I Spy

Most of my generation and older will be familiar with the I Spy books by Michelin (or rather now by Collins in association with Michelin) and if you are not familiar with the books, you should certainly be familiar with the game.

I have spent a LOT of time at triathlons and other various races, at which, hanging around can just be simply quite boring. There have been a few occasions when I have been with mates where I have mentioned that I should write my own I Spy book for others in a similar position but equally as an athlete racing – playing I Spy is pretty fun!

So, here it is. It is, as it stands, a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ and as much as I would LOVE to publish this as an actual book, I am not sure Collins would be too game for it. I may just email them any way to ask.

I Spy…..

Pre Race

  • Registration Tent – filled with hardy volunteers, mostly lovely and supportive – especially at Tri Club organised races. They understand!
  • Lost race licences and stressed athletes looking for said race licence (pre-race nerves).
  • Sleepy looking spouses and families who have been dragged along for the day.
  • Someone eating a banana/gel/breakfast.
  • The über-keen triathlete, rocking up with a full TT bike set up, with matching disc wheel for a super-sprint.
  • Lost safety pins. You can never have enough. Really!
  • The panic-strikened athlete who has forgotten *inserts important piece of kit* = panic-strikened athlete.
  • Discussion of race tactics – this is just a scare tactic…
  • Technical officials telling people to move their kit! Don’t try to mark your spot people! It’s just not on…. although that bright pink bar tape….
  • Race briefing – nod and turn up – usually a wise idea (like reading the race pack).
  • Maps of the race – because sign posting may be hazardous or you may want to just scare yourself about the elevation…. that you didn’t check before you raced.
  • LONG queues for the toilets – and possibly even someone sharing wet wipes – this happened at my last big race. He was a hero.
  • The athlete asking someone to help them into their wetsuit/zip it up. Common occurrence!
  • The athlete who has forgotten their body glide and asking if anyone has any lube to help them out!

Swim

  • Forgotten or lost googles. Take two pairs. This is sage advice.
  • The swimmers doing breast stroke – and feeling smug that your front crawl is OH SO GRACEFUL.
  • People swimming. Obviously.
  • Lost swim caps!!
  • Pontoons/deep water starts.
  • The swimmer who put a swim time down that was a bit too ambitious. We all know someone who will do this, claiming adrenaline will kick in on the day….
  • The swimmer who does extra laps in a pool based tri or swims a lot further than needed in OW. I know several who have done this!
  • A swimmer getting kicked. Inevitable, especially in open water. Rude people. Just rude – although some people see this as a sport in itself.
  • The swim being cancelled due to blue green algae or some other reason. Come on people – we are supposed to be hardy triathletes. Who wants to do a duathlon?
  • Swim cut short due to weather/other reason unfathomable to mankind – although at the inaugural (and only) Edinburgh 70.3 – I saw the sea and, well, yeah… wise move!
  • Swim buoys that cannot be seen. Without my glasses, I am NOT going to see that buoy around that far distant corner….
  • Kayakers – wise people. Usually lovely too. Major kudos to those supporting LONG swims.
  • A swimmer going the wrong way! (Bonus points if more than 3 swimmers are following) – watch the buoys people – I’ve seen this happen.
  • Flipflops littering the start line. Honestly do NOT understand why getting from T1 to the start isn’t given more thought in some races.

Transition  (T1)

  • Lost athletes. Walking transition before a race is a GOOD IDEA for a reason.
  • Athletes fiddling over watches – common in T2 as well. I’ve only just got the hang of mine.
  • Athletes who sit down to put on cycling shoes – again this is me. I am a very lazy triathlete.
  • The triathletes who have managed to master the art of keeping their shoes on their bike and put them on as they mount.
  • The technical official reminding people to put their helmets on before touching their bikes.
  • The athlete getting told off for mounting too soon.

Bike

  • A hybrid/mountain bike – especially in super/sprint triathlons – sometimes the sign of a novice/doing it for the sheer hell of it. It goes to prove that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the swankiest bike – I love seeing people getting involved.
  • An aero bike/TT bike – love the variety actually and the ‘oooooo that’s nice’ – I don’t get bike envy much any more but can appreciate a nice bike. It’s more amusing though in small local races when it might not be so serious that some people take it so seriously… if that makes sense.
  • Clip on TT bars – I’ve given mine away to a mate now I have a TT bike. I never really got on with them in terms of my position on the bike, but definitely useful and not to be sniffed at.
  • Trainers! Not every triathlete is there with cleats etc – does make for SPEEDY transitions though.
  • Drafting in a non-drafting race – just don’t. It isn’t a group ride.
  • Pointy helmets – you know what I mean! Aero/marginal gains! I will admit that I have been looking at new helmets…
  • Full kit w*nkers – I have nothing against this – I am just too tight to buy full club race kit. In all honesty though, in triathlon, it could just be a club trisuit… always good from a support point of view though as it makes athletes in your own club easier to spot and often volunteers and general supporter are far more likely to support in terms of ‘Go York!’ etc.
  • Lost water bottles. Easy done.
  • Gel wrappers strewn on the road side – actually against the rule – and littering is bad anyway – you managed to carrying this far, you can take it home!

Transition (T2)

  • A technical official or volunteer reminding someone to take their helmet off
  • Stretchy/Elastic laces – time saver in T2 if you are that keen.
  • Wetsuits strewn all over – it tends to still be reasonably tidy after T1…
  • Bikes racked wrong way.
  • Someone scoffing a gel or food before heading out to run.

Run

  • Run/walkers (this was me at my last race!) – nothing wrong with this at all.
  • Runners flinging themselves down the descents. This happens all the time anyway – free speed!
  • Walking runners until they see support or get near the finish line.
  • High-fiving support especially from small children.
  • Awesome support banners – way more common on the run – love them! The more insulting the better!
  • Someone handing out haribo/jelly sweets – yes we love you.
  • Amazing marshals who are dancing and enjoying it as much as you aren’t – there was one couple at Outlaw X this year on the back section of the run who were just incredible – I do not know how they kept it up.
  • ‘Only a parkrun left to go’ – yes I know – knowing doesn’t help!
  • Stretchy/elastic laces – mentioned again as they are just cool.

The end!

  • Hands up in the air in celebration of surviving – you all know what pose I mean!
  • The joyous support crew who finally think that they can go home – we all know that this is a big lie and that there is about to be lots of faffing and reviewing of said race.
  • Post race queue for a massage – thankfully I was so late/slow, the queue was minimal – I quite often skip them though.
  • Athletes who put on their race t-shirt on as soon as humanly possible, along side medal – yes you!.
  • Comparing results with friends/clubmates/rivals/enemies, and comparing to the nth degree.
  • Someone making excuses for times – everyone is usually guilty of this at some point. My run time at my last race was due to injury – but I was expecting a DNF.
  • Someone doubled up about to be sick – obviously raced hard and given it their all (me post XC or a CX race).

 

Other random things to look out for:

  • Bored spouses/children who have been brought along under duress with the promise/lure of food.
  • Varying degrees of race t-shirt bragging. Martyn Brunt wrote an article for Triathlon 220 on the subject of race t-shirt hierarchy.
  • Limping.
  • Athletes wondering around in Dryrobes or similar – they really are nice bits of kit post race!
  • A mass of VW Transporters in various colours. Definitely a popular mode of transport – I keep jokingly saying that if I had £5 for every one I saw/spotted on the road, I would be a well off woman. I stand by this, as my trip to the gym alone would have made me £20 tonight.
  • People consuming random looking concoctions post race.
  • Random things in post race goodie bags/pre-race goodie bags.
  • Random post-race prizes instead of a medal eg. A paperweight…..
  • Race branding on the most random of items (Ironman I am thinking of you!)

 

I am sure I have missed some bits off here to be quite honest, so I may add to it. This list has been in my head all summer – I jokingly said about adding bike brands are some are more rare than others (Ridleys are pretty thin on the ground in triathlon but in CX, common as muck!!) but then this would be a VERY long list.

Taking the Farm Girl out of the Country

And plonking her into a city is always going to be interesting.

Last weekend I headed off to London on some rather cheap tickets. It was a bit of a whim booking really but one that turned out to be rather good! Having a rail card is pretty useful! Less than £30 return (ok I used my nectar points but so what?!) and first class on the way back? Winning!

I’ve re-written this post a couple of times, as I don’t think anyone really wants a detailed blog of the ins and outs of my trip but decided to note down some of my observations instead.

Going out of your comfort zone – I am, at heart, a country girl and a northerner. I am usually happier travelling north rather than south. Equally, for some reason, I found myself nervous about this trip – it was a bit more of the unknown. Edinburgh I have done a few times and it is smaller than London! But like someone on my Facebook said, it does do you good to reach out of your comfort zone and they are right.

Traveling by train – I love it, when it works and people are interesting. The woman sat next to me was using the time to work. Fair enough. The couple sat opposite me – matching hoodies, did NOT say a word to each other the whole journey. The chap to my right slept much of the way and the carriage in general was reasonably quiet. First class on the way home – amazing. No surprises there as I love traveling first. This time though, I made full use of having a first class lounge with complimentary food and drink! Same with food on the train. Its even better when you don’t feel robbed in terms of the cost of your ticket. £35 isn’t bad and its even better when you use nectar points and only pay £15!

London museums – I love that so many of them are free! I still have a few museums on my list that I would like to go and see and there are plenty of sights I would like to go see but I feel far more confident about going and seeing them and getting around London now I have done it on my own. I will be going back. Even if it’s just for the buildings. Which are amazing in themselves. The British Museum was a bit underwhelming but the Natural History Museum is brilliant!

The West End – just the area itself is pretty cool and I loved wandering around (this applies to Covent Garden too) – I made a last minute decision to go see Matilda the Musical – it really was amazing! The set was magic and the children just amazing. It was really well told, incorporating two intertwining tales of Miss Honey’s past and Matilda’s present – but in a different way to the book and the film. It really was special and unlike seeing productions in my home town.

The people – so I did meet someone down in London who I’ve been speaking to over Twitter for months. He was as lovely as expected and just fab/awesome company – went swimming, went for a wonder, coffee, cake etc. Was actually gutted to have to part ways. He definitely didn’t fit in with the general. I get that native Londoners are just trying to get about their day in a city that attracts a lot of tourist but wow! Rude, uncommunicative, miserable – especially compared to home! We have new neighbours who have commented that one of the things they noticed about moving north was how much more friendly people are and open! Kind of confirms that north/south stereotype really. One guy though in the local Tesco Express – NEVER SPOKE A WORD to me throughout the whole transaction. His days must really drag!

The noise and the traffic – is intense all the time compared to home. Even through the night. Who would want to drive in London? Or cycle actually? Although apparently the cycling isn’t as bad as I am making it out, but still! Don’t get me wrong, I like the Underground (even if it bites) and the ease of getting around but coupled with the height of the buildings – it is still quite a claustrophobic place to be when you are used to open fields and space.

On the plus side – I will be heading back again. The National Portrait Gallery is one of my favourite galleries and there is still a lot I want to see. I know my sister would like to go, so after my first solo trip – it won’t seem so daunting next time!

I was glad though, to be home on Saturday night, for the peace and the darkness. Looking out on the field behind my house – drilled and ready for the next crop, the hedges marking boundaries and the trees standing tall is home.

Off Season!

I have done very little in the last two weeks in the form of training – and despite a bike ride yesterday, with a bit of UCI World Championships inspiration in the form of cycling through floods…. I have only been to stretch and yoga. I have, however, spent quite a bit of time catching up on some bits and pieces and reminding myself that there is time, or rather life, outside of training too.

I would like to say my mojo is back, but that’s a bit of a lie. Today I really am just tired and I’ve no real idea why. My bike needs cleaning, my accounts need sorting out, I have some marking to do but still, motivation is not quite there for anything. It’ll come back I am sure but at the moment I am just procrastinating. I suppose I need to get back into a routine as everything seems a bit up in the air.

I also think I am just feeling a bit ‘blurgh’ and unmotivated due to the time of year and recent poor diet. Autumn is definitely here. I was supposed to go to a gig on Thursday but couldn’t be bothered and at the moment I am not feeling particularly excited about going to London on Friday. There is nothing big planned on the near horizon and things at work are a bit up in the air. I suppose I am just in a bit of a lull/dip of general tiredness and fed-up-ness that I know will pass.

I suspect I just need a bit of a plan of action and to figure out a new autumn/winter routine!

It’ll all come good!

In the meantime, I’m off to hibernate for a while!

 

Looking Ahead – 2020!

The title of this blog post and the nature of how this blog came about suggests that it should be about relationships and life and looking forward rather than back. Well, I COULD have written a post like that – and maybe I will as I have temporarily  given up on dating and have currently resigned myself to being single a bit longer (no bad thing) – although… no – this isn’t about that.

I like paper to do lists, I like paper diaries and I like paper wall planners. Although I have taken to using my phone diary a lot as it syncs to my laptop diary and I can print that off all colour coordinated and blocked out. Saves me a job! This has got me thinking – how to other people plan out their year?

I find that a huge wall planner, next to my desk in my office works best. Academic of course…

Its even got a basic code – races that I am interested in go on – regardless. As soon as they are ‘booked’ or confirmed – I put a cloud round them. Holidays have a line through them. It works! It really does! When I am sat working in my office (which, when it is tidy, is more frequent that it is at the moment) and I am wondering what my plans are/training needs are, I can quick glance at what is coming up – I can visually see the space/time between events – which makes planning so much easier. It also means that if I get my way then May next year will be bust and I need to save some serious money to do what I want!

I am VERY excited though – which probably means actually, dating would not be wise…

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Coniston Epic Swim 3.8km

Well what a lot of random fun was had!

This weekend just gone, I spent in the Lake District with a friend and a group from a mountaineering association in a bunkhouse in Coniston. I only knew my mate but had such a lovely time meeting everyone as well as eating lots and swimming lots!

I travelled up with my friend on Friday, in the rain, expecting a wet miserable weekend, only for the weather to improve greatly. The main purpose of the visit being swimming!

Saturday I did attempt to run – badly – my knee is giving me some serious issues – walked over to Hawkshead and then later swam in the still waters of Coniston, before a mini epic BBQ.

This was the Saturday – more important was SUNDAY!

Alongside my friend, we had booked on to the 3.8km Epic Swim. All well and good. A good training swim for Coniston end to end apparently (I swam 4km in my local lake earlier in the week remind myself I could actually swim!). We walked down to the start line – flip flops are the most annoying footwear ever = to the point that I am almost persuaded that crocs might be a good idea.

We were probably cutting it fine to be honest – but having already got my registration pack (advantage of mate having a pooch that needed walking – he went and got them!) it was literally a case of listen to the race briefing, dumping my bag and getting in the water.

Well, compared to the night before, the water was just a wee bit choppy. The night before, despite the amount of rain, was fairly warm and very still! We were (reliably) informed that the water temperature was about 17 – and in all honesty, it wasn’t really cold. I had taken my booties and gloves just in case but didn’t feel I needed them.

The route had changed – but that made life easier – just three laps rather than one short and two long. Only issue was that the wind meant that the chop was against us for the first half of the lap, but then with us for the second – I haven’t ever swum in conditions like it so wasn’t sure what to expect. Swimming into waves above your head and trying to sight was certainly interesting but no where near as bad/hard as I was expecting!

I found the first lap quite hard – and had to keep reminding myself that I could actually swim and the time didnt really matter, it just seemed to take a while for me to find my rhythm and mojo. I did though and by the second lap felt more relax and in the flow of it. By the third lap I was desperate for a wee and very happy to be swimming towards the exit point. I cannot pee in my wetsuit – which has now become my more pressing concern about the End to End swim!

I got out thinking my mate had beaten me – he hadn’t – he was 50s behind me! I couldn’t decide whether I have enjoyed it or not but I rather liked the medal! I was, however, very ready to go to the loo!

It was worth it though as I indulged in three breakfasts – including a communal fry up.

I also really enjoyed just swimming. Its the first time I have done just a swimming event and I really enjoyed it – it made a change from just running or cycling events – maybe thats the way to keep the love of triathlon alive – by doing the various disciplines in stand alone events?

Who knows?

What I do know though is that water fleas are actually a thing, and possibly the cause of the nasty bites/bruises I am now sporting on my legs!

The FEAR of Dating

Dating.

I really dislike it.

Its hard work. Its effort. Its time consuming.

And I am not sure if it is currently worth it.

I was on the verge of deleting Bumble (for those that don’t know – a dating app where women have to strike up the conversation) but after swim, waiting for friends, I was sat swiping left/right. To cut a long story short – I’ve been on a couple of dates with a bloke with similar interests and what not.

First date went well. so did the second. He hasn’t really annoyed me yet but that isn’t the issue/main concern that’s making me write this down.

I am, put simply, terrified.

I have realised how much I am enjoying being single, not having to consider someone else, not having to ‘answer’ to anyone, not having to make time for someone (and thats how it feels sometimes) and the thought of giving all the perks of being single is suddenly quite daunting. Also learning someones habits and thought processes, their experiences/expectations.  I think I am actually a wee bit scared of being hurt again. Of risking liking someone to be so badly let down. All of a sudden its like the FEAR has been put in me. With my friends and nearest and dearest – I love them to bits and trust them – but thats a different kind of relationship – but to let myself love someone again and put all my trust in them like before – well, quite frankly scares the hell out of me and I feel like I am closing myself off and finding issues/expecting it to be easy from the get go.

I told him that (as he works shifts) I would not be sat at home pinning for him along with a couple of other things but in all honesty I’m beginning to wonder whether I actually want a relationship or whether I am just scared of wasting/investing time and effort in to something when I’m not sure – we’ve hit it off fairly well but it’s me who is finding this is all a bit hard and a bit overwhelming. He’s mentioned coming to support at some of my upcoming races – which is a lovely gesture and I suppose I should be flattered but in all honesty – I don’t want him there but I can’t quite explain why. Randomly, I was voicing these concerns to my hairdresser and she knew what I meant. Ive become so independent and enjoying suiting myself that I am finding this prospect of dating/not being single, really quite hard.

Everyone keeps telling me I just need to take it slowly.

Everyone keeps telling me when it’s right, that I will know.

I thought I knew with the last one.

I got that disastrously wrong.

The Weekend That Was Supposed To Be

Holkham Half Iron was today.

I was supposed to be racing it.

I didn’t.

Anyone that has been following this blog (hahahahaha) knows that I transferred my place to Outlaw X in September. A most wise and excellent choice. To the point that although the weather looked perfect – I didnt feel bad about not doing it. Although I did remind myself that I need to run.

So what did I do instead?

I surprised myself.

It is becoming a bit of a bad habit to say yes to the random things my mates suggest. About a week ago one mate sent me a link to race he had signed up for – up near Consett on Derwent Reservoir. Asked if I fancied it – and camping (with my new tent). Well bit of a daft question. I read through and debated it – but then it dawned on me I could use this to my advantage.

I decided I would use this as the perfect opportunity to head north (what a surprise!) and go cycle in my favourite part of the world – Northumberland.

I decided not to race but still go and camp and support my mate racing, while also riding my bike.

It was actually quite hard getting myself up and out on the Saturday morning to be honest – there was a little voice in my head wondering whether it was worth the money (fuel) and time going all the way north just to ride for a few hours when I could do a 40 mile ride at home. I had already printed off some OS maps just to keep in my pocket as I don’t have a cycle computer, and my bike was in the car – sod it. I overrode the little voice of doubt and thought it would do me good to go.

It was. Road trip central. I set off at half 7, donned in lycra from the start. I stopped at Scotch Corner as per normal and got some funny looks – which considering the lycra was unsurprising. I made Beadnell for 10.45. Driving North makes me so happy!

The weather was absolutely lovely but as I sorted out my bike and got ready to go (this is quite a quick process when you are on your own!) I realised that my route meant that I was going to be cycling back with a headwind!

Ah well.

My route was taking me towards Boulmer via the coast and then back round towards Lesbury and up to Rennington before heading over North Sunderland and into Bamburgh – this was a long tough slog actually – headwind and up hill – but the view was worth it (see the picture!). The other thing that made it worth the slog was the tail wind from Bamburgh through to Beadnell and some amazing speeds and top 10s on Strava!

It was bliss! I stopped eventually at the harbour in Beadnell for an ice cream before cycling back round to the car and heading back to Derwent Reservoir. It was mixed feelings though – it was an epic ride in terms of scenery and just sheer enjoyment – I was over the moon with myself at cycling so far away from home (without the usual back up) on my own! But equally – I really would have liked to have had someone to share it with. The joy of a good bike ride is like nothing else!

However I was feeling – it definitely helped reset the happiness/wellbeing button in my own head.

So looking forward to riding up there again and planning my next trip up there!