Archive | May, 2013

Greg Rutherford’s Lucky Escape

28 May

In the final run up to my triathlon, I’ve had a sinus infection. My nose has been in pain and inflamed, putting my last minute training in jeopardy. After waiting for over a week for my immune system to kick in and fight the infection, I was forced to dose myself up with antibiotics to try to get back on track. With the help of a nasal spray I could finally breathe through my nose on Saturday. In fact I felt the best I’d felt in days. I didn’t go training but I did get up early and headed down to Taurus to secure my tickets to the Paradise Factory club’s 20th Anniversary reunion. In the 90s, so many of my weekends were spent dancing nights away on the 3 floors of Paradise Factory. I loved it. Lifelong friends were made and nothing came close to the atmosphere. I met up with my old house mate, Avers and we went down to Village in plenty of time. The queue was already building up over an hour and half before the tickets were available.  You could feel the excitement in the air amongst those queuing, very reminiscent of youthful days gone by but with a few more grey hairs and maybe an extra pound or two.


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The sun was shining on Canal Street and it screamed for a long boozy afternoon in the warmth with good friends. However I had the Manchester 10km the next day and jobs to do, not least picking up my bike from the cycle shop, all nicely serviced in time for the triathlon, so after a couple of soft drinks I said goodbye to the old and new faces.

The next day I still felt ok, not 100% fit yet but the antibiotics had been working, so I set off to do the 10Km with my boyfriend Adam. The sun was glorious, great for a lazy Sunday in the garden, a little too hot for a 10km run. I’d eaten porridge a couple of hours earlier, felt fully hydrated and ready to go. As we set off we managed to high 5 Greg Rutherford as we ran past him, nothing better than an Olympic Gold Medallist to motivate you. I felt great.


Within 5 minutes of running, my other half and his incredibly small bladder had to stop for a comfort break just after the first kilometre. I knew with the sun, my infection and his bladder, a personal best was looking unlikely. However, we got running again and were keeping a nice pace, the support was loud, generous and appreciated. At about 6km my stomach started to feel a bit dodgy, I carried on but slowed my pace. I felt sick. The heat was becoming a real problem and there were no more water stations. Adam decided that I was slacking and started screaming at me to put more effort in at 7km. There were jelly babies and he offered me an energy gel but the thought of it made me feel even more nauseous so I said no to both. At 8km he decided that if Jillian Michaels was screaming at me I’d put in the effort and would have increased my pace.  He did his best to motivate me by being tough, but as he was my other half and I wasn’t feeling good, he got a few choice words. I had run out of energy and was just hoping to get to the end of the race without being sick. The last 200m is up a slight incline with crowds on either side. I felt like I was running through treacle. As the finishing line got closer, I remember thinking “thank god I can stop and get some water.” My body must have realised we were finally at the end and my stomach retched. I tried to moved to the side as a consideration to the runners behind and if it wasn’t for the quick actions of a St John’s Ambulance woman at the line rushing to give me a plastic bag, I would have puked on the feet of…Greg Rutherford. Hardly the Olympic Legacy I’d had in mind.

My time wasn’t my best, in fact it was my worst time over 10km at 1hour 5 minutes but I finished it without killing my boyfriend in the process, so we’ll mark it down as a win.

I always have admiration for the mad folk who dress in crazy outfits but even more so on this sweltering, hot day. I caught up with my friend Mike who is a vicar and ran in his full cassock, raising money for the early years’ department at the local primary school where we are both governors. Towards the end of the race, he stopped to help give first aid to a woman, who had collapsed around the 8km mark. I’m not sure how she felt about being given first aid by a vicar in his full clerical garb, she might have panicked about how serious her condition was.

After catching up with Mike, I popped across to the Roman fort where my sister and her family were relaxing after the race. Here we are together proudly wearing our medals.

Well done Manchester for putting on another fabulous race, well done runners for your sporting achievements and an even bigger well done for all the fundraisers collecting money for a plethora of deserving causes.


A Nice Day Out

11 May

It occurred to me today that I have 5 weeks until my triathlon. I had to take a moment after writing that to stop hyper-ventilating. When I started training over 6 months ago, the triathlon was ages away, training had started, everything was sweet, I had plenty of time. With a triathlon there are 3 disciplines to train in. Add one fun runner who has never learnt front crawl and lacks confidence on a bike and it soon becomes apparent that there’s a LOT of training involved. Although I’m not going to set the athletic world alive, I’ve managed to keep it up with varying degrees of enthusiasm from week to week and now I’m fitter and might just make it through the swim. Drowning would be a bit of a bummer as the swim is the first bit of the race so making it through alive is the aim of the game.


So in April, Manchester Triathlon club ran a Novice Day for similar fools to go through all the things we needed to know to compete in our first triathlon. It was fantastic, there was a really wide range of people, some were members I had met at training sessions, most weren’t but it was a diverse group. The morning session was in the pool at Moss Side. We had to grade ourselves so the fastest went first and the trainers could put us in the right ability group. I knew I was at the back, I’m sure I mumbled something about just learning front crawl as I shuffled to the back of the queue. Then we had to swim 300m, one after the other without stopping. I was terrified but I did it! I didn’t drown. That was the warm up. Another hour of improving technique, learning how to spot so you can swim in the right direction in open water, how to swim around a buoy in a group and getting used to feet in your face, we were ready for the bikes.

Our MTC trainer, Tony took us through various facts and rules of triathlon whilst we had a snack and then it was onto our bikes. We started doing bike checks, maintenance and safety information that you need to know if you are competing. Then we were taught the dismount and mount. Tony made it look so easy as he sailed past the group comfortably on his bike, waving his right leg high behind the seat and bringing it round in a sweeping movement to the floor, where with timed precision and ease he was suddenly jogging gently to the left of his bike. Our turn. Now I was a bit embarrassed to be seen on my bike. It’s a nice bike but I’m not a great rider …yet. I really struggled. The mount was even harder, some of the lads were jumping on their bikes at a run yet I just had a fear and couldn’t trust my balance to get it right. We were put in groups of 4 and set to run to our bikes as if we had just completed our swim and were out of wet-suits ready to go. I had a minor panic attack at this point because I suddenly pictured myself doing a triathlon and realised what that actually meant. I was in the last group so got the chance to see what putting confident bike riders in a hint of race conditions does to ability. Everyone was trying to remember to get their helmets on before touching their bike, not to mount before the line, all racing against everyone else. People were careering off in the wrong direction, others were in the wrong gear, the most confident rider put the wrong foot on the pedal, it was carnage. At this point I decided I was going to have a nice day out and was not going to injure myself trying to be fancy – a tactic I plan for the race. If you messed up, it definitely cost you more time. When we had lunch Tony shared this video with us of the Women’s T1 World Championship race in Hyde Park in 2011. They definitely made us feel better about our abilities. I love it.

Finally we did some running. I was dreading this. As an ex-smoker but occasional fun runner I am a slow runner and some of these people were serious runners. They hadn’t got up hungover, one Olympic morning, lit a fag and thought you know what I want to do, I want to do a triathlon. To hell that I can’t swim properly or that I am a bit wobbly on a bike and don’t like going too fast, I can run a bit for charity occasionally, when I’m not having a cheeky pint and a fag. No they were “I’ve run a marathon or 2, what next?” So again I shuffle to the back and off we go counting our steps. I don’t know why and I just run at my usual pace, ignoring the gazelles ahead of me and a couple of slow folk behind me. When Nick gives us the number we should have to indicate a good running cadence, a couple of the gazelles were too low, shame. I was bang on the number with 45. I was so chuffed. In some small way I felt like I had beaten the gazelles even though they ran at twice my pace. I actually shouted yes out loud, wondering why I’d turned into Napoleon Dynamite and slightly embarrassed that at 42 I still have that school geeky joy in being right in class.


Warm Weather Training!

7 May

Well I finally did some warm weather training. Just like a real athlete in a warm weather training camp, apart from the fact it was one run in the sun on a weekend in Spain for a friend’s birthday. Yes I am lucky that I have a friend who lives in Barcelona and organised the party of all parties for her 40th. We booked ourselves into a hotel in Sitges, south of Barcelona in March. It was on the seafront and our room had a wonderful seaview. I had the idea that in addition to running along the gorgeous coast, I would be able to attempt some open water swimming in the sea. I knew it would be cold but I wanted to test my new found swimming skills. When we arrived it became clear that we would have to have the strength of Atlas to make through the waves. They were fierce. During the whole weekend we saw a lone surfer brave the breakers, and one night they were crashing so loud it sounded like we were next to the M60 as opposed to by the sea in a chic resort like Sitges. Even though we already know that I have excellent floatability, I feared I would have been tossed around like a departed goldfish in a flushing toilet never to see the surface again.

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So instead, early one morning we donned our trainers and ran along the seafront admiring the beautiful houses that you needed a lottery win to even look at. Sitges has some of the highest property prices in Europe and is known as the San Tropez of Spain. Even though a lottery win is near impossible, especially if you factor in not buying lottery tickets, we still imagined living in one of the seafront mansions and having this Mediterranean paradise to train in as opposed to running up and down hills in Boggart Hole Clough. Runners in Sitges were serious. They did not say “hola”, did not smile at fellow runners and looked like they had just got off a catwalk in Milan; basically they were miserable sods. Still it was a very pleasant run even though my other half has much longer legs than me and found it hard to slow down to my snail pace. After the run we got the train to Barcelona and went for a pleasant, sunny walk around Parc Montjuic taking in the views. There’s a lot of steps in the park and we took on each of them as if we were in a Rocky montage. Suffice it to say that the next morning our legs were suffering. There were no more runs but we dined, danced and got drunk with very good friends. Alcohol does not help muscle recovery so training was abandoned for the rest of stay.

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