Friday, 25 July 2014


So after years of resisting, this year Pete finally joined in with running, increased his swimming, began cycling and entered his first triathlon. After a few months of hard training and the loss of several pounds in weight, the date finally arrived - 13th July - and it was triathlon time!

While he had a few nerves and wondered whether he might actually finish dead last, I enjoyed the more relaxing feeling of being the spectator for a change.

A few days earlier, the kids and I got kitted up with some big paper and thick pens, and they designed their own motivational messages.

Swim like a fish, Cycle like a motorbike, Run like the wind
We all drove to Bexhill (along with the bike) on the Sunday morning, in plenty of time for Pete to check in and leave his bike in transition.

Then it was rather a nervous long wait while other races started, and Pete's wave was the last to enter the sea for the swim. Eventually it was time for his briefing, and then they were off!

As he swam off, the kids and I popped in to a seafront cafe for a quick refreshment - it was past time for my usual morning coffee - and we sat down with drinks and cakes.

But I kept anxiously glancing out of the window, and realised the first swimmers were quicker than I had thought. We ate up and drank up quickly, and got to the beach just a few minutes before Pete came out of the water - he was in the first few swimmers, doing much better than we had imagined!

He looked as though he was having a great time as he ran up to transition. We raced up the steps too, so we could stand near where his bike was. As we sped along, Robbie said 'This is brilliant fun!' Meanwhile, we also spotted Olympic Gold winning Ice skater Jane Torvill, who had taken part in the earlier duathlon!
Jane Torvill (and somewhere in the background, Pete)

After a leisurely 3mins or so, Pete cycled off. We got to the side of the road, and waited. After a while, I wondered where my rucksack was, and had to run back to the cafe where I had left it by a chair... when I got back to the kids, they said 'Daddy's just been past'! Beacuse the course was all loopy, I did see him a few minutes later when he passed again.

We crossed the road for a better view for his next passing, but after about 10 mins, Emma needed the toilet. We ran to the nearest one, dived in and out quickly and ran back, where Robbie said 'Daddy's just been past!' again! So much for spectating...

But we did see him come back to transition, where he left the bike and went off on the run. This was along the seafront, and this time I managed to catch him both times he passed.

We waited near the finish, and eventually, in a very impressive total time of 1h30mins-ish, he crossed the line. He was 35 out of 83 participants, so not even close to last.

It was a really good day, and Pete's already planning another one. It was great to be spectating rather than running, but I must admit, I do like the idea of doing one of these myself one day... just need to learn to swim properly... Watch this space!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Bewl 15

I had been wanting to do this race for a couple of years. It has a really good reputation as being well organised and friendly, and it definitely was those things!

It was also tougher than I had expected.

Pete, the kids and I drove about 24 miles to the small, pretty town of Wadhurst, where the race start was. From the town, we had to walk down a farm lane to the start of the race in between some farm fields, where there were cakes, drinks, a brass band and a piper!

There were 684 runners in total, so quite a crowd to get thorough a narrow lane, but it was chip-timed, so the wait to start didn't matter. The course was mostly around Bewl Water - a country park around a large reservoir. This meant it was very much off-road!

We ran through fields, long grass, muddy tracks, footpaths, and small roads, and the route included a number of gates and stiles to cross. It was described as 'undulating', and most of the run was just gently hilly, with lots of little ups and downs. The last few miles was more dramatic though, with a lot of steep hills - mostly up.

As I've never run a 15-mile race before, and as this was a fairly unique trail course, I didn't have any goal time in mind. That meant I could relax a bit and enjoy the surroundings. There were some good views, and the weather was cool with occasional rain and occasional outbreak of warm sun.

I enjoyed the first 7 or 8 miles, but started to find it quite hard work from then on. I think I had underestimated the extra effort involved in the terrain, which was quite hard to negotiate at times and I had to really concentrate on where I put my feet.

From about 10 miles, the race started heading uphill. This is where I started chatting with other runners - mostly swearwords at the hills! I took a slice of orange from a volunteer, and as I bit into it, I choked on the juice. A woman behind me gave me the last of her bottle of water - thank goodness for her help! Then I started chatting to a man called Eddie at the foot of a hill, and our short conversation got me up the hill without really noticing it - thanks Eddie!

As we got into a field near the end, a man with a South African accent started urging others on, and  complaining about the hills. We saw a sign which said 400 metres to go, then turned a corner and met another hill. The air turned blue with expletives!

As we saw the finish, I was level with 2 men. We had a joke about sprinting to the finish (I was barely jogging by this point) but they both got ahead of me. Then I saw Robbie and Emma at the side of the path, urging me on. We high 5'd as I passed, and as I stumbled towards the finish, I heard Emma shouting 'Come on Mummy!', which definitely helped!

I was so exhausted. I felt almost as spent as when I did my marathons. At the finish we got a medal and free t-shirt, both showing the image of the lake. There was also free cake!!! BEST FINISH EVER!!

My time was 2h30m07s! My position was around 530 / 684 (but the results were given by gun time, not chip time). I'd like to do it again now I have a time to beat, but I think I'd do more training next time!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Big June

This month isn't even over yet and it's been one of my biggest training months EVER!!

At the start of June I was lucky enough to have 2 1/2 weeks when I didn't have any work on, so I decided to seize the opportunity to get some good running and bike miles in while I could.

This month has included;

A couple of beautiful runs over the cliffs:

No fewer than 3 bike rides to the beach and back:

Several stops inbetween cycling for this sort of thing:

And lots of long runs and cycles up and down the lovely Cuckoo Trail:

Unfortunately the work is now piling up again and I haven't got as many chances for long runs and long bike rides coming up, but I have got a race coming up next week which I'm really looking forward to. It's a 15 miler - not a race distance I've done before - so I've had to some long runs as training.

Over the last 3 weeks I've done a 10, then 12, and finally 14 mile run. The last of these was a bit of an adventure. I usually do a loop round the local towns for a long run, but at this time of year we are plagued by seagulls who like to swoop down towards me and scare me! So I am avoiding the areas where they are and sticking to the tree-shaded path of the local Cuckoo Trail.

So I set off one morning with a plan to run 7 miles one way, turn round and run home. This would be further than I've gone along this path before - including cycling. I don't usually take water with me, but this was a very hot day, so I filled a bottle, put it in the freezer to cool quickly, finished getting ready, and left - without the bottle.

I wasn't too worried as I don't drink much when I run anyway. However, this was a hot day and a long run. After about 5 miles, I stopped seeing anyone on the path. It got more isolated and far from any roads, so there were none of the dog-walkers, kids on bikes and horse riders I sometimes pass nearer home. I eventually turned around and started feeling very hot and thirsty.

About 2 miles from my house, there is a little place off the trail called The Loom Mill, where they sell arts and crafts, and there's a cafe and toilet. I started thinking about it at about 8 miles, but wouldn't reach it until 12 miles...

I was really enjoying the run though, and the miles went by quickly! When I finally got there, I went into the toilet, turned on the tap and started gulping down water. I sounded like a dog, slurping away, and it tasted amazing! After a while I left and finished the run.

I felt thirsty all day after that, and couldn't drink enough. Later I had a bad headache and felt unwell, and I think it was down to the lack of water. Lesson learned.

So with a few days still to go, I've already run just over 100 miles this month, and cycled about 90. This is big mileage for me!

This is bound to drop over the next few weeks as I have more work to do, but I'm hoping to get in some more long bike rides and plenty of running too!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

About time I blogged...

Things have been busy with work and children and busy weekends for a while, but this last couple of weeks I've had a bit of time off (from work anyway, not from children or busy weekends).

So I haven't blogged for a very long while, and it's about time I did a little catching up.

Since my last post in April, Pete, Robbie and Emma and I have all been very active. Pete has even signed up to do a triathlon in July! This is pretty significant as it's his first event since running a 10K in 2006 I think, and he's been up early training for weeks. He's lost a load of weight and is fitter and slimmer than I've ever seen him in the 18 years we've known each other!

Pictures speak quicker than words, so here's a glimpse of what we've been up to over the last couple of months.

Lewes Easter Monday 10K

Emma and Pete in the 1 mile race

Robbie in the 1 miler
After my 10K
This was a morning of races which started with the kids' 1 mile race. It was mostly round the track, although they ran off into a field for a bit. Robbie ran 9.26 and Emma ran 11.03!

My 10K started and finished on the track, but slightly to my surprise (and dismay), most of it was in wet fields amidst angry sheep and one herd of charging cows! This was quite scary, but a brave marshal managed to shoo them off. The land was quite boggy in places and I found it a very tough 10K. I ran it in 54.49.

My parkrun 50 t-shirt

In April I also ran my 50th parkrun, which entitled me to a free t-shirt! It's a really nice shirt, and as Robbie got his 10 t-shirt ages ago, we can co-ordinate nicely on a Saturday morning now.


In May we all went indoor climbing one weekend! This was something we hadn't really done before but thought we'd try. It was good fun and the kids loved it. The next day they were fine, while Pete and I struggle to raise our arms above our heads...

Parkrun PBs

As we've been parkrunning regularly, both Robbie and Emma have recently smashed their 5K PBs! On his 30th run, Robbie ran 29m59s - his first sub 30 5K, and over a minute off his previous time. The following week Emma charged round to an amazing 34m10s, another huge PB!

Sea swimming and paddling

Pete is the swimming cap on the left

As part of triathlon training, Pete has to get used to swimming in the sea, so he has joined a group of nutcases who regularly get together on Eastbourne beach to take the plunge. It's great at weekends because Robbie and Emma absolutely love the opportunity to paddle and get themselves soaking wet, while I like nothing more than sitting on the beach doing nothing - perfect!

Beautiful scenery

Yes I did run up this hill

While I've had some more free time recently, I've been making the most of it by upping my running and biking, and doing some different routes. Last week I drove to just about my favourite place in the world, and ran over the cliffs. It was a tough hill run, but stunning scenery. The lighthouse at Beachy Head (above) is quite iconic round here, and these were the best views I've ever had of it - breathtaking.

So that's about it. Next week it's back to work, but I hope I'll be able to blog again a bit sooner. We've got lots of plans, including some races, camping trips and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - can't wait!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

3 months in to 2014

So we're well into April and this year is truly flying by for me. As March rushed to an end, I thought it was a good time to reflect on how my year is going so far. At a quarter of the way through, am I on track for the things I want to achieve?

It's going ok so far.

One of my goals for this year (and an easy one) was to complete my 50th parkrun, which I did a few weeks ago. I'm waiting to be presented with my free t-shirt, and meanwhile, I'll start working on progressing to 100 runs...

I've also met my other parkrun goals - to run in a different location - done here - and to run with Emma - she's done 2!

I was hoping for a few PBs too, and so far I have beaten my Half Marathon PB, with my 1.56 in Brighton in February. Another goal was to run 4 Half Marathons and I've done 2 so far, so I suppose that's on track. I'd love to think that I could go faster again... Another goal was to run 8 races, and I've only done 2, but I've got lots of ideas of others I want to do! I really hope I can do more races this year, as 2013 was a bit rubbish on this front.

My mileage goals are not going too badly. My aim was to run 1000 miles in total this year - or at least get as close to that as possible. I don't think I'll quite get there, but by aiming for that distance, I am motivated to try to average about 20 miles a week, which is good for me. Recently I have been doing that mileage consistently, but January took a while to get going and was quite low numbers.

As for biking, I'm aiming for 500 miles. So far I've cycled 55 miles to the end of March, and in fact most of those miles were cycled in March. With the better weather, I'm hoping to build that up quickly.

To sum up:

Ran 16x = 70.09miles

Ran 16x = 77.41 miles
Cycled 1x = 7.27 miles

Ran 19x = 92.99 miles (ouch for that 0.01!)
Cycled 3x = 47.72m

At the moment it's Easter holiday time, so it's been more of a struggle to fit in bike rides and long runs while the kids are off school. The weather has been AMAZING recently though, so we've had some lovely walks, and I can't wait to get stuck back in to consistent running and biking soon!

School holidays are sooo tiring...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The family that runs together, eats cake together.

This month the whole family has been joining in with running and activity in general. It seems that either a. I am an inspiration to them all, or b. they have given in and realised that if you can't beat me, join me. Here follows a brief recap of our family achievements in March.

1. My last post was about Robbie and I running a new parkrun course, which was on the 1st March. The following day I did my 2nd race of the year, Eastbourne Half Marathon. It was my 3rd year in a row, and my worst time yet! Having run a PB 2 weeks earlier, I was content to take it easy, but tiredness in my legs, the huge hill and a strong head wind all took their toll and I found it really tough. The family was there watching me though, and Robbie and Emma joined me to run through the finish, which was the ONLY reason I was smiling.

2. On Saturday 8th March, we finally persuaded Emma to join us in a parkrun! Yay! She's only 6, and she did find it a long way, so we let her stop and walk a few times. She still completed the 5K in under 40 mins though, and was not last. She has decided that she will aim to join us every other Saturday, giving herself plenty of rest days! It was great having all 4 of us run together, and Robbie was really sweet, wanting to let her cross the line first.

According to Emma's schedule, we all ran again 2 weeks later, but were hit by cold weather and hail, which she didn't like. She only walked once though, so did really well to keep going.

3.The following day it was beautiful sunshine, and we all went for a walk in the countryside. It was just outside our town, and we had a great time exploring up a hill, where we found a nice spot to sit and eat a snack before hiking back. Lovely day.

4.  The spring weather has definitely been inspiring us, and last week, Pete decided to take a day off work so we could go for a bike ride together while the kids were at school. We headed East, through a nearby town and on to a country road, which turned out to be popular with cyclists. It was great, we sped along and really enjoyed it. After about 11 miles, we reached a big seaside town, and stopped for a coffee in a museum cafe there with a view of the beach. It was wonderful.
When we headed back though, we found that we had been helped on our way by a strong tail wind, which we now had to battle all the way back. As we went along the coast, it was very tough! We did stop at a pub and get a roast lunch, before making it home. It was about 25 miles in total. I honestly can't think of a better way to spend a day off work!

5. Last weekend, it was Emma's second parkrun, and then on the Sunday we took part in a Sport relief mile. This runs every 2 years and we did it last time. You get sponsored to run for charity, and we ran a mile round a race track, so 4 laps. It's not timed, just for fun, but Emma did it all without stopping this time, and they got another medal at the end.

6. This morning, it was just Robbie and me at parkrun. We went at his pace, and my garmin failed to locate any satellite whatsoever, so I didn't know how fast we were going, but we both thought it was pretty speedy. When we got our results later, it was a PB for him by 1 min and 10 secs, beating his previous best time from November! Amazing! We ran 31m12s, and it was also my 50th parkrun. This means I should soon be seen sporting the appropriate red 50 t-shirt. It was Robbie's 25th run, so he's not far off either!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Parkrun adventures

Last weekend I managed to tick one of my goals for this year off my list. Robbie and I ran a different parkrun!

We were in Pete's home town for the weekend, and drove down on Friday evening, which meant we were there and ready on Saturday morning for the run. I had planned ahead, and brought our running stuff, but early on Saturday, Robbie was almost tempted by the lure of a cafe with Grandma and a chocolate treat. Pete and I spent a few minutes convincing him that he should do the run, and that he'd feel pleased with himself afterwards, and eventually he agreed to come with me.

Robbie has now done about 22 runs at our local parkrun, but this was his first at a different location. It was very different! It's in a country park, and on path, grass and - that morning - a lot of wet mud. It also included quite a long uphill, and then downhill. Robbie is used to running on a gravel path which is completely flat, so I thought it might be a challenge.

I had to ask someone to show us from the car park to the start, and we chatted about the course. When we got to the start, a few people asked where we were from and everyone seemed really friendly. It was the Queen Elizabeth parkrun (in Queen Elizabeth Country Park), and has been going for less than a year. There were about 40 runners altogether.

It started with a run up the hill, then we turned and ran downhill, where it was very muddy, and very slippery. I think Robbie coped better than me, as I slipped a few times, and then was wary of falling or getting injured. We ran a short loop, then it was the hill again, but further up this time. Robbie did really well! I preferred the hill to the mud at least.

Determination etched on his face!
We reached the top of the hill, then ran down into mud again, and along a very muddy stretch to the finish. We had to stop and pick our way through the really boggy bits at times, and I didn't really enjoy that part as I just couldn't run through it.

Approaching the finish
We finished near the back of the pack, but although our time was slow - just under 36 mins - it was still faster than Robbie's first 4 parkruns on a flat course, so it shows how much progress he's made!

Robbie pushing me out of the way...
We were so muddy afterwards that I ended up buying him new shoes that afternoon! The photos were posted on Facebook by the photographer, and I think they're really nice ones of us running together. I might try that parkrun again when the mud has dried out, and we'll definitely hope to do some more in different places!


..and he beats me again!