Race Report: The Fix Run Whitstable 10K

IMG_20180418_194023This was a bit of a bonus race for me as it was originally scheduled for March but the snow forced the organisers to reschedule to April…I had planned to keep April clear of racing as I have a fair amount of work travel this month which is always a little disruptive, but luckily this race was rescheduled to the one weekend where I was actually in the UK. Parfait. This was a new event for Whitstable (the ‘official’ Whitstable 10K takes place in May, and yes, I’ll be on the start line) and I have to say that it was superbly organised – there was a race for children, a 5K and a 10K all starting within the hour, and it had quite clearly attracted some new run/walkers to the event too; so something for everyone.

Everything about this race was efficient – from registering and collecting my race number, to dropping off my bag, to queuing for the toilets (actually, there were no queues)…and the marshalls were friendly and encouraging. In fact, my friend and former-colleague, Emma, was one of the marshalls and it was a rather unexpected and pleasant surprise to hear her cheering me on during the race.

The race started on time and I worked my way to the start line – I decided to go to the very front this time as I was fairly confident that I would be one of the faster runners – I bumped into James at the front too (he ended up winning the race in 33:55…incredible!) and had a few conversations with those around me. Everyone seemed in good spirits and raring to go. I had told myself that I wasn’t PB chasing in this race – but I still wanted a fast race and in my head wanted a sub 50. I started off quickly but rather than maintaining my pace it just got progressively slower, still keeping to sub 8 minute/miles so knew I would be well ahead of my target, but I did have to work hard to keep to a pace I was satisfied with. My body is pretty tired at the moment and I suspect that’s why I’ve had two consecutive races where things have not felt as good as they perhaps should have – I’m also struggling with my feet as my hallux limitus has gotten a little worse which means deciding on the right shoe to wear is becoming a bit of a nightmare. All week I had planned to wear the Gel Nimbus 20 in this race (my comfortable shoe in terms of foot pain, but my legs have to work harder in these to maintain speed), and then it got to race day and I switched back into RoadHawks (my fast shoe, but it doesn’t have enough cushioning to keep my foot pain at a manageable level) – I don’t regret my shoe choice at all, but I do need to rethink my racing shoe going forward. So yeh, having arthritis in your feet when you’re a runner isn’t the easiest thing in the world to manage – but until I can physically no longer walk, I will continue to race.

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I actually really enjoyed this race – it’s a route I run in training all the time, so I’m familiar with the intricacies of the ground and which part of the promenade to run on to give my legs the easiest ride. I couldn’t quite keep up with the lead pack, but was considerably ahead of everyone else behind me so there were parts of the route which felt a little lonely – towards the final quarter the 10K runners started filtering into the 5K participants which gave me a real boost as it meant I could shout words of encouragement to the people I passed and the sun started to come out too which makes all the difference for me. My headspace was great during this race – I felt like there was no pressure and I was just there to have a good time, which is exactly what I did. The only real issue I had was my jaw dislocating at mile 5, but that happens to me more often than I’d care to admit so it no longer bothers me as I know I can fix it once I’ve stopped running. All in all, a very happy race.

So, results? I came in at 46.59 (about 15 seconds slower than my PB) and was 5th lady – so not too bad, although I definitely feel like I have the capacity to improve on that time.

Oh, and here’s a bonus video if you want to see me unleash my inner-competitive gremlin on the start line…

 

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Race Report: Folkestone 10 Miler

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Where do I even begin with this one? In terms of where my headspace was at, this would definitely rank as my worst race; it was a huge mental struggle from start to finish…but that’s just what running is sometimes and all you can do is pick yourself up afterwards, dust yourself off, and move onto the next one.

On the Monday before the race I told myself that I would have a good taper; lots of fuelling and plenty of rest. But actually March has been a pretty big month for me, it has been stressful and tiring and challenging and wonderful, and essentially everything that prevents me from just sitting still and looking after myself. So, unsurprisingly, I deluded myself that I was having a good taper, when realistically I was running every day and skipped lunch every day too – I know, idiot. I woke up on Good Friday, the morning of the race, and felt terrible…my body was heavy, I felt lethargic and I hadn’t really slept the night before. I had my usual pre-race porridge with a tea, and then had half a bagel with nut butter too for some extra fuel and packed three jelly babies to potentially have during the race and a bottle of water for the hour’s journey to race HQ.

I arrived at a muddy field in Hythe just as it started to rain and as the wind was picking up. My headspace was already pretty negative by this point, because, you know…I’m fed up of the rubbish weather. But I did a few Insta stories and interacted with some of you which raised my spirits. I then started to strategise. This was a last minute addition to my race schedule and done as a knee-jerk reaction to my last race being cancelled due to snow. Technically I didn’t need this race, nor had I been training for it, but last month I ran 10 miles in training at 7.20 min/miles so I knew I potentially had a fast race in me and told myself that my main goal was to keep below 8 min/miles throughout.

The weather started to get worse whilst we were all huddled at the start line – I had positioned myself quite close to the front because it was a busy race and I didn’t want to get stuck behind people. The first part of the race was a lap around the very muddy field – I wore my Roadhawks and was sliding all over the place, but soon we were out on the road and straight onto the seafront. I was fairly familiar with the route as it’s the same as last year’s Folkestone Half, just run in reverse and with a few miles taken off the distance. On a sunny day, this route is glorious. On a day like we had, it is soul destroying. The route is entirely exposed as you run along the coast – on the way out to the 5 mile turnaround we had an almighty headwind which made things very difficult and the rain became heavier and heavier; the route felt boring and hard work. By this point my internal dialogue was the most negative it has ever been whilst running – at 1.9 miles in I seriously questioned whether I had this race in me, and at 3 miles I saw someone retire and start walking back (he was in an Ironman top, no less) and thought about doing the same. But I decided to stick at it because I knew I had overtaken a few people by this point and despite feeling low, I thought I was probably still putting in a decent effort. At mile 5 there was a very slight incline and I honestly thought about walking, thankfully I decided against it as I know that if I had started walking that would be my race well and truly over (or at least, the race inside my head). Hitting the turnaround point gave me a boost, and as it was an out and back route it meant that I could start to encourage other runners as I crossed their path whilst on my way back – that actually made me feel significantly better. I like to encourage others, and it also helped to frame my own inner-competitive gremlin too. I had become so preoccupied by the thought that I wasn’t hitting a time that I deemed acceptable for myself, that I had forgotten about the fact that actually, even at my worst I am still a fairly speedy runner.

After what felt like the longest time, I made it to mile 9 which was probably my worst mile (and where my speed dropped to 8.13 min/miles – my slowest mile on the course) – I really hated the world during this mile, which wasn’t helped by the fact that one of those fast food vans was on the side of the road and all I could smell were burgers being cooked. Oh man, I felt sick. It took a lot of effort to hold myself together, but I did, and persevered through to the finish line.

I did my usual sprint finish, and came in at 1:18:59 with an average pace of 7.54 min/miles. As soon as I crossed the finish line I started beating myself up about it – I shouldn’t have, because it doesn’t really matter and actually that is a respectable time, plus my average pace was sub 8 min/miles, which I should’ve been satisfied with – but I soon realised that my biggest battle on the day was in my head, rather than my body and that actually if I had just set aside those intrusive thoughts, I would have performed better.  I bumped into my ASICS FrontRunner teammate, Yiannis, at the finish too – he had a brilliant race which was really great to hear and made me feel happier.

So, lessons learnt for next time? Don’t feel the need to add a last-minute race into the schedule (you have nothing to prove), leave your inner-gremlin in the car (he won’t help you at all), fuel properly (because everyone needs food, duh), rest when you need to (because you don’t need to punish your body), and don’t take yourself too seriously (because nobody else is). Racing is usually a fun thing for me; I’m the person who will smile from start to finish and will cheer anyone and everyone on. So onto the next race, which is just two weeks away…

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Race Report: Monaco 10K

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Ah, the Monaco 10K, my favourite race that I run each year. I love being back in Monaco as I have such fond memories from my childhood spent there and this year I knew that I had a PB in me so was even more excited than usual to race. My (non-runner) husband also does this race each year, and usually we run the course together which always feels pretty special…this year however, I felt like I had something to prove to myself and so we decided to each run our own race (after a few funny exchanges where my husband was pleading with me to run with him and when I asked why his response was ‘to ruin my race’…love you too, G-man).

The day before the race we walked down to the expo which had moved to Le Stade Nautique Rainier III and was far more convenient and well organised, collected our bibs, and had a really great time catching up with Blue Coast Brewing. At this point, I felt great – I had fuelled well, I had rested, I had trained properly and I was feeling happy. Sunday arrived and I still felt great so knew I had the potential to have a good race – although the weather was truly atrocious – I’m talking biblical rain, which is something we don’t experience too often on the Riviera. Whilst the weather wasn’t going to deter me, it did mean I had to add a jacket to my race kit which I was really loathe to do as I don’t like to race in anything that makes me feel bulky. I knew that the ten minute walk to the start line, and potentially hanging around for about 20 minutes at the finish line would mean I would benefit from the extra layer though.

We arrived at the race start and went off to the toilets where we bumped into Paula Radcliffe. Dream come true. In terms of inspirational female runners, you don’t get better than Paula – we had a brief conversation about the race and said good luck to each other before parting ways. At this point my husband and I decided to say goodbye to each other so I could work my way closer to the start line – I actually found this quite an emotional moment. I was so proud that he had chosen to run the race again and I really wanted to be there to encourage him throughout, but this was also my first race of the year and I had something to prove to myself and knew I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t give this one my all.

The race started and I went out fast – faster than I think I have ever run, but I felt good and the pace didn’t feel unsustainable. I reached the first gentle incline at around the 5K mark and started to fall into a negative and very critical head space, I also took on too much water at the 6K mark and felt like my race was about to fall apart. And in a brief moment where I was really suffering, Paula Radcliffe ran past me (she was running the second leg of the relay race) and shouted ‘well done – keep at it’…which was just the boost I needed. That moment taught me that the discomfort I was feeling within my body was perhaps psychosomatic – something to bear in mind in future races. Eventually the finish line came into view and I knew I was on target to achieve a good time, my official time was 46:43 and 13th lady (previous 10K PB was 50:20 and achieved quite a few years ago) which was better than I could have hoped for – I wanted to come in sub 50, but thought realistically I would be at the 49 minute mark so I really was over the moon with this result. My husband came in at 1hr 4mins which was also a PB and a great result for someone who doesn’t run.

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28700932_10214213609646829_6613599846373325931_oI started to suffer post-race. I was very very cold from the rain and my hip flexors seized up whilst I was waiting for my husband – I also really had given the race my all and could tell my sodium levels were low which can make me quite ill if I don’t fix it quickly. So what did I do? Refuelled at McDonalds…I know right, who even am I?! But that Happy Meal really hit the spot after a successful morning.

I’m racing another 10K this weekend and am quietly hoping for another PB, although snow, ice and 25mph wind is forecast during the event so I think I perhaps need to manage my own expectations on this one.

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Race Report: Monaco 10K

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What was supposed to be my third race of 2017 actually ended up being my first race of the year. The Coastal Endurance race at the beginning of January ended up being cancelled due to safety concerns and I then consciously decided to pull out of the London Winter Run in February as my feet were in no fit state to put in a good race, so I wanted this to be a good debut for the year. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

The Monaco 10K is my favourite race that I do each year – Monaco is somewhere I spent a lot of time whilst growing up so there’s a level of comfort and familiarity with racing there, it really does feel like home. This year my uncle and cousin were planning on racing with us too, but my cousin fell down some stairs and broke her foot shortly before the race so had to pull out (Sasha – I’m convinced you did this deliberately and we will get you racing with us next year). We were blessed with really beautiful weather once again, and after spending a few days relaxing by the pool felt in pretty good condition by the time race day arrived.

Then I woke up on race morning and felt so unenthused to run – not to the point where I wanted to pull out as there really is no pressure with this race, but I didn’t feel like I was going to put in much effort. So, we went down for breakfast and whereas usually I’d be quite strict about just eating a bowl of porridge before the start of a race, I actually decided to fill up on croissants and discard any nutritional needs my body might require for a good performance. I then got dressed into my race kit and swapped my shorts out for tights, despite the fact that it was approaching 14’c outside and I knew I’d be overheating within 10 minutes of starting. Essentially it was an exercise in self-sabotage, or so I thought…

We got to the start of the race with just a few minutes to spare, heard the announcement that Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe were running in the relay event after our race, and then set off on our way into Fontvieille to run a lap around the Stade Louis II and then back into Monaco Ville to tackle the first of the hills. Monaco is hilly, though not ‘properly hilly’, and what I refer to as hills during this post are more steep but short inclines – but there’s a lot of them during the first half of the race and you really have to dig deep to keep momentum going. I’m the type who usually struggles on hills quite a lot but I actually breezed up these ones and felt great (I’m going to credit this with the Barre classes I’ve been going to religiously since last September), I was certainly overheating though as I had predicted and then drank far too much water at the 5K mark to cool myself down…nobody really enjoys running with a full tummy of water, but I’m greedy and never learn from my past mistakes. At this point I could tell that my husband was starting to struggle with his ITB so I dropped my pace a little so that we could continue to run together. I was still feeling very strong at this point. At 6K I had another hill which really hurt my bad feet but still didn’t slow me down as the pain was just about manageable. We then took the switch back down onto Ave Princesse Grace and took the last 2.5K in our stride before crossing the finish line at the Stade Nautique Rainier III, still feeling strong.

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Despite all the consciously-made rookie mistakes I made in the lead up and during that race, I really enjoyed myself and had the strongest and most consistent race performance that I had had for years. Considering I woke up that morning not wanting to run, I was just amazed at myself for pushing through and getting the job done whilst genuinely enjoying myself…I think there’s certainly something to be said for forgetting any external pressures and racing just for yourself. Now that my feet are slowly deteriorating and I can’t get to the times I used to be able to reach I’ve had to really adjust my approach to running, and this race really helped me to see that when I forget about everything else going on, I can still be good. Not brilliant, but good. And good is good enough for me. This is also the only race my husband will run so it always feels a little fun and special to be taking it on side by side.

So what’s next? Well, I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet as I want to do a proper post after the launch weekend, but I am now part of the UK ASICS FrontRunner team. This is a really exciting opportunity, and we’re making our debut at the Manchester Marathon on the 2nd April…so watch this space!

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Race Report: Hever Castle Triathlon

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In terms of picturesque triathlon locations, it doesn’t get much better than Hever Castle. I had been booked onto this race for an entire year and knew that this was the one I wanted to take part in to close my season. Aside from the fact that it is extremely pretty, it is also the most challenging course I did all year.

Whilst the swim was not particularly challenging, the lake is rather grim underfoot. Our wave was due to start at 9.15am so by 9 we were at the side of the lake being briefed by the course director on what to expect throughout the race. The day beforehand we received an email with the good news that the water temperature was 17’C and therefore wetsuits were non-compulsory. I did have a brief moment where I contemplated discarding my wetsuit in favour of a faster transition, but was glad I dismissed such a silly idea before racing. I sat on the side of the pontoon and dipped my toes in the water and thought that the water felt ok, however when I slid off and submerged my whole body I realised just how cold things actually were. Lakes always feel colder than the sea to me which is why I prefer sea swims in events. The good thing about Hever is that the lake is shallow enough to stand up at the start, however underfoot is so squishy and grim that you really don’t feel inclined to put your feet down for fear of what it is you are actually standing on.

Somehow I ended up at the front of the start line which was not my original plan – I had wanted to hang back to avoid getting kicked in the torso whilst swimming as I had some bruised ribs which were pretty painful, but clearly racing mentality took over. Soon enough we were off on the swim and heading out towards the turnaround buoy. The water soon warmed up whilst swimming and unfortunately I ended up swallowing a fair bit of it too as there was so much splashing up front – this was something I desperately wanted to avoid as the water looks horrid (I drank a lot of coke after the race so hopefully won’t get too sick from this). Eventually we were on the homestretch and were being pulled out of the water by the very helpful marshals (it’s quite steep climbing out of the lake so you need a hand) and then running up hill into transition. I heard a lot of people moaning about how steep the 100m run out of the lake and into transition was, but it wasn’t anything like the Oysterman slope so this didn’t cause any concern for me.

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Getting through the swim felt easy, and mentally I was telling myself that I was a third of the way through the race and could easily do the other two disciplines (in reality in terms of distance, completing the swim is nowhere near a third of the way through the race but it helps me to visualise it this way). I tried not to faff around too much in transition and before I knew it was heading out of transition and onto the bike route. Just as I made it to the mount line I realised there was something wrong with my pedal so had to spend a minute sorting that out, but once I was on the bike I felt comfortable and confident…initially. Now, I know the Hever bike route is hilly, but I think I had forgotten just how hilly it was. The first 2Km of the cycle was a climb and I secretly hoped that that would be the worst of it…oh how naive I was. It was climb after climb after climb after climb. And I really hate hills. Also, as it was undulating country lanes a lot of the route was shaded from trees, which may have looked pretty, but also meant I was suffering from the cold a bit whilst not drying off fully. There were some great bits to the bike though; every KM was marked which helped me to tick off the distance mentally and break it down into manageable sections, when some of the super speedy men overtook me on a climb they would shout words of encouragement to me, one of my fellow coached triathletes was out cheering in one of the villages, and I received two comments from ladies complimenting me on my trisuit. There were also some very nasty bike crashes I saw and a few punctures too…I was most worried about the bike section and just kept willing myself to get through it unscathed and without any mechanical issues. Because of this I didn’t push myself as hard as I perhaps should have, although certainly wasn’t just coasting my way through it.

Eventually I was on the last climb with only 2KM to go and knew I could make it back safely. By this point my whole torso was aching from being hunched over on my bike and I really felt like I needed a good run to shake things out.

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Heading back into transition I quickly had a sachet of baby food and a drink of water, put some lipbalm and my Advent Running hat on, moved my race number to the front and then out I went. By this point the sun was really warm and I was so excited to have my run and knew the finish was in sight. At the start of the run you have to climb a bridge to clear yourself of the bike route, and that was enough to make me keel over in pain (as evidenced in the above photo!) before managing to compose myself once again and giving the run all I could. The run is essentially a trail run but my shoes seem to be ok coping with all kinds of terrain, of course though, the first third of the route was pretty much all up hill again – I was certainly starting to feel the burn in my legs. Eventually things levelled out and I was at the next water station where I stopped for a few seconds to drink properly rather than run and drink, this was such a welcome break as the water felt ice cold and really left me feeling refreshed and ready to attack the rest of the run. After a bit more running I could feel the end was near and after one last gentle incline I could start to see and hear the crowds cheering us on. I didn’t quite give my usual sprint finish but I did have a consistent and well-paced run from start to finish which left me feeling incredibly happy.

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And so, there I was having finished my season of triathlon, feeling exhausted but proud of all that I had accomplished over the course of the year and ready to grow stronger throughout the winter so that I am racing fit for 2017. My little biceps are starting to grown (well, on my right arm…not so much on the left) and I feel as though I have really trained my mind to be able to take on anything that is thrown at me. Whilst I have found the training exhausting and draining at times, that feeling of accomplishment on race day more than makes up for it. I really do love the sport of triathlon.

 

Race Report: Oysterman Triathlon

How would I sum up my performance in the Oysterman Triathlon? Sloooooooow. Really slow.

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I didn’t go into this race in the best condition unfortunately. After my last big race I developed a chest infection which lingered for 3 weeks, and as an asthmatic that sort of thing really does hinder me when it comes to training. I then had one week before Oysterman to enjoy training sans chest infection, however became ill in other ways during that week and was hit with the very sad news that my grandfather had passed away. Add to that mix the fact that my bad feet (I was diagnosed with hyperextension in early summer and spend most days in pain) flared up three days before the race, and involved me trying to force my toes to dislocate so I could re-set them on race-mas eve, and well, you pretty much have a race that shouldn’t happen.

But it did happen, and boy am I glad it did, because…I got to race with my family! Whilst my uncle was off running an ultramarathon nearby (he’s a modern-day superman), Bex and Sam tackled the triathlon with me. I liked to think that Bex and I were the female version of the Brownlee brothers. However in reality, whilst Bex is very hardcore, I am far less focussed and spent most of the race just enjoying the scenery.

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I think the swim was my favourite part of the race, although I really did enjoy all elements of it. Sea swimming is one of my favourite activities in life and although I consciously recognise that my technique becomes pretty poor when swimming in the sea I find it incredibly soothing (perhaps not quite the feeling you’re aiming for when racing…). Despite the fact that there was a really strong tide on the day and some rolling waves forcing us back on the longest stretch of the swim, my time was actually quicker than in the aquathlon – and it was 100m further too. On the whole I was rather pleased with the swim however the one annoying part for me was that just as I had broken away from the group I had been comfortably swimming with and headed towards the last buoy before swimming back into the beach, that group were told they no longer had to swim around the buoy. Whilst I am really pleased that I swam the entire course, I was annoyed that at least 10 people left the water having swam approximately 75m less than me. I did still leave the water before them though so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

Unfortunately de-wetsuiting became a bit of an ordeal. I had been distracted in transition when preparing for the swim so didn’t vaseline my wrists and ankles properly and so inevitably I got stuck. I’ve only included one photo of me exiting the water whilst struggling with my arms as there are already far too many photos in this post, however trust me when I say I have a whole sequence of me pulling weird faces whilst my monkey limbs were flailing about. Still, I eventually managed to free my arms on the run up to transition, and then had the exact same problem with my legs. Unfortunately this meant transition 1 was still a good 4 minutes for me but soon enough I was out on the bike.IMG_2577IMG_2604IMG_2606IMG_2614IMG_2623IMG_2633IMG_2650IMG_2654

The bike was 20K out into the surrounding countryside plus a busy carriageway. My method of fuelling for this race was to have two sachets of baby food whilst on the bike as I can’t really stomach gels and thought baby food would be better than nothing. I actually only ended up picking up one sachet in transition though and soon realised I hadn’t actually secured it properly in the pocket of my tri suit. I heard something hit the ground about 7K into the cycle and looked behind me hoping it wasn’t something falling off my bike, only to see that lone sachet on the floor. I wasn’t prepared to stop and pick it back up as I knew my legs would struggle to get going again if I stopped, so I chose to carry on and forget about fuelling.

Again, I really enjoyed myself on the bike. There were strong headwinds for approximately 60% of it which is something I really struggle with as I don’t have the same power behind me that other athletes do (something I’m determined to work on for next year) but I spent the whole time smiling and not once did I allow anything negative to creep into my mind. The only thing I was worried about was encountering any mechanical issues or a puncture as I had deliberately left my tools at home and knew that if I did get a puncture it would be game over for me. There was one stretch of road which we had to cycle twice and had smashed glass in a few spots at the side, so I became very paranoid about this and made sure I cycled towards the middle of the road whenever passing it. By the time we were on the bikes it was about 7.45am and so the roads, despite being open, were relatively traffic-free and easy to cycle on.

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Unfortunately the run for me really let me down. I knew that I would be struggling by this point because of my feet, but had no idea just how much pain I would end up in. The run route was one I was fairly familiar with as it was almost identical to the Whitstable Park Run which I occasionally do. But even being able to visualise the route did nothing to help me get through the run. I had to really dig deep in order to finish as I didn’t want a DNF in this race…plus despite the pain, I was having a really good time.

Eventually I crossed the finish line with my usual sprint finish and heaved a sigh of relief whilst giving high fives and hugs to my husband, Bex and Sam. I had told everyone the evening beforehand that I wanted to come in under 2 hours. My time? 1 hour 59 minutes and 27 seconds. So whilst this really wasn’t my perfect race, I managed to achieve my time goal and left feeling satisfied in the knowledge that I had given all I could possibly give on that day, despite the fact that it wasn’t my best.

Hever Castle Triathlon is my next race in three weeks and after that I will be hanging up my running shoes for 5 weeks to try and fix my feet properly. But until then, training resumes at full pace because Hever is my A race of the season and I have high hopes for my performance.

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I should also say a huge thank you to my wonderful husband who wakes up at 5am to take me to my races and then spends hours stood up taking photographs of us all. He’s a hero!

Race Report: Whitstable Aquathlon

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On Sunday I took part in the Whitstable Surf n Turf Aquathlon and had the most fabulous time. I went into the race with a very positive frame of mind as I had resigned myself to the fact that it wouldn’t be a fast race for me so therefore I could just enjoy myself…I knew I was under-trained, under-fuelled, under-tapered, all-round under-prepared. But I didn’t care because I knew that I had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and was ready for some fun, and fun it was.

Everyone seemed to be in a great mood which was perhaps helped by the glorious sunshine we woke up to on race day. I received my first cheery hello from a fellow competitor who recognised me from Facebook during the line for registration, and when it was time to register had some great banter with the organisers who recognised me too…and then told me my race number was ‘1’. I had a little giggle to myself at that point because even though I was feeling good, my lack of preparation meant that there was a possibility that race number ‘1’ would get a DNF. Luckily I didn’t need to worry about that.

I set up my kit in transition and was conveniently located next to my Instagram friend and Team GB athlete, Yiannis Christodoulou, who very kindly lent me his talc as I had only brought Lush’s Snow Fairy Dust with me and didn’t really fancy having pink glittery feet for the run. I set everything out in the order I would need it…including my inhaler and my raisins for a bit of a post-swim energy boost, and then walked down the slope to the beach for the sea swim briefing. By this point, the sun was shining and there was a fairly strong breeze, but really and truly perfect race conditions. Until we got in the water…which was choppy.

Waves aside, the swim started off great for me and I was confident enough to swim front crawl from the mass start. Unfortunately before reaching the first buoy the lady swimming beside me rolled on her back and started screaming for help…the safety surfboards were quite far away so I tried asking her if she’d like me to help. She was clearly having a panic attack and couldn’t respond at all with a coherent sentence other than yelling ‘help’, so I took her arm and placed her over my shoulders whilst attempting to tread water until the safety crew arrived. As soon as they had her on the surfboard I was back off to continue the swim. Unfortunately that little episode meant I had lost my front crawl momentum and finished the swim doing breaststroke, at the start someone also knocked one of my feet too which are pretty painful at the moment due to a persistent injury. Still, I wasn’t disappointed because throughout the whole of the swim I was thinking how proud I was for doing this and for feeling happy and relatively strong – a few others had been pulled out of the water too and my husband was stood on the shore worrying whether I’d make it.

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He needn’t have worried, soon enough I was running out of the water, ripping my wetsuit off and tackling the slope into transition. Had my inhaler, a few raisins and some water, and off I went to tackle the run (I actually spent a whole 4 minutes in transition…clearly taking things very easy). I had run a strong ParkRun the day before so knew I was capable of the distance with my feet in their current condition, but thought I would take it as slow as possible and continue to enjoy myself. There was no way that I was going to get a DNF when I was in such a good mood. Although I wasn’t wearing a GPS I think I kept a very consistent pace throughout. I didn’t push myself on the run and didn’t get out of breath and that meant that I continued to feel strong for the entirety. The marshals on the run were brilliant and gave all the support and encouragement you could possibly want in a race, and soon enough I was on the home straight and running into a manageable headwind, back up the slope and onto the final 200m where I gave my usual sprint finish.

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Slow, steady, and finished.

It really was a brilliant event, the organisation was spectacular, the people were friendly, the weather was superb. I couldn’t have hoped for a more positive experience and cannot wait to take part again next year. I feel very lucky to have such brilliant local races right on my doorstep. A huge thank you to the Active Life team for yet another great event…next stop, the Oysterman Triathlon!