Tuesday, 23 June 2015

OPERATION BRIDAL BOD: The end result

(Left: September 2014. Right: April 2015)
The time has finally come to get married. Its strange to think that 18 months ago, the engagement ring was slipped onto my finger and now I have reached the moment where I will become a wife. Time has flown past and throughout my engagement, I have taken on the challenge to become a fitter and healthier individual in time to be a bride. I never thought I would remain dedicated to the challenge. Sure, there have been some slip ups along the way (you all saw my birthday dinner at Meat Mission) but what I learnt from this whole experience is that slipping up is OK. In fact, if I had made the decision to avoid bad food altogether, I would have given up on Operational Bridal Bod long ago. The fact that I have had bad days makes me what I am - a human - and human error kicks in at times.

Despite my up and down nutritional progression, fitness wise I have been pretty on it. I took my triathlon plan seriously and kept to the rota which has enabled me to reveal a stronger body over the months that I am incredibly proud of. I have actually come out the other end weighing the same as when I started but I look and feel far better.
In all it has, in my eyes, been a successful journey. No it has not been a body blitz from bloater to beach goddess but I have certainly made improvements. I can only aim for more improvement as I begin the journey into training for an Olympic distance triathlon. I'm really hoping the longer runs will trim down my physique and make it slightly leaner but I won't hold out hope for it. I was born to be curvy and I am for once, extremely happy with the state of my hips and bum. Result!

See you after the wedding!


Lipstick Runner.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

RACE RUNDOWN: Blenheim Palace Triathlon

The time had finally arrived. My first triathlon. The six months of training had flown by and when I arrived at Blenheim Palace to sign in and collect my time chip, the butterflies in my tummy were on steroids.

Luckily, I was part of a troop of fellow club runners and after meeting up with them all, I felt drastically reassured that I can actually do this. I had trained with this crew - learning open water swimming, taking on brick sessions and building speed on my bike. They all played a huge part in my triathlon journey.
We had to arrive at Blenheim two hours before our wave (which was at 2.15pm). I was a little hesitant racing so late in the day and I found the morning had dragged waiting around to leave (luckily Jeremy Kyle kept me occupied). However, by 12.45pm we were allowed to enter the transition area.
The day itself was rather miserable - lots of heavy rainy patches and a constant drizzle. This made setting up for transition a bit complex. The bikes were lined up so close together there was very little space to set up. We also had to keep our bike and run shoes covered from the rain as arriving to soggy shoes is not pleasant! I set up my bike equipment by my front wheel, with my running shoes tucked just under my bike under a plastic carrier bag - a make shift shelter. you could say

Before we knew it, the time had come to head down to the swim assembly point. I was so nervous getting into my wetsuit - I started to feel slightly nauseous. By the time we had entered the swim zone, the wave before mine had just set off and in the distance I could see the hundreds of swimmers thrashing in the water. It did freak me out slightly.
After our pre race briefing, the time had come to enter the water. This was it! Ahh! We all had to hop in and swim up to the start point. I found the water really warm (which made a change from the reservoir) but was struggling with steamy goggles. We all lined up at the start line and the kayak team were bobbing in front of us. As soon as they moved to the side, we knew the air horn to signal the start would follow after. As soon as the kayaks shifted, the wave went really silent. All I could hear was my breathing. Then the horn went and we were off!
The first 100m of the swim was constant kicking and splashing. It was so hard to sight the buoys because of the commotion it did stress me out slightly. I couldn't keep in a straight line and found myself steering out to the right (the buoy was to the left). 'Keep calm, keep steady' was my mantra during the 750m and by the time I got halfway, I was clear of other competitors and had a clean swim up to the exit jetty.

The run from the lake to T1 is 400m...uphill. I had never practised running after a swim so this feeling was very new to me. In all honestly, I felt drunk running up the the transition zone. It was a bit of a shuffle run but coming up the hill and seeing my family cheering me on made it all worth it. I even managed a wave.
By the time I got to my bike, I tried to take my time to avoid any kerfuffle. I felt like I made a speedy changeover  though and was out on my bike in a minute or so.

Onto the second stage. Cycling!
The sprint distance was three laps of a very undulating course. The paths were also so slippy from the rain, our speed was slowed down slightly on the downhills and sharp bends. I found the first half of the lap mostly uphill and then the second half evened out to be quiet straight. By the time I came round for my second lap, I had gaged where I needed to push my speed and where to use my strength for the hills. About 800m into my second lap when I had reached the start of the steep incline, disaster struck. My chain fell off.

As soon as I realised my chain has come off the cassette, my heart froze. In a subconscious state, I managed to hop of my bike, get onto the side of the path and flip my bike over. Getting a chain on can take seconds so I tried to remain really calm and focussed. However, my chain was jammed in my gear loop at the back. After much tugging, I released it. Throwing my bike back over, I went to go pedal but my chain was locked and my pedals were unable to move. I can't repeat my thoughts as this point, but imagine the constant use of the F word. After flipping my bike onto its handles the second time, I managed to pull at the chain harder and get it back on the back cassette. Hopping onto my bike, my pedals jolted and then starting to move normally.

The relief flooded through me but I was very shaky getting back on my bike. I had lost a good couple of minutes and loads of competitors has over taken me. I had some time to catch them up and it meant I had to push it hard. My chain was really crunching against the front cassette so I was very cautious changing gear for the third and final lap. I climbed the steep hill in a higher gear than planned and my legs were starting to feel weary. I was absolutely fuming my chain had fallen off and in honesty, I felt really upset. Towards the very end of the final lap, my training buddy Hannah had caught me and after shouting across to her the problems with my bike, she calmed me down and encouraged me to carry on and stay focussed. She stuck with me and pushed me through the final mile and for that, I cannot thank her enough. Ever. A truly wonderful friend she was to me then.
By the time I had come back round to the Palace to enter T2, I was so relieved to get off my bike. I no longer needed to rely on equipment to finish this. The run was going to be my strongest and I was ready and raring to get into the third stage of the race. I flung my bike on the rail, kicked off my cycling shoes and pulled on my trainers. Coming out of transition, my legs were really heavy but I could see my family in the distance waving and cheering which gave me the boost I needed to push me through the final stage.

Back when I did my duathlon (which you can read about here), on my second run I found I was picking off a lot of the runners and again here for the Tri, the same was happening. Having running as my strongest discipline really is such a huge benefit. The first lap I did feel tired but by the time I came round for the second and final lap, I had shook off the aftermath of the cycle and my legs were ready to go! I felt my pace really pick up and when I was coming back round to the palace for the last final time, the end was in sight and I knew at this point that I had made it!
Coming down the home straight was the best feeling in the world. Exhilarating is an understatement. At this point, you know you have successfully completed a triathlon and no matter how tired you are, you cannot hide the expression of sheer delight.
The commentators at the finish were brilliant! They gave a shout of to every runner coming up to the finish line and when they shouted my name, I threw my hands up in the air and cheered as I crossed the line. Greeted straight away by a volunteer placing the medal over my head, I was provided water and non alcoholic beer in seconds. 'This is the kind of finish I like!' was my first initial thought.

As I came out the finishing quarters, my family were waiting and after numerous hugs and kisses, I jogged back to the finish to cheer in my fellow team mates.
Once we were all reunited, each and every one of us was elated and far beyond cloud nine. The hubbub of happiness and achievement was evident and were all were itching to get on that podium to show just how chuffed we all were! We were all champions this day and I honestly couldn't have achieved what I did without training with this bunch every step of the way.

After the race, we were able to actually soak up the atmosphere of the event. I managed a mooch around the village and watch some other runners belt it down the finish line. In all, I am so happy I made my debut at Blenheim Palace. It really is a fantastic choice for first timers like myself. Yes, the course isn't easy, but it sure is beautiful not to mention, well manned and lined with supporters the whole way. What more could you want?

So now I guess I could class myself as a 'triathlete' (in some sort of way). Did I enjoy it? Apart from my chain falling off, I sure did! In fact, I loved it.

Will I be doing another? You bet!


RACE OVERVIEW

Course: 5/5
Scenery: 5/5 
Facilities: 5/5
Water Stations: 5/5
Goody bag: 5/5

My time: 1.36.34 (750m swim 16.26, T1 4.27. 20K cycle 47.22, T2 1.57. 5.4K run 26.25)

LIPSTICK RUNNER'S OVERALL RATING: 5/5

Find out more about Blenheim Palace Triathlon here. You can register your interest for 2016 now!


Lipstick Runner.

*Photos courtesy of my friends and family!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

TRAINING UPDATE: The final week


Apologies for the quiet front on here. It seems rather sloppy of me but I have been drowning in work, wedding and triathlon training. It has all seemed tricky to juggle, especially as I have taken on a new job at work, but I am glad to have made it to the final week before I d├ębut in multi sport at Blenheim Palace Triathlon.

I cannot believe how quickly this moment has cropped up! Its nuts to think over six months ago I bit the bullet and entered my first triathlon. Back then, I could barely swim a 25m length front crawl and I was shattered from my 4.5 mile cycle commute to work. Fast forward to now and I cannot believe how far I have come. I can now swim in open waters (not super confidently but I can make it round that's for sure), have reached 1K front crawl without stopping in the pool and I can cycle up to 30 miles comfortably. I have also successful mastered brick training and completed a duathlon.

Despite feeling content with all that I have achieved, I know a triathlon is very different and will test my endurance, strength and focus. I know I can complete all three disciplines separately but the test will be putting them all together in a row, back-to-back. Deep down I can do it, I just don't know how fast. Racing with 100 other people terrifies me! The swim is going to be mental and I am a little concerned with the bike and the narrow paths we will be cycling on.

Still though, whatever happens I am so happy with how far I have come and what I have achieved. I never imagined I would reach this level of fitness and also feel addicted to it! I am so glad I have adopted multi sport training. I love mixing up my exercise. By flipping between running, cycling and swimming I'm never bored of any of them and in fact, each one has helped benefit me in the other. Swimming has helped me to engage my core which has improved my running speed and cycling up hills each day and has helped me run up them better too!

All in all, I am ready and raring to go. With one week until the big day, I will now begin the taper. I am planning on doing a gentle run and a casual swim in the lead up to keep the body active but will ensure to reserve my energy for the race!

My next report will be my race overview. Eeep!

Wish me luck!


Lipstick Runner.