Outlaw Half – Race Day – this is it!!!


19 weeks ago I decided to blog about my training for the Outlaw Half – thank you if you’ve stuck with it and apologies for my endless droning on about injury and tiredness and whatever else I felt like moaning about. Despite the groans, I have actually really enjoyed it – I’ve been pushed to my limits at times both mentally and physically and this has felt way harder than marathon training.

Four weeks ago I felt super fit and ready to smash it – three weeks and 6 days ago I hurt my calf enroute to a half marathon PB and to be honest my confidence has taken a bit of a blow. I feel ready, but not as ready as I did feel. I’m quietly hopeful my leg will hold out on the run and let me run how I want to.

But, it is what it is and the race weekend has arrived. I’m all packed, washed the bike, cleaned out the car, had a kit run through as per our GreenlightPT training weekend, packed up my son’s bag for a weekend at the Grandparents and apart from finishing off this post am all set…

Kit check

Kit check

There’s a large group of us from MK travelling up to Nottingham tomorrow, plus a sizable section of support. We’ve done the training, can’t do anymore now – come on boys and girls – let’s do this!!

To follow the action there’s a live tracker – I’m #1065


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Categories: Injury, Kit, Outlaw, Races, Training | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Outlaw Half Training – Week 12-15 done – the hard work is complete (I think)…

Week 12 was a recovery week – all the usual sessions but without the brick runs and a much shorter ride and run at the weekend.

Week 13-15 was the start of the second block of build weeks. Longer brick runs and the rides building up to 90km all followed by a run. At the end of week 13 I also took part in my first triathlon of the season at Duston, which as I’ve already blogged about was a great success!

I also took another swim clinic with GreenlightPT as it had been a few months since my last one. I had been working on the various points that Adam had picked up last time with my head position, cross over on my pull and my exit on the pull so was keen to see if I had managed to fix these issues, plus the session always has a few time trials to check on performance.

I am pleased to say I had improved on all counts and my 400m TT time was a season’s best by some way and not too far off my overall PB. As ever though I came away with more to work on and a super tough endurance session that has really made me work in the pool.

Week 15 was rounded off with a full length 90km ride followed by a short run. I wanted to try to build a hill into the ride similar to the main hill at Outlaw and received a variety of suggestions, one of which was Ivinghoe Beacon, which would be around 50 mile round trip from home. I’ve never ridden this hill before so thought it would be a good one to try. Just to make the day really tough it started early in the morning at Box End, near Bedford. A quick lap of the cable lake – my first open water dip of the year – before heading home for a quick bowl of porridge and out on the bike.

I rode alone as my brother-in-law, who I normally cycle with has injured his hip and was unable to ride but it was a good test for me as I have to ride alone at Outlaw. It made for a tough ride as it was quite windy in places and although the only notable hill was the Beacon, there were a few undulations out there to keep the legs burning, but took me through some beautiful countryside before the climb up to the Beacon. The inital climb starts down in the village of Ivinghoe – I started the gentle incline strongly when a 4×4 decided to come round me and slam its brakes on – no idea why but the end result was me in a heap in the road still attached to my bike and said 4×4 driving off. The road was quite a busy B road so I didn’t want to be lying in the road for long, but typically couldn’t get my shoes off my pedals as I was lying down and then realised my Garmin was still going! Not sure what concerned me more, lying in a main road or the thought of my Garmin still running. Either way, I resolved both situations swiftly. A couple of drivers had stopped to check I was alright. Luckily no damage to me or the bike that I could see, although I was concerned about my new trisuit which I was testing as I had landed heavily on my side.

I dusted myself off and continued on my way, a little bit angry at events – I have no idea what the driver thought they were doing but they clearly had no concept of other road users, particularly cyclists and it was clear why so many accidents happen. With the bit between my teeth I took the Beacon by its horns and had a nice steady ride to the top – even passing another cyclist on the way. It wasn’t as bad as I had been led to believe – quite long, but more of a gentle drag than a major slog. It kicks up a bit towards the end but the views you are rewarded with on the way more than make up for it.

I stopped at the top to have a check I was alright after my fall and I could feel my left leg had taken a bit of a bashing – nothing too serious but could feel there would be bruises in a few days. From the top of the Beacon I was a bit hazy about the route back down to Ivinghoe. I could return the way I came but wanted to take a more scenic route through Ashridge Park, down Tom’s Hill and through Aldbury (anyone who watches Midsomer Murders will recognise it) – only problem was my phone couldn’t get a signal so my route wouldn’t show. i decided to play it by ear and make it up as I went along. I knew roughly where I wanted to go so set off down through the Park, eventually arriving at the top of Tom’s Hill (glad I didn’t come up that!) and descended into Aldbury. From Aldbury I found a signpost that pointed to Tring (wrong direction) so took a punt on a random road that I thought headed in the right direction – luckily it did and I found myself back in Ivinghoe village and on the route home.

Although hit wasn’t particularly hilly going home it did feel like a long slog but gradually the miles ticked over and I reached home in 61 miles. A fair bit over the 90km I was supposed to do but with a few stops I figured it had evened itself out! A quick run after to round of the full triathlon day and that gave me the confidence to know I can complete the Outlaw Half.

Outlaw Half


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ITU World Champs – Race Report

A version of this also appears on the GreenlightPT site  – (I currently swim train with GreenlightPT and it’s making a BIG difference to my swim!)

Don’t worry, I didn’t suddenly get good and qualify for the Age Group race in Hyde Park! I was fortunate enough to get a place in the Open Sprint race at the last minute. I had entered the ballot earlier this year but was unsuccessful, then in August I received an email advising there were a limited number of places available in the Standard and Sprint Open events on a first come first served basis. It seemed rude not to – compete at the ITU Grand Final event on home turf in Hyde Park in the same location where I watched Ali Brownlee triumph the previous year? – 5 minutes later and my wallet was £100 lighter. Oh well, once in a lifetime and all that!

I was scheduled to race on Saturday afternoon at around 15:20 – the latest I think I’ve ever raced. This was good as we didn’t leave for London until nearly 10 and drove straight to the Marble Arch car park underneath Hyde Park. For £30 it got all three of us to central London – and there was no faffing about with bikes and a three year old on the train – sorted! We met up with Ginger (Rich), my sister-in-law and niece in the Park and went off to get registered. Transition was a bit weird, on a hill with lots of bits roped off. It was live as the Standard Open waves had already started but I found my spot and set up my kit. I laid everything out on the pink towel I’ve used since I started tri racing then tried to work out the ‘in’s’ and ‘out’s’. For a big event – they weren’t immediately obvious! I was then warned by a fellow competitor I might want to rethink my towel – he’d heard during the Age Group Sprint the previous day officials had removed them as they’re classed as an infringement by marking your rack position. Not sure how true that was but as this was the Open event with lots of first timers I figured I’d be safe leaving it, and anyway, my new trainers can’t be missed even if my towel did go!


Getting ready…

I made my final checks in transition and returned to the bench we’d previously occupied for lunch just down from the swim assembly point where I was supposed to met the others to hand my kit over for afterwards. About 10 mins before I was supposed to be at swim start they still hadn’t turned up, it turns out they were having photos taken with Chrissie Wellington (who? ;-)). Anyway at swim start we were called over and worked our way along the pontoon that the Elite races use. We weren’t allowed to dive in but still got our own spot  – none of the usual argy bargy you get. The hooter went and we were off – I wanted to swim well as my pool sessions with GreenlightPT have gone really well recently and I was keen to see what I could do. I put my head down and worked hard for the first 100m or so – the wide start meant we were spread out across the lake and it was difficult to gauge where I was, but I could see I had clear water ahead so knew I was nearer the front than the back. At the first two buoys there was the usual scrum but as the eldest of three sisters I don’t have issues with making sure I’m where I want to be! I then set about the long stretch back past the pontoon and trying to draft off people, except I was struggling to find anyone. To be honest my sighting is not the best and I know I was heading towards the big blow up man which was not the best line by far! I could see someone ahead so figured there must be others about. I really started to motor down the final stretch before the turn to the pontoon heard the next wave start just after I passed. I knew they were 10 mins behind so realised I was swimming quite well as I only had about 150m left at that point. It was a shame that the swim was only 750m as I’d really found my groove, but the realisation that I could hardly feel my feet reminded me that the water was bl**dy cold!

I pulled myself out of the water (third out I found out later – hence why I was struggling to find anyone to follow!) and set off towards transition – around 800m away. I got my wetsuit undone, took my hat and goggles off and was about to rip the suit off when I dropped my goggles. I was travelling quite fast but for some reason I stopped and ran back to pick them up – not sure why as they were a £4 pair of Speedo’s but I like them! The run to transition lasted ages and even when we reached it, there was still another 200m to go on mud before we were directed to our racking. I ripped off the rest of my wetsuit getting mud everywhere and then got my shoes, helmet and belt on for the bike. Another 200m run in mud with the bike and shoes and we were on the route.

Retrieving my goggles!

Retrieving my goggles!

The bike route was three laps with 2 180 degree turns – thank goodness it had dried out by then! As bike routes go it wasn’t the most exciting or the flattest but there were some nice long straights to get down on the bars. My bike wasn’t in the best nick – it’s in need of a service – and the four or five cobbled speed humps as you cross the Serpentine were not helping! I decided to be a little cautious on the bike to ensure I completed it in one piece plus at £89 and with your family watching it doesn’t do to DNF! Nevertheless I still pushed past a few people including a few in their national age group kit  J but was quite glad when the bike finished – I knew it wasn’t quick but was keen to get running.

Getting the bike back to the rack was like a cyclocross race. Thick sticky mud, bike shoes and road tyres do not make for a pretty sight. Some guys picked their bikes up but to be honest I just took it slowly and made sure I didn’t end up in a heap in the mud. A quick change into my new go faster green(light) trainers and I was off. Those that normally run train with me will know I’ve been struggling with a knee injury since London, it’s on the mend but as a result I’ve done little run training apart from a few short quick runs off the bike. I took it easy for the first lap, past the family to make sure everything felt ok then nice and steady along the long back straight behind the Serpentine. It was great running past the elite transition areas on the blue carpet. I felt pretty good and my knee wasn’t hurting so I pushed on for the second lap. I was passing people left right and centre on the run and by the end of the second lap I felt like I was flying – the last few hundred metres were on the blue carpet and the final turn to the finish was the very same finish that Jonny Brownlee and Javier Gomez battled on 24 hours later.

I finished with a bit of a sprint, gave back my chip, got my medal, was given a rather revolting energy drink and an equally disgusting bit of an energy bar and then that was it – you’re out into the Expo finished!

As a race, it’s pricey, but where else do you get a chance to race in the same location as the Olympics and be part (albeit a small rather insignificant part) of the ITU Champs. Transition was not great – grassy hill a long way from the start/swim exit. I spoke to a fellow competitor who had measured about 1.5km of running through transition – that’s a lot when you’re used to Emberton! I spent nearly 8 minutes in transition in total. Having said that the Serpentine is not too bad to swim in, the bike course was perfectly acceptable, if a little dull and the run was flat but with enough twists and turns to keep me interested. Overall I was pleased with my race, solid swim (quickest ever 750m), slow bike and a quick run (bit dubious about the distance as I ran 30 seconds faster than my Parkrun PB), but with my finish time I’d have finished in the top 60 in the Age Group event so that will do me as the last tri of the season – best start getting used to the longer stuff now – Outlaw Half is T minus 249 days away….

Race Stats (750m/22km/5km)
Swim 00:13:19
Trans 1 00:04:01
Bike 00:44:20
Trans 2 00:03:37
Run 00:22:05
Place (M/W) 27
Place (AC) 8
Time Total 01:27:31
The bling - not bad!

The bling – not bad!

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The London Marathon 2012 – Race Report

From our hotel in Limehouse there were three options to get to the start but decided to savour the atmosphere and get myself to London Bridge to get on one of the ‘official’ trains to Blackheath – slightly disconcerting at Limehouse DLR station with everyone else on the other platform heading in the other direction but stuck with the plan. London Bridge station was heaving but easily found the Blackheath train – it was rammed beyond belief. But as we wandered down the platform the last two carriages were almost empty so we hopped on and had quite a pleasant journey, unlike those in the earlier carriages who were all getting quite cosy with each other!

Arrival in Blackheath bought a bit of a lump to my through, as you walk up the main road the park opens out in front of you to thousands of people all heading towards the runners admission point – with helicopters buzzing, hot air balloons, blimps and the faint smell of ‘Deep Heat’ you know you’re somewhere special. After years of watching this on TV, I was finally here, actually part of it. It was all very relaxed in the blue zone a bit like one big picnic – everyone was sat down on bin bags eating bananas, or queuing for the toilet – which by race standards had pretty fast moving queues! The big screens showed the elite women and wheelchair races starting and then it was time to move to our pens. I was quite lucky to be in pen 5, I was quite amazed as I wandered into my pen that one of the first people I saw was a fellow DLR Runner! We had a brief chat and I realised once the race got going that I completely forgot to ask her name! I’d been ill in bed with a bad cold most of the week so didn’t really decide on my race plan until the morning of the race. I’d decided to take it really easy until halfway then see how I felt, but I was in the pen with the RunnersWorld 9min pacer – my take it easy plan went out the window as my competitive instinct overtook me. I felt ok on race morning and with all the excitement decided sub 4 hours would be fine – 9 min pace, same as Oakley – easy!

The start of the race is a bit of an anticlimax really – no siren or anything obvious just marshals asking us to move forward until eventually we walked underneath the starting gantry – we were off. The first two or three miles didn’t really move much more than snails pace – there was just no room to move. I could still see the 9 min pacer in the distance and thought I’d gradually catch up over the next few miles which I did. Only problem was there was a very large group who were attached to the poor guy like limpets – whichever side of the road he moved to, they all moved with him and made it quite difficult to tag along to so decided to run my own race.

It was as well, felt really good for the first 6 miles. Started taking on gels at 6 miles, still feeling ok. Then started to look out for the DLRR cheering squad and my sister who were all going to be south of the river. Only problem was, I knew roughly where they’d said they’d all be, but got the sides of the roads mixed up! Saw the DLRR group at around 11/12 but I was on the opposite side of the road and no chance of getting across (imagine crossing the M25, twice, in rush hour!) so didn’t get a chance to wave or acknowledge them, but was still nice to see them there. I knew my sister would be on the approach to Tower Bridge but still managed to miss her too! Once over the bridge we were just about halfway and could see I was just less than 2 hours – so even though it wasn’t an even pace, I was on target.

Through 14 near our hotel were my husband and friends and I saw them! It was great to see the gang, they’d got balloons with ‘Run Chips’ on which was lovely and I realised after the race they’d all got ‘Run Chippers’ on their shirts and bags as well – you can’t buy support like that. I gave them a good smile and a wave and moved on towards the Isle of Dogs (or the Isle of Pain as it turned out!). From 15 to 20 things started to fall apart – it wasn’t the wall as I was fuelling well throughout the race, my mind was fine, but my body just didn’t want to work. I’d run this distance more than a few times in training but I just couldn’t move properly. I can only think that the cold I’d had all week had taken its toll. I got my jelly beans out and tried to plod on but it was a real mix of walking and running (although according to my Garmin I wasn’t moving that slowly – still sub 10min miles). Coming round to mile 21 I passed our hotel again and joined ‘The Highway’ which you basically follow to the finish. ‘Only’ 5 miles to go! I’d stopped looking at the time by now as it was all about getting to the finish. My quads were burning and my calves were on the brink of cramping – I stopped once to try to stretch them but it hurt so much I decided it hurt less to run with them tight! My sister jumped out at me near mile 23, and a bit further down were my husband and friends. I was so pleased to see them. I plodded on (I thought I was running, but my Garmin stats say otherwise!) and it was lovely to see the DLRR cheering crew. Again, I managed to be on the other side of the road – I’m not very good at following instructions! But it was still a boost and reminded me how far I had come and what a fantastic supportive club I’ve joined.

With Big Ben in sight I knew the finish was nearby, as you come into Birdcage Walk a big sign tells you there’s 600m to go, never has 600m seemed so far but I rounded the final corner in front of Buckingham Palace to see the finish line – it was the hardest 365 yards ever, but I did it, remembered to smile as I crossed the line, before stopping my watch and bursting into tears. I’m not one for crying but hey, you only finish your first marathon once eh?

Time – 4:16, not the sub 4 I originally had in mind, but after injury and illness I’m more than satisfied with that and gives me another reason to enter next year!

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The last one…before the big one!

Just a quick post as I really should be in bed getting some sleep but as I spent most of the last three days in bed trying to get rid of my cold I’m not actually that tired!

We’re all packed up and ready to go tomorrow morning. My kit is in my bag along with an assortment of other items of clothing that I may or may not need on the day. I only remembered at the last minute that I needed a top to discard at the start. For the GNR I always used to pop into Primark in Newcastle city centre to pick up a bargain but this time I just haven’t been able to get anywhere near the shops. But after a bit of rooting around I have found a nice stripey little number (from Primark of course!) that I will be throwing aside as we cross the start line – hopefully it’ll do someone some good in the future.

It’s been a bit touch and go this week and on Wednesday I started to have serious doubts I’d even make it to the start line. After a little ‘wobble’ a work my boss sent me home and following some well needed rest and a little word with myself I think we’ll be good to go. I’ve exhausted Boots of most of their decongestants and menthol related items but I think we’re definitely on the mend. It would be better if London was next weekend but it isn’t and after 9 ballot entries, over 300 training miles I’m not about to throw in the towel.

Tapering has been taken to a new level – the total taper! I’ve done diddly squat this week. I might be ill but my legs don’t know and they’re raring to go, let’s hope I can put the rest to good use.

Best of luck to everyone else running on Sunday!!

So Chips, man up, take it on the chin, adjust your goal and get on with it. See you in London…. 🙂

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Oakley 20 – Get in there!

Today was the Oakley 20 mile race and my longest ever race to date.  I was quite well prepared for a change, bag was packed the night before, number already on my shirt and gels in my waist belt ready to go.

For me, and many others this is a bit of a dress rehearsal for London. It’s the last long run before the taper starts and the last chance to try things out. In my case, I knew my kit was OK as I’d worn the same for the MK Half but I wanted to test out my fuelling strategy (i.e. when to take gels/jelly beans). Also, I thought I’d try a different gel today – I normally use High5 gels but I haven’t used the caffeine ones before, and thought they might give me the boost I needed. I did have some at home but only the orange ones (came free with a Wiggle order) but I can’t stand any orange form of the sticky stuff, so luckily a mate had a box of raspberry flavour High5 plus gels and very kindly let me have a few for today.

The day started in a bit of a rush. Mr Chips decided he wanted to come and watch along with little Chips which was lovely but trying to get a two year old up, dressed, fed and in the car in order to leave on time is no mean feat! Anyway we got on the road eventually and got to Oakley to find we needed to go to the overflow car park some distance away. As time was ticking I was dropped off to go and pick up my chip and hoodie.

I was eventually was reunited with the family and got myself ready, then joined the main assembly of runners before we were escorted to the start.

The race started well – I decided that I was going to run the first 15 miles between 9-9:30 and then foot down for the last 5 miles to check I could still run marathon pace. The first mile or so were a bit quicker than intended, but that was just getting carried along with the 1,000 other runners. A couple of miles in settled down and I was joined by a fellow DLRR who was also running a similar pace. This made the next 12 miles fly by. We had a good chat and kept each other going. At the end of the first lap it was lovely to see the other half and little Chips although little Chips was a bit confused by mummy waving and running past and not stopping for a cuddle, but to be honest if I’d have stopped, I probably wouldn’t have restarted!

The second lap was harder than the first although it still felt quite quite easy, like a normal Sunday training run. With five miles to go, I felt I needed to stretch my legs and see what was in the tank so I bade my running buddy farewell and got my head down. To my surprise I was flying past people almost straight away and kept it up the whole way home. The final mile was a bit of a grueller, through a housing estate, and finish in the school field. With400 metres to go a quick glance at my watch I realised I might just make a sub three hours,  so foot down and just sneaked in – with 30 seconds in hand.

I am really pleased with how it went – I honestly felt I could definitely get another 6 out of that and ran it well within myself. The legs ache a bit tonight, I had a very tight calf after 12 miles and one of my shins feels like someone’s clouted it with a mallet, but other than that none the worse. The gels were great – I got through four and a pack of jelly beans so I think five will be plenty for London.

I’m now really looking forward to London and feel that sub-4 is a definite possibility…to do 20 miles is a great confidence boost and am now ready for it.

This was my first official DLRR race, although I wasn’t in club colours as I needed to test my charity vest out, but we were there in force and the support given by the runners to each other during and after was brilliant. There were some really good times posted by the club and I was proud to be part of that.

So, a good day had by all, I’m now sat here typing, icing my heel with a pint of beer in hand, feeling a bit sun burnt with my new hoodie on!

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New shoes…

…well, new version of the same style/brand I’ve worn for years!

Treated myself to a new pair of trainers last week. As the miles are building up a couple of twinges I’ve had are similar to those I’ve had before which usually indicate it’s time for a new pair of shoes.

I’m a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to running shoes. Like many runners I found a style that I like and am too scared to venture away from them with the fear a different style or brand might cause an injury. As a runner in my youth I always ran in Asics only venturing away during my non-running years for a bit of a flirt with Reebok and Addidas but after a long term knee injury attributed to – in part – poorly chosen trainers I returned to the old faithful’s about 7 years ago and haven’t strayed since!

The Asics GT 2nnn range are great for over pronators like me. The stability factor, I feel has helped me kick my knee injury completely and I’ve never looked back. As a testament to the durability of them I still have many of the pairs floating around. My 2090’s are still used as my ‘indoor stretching’ footwear, my 2130’s are my ‘travelling to triathlons’ pair, my blue 2150’s are my ‘multi-terrain, don’t care if I get them dirty’ pair and my pink 2150’s are my ‘used to the max, on their last legs’ pair.

I love the 2130’s so much I actually bought three pairs, although sadly two pairs had to be put out of their misery!

The latest addition, a rather bright pair of 2170’s were comfortable from the moment I tried them on, so confident I was in them that I wore the for the first time for a 12 mile run at the weekend – foolhardy, but my trust in the style is so strong I knew they’d be fine – and they were.

My growing brood! Can you spot the new pair?

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