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Friday, 15 January 2016

6 Reasons I know I'm triathlon training again ...

Well ... I’m back into the first week of tri training. And how do I know? 

A handy check sheet:

  • Unable to descend stairs like a normal person. I have adopted a special stiff legged walk and appear to be unable to do this without making strange noises.
  • New superpower: The ability to sleep at any time and anywhere ... sofa, desk, table, floor .... just give me a flattish surface. And a cape.
  • My trainers are starting to smell like something has died in them due to being drenched with rain, covered in mud and dried out under the radiator. “Has a burglar fallen down the chimney and decomposed? No – that’s just the smell of Mummy’s trainers ...”
  • Padded pants are back in my wardrobe. Stupid turbo trainer ...
  • I am going through all my Christmas smellies at top speed but am STILL unable to remove the smell of chlorine from my skin ...
  • And not least ... Snow is forecast.
They smell a LOT better in the picture ...


I’m starting training from a strange place. I had 2 months off after last season. I was exhausted and couldn’t imagine training again ... and then I ran a 100 mile race. So I had a nice sit down for 2 months.  

And now here I am. With not a lot of fitness but with a strange shuffling ultrarunners gait, a swim style best described as ‘shark attack’ and a bike that is determined to destroy me from the arse upwards. 

Welcome to 2016.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Ways I Nearly Died in 2015

Nope. Definitely NOT being dramatic. May be slightly dramatic. Bit dramatic.

I had a busy 2015. Lots of adventures. I'm surprised I survived. Probably only down to my iron stomach and feet comprised entirely of hard skin and toenail gaps.

January 
Nearly died trying to assemble a turbo trainer. Lucky to make it through with both eyeballs. Cried lots. Lost fingernails.  

February 
Met the 4 Horsemen of the Running Apocalypse: Itching, Chafing, Blisters & Poo.
Got the flu and nearly died (DIDN'T nearly die) and spent time on sick bed hatching evil plans to thwart everyone else from training: 

March 
Went out on 1st EVER group bike ride. Had to get pushed up a hill. Nearly got killed by little old lady. Made it back alive with new terror of bikes and 80 year old pensioners. 
Had to drink nearly 2 litres of beer while dressed as a police officer and doing 400 metre reps of a public park.

April 
Had to do a wattbike test and while didn't die, just felt as though I had.
Nearly killed by gale force winds blowing me of my bike at Bicester triathlon but at least the wind blow-dried all the urine from the pool swim.

The day the world fell out of my bottom: DNF at my 1st 100 mile race TP100 

June 
Committed an act for which murder would have been pardoned: while supporting a solo runner at a 24 hour race I ate all their food. 

Took a 5 year old to a24hr race. Death by lack of sleep, loss of underwear and stress. 
Could have been a fractured skull? Went to a FAST triathlon, got my arse handed to me by the rest of the field and got kicked in the face by a friend. 

August 
Nearly eaten by a lake monster that quacked at Lake 32. 
Potential cider poisoning: Found a naked farmer and ALL the hills at Giants Head Marathon.   

September 
Potential death-by-anti-bicyle-cruelty-brigade: Left Daisy in the car ALL day and punched in face in swim in Bala Triathlon by a cage-fighter masquerading a lady swimmer. Nearly drank ALL the lake water. However got a PB so goes to show that all these healthy people who go on about drinking 15 glasses of water a day might be right.
Caught up in what felt like a WWE Smackdown: Completed a 70.3 triathlon which was like being in a wrestling ring but with REAL punching: 

October 
Autumn 100. Alex made me run up hills which almost made my legs fall off. Still not forgiven him. Definitely doing it again. 
Death by office: Wrote a support sheet in an attempt to save my skin.

November 
Nearly died in household accident due to nearly knocking down own house in my DIY attempts ...

December 
Meat sweats and stilton poisoning. (Overindulgence rather than food poisoning). Did 12 Miles of Xmas which is 5 pubs and 12 miles.

What a year. Think I'll stay in for 2016 ...

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Hash House Harriers - The Drinking Club With the Running Problem

“Are you?” The call comes through the trees some distance away. “On one!” I shout back and continue running and scrutinising the path for blobs of flour.  No – this isn’t my latest baking disaster or warning that I’m in a bad mood. I’m on a hash. Not ON hash, but A hash. A Hare-and-Hounds trail has been laid and I’m following it with 8 others, all at different speeds and with various energies but all out for a good old trot around the countryside with the promise of beer. Oh yes, there’s beer. 

A lot of my runs over the last year have been targeted and precise with specific goals and paces. Gels to eat at certain points, a certain speed to maintain, chips on shoes and GPS on wrist. I like knowing what my targets are, but sometimes being so precise can take the joy out of the running.


Which is why I’ve been running with Spa H3. I haven’t left Northbrook AC, but I have joined another club. But not a running club. A drinking club. With a running problem. 


It’s not a secret society, in fact it’s the largest running club in the world with chapters in many different countries. However, in common with secret societies it has its own language, code names and secret markings. It’s a bit like being a secret agent but tracking down blobs of flour and beer rather than fingerprints and spies. 


An example of a HHH marking ...

I’d first heard about hashing in Running With The Kenyans, the book by Adharanand Finn. It sounded relaxed (beer) and sociable (beer) which had made me get onto Google and search for a local chapter to run (drink beer) with. When the search results came back I was astounded at the number of different chapters around, how had I not heard about these before or even seen them? Louise of Abradypus had stumbled over a hash in progress in London and was invited along although she’s since been keeping quiet about whether she went back again and about whether she’d been given a Hash Name. (More about this later)

I’d emailed and was invited along to a run. I didn’t know what to expect. The runs start and end at a pub and I’d turned up early and seen two men dash off dropping flour as they went. It wasn’t an off-the-cuff version of Great British Bake off with another runner expected with the eggs and sugar, but a live hash meaning that the hares were laying the trail as they ran and we’d all be following the trail and trying to catch them. Basically the runs always follow a Hare and Hounds style format. A trail is laid and the hounds all follow it.  


When you see this, you know you're nearly there!
The trail is laid with blobs of flour – easy to see and easy to remove – but there are usually plenty of false trails to give the faster runners a good run around. Walkers are welcome and if the trail has been laid well then by the time the runners have investigated all the false trails, the walkers may well be some way in front.

Out on a run it’s not uncommon to hear hashers refer to“shiggy” (‘rural’ mud!), “FRBs” (Fast Running Bastards), “Down downs” (Chugging your beer) amongst others and there are a host of special signs - usually marked out in flour. Oh and each member has their own hash name. Usually an offensive name. Oh and there are songs. Drinking songs. It does sound rather like a secret society. But there’s more drinking and running than I’d usually associate with a secret society. It’s not very secret. You just find the largest bar tab and trace it back. 

And there’s Circle Time. This is where the punishments get handed out. Did you take a shortcut? Didn’t shout out loud enough? ‘Foul The Trail’? Well then, you’ll be handed a cup and told to ‘Down, down’. 


You can't trust a H3 around a kids playground. They just HAVE to have a go on the slide ...
Sound childish? It is. And it’s massive fun. But it's not new. Although it's based loosely on Hare & Hounds, the first Hash House Harriers chapter was started in 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in a restaurant (Hash House) by an Englishman called A. S. Gispert  He decided he and his friends needed some exercise to go along with all the eating. And although famously the runs nowadays 'have no rules' (although don't believe that or you'll be drinking beer fines!), the original rules of the Hash House Harriers (source) were:

    (a) to promote physical fitness amongst its members
    (b) to get rid of weekend hangovers
    (c) to acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it with beer
    (d) to persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel


And it's all gone from there, from running off a hangover to becoming the largest running club in the world. There are approximately 2000 clubs running in almost every country in the world (source) and if you ever fancy an informal, non-competitive run around your local area check out your local H3 here. I can promise you'll have lots of fun. 

But be sure to bring your Hash Cash and to drink your Down Downs like a good hasher. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

On the 12th Mile of Xmas The Landlord Gave to Me ...

On the 12th Mile of Xmas The Landlord Gave to Me ...



12 miles of running (in Santa suits)
11 cars a tooting (backseats full of children waving at the Santas)
10 minutes chatting (per pub)
99 bewildered shoppers (stopping and staring)
8 minutes of beard (after pub stop until beard discarded around my neck like a fuzzy scarf)
67 Santas drinking (There were SIXTY SEVEN Santas in the run!)
6 bells a jingling (At the end of Santa hats – it sounded like a whole forest of reindeer sleighs)



5 warm full puuuuuuubs! (serving the 67 Santas!)
4 toilet stops (Cold air and lots of diet coke!)
3 pounds sterling (per mulled wine)
2 Twitter buddies (Hi Clare! Hi Kevlar!)



... And a mulled wine in a warm pub!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Running: The Q&As we REALLY want to know

I’ve decided to do a question and answers blog post. I absolutely LOVE this on other people’s blogs. However, instead of asking all the usual stuff I’ve decided to ask all the stuff we REALLY want to know about.

I’d love to read yours! Answer the questions on your own page or blog and post the link in comments so we can all have a good nose!

Most embarrassing injury?
Probably hurting my back during Paris marathon training. This sounds fairly ordinary, except the reason I hurt my back was because I’d tried to do a long run during the floods. I had shrugged off the knee deep water across one lane. Pah – stupid floods ruining my average pace! But I’d come to another lane which was full of incredibly deep water so I’d tried to avoid it by running along the bank ... which was lined with drainage ditches. Full of my Smug-I’m-Doing-A-Long-Run confidence I’d attempted a leap across the drainage ditch, missed completely, landed in the ditch, face down in the mud. And with a jarred back. Yep. I’d incurred a running injury because of my rubbish jumping. 

Or possibly that time I got my arse stung by stinging nettles in a marathon because … nah. That’s another story …

Running total of toenails? Are they all the right colour?
I have 4 pink toenails. The other ones are multicoloured or MIA.

Have you ever had an Al Fresco toilet moment?
All the time. I should have shares in Andrex. Or possibly in Bushes-With-Big-Soft-Leaves.

Dream race?
I’d like to have a crack at the Great Wall marathon. Also Western States. Ooh and also the Red Bull Steeplechase. 

Best tip for beginners?
Run slow. REALLY slow. No – slower than that. The speed will come.

Running secret? ... until now. 
Don’t wear underwear! It’ll chafe!

Biggest mistake I’ve made? 
See above. Wearing underwear. I was fine for 1000s of miles until mile 5 in a 20 mile run when previous underwear turned into sandpaper. The result was … unpleasant. I was also on a straight piece of canal path without anywhere secluded to remove underwear. I ended up hiding under a bridge and having to strip down to remove offending items while keeping an eye out for dog walkers and narrrowboats. 

Best post-race drink?
A SMUG one. With alcohol in.

Have you ever got lost during a race?
Plenty of times. Usually during trail runs. I added 4 miles onto a marathon once.  

If you could have a running slogan or motto what would it be?
Probably “Think of the glory and try not to poo yourself.”

Don't forget to answer the questions on your blog and post the link in comments so we can all have a good nose!

Review: My Protein Works - Whey Protein 80 & Genesis PreWorkout

Review: My Protein Works sent me the products to review. I said exactly what I thought and I wasn't paid to review these ... trust me, I'm a triathlete.

As I’m sure you know, there are many benefits to having powdered nutrients available in your kitchen. Gone are the days when protein powder was just associated with muscle men wanting to bulk up. Powdered nutrition is now recognised as something that is easy and convenient when you don’t necessarily want to make a meal or open a can to get your protein requirements. 

However, there are multiple brands on the market and many appear to be selling the same things repackaged. There are several sacks, pouches and tubs in my cupboard all boasting to be the best, have the best ingredients and to do better things than all the others. I haven’t noticed a huge difference between them, I have to admit. In fact, I’m pretty superficial. I check that the product does what I want … and then I go on taste, If I can mix it into cookies or puddings so much the better.

The Protein Works contacted me to ask if I wanted to try 2 of their powder mixes. I considered the flavours (see I AM shallow) … and said yes please. The Protein Works sent me a 500g pouch of Whey Protein 80 (Banoffee Pie) and 250g of Genesis PreWorkout (Tropical Punch). Here’s what I thought:



The Protein Works: Genesis PreWorkout - Tropical Punch flavour.
The Protein Works promotes this product as being ideal for strength, speed and endurance which are all things I value in my running. The strength to keep going and the speed and endurance to knock out a good (for me!) time so this was of interest. 
I don’t tend to have specific pre-workout routine. Before a marathon or an ultra I tend to shovel in a flapjack and possibly a banana and I’m ready to go. However, after reading the (VERY enthusiastic) reviews I decided that if it does what they say, then it’s something I’m willing to invest in. I also like the idea of being REALLY enthusiastic about exercise especially at this time of year when it tends to be a bit chilly, usually raining and I’m expected to go out training in a single layer of lycra. 

What do The Protein Works say?
The Protein Works says that it’s Genesis Pre Workout™ “is a high potency formula that challenges current pre workout sports nutrition boundaries and thinking”. It doesn’t say which boundaries or thinking (hopefully not the banned performance enhancing drugs kind of boundaries) but they’re enthusiastic about it being their “most advanced pre workout formula yet.” 
The product contains over 20 active ingredients including several I had never heard of but which sounded properly scientific and slightly alarming iBCAA, Arginine Alpha Keto-glutarate, Beta Alanine, Citrulline Malate, Siberian Ginseng. 
It sounded AMAZING but I was beginning to think it was probably going to be wasted on me.
Quite possibly the smallest scoop EVER

Expert dosage or beginner dosage?

The scoop size is very small and there’s an ‘expert’ dosage and a ‘beginner’ dosage which scared me a bit. It also asked me ‘to consult with a medical professional as the formula is VERY POTENT.’  But it also made it sound a bit exciting and as though it was going to make a big impact on my running. Was this going to be the equivalent of me discovering fuelling with gels on my long marathon runs? Can I expect 6 minute miles up the MASSIVE hills around here rather than the usual 8s or 9s? Hold onto your Strava records everyone …



How did it taste? 

I’d chosen the Fruit punch flavour and to be honest The Protein Works had nailed this. It was just like the orange and pink wrapped sweets you used to find in the post office as a child! However, it is a VERY strong flavour even with the beginner dosage in the recommended amount of water and - like me - you will probably taste it for an hour afterwards. However it was a great addition to unsweetened banana oatmeal cookies especially for a pre-run snack!


Price: £12.99 for 100g (10 servings)

Find out more info or buy Genesis PreWorkout here

It tasted just like these (Source)



Whey Protein 80 - Banoffee Pie flavour


This is The Protein Works premium version of the most popular form of protein shake. It has a biological value (a value which shows how easily the protein can be used in protein synthesis) which is higher than free-range eggs, chicken or beef. It has over 80% protein content and has been micro-filtered and not heat treated to ensure it’s very pure. It has also won awards; UKs Number 1 brand (trustpilot.co.uk) and awarded ‘Best protein’ at the 2014 FSN awards. 



What did I think?
I’m going to hold my hands up and say I don’t know a lot about protein powders. I use them as they’re an easy source of protein and I know that replenishing protein after a hard workout run is important, especially as you only have a short window of time to do it (within 45 minutes of finishing exercise but the sooner the better) and they’re convenient for me to use especially when I’m pushed for time. 
Often at face value there doesn’t seem that much to choose between the ingredients in the different brands but I was reassured by the awards that this powder had won and the assurances of quality. However, I’m quite shallow about these things and what is important to me is taste. If I’m going to have to use a powder and there are a lot of similar products, then I am going to choose the one that tastes the best to me. 

But did it taste of PIE?
And to me, this product is a winner as the ‘Banoffee Pie’ flavouring actually tasted like banoffee pie. I prefer to have my powders mixed into a natural yoghurt rather than in a  shake if I’m at home and this was amazing. 

Price: £10.99 for 500g (20 servings)

Find out more or buy it here  

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Tri Vs DIY: I Don’t Even Want to Wee In My Wetsuit

It’s official. The mojo has departed. 

And because it’s the triathlon enthusiasm that has gone, it means that it’s not just not running, swimming and cycling also hold no appeal. My bike is sitting forlornly on the turbo trainer, its pointy saddle hurting no bottoms. My trainers are unworn and my spikes have yet to be used on a cross country course or competitors toes. I don’t even fancy wee-ing in my wetsuit.

However, it appears that I NEED to get back to it. If only because what I have replaced it with is much MUCH worse. 

I’ve turned to DIY. 

And it appears that I'm even more rubbish at DIY than I am at Not-Faffing-Around-In-Transitions and Self-Control-Around-All-The-Food-At-Checkpoints. At least with the checkpoints and eating all the food, the worst thing that happens is that I waste time and put on weight.

So far in the DIY journey I have:
Poked a hole in the roof of the house. (Yes really) I tried to cover it up but it was too big. I was only trying to paint the porch.

Dropped an entire tin of white gloss paint on the patio. I actually managed to clean it up quite well except I’ve managed to make a clean patch on the patio and it turns out that the patio stones AREN’T actually beige like I’ve always thought but are pink and yellow. Well. 4 of them are because I cleaned them trying to clean the paint up and now I have a beige patio that looks like Mr Blobby has melted in the middle.

Dribbled paint down the windows. From the inside it looks like I've installed bars. 

Dropped white paint down the red brickwork. Tried to cover it up with ‘Raspberry Delight’ - the only paint colour available in my local hardware shop paint samples that was anywhere near brick colour. Turns out it’s NOT near brick colour. I now have white and pink striped bricks. It’s like living in a candy cane house. But one with barred windows and a hole in the roof.

White gloss in both my ears and in my hair. It is never coming out. I have resigned myself to being partially deaf and with white striped hair. It’s like being 80 years old but without the pension, massive knickers and small yappy dog.  White paint is also in my wellies, on my house keys and I’ve just found a white spots on the car bonnet. 

So for the sake of NEVER being able to sell the house OR the car now, I really need to start exercising again. I need to wear myself out before something dreadful happens. Like an attempt at interior decoration or a newfound passion for taxidermy. 

Please. 


Unless you WANT a stuffed ferret for Christmas ...

I’ve been unexpectedly nominated for a Running Award for bet blog! I’d love a free sausage roll and possibly a snaffled glass of fizz. Would you mind giving me a chance by voting for this blog here: http://therunningawards.com/vote/24/29#vote 
Publications & Online -> Blog -> Dreaming of Footpaths

Monday, 16 November 2015

Review: Mio Skincare - Turning a Runner into a Lady That Lunches

Review: Mio Skincare sent me the products to review. I said exactly what I thought and I wasn't paid to review these ... trust me, I'm a runner.



I like the idea of being one of those ladies that has facials and perfect nails and who has a glass of wine and who lunches. 

I’m not. 

Facials? I love the idea but the closest I get is a faceplant in mud after a trip at a trail run. (It’s PRACTICALLY the same stuff, right? Except for the grass and bits of straw …) And I’m not sure I can EVER boast perfect nails when I permanently have less than 5 on each foot. And wine with lunch? Nope. I’d be running into trees on the lunchtime run if I hydrated with wine! I like the IDEA of being one of these perfectly turned-out ladies but I’m just too busy actually doing things and there’s just TOO MUCH MUD. And falling over.

When Mio Skincare contacted me to ask whether I’d like to review some of their products, I have to admit I did think, ‘Not my thing.’ But when I had a look at their website, I was intrigued. This wasn’t a website for ‘Ladies Who lunch’, these were products for gym goers, runners, people in a hurry. People like me. Even the ones who couldn’t quite manage 10 toenails at a go. So I said, “Yes please.”




Here’s what I thought:

What was it?
Mio Skincare New Gym Kit & Liquid Yoga Restorative Bath Soak
The New Gym Kit included Clean Slate Workout Swipes (10 jumbo 12” x 9” face and body swipes) and a Workout Wonder gym (size 30 ml)


Clean Swipes

What Mio say:
No water or shower required – simply swipe to remove dirt, sweat, oil and makeup wherever you need a freshen-up. Dries quickly without any stickiness. Deep cleanses, moisturises and helps protect skin in one hit.


What I thought:

A lovely, fresh fragrance - mint and cucumber - it smelled clean without being overpowering. I was impressed with the strength of the wipes - these wouldn’t break if you wanted to clean up with these after a workout but they’re also biodegradable. They are sealed individually so they keep the right amount of dampness - so you can clean about without staying sticky and you dry quickly compared to a wipe with a baby wipe or soap / water so no towel required. The wipes are about 2/3 larger than a standard baby wipe so a nice size and great for removing makeup before a workout. If I was to use a swipe instead of a shower, you would probably want to use 2. I liked these although I felt they were quite pricey as you’ pay just over £1 per wipe if you bought the Clean Slate Workout Swipes. However, if you don’t have access to a shower, but want to keep your lunchtime workout sessions then these would be a good alternative. 

Did it do what it said?
Yes 

Would I buy it?
Probably not for the price although I loved the smell of them and thought they were a good product. 

7/10



Workout Wonder

What Mio say:
Ideal before and after any exercise or when you need an rapid blast of revitalisation. It boosts you into action so you get the best from your workout and then helps you recover by infusing your skin with its incredible uplifting cocktail of herbs and extracts. Rapidly cooling and revitalising with V-Tonic TM, extracts of Arnica, Horse Chestnut, Murumuru Butter, Spearmint and natural Magnesium to pep-talk your muscles, helps ease aches. Smells amazing too!
Workout Wonder

What I thought:
It smells lovely - very spearmint and fresh - and I really liked the zing it gave my skin after I applied it. It feels nice and smooth and rubs in well. The lotion is very easy to apply and it’s lovely as a body lotion even if you aren’t heading for a workout. I’m not convinced it gave my legs the pep-talk promised (!) but it lifted my mood and it was a lovely cooling treat after a hot shower. 

Did it do what it said?
Lovely as a body lotion and it certainly did smell amazing - very minty and fresh and it gave my legs a nice tingle after a workout.

Would I buy it again?
I would buy it as it’s a lovely treat after a hard workout. It’s quite pricey if you use it as a body lotion but it would make a great present for a runner or gym bunny.

8/10




Liquid Yoga Restorative Bath Soak

What Mio Say:
Liquid Yoga is your personal masseuse in a bottle; helping relax tight, stressed shoulders and soothing tired, achy bodies. No other bath treatment is as rich in incredible actives. Magnesium-rich Epsom salts and Arnica and our heady blend of V-Tonic™, spearmint, cypress, lavender, mandarin and chamomile essential oils help to ease your stress and anxiety, plus moisturising, Murumuru Butter so your skin feels as good as your mind upon stepping out of the tub. Importantly, it is Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) free.
Liquid Yoga Bath Soak

What I thought:
I LOVED this. It was a lovely fragrance and it made my bath feel quite luxurious - once I’d shut the 6 year old out of the bathroom and given the husband strict instructions not to disturb me. The bath felt very relaxing and moisturising and it really did feel like a treat. As an additional bonus, the fragrance made the bathroom smell wonderful for several hours afterwards. 

Did it do what it said?
Yes. Very relaxing and moisturising. 

Would I buy it again?
Definitely. 




About Mio
From their website: We have created this range of incredible bodycare to be the very best in the business, giving you fit skin that can easily cope with all the challenges life throws at us.
In our experience as women, we all want skincare that is as free of any nasties as possible, but we also want skin that actually WORKS.we do not use… parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, artificial colourants, sodium laureth or lauryl sulphate, xenoestrogens, phthalates, PEGs or glycols.

I found the products quite pricey compared to those I usually buy, but I loved the fragrances and was impressed with the reviews on the site and when there was one that wasn’t so favourable, that the Mio founder had personally responded to the comment to resolve the problem. There's also free shipping on all products.