondi beach in the background.

Tamarama beach

Gordon’s Bay

Coogee Beach

In the evening we went to Sydney festival, a music, art and performance festival across Sydney. The festival is free and many of the acts you don’t require tickets in advance. We watched a few cabaret acts, pole dancing, singing and aerial hoop at Hyde park.

Thursday, we continued our holiday to Melbourne.

48 hours in Berlin

 

48 Hours in Berlin

Berlin is a huge city and you won’t be able to see it all in 48 hours. It’s a vibrant and multicultural city full of history, food, art, culture and nightlife. It’s one of my favourite places and this was my fourth visit.

berlin

Last week my friend and fellow Midwife Fiona and I flew to Berlin for a small mini break. We left Tuesday morning, landing in Berlin early afternoon. We checked into the hotel at Alexanderplatz and were upgraded to a suite! Thanks Hotel indigo! Our room was in the top floor with a big balcony (sadly too cold to use), the suite was beautiful and the beds, big and comfy!

berlin

I’ve been to Berlin a few times before, Fiona hasn’t and she wanted to visit the Currywurst museum. Currywurst is a German delicacy of sausage and a special curried tomato sauce, sprinkled with curry powder. After we checked in, we made our way to the museum. Our ticket includes a sample of the sausage and entry into the museum. The currytwurst itself was nice but the museum quite small and amusing. Don’t expect to learn much but you’ll have a good laugh. I would recommend going to one of the street vendors and trying out the Currywurst instead.

berlin

We went on to checkpoint Charlie (checkpoint C) the famous western Allied Berlin Wall crossing point between West and East Germany during the Cold War. It was one of the many checkpoints representing the separation from the West and East Berlin. We looked around a free gallery by the checkpoint, telling the stories of people who escaped, those who sadly failed and those who also lost their lives. The checkpoint Charlie museum continues this with more detail and tells the history of the Berlin Wall. Definitely worth a visit.

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After We headed to Augustiner’s to enjoy German beer from a barrel and eat more sausage with sauerkraut. Both were delicious!

berlin

For dinner we went for Thai, at Thai inside. We had Mai tai cocktails followed by Chicken Satay, vegetable gyoza and chicken pad Thai all to a good standard and reasonably priced (cocktails were excellent).

berlin

We continued our evening visiting microbrewery, Lemke Berlin and onto ‘the pub’ pouring our own Berliner pints of beer.

berlinberlin

Wednesday we headed out for brunch at the house of small wonder. At the entrance you walk up a beautiful spiral staircase, to this green and quirky cafe in Mitte. Serving Japanese and breakfast cuisine. I had Croque Monsieur and mint tea and Fiona had the homemade granola with Greek yoghurt. Both were filling, delicious and good value.

berlin

berlin

We walked off our breakfast, visiting the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, now known as The East Side Gallery, near Ostbahnhof in Friedrichshain. The Wall was constructed in 1961, to stop Eastern emigration from communist East Berlin to free West Berlin. The wall is now a memorial for freedom, with paintings by artists all over the world. It was last renovated in 2010. Sadly, they have now put metal fences in front of most of the wall to stop people graffitiing, so it was hard to take photos. Most of the photos below were from a previous trip three years ago.

berlinberlin wallberlin wallberlin

Late afternoon, we visited one of my favourite places in Berlin Markthalle Neun which translates to Market Nine. In the heart of Keruzberg, this market sells an array of foods, alcohol and street foods. Every Thursday evening, they host their street food market and throughout the month they host special markets e.g. Cheese, Mexican food etc. It was quiet this afternoon, which I enjoyed. Previously I’ve been on the weekend and you are fighting for seats. We both had a ‘small’ meat platter of pulled pork, salad and potatoes, best meal of the trip! Followed by baked cheesecake and washed down by a Moscow mule and a large glass of Pinot Noir.

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After a big night on Tuesday, we decided to have an early night and get up early before our flight in the afternoon.

berlin

Thursday morning, we intended to go up the TV tower (Fernsehturm), the mist had finally lifted from the last two days. The queue was large so we decided to give it a miss, on a previous visit I went up the tower, you get great views of across the city and can have a cheeky cocktail at the bar. Instead we walked to see the holocaust memorial and Brandenburg gate. When we got to the memorial and the gate, sadly, both were cordoned off by police due to President Obama visiting. Normally you can walk through the memorial and feel the soberness, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide. I managed one good photo of the memorial (without police and riot vans).

berlin

We headed back to the hotel, picked up our bags and set off for the airport.

A few other places I would recommend visiting is Judisches (Jewish) Museum, predominantly about the events of World War II but also gives the history of Jewish people in Germany. This museum is vast, make sure you have lots of time to visit. Tiergarten, Berlin’s biggest park, with the zoo at the south west corner. In summer, hire bikes, the city has many bike lanes and flat terrain, easiest way to get around the city!

Jenwaar

Training weeks 15-17

The last couple of weeks of training has gone well. The weather has been improving and I’ve managed to get out on the bike more, slowly getting more miles in, with both running and swimming going well.

IMG_2608
My ankle and calf are both doing well, I’ve not had any pains for two weeks. I’ve continued the physiotherapy exercises daily and they seem to be working!

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Last Friday was my birthday, my last year in my twenties! I finished nights in the morning and after a short nap, Sam treated me to a shopping spree in Glasgow. We met up with some friends for a Mexican meal and we all went to a gig to see Marissa Nadler. I had the day off training, had a few cheeky Margaritas and was treated like a princess.! Thanks Sam!! Heavy black heart

mexican

Edinburgh has had amazing weather over the last couple of weeks and I’ve managed a few open water swimming sessions at Threipmuir reservoir. I was pleasely surprised that the water wasn’t that cold (once I got swimming). I’ve been trying to open water swim at least once a week in the run up to the race. I really don’t like swimming with a wetsuit, I find it quite restrictive. It usually takes me a couple of sessions each season to feel comfortable in swimming in my wetsuit. I would highly recommend and or insist on practicing before a race! During my first open water race I panicked and felt I couldn’t breath even after a couple of training sessions in my wetsuit.

open water swimming

On Sunday I competed in a triathlon relay race with Edinburgh triathletes. The race consists four team members completing a mini triathlon after each other. The distances are quite short; a 300metres swim, 7km bike and 1.5km run. The team consists of two ladies and two men, the order for the race is girl, boy, girl boy. The relay was at Knockburn, Aberdeenshire at a purpose built triathlon venue. We had a glorious day resulting in sunburn on my back and forehead (I never learn!) I started the race, my swim was quick, I got kicked in the head and I couldn’t get my wetsuit off my right leg after the swim but that’s racing! My bike ride was alright and I felt my run was slow but the time wasn’t too bad. I found sprinting each discipline really hard as I’ve been training for long distance (steady pace) so after 23minutes my lungs felt like they were going to explode! The race was well organised and I really enjoyed the post race food (fancy sandwich and ginger cake). Overall we were tenth out of 24 teams so pretty pleased with the result and we all had a fun day out.

triathlon relay

Yesterday I completed a long brick session – I cycled 50miles and ran 10miles. I now feel confident enough I can complete the race. My aim in this session was just to complete it, I kept a good pace whilst cycling and ran relatively slowly. My run time was pretty rubbish but I didn’t want to push it, plus it was 21 degrees in Edinburgh! On the bike I mimicked my nutrition for the race with two gels and a porridge bar. For hydration I had one energy drink and half a bottle of water. On the run I had one gel but had to stop to buy water as it was so hot! On race day I will probably just have a sip of water every 3-4miles. When I run a half marathon I don’t usually take anything on board as it usually comes back up, so my aim is to try and take as much fluid and nutrition as I can on the bike.

cycling

I’m currently writing this blog on a flight to Barcelona. I’m away with friends for a week, we are going to Primavera Sound music festival followed by a few days in Barcelona, can’t wait!
running
I’ve now only two weeks away from Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 (well actually 11 days), I strangely feel ok about it. I’m now going to start tapering, in preparation for the race. Perfect time for holiday (not), I intent to stop drinking from Sunday, continue running and cycling at the hotel gym. I also intend to fully enjoy my holiday!

I’m about to two weeks behind on my blog, I wrote this on Wednesday 1st June. I’ve now completed Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 on Sunday, yippee! Blog post to follow soon.

 

Jenwaar x

Training Weeks 12-14

Training Weeks 12 to 14

My lack of blog posts for the last two to three weeks is due to a few reasons; firstly after the Edinburgh race I developed an ankle injury which was causing really sore calf pains in my left leg. Due to my injury I haven’t been training as much as I would have liked and felt pretty low about it. Secondly I’ve been very busy with work and social engagements and thirdly life just sometimes gets in the way!

foam roller

During the Edinburgh Great Run I was aware of some calf pain and had a few niggles on a run a couple of days before the race. I put the pain down to pushing myself during the race, walked it off and stretched after the race. I went for a run two days later and my calf was in agony after 3-4 miles. I slowly made it home and used my foam roller which helped slightly. When I got up for swimming the next day and it was still sore I knew something was wrong and more than a pulled muscle.

injury

I booked an appointment at pro-active sports physiotherapy on Dublin Street. Del the physiotherapist confirmed my calf pain was due to my weak ankle, my foot is overcompensating by running on the side (of my foot) which is causing my calf pain when running. He strapped up my ankle, gave me exercises, massaged my leg and told me not to run that week. I returned a week later and it did feel better. I was told to continue resting but I felt able to compete on Sunday at the Selkirk triathlon. I’ve started running again doing short distances and continued my exercises so hopefully will be fine for June!

cycling

Luckily I was able to swim and cycle so I was able to continue my overall training. One positive out of my injury is that I’ve had to cycle much more. I faced my fear of going out cycling solo and now found a new love of cycling. The improved weather has helped but I have really enjoyed going out cycling myself, getting lost in the Scottish countryside and having time to clear my head. As a result my cycling times and bike handling have massively improved!

cycling

Cycling is my weakest sport out of the three disciplines. I didn’t go out enough because I couldn’t really repair a puncture. On Wednesday afternoon I completed a bike maintenance course at Grease Monkeys Cycles. I choose Grease monkeys because the course was one to one, I could pick a time convenient to me (most courses in other bike shops are in groups and on set days) and I could also choose what to focus on. My main focus was puncture repair, removing the rear wheel and tightening my breaks. It is particularly important I am able to repair a puncture, during triathlon races only I can repair my bike.  Bike mechanic Grant was very patient with me, he went through everything step by step and on the second attempt I was able to successfully remove the rear wheel and repair the puncture myself. Grant also showed me how to adjust gears and break blocks. I would highly recommend doing the course. I am more confident and feel much safer cycling. It also includes a cuppa and a chocolate biscuit!

cycling

cycling

cycling

I’ve also been a little social bee. As my little brother James is moving to Sydney Australia to start his new job. We had a little family get to together at Oregano restaurant on Leith walk; the antipasti and Pizza are amazing!! The food is reasonably priced and you get good portions. I am so sad to see James because we are close but I don’t mind going to visit him, ha!

brotherorigano

Two weekends ago I organised one of my closest friends Naomi’s Hen do! We all had fun in Edinburgh, having Afternoon tea, hula hooping, cocktail making, drinking, Karaoke singing and dancing the night away. It was a great distraction whilst being injured and also nice to have a break.

hen dohen do

Last week it was Sam and I’s first wedding anniversary! I cannot believe it’s been a whole year since we wed, crazy! We treated ourselves to meal and stay at Hotel du Vin on our anniversary followed by a spa day with treatments at One spa. We had a lovely couple of days hanging out and relaxing which was amazing!

wedding anniversaryjennie and sam

On Sunday I competed in Selkirk triathlon in the Scottish Borders. It was a beautiful day and I even managed to get sunburnt in Scotland! It was a standard distance triathlon; the swim was in a pool (which I prefer) followed by a very hilly cycle with wonderful views and fairly flat run along the less inspiring A7. I was pretty happy with my swim time, the cycle was slow but I put that down to the course and the run was ok. It was the first time I ran in three weeks and my calf and ankle were fine. Ideally my run time should have been better but I was happy just to complete it.

triathlontriathlontriathlon

I’ve also recently dyed my hair blonde and got a new tattoo on my arm (Sorry Mum, Dad and Graddad).

tattoo

Only 4 weeks now till Staffordshire Ironman (eek) my aim for the race is to enjoy it and complete it rather than aiming on a time. These next few weeks I’m focusing on distance, building up my running distance, and keeping injury free.

running

Jenwaar

 

 

Great Edinburgh Run 2016

Great Edinburgh Run

My first race this year, Sunday 17th April 2016, I made my way to Holyrood Park for the start of the Great Edinburgh run. I felt a little tired when I got up however after a big bowl of porridge, honey and berries I was ready to get my game face on!

porridge

I’m lucky enough to live close by and walked to the start after meeting my friend Tiffany. I packed for the race the night before so my start wasn’t too early.

great run

I’ve run this race for the last three years and it’s a favourite of mine. It’s a hilly ten mile course through Edinburgh city centre. Half the course is up hill and the other half downhill starting and finishing at Arthur’s seat. I really enjoy running the streets I regularly run and it’s a true reflection of hilly Edinburgh!

I got to the start five minutes before the start during the warm up so I wasn’t able to get close to the start line but still managed to wiggle past a few people. Luckily, the weather improved, Edinburgh was grey and wet all week up to the race. Dare I say perfect conditions, over cast and dry however a little windy in some places across the course.

running

I felt good at the start and the energy was palpable from the other five thousand competitors. My laid back approach to arriving back fired slightly as I spent the first mile running around other runners. After the first mile I was able to get settled in, my own space and start first hill run, up the royal mile from Parliament building. I unexpectedly saw some friends spectating and their cheers spurred me on up the hill.

This year due to works at Scott Monument, the course was changed, instead of running along Princes Street gardens and up the Mound we went up Market Street (another steep hill) but it’s not quite the same as the iconic Mound. To make up the extra distance they added an extra short, out and back section on Lauriston Place.

Miles three to four the sun came out and I instantly regretted not taking my sunglasses and took my gloves off (I‘m used to carrying my gloves in training so no real problem). I felt pretty strong at this point and continued my pace.

april 19th 006

Mile five went through the Grassmarket which was well supported, thanks for all the cheers and also half way point. I looked down at my watch: thirty seven minutes, I was determined to get under forty five minutes at six miles and pushed on.

I found mile six the hardest it’s a long incline from the Cowgate, up the Pleasance to the Royal commonwealth pool. I started to dig deep, knowing once I got to the top we were going downhill again. I was picking out other runners and slowly catching them, I’m quite competitive and like picking out people at similar paces to push me further. I heard the bag piper at mile six and looked down at my watch forty four minutes, whoop!

Miles seven and eight I let my legs go down the innocent railway path and to Duddingston village. The last hill is up Duddingston Low road but totally worth it for the views. After hitting the mile nine sign its downhill with a short flat distance to the finish. My legs did feel a little tired at this point but the end was in sight and my legs went with it, I even managed a sprint finish for the last two hundred metres!

great rungreat run

I looked down at my garmin, 1 hour 13mins and 40seconds, I was very pleased. Two minutes quicker than last year as I can’t complain with a personal best! I checked my chip time online and was the same as my watch. Overall I was twentieth woman (crazy) and eleventh in my female age group 20-34!!

race

I had a great race and I would highly recommend anyone to enter.

Jenwaar

Training Week Eleven

Training week eleven

 

Sunday 12th June doesn’t feel that far away…..  Eleven weeks in and only 8 weeks to go!! I completed three swims and four runs this week. The weather was bad so didn’t get out on the bike; I have no excuses for not going on the turbo trainer…… oops!

blackford hill

On Monday I went for a long run with my friend Katrina and fellow madwife. We ran eight and a half miles up Blackford hill and around the surrounding areas.  I really enjoyed running with someone else, it makes a change from running by myself. Kat had just finished nights so our pace was slow but I enjoyed the company and catching up.

running

On Tuesday I went swimming between my nights. I got to try out my new long hair swimming cap. I swam 3.5 kilometres in sixty one minutes and I only needed to adjust my cap once. The cap is much bigger and able to stay over my ears throughout the swim. This has made a massive positive impact in my training allowing me to swim continuously like I would in a race. I’ve now ordered more and would highly recommend if you have a big head and long hair like me!

april 19th 005

On Wednesday I was a little tired but still went out for a run between nights. I’m surprised I kept up such a good pace; it was a usual run of mine and my quickest time to date! I feel my running in the last couple of weeks has vastly improved. My times are quicker and I feel my legs are not as heavy during the run.

running

On Thursday I had a rest day. I was pretty tired after my three night shifts and sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your body. Sam and I went out to Oregano restaurant on Leith Walk in the evening and I stuffed myself with antipasto and Pizza. It was delicious!

pizza

On Friday morning I ran to swim training and back. In total I ran six miles and swam 90 minutes in the pool. As you can imagine my run in was a lot quicker than the run home, but also because it’s up hill all the way back home.

running

On Saturday I rested, preparing from Sunday’s race.

running

On Sunday I ran the Great Edinburgh run over 10 miles of hilly running through Edinburgh City centre. I have run this race for the last three years and it is a favourite of mine. I managed a personal best time of 1 hour 13mins and 40seconds, I was very pleased. The race day had perfect conditions, however it was little windy in places. I felt good most of the race, and even managed a sprint finish. Overall I was twentieth woman (crazy) and eleventh in my female age group 20-34!! My full race report will be in my next post.

race

Overall I’ve had a good week however lacking in cycling and brick training! I shall focus more on this next week.

Jenwaar

 

Training Week Eight

Last week was rather good…. Two runs, two swim sessions, one gym session and one bike ride. My chesty cough continued last week. Earlier in the week I found my runs and swim sessions hard and slow but thankfully it’s now gone.

run
This weeks bicycle ride I went out with the triathlon club (Edinburgh Triathletes). I am now feeling much more confident in handling my bike again. I’m still quite nervous in wet weather and going down steep hills but I’ve just got to keep practising.

cycle
Both swimming and running I’m quite comfort with, my main problem is being able to maintain pace after more than an hour in either exercise. I particularly find this hard with swimming as I’ve swam most my life at short distances hard and fast for 50-200metres rather than 750-1500metres or longer in triathlons. I’m going to focus next week on longer continuous swim sessions rather than short sets during the session.

swimrun

It was Easter last weekend and also the end of my alcohol free lent. I went out on Saturday night and had a few cocktails and danced the night away. It was great socialising with friends as I currently feel like all I do is train and work. On Sunday morning however I wasn’t feeling my best (hungover) and I didn’t train which I had planned (bad Jennie). That’s life and now I feel much more focused and energised on training.

friendsfriends

cocktail

It’s now only eleven weeks till the race, it’s slowly creeping up! Next week focus is on distance, I’m going to be doing longer distances on all disciplines.

Jenwaar

Iceland Weekend Trip

Iceland Weekend Trip

Last weekend I went to Iceland with my little brother James for four days. This will be our last trip together for a while as he’s moving to Sydney, Australia on Friday (sad face).

iceland

Iceland is so unique and beautiful, definitely worth a visit however it’s not cheap, be prepared to spend much more than on your standard holiday. The landscape is so breath-taking and diverse, one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. It feels like you’re on another planet, from open fields of lava rock, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls to the vibrant capital city of Reykjavík. The weather is quite varied, always changing and unpredictable. During our visit we experienced, snow, rain, strong winds and cold temperatures, my warm coat and long underwear were essential!

iceland snow

Iceland

We only came for a short visit and stayed in Reykjavík city centre. We focused most of our stay in the south of the island. To keep costs down we stayed in an apartment using Airbnb, just a fifteen minute walk from the city centre. We stayed with the host in our own private room; our host was great at giving advice and recommendations during our stay.

Iceland

I arrived on Thursday evening, got the bus to Reykjavik from the airport. Getting the bus is much cheaper at ten pounds compared to getting a taxi costing £60-70. Keflavik airport is about 50kms from Reykjavik, usually buses are waiting after flights for transfers.

Iceland

Thursday evening we went out for dinner at Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish market). All the reviews we read in advance sang their praises. Our Taxi driver also informed us that the owner was Iceland’s version of Nigella Lawson, Hrefna Rosa Soetran, so we had high expectations. We weren’t disappointed! The décor of the restaurant was beautiful, the staff were very friendly and spoke English extremely well.  We had the tasting menu, eight courses of mainly seafood and lamb with a selection of desserts. They also have a great cocktail menu and good choice of craft beers and wines. This has to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had, every single course was delicious. It’s quite pricey but has good value for money because of the quality of the food and drink. I would recommend anyone visiting Iceland to go here, please view (drool) over my photos below.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland 020        Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

On Friday we went snorkelling and on the golden circle tour. We were picked up in the morning and taken to Thingvellir, Silfra a freshwater fissure.  This lake is so special because it’s the only place you can swim between two continents; North American and Europe. We bravely donned wet suits rather than dry suits and submerged ourselves in the gap where the two tectonic plates meet. The water is crystal clear and as pure as water gets you could even take a sip! Although it was incredible, I have never been so cold, the water temperature is 2C and the temperature outside was freezing. We got ready outside in the snow and before I took the plunge I couldn’t feel my hands and feet. I was quite surprised when I got in the water it wasn’t that cold but that’s probably because I was already so cold. The advantage of snorkelling with a wet suit is that you can dive underneath the surface and explore more. Dry suits you float along the top of the water but stay dry and keep you much warmer.

iceland

iceland snok

After warming up with a couple of cups of hot chocolate and dry clothes, we continued on the golden circle tour. Our route commenced at the national park Thingvellir where Althing the Icelandic parliament was established. It is also where the continental drift between North American and Europe plates can be seen in cracks and rifts.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                 Iceland

We moved onto a geothermally active valley, Haukadalur. This is where the famous Geysers, Strokkur and Geysir itself which gave others their name. Strokkur erupts regularly, which we saw a few times, quite spectacular to see in person! Geysir erupts rarely our guide informed us it erupted two weeks earlier, but usually goes off about once a year.

Iceland              Iceland

Iceland              Iceland

The last stop on our tour was Gullfoss waterfall, translated ‘Golden falls’. I don’t think you can really appreciate its magnitude and beauty until you see it in person. My photos don’t do it justice!

iceland   Iceland

Iceland   Iceland

Saturday we explored Reykjavík, it’s such a colourful and vibrant city. The houses are wooden framed and clad in wooden planks or corrugated metals painted in bright colours. The centre itself is quite compact and easy to walk around. We started the day walking down to the harbour and continued onto dramatic concrete Hallgrimskirkja church. We went up the tower and took in the wonderful views of Reykjavik. In the evening we went down to the Harpa concert centre and saw a comedy show ‘How to be Icelandic’. Later on in the evening we went to a few bars, most bars don’t have entry fees and all very close to one another. Craft beer and cocktails are popular and lots of specialised bars such as Mikkeller and Friends with twenty beers on tap. Just to mention the drinking age in Iceland is twenty (not that’s a problem for me).

Iceland 117

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                       Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Sunday we walked up to the Perlan (Pearl), which has a panoramic views over the city and a rotating restaurant. In the afternoon we caught a bus to one of the 25 wonders of the world, the blue lagoon. We took a dip in the geothermal water, it was so nice to go into warm water after our freezing dip on Friday. The water is cloudy and steam billows off the pool to make it feel mysterious. Again it’s quite pricey to go and a little busy, but it has good facilities and a nice relaxing way to end our trip. Afterwards we took a taxi to the airport for our late night flight back home.

Iceland

Iceland

iceland

iceland

iceland      iceland

iceland       iceland

During our stay we were lucky to experience the food and fun festival. Local restaurants created gourmet menus at affordable prices, using Icelandic ingredients. We tried menus at Sushi and Samba restaurant and Kopar restaurant. Both restaurants served amazing food. All the food we had on our trip was excellent, local cuisine is fish and lamb. I would also recommend Bernhorfbakari for a pastries and K Bar, a beer bar with Korean inspired food.

iceland

7th march 042

Iceland

Iceland

iceland           7th march 057

Sadly the three nights we stayed in Iceland it was cloudy and we were unable to see the Northern lights. Our flight back home was late and we were fortunate to see them from the plane.

The only ‘negative’ I would say is the recurrent smell of sulphur, smelled of rotten eggs. By the end of the trip I think got used to it. The trip was amazing and there is nowhere quite like it. I recommend anyone to visit this mysterious island. I would love to visit again and explore the rest of the island.

iceland

Jenwaar

Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies

Last weekend my parents came to visit for my mum’s birthday. On Friday for her birthday we had breakfast at Montpelier’s restaurant in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. Highly recommended for breakfast! I had Mexican beans with poached eggs and extra smoked salmon with apple juice and green tea. My Dad had the ‘The Full Monty’, a full Scottish breakfast including steak and my mum had a morning roll.

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

After we filled our bellies we went to the Falkirk wheel and then to see the Kelpies. The Falkirk wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde canal with the Union canal. We went on a canal boat trip using the wheel which raises the boat by 24 metres. I found watching the wheel in action more interesting and impressive rather than the actual boat trip but the guides were very good and informative.

falkirk wheel

falkirk wheel

falkirk wheel

falkirk wheel

The Kelpies are thirty meter horse head sculptures made of steel with stainless steel cladding and are the world’s largest equine sculptures. The name Kelpies comes from the mythological transformation of beasts possessing the strength of hundred horses. They represent the working horse’s heritage for Scotland. The structures are pretty impressive and stunning in both the day and night, definitely worth a visit.

kelpies

kelpies kelpies

Jenwaar

This blog post isn’t sponsored