Beryl Burton – Cycling Legend

The chances are you have never heard of Beryl Burton – arguably one of the greatest female cyclists ever. Her achievements were phenomenal and, despite having died in 1996, her 12 hour distance record still stands.

On Friday night, a few friends and I went to see the play, ‘Beryl’ – a play written by Maxine Peak, originally for the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It tells the story of her life and her achievements – not only on the road or time trialling but also on the track in pursuit.

She is still relatively unknown by so many people – yet even with today’s modern technology and bike, knowledge of training and nutrition, she still holds the record, as I mentioned, for distance travelled in 12 hours (277.7 miles if I remember rightly!). At the time, she even took the men’s record – which took another two years to be beaten.

The play itself was fantastic and I thoroughly recommend going to see it if you ever get the chance. Having read the screenplay while away on holiday, I knew the play but to see if performed live was really special. I also had a bit of a heads up on my friends so it was a pleasure from my point of view to see their reactions to her, and introduce them to the wonder that was Beryl Burton. A wee bit of a cycling heroine in my eyes – with an absolute compulsion to compete and win!

The Peer Pressure Run

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself” Jim Morrison

Even to the point of being a whinge bag about running – and randomly ramble about cycling. I have the best mates.

I know we aim to teach children not to bow to peer pressure. In some respects, I suspect the behaviour of my mates wasn’t really so much peer pressure but active encouragement by reminding me what races I have planned and that I really should be running. Three separate friends today, when I mentioned tonights club run, told me I should go as I debated staying home.

I bowed to pressure and went to run.

They were right, I do need to run more. Most of my races this year (that are booked) are actually running races. This is to keep me running as without it, I would likely sack it off but as it is, I have a half iron to do and so run I must.

I shall be the first to admit that my routing isn’t settled yet, or not as much as I would like, and my running mojo since the illness, is not yet back to the levels they were at before Christmas. Mojo lost. In general for training.

My mate, who was running the session, told me me I looked miserable all the way round – and to be fair, I probably was – but I suppose it was nice to actually be out, running, on a treadmill. I have lost my mojo with training in general recently – after having 3 weeks off, it’s the process of getting back to where it was feels like hard work.

On a more positive note, I’m planning on getting. a week pass for the leisure centre when I go on holiday (one of my favourite pools – with twilight swims!) and I’ve bought some new books to take with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting again

I am starting again and this time I’m not talking about relationships and starting again after becoming single. On that front as I’ve already said, I am in a far better place than I ever thought I would be. I am enjoying being single. Today is a prime example of why. A friend on Tuesday night, post swim, asked me if I fancied going climbing. I’ve not been since I was dating the lad that first introduced me to it – naturally I said yes. Bit of a habit! Anyway, this isn’t so much about that but more about my first week easing myself back into training.

After three weeks of enforced rest/being ill/recovering, I started some training this week. I feel like I have lost a bit of my mojo with being ill, and because I know I am still not quite 100% and I have lost a bit of fitness I feel like I have a bit of a fight on my hands. My swim endurance (pace is fine so long as I’m well fuels and rested) has dropped a bit, my run left me with DOMS and I looked at my bike last night and just didn’t have the energy.

I also think I am being too harsh on myself. I am pretty sure it will all come back sooner than I think but I know I am a little impatient with myself. It’s also frustrating because before Christmas my fitness and endurance was on a general upward trajectory and I could see the improvements in my training. Ah well. Like friends have said, better now than in the middle of race season.

Things will slowly come back – I have also decided that I don’t think I am eating enough and that what I am eating probably isn’t really good enough quality – too much sugar/rubbish – so I have a few things I want to have a go at in the next few weeks – salads, more veggies, and possibly offering to cook more at home – we’ll see (I do need to improve my diet!). This has been backed up by some stats – at my gym there is a ‘Bodytrax’ machine that measures a load of different stats – I have lost weight – nearly back to what I was a month after the break up – however, my body fat percentage has gone up since Christmas and my muscle mass gone down. This is hardly surprising considering I have been so inactive but still – one kilogram difference either way.

On the plus side to recovery and what not – I did finally go bouldering again and I am debating in learning how to climb, with ropes with the intention of being able to relay and go with mates – making the most of Rock City. We shall but see. Today reminded my though that bouldering and climbing wrecks your hands. They are a little tender tonight, but I definitely feel better for doing something different, with a mate, and having a laugh!

Onwards and upwards!

Why hello 2019!

So I receive a tweet suggesting I change my Twitter name/handle – I think I probably should. I cant believe how far I’ve actually come in the last six or seven months. Anyway, this quick post isn’t about that – but it did make me think about what I should change it to – food for thought and suggestions welcome!

It’s not even about the fact I spend New Year’s Eve tinkering with TT bars on my bike and watching GCN videos on YouTube.

No – it’s about the fact that I spent the first day of the year on my CX bike, with a mate, plodding (read: getting whooped) around the Blue Route at Sherwood Pines. Poor lad had to deal with me coughing my guts up most of the day. I went last Friday and was fine, despite cough, today, on lack of sleep and coughing – it was hard going. I suppose the fact that my mate is far far stronger and skilled than I am put me through my paces didn’t help matters but the sun came out, I ate cake and had a lot of fun. Should 2019 continue in such a manner then bring it on!

Mirror Mirror

‘Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.’ Winston Churchill

Wise words from Churchill himself.

I have actually done some reflecting, not quite intentionally, as a result of a random dream and random recent events that I won’t go into too much detail about. This year has been one of many ups and downs.

Well, I say many ups and downs, it started up, then went down majorly, then improved – more than I thought it would. In all honesty, I am in a far better place than I thought I would be and I am really excited about 2019 (my credit card isn’t so happy). I genuinely cant believe I’m sat here, six months post break up, in such a better place.

It is the first time I have been single for twelve years. Written down, that looks more tragic than I feel it is. I am starting to enjoy being single and as cliche as it sounds, finding out what makes me tick and makes me me again. A friend said to me the other day that she thought it was a good thing that I was still single and finding my feet. Clearly my ex wasn’t actually good enough for me (or good enough for any woman? or just not right for me? Not sure). I’m at the point where his new girlfriend is most welcome to him as when I sat and thought about it, I think I was too laid back and actually, I’ve realised quite a few things that again, for various reasons, were just not normal/right in a relationship that lasted that long. I suppose after the former boyfriend, things seemed more normal. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I do believe things happen and people come into your life (and out) for a reason – even if it isn’t clear at the time. The fog and confusion of a major break up is just about clear (some things still hurt occasionally but for the most part, the voodoo doll is away).

Anyway, on a more positive note…

As daft as it sounds, I feel like I’m reverting back to the teenage me, or rather, the 17 year old me – and I quite like her! Although I hope I am somewhat wiser than the 17 year old me. The flirting, having fun, no commitment, no considering other people’s plans – another mate asked me how I seem to be attracting blokes, but in all honesty, I like blokes, and even though the last one eventually showed his true colours, I know not all men are the same. In the same breath, I am also more aware that not all men are knights in shinning armour/have honest intentions – but so long as the intentions are clear – I am rather enjoying being single.

I am really looking forward to 2019 – I’ve so many things I want to do and develop – I’ve a new business that I want to build up and expand on, exciting races planned, training penciled in, a holiday booked and so many other things I want to do – I feel the world is at my feet. It’s just up to me to embrace it and see what happens.

So while I have been reflective – I am also rejoicing – the love of family and friends has got me through so much and I am eternally grateful for that. I am rejoicing that I am stronger than I thought and emotionally in such a better place.

2018/19, I think, may prove to be the making of me.

 

I am just a little bit excited!

Looking forward to 2019

I have to say, I am rather excited about 2019, and looking forward to waving 2018 goodbye. I cant say I have had the best year ever but I have definitely had an interesting and emotional year.

2019 will be something epic I think.

I’ve started to get some routine back with my training – this is definitely contributing to my current happiness and wellbeing. I’ve done two big weeks of swimming without any major back issues, even nudging 20k running this week over three runs and managed to go out three nights on the trot. My base training is starting to show results and I am feeling positive and motivated (long may this last – however, like all things, I know there will be highs and lows). I read a quote about every action being a small step towards that elusive looking goal. Holkham is my A race, and Coniston End to End swim in penciled in. These are my two main goals – with the aim of getting a reasonable decent time and enjoying them.

I love chatting about training and future plans with friends and comparing notes, pencilling events and debating what to do to help support my training. Coniston 14 is one such event, at the end of March. A friend is trying to talk me into doing some crazy 24 mile run/walk thing in February and another friend has talked me into doing a bed race in June. Edinburgh running festival has been mentioned as well as a few Epic Swims up in the Lakes (excellent training again…). I am so excited about what is to come and figuring out what I am going to do – maybe boys will have to take a back seat for a while!

 

‘I’m off to the gym’

‘I’m off to the gym’ are words, that once upon a time, I’d never dreamt of saying. Even when I first started running/swimming/cycling regularly. I didn’t see the point. I could cycle at home or outside for free, and run outside for free. I caved eventually and tried out one of the local small gym’s on a three month membership, and in all honesty, started off fairly consistently but then I came down with cold/ongoing illness that I couldn’t shift and didn’t go enough to warrant it so never renewed it. It also lacked a pool. Lesson learnt.

After this I was still a bit reluctant and put it off again for a bit. Until summer, when I started to debate that actually, it might be wise to join. I was spending £50 a month give or take just to swim – that’s a gym membership without the benefits of classes! Still I put it off, remembering my last experience but knowing full well I would need a gym with a pool if I did go back.

Then he left me.

I didn’t want to risk bumping into him while I was swimming (even though I knew he’d likely swim at the same pool as his new girlfriend) and I debated long and hard about what I wanted to do for me. There were three realistic options for me:

  • Local county leisure centre – some advantages and very reasonable price, but wrong direction and too many public/open sessions in the pool.  (£30ish/month)
  • The local university sports village – again, reasonable price, especially with corperate membership through the club, but too much public sessions in pool – which is often closed as well. And equally, too many students. It’s also the closest to home and work but wasn’t really a place I wanted to spend time. Too clinical. (£42/month)
  • The most expensive option – the private club/gym, further up the road. Dearest by far (£77/month!). I had more close friends here, it’s got two pools, including an outside pool – no issues with it being closed for gala’s or any club sessions. A lot of choice in terms of classes, a good cafe/restaurant and places to work if I’ve time to kill and work to do. And a place I actually want to be.

I chose the most expensive option. Naturally. Initially I signed up for the three month trial which was more expensive but meant I could drop out without being tied into a 12 month contract. I wasn’t sure how consistent I would be in going and how well it would work with work and like but I’ve been so much better at going and making the most of the stretch classes (See my post on swimming for why!)

When I joined, I will be honest and say I wasn’t sure how it was going to go but it’s gone so much better that I thought it would that I’ve signed a 12 month contract. Why? There are various reasons I think why joining the gym now, and this particular gym have worked for me now.

  • I’ve mates that are members – so often we go together, especially as we are both entered for the same races next year!
  • There are some really good classes! At times that fit in with work/life.
  • Its a place I actually like to be, from the lounge and business hub – which I have used several times, to the restaurant/ lounge area.
  • The staff are good – welcoming and friendly.
  • It’s clean and rarely so busy that you can’t get in/feel packed in.
  • It’s still close to work and has decent opening times. #6amclub anyone?

So yes I forked out, yes I do generally feel I get my money’s worth out of it, and yes I did it for me and love it!

Next season I shall be coming back to racing stronger, fitter and a lot happier.

 

Swimmer’s sorrows

I love swimming.

Anyone who knows me, will tell you that out of the three* disciplines of triathlon, swim is my favourite and strongest discipline, although over summer, cycling nearly won out on that. I am happiest near, in or on water (and preferably a mountain/hill or two dotted about). I swear I was a mermaid in a former life. Those same people will also tell you have frustrated I’ve been with my swimming in the last 18 months.

I trained ridiculously hard and consistently over winter 2016/17 on my swim and in the run up to ITU Leeds Standard Triathlon, I was managing 7:30 400m – NOT majorly fast when compared to the speedy club members but a huge improvement from the year previous. I’d moved up the training lanes to sit comfortably in the top half of the club, and even managed to be 4th out of 12 club members racing in the Standard distance tri at Leeds that summer (31 min 1500m swim – it was a novelty overtaking people!). This came with a cost. Not enough S&C work resulted in a rotary cuff issue that put an end to my swimming for quite a while. This, over time and with some enforced rest of sorts, improved but the issue moved to my thoracic spine and lateral muscle area – tightness and soreness, that has made me really weary of swimming and aggravating it – however… I think I’ve got the solution and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What’s changed?

I’d tried sports massages (which have helped massively and still do) and I’d tried resting it, with no real improvement. I’d tried cupping and other things too but no joy. I joined the gym to try and get on top of my S&C – started to help but I’ll admit I got lazy – I know its a necessary evil really but such is life (I will get back on it, even if its only one or two sessions a week). So what did actually change?

I’m guilty of not stretching enough and I do get so tight! Looking through the gym classes – I’m a big fan of yoga and I’m not really being one of these Les Mills Grit session girls, I signed up for the Pure Stretch classes. Wanting to make the most of my ridiculously expensive gym membership, I decided to give them ago. Well what a revelation they have turned out to be! Stretch classes have massively helped the back/shoulder issue. It’s not completely gone but it has helped so much more than I ever thought. Although at the moment, I’ve been going 3 to 4 times a week – well it is the off season so to speak. I know I am rubbish at doing it on my own so just going to a class and doing what I’m told has really helped. Although it was helping – I decided after bashing it out on a bouldering wall I should really go see a physiotherapist again and self-refereed through the NHS – I got an appointment in two weeks. I suppose it was really for reassurance that I hadn’t done the damage that I thought I might have. I did, and got some new stretches to help and told that muscular issues like mine do seem to take forever to heal but if the stretch and massage was working to keep with it.

This was all I needed and I bashed out a nice 2.5k set on Wednesday and felt that maybe the time was right to start thinking more seriously about building my swim fitness and speed back up – especially as my back didn’t hurt! I also swam with a mate last night which pushed me, simply because I know I’m a generally better swimmer than him and had that reputation to maintain (he whoops me on the run and bike so its my only wee boast), and reminded me that I need to get some speed sets in.

This has all made me a very happy swimmer this week and I have taken the swim sets from IronFit Triathlon Training for Women and typed them up, printed them and am about to laminate them, to help me sort out some sort of training plan for my swimming so it isn’t aimless. I am so excited about the prospect of getting back to swimming three to four times a week again. As one of the swim coaches at the club sessions keeps reminding me, swim 2-3 times to maintain, 4 times or more to improve! I’ve also found some other training sets this morning that I think will be useful. Tied in with a better S&C routine, I feel excited about winter training. I just need to figure out HOW to fit in the running and the cycling now. Maybe some run/swim sessions and maybe swim/bike sessions – just to mix it up!

*four disciplines – lets not forget transition!

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IBIZA! Part Two – The Holiday

Six days in Ibiza supporting friends racing did mean there was some free time to mooch about. If you read Part One, then you will, if you hadn’t already realised, that Ibiza is in the process of closing down for winter. We were staying in San Antonio. The closing parties of the clubs on the island had been the first weekend of October and many of the remaining bars and hotels were. gradually closing up. Some of the bars and hotels that were open on the Sunday were, by Monday, closed and boarded up.

With Ibiza slowly winding down, we were not sure what to expect. Ibiza isn’t world renowned for it’s culture as such, so we made the most of chilling and a bit of exploring. Many books were read! So, what did we do?

SUP – Stand Up Paddle boarding. I messaged one of my friends who was out on the island for same reason as me and asked him if he fancied it. Turns out he was. So Monday morning, we both found ourselves on the south coast of Ibiza SUP’ing. There was a group of about 10 of us in total and we could not have asked for more glorious conditions. This is the third time I’ve done it but this was definitely one of the most amazing locations – crystal clear waters, beautiful bays and blue skies as far as the eye could see. It was also very quiet, a few boats dotted here and there but overall, very little. Peaceful and chilled, with a little bit of exploring and some caves to wind through. If you ever get the chance to SUP in Ibiza – it is worth it. It wasn’t expensive either although one of the things I noticed compared to the UK – lack of form signing and buoyancy aids.

Ibiza town – my friend visited some of the museums but wasn’t really impressed – lots of little shops and definitely the hub of the island – rather enjoyed my cocktails in Hard Rock Cafe too! The old town, and the castle, really are beautiful and the views are amazing. You need to be fairly fit though to get to the top. Well connected with buses too (which are so cheap – they are subsidised and busy).

Boat cruises – we did the ‘Sunset cruise’ with one company but it wasn’t really sunset when we got off – it was a three hour cruise to the west coast of San Antonio and around some of the smaller islands. It stopped at one of the popular family beaches to drop off/pick up some people but it also stopped in a beautiful bay so people could get off and swim. Was rather annoyed I didn’t take my swimming costume but hey ho. It was really lovely to be out on the sea and seeing the island from a different perspective.

Swimming – one of the highlights for me personally was swimming in the sea. Along a lot of the coast line, there are areas cordoned off from boats and shipping to allow people a safe area to swim in. Monday night I got a text from one of my friends who said that she and a few age groupers where going to go and swim and would I like to join them. I was hardly going to pass that up! I’ll admit – I could have swam without the wetsuit but in one respect I am glad I did as it gave me an insight into just how buoyant you are in the sea, with a wetsuit. Twenty minutes later – 1km OW swam. Fastest OW swim in a while. Although swimming with the speedy age groupers reminds me that I’ve still some work to do!

Run – I did my first run outdoors for a while early on Tuesday morning – and what a place to run! Sun already shinning and plenty of areas/space to run safely around the bay. Five kilometers in the bag!

Aquarium – My friend (who has 0 interest in racing/sport) and I walked round to the aquarium. Apart from the slight novelty factor of it being in a cave and there being a poor injured turtle in there, cant say I was overly impressed, however…. the walk around the bay to get there was lovely. I was tempted to do some geocaching while I was there but thought I’d best not subject my friend to that!

Would I go back?

Yes. Yes I would, but I would definitely hire a bike and cycle – a lot. I was quite envious of my mate cycling about everywhere, even though it was really hot! I would swim more and definitely hire a car. I would also go more in season – even though it would be a lot busier – just for choice of places to eat/visit and I would get myself round to Cafe del Mar and watch the sunset properly! I would also choose a better hotel. Would I stay any longer than I did? Probably not but then it isn’t a long flight.

IBIZA! Part One – ETU Championships

Getting of the plane at Leeds Bradford Airport a couple of days ago was a bit of a shock to the system. Six days of glorious sunshine and warm weather, watching friends race and generally chilling – fabulous!

I will be honest – I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ibiza’s main reputation is that of party island but all the main clubs had their closing parts around the weekend of the 6th of October and as we arrived, many bars and hotels were closed or closing for the winter. It is quite a strange feeling being somewhere that is slowly closing down.

Clearly not there for the party scene, this week Ibiza has been the host to the ETU Championships – which was actually the reason for me being there. Initially this trip had been planned and booked while still with the ex. When he left me, I had him cancel the original holiday so I could rebook it. After seeing my mate’s hotel, I wish I’d rebooked into their hotel (it was lush and would have been worth the extra expense. Lesson learnt there!). Anyway, back to the important stuff – the reason for being there was the fact that some of my friends and club members had qualified to race representing GBR in their age category, so I headed out to go and support. A most excellent excuse for a holiday.

We touched down in Ibiza on the Saturday – the first day of the championships. The first race to affect our group was the Standard Distance Duathlon in Santa Elulia on the Sunday. When I arrived it was to find my friend, who was racing, slightly panic stricken – the transition had moved (washed away off the beach the night before due to an unusually high tide) and confusion over the race route, which had changed numerous times. Either way, push come to actual shove, everything went well, and certainly better than the previous day’s sprint duathlon by all accounts. We took it in turns cheering my friend on as me and her partner kept and eye on the children playing on the beach (a whole afternoon in the sun on the beach was blissful). At the end however, we all made a beeline for the finish – to which there was a total of 10 of us cheering her in to a marvellous sprint finish! First day of racing over, my friend could start enjoying her holiday!

The second race I was in Ibiza to watch was the Aquathon on the Wednesday evening – and what a glorious evening it was for racing! A 1km swim and a 5km run, with three club members racing into the sunset, it was always going to be fast and pacy. Eight of us stood waiting patiently near one of the switch backs for the race to start – and waiting for one of our club members to pass us. While we waited and watched, it was inspiring to see the elites go past but also the parathletes too. We had a good vantage point and were at one of the quiet points – until our first club member and friend ran past, at which point we made a mad dash to the finish. We were so close! Most of us managed to get stood on one of the seating blocks along the front and had an excellent side line view of one of the switch backs as well as the finish line, both of which provide amazing moments, sprint finishes and some more amusing moments. We were also an excellent home cheering crowd for our members as we watched and cheered loudly. All doing well as the sun set.

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Duathlon

Once everyone was in though we all made our way back to our own hotels but not before agreeing to catch up for drinks. Well, I say that. One was staying with family and one disappeared off drinking with other age groupers into the Irish bar that was still open along the front. The rest of us meet up at one of the hotels along the front where they were staying to celebrate the end of season and the fact we were all in Ibiza. Cocktails and laughter flowed – included one of our club coaches (I feel my work as social sec here is done!). It was about 1.30am before I rolled back at my own hotel, with a 6.30 alarm for our transfer to the airport. I wasn’t really looking forward to the impending hangover.

An impending hangover that, thankfully didn’t materialise – more just tiredness! I was actually quite gutted to leave in one respect, knowing that some other club members were just heading out for the Middle distance race on Saturday, but alas, all good things must come to an end and as we boarded the plane, I was debating whether I should book in some races abroad next year – although after seeing the stress that can comes with racing abroad – I know I will need to be mega organised!