Postpartum fitness Journey

4th trimester and onwards – Slowly getting back into fitness

February 2nd 2019 Rupert finally made his entrance to the world two weeks late. I can’t believe how much he has changed since this photo. He is a happy and smiley boy we are very lucky and totally in love! We have decided not to post any facial photos of Rupert (apart this initial one) on social media.

Rupert

The first five weeks I just rested and healed. I did go on lots of short walks but nothing strenuous. I really didn’t have any desire to train nor is it advised! The first few weeks feel like a blur of sleep deviation, sore nipples, haemorrhoids, naps, breastfeeding and visitors. I went out for a walk most days with Rupert in the carrier, just to get out due to cabin fever.

When I was pregnant I saw on Joe Wick’s instagram AKA the body coach a post on Carifit workout. Carifit is a baby wearing workout, designed to reintroduce exercise postnatally and get closer to your baby whilst working out. It’s to be used from when the baby is six weeks old and up to eighteen months. By using the baby weight, light weights and intervals to get fitter and stronger. I tried the three taster sessions with the body coach and Carifit founder Vern Hill. I really enjoyed them and it also helped Rupert sleep during the day (baby wearing is a miracle worker).

A couple of weeks later after doing the tasters a few times I took the plunge and bought the six months membership plan. You can also do live classes with Vern and other instructors but the commute to London from Galashiels seems a bit far. You can opt for two to four sessions a week. I chose four and I’m sticking to them most weeks. The classes aren’t more than thirty minutes so fairly easy to fit in the day. I’ve found most of the classes focus on lower body so lots of squats and lunges with some upper body included with additional core workouts as well. I enjoy being able to workout at home, no babysitter required and can be done at my convenience at any time in the day. Rupert seems to enjoy it as he’s sleepy usually within minutes of starting so when he’s been really unsettled I’ve done extra workouts.

A couple of weeks ago I was in London for a wedding. I booked myself onto one of the Carifit Live classes and got to meet Vern in the flesh! I was excited to see him as he is regularly on the screen at home. I found the class much harder than at home workouts and the other ladies very welcoming. I really enjoyed being in a class, since Rupert my exercising has mainly been in the garage at home. Group exercise does really motivate me more and peer pressure encourages me to lower my squats. If I lived in London I would definitely be attending the classes and highly recommend them as well as the online subscription.

http://carifit.co.uk

Alongside Carifit workouts I started swimming again at from five weeks postpartum. It felt good to be back in the pool and in a normal swimming costume again. I was quite surprised how quickly my times improved but it’s likely because I’m a little more aerodynamic without the pregnancy bump. My Tumble-turns have been much easier! The only problem with swimming is that is led by my local swimming pool public swim timetable, breastfeeding and when someone is available to look after Rue. This isn’t a great mix, I usually manage once a week or don’t. In May I only went once the entire month! Hopefully things will get easier when he starts eating solids. My current aim is to be more consistent and try at least swim once a week and hopefully soon get in open water now that it’s summer.

At six weeks postpartum I started running again……. well briefly. Since Rue’s birth the pain in my symphysis pubis had eased so I thought I would slowly reintroduce running again. I started with walk \ run for a short distance and then gradually built up running for longer and walking less. I had a little mild pain at the end of some of the runs but it eased straight after. I left at least 1-2days between runs. It felt so good to be running again after six months off, even though I was much slower and my legs felt like lead. Two weeks after I started running I went for a continuous 5km run, big mistake! The last kilometre I had the same pelvic pain pre birth and after the run it didn’t go away for 24 hours. I stopped running and referred myself to women’s health physiotherapist. Maybe I pushed myself too quickly? Maybe I started running again too quickly? I don’t know but I didn’t want to make it any worst.

When I got assessed by the therapist at 15 weeks postpartum she was happy my pelvis was inline correctly, my posture was good and I had minimal abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti). Just that it’s going to take time for my ligaments to readjust and time to recover from pregnancy and delivery. She noted that my upper abdominal muscles were much stronger than my lower and I had tight hip flexors. She stated just recently new guidelines of postnatal running advises now to wait a minimum of twelve weeks for impact exercises or sports after birth. Low impact was fine to start earlier eg walking, swimming, light weights. I was given exercises including; pelvic floor exercises, lower abdominal exercises and stretches.
No running yet but to continue the low impact exercises I’m doing currently and the physio exercises. I was to see her again in a month. She also stated that hopefully I should be able to do the great north run in September and set that as my goal.

A comprehensive postnatal return to running for clinicians guide was published in March 2019 with a guide of exercise progression in the weeks post birth. It’s very informative and I would recommend my colleagues (midwives and doctors) to read as well as mums to be. Link below.

http://www.running-physio.com/postnatal-guide/

At my following appointment at 20 weeks postpartum she was pleased with my progress, my lower abdominals were stronger and engaging more, my hip flexors were less tight but a work in progress and I felt my pelvic floor was much stronger. She has given me the green light to run again. She has instructed me to do the NHS couch to 5K app. This plan involves three runs a week, with a day rest in between that takes nine week to builds up to 5 kilometres of continuous running. My physiotherapist Gill was happy for me to skip some weeks if it’s very easy but it should take a minimal of 6 weeks to complete. If I have any pains or concerns to repeat the same week and to see her again in a month. I’m really excited but also nervous hopefully my running will be more successful this time round. I will be keeping a diary of my runs to see how I’m getting on.

At eight weeks postpartum I started cycling again, indoor on the turbo trainer. I hadn’t been on a bike since June last year. I’m currently cycling on my husbands bike as he’s “borrowing” my power meter and speedometer so it’s all set up. We are both the same height so our bike set up is pretty similar. I’m just missing my comfortable long distance bike seat. When I start training for a race again I will set myself properly on my own bike. I’m only doing short sessions at the moment.

I used to hate being on the turbo trainer but now I love it. Firstly I have a power meter so I know my output and can set up a workout to that. (I got the power meter last year for my birthday). Secondly we have a better set up, TV and iPad holder, no more using the ironing board! Thirdly it’s just so convenient. Rupert usually has one to two naps a day. I can watch him on the baby monitor as I work out, no need for babysitter and if he wakes up I’m there in seconds.

The turbo trainer is my main source for exercise now, I usually train three to five times a week. Most of the sessions are short only thirty to fourth minutes long. For this reason I do sprints or high intensity as it’s better at fat burning and more advantageous for the time I’ve got. I do at least one hour long spin once a week and that’s usually when my husband is at home. I’ve got quite motivated to pushing myself on the sprints to see how high I can get my watts and then overall throughout the session. I’m not following any plan or have a coach. I’m just being flexible for Rupert and taking on knowledge from training previously. I tend to do one session short sprints all out and the following session keeping a certain wattage for a longer period of time. Mixing it up also makes it more fun and having a plan of what the session is encourages me to finish it.

Working out around Rupert can be hard sometimes and some days it’s just not possible. I’m very lucky to have a supportive partner and family helping me to exercise between feeds where possible. I’ve found the tiredness the hardest barrier, if I’ve not slept well the previous night I prioritised daytime naps rather than exercise.

I decided not to enter any races this year.. I enter the ballot each year for The Great North run, previously I’ve never got entry and typically this year I have! At the moment it seems unlikely I will compete. I need to see how my running goes. I hope to get back to racing next year.

Five months on after delivery, I’m regularly exercising again which is great. I’m looking forward to reintroducing running again and that’s my main aim at the moment. Late summer I hope to get outdoors on the bike before winter.

Jenwaar

Summer Training

Summer Training

 

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.

Supporting Kevin

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.

My new bike for Celtman… used on the recce
Recce run with Kevin

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!

first scan photos

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.

Baby Bedford

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.

Running in early pregnancy

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.

Only photo I could find with myself and Barron in Mallorca! (too busy cycling ha!)

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.

Open water swimming with Tiff and G
Open water swimming with Blair, Jill and Tiff

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.

Maternity costume

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!

Jenwaar

April Training update 2018

April training update

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!

muddy face

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.

Coll de Reis
Group shot
Swimming at Port de Pollensa

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.

April’s mileage

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.

Sometimes we make an effort!

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.

Top of Puig de Major

Jenwaar

Mallorca Training Week

Mallorca Training Week


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! 

Coll de Femenia

 

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.

Team Tuesday!


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.

Sa Calobra village
Coll de Reis (Sa Calobra climb)
Reaching the top of Coll dels Reis!


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.

Views at the Lighthouse
Kevan making friends


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).

Swimming at Porte de Pollensa


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!

Top of Puig de Major
Sam and I at the top


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.

Top of Coll de Randa

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.

Group shot at the top of Puig de Randa


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.

 

Captain Kevan
Having a quick drink

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.

 

Jenwaar

March Training Update

March Training Update

 

Snowy run

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!

 

Running in snow!

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.

The positives;

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.

Track run

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.

 

Hill running in Galashiels

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!)

 

Trail running

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.

 

Track run

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).

 

 Jenwaar

February Training update

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!

Jenwaar

January back to training

January Back to training

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.

Jenwaar

Loch Gu Loch SwimRun Race Report

SwimRun Loch Gu Loch Race Report

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).

Loch Ness

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.

Kit check

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!

Loch Ness

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.

Photo by Loch Gu Loch team (unsure who actually took the photo)
Photo by Loch Gu Loch team (unsure who actually took the photo)

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.

Just before the start

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.

Running towards Loch Tarff

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.

Last swim at Loch Ness. Photo by Mike Brown

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.

Before our last swim. Photo by Mike Brown

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.

Finishline photo

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!

Finishers

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!

Jenwaar

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon Race Report 2017

 

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon 2017

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!

 

Finishing time- 5hours 45mins 32 seonds 70.3miles (70.3)

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!

Jenwaar

Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2017

 

Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon 2017

Photo credit: Colin Henderson Photography

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

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

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

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

celtman

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

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

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

Neck burn!

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

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

Photo credit: Ross Millar

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

Photo Credit: Ross Millar

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

Photo credit: Ross Millar

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

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Alligin Photography (looking tired)

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

Photo credit: Alligin Photography

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

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

Post Mac ‘n’ Cheese

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

Me and Andrew post Celtman

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

Dream Team!

 

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

Go pro Video of my Celtman race coming soon.

Jenwaar