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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Midlands Running Guide

I was really excited to pick up a copy of Midlands Running Guide the other day and find a picture of myself in a police officers outfit inside.

I'd like to reassure you that I hadn't 
a) Mugged a police officer and left them naked while prancing off in their uniform 
b) Stuck my own photograph into a running mag using Blue Peter-esque skills with scissors and pritstick. 
Or c) Got myself on a “Have You Seen This Runner?” style running blacklist.

Louise from The Midlands Running Guide had emailed me and asked me if I wanted to tell her about my favourite race. This of course sounded dreadful. All of us runners absolutely DETEST talking about running and races and missing toenails and blisters. So of course I declined.


I did however restrain myself from talking about manky feet.

I don't want to spoil the fun but I did struggle with choosing my favourite race. There have been some AMAZING ones.

But I'll give you some clues:
  • It’s at night.
  • It’s got MASSIVE hills.
  • There are skeletons and ghouls running it.
  • There are massive cows.

... Oh no – those are reasons why it’s a crazy, bonkers race. THESE are my reasons why it’s my favourite:

  • It’s at night – very spooky.
  • It’s got MASSIVE hills – which means massive downhills.
  • It’s fancy dress - There are skeletons and ghouls and corpse brides and dead cheerleaders running it.
  • There are massive cows – reason to run a bit faster and get a course PB. And a dressed-as-a-police-officer PB.

Disclaimer: The crazy reasons may ALSO be the same as my favourite reasons …

If you want to get yourself a free copy of the Midlands Running Guide, it's available here or you can have a look at their website which has info on local races and results, news, shops and running advice.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Equinox 24: Meeting Strangers Off the Internet

This all started with Twitter. A group of runners from all over the UK deciding it would be a good idea to all meet up at a race.

But why do things by halves?

Rather than just having a catch up at a local 5k, we decided to meet up at a race which involved camping, hills, trail running and 24 hours of running. It just goes to show that Twitter and runners probably shouldn’t mix. As is usual with these mad plans, it was probably hatched late at night after a couple of glasses of wine. And it seemed like such a good idea at that time ...

... and then 10 months pass and you realise you’re going to be camping in a field in October with a bunch of strangers with a love of lycra and probably no toenails.

Luckily Lozza had been one of these strangers 10 months ago and now as one of my running-swimming-cycling partners in crime, we decided we would camp together and if everyone else turned out to be insane or murderous we could hold them off with cleverly crafted weapons made out of tent pegs and camping stoves and hide under the gazebo. Or we could just get back into the Fiesta and drive home again.

Lozza and 'Cousin Tom' (yes it was like The Waltons) trying to assemble a gazebo

We got to the site of Equinox 24 in the grounds of Belvoir Castle. It was foggy and remote and the portaloos were distant shapes on the horizon. There wasn't a proper loo, Tesco Express or Costa Coffee in sight and we realised that we might be in for a cold weekend running around a field. AND the beer tent hadn't turned up.

Wet set up camp at the 9km point with the idea in mind that the runner on the field could bellow on their way past to give a 5 minute warning for the next person in the relay team. And a last warning that if they weren't at the crossover point in the next 6 minutes there would be trouble. 

We broadcast our location to our Twitter relay running buddies and people started turning up. Despite never having met in real life before, they all seemed strangely familiar. We’d been chatting for almost a year and although accents were unfamiliar, faces were. Albeit not yet in the running kit which usually accompanied their Twitter profile pictures.

We made a nice group, despite between us having:
  • A penchant for army green camping equipment.
  • A history of breaking cowbells due to overenthusiastic cheering.
  • Ideas of a cleanliness which included picking up sheep poo from our camping area and moving it to outside camp borders.
  • An enthusiasm for running which meant one member was well on the way to 100 marathon club.
  • A severe raisin-farting problem. And a stash of raisins.
  • A hankering after a tuna pineapple pizza.
  • A last place finish in the beer mile.
  • Retina-burningly bright knee length running socks.

I may have taken this from slightly too far away ...

Lozza wrote a complete race report here if you'd like to take a peek

Final lap ... yes I KNOW it looks as though I wore the pink top / grey hat combo for every lap ... I did get changed occasionally ... honest ...!

But highlights included:
  • Meeting Alex and Stewart both doing solo runs and both being coherent and cheerful throughout. Sorry Stew for running with you at the dawn lap and ranting about portaloos (I was traumatised). Sorry Alex for missing you on the 5am lap (but at least you missed the portaloo rants).
  • A local running friend and cycling buddy Mike coming 3rd solo male. And drinking champagne on course at mile 100. (I'm obviously doing ultra running wrong.)
  • Taking part in the beer mile – but with vodka as the beer tent hadn't turned up – and coming 1st lady … and last …!
  • Running additional laps with Helen and with Claire and a final lap with a joint group of the Team Cake and Team Lovely Ladies with plenty of chat, photo stops and laughing.
  • Alexa managing 56 miles as a solo despite never having run further than a half marathon previously.
  • Sparkly - if slightly unreliable – fairy lights around the gazebo. 
  • Playing Daddy Longlegs Tennis in the car. (Every time I opened the car door the interior light came on ... and the Daddy Longlegs came back in, I'd open the door to bat it out, the interior light would come on ...)
  • Sid running the entire Equinox 24 in a morphsuit. 
  • Lozza being so inspired by the solos that she's entering 2015 as a solo herself! I will be a Solo Servant and on cheering, kit, camp tidy up (minus the sheep-poo-picking-up) and chef duty. 

There's that pink top again ...

Team Lovely Ladies met as strangers on the internet, ran 148.8 miles between us and left as friends.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Bacchus: 20 Reasons Why a Wine Marathon is Better Than a Road Marathon

1. Training:
Road marathon: Lots of speedwork, running up and down hills in all weathers and trialling different gels.
Bacchus marathon: Lots of intensive wine drinking.

2. Marathon Morning:
Road Marathon: Pacing around nervously, eating a carefully prepared breakfast and worrying about safety pins.
Bacchus Marathon: Sit around drinking coffee in leisurely manner, worry about forgetting truncheon.

3. Distance:
Road Marathon: Precise distance of 26.2 miles to cover in a goal time.
Bacchus Marathon: Decide while running whether to do the half or the full marathon. Spot the wine stations. Decide it would be a shame not to go round a second time. Time goal: however long it takes to visit 15 wine stations.

4. Kit:
Road Marathon: Skin tight lycra, club vest, sports bra and technical socks all carefully tested beforehand.
Bacchus Marathon: Rock up in fancy dress outfit and hope the chafing isn’t too bad. Decide that enough wine will take mind off any chafing problems. Strategy: if I can feel the chafing, I need more wine.

5. Toilet Queue:
Road Marathon: A long line of runners emitting nervous farts and wondering whether they’ll have time to queue again before the starting gun.
Marathon: Portaloo queue looks like Marvel Comics and Farmyard Weekly have merged.

6. Race Director:
Road Marathon: Race Director is serious man with big stopwatch.
Bacchus Marathon: Race Director is serious man in Wonder Woman outfit.

7. Hill Strategy:
Road Marathon: Run up all the hills no matter what. Do NOT allow inclines to affect pace.
Bacchus Marathon: Walk up ALL hills including speed bumps. No point wasting wine-drinking-energy.

8. The Demon Drink:
Road marathon: Never drink alcohol during training. Apparently even seeing alcohol can cause The Wall to hit early, your legs to fall off and your gels to spontaneously combust.
Bacchus Marathon: Drink all the wine. Have two. Then do another circuit of wine stations to ensure none missed on first lap.

9. Fuelling:
Road Marathon: Careful fuelling strategy involving gels every 24 minutes or when you pass a km sign ending in a 5 or a 0. Or a lady wearing purple boots. Or a sad dog.
Bacchus Marathon: As much pick’n’mix as you can eat before the marshals chase you away. Also melon, pineapple, cake, bananas and wine.

10. Mantra:
Road Marathon: Mantra involves something along lines of “Die but never fail” or “Never stop running even if you’re dying. Think of the medal”.
Bacchus Marathon: Mantra was “We may be losing the race but we’re WINNING at wine drinking”

11. Scenery:
Road Marathon: Mainly buildings and spectators. Occasionally hedges.
Bacchus Marathon: Rows of grapevines, beautiful views across the valley, wild cyclamen growing between the trees, rocky trails and tables spread with pick’n’mix and wine. Did I mention the wine?

12. Runners:
Road Marathon: Competitive, neurotic, dressed in lycra. Unable to chat in case they forget their race mantras which they are repeating over and over.
Bacchus Marathon: Dressed as farmyard animals, in togas or as something completely random. Chatty, friendly and desperate to get to the wine.

13. Aid Stations:
Road Marathon: Grateful to get water at water stops.
Bacchus Marathon: Suggest a cheese board to go with the wine.

14. Expressions:
Road Marathon: Grimaces, tears, forced smiles at photographers making runner look as though they’re fighting constipation.
Bacchus Marathon: Runners smiling, laughing an having a great time. Spectators thinking “They’re smiling. Must have been at the wine. Wish *I* had been at the wine.”

15. Stomach Issues:
Road Marathon: Gels giving you a dodgy tummy
Bacchus Marathon: Wine giving you dodgy eyesight. And making the hills steeper on lap 2. Causing hedges to occasionally jump into the road.

16. Pacing:
Road Marathon: Pace, pace, pace! Keeping a steady pace and never deviating for fear of missing a PB.
Bacchus Marathon: Running like mad to get to the next wine station, then stopping to drink as much wine as possible. Also walking up hills. Walking bumpy bits. Walking after wine stations. Stopping to chat to marshals. Walking to eat snacks. Stopping to drink wine. And repeat.

17. Animal Attacks:
Road Marathon: An occasional escaped dog or dive-bombing pigeon.
Bacchus Marathon: Escaped bull. Was told to walk down the hill due to escaped bull. Unsure why walking was better than running but couldn’t outrun a bull while tipsy anyway. Made sure to refuel (hic!) properly at next aid station in case need extra energy in event of bull chase.

18. Accessories:
Road Marathon: Trainers on.
Bacchus Marathon: Handcuffs on.

19. Finish Line:
Road Marathon: Vomit, de-chip, medal and collapse at finish line
Bacchus Marathon: Big smiles, t-shirt, MASSIVE medal, fruit, hog roast and glass of wine at finish line.

20. Decision Time:
Road Marathon: Swear never to do it again.
Bacchus Marathon: Promise to do it again next year. 

You can enter for 2015 here ... but save a space for me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Triathlon Relays: Dive-In-Wetsuits, MASSIVE beers & How Not-To-Get-Kicked-In-The-Head

It's 25 past 8 and I'm fighting with my wetsuit. The race starts at 8:45 and I’ve got to rack the bike, get my swimming hat on and get to the start ... and my wetsuit is only around my knees. Bloody wetsuits. Why are they so hard to get into when you’re in a hurry?

Why can't someone invent a dive in wetsuit? You’d oil up and take a running jump and voila ... one rubbered up triathlete. Job done.

My (borrowed) bike is at the bottom of a pile of bikes. It’s like an expensive carbon version of pick-up-sticks trying to extricate one bike from among the many. And you daren’t drop one.

I finally get the wetsuit on and I realise I haven’t got my stick on tattoos on my arms. Lozza comes to the rescue. These are like a grown up version of the cartoon ‘tattoos’ you have as a kid that came free with bubblegum. You peel off the back and stick the number on your arm which you wet with a tissue (or in our case without a tissue to hand, a babywipe) until it separates from the card and sticks on your arm. I rolled the top of my wetsuit down, Lozza grabs the tattoo and carefully sticks it to my left arm. Sorted.

Michael walks past. “Lozza, you muppet.”

Hang on ... what's my race number?

Ah whoops.

“Never mind!” She says cheerfully, “We’ll get the other one on properly.” She slaps it onto my right arm.

“Lozza ...” Michael says. “THAT one has to go on her leg...”

We peel it off. Bits of it are still stuck to my arm, but it’s readable and it sticks to my leg fine. It’ll do. I can always draw it back on if it starts coming off. I’m sure someone around here will have a biro.

I run to the start with the bike. “I’ll be fine.” I tell myself. “I still have 7 minutes to go.” I rack the bike. Then get told off for racking it in the wrong section. Un-rack bike. Re-rack bike.

Sprint to the start. Doesn’t matter. This’ll count as my warm up, right?

I finally get to the start. I join a sea of red capped swimmers, all in black wetsuits standing at the edge of the lake. It is looking quite calm and serene at the moment. All the swans appear to have been chased off which is a relief as apparently there have been ‘swan incidents’ in the past. Well. Being chased by a mental pecking swan intent on my blood would probably improve my swim time. So long as it was chasing me in the right direction, anyway. I have only been swimming again for the last few months. Hope I don’t let my team mates down. They might release the swans as an incentive.

This is my first ever open-water event and my relay team have put me in first. Talk about a baptism of fire. Well .. a baptism of white-water anyway.

I'm in this picture somewhere ... Source

I will be experiencing The Washing Machine firsthand as the kicking and flailing swimmers churn up the water like a washing machine as they all set off at once. It is notoriously rough and a friend had 2 ribs broken from a kick as she set off for the swimming section of her Ironman.

With this in mind, I position myself next to a man who doesn’t look very ‘kicky’. Although it’s difficult to tell when people are standing up. I decide to check. But how. “You look nice” might give the wrong impression especially when the person I’m addressing is wearing skin-tight rubber. “Do you like to kick people viciously during an open water swim?” seems a bit accusatory. I go with “Hi, this is my first open water event. Can you not kick me in the head, please?” He considers this. “Ok. I might draft you though.” No problem. This seems like a good deal to me.

The swim is 500m. We have to swim out to a massive buoy in the lake, turn right, swim to the next, another right turn and back to the finish where I’ll pass my rubber relay wristband to my first team mate who will complete his swim. All 4 of us will pass the band to swim, then the same thing will happen on the cycle section, then the 5k run.

I look at the buoy. It looks MILES away. But I have swum further than this in a lake with Lozza, Liz and Sarah. There weren’t people trying to swim over me and kick me in the head there, although Lozza gets a bit enthusiastic sometimes. The water also didn’t taste quite so much of swan poo. But this will be fun, I tell myself.

My internal voice chimes in: Fun? There will be massive bitey swans. And people trying to drown me.

It really WAS like being in a washing machine but with more swan poo and less fabric conditioner. Source

All of a sudden, a horn blew and it turned into mayhem. The water turned white as it was churned up by a few hundred swimmers all desperately trying to swim as fast as they can while not getting a foot in the face or an elbow in the ear. It was exciting, but difficult to find a clear patch of water to swim in as everyone was packed so closely. You also end up sighting far more than usual as you just can’t see a thing – you can’t get your head down and get into the swim like you would usually in a lake. I got a few kicks and bashes but nothing serious and it was quite fun to realise that everyone was in the same situation – trying to swim while taking the minimum of damage. It soon all spread out however, with the breaststrokers disappearing behind and I got a narrow strip of water to swim in, hemmed in on all sides but with people swimming about the same speed.

Lots of thrashing around happening. Source

I looked up and realised I was at the first buoy already. Going around the corner, the pack closed up again but it spread out and we were at the second buoy in what felt like seconds. No sign of swans.

Home straight now. My arms are tiring. This is the equivalent of a sprint in running. I keep going, keep pushing. I look up – the finish gantry is ahead and I can see swimmers exiting the water. I swim as hard as I can, the person in front of me is wading now but I swim for the edge until my hands touch the sand and then I run. I run through the arch, onto the carpet and go to shout for my team mate.

Shit. Who is my team mate?

I left for the start of the race in such a hurry, I don’t know who I’m handing over the relay wristband to. I only met my three male team mates this morning so I’m unlikely to recognise them now they’re dressed in black rubber, wearing a white swim cap and goggles. An identical outfit to the other 300 people dressed in black rubber, white swim cap and goggles and crowding the edges of the transition area.

Right. Two out of three of my team mates were called Tom. I’ve got a 66% chance of getting this right!

“Doncaster Tri Club! Tom!” I bellow. No reply. “Doncaster!!!”

Crap. What now? No choice. Keep bellowing. “DOOOONCAAASTER!!”

A hand pops up and it’s Tom! Dressed unsurprisingly in black rubber and a white hat and goggles. Yep. A swimmer. We pass over the band and he’s off towards the water.

I’ve got about 25 minutes now to get into my bike gear and get back to the transition area ready to get the wristband back from my 4th and final teammate after their swim. I had no idea of the time I’d taken on the swim ... I was just relieved not to have been dead last, drowned or to have had my teeth knocked out.

It’s always so much easier to get wetsuits off again. I changed quickly out of my swim kit, got into the kit I was wearing on the bike and scoffed a flapjack. Another quick dash down to the transition area where I would be waiting for Johnno in the transition area.

Oh no. Here we go again.

A stream of black wetsuits, goggled-up people and identical coloured hats. I’m not sure I could have picked my own Mother out of this lot.(Although she’d probably have been the only one asking about cups of tea and worrying about her hair under the swim cap). All distinguishing features had been erased from people and the transition area was packed elbow-to-elbow with people waiting for their teammates. I was hopping up and down behind them, trying desperately to see over their heads to spot someone I’d met once for 10 minutes.

All of a sudden ...”Sarah! SARAH!”

It’s me! I’m up! I ran desperately up to the barrier but couldn’t get through the people. I waved my hands in the air and jumped up and down. Somehow Johnno saw me and passed the band over.

Sprint to bike, helmet on, glasses on. Unrack, run to mount line and get on. Lozza ... the hero had realised how disorganised I was this morning and had already put the bike in an easy gear to start. I could hear her and Doncaster Tri Club cheering me on from on top of the bank on my right as I set off. I was used to riding a mountain bike and couldn’t work out why I felt so unstable until I realised I was holding the top of the bars. Sarah, you tit. Get rid of your nerves. I settled down into the proper position and got comfy. I love Le Bike.

The bike was my favourite part of my first triathlon and it was my favourite part of this one. There’s freedom. You’re not jammed in among a group of people fighting for space or running so hard you’re feeling as though your lungs are going to fall out of your mouth. A bit of space to breathe on the bike. 

Pic by Lozza

The tarmac track around the edge of the lake was surprisingly bumpy in sections, and for a horrible couple of minutes I thought the bike had a puncture, but as soon as the path smoothed out and the wind dropped it became much easier. I was overtaken quickly by a fast bike with the strange whuuummm, whuuummm noise as they came past and I overtook a few people. I soon found that I was faster on the corners than most people and slower on the straights. The old motorbike riding had come in handy with the sighting and the corners, but it showed that I really needed some practise on a push bike.

I played cat and mouse with a lady cyclist for a few minutes, both of us overtaking and being overtaken. I passed her then gave an extra push to get away and lost her for good.

The bike section was getting busy now although there were still swimmers in the water. The boys have been fast and had given me a head start but I need to keep pushing to keep as much time as possible in the bank.

Coming around the third corner of the square track, there is a slick line of water across the road from where people have come out of the water. I concentrate on not sliding and forget to look for the transition entrance for the bike. I will need to come in after 3 laps and hand over to Tom here, but it isn’t clear where this is. I will look out next lap.

I push as hard as I can on the 2nd lap, knowing that when doing laps the middle one tends to be my slowest. I seem to be playing the overtaking game with a chap now and I push to get ahead. There are plenty of very fast cyclists coming past me while I am playing the slower version of the game. There don’t seem to be any drafting rules in this triathlon and plenty of cyclists are clumped together. I don’t want to risk disqualification so I keep to the '10 metres behind' and ‘overtake within 10 seconds’ rules that seems to be fairly standard in triathlon.

A fast lady cyclist overtakes me on the 3rd corner and I am keeping an eye on her and the water on the track and forget to look for the transition entrance. Crap. Next time I need to be IN transition. Bugger bugger bugger.

Push as hard as I can on the last lap. Legs are tiring and as the course is so flat, there hasn’t been a chance to change paces or resistance – it’s been the same pace the whole way. And I’m back around the 3rd corner. And there are marshals! They will be able to direct me.

Kept speed up and shouted at marshals “Where’s changeover?” but they were chatting to each other and didn’t hear. Argh! Why isn’t this clear? How can I get lost on a square course?

The chap just in front of me swerved to the right and into a pen on the side of the course. Aha!! Perfect timing! I swerved in after him, dismounted and ran with the bike. Lozza and co cheered and I looked up, just in time for Le Bike to hit the speed bump and bounce into the air!

Despite massive bounce, I didn’t drop (borrowed) bike and ran it to the rack incident-free and passed the relay wristband to my teammate who sprinted to his bike and was off!

I carried the bike up the stairs (2 flights of stone stairs were the only access!) and wheeled it back to the Doncaster Tri camp. Just as I got there I had a horrible thought ... I only did 3 laps of the lake of 3 miles each ... Sprint tri cycle legs are 12 miles.

I’ve missed a lap out. We’re going to be disqualified.

They are going to KILL me.

“Umm ... Michael ...?”

He gave me a strange look and confirmed that the cycle section of this relay was only 9 miles. Phew, bloody phew. I won’t have to go into hiding after all.

Lozza appeared with a steaming cup of coffee for me and I was given a chair in prime-action-watching position. I could relax now for about 90 minutes while the 3 lads did their cycle legs of the relay. This is the life. A coffee in one hand, flapjack in the other and a seat in the sunshine.

There were a couple of nasty accidents – 2 bikes collided with each other and the barrier. Another one was a lady forgetting she was clipped in and going down with her bike in the transition. I had LOTS of sympathy. It would have been so easy to do either of those especially when you’re nervous and trying to be as quick as possible.

The time evaporated and I was soon waiting at the hay bales at transition – hay bales? In case of a bike brake failure? - and Johnno came in at top speed. Leaping from his bike and thrusting the wristband at me. I tried to scream politely at all the people in the way and blocking my exit to the run but I suspect what actually came out was “Gerrrroutatheway! Please!” And I was off on the run.

I grinned up at Tigger, Michael and co and shouted out “This is the best bit!” as I disappeared off around the course in the opposite direction to the one I’d just cycled in. I saw Tigger as I came around the grassy bank section of the course and heard her cheer me on which was fab and made me run a bit quicker.

I love running, I thought. This is the BEST bit of the triathlon.

This bit was fun ... about 10m into the run.

This sensation lasted about 3 minutes before the “Argh, my eyeballs are bleeding” feeling kicked in. There was a Coventry Tri man just in front of me, I tried to stay with him as long as possible but he was going just a bit faster than I could maintain. Never mind, Sarah. Just keep going as fast as you can.

I had been looking forward to this run course as it was so straight and flat, but it just felt as though it went on forever. Right foot, left foot, right foot ... the end of the lake didn’t seem to be getting any closer.

Even worse, there were still plenty of cyclists completing their leg of the triathlon and I had to keep hopping onto the grass verge to save getting mown down. It didn’t do a lot for my pace or peace of mind that I was mere inches from death by aero bar spiking.

The hopping on-and-off of the bank was keeping my attention when all of a sudden, I was overtaken by a lady going at top speed in a bright trisuit. Where the heck had she come from? She disappeared up the side of the lake avoiding cyclists with ease. Huh. Get her, all fast and sprinty. C’mon legs.

The bottom of the lake section was completed in a blink and then it was a slog back up the other side into the wind. I could see the massive inflatable Erdinger Alkoholfrei bottle bobbing away and aimed for that. My finish line must be about there. C’mon Sarah – not far now!

I was checking my Garmin, waiting to start the sprint finish and all of a sudden there it was – a long time before I’d expected! A marshal bellowed “Around the front!” So I ran around the front almost completely missing handing over to Johnno who was running both his and Tom’s sprint legs.

And I was finished.

I’d completed my first ever tri relay with open water swim and borrowed bike AND didn’t disgrace myself. No throwing up, falling off OR getting lost. Win.

Well ... almost. I was chatting to Tigger and Lozza and a marshal came storming over. “Didn’t you hear me?” I half-recognised him. “Yes, you shouted go round the front – that’s why I ran that way and almost missed my teammate.”

Nope. Apparently he’d been shouting “NUMBER round the front.” Ah whoops. The breeze of the finishing straight had turned the number around on my tri belt. I got a bit of a slap on the wrist (after being told he could DQ me for it!) but the marshal could tell it was a genuine mistake and I was set free.

So this is where I went.

Team Results:
3:32:17 total team time
21st / 187 teams

My Results:
500m Swim: 10:29
9 mile Bike: 28:31 (Garmin time as actual results were mixed up)
5k run: 20:16

Race Info
This race was the Club Relay Championships run by One Step BeyondPromotions. I was talked into it by Michael and I joined his clubmate’s team for Doncaster Tri Club for the day. Doncaster Tri Club were really welcoming (and really quick) and I had a brilliant day! Thank you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I HATE swimming ... Massive Fish, Weedy Bogies & BodyGlide

Let me write this down.

I HATE swimming.

There are 6 lanes in my local pool and even at 6am these are packed. There are at least 4 people to a lane and I can’t help thinking how much the pool must be filling up with urine. No wonder they have those overflow drains.

Apparently there are 3 lane speeds: Slow, medium and fast.

This is a LIE.

There are 2 speeds: There is slow. And there is fast. Narcoleptic-Granny-Breast-Stroke-Slow and Mad-Championship- Swimmer-On-Drugs-Fast. 

I can either go in the fast lane and get swum over, overtaken continuously and get in everyone’s way OR I can go in the slow lanes, spend the whole time dodging people, kicking Grannies in the boobs (accident!) or in the case of the last time I went, look ahead underwater to check I’m not crashing into the wall and get a horrible view straight up the swimsuit of a wide-kicking octogenarian. No thanks. Pass the mind bleach.

But ... I’ve had a revelation. It turns out I don’t hate swimming. I just hate swimming in POOLS.

After being talked into a relay triathlon by a twitter buddy and him letting it slip that it was an open water swim – in other words, thrown into a lake to swim the 500m - I decided I needed to get some practise in.

And that was the start of a brand new Open Water Swimming addiction! There has been MASSIVE fish, weedy bogies, BBQs, late night coffees, bodyglide, stones in feet, water in ears, new friends, long distances, duck poo, falling over, stuck on feet wetsuits, holes on bums in wetsuits, no-weeing-in-wetsuits-rules ...


Monday, September 29, 2014

24hr Running Events Kit List: What To Take

This was my Thunder Run kit list. I use a version of this for all of my 24hr events and I tend to add something each time. In a few years time if I keep adding things, I will need a pickup truck to carry all this stuff in. Or will have invested in a camper van. With a loo. And proper beds. Will be all posh and may even consider showering at 24 hour events.

Nah ...

Rock tape
For rocking those injuries

For getting plastered

Ice pack, heat pack ...
For indecisive injuries

DDMT cap
For sun avoidance

Sun cream factors 20 and 50
For stripy sunburn

Gazebo, tent, sleeping bag, pillow
For all my snoozing needs. Run Slave Lozza might be allowed in tent if she promises not to 
fart and does good supporting.

Headtorches x 2 + spare batteries.
For tree avoidance at night time.

Socks, vests, teeshirts, capris, leggings, bras, running jacket for walking night laps
Only 2 sets of kit were used. Yep. Am stinky runner. AND didn't have shower as they didn't 
even open these until after event started!

Hoodies for night laps
Used for snoozing in, then running in for 2km before it got flung over the hedge.

Buffs, gloves,
Not even considered. Too warm.

Compression gear
Used one pair of calf sleeves.

Heel pads
Purchased randomly from Poundland. Not used.

Waterproof white jacket
Not used. Rain was most appreciated when it drizzled briefly.

Trainers; Salomons, Hoka, Asics
Salomons run in for 1st to 4th lap. Couldn’t get them on after this despite running in them for entire TT50 and most of TR24 last year. Heat did BAD things to my feet. Road shoes used for probably 40 miles, Hola for entire Sunday when nothing else would fit on my feet. Previously not rated them. Now favourite shoes ever. Bouncy.

Phone charger 
Used overnight and night before. No signal on campsite. Used for sending occasional tweets and messages which consisted of words like “minced” “blistered” “chafed”.

Comfy shoes
Wished for on last lap. Not used. Was going to try and wear them for last lap. Sitting down 

Not used. TMI?

Towel, Shower gel, mouthwash, deodorant
Mouthwash and deodorant used before race and at night but was possibly like putting 
perfume on a turd at this point.

It's like a magic Runner Vitamin.

Foam roller
Looked at it. Thought I should use it. Didn’t use it.

Bought potato thing in middle of the night. Remember name as ‘fartaffle’. Pretty sure this
wasn’t actual name.

Food & Snacks & drinks
Ultra snacks. Snacked like a champ.

High 5 zero, gels
Gels not used. Electrolytes added to water each lap.

Stove, pans, lighter, aerosols
Broke stove immediately upon arrival at campsite.

Antibacterial handspray
Lost on arrival at campsite. Didn’t use. Normal germs couldn’t compete with rank ultrarunner

Tri belt
Totally worth it. Attached number. Didn’t lose it.

Hole punch
Used for punching holes in race number.

Insect spray
Used. Don’t get it in your mouth. Causes Bug Spray Death paranoia.

Unused due to Runner Superstition. (This is Actual Thing)

Cushioned plasters
Like Gift of Gods. £1 from Tesco. Bargain.

Cool box
Good but packed too full. Couldn’t find anything and forgot to eat chocolate coffee beans.

Antacid tablets
Not needed. Will still take next time.

Cold sweet baked potatoes
Good neutral food.

Race bands – good luck don’t be shit
Must have worked. Didn’t die. Wasn’t shit.

I didn’t even have a SHOWER. Not needed. Clarify: Shower needed, moisturiser not.

Water bottle
Used ultra vest instead.

Bin bag
For rubbish. Run Slave sorted this out.

Carrier bags
For random stuff. Always useful.

Bowls and plates and cutlery
Used spoon and bowl for soup. Everything else caveman style.

Air bed and pump
Totally worth it if you want a comfy night before run. Also good for keeping Run Slave happy.

Totally not worth it. Looked like hell within 1 mile. Also see note above: turd, polish.