Happy new year! I can’t quite believe it’s 2019, the last three months have gone so quickly. I’m currently writing this post, now 41 weeks pregnant, patiently waiting for baby to make an appearance. I thought I would write a post before the baby’s arrival as I doubt, I will have much time afterwards! I’m going to be reflecting on 2018, exercising whilst pregnant and hopes of returning to fitness post baby.
Reflecting on 2018
It’s been a year of two halves…. first half training for Celtman an extreme long-distance triathlon and second half growing a baby. Looking back on last year I didn’t actually complete most of my goals. I didn’t make it to start line at Celtman or race a triathlon last year, got a DNF (did not finish) at Neptune steps race and I didn’t get more competitive / better at racing (need to race to improve that). I did complete two half marathons, first race was the Livingston half marathon in February but the icy conditions were treacherous so I used it as a training run rather than a race. In May I completed the Edinburgh half marathon with colleagues for Sands charity. The team managed to raise over £24,000 in total! I ran with my friend Kirsty to push her to get a personal best time, which she did! I don’t think she will run with me again.
Not all doom and gloom, the positives in the first half of the year include sticking to my training plan, massive improvements on the bike including better power output, being a faster cyclist and lots of long rides. I really did fall in love with cycling last year!
Highlights included going to Mallorca with my coach and friends, having fun and cycling, swimming and running lots. Also doing a recce of Celtman cycle route on my new bike with Kevin and Sam. I was over an hour quicker than my race time the previous year.
Exercising whilst pregnant
Finding out I was pregnant at the end of May was a shock but also exciting, amazing and scary all at the same time! I genuinely thought I was going be that fit, pregnant women who runs, cycles and swims up to the day she gives birth and bounces back quickly after birth. Sadly, this was not the case.
I decided not to compete at Celtman at 8 weeks pregnant, looking back it seems crazy that I ever contemplated even starting the event. I felt tired, nauseous and had morning sickness throughout the day. Not ideal for long distance racing. I did take part by being a support runner for a friend which I really enjoyed.
I previously wrote in my last blog post, early on in pregnancy, that I felt tired and exhausted. I did continue to run and swim when I felt able. Cycling stopped after I got a scare on a ride due to lack of energy and living in a remote area.
In the second trimester exercise improved as I was energetic again. I took advantage of the warm summer and did lots of open water swims with friends, and regularly running. I tried cycling again but found it uncomfortable even with a small bump.
At 21 weeks I developed Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and had a strong pain in my pelvis if I ran. I also had the same pain during other tasks such as putting weight on one leg or rolling over in bed. I went to see a physiotherapist and doing the exercises helped but essentially, I was told not to run until after pregnancy.
Initially, I was devastated, no longer was I cycling but now running too! I’ve ran all my life and it was only September and I wasn’t due until January. Once I got over the shock and anger, I decided to focus on swimming, weights and walking, treating the pregnancy like an injury. I concentrated on being active and staying healthy. Accepting not running was hard but I will be able to run again. I will have a beautiful baby, which is worth not running for a few months. I just had to listen to my body rather than comparing myself to the ‘perfect’ social media mums on Instagram.
For the rest of my pregnancy I have been swimming two to three times a week and topping up with walking and weight sessions. Surprisingly, I have developed a new love for walking, I am very lucky to live in the Scottish Borders and I am surrounded by many beautiful hills and trails which I’ve now climbed. I have many new routes which I’m excited to run post baby. It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’m feeling heavy and slow whilst swimming, so I have started to reduce my time in the pool. I have been walking more since starting maternity leave and hopefully this will help in labour and post baby recovery.
Being postnatal and returning to fitness
Firstly, I am going to rest and enjoy time with my baby. Secondly, it depends on what kind of delivery I have and my recovery from it. From a running and cycling perspective I will have to build it up as I haven’t done either in months. Sensibly, I haven’t entered any races this year or given myself any goals. I would like to return to exercise as soon as its physically possible but essentially when I’m ready and want too. I will be able to race and
do triathlons again, I’ve just got to build it up slowly and focus on baby and my family needs first. Hopefully, I will be back doing all things swimming, cycling and running soon.
I’ve been quiet posting on my blog for a few weeks. Apologies for the delay but seeing most of you are family and friends I know you’ll understand and / or guessed why I’ve been so quiet. Since starting my blog, it has developed into my training log and my ups and downs of racing and all things swimming, cycling, running and triathlon. So, when you’re not doing most of those things I didn’t have much to write!
When I made the decision not to compete at Celtman, after 6 months of training, it was a hard one and I didn’t want to explain my reasons publicly at the time. I did, however, still manage to be a part of the event by supporting my friend Kevin during some of the run section. Mission ‘get Kevin a blue t-shirt’ was a success and I ran with Kevin during the first section of the run, 11miles before the mountain. I really enjoyed supporting and still being a part of Celtman. I would support other friends again at similar events.
A month prior to the event I did a recce of the bike course and some of the run section with Kevin and Sam. I was over an hour quicker on the bike and generally much fitter than last year, especially with cycling. It was during this weekend I was feeling very tired (more like drained). I found the running the next day particularly hard after the cycling. That was when I realised I was late…..this thought came to me whilst running up a hill in the rain. Kevin was very encouraging and all I was thinking about was dates and how many days I was late. I kept this to myself and thought maybe it was the long drive the day before and the heavy amount training I was doing over the previous few weeks that was making me so tired (clearly in denial). When we got home, I took a test straight away and it was positive. I don’t think I’ve seen Sam or myself so shocked, but both of us were very pleased.
It was a shame I didn’t compete as I felt fitter this year with all the training I had done in the lead up to the race but that’s life. I gave myself a couple of weeks to decide but as soon as I hit 6 weeks of pregnancy I was having morning sickness and felt knackered most of the time. Not ideal for a long-distance extreme triathlon. Supporting my friend meant I was still a part of the race, Thank you Kevin. One day I will return to Celtman for that elusive blue t-shirt!
Now I’m 24 weeks (5 months) pregnant I feel more comfortable saying I’m pregnant. Not that I’ve been hiding it, and like I said before most of you will already know. I think my job as a midwife makes me less naïve about what can happen in pregnancy. I’m not constantly worrying, I’m just aware of the not so nice things that can happen. On a positive note, Sam and I are both very excited and really looking forward to meeting baby Bedford in the new year.
Training since finding out I’m pregnant…
I always thought I would continue exercising particularly running throughout my pregnancy. I would love to tell you I’m running, swimming or cycling every day, and that pregnancy hasn’t changed me, and I have a wonderful pregnancy glow. Sadly, this is not the case.
I am still exercising, it is just very different from what I was doing earlier in the year. I stopped being coached which was very strange. Not having a plan or someone to be accountable to was hard. Training has been a big part of my life for so long and also my relationship with my coach (regular chats, updates on workouts etc). Thank you Barron for all the support and guidance over the last two years.
Up to week 14-15 I was exhausted and had constant nausea / vomiting most days. I did manage to train 2-4 times a week, doing short runs and swim sessions. I generally didn’t have the energy or motivation to train (or do anything) during this period. Sam described me as a ‘dead sloth’. I also got a fright during a ride with a friend as I felt awful due to lack of energy and she kindly escorted me slowly home. I now live in a remote area so don’t feel safe cycling alone just in case it happens again. I initially felt very disheartened and guilty at my lack of training, but I had to listen to my body.
I would also like to state that I’m not complaining I’m pregnant. I am very grateful, happy and very excited! I just have to accept I can’t do things that I can when I’m not pregnant.
Weeks 15-20 I got my bounce back. I was regularly swimming and running and felt very positive about exercising in pregnancy again. I was slowly developing a bump and enjoyed regular training. Swimming hadn’t changed much; my times were a little slower but overall nothing felt different. Over summer I’ve been open water swimming frequently with friends taking full advantage of the good weather.
Running I was taking it easy and only doing gentle paced runs. Three weeks ago I went for a run prior to night shift, during the run I developed a stabbing pain in the front of my pelvis. When I finished the run the stabbing pain had gone but left a dull ache in the same area which got worse during the night shift. I could only sit up straight, I found it very sore crossing my legs or putting all weight on one leg. As a midwife, I knew I had developed a Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and it hasn’t gone away since this run.
Sadly, no more running at the moment and I’m waiting for my appointment with the physiotherapist. It’s not all doom and gloom exercise wise, swimming is fine so I’m continuing with that and going for long walks and doing light weights instead. As long as I’m moving regularly I’m happy, let’s see how the next few weeks fair as I start to get bigger!
Training has definitely rammed up and I’m starting to see improvements in the weather and also my fitness. I am finally managing to get out on my bike outdoors regularly, hooray!
The start of the month I was in Devon for Easter weekend, visiting family but managed a couple of runs and a 60mile ride from Hatherleigh to Torringdon and along the Tarka trail with my husband Sam.
I was away in Mallorca for training week in April with my coach. I had a great week and did lots of cycling around 400miles in total! I am now seeing the benefits of this trip, my speed has increased, my bike handling is much better and I am much more confident going downhill. Highlights of the trip include cycling up Sa Calobara and Puig de Major. I also enjoyed swimming in the clear sea at Porte de Pollencsa. See my previous post for the details of the trip.
After Mallorca I was unwell for a few days due to throat viral infection so had a rest week instead of a recovery week as planned. I think my body particularly my legs were pleased, they felt pretty heavy and sore after all the cycling In Mallorca.
Swim 10.4miles (16.7km)
Bike 651.8miles (1048.9km)
Run 49.1miles (79km)
Swim mileage was similar in March, I’m happy with my pace, just need to get a few longer swim sessions in. In Mallorca I swam in the sea a couple of times, trying out my new wetsuit which I love, great flexibility and fits me well.
Cycling has massively improved since Mallorca. The mileage is much higher than last month, hopefully I can keep it up!
Running… I feel I have been neglecting. I know I haven’t done enough, I should have run more in Mallorca and throughout the month. Running has always been one of my strengths and this year I have been racing less so taken this for granted. Last year I was stronger runner (but a slower cyclist). I have only a few weeks until Celtman so I am going to focus more on my running and not miss any run sessions (or any training sessions).
I’ve also got a little confession… I started having the occasional alcohol beverage after stating I wouldn’t have any until after Celtman. After a little peer pressure and not much persuading… I’ve had the occasional drink. Overall, I am still not drinking much or any. I did have a few too many drinks at a friend’s wedding in April but that was a one off. I am just going to continue to be sensible and have the occasional drink if I want.
In May the training volume is increasing in all disciplines. Longer brick sessions and practising kit, food and race conditions. At the end of May I am going up North to recce Celtman bike and run the course with fellow Celtman competitors.
I’ve been really excited about Mallorca over the last few weeks. The weather has been so bad in the UK that I haven’t been cycling as much compared to last year. I’ve also never cycled in Mallorca before and lots of my friends told me of the great road quality, warm weather as well as the many climbs!
The training week was organised by my coach Barron and, sharing lead rider duties, assistant coach Kevan. The week was predominantly focused on bike volume, with options of adding swimming and running if you wanted. We were sent an advance itinerary of the week and kit list.
I knew a few coming along to the training week including my husband. He decided to bring his bike, and I opted to hire a bike in Mallorca. Six of us were flying from Edinburgh and the rest of the group met in Mallorca. In total there were fourteen of us including the coaches.
Day one; we arrived early morning in Mallorca and were transferred to our accommodation at Aparthotel Duva, Porte de Pollenca, in the north of the island. We spent the late morning to early afternoon building bikes or picking them up and settling into our accommodation. In the afternoon we rode an easy ride as a group, testing out the bikes and getting our legs spinning, ready for our first proper day of training the following day. We rode along the coast from Porte de Pollensa to Alcudia and climbed up to Ermita de la Victoria. We had a quick stop and headed back- 24 miles in total. It was good to get used to my hire bike and get my legs spinning after an easy week on the run up to Mallorca.
Day two; we rode together, acclimatising to riding in a group. The ride was based on the Mallorca 70.3 route, on the climb up to Luc, we had a fitness threshold test. At the bottom of the climb we commenced the test and finished the test when we got to the top, or twenty minutes from starting the climb (whichever comes first). Coll de Femenia is a 7.6km climb with an average gradient 6% and was a taste of the climbs to come! During the climb I saw Emma Pooley fly past whilst I was a slow salty mess! The test is based on heart rate and power. I don’t have a power meter, but I do have a heart rate monitor and my heart rate threshold increased, which is an improvement!
After the climb we had a stop for coffee and almond cake. We proceeded down the other side of the climb and continued on the 70.3 route to Muro. After our break, it started to rain; luckily after the descent. Unluckily, whilst cycling in a group we had a crash on a bend. Three of us, including myself, came down but other than a bit of road rash, grazes and a bit of shock, we were all fine. My bike was fine but the other two needed to get repairs. The group continued to cycle in the rain. When we finished the ride it had stopped raining, typical! Just shy of 60miles and I finished with a short 3-mile brick run. I spent the rest of the day chilling by the pool in the sun.
Day three; this was the first of our longer rides of the week. We started early and split the group into two: based on ability. I really didn’t want to hold up the group so went for the slower of the two groups. Our ride took us back up Coll de Femenia, with a short climb up to Coll dels Reis from the aqueduct. We went down to the famous Sa Calobra to the village, 9.5km of descending, with a short stop at the bottom to regroup then the long climb back up to reach the top of Coll dels Reis -9.5km with 7% gradient. We set off early so our descent down was quiet. On the way back up it was busy with many other cyclists and traffic including big buses. After the big climb we had some lunch, thankfully as I was getting very hungry at this point.
The second half of the ride was back down Coll de Femenia to Port de Pollensa, up Coll de Sa Creueta -3.7km 5% gradient- to Formentor (Lighthouse) Mallorca’s most northern point. We regrouped at the Lighthouse and some of us made friends with the goats! At this point the group had different energy levels so we made our own way back to Port de Pollensa at our own pace. 86miles and over 9,000ft of climbing. In the group there was varied ability to climb and descend so the ride for me felt a little disjointed rather than a fluid ride. I did really enjoy the route: quite challenging with good company and a beautiful sunny day! The rest of the day was spent by the pool.
Day four: this was a recovery day. I caught up on sleep and took the opportunity to test out my new wetsuit. I bought an Orca Alpha wetsuit at Christmas when on sale and hadn’t tried it out yet. Pier, Vicki, Eilidh and myself had a short swim in the sea at Port de Pollensa. The sea was very clear, and I was watching the fish swim beneath us as we were swimming. We swam at a steady pace between buoys, in total we swam for about twenty minutes. I am really impressed with the wetsuit. It’s designed for swimmers, so the arms have less neoprene so there is much more flexibility and easier to rotate my shoulders. The fit is good, I tend to have problems as I have broad shoulders (for a woman), the thinner neoprene arms help so it’s not tight and I don’t feel restricted when swimming. (This is not a sponsored post).
In the afternoon we rode as a group at an easy pace to Coves de Campanet for lunch and back. My legs were very heavy from the climbs on the previous day, 30miles in total. Afterwards, I did lots of stretching and foam rolling to try and loosen up my legs.
Day 5; this was the longest ride and the most climbing of the week. My legs were feeling surprisingly fresh after an easier session the previous day. I went in the faster group after guidance from the coaches. I was initially worried that I would hold everyone up but this spurred me on to cycle faster to keep up. The route follows the Tramuntana epic ride and follows the majority of MA-10. We started at Pollensa and out to Alcudia then on to the foothills of the Tramuntana, Alora where the climbing begins. We started the ride quickly working as a group. When the climbs began we regrouped at the top or bottom whichever suited. We had a quick coffee stop (or juice for me) after two hours of riding we started climbing. We climbed Orient Valley and descended to Bunyola where we stopped for a quick lunch. I don’t think I will eat baguettes again after this trip!
After lunch we cycled to the coast, climbing up smaller hills and mountains to Deia. It was much warmer- 22 degrees and I was feeling it, the sun felt strong. We stopped at a petrol station to refuel. After this stop we descended to Soller. This was my favourite descend of the holiday, big wide roads, beautiful coastal views and probably my fastest downhill speed of the week. Getting back to sea level and 70miles into the ride we started the long climb up Puig Major, Mallorca biggest climb -13.9km, average gradient 6.2%. Barron stayed with me throughout the climb coaching and pushing me. I could see Sam ahead and was determined not to let him get away from my sight (which I didn’t). I was done when I got to the top. Eilidh took this photo at the top, I look happy, but I was pretty spent!
We descended back to the aqueduct, refuelled and headed back to Pollenca. Luckily, it was mainly downhill and slightly undulating. At the bottom of Coll de Femenia, it was a fairly flat back to Pollenca. I was struggling, I had been dropped by the group, so Barron waited for me and pushed me to catch up, I held on to Barron’s wheel (for dear life). We just managed to catch up when we arrived back at the apartment, I was well and truly broken and had given it my all. I had intended to do a short brick run but every fibre of my being said no. Instead, I jumped into the pool, had a pint of beer (carb loading) and sun bathed. I really enjoyed the ride and had never been pushed like that during a ride before. In total 105miles, 10,000ft of climbing. Thanks coach Barron and the team for looking after me!
Day 6; thankfully we had a late start at 9.30am. My legs were sore this morning! Initially, at the start of the ride I had issues with my gears which seemed to resolve by itself. I usually take a few miles or an hour to get properly warmed up on the bike, the faster group were too fast for my tired legs and I kept getting dropped on the climbs. We were doing the same route as the other group and I waited to join them. Luckily, they welcomed me back, I struggled for the first 30miles, legs were so heavy, and I felt I couldn’t climb any incline. Once my legs had warmed up and loosened up a bit cycling felt normal again.
We cycled out to Llubi onto Montuiri and climbed to the top of Puig de Randa- 5.5km, gradient 6%. It was worth the climb as it had spectacular views of central Mallorca and the monastery of Santuari de Cura at the top. We stopped at the monastery cafe for lunch. After lunch, we headed back to Port de Pollensa via Algaida, Sencelles and Inca. The ride was good as it was more undulating with less big and long hills (apart from Puig de Randa) so as a group we were riding together and sharing the workload. After 85miles my legs and saddle-sore bottom were done. We finished the ride together with an ice cream by the beach at Port de Pollensa. I possibly could and should have done a brick run but once I had my ice cream, my body was in relaxed mode, so I had a dip in the pool and enjoyed the rest of the late afternoon/evening sunbathing.
Day 7; a few of the group entered the Tolo’s Time Trial bike race in the morning. I was initially undecided on entering as I thought I would be too tired to race after a week of long distance cycling. I was so glad I did not enter, there was no way my bottom would let me sit on my bike saddle on Saturday! Instead I went for a run along the beach followed by a swim. I wanted to go for a long swim in the sea and Kevan kindly volunteered to Kayak beside me. I’ve never swam with my own security before and I liked it. The only problem was I was a little lazy and didn’t sight much as I knew I could follow Kevan. We went a lot further out in the sea and the water was still so clear! I swam about 3km in about 50mins. I loved the swimming in sea, in Mallorca, it was so calm, clear and warm, very different to being back home! After the swim we headed out for lunch and joined the rest of the group at Tolo’s restaurant. I relaxed for the rest of the day and had a couple of drinks with everyone. The next day we were flying early so it was our last day exercising.
I had a great week, Thanks to Barron and Kevan for organising and coaching us all. I am definitely feeling the improvements in my cycling since Mallorca. Thanks also to everyone who came along, everyone in the group were very supportive, friendly and great to train with (like minded nutters). I certainly will be back to Mallorca cycling again soon.
March has been a quick month… full of many ups and downs.
I’ll start with the negatives;
Neptune Steps…. my first ever DNF (Did not finish).
The race was the weekend after ‘The Beast from the East’. We were forewarned by Redbull that the water temperatures were likely to be 2 degrees and the race would not be cancelled. I’ve swum in cold water but not that cold!
I headed out to the Glasgow union canal, with my full wetsuit and heat vest. I stupidly forgot my boots, so wore black socks instead (thankfully not one noticed as it was mandatory kit). The water temperature was a balmy 3 degrees. When we made it to the start my feet were already numb and it was raining. We were set off, in waves, in gender groups. The men swam in the morning and the women after lunch. We had a quick jump in the loch for two minutes to acclimatise to the temperature, baltic but what was expected! We had a limit of fifteen minutes in the water for the race and if you hadn’t completed the race they would get you out of the water.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about the race come race day. It wasn’t the freezing cold temperatures that worried me, it was the obstacles. I had trained well for swimming but not done any upper body work; my arms are like matchsticks. Once we had our dip, we were back on the platform and started. I was glad we had been in the water prior to the start, as it wasn’t so much of a shock. I swam to the first obstacle and that is where my race ended. The obstacle was a cargo net over a lock gate with water pouring over the top. I just couldn’t pull my bodyweight up. The lock was deep so couldn’t push on my legs on the lock floor. I tried about three or four times in total, one of my attempts I was very close. I even moved back to let others go ahead and tried again. After 5mins, with little moving and water spraying in my face with numb ankles and hands, I was done. Luckily, there was a step ladder by the lock gate and I was able to climb the 20 feet ladder to get out of the water.
Although I was disappointed that I did not finish, I really wasn’t too bothered. I was more annoyed I wasted time travelling to Glasgow to swim 50 metres in a canal when I could have done a descent training session at home. Lessons learnt; I really need to do some upper body work.
Would I do the race again…… No! I enjoyed trying something new, but it wasn’t for me. I would need to properly train for the race and to be honest I am happy just doing open water swimming without obstacles and triathlons. I have massive respect to all the swimmers that braved the cold, especially the ones that finished and the others who did it again in the final, mental!
March 18th Tranent triathlon, cancelled due to the snow. Rescheduled but unable to make it.
Race season for 2018 hasn’t gone that well, with icy conditions in Livingston in February, DNF at Neptune Steps and race cancellation in Tranent. The only race I have before Celtman is Edinburgh half marathon in May. I thought about doing a triathlon before but on the days I have off, prior to Celtman, I need to focus on long rides and brick sessions. I also can’t find a 70.3 event (half Ironman distance) before Celtman that works with my work and social commitments.
Training has gone well in March; it has been pretty consistent. I was quite surprised, by my numbers, that I hadn’t done more miles.
Swim 11.2miles (17.05km)
Bike 384.6 miles (618.95km)
Run 65.6 miles (105.57km)
In February I did have two weeks annual leave so I had more time to train and I’m swimming less since Neptune steps. I feel my swimming is consistent, I’m pretty happy with my pace at the moment, just need to work on keeping a good pace over longer distances.
Running has improved on both speed and distance. I really enjoy my weekly track session and I have been practising my longer runs exploring the hills around Galashiels. I think I am more a trail/hill runner than a road runner at the moment.
The weather has improved in the latter half of month and I’ve been outside cycling on my bike which has been great! I’m getting hardier on the bike in winter conditions or maybe I have been better at wearing enough kit to keep the cold away! All good training conditions as we never know what the weather will bring us on race day, it is Scotland (last year’s conditions come to mind!)
I have started doing brick sessions (when you train two or more disciplines one after the other). So far I have been doing short runs after some bike rides.
In April I am away in Mallorca for a training week with my coach. I’m really excited as I’ve never cycled in Mallorca before and I’m craving some vitamin D. My husband is joining me and I know a few other athletes going so should be good fun. I’m looking forward to not having so many layers on and getting some good mileage out on the bike.
April’s goals, are to follow training plan, more miles outside on the bike and start doing longer brick sessions. Training holiday in Mallorca!!!! (Super excited).
I can’t quite believe how quickly February has gone! The last four weeks training has gone well. I’ve completed nearly all of my planned sessions and feeling fitter for it. The only real problem has been the weather!
I completed my first race in February, Livingston half marathon (see previous blog post for race report). Due to the ice and frost I used the race as a training run rather than a race, I kept to my planned pace and managed to get through it with only a scraped knee!
This month, the mileage of all disciplines has increased;
Swim 22.24miles (35.8kms)
Bike 342miles (550.3kms)
Running 74.2miles (119.4kms)
Swimming, I feel I’ve made the most difference, my times are quicker and my technique is getting better. I have been swimming at least 3 times a week.
Cycling has been going well apart from most of my cycling has been on a turbo trainer or Watt bike. I have only managed one successful outdoor bike ride in February! It’s been really cold, icy or snowing! During a ride with friends my whole hand went numb, so I couldn’t feel if I was braking, so stopped at a café to warm up. For safety I decided to go home and train on the turbo trainer. As a result, I haven’t been on any long rides apart from one 50mile ride at the start February. I’m currently writing this post snowed in at home. I’m praying the weather will improve soon so I can get more miles done on the bike outdoors!
Running is slowly improving, the mileage this month has increased and I’ve started running longer distances. I really enjoy the track session I do each week and feel I am becoming a stronger runner because of it.
It’s been six weeks since I have stopped drinking alcohol. Surprisingly, I’m not actually missing it! I thought I may struggle at a few occasions in February including a friend’s hen do but I didn’t. I have noticed I am more aware when I’m tired and leave events earlier than previously. I am not missing the hangovers. I do feel more focused and have more energy during training (perhaps due to the extra sleep).
March goals are pretty similar to February: up the mileage on all disciplines and get out on my bike!!!! I have an open water adventure swimming race- Neptune Steps- on 10th March in Glasgow. I am trying not to think about how cold it will be and I will definitely be wearing my heat vest under my wetsuit. The distance is only 400metres so hopefully won’t be in the water too long!
Reading the weather report the night before, I knew it was going to be a cold day. Sub- zero temperatures overnight and freezing at race start. I packed my kit the night before, I was definitely wearing tights just debating on wearing either thermal layer with t-shirt or t-shirt with running jumper. It’s been really cold in Scotland this winter and I am used to a little frost and snow which didn’t put me off for race day.
In the morning, the frost didn’t look too bad in Galashiels, so I made my way to Livingston. Once I arrived, I registered and got my race number. It was really frosty and cold. The sun was shining so I was hopeful a lot of the frost would melt before we started. I opted for thermal layer with t-shirt as I knew once I got going I would be warm enough. I stayed in my car as long as possible to stay warm and ten minutes before the start made my way to the start.
I knew today was going to be cold and a little frosty, so I decided to treat the event as a training run rather that a race. I wanted to make it to the end intact rather than in A&E.
The start was up a hill on a tarmac path, I was sliding all over the place as well as many other competitors around me. That’s when I started to worry slightly; I had new-ish trainers on, only a month old, so surely, they still have grip?! I made it to the start still upright and ready to run. We had a brief warning by the start marshal about the frost and ice, including the large icy puddle over the start line. We were told to be careful and some areas were gritted.
A few minutes after the briefing, we started, never have I felt so keen to start as it was so cold! After avoiding the frozen puddle on the start line, the race route started by going down the slippery hill I had just walked up. I took this very easy, slipping but managing to stay upright. After the hill, I managed to ease into the race and get into a comfortable pace.
The race goes along the paths and underpasses of Livingston. None of the race is along roads, making the course quite narrow. This meant the first couple of miles the path was quite congested, but once the field spread out it was much easier to pass others.
Photo stolen from Livingston Run
Along the first six miles I was able to find some grass verge to run along instead of the tarmac. Pretty much 95% of the course was on tarmac. I usually don’t have a problem with that but with the frost and sub- zero temperatures it made the course like an ice rink.
I did, at some points, have thoughts of stopping but I had started and already decided to use this race as a training run to avoid injury. I was convincing myself the conditions would get better as it was getting later in the day and the sun was shining.
I was wrong! It actually got worse; the route became more residential so there was less and less grass verges and more subways and underpasses. This is when I fell. On my first fall I slid and landed on my bottom, no harm and I was up and away again. My second, and worst fall, was around mile ten; I slipped and fell on my knees. Before I realised I hit the floor, I was back running after a lovely man running next to me, in a red top, practically caught me and lifted me back up. Thank you man in the red top! All the other competitors around me were all very kind and checking I was ok, even a couple of miles later. I was wearing thick tights so didn’t realise I cut my knees until after the race.
Photo stolen from Run Livingston. The man in the red top that saved me!
After this fall I did lose my confidence and felt on edge, I slowed my pace and was a lot more cautious. As the course became more undulating with steeper descents it just felt like the ice got worse and worse. I was holding railings and walking down descents so I wouldn’t fall. The last two miles felt like it went on and on. All I wanted to do was finish so I wouldn’t injure myself, I wasn’t enjoying the run.
I was very relieved when I saw the stadium; the finish was inside Livingston Tony Macaroni Football Arena. The finish was disappointing, full of bystanders and rubbish, in and outside the grounds. Only large t-shirts left and marshals were not handing out the t-shirts or drinks to finishers. When I looked down at my watch I had only run 12.8miles, so the route was short. I checked online when I got home and many other runners also thought the race was short.
Photo stolen from Run Livingston. Usually I keep my eyes open when running. I must work on my photo finish!
This was Livingston’s first half marathon event; I would normally enjoy this race as the route itself was undulating, challenging and interesting. Essentially the whole course was an ice rink, pretty fitting that speed skater Elise Christie is from Livingston after all!
Nobody can predict or help the weather, which isn’t the race organisers fault. People would have been upset if they did or didn’t cancel the race. Many competitors stated online they did not finish as they thought it was too unsafe. I felt the course was very treacherous and dangerous. It should have been gritted and properly inspected beforehand, particularly at the underpasses. Maybe a later start would have been better.
Overall it wasn’t my race day. I took the risk of starting the race and the organisers did warn us of the ice. I’ve never raced in conditions like this before and in the future I may decide not to run. With every new event there are always teething problems, but I would definitely make sure the course was long enough for next year and maybe have a good technical t-shirt rather than a cheap cotton t-shirt and cheap medal. I would run this event again but definitely not in those conditions.
First month back into training, it certainly was a shock to the system! I have really enjoyed following my training plan and slowly regaining my fitness back. For the New Year I changed my hair colour to orange. I wonder how long this colour will last!
This month’s numbers;
Swim 13.3 miles (21.4km)
Bike 283.9 miles (456.9km)
Run 50.6 miles (81.4km)
From these figures I really need to get out running a little more. The weather in January wasn’t great. There was heavy snow for a week, so I couldn’t run or use the track that week. Overall, I’m pretty pleased and I even managed one very cold and windy ride with Zoe. Hopefully the weather will improve so I’m out on the bike more rather than the turbo trainer or Watt bike at the gym.
I’ve started adjusting to training in my new area. I have to plan my sessions more, such as the local pool doesn’t have lane swimming all day and opening hours are much shorter particularly at the weekend (only 9am-1pm). Its winter, so running in the dark can be limiting, as it’s a smaller area so less street lighting. The positives are definitely when it’s light; I can get out running the hills and along the Tweed river, it’s beautiful. I’m closer to a running track and the roads are much quieter so when I can get out on the bike it should be better. It’s also very hilly which is great for Celtman training.
In January, I joined my local triathlon club – Borders Triathletes. It’s a much smaller club but very welcoming and friendly. They only train once a week and when I’m not working I’m there. I am still a member with Edinburgh Triathletes (sorry you can’t get rid of me yet) and go along, when I can, to early morning swim sessions. I will be mainly racing for Borders but a few events I will race for Edinburgh.
I’ve decided I’m not going to drink alcohol until after Celtman in June. It may seem drastic, but it does really affect my training. After a friend’s 30th I didn’t train due to the hangover, but it also affects my mood. I can become low and unmotivated. I will still be going out to social events and seeing friends but minus the alcohol. I really want to improve this year and it’s only until June! Hopefully, I can save a few pennies to buy more kit – ha!
February goals are just to up the mileage on all disciplines; try and get out on the bike more (weather depending) and complete all my training sessions in my plan. I have Livingston half marathon on 11th February, I’m not fit enough to get a PB, but I will stick to a planned pace and enjoy it.
Last weekend, Lisa and I headed up north to the Highlands, Fort Augustus for our first SwimRun event, Loch Gu Loch. We had joked in training for the last year or so that we would be ideal for SwimRun as we have ‘similar’ swim abilities (Lisa is a much faster and stronger swimmer than me). Lisa had been injured most of last year and hadn’t been running but was now running again. During one Sunday morning ride, after much debate we decided to enter Loch Gu Loch, six weeks before the race.
SwimRun is still a relatively new sport to the UK, but growing in popularity. SwimRun is an endurance race which involves open water swimming and trail running with multiple transitions of swim and run (swim, then run, then swim, then run etc.). It is a point to point race, all the equipment that you start with has to be carried to the finish. You compete in pairs, running and swimming together, not straying more than 10 metres apart. Unlike triathlons, SwimRun has much more freedom there are no standardised distances or kit requirements. The origin came from Sweden, after a drunken bet between friends. The original race ÖTILLÖ meaning island to island is recognised as the SwimRun world championship (the Kona for SwimRun).
The total distance for Loch Gu Loch is about 8km of cold water swimming and 47km of mixed terrain running. Lisa’s longest run that year was a half marathon during Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 (21km!). On the run up to the race we had short sessions together practicing transitions and running in our SwinRun wetsuits and swimming with trail shoes. We certainly got a few strange looks running around the Pentlands in our wetsuits! I found the extra weight from my shoes dragged my legs, and found it much easier to swim with a pullbuoy and paddles. Lisa was fine without any aids during the swim. I got a new pair of light SwimRun shoes however they did not give me much support when running! In the future, I would go for a more supportive trail shoe and play around with my kit more prior to such an event.
We had a race briefing on Friday afternoon, checked kit and lined our stomachs for the challenge the next day. We had a wander around Fort Augustus and observed the cold, monster- filled water of Loch Ness. It looked calm with no signs of Nessy!
This year they changed the transport to the start with coaches so we had an extra hour in bed (whoop!). The race starts at Urquhart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness. It started to get light when we arrived, after a quick toilet stop, bag drop and group photo, we headed down to the Loch with a bagpiper to greet us.
I like to acclimatise to the temperature of the water before starting, we got in a little too early as the kayakers hadn’t arrived for the start and the race started a little late, 10-15mins. I was pretty cold and glad to start swimming once the race began. The first swim was the longest at 2km. I was close to the back of the pack, I think it was because I was cold but after ten minutes I got into the race and we started taking over others in the swim. Once we got the front of our pack we couldn’t see where we were the swim exit was, the kayakers were close by so knew we couldn’t be too off course. Although I was cold I really enjoyed the swim -the water was so clear and there were no signs of Nessy! Once we got the other side, I had been in the water for over an hour and had not been kicking my legs so my legs were totally numbed. After a few attempts of trying to stand – Bambi legs, fits of giggles- we both managed to get out the water. I checked my watch 1.7miles, I think our sighting was a bit off and we swam a little extra. Once out of the water the wind made me even colder. I’ve never been so glad to run, or even run up a hill, to warm up. After a couple of miles, I could feel my legs again and my feet began to tingle. I really enjoyed this run along a forest trail; the views overlooking Loch Ness were beautiful. During the run we managed to overtake two or three teams.
Swim two at Loch Duntelchaig -the water was crystal clear, we kept close to the shore to try and keep warmer but it was extremely chilly. We saw a few familiar faces kayaking which spurred me on. I was very glad of the feed station after this swim, a cinnamon roll never tasted so good! We were told by the volunteers we were the first all-female team so after a quick sip of water we were off again.
The race took us across a vast variety of terrains, we found we were much slower on the boggy and heather terrains, that’s where other teams overtook us. On trails, hills and tarmac we were able to catch up. Fell running has never been my greatest!
The coldest swim had to be swim five in Loch Mhor, it was Baltic and I needed help getting up the rocks onto the land to start running, I was physically shaking. There was a feed station after that swim and I found it a real struggle to eat or drink anything. It took a long time for me to warm up after that swim, luckily that was when we had the longest run and the sun came out. During the 16km run Lisa’s leg was playing up so we opted for a 7-9min run and 1min walk tactic which worked well as we passed four teams.
The longest run finishes at Loch Tarff, (after a long uphill climb) with beautiful views of the Loch. The last feed station was here, one of my (or our) downfalls of the day was that we were too chatty to the volunteers at the feed stations. We were too busy enjoying the day and not being very competitive (time- wasting). We were 8hours and 30mins into the race, with two more swims and one 6km of run we were hopeful of getting under ten hours. The swim at Loch Tarff was a little more interesting with short swims between small islands on the loch. Lisa got cramp during one of the swims so we resorted to skulling and then walking on the islands. The last swim is more of a knee deep bog but swam it (doggy paddle) as we didn’t want to lose a shoe.
Out of the swim, Lisa’s cramps gone, we were aware of other teams behind us. The run took us back onto heather and tough bracken terrain which was slowing us down. Somewhere we missed a marking or sign and before we knew it we hadn’t seen a course marking in a while. We stopped and checked the map. We had gone too far and re-traced our steps. Sadly, this was when we knew we had blown it. Now our fatigue had kicked in and enthusiasm for the race gone, we were just desperate to finish. Once back on track, we noticed the flags, they went up a very steep hill and we were scrambling to the top. This was where other teams started to pass us, the four teams we managed to hold off all day caught us and it felt like they were flying past us. I think we added about 25-30mins extra getting lost, urgh! The views, from the top over Loch Ness, were worth it. We decided to jog the rest of the route back to the water for our final swim.
We were greeted by Mike and his wife, marshalling for the day at the last swim start and we jumped in. We were escorted during the last swim by our triathlon club swim coach Gavin, on a kayak. Once we got to the red buoy we waded the last bit of the swim and had a gentle jog to the finish. Total time 10hours 25mins 26secs.
We really enjoyed the event, just frustrated by our error on the last run. The course was well marked maybe in our tiredness we weren’t focused enough or we didn’t want to climb another hill, ha! The race is well supported with marshals at the start and exit of every swim, all very friendly and helpful with directions and tips, thanks! I’ve also got to thank Mandy for lending her compression socks, life saver!
I really enjoyed my first SwimRun event, the best bit was racing as a team and having a buddy with you throughout the day to share the highs and lows. I like the freeness of SwinRun events, in natural beauty, trail running and open water swimming; it’s more of an adventure. I found it challenging after the swims being cold, the wind chill didn’t help! The wetsuits do help warming you up quickly but it does take it out of you doing it numerous times throughout the race.
Even after our detour, somehow, we were the first female finishers and 13th overall. We were both pleased with our efforts considering we only started training six weeks prior and we weren’t at our peak fitness. The next day when the results came out, we found out we were the only female pair finishers that year, the other two pairs did not finish the race.
After defrosting, we headed to the boathouse for some food and received a prize for our efforts. I would recommend this race, be prepared for cold water 8-12degrees, long sleeved wetsuit is definitely required. It was well organised, we were regularly checked up on and kayakers on every Loch. I may be a little biased as I live in Scotland but the scenery was totally worth it! Would we do it again…. Lisa is already planning how we can get enough points for ÖTILLÖ next year!
This year’s race was now organised by Dirty events (previously live active sport) so the race course was slightly different and no longer the Scottish Championship race. The swim was exactly the same in Loch Tay. The bike course was essentially the same cycling over Schiehallion and around Loch Rannoch but instead of cycling to Aberfeldy to finish the bike course, it took you back to Kenmore. The bike route was a little short at 90Km (usual middle distance is 91Km). The run route was completely different: a three lap course around the grounds of Taymouth castle. Perhaps they should change the name of the race to Kenmore triathlon as the race no longer goes to Aberfeldy!
I headed up to Kenmore on Saturday afternoon with Sam via Sterling. Sam bought a new bike at Velocity 44 in Sterling. We just made it to race briefing for five. After briefing we checked in our accommodation at Kenmore hotel (few hundred meters from the start). In the evening a few of us from Edinburgh triathletes had a pre-race dinner at Taymouth restaurant.
Sunday morning my alarm went off at 5.15am. The hotel put on an early breakfast for athletes. I unusually felt hungry, so had two slices of toast and my usual pre race breakfast of porridge and green tea. I had breakfast with my friend Cat and then headed back to the room to take my bags, kit and bike to transition.
This race has a split transition, transition one and two were only a few hundred meters apart so I dropped my running kit at transition two and cycled with my bike to start for transition one. I lay out my kit in transition one with my bike and walked to the start.
I met up with a few club members at the start and donned my wetsuit. We had a quick team photo altogether before the start. The weather was perfect, it was warm, sun shining and everyone was in good spirits. I genuinely felt good and was aiming to push hard on the swim to get a good swim time.
I was in the first swim heat so headed into the water. Last year I remembered the water was really cold. This year I was pleasantly surprised, it felt warm when I got in. It was 15 degrees, I think it was about 12-13 the previous year. My plan for this race was to swim fast, then pace the bike and run. The swim start was between two canoeists about 20-30metres from the water’s edge. By the time I swam to the start, the siren went off and the race began.
Swim (1900m / 1.2miles) 34minutes 34seconds
I started swimming and my positivity and optimism of the race diminished. I felt nauseous as soon as I started swimming. The water wasn’t particularly choppy but I felt every motion. I got around the first buoy trying to ignore my stomach, but after the buoy the pack got quite brunched up. I thought it wasn’t too bad until I started burping and tasting my breakfast. I had a couple people drafting me, by my side and on my feet. Suddenly I had what felt like a blow to my side and hip then uncontrollably I vomited, and moved over from the pack. I didn’t really stop and slowly continued to swim (avoiding vomit) breathing every other stroke but after 150metres I vomited again. I thought about stopping but I managed half the swim so carried on. I did feel better after but the feeling of nausea remained. I continued my swim at a much slower pace and hoped for the best.
Swim to Bike transition (T1) 3minutes 58seconds
When I got to the marina and was so happy to have finished the swim. I jogged up to transition and sat down to get changed. I was so relieved to be out the water but also annoyed at myself for eating too much at breakfast. I didn’t even look at my swim time as I knew it wouldn’t be great. I felt much better being on land and headed out on the bike.
Bike (90kms /55miles) 3 hours 12minutes 40 seconds
I started the bike well, trying to make up the time I missed on the swim. The weather was sunny and warm which also helped! My nausea just wouldn’t shift; I found it difficult to take sips of my drink never mind food. By the time I was over Schiehallion and commenced cycling into head wind around Loch Rannoch my energy levels were low. I felt like everyone was overtaking me at this point. I ate and drank slowly.
When I was cycling on the other side of the Loch I felt much better and ate as much as I could before the climb back up Schiehallion. I was overtaking other athletes up the hill and managed to pick up pace again. I really enjoyed the dissent back down to Keltneyburn. I narrowly avoided a crash when another athlete just overtook me and judged the corner ahead wrong. Luckily when she fell she slid to the side otherwise I would of gone straight into her. I checked she was ok and continued my race. I found out later she only had bad bruising and road rash grazes across her face, nothing too serious. I got back to Kenmore to transition and was ready for the run.
Bike to run transition (T2) 1 minute 35 seconds
Transition two, was quick in and out. My only problem was that there were no toilets in transition. The bike route also doesn’t have toilets at the feed stations. I didn’t want to expose myself on the bike or run. When I started my run I had to go off course to use the portaloos, I was pretty desperate at this point. It is also against the triathlon rules to get naked during the race and will be taking this up with dirty events.
Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 52mins 44 secs
After my toilet dilemma I started the run well, I felt the best I had all day. I had a planned pace and tried to keep it up. The run was actually quite similar to Edinburgh Ironman run route, three laps and one big hill. I really enjoyed the new run route, spectators were able to cheer you on and the route was much more interesting, a mixture of road and trail. By the third lap my legs were goosed. I couldn’t keep the planned pace my legs were very heavy and sore.
The last three miles were a real struggle, however I think everyone else around me was the same. All the smiles and enthusiasm from other club members and competitors had gone. I tried a sprint finish but my legs didn’t have it in me. I was so relieve once I finished!
Overall I was disappointed how it went but also pleased I managed to complete it. I really liked the new run route however my Garmin did clock up 13.6miles! I had a great time with fellow club members and the race was well organised. This is still one of my favourite races in such a beautiful setting. I still somehow manage to get a faster time than last year but the course had changed. On reflection essentially never do anything new on race day! I usually find it a struggle to eat in the morning so I thought eating a little extra wouldn’t do me any harm, I was so wrong!
Last week I finished my last triathlon this year at Haddington Sprint triathlon, a week after Aberfeldy. The race report will be coming soon. My next big race is Loch Gu Loch on 30th September. It’s my first Swimrun event which I’m completing with my friend Lisa. We race as a pair and complete thirteen open water sections and twelve trail run sections. In total we will swim 7.4km and run 47.4km. I do love a challenge and very excited to try a new event!