Ironman Malaysia – the event

The feeling when we stepped off the plane in Langkawi and saw the sign welcoming the athletes is indescribable, somehow it hadn’t really seemed real up until this point, but it was pretty real now…

Ironman – anything is possible… Is it? I was going to find out in a few days!

We dropped our luggage and bike boxes at the hotel and headed straight to athlete registration. Wednesday was the first day of registration so it made sense to register early and get it out of the way.

Registration was a quick and easy process, lined up, got given a bag that contained all my transition bags, an athlete wristband was fastened around my wrist and then I was weighed – this is the first time I have had to do a weigh in at a triathlon… not sure if it is usually standard practise?

I found my name on the athlete wall and took a quick selfie with it – as you do?!

I also bought a vest top with the names of all the participants on it, I wasn’t sure if this was a bad omen but it was a lovely vest and I didn’t want to wait until after the race to buy it as Ironman Merchandise tends to sell out quickly…

Quick wander around the Expo and it was back to the hotel to relax for the evening.

Thursday morning we headed to the start area to take part in a test swim. It’s always a good idea to do this if you can, it gave me a chance to familiarise myself with the beach, the layout of the buoys etc as well as to swim in the exact water I would be in on race day.

The swim course was so clearly marked, big yellow Ironman buoys at the entrance and exit points and big white buoys at the turn points. The course was a big triangle, a 2 lap swim with an Aussie exit (30mtrs run) between laps. There were red flags marking the way on the right hand side spaces approximately 20mtrs apart… It was a very well laid out course, seeing this and doing the test swim put my mind at rest… The swim would be lovely!

We then spent a bit of time on the beach but I was really nervous about overheating or getting sunburnt so we didn’t stay outside for long.

We went out for a little practise ride to test our bikes that afternoon and managed to choose the worst moment of the day as we got caught in torrential rain!! The rain was so heavy it managed to wash one of my contact lenses out of my eye from behind my cycling glasses! Oh dear! I was a bit worried, the rain made the roads like a river, if that happened on the event day the bike would be tougher than I had anticipated!!! Bike ride done, time to prep the transition bags and get everything ready as on Friday we would need to rack our bikes and drop off our transition stuff.

Friday morning we headed to rack our bikes and drop off the transition bags. Again, a quick easy process, super well organised with lots of volunteers on hand to assist!

Then the rest of Friday was spent mostly eating, drinking lots of water and trying to stay rested and hydrated. Easier said than done in quite extreme humidity.

I got a really lovely email from Tailwind who are the company I was using for my nutrition. It’s a dissolvable nutrition that provides all the carbohydrates and electrolytes you need for endurance without the need for additional food. I had started to struggle to eat enough on my long Brick sessions so I swapped to Tailwind as I was pretty sure I wouldn’t manage to eat enough in the heat!

It’s the little touches that make such a difference. I emailed back with a picture of the swim start. Almost time to find out if I could be an Ironman!

Saturday morning was event day. We were up at around 4am, the hotel did a buffet breakfast for the athletes from 5am. I’m not good at eating in the mornings, but I did my best, some cereal and toast, then we headed down to the start!

Pumped up the bike tyres, added nutrition and bottles to the bikes. Then waited for the swim start. Adam started about 40mins before me so once he headed to the start I had a little lie down at the side of the start and dozed until they called the athletes to warm up.

I had a quick swim warm up, testing my goggles as I had positioned them badly on my head during the test swim and they leaked, I didn’t want this to happen during the event. I also managed to slice my toe open on some sharp rocks/coral! I am pretty accident prone and clumsy!

Then I was lined up ready to start the swim and I can genuinely say this was the first time I haven’t been nervous at the start of a mass participation swim!

The first lap went well, approx 44mins, then a little jog along the beach to start the 2nd lap. There were volunteers with cups of water so I rinsed my mouth out quickly and then I was back in the sea. 2nd lap underway! 2nd lap was also quite pleasant and I exited the water after 1hr 34mins. I had expected it to take me about 1hr 30 so factoring in the exit and having to swim round a few groups of people I was doing ok!

Transition1 I decided to do a complete change of clothes so I changed out of my Tri suit and into bib shorts and a jersey, this would make my bike more comfortable and also give me a bit more protection from the sun than my Tri suit. I took my time getting ready, had a few sips from a can of coke I had in my transition bag, applied sunscreen, and walked out to my bike. I wasn’t in a rush, I wanted to take some time and make sure I was settled. 9 minutes in transition was time well spent to be comfortable.

Then it was out onto the bike course. I was worried about the bike section, Iv massively struggled with my cycling this year I seem to be getting weaker and slower rather than stronger and faster. 112 miles was going to be more of a struggle than I wanted it to be!

Here I wish I could show you the course. It was amazing, through the rain forests, alongside the coast line. It really was a beautiful course. However it also had its hazards. The roads aren’t closed, however junctions and major turn points were well marshalled by both volunteers and the police, it’s still a bit daunting to be on open roads at one point a women stopped and did a 3 point turn in front of me… Not ideal.

There are also Monkeys on the course, some of these areas known for monkeys were signposted – again I wish I could show you a photo of the sign. But monkeys don’t tend to stay in their designated zones and there were quite a few wandering along the verges and across the roads, eagerly investigating any drinks bottles that managed to work loose and fall within their vicinity. Quite cute, but the athlete guide had given quite strong directions not to look at the monkeys, show them your teeth or the whites of your eyes and not to eat or drink in front of them. I was worried. I didn’t want to be attacked by a monkey! Luckily they kept their distance!

I quite enjoyed the first lap of the 2 lap bike course but by Lap 2 I was finding it tough. My feet had swollen, I had to pause to loosen off my bike shoes. I got off at an aid station, stamped my feet a bit and refilled my bottles. At 64miles there was the special needs station, I also stopped here and ate a cheese sandwich I had put in my bag, I loosened my shoes a bit more. 50 miles left, but it was going to be far from easy. It’s funny how the first lap didn’t seem too hilly, but I definitely noticed the inclines on lap 2, but so did the other riders I wasn’t alone in my struggle.

Transition 2!!! Bike was done, over, I’d made it! I was so worried about making the bike cut off I couldn’t believe I’d done it, with some time to spare as well! It took me longer than I had hoped at just over 7hrs 30mins, but it was done! 8 mins in T2 and another full change of clothes.

I was off onto the final section – the run.

Now… this is where I made some mistakes. I know that once I have walked once I find it difficult to get moving again, once I have walked for a while my hips stiffen and pretty much refuse to run, so I had planned to carry a bottle of water, jog the first 1/2 of the marathon and then take it from there. What I actually did was jogged 2km to an aid station, had a cup of coco cola, jogged to the next one, walked through again and took another bottle of water and then just couldn’t motivate myself to run… I am quite sure I ran less than 8km of the full 42.2km course… Not ideal, but once I’d walked a bit I couldn’t get my hips to run again so was left with no option but to power walk… Luckily I can walk quite fast, but even so this was going to take a long time!!!

I saw Adam when I was about 24km in, quick hug, apologised for taking so long, off onto my last lap! By now it was dark, they were giving the runners glow sticks at the aid stations which was a nice touch, but some of the paths were very dark, a headtorch would have been beneficial… the run was pretty enough in the daylight but a bit soul destroying in the dark, long dark roads, aren’t very motivating… But the kms passed quickly enough and soon I only had 1km to go, I tried to jog, not fun, jogged 200mtrs, walked 200mtrs, jogged again, started to loosen off – why hadn’t I tried this earlier? I could have shortened my time by loads! Too late now! 400mtrs to go, 200mtrs to go! Adam was at the side cheering me on, I ran (jogged) towards the finish! I had made it!

Ironman Malaysia was done! 15hrs and 28mins later! I had made it!!!

For anyone I didn’t tell about this race before I came out here I hope you can understand my reasons for doing so. For anyone who knowingly or unknowingly helped me train I can not thank you enough!

I am an Ironman, and it’s amazing! I am now enjoying the heat, food and amazing location that is Langkawi! I’m sure there is loads I haven’t said but now it’s time to get back to the beach!

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Ironman Malaysia – the logic and preparation

8 months ago I was stuck at home post ankle operation, bored, miserable and demotivated. So I started looking for something to aim for, a reason to recover quickly.

I looked up all the late season Ironman events and tried to work out which ones I could possibly be ready for.

At the end of March whilst still at home unable to walk I emailed Adam (my boyfriend) and asked how he would feel about a trip to Malaysia in November…

Adams dad lives in Singapore so the logistics were easy enough, fly to Singapore, spend some time with Adams family, acclimatise a bit and recover from any jet lag, then head out to Langkawi Malaysia for the event. Adam even decided to sign up for the 70.3 event on the same day so we would be able to do some training together!

The only issue with this plan? I wasn’t allowed to train for 3 months post op, so therefore would only have 5 months to get ready for the event. I wasn’t sure this would be possible so decided to keep it a secret. No publicising it on social media, I told only a couple of close friends and family. Therefore, if I didn’t manage it no one would need to know.

Luckily I have a number of super fit friends and we do lots of swimming, running and cycling together so training for the event as part of my normal routine wasn’t as difficult as you might think.

As soon as my ankle wound healed I started open water swimming, and entered the open water swimathon and swim serpentine events.

Both quite long distance swims so I had a public reason for doing so much swim training, and much of this was done with Olivia, who was a fab training buddy, even swimming with me in torrential rain!

I cycle with Romford Cycle Club and it’s usually easy to persuade some friends to add on a few extra miles to club rides, or ride long distance training rides with a promise of cake. Massive thanks need to go to Hassan here as I’ve really struggled with my cycling this year and he has put up with my long slow rides, even travelling down to the South Downs with me for a long distance Sportive in the tail end of Storm Brian so I could ride some hills.

Running strangely enough I found easiest… I kept my miles light until after the Berlin Marathon, then discovered some local runners/triathletes run locally at 6am on Wednesdays covering 10-14km these mornings, this became my middle distance run each week, huge thanks to Dave and Lee especially for giving me a reason to get up at 5am on Wednesdays!

I have friends at work who run 5km with me at lunchtimes and my sister Katie was training for a half marathon distance so I did my long runs and my recovery runs with her. I am hugely motivated by being with other people and am really grateful to everyone who ran with me as part of my training. Particularly to my sisters Sarah and Katie who did a 9 mile run with me one day straight after I had done a 75mile cycle with Hassan. They were ready and waiting when I got off my bike and made my longest brick Session a lot more pleasant than it might have been.

So after just under 5 months of training it was time to travel!

Adam and I flew out to Singapore on a Thursday after work, this meant we had plenty of time to get in some last minute taper training and get used to the heat before travelling to Langkawi.

Adams family were great, they knew we still needed to get some training in, so they arranged for us to be able to swim on the Saturday morning with the local Tri club who swim out from a beach on Sentosa. This was fantastic as it gave us an opportunity to swim in the sea and without our wetsuits, as the water temperature for the race was forecast to be 29 degrees.

On the Sunday morning we joined Adams dad on a 50mile cycle ride with the Singapore West Coast Riders, this was great as we were able to see how it felt to ride in the heat. We are so grateful to the local clubs in Singapore for letting us train with them.

Finally on the Tuesday morning, we headed out along the river for a 5-6km run. This for me was the hardest bit, the heat and humidity meant I was sweating almost before I had started running. It couldn’t be more different to running in the UK!

Then on Wednesday it was time to fly to Langkawi and get ready for the event, but I think it’s best if that forms another blog post.

Starting a new parkrun – we need your help!!!!

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We are fortunate to have a number of inspiring people around us, people who have helped us in our fitness journeys and continue to support and encourage us.

There are a number of amazing programmes and events that help to get people of all ages and abilities involved in some form of physical activity and we are keen to support these wherever we can.

One such initiative that has turned into a global success is parkrun.

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parkrun are free weekly timed 5km events in local parks. They start at 9am on Saturday mornings each week in parks up and down the uk as well as overseas, and are a great way of getting local communities active. With clearly marked routes, helpful volunteers, back markers (no one finishes last) and a family friendly atmosphere parkrun really is a great way to start the weekend.

We both enjoy participating in local parkrun events and therefore I (Helen) decided to look into what would be involved in holding one in the park most local to me – Hornchurch Country Park.

I’ve teamed up with Lisa from FatGirlFit in order to work on this as a project. We are both passionate about helping people get involved in physical activity and enjoying exercise and the outdoors, how better to do this than to arrange a free weekly local event as encouragement.

We have identified a great 1 lap 5km route through Hornchurch Country Park (subject to final approval) and can’t wait to be able to launch our parkrun event.

Therefore we are now quite a way along our journey to getting this organised and we now need to gain the funding for the start up costs.

Start up costs amount to £3,000 and are a one off cost as the ongoing management and organisation is all done by volunteers, so once it’s set up and running (literally) it is completely self supporting.

We have been approved as a potential community project for Aviva and this is where we need your help. We need people to vote for our project to enable us to receive the funding we need to turn this dream into a reality and help people from around our local area to enjoy the many benefits of a local parkrun.

Please vote for us via this link and help us bring parkrun to Hornchurch Country Park!

https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-2622

Once you have registered you have 10 votes and we would really appreciate if you could share with all your friends, family and colleagues to help us gain some much needed support for this project!

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Thanks in advance, fingers crossed we can make this a great local success.

Berlin Marathon 2017

This weekend we travelled to Berlin for the Berlin Marathon.

The Berlin marathon is one of the Abbott 6 marathon majors which form a major part of our planned challenges and with this race being located in Europe it wasn’t too far for us to travel for the weekend.

We flew out separately on Friday morning, Jenni from Manchester and me (Helen) from London Stansted but our flights landed at Berlin within 5 minutes of each other. As they were early flights (departed at 6.30am) we were able to spend the full day in Berlin.

We got the train into the city from the airport which is a very quick and easy way to travel, soon we had checked in and left our luggage at the hotel and were on our way to the Expo. The Expo was easy to get to by train and after a short queue our entry cards and passports were checked then we could proceed to collect our race packs.

At this point we encountered a small hiccup… Whilst on the plane from Manchester Jenni had stood up to allow another person to access their seat, a passport had dropped to the floor and a fellow passenger alerted her to the dropped passport, she picked it up and placed it in her bag, when we arrived at the Expo Jenni realised she had 2 passports in her bag, both hers and one belonging to a stranger. We presumed they might be a runner so tried to get help from the officials at the Expo but to no avail, Jenni called the British Consulate in Berlin and advised them we had the passport. A little while later they called back to ask for permission to pass on our phone numbers, we were then called by an associate of the passport holder. The person who’s passport it was had travelled on to the Czech Republic but luckily they managed to arrange for someone to collect it from our hotel! Phew! Mini drama on day 1!

After collecting our race packs we had some photos taken with the Berlin Marathon signs in the background, and also managed to spot the mascots for a cheeky picture before we left the Expo.

We spent the rest of Friday wandering around Berlin looking at the sights, it was lovely weather and the city felt very calm and relaxing!

Saturday we had decided we didn’t want to do too much, we went to see the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery and then on to the Tiergarten, where we strolled through the park back towards the marathon start. We got to the start area not long before the start of the Inline Skating marathon! This looks like so much fun! 26.2miles on skates! We watched all the waves set off before heading in search of pasta (pre race carb loading – that’s the bit we are really good at!)

Early night for us on Saturday, involved sewing our timing chips to our shoes (as no fasteners were provided and we didn’t want to re-lace our trainers), then attaching numbers and gels to race belts (one of Jenni’s gels exploded on her – not fun), then with kit laid out we were ready for bed!

Sunday morning started quite calmly, up at 6am, breakfast at 6.30, this allowed us plenty of time back in the room to get ready and make sure we weren’t too stressed. We left the hotel at 8am and walked to the start, our friend Janet had travelled with us and she walked to the start too she had kindly offered to meet us next to the start pens so we could keep our coats on as long as possible, we were really grateful for this especially as it was raining!

Once we were in the running village it took us a while to find our different bag drop areas and we then found ourselves in a reasonably long queue for the start pens.

Once through the queue we found a portaloo – last nervous wee! And then tried to find Janet, this was easier said than done as the mobile networks had jammed, but eventually we found her. She walked along the barrier with us until we were close to the start line so we stayed warm and dry for longer than most people. Then we swapped for foil blankets and had a quick pre race photo!

The start was staggered so the fastest athletes had set off 45 minutes before our wave, our wave started at 10am. The start was a long wide street but even so it felt quite congested, there were a lot of people on the course and it took a few kms to get out of the masses and settle into our race.

This time we had planned to run the entire way together. This hasn’t happened at our previous majors, either we haven’t been running the same race, or in the case of Chicago we both had various injuries and decided it would be better to run separately. For Berlin we were excited to run together. It can be so motivating having someone with you step by step, knowing you are going through it together, even if you don’t speak, it’s quietly reassuring!

We ran along quite happily until about Mile 11 when for some reason it felt like we had been out on the course for a lot longer than we had. We slowed pace a little bit, had a short walk and both took a gel. Neither of us had done much distance running as we had both been protecting injuries so our training had been mostly cross training (swimming and cycling) and the running had been minimal. Jenni had done one long run of 17 miles in training but I hadn’t run more than 10km as a training run, I had been concentrating on trying to ensure my ankle and hip injuries stood the best possible chance of making it through.

But despite our less than ideal preparation here we were and we were doing it together! Miles 11-17 felt a bit rough, not easy, and a slightly inconsistent pace but we made it through. Something happens after this point, I think it’s when mentally you realise you have already covered far more distance than the miles left to go, then the mindset changes to positive as you start counting down rather than up! 9 miles left to go! That wasn’t too far!

We kept on side by side the majority of the time, it really was nice to be on the course together. As the miles ticked by we started comparing the distance left to distances we knew we ran at home, visualising how far it was in terms of local miles.

The course was a good one, sufficiently wide for the most part and quite pleasant, there were lots of incredible bands stationed along the route that really lifted our spirits and made us smile! These were appreciated the most during the last few miles.

The only down side to the course was the water stations, the drinks were in cups which we always find quite difficult, and runners had discarded their empty cups all over the road which made running through the water stations quite precarious especially when the paper cups and plastic cups were mingled together, disintegrated paper combined with wet squashed plastic cups is unsurprisingly rather slippery!

Still, there were no disasters and we successfully navigated all water stations without incident!

The last few miles of a marathon seem to feel so different each time we run one, sometimes you literally feel like the last few miles are impossible, like you are never going to make it, other days it’s a feeling of elation as you count down the last few kms. Thankfully we were both feeling positive whilst heading towards the finish line of Berlin. Our pace picked up to that of our normal running pace, we started smiling and posing for photographers! We were offered a shot of Jäger from a spectator which made us smile (we declined the shot) we were going to make it!


Then the end was in sight! Under the Brandenburg Gate, into the park and across the finish line! Side by side, arms round each other, perfectly in step for identical finish times and a great final photo!

We had made it, another marathon major ticked off the list! We got our medals, had our photos taken, collected our bags and headed out to meet Janet. We also managed to purchase 2 giant pretzels on our way out of the park – obligatory silly post race photo can be viewed below!

On our walk back to the hotel we stopped at the final turn point on the course to offer some encouragement to those still on the course and let them know how amazing they were and that they had nearly made it!

We hope people found our encouragement helpful, I was pleased to spot Carl looking determined with only a few hundred meters to go. Well done Carl!

We are super pleased with our achievement and had a great time running together. We treated ourselves to a yummy dinner at a local German pub we had discovered on the first evening, then it was another early night for us! No partying on this trip!

We are already looking forward to our next challenges and look forward to sharing them with you!

It’s ok to have a bad day…

So yesterday morning I had great intentions of getting up early and going for a run… The alarm went off, and the lazy side of me decided I didn’t want to get up, I wanted to have another hour in bed. So I did, no big deal really as I was supposed to be going open water swimming in the evening so I took running kit to work with me with the plan being on the way home from swimming I would just get out of the car a few miles from home and run then. I text my boyfriend who promised he would make me get out of the car at least 3 miles from home so I could get a run done.

Then he ended up having to work late… We have to both leave work precisely on time to be able to make it to the lake to swim before it closes, with Adam working late there was no way I would make it, plus he had my wetsuit etc in his car as he usually picks me up from the train station and drives us to the lake.

So here I had a choice… Do an alternative form of exercise or sulk… I looked up classes at the gym, there was a 90minute endurance cycle class… I could have done that, I could have gone for a run as I hadn’t bothered to go in the morning. It was raining, I find the rain demotivating… I am also absolutely useless if plans change. I can not cope with a change of plan… so instead of training I went home in a sulk…

Adam ordered me an Indian takeaway to make up for the fact he wouldn’t be home and I ate tons of food and sulked in front of the TV watching Masterchef…

As far as training days go yesterday was a complete fail. Therefore today needed to be better.

It’s ok to have a bad day, an off day, where your training doesn’t go to plan and you eat more than you normally would. But a bad day doesn’t need to turn into a bad week, it’s easy to let it, but it doesn’t need to.

So this morning I got up to do the horses before work as normal, but instead of getting dressed in jodhpurs and a hoodie I put on my running leggings and a running top, I drove to the yard, mucked out the horses, put them in the field, and then I ran home…

Iv never run home from the stables before, iv cycled it a few times but iv never run it, turns out it’s not that far if I run through the parks, 3.3miles and exactly 30mins later I arrived home. Morning exercise done, it was actually a really pleasant run, slightly misty as the sun rose but very pretty. And I feel so much better for getting back to some form of training. I’m even still on time for work!

Midnight Man 70.3

This weekend race day was a little different to normal… Instead of getting up early I woke up at 8am, went to the stables, took my horse out for a hack… Came home, had breakfast, had a nap. I woke up for lunch and then went back to bed to lie down for a bit. This was no ordinary race day, this was Midnight Man race day and as the title suggests racing would be taking place through the night.

I genuinely thought racing late in the day would play to my strengths. I'm not good at getting up and going in the mornings, and I hate eating early in the day, it makes me feel quite sick. So surely having a day to wake up and eat should have been a benefit? This didn't seem to be the case, actually I didn't really know what I should or shouldn't do during the day, or what I should or shouldn't eat.

3.30pm, car packed and we headed off to the event. Adam had entered the quarter distance while I had entered the half so we were both racing the same event meaning the car was pretty packed with both our bikes and all our Tri kit. The benefits of racing close to home meant we were in the event car park 20mins later. It is a small event in comparison to some triathlons, therefore registration and racking was a quick and easy process and a few minutes later we were sat on the grass with friends.

Quick race briefing at 5pm with an explanation of the course, much needed as it was a lapped course with a number of turns in all 3 disciplines. Then wetsuits on and at 6pm we were off.

The water felt really cold when I first got in, however there was plenty of acclimatisation time allowed and when the starting horn sounded I was more than ready for the swim. A bit of hustle and bustle as we headed off the start line as people converged on the race line from quite a wide start but everyone soon settled into their pace and spread out.

There were 10 water safety boats on the lake so it felt safe. First lap passed reasonably quickly but I seemed to slow down a lot on my second lap and therefore wasn't out of the water until 49 minutes later.

Into transition, wetsuit off, helmet and shoes on and off out onto the bike. Earlier on in the week I had worried that it would be cold as we had had a few days of 13 degrees and pouring rain, but the weather had brightened up considerably so no extra layers were needed.

The bike course was described as flat and fast, and this is pretty accurate, although as its a lapped course after a few laps you become aware of every little incline and change in the road surface. The first 4-5 laps passed by quickly enough, but laps 6-8 I found a little soul destroying, it was quite lonely out on the course, it was now dark, and self motivation is not my strong point, plus I like to relax and put my pyjamas on about 9.30pm, I'm not used to cycling at this time of night so I was getting sleepy.

However a group of lovely friends were on the start/lap line shouting encouragement every time I rode by and this was hugely appreciated.

I also need to mention the highlight of my bike section was a lovely lady cycling past and shouting out 'I love your blog' this genuinely left a smile on my face for at least 2 laps and shows me that our amazing kit by 2XU is helping our followers to recognise us at events!

56 miles and 3hrs 11 mins later the bike was done. I have no desire to ride a circular lap of a dual carriageway again in a hurry but hats off to the organisers as a road closure of that magnitude cant be easy to arrange and it did make for a fast and safe course.

Into transition and as I put my trainers on a man held his bike light up to help me see, he had decided to stop as he was finding it difficult to motivate himself and lived very close to the event, therefore said he found it too easy to opt out. We all have these days. I sympathised with him, thanked him for the light and I was out onto the run, 4 laps of 5.25km, I jogged round my first lap, testing my legs and it didn't feel too bad. Then disaster… (mild disaster) I needed to pee…

Now, after I have stopped or walked once I find it really difficult to get moving again… Think giant tyre, once rolling, keeps rolling or gathers momentum, once stopped, flat, heavy and difficult to get moving… Yep, that's me. I spent my 4th -5th km debating if I could just put up with my uncomfortable bladder but that's not a wise move, so I paused to use the portaloo.

Shortly after the loos was a water station so I took a cup of water, then tried to plod onwards, but by now my legs had realised there was an easier option – to walk, so lap 2 was a mix of walk/run, based on nothing technical, purely on how I felt. This made me a lot slower than I had intended but also meant I didn't end up too tired (it was 11pm by this point). Lap 3 was a bit more run than walk, Lap 4 Adam met me at the drinks station and walked a little way up the road with me.

Last lap! Laps are tough and require more mental motivation than I can muster, especially in the dark with no other competitors anywhere close by.

Then it was over… 6hrs 24mins and 45 seconds later! Over 10 minutes quicker than my effort in Dubai in January, and 2hrs quicker than my plod around Staffordshire 70.3 after my operation! I am now almost 5 months post ankle operation, so I think my race on Saturday night was something to be proud of?

After my race Adam asked if I wanted a recovery shake, we had bought my usual Torq recovery with us but actually the thought of drinking it made me feel quite ill. Instead I had 2 cups of coke, a bottle of water and we stopped at McDonalds on the way home so I could get a cheeseburger happy meal…

As someone who normally avoids McDonalds I can't quite explain why I did this but it was obviously what I wanted to eat and after over 6hrs of exercise I wasn't going to argue myself into a healthier alternative. A little bit of what you fancy does you good, or at least makes you happy! And it was 2am!

2017 London Triathlon

We were particularly looking forward to this race! As you know we don’t often get to do our events together as we live so far apart so this was a great opportunity for us to catch up and race at one of the biggest triathlons ever. 


Saturday night Jenni came to stay with me and we headed out for dinner and a chat whilst my ever helpful boyfriend Adam checked our bikes over! After dinner we packed all our kit and we were even more excited as this would be our first race in our custom kit! We had designed a logo and then with the help of 2XU we designed full custom kit, Tri suits, bib shorts, cycle jerseys and running vests. We had eagerly been awaiting the arrival of this kit and we were not disappointed. The printing is fantastic and it’s all amazing quality! We love it and couldn’t wait to race in it! 


Our start time was 7.40am, this meant an early alarm for us. 4.45am, alarms went off and we got up and tried to eat some breakfast, packed all our stuff into the car and we were off. Luckily I don’t live too far from the event so it was only about half an hour to drive. 

Once we arrived registration was very simple, just show ID and collect your timing  chip as all numbers and wristbands had been sent out by post. We moved quickly into bike racking which was super well organised – it’s such a luxury to have a fully indoor transition area! 


Bikes racked we went outside to have a look at the swim course. The course looks a long way all mapped out in one loop but it was well marked with buoys and lots of kayakers for water safety, our only concern was it was quite cold outside, this could mean it would be a chilly start to the bike! 


The London Triathlon is a busy event and we knew lots of people taking part, a number of those people were in the same wave as us so we had plenty of friendly faces around as we got into our wetsuits and got ready to start. 


Then it was time to start! I’m always a nervous swimmer in open water especially at the start, but once the swim was underway I actually felt quite relaxed, I took an inside line that surprisingly wasn’t too crowded and it made it easier to sight as there was a yellow rope strung buoy to buoy so I didn’t have to keep looking up for the buoys. 

Just over 33mins later and the swim was over, wetsuit off, into transition. Then off out onto the bike. The course was a long loop up to Westminster in central london, then a smaller loop to finish. The course goes out and back so you can see all the other competitors on the other side of the road. I saw a number of people I knew on the bike leg, it’s so nice when someone goes past shouting encouragement. 

We had quite a big group of supporters out watching us and I spotted them towards the end of my first lap. My boyfriend managed to take this slightly crazy looking photo of me. I was enjoying myself honestly!! 


Bike done, just the run left to go. Now I haven’t done much running recently other than the Spitfire Scramble, iv been avoiding it, giving my ankle the best chance of fully healing, so I wasn’t looking forward to the 10km at the end of this race. I set off trying to make sure I didn’t go too fast, 10km can feel like a long way at the end of an event and I was determined to finish the run still running! Whilst out on the bike course I had passed and been passed by the same man a few times (I’m afraid I don’t know his name) but it turned out we were a similar run pace, so side by side we ran alongside the docks, listening to the music that was playing. I have to say for me the music was a great addition, last year the run felt a bit long and lonely outside by the docks, but this year the turn point was early, there was lots of music and the course had been extended inside the building. This felt weird at first but was actually quite good as I’m more determined when I know people can see me and there was no where to hide on the inside loop! 

Just over 56mins later and it was all over… I was really proud of my run time. It finally feels like I’m starting to return to normal fitness levels and this is exciting for me! 

I actually managed a PB at this event, despite a slightly slower bike leg my run was quicker than the year before and I came in at 2hrs 54mins and 36seconds! 


I enjoyed the day, and I’m sure I’ll be back again next year. Local event, closed roads and a PB course… Yep, I’m hooked! 

And even after racing in it for nearly 3 hours I am still in love with our new kit! Thanks 2XU!!! 

Unfortunately for Jenni she had some issues with a back injury causing breathing problems in the swim, and despite the best efforts of the swim safety team and the Red Cross medics she was unable to continue her race. Huge thanks the the swim safety and Red Cross for looking after her! Hopefully she’ll be back next year too! 

Spitfire Scramble 2017

The Spitfire Scramble was exactly 4 months to the day after my ankle operation…

I’d signed up as part of the lovely Scrambled Legs team almost a year ago, and obviously had no idea that when I got to the start I would have done almost no training due to injury, in fact quite the opposite, I had vowed to train and train well for this event. Best laid plans hey?


But on Saturday I started this event with some of the most amazing ladies I know, and I knew that whatever I managed would be accepted as ok, so there was really nothing to lose.

We had signed up as a team of 8, so that meant that following each lap we would have between 6-7hrs to recover whilst the others ran.

I was 3rd to go in our team so I started at about 1.30pm. I was quite apprehensive, I have only run a handful of times since my operation, and 5km had been the longest distance, each lap of Spitfire Scramble was just over 9km. Almost double the distance I had tried to run since the op.

I started my lap and had only gone a few hundred meters when someone shouted ‘is that you Helen?’ And running up behind me was Dave Sherman! He had completed a full distance triathlon the previous weekend at Challenge Roth, so I was quite surprised to see him out running an event so soon. Dave decided to run my lap with me, I was so glad of the company as I really wasn’t sure I could run a whole lap, but at the same time I didn’t want to slow Dave down. He is a very fast runner (super speedy when compared to me) but he reassured me that he didn’t want to go too fast as he was still recovering, so on we went.


The route was slightly different this year as they had moved the camping field to a bigger one. This massively improved the camping area and also made the run seem a bit easier as the section at the beginning was the bit I had found tough when it was at the end last year, getting it over and done with early suited me.


Running along next to Dave, chatting, taking awful looking selfies and not thinking too much about whether I could or couldn’t make it meant the lap past quite quickly for me, and just under 53 minutes later I was back in camp! Lap 1 completed successfully! No one could have been more shocked than I was!

A few hours of eating, relaxing with the girls and cheering people on and some glitter application later and it was time for lap 2…


I was super lucky with my lap times and lap 2 coincided with sunset. I managed to keep up an almost identical pace during my 2nd lap which shocked me, I had been prepared to be a lot slower, apparently not! Towards the end of the lap there is a hill, described by our team as the hill that keeps on giving… this is because it climbs and turns and climbs and turns and climbs and turns again… you get the idea? Evil as this may be the hill does provide some stunning views once you get to the top! And I managed to take some photos of the view during this lap…


Gorgeous hey? Following the hill it was approximately 1km mostly down hill back towards the start/finish area.

After my 2nd lap it was time for some more food, and to try and get some rest as without any the early morning lap would be super tough. Turns out sleeping in a tent when it’s warm and lots of people are running or waking up to run isn’t actually that easy, but I managed a 2-3hours of snoozing before getting up at 3am!

I started my final lap at 4.20am, just as the sky was starting to lighten and I finished it just under an hour later. This time the view from the top of the hill was the sun rising and it truly was a beautiful sunrise!


This was my running done for the day as there wouldn’t be a need for me to run a 4th lap, I was quite pleased about this as my third lap had been a few minutes slower than my previous 2 due to me walking a few sections and I am sure a 4th lap would have resulted in more walking than running! 2 amazing ladies in our group (Danielle and Sophie) did run 4 laps however, and they are incredible!

As a team we completed 26 laps during the event and this put us in 6th place in a very tough field of 13 all female teams. We are all very proud of ourselves and each other.

After the camp was packed away I had a long nap yesterday afternoon, this was followed by a lot of food from Dominos!


This was then followed by a very early night, I was in bed by 7.30pm! But I woke up this morning feeling surprisingly ok and still very happy!

The Spitfire Scramble is done… Until next year of course!

Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire

We did it…on the hottest day of the year! 


Staffs has been our combined A race for 2017 and one we signed up to circa 10 months ago. Jenni’s first middle distance and Helen’s second. 

Bikes racked and kit packed we headed to Staffordshire early on sat. Registered, attended the race briefing and started setting up transitions. This took all day due to it being a split transition set up and the crazy heat made it a sweaty job. There was a huge emphasis on the temperature and everyone was advised to forget their race times and listen to their bodies.

After checking out the swim course and driving some of the bike route we hit the local pub for a much needed dinner and retired to our rooms for an early night. 

4am breakfast. Great set up by the Holiday Inn as pretty much all guests were competitors but it was a struggle eating so early. 

Then we headed off to the Shugborough Estate, boarded the Athlete bus and started driving towards Chasewater. Everyone was relieved to find tyre pressures were ok when attaching nutrition to the bike, massive relief!

Gathered on the grass everyone was waiting until the last possible moment to get into wetsuits as it was super hot even at 7am. Quick change before our wave was called and we were off.

8am the swim started for us. No acclimatisation so a bit of a shock diving in. The course consisted of one lap. The water was pretty murky and with dazzling sunshine I was glad to have mirrored lenses. Bit choppy compared to some of the smaller stiller lakes we’re used to swimming in but we both got through in circa 50 mins. 

Long run to transition, quick change and out onto the bikes. The route was pretty technical in the first few miles; very narrow lanes that had sharp concealed bends. We came across an accident early on  and knew it was necessary to slow the pace down to ensure safe riding. Beautiful bike course, undulating hills and amazing scenery. There was a long gradual hill towards the end which was quite tough and slowed everyone down but more so because of the heat. Then we were done. 

T2 we took our time to apply suncream etc and headed out on the run. The support was amazing from spectators and a really great atmosphere. So many had rigged up hoses to spray water over us to keep us cool and bands were playing outside of pubs. The run was a disaster. Everyone was walking or adopting a very slow shuffle. The heat was just incredible and the casualtys started to come thick and fast. Lots of people collapsing, being sick and suffering with cramp. At this point I think everyone knew it was better to be safe than get a great time so we’re running very short distances and certainly walking up all of the hills. Great opportunity to chat to fellow athletes and really enjoyable.

Overall a great day. Helen did amazingly given she’s only a few months post op. We are both happy to have finished in such challenging conditions! Bring on the next one!

Chase the Sun


Last night was my first event since my ankle operation and I headed to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford to join my friend Robbie and take part in the Run Through Chase the Sun Event. I’d never done a Run Through event before so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But it turned out to be a really good race! 

It started under the ArcelorMittal Orbit There were options to run either 5km or 10km with the course being a loop of 2.5km, so 2 laps for 5km and 4 laps for 10km.


We arrived nice and early, collected our numbers easily and sat on the grass enjoying the sunshine whilst all the other runners arrived. It was a nice organised but relaxed atmosphere and the marshalls were wandering in and out of he participants asking if anyone had questions and checking that timing chips had been correctly fastened. 

A quick group warm up and then everyone was lined up in pace order, then we were off! 

I had opted for the 5km as I am only just starting to run again following my operation, Robbie was doing the 10km, so we set off together but separated after about 1km.


The route was really well marked with tape, cones, marshalls and signage for turns and km markers, in addition to a few motivational slogan signs too! 

The marshalls were awesome, most had some kind of musical instrument maracas or tambourine and they were very cheery and encouraging! One Marshall ran along for a bit cheering everyone on and I recognised him from the Run Tatton race I did last year, I was unsure at first as surely a Marshall from a race in Cheshire wouldn’t be at a race in London but I asked him and he was indeed the same person, full of boundless energy! 


It was a really hot evening but the organisers were well prepared, there was a water station at the lap point, so it was possible to take water every 2.5km if you needed it! I wouldn’t normally need water on a race of 10km or less but I did this time! A combination of the heat and my body having to work harder as I’m not as fit as I used to be, I genuinely needed a drink and the water was a welcome treat! 


A very reasonable 31mins later I crossed the finish line. I was really pleased with that for my first race back! The medal is awesome and they had water, bananas, flapjacks (really really tasty flapjacks) and Pip n Nut Almond Butter at the finish line! 

All in all a fab race, I will definitely be doing another Run Through event!