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.
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.
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!
I wasn’t in the best condition or well prepared for Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh. Two weeks previously I completed Celtman Extreme Triathlon followed by two weeks of travelling around the west coast of America enjoying myself, eating my weight in food and minimal exercise. Celtman was my focus this year, any other race was an extra and I wanted to enjoy my holiday away after months of solid training. A few friends and family thought I was a little crazy to do them so close together but how could I miss the first Ironman event in Scotland on my door step?!
I arrived back in Scotland on the Friday night after a six-hour flight delay from America, urgh! Registration and bag drop off was the next day so I packed all my triathlon gear, ready for Saturday. My wonderful friend Eilidh washed all my kit post Celtman (as we pretty much drove straight to Manchester airport from finishing Celtman). Thanks, Eilidh!!!
Saturday morning, I got up early to register at Meadowbank stadium. I got my race pack, number 406 and bags to drop off at transition. This triathlon has a split transition, a point to point race. This means there are two transitions, I had to sort my kit into two bags, drop them off in two different places and also rack up my bike. I filled both my bike and run bag with kit, and headed firstly to the swim location at Prestonpans. I saw a few members of Edinburgh triathletes (ET) at transition and had a quick chat. By coincidence I saw Eilidh at the bike rack and she was next to me, number 407. I dropped off my bike and bike bag in transition and collected my timing chip. I drove back to Meadowbank stadium for the mandatory race briefing and dropped my red run bag at the run transition- by Holyrood Palace- afterwards.
Briony, my friend, was visiting this weekend so after dragging her around Ironman transitions in the morning. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with her in Edinburgh and having a big dinner. I went to bed early whilst she and my husband Sam had a few cocktails (not jealous at all).
Everyone competing in the race received an email at 7pm from the race organisers. Potentially the swim may have to be cut short to 0.6miles (instead of 1.2miles) depending on the sea conditions the following day. We would all know at the 6am race start. I was a little disappointed as the swim is my best discipline but our safety is paramount.
Sunday morning I awoke at 4am, Celtman was 2am so practically a lie in! I got ready, made my breakfast and left. I met Eilidh and we walked to Meadowbank for the coaches to transfer us to the swim start at Prestonpans. I ate my lukewarm porridge on the coach. I bumped into Robin on the bus who also completed the Celtman triathlon two weeks before. We all discussed the uncertainty of the swim and the wind speeds. Yesterday morning when I was at transition it didn’t look too bad but apparently the wind was very strong overnight. Once I got off the coach, I felt how strong the winds were and I started to get cold. After a quick loo stop, I checked my bike and got my wetsuit on an hour before the start as I felt so cold! The wind was bracing but once I had my wetsuit on it was fine.
Swim (950metres/ 0.6miles) 20mins 29secs.
At 6am they announced the swim would be cut short, even for the pro athletes. This was no surprise as the conditions were crazy for swimming, waves over a metre high, lots of athletes were happy with this decision. I got a quick group photo with fellow Edinburgh Triathletes, then dropped off my dry clothes and headed for the swim pen. I decided against my pre-swim banana due to the rough conditions. I lined up with fellow athletes based on our swim predicted swim times. Most Ironman events now start with rolling starts. You place yourself into your predicted swim time and each group commence a rolling start based on these times with the fastest athletes first. Each athlete’s race started once they crossed the swim timing mat. The pros started and because the swim was shortened we saw them complete the circuit before I started so I knew exactly where to swim. The buoys were also quite close together so less chance to go off course (which I’m really bad for doing). We were set off in fours, 4 seconds apart and before I knew it, I was running into the sea.
Prior to starting the race Ironman very kindly advised that the hardest part of the swim would be the swim to the first buoy, as we were swimming into the waves. They suggested you kick as hard as you can during this part and after turning past the first buoy the swim would be better. This was now my game plan, however once I was in the water, my plan changed to swimming hard for the whole swim. I’m a strong swimmer and now a fairly experienced open water swimmer, it was tough and the roughest conditions I’ve ever had in a race. I swam through the waves to the first buoy and decided to bilaterally breath (I usually unilaterally breath) and sight every other stroke. I did not want to swim any extra distance in these conditions! I inhaled a lot of sea water during this part but once I turn after the first buoy I was able to get into a rhythm and feel comfortable swimming. After that I found the swim fine, it was still very wavy, like swimming in a washing machine! Although the conditions were challenging I found no one was drafting each other, so no kicks or hits to the face or legs which I enjoyed and it was not really congested, even at the turning buoys. I think it’s the best I’ve ever sighted during a race, my lines were pretty straight on strava rather than wiggly. I was much more relaxed as I knew I wasn’t going to get a fast time and just wanted to get out in one piece. I didn’t see anyone getting pulled out of the swim but I heard 60-80 athletes were assisted out and a few people decided not to start the race after looking at the sea. Swim time wasn’t great but so was everyone else’s.
Swim to Bike transition (T1) 5 minutes 39 seconds
Surprisingly, the sea wasn’t that cold so running out of the water into transition I felt warm. I grabbed my bag, sat down and got the rest of my wetsuit off and bike kit on. I saw a couple of people vomiting, I was so glad I didn’t eat that banana! I felt a little disoriented but once I was on my bike I was fine, a couple of others around me fell off their bikes after mounting them.
Bike (91kms /56miles) 3 hours 24minutes 22 seconds
Initially, I felt strong on the bike- a tailwind does that! Along the east coast trail, I was in my TT bars and overtaking others. I was making sure I was eating, I didn’t want to bonk on the upcoming hills and the challenging Gifford/Garvald loop. I had the advantage of being a local, completing most of the course a few times before and practising the hills. On the first big hill, just before Haddington, I was powering through and enjoyed the long hill down into Haddington. Out of Haddington the head wind was strong and my lack of training between events was evident. I just didn’t have the power in my legs to keep up with the others around me so I kept eating and dug deep. The rest of the bike was just a battle with either cross or head winds: when I could I pushed. You would think I would be accustomed to the wind after Celtman and living in Scotland but today was particularly bad. The bike course was quite technical in parts, I took them safely. I’m glad I did the course before as I saw the results of a couple of crashes, a few athletes receiving aid from ambulance crews.
Some of the bike course is a “there and back with a loop” which was great as I saw so many of the club members and everyone was cheering each other on. On the last big hill to Cousland I got a second wind and it’s more inland so the wind didn’t feel as bad. There was a sign in Cousland stating this was “the last hill” which was is a cheeky lie! After Cousland it’s a windy course back to Edinburgh through Dalkeith county park; Bonnyrigg; and then a cycle around Arthur’s seat; a nice short steep hill to finish your legs before the run. The views coming back down to transition are worth it. Again, not a great time but my legs just didn’t have the power or energy since Celtman.
Still smiling after climbing up Arthurs seat!
Bike to run transition 2 minutes 39 seconds Transition two was unremarkable: in and out pretty quick and grabbed my energy gel for later.
Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 53mins 43 secs
Out on the run, the sun came out and it was warm. The run course is the usual Ironman three lap course, starting with a run up Arthur’s seat (900ft ascent), with a few turn and backs with gentle inclines and a run up and down the innocent railway tunnel. Not the easiest half marathon I’ve ever done. Lap one was fine, I was elated with the support from club members, volunteers and other supporters, wearing club kit in a home race was so much fun. I, stupidly, didn’t take on any fluids on the first lap and paid for it in the second, so drank at every feed station thereafter: Edinburgh was surprisingly hot for once. Energy levels were low as I started the third lap so had my energy gel and pushed on to the finish. I managed a sprint finish in the last 500m and down the red carpet to finish.
Finishing time- 5hours 46mins 70.3miles (69.7)
Hands down, this was the hardest 70.3, well technically 69.7 middle distance triathlon, I’ve ever done. It makes Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 last year seem much easier in comparison. The course is brutal; rough sea swim; hilly, windy, technical bike; and hilly run. Despite the harsh conditions and gruelling course, I still had a great time. Plus my legs hadn’t full recovered from Celtman and also the none existent training over the previous two weeks didn’t help. The support during the race was immense throughout the race and especially on the run! Being a home race, wearing club kit meant I was cheered all the way to the finish. I wouldn’t recommend this race as a first 70.3 middle distance race or for a personal best time but more for the challenge in the beautiful Edinburgh and East Lothian surroundings.
Thank to Sam my wonderful husband for supporting me. Also thanks to Aisling, Alex and Briony for cheering me on at the end and post-race treats!
My next race is Aberfeldy middle distance race in two weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Now a month on from the race, I definitely want to return, surely it can’t be bad weather two years on the trot?