Monday, 28 July 2014

June taught me not all challenges can be planned. My dear friend Mo suffered a short and terrifying illness and died within 6 weeks at age 51. All else was abandoned as we spent our last moments with him. Mo was a great husband, father, son, friend and teacher. He was loving, smutty, sexy, anarchic,  faithful, loyal, weird, paranoid, adventurous....and much more. On the surface it seemed like we were supporting him on this last and viscerally painful journey but in the end we realised he lead us to acceptance of his and our fate. He lived and died through June with grace, dignity, charity, patience and deep love for the people who surrounded him. I hope these lessons stay with me as I face more of these challenges in the future. Miss you Mo!

So life goes on, lessened,  and my Challenges resume. My July challenge was really tough - partly because of reduced training in June and partly because I am sad. Anyway I set off on my 100km XSussex ride on my own and enjoyed most of it - but the last 25 km was a killer and I yearned for some cycling mates so I could sit in their slipstream. Got back to Eastbourne and was met by my ever patient husband who sent me into the sea to cool down and bought me an ice cream - my hero!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

It's been a busy two months!

I got so carried away with 'doing' stuff that the posting about it has been slow! So the last two months of Challenges in pictures!
April Challenge X London 80km Cycle with my fab 3 outriders Steve, Dan and Martin - great day.

May Challenge Lanzarote Duathlon and Team Tri with my sporty women friends as part of our annual Club La Santa pilgrimage. Tri team below, Alex the Swimmer, Karen the Cyclist and me the Runner! First Tri and first duathlon for both  well done girls!

Extra May event Howards 50@50 Eastbourne Seafront run with my running mate Alex as part of Howard's year long exploration of women running

 Overall, great being fifty so far!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

It was great to take part in the annual st Patricks Day Ballydehob 10k - it is always fun and space for all. You can run the 10k, walk it, or do the 3km. whichever suits you best. Always followed by heaps of home made cakes and biscuits for talented local lady cooks. I love my First 100 Finishers T-shirt but sized for local farmers not urban dwellers!

Just 4 days to go to my April Challenge of 80km Cross London cycle ride. I have been practising in traffic but remain nervous. I think my thighs have expanded by at least and inch and have invested in better cycling shorts!! Matt my TrainStrong PT has been getting my legs ready and here is an example of how (which was harder than it looked!)

Ride being arranged and led by my cycling guru Steve Scott, a great cyclist but a bit weird too...........he has taken his Donation pledges for my challenges very seriously and has taken to videoing himself trying to hit his Donation target of shower an wash under 3 minutes all because he wants to win a Ben & Gerry tub of ice cream - now that is seriously competitive!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Make the Distance February Challenge

Planned Mad Mud event cancelled, replacement Seven Sisters Run abandoned due to my injured ankle - what other obstacles could be put in my way this month? Well none as it happens and my Plan C Challenge got under way at 7.30 this morning.

A beautiful day today to take on my February Make the Distance Challenge to ride 62km (38m) along the south coast from Eastbourne to Hastings and back. Great ride out along the sea with sun rising and sea blue. No problems except I had to shoulder the bike for a km as the coastal bike path washed away - my own fault I ignored the 'Do Not Proceed Further' sign. Lovely to get to the end of Hastings Town with its old fishermen's towers still in use. The fish freshly caught within 20 miles of shore and sold by the fishermen, slow food in action.

When I turned for home I realised my comfortable outward ride had been helped by strong south-westerly that was now against me. So I battled every one of the 31km home through the wind. My cycle mentor Steve Scott gave me permission via Twitter to stop for coffee break and that is just what I did. If a bus had come by I may have been tempted to jump on! Tough personal challenge as have never cycled further than 25km before - at least it wasn't raining!

Great practice for my April Challenge, set and being orchestrated by cycling Supremo Steve Scott who with his cycling mate Russ has planned a 80km Cross London Ride for Easter Sunday. Steve and Russ will be doing point on the back and front as I am not to be trusted with traffic...........we have a group of riders already but all welcome. Steve has even drawn up a training plan to get you up to the distance if you are not there already.

Looking forward to a more sedate March Challenge which is my Irish local annual St Patricks Day Ballydehob 10k but target is to blow my 10k 55 minute PB out of the gentle fun run for me that day.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Isn't it great what average people can do.............

It is pretty amazing to see every day what can be achieved by us average people when we put our mind to it. In April 2012 Dawn and her daughter Winter started on their challenge to break the world record for the first mother and daughter team to run a marathon on all 7 continents. They achieved it at the end of 2013 and in so doing Dawn became the youngest runner to attain the accomplishment.
We don't all manage such acts of courage and physical strength but everyday I am inspired by the quiet athletes I see on the London commuter routes - running and cycling to and from work, quietly getting on with their sport. Often they are doing good as they get fit
I am in Oslo this weekend and while checking out the city by tram saw hundreds of local people getting on and off the tram with their cross country skis, just heading off for a little route before lunch - all very normal but I know how tough that sport is having failed at it several times.
So while my challenges are small, they are great to me and push sport into the middle of my everyday as a normal activity.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A special clap for those last home in the race

I was back to training this weekend with my Personal Trainer Matt Shore. Matt is a pretty amazing guy, great trainer and strong man and athlete himself. He has pushed, persuaded, charmed and hassled me from my relatively inactive self 4 years ago to a pretty active average woman today. This weekend session was strength based with kettle bells in the hail and rain on Eastbourne seafront - no moaning expected or allowed.

Matt has always pushed me to build my core strength and believes strength comes first in all sport. Personally I love to watch his spanner bending and tyre flipping - but then I can be a bit odd.

At the end of our first year training together in 2010 Matt asked me to set a stretching target for myself based on something I had always wanted to do - I chose triathlons with sea swims - quite a stretch as scared of swimming, couldn't cycle without falling off the bike and running was slow and weak. Being a brave soul and both competitive cyclist and swimmer in his time, he took this on and I completed 3 triathlons with sea swims in  2011 - Matt shadowing me on two of them to stop me from drowning. He got me from swimming 5 strokes in the pool then 'drowning' to doing 1km competently and then facing force 5 gales and waves in Summer tri swims on the south coast. He patiently went bike shopping with me, taught me how to use gears, put my feet in the pedal straps while not falling off and get to a 25km cycle at a more than competent speed, and finally completing 5km running without believing death was close.

 The Tris taught me many things that have remained with me:

  • the physical and psychological pain and pleasure of competing
  • how to survive the ignominy of being last in a race and still feel you achieved something worthwhile
  • how competition pushes your performance up and onwards 
  • how much you need a coach to train and believe in you when you don't frankly have any faith in yourself to complete your personal target
Lots more lessons and competitions since then and have stopped coming last now but much as I love watching elite athletes and those who come first, there is a special place in my heart for the guys at the end of the race who are starting out on their personal fitness journey - as it is the toughest part - so I try to be there to clap them home.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

.......and we are off!

My first event of my challenge this year - The Hangover 5 on January 1st was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. These guys have obviously never run in West Cork. The great action pledges you guys made on my TheDoNation page meant I had to find an alternative quickly to hold up my end of our bargain. Thankfully the good people of decided to run their planned annual Lamberhurst New Years Day 10k off road run, assuring me the forecast was dry for the race. Race went ahead as they said except off-road changed to on road due to flooding and it was wet beyond rain.

Despite wearing off road trainers for an on road race and getting wetter than I have ever done before I managed a PB (personal best for the uninitiated) of 55min and 16 seconds (apparently the seconds matter). I came 17th out of 53 women runners and placed overall 86 out of 136. I am happy with that and was delighted to see so many women out there - loads more did the 5k so The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation will be pleased

The race was two rounds of a 5k route with most competitors choosing the 5k race option, through pretty Lamberhurst Village and grounds of Scotney castle. As I watched the 5k runners cross the finish line, being weary and very wet, I have to confess I was tempted to slope off for a 5k finishers medal, But as it was a 'challenge' I couldn't give up. Mince pie and sniff of Scotch awaited us all BUT as my DoNation pledge involves no more cakes or pastries; my New Year resolution is to give up the drink and I would be dienfranchised as citizen of Irish Republic if I drank scotch I settled for tea.

Photographic evidence of both my efforts and of my support team being so put off by the rain they refused to leave the car to even take a photograph.

Now back to training for next event on 8th February - details to follow.................