Saturday, 30 May 2015

Race photos - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #35

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

This week triathlon training continued with lots of swimming and a bit of cycling, but has mostly been consumed with a hilly half marathon. After a 6 mile run last night I learned that my legs still hate me and feel heavy and lead-like after their efforts on Sunday at the Buxton Half marathon. The weather also sucks today so in a bid to cheer us all up here is a photo of me running up one of those many hills. I look like I've puked in my mouth. I haven't, but I felt like it at times.

Holding it in...

Do any good race photos exist? I hope not - I enjoy the hilarity of bad running pics. The others from this race look like my face is melting off.

Are you training for anything? How is it going? Sharing is caring - leave me a comment and get the chat started.

Happy Friday folks!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Buxton Half Marathon - Race Report

Buxton Half on Sunday was the third Club Championship race I'd run in a week and a half with my running club. What I've learnt in that short time is that club races, as opposed to big commercial road races, like to include hills. I don't mean 'an incline' I mean a bloody long steep hill that makes your quads cry just looking at it, but that people refer to as 'a little bit hilly'.

Concentrating on the uphill (Bryan Dale Race Photos)
I was a little apprehensive about Buxton half when I saw the course elevation on last years t-shirt. *gulp* Still, I signed up (hello £10 bargain) and just thought I'd figure it out nearer the time. And then nearer the time came and I realised I'd not done any of the hill training runs I had momentarily and fleetingly planned to do.

Elevation of the Buxton Half

Set in the rolling countryside, this has to be one of the most scenic half marathons I've ever done - or so I was told. I can't quite confirm this statement as due to the heavy drizzle we spent most of the race running through mist and clouds. But they did lift a little for me to catch a glimpse of the lush green countryside.

The first three miles are all uphill, (you may refer to the pic above) and it's hard going. But you're prepared for this and what goes up, must come down. Weeeeee! The downhills were so much fun! I certainly took advantage of them, and literally threw myself down them. I felt like a cartoon Crandon with wheelie legs...
Cartoon Crandon!

Throughout the whole run I just let my legs do what they wanted to do. They seemed to want to go a bit slow and heavy on the inclines, and hard and fast on the downhills and it felt good to let them. Add this to the country setting, through fields full of cows, donkeys, horses and sheep and Buxton  is basically the most fun I've had running a half marathon. Yes the hills are hard, but the effort just makes it all the more rewarding, and the ups and downs make for a very fun and interesting ride and stops you thinking about the miles. If you're in the area and have a spare tenner, definitely give it a go. For your money you'll get a well organised route, lovely scenary if the weather plays ball, nice cheery marshals, a lovely (actual sized) t-shirt and a big huge grin at the end of it.

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Friday, 22 May 2015

Kit kit kit - CR Friday Photo #34

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

Another week, another new toy to play with. I might have 'accidentally' made another big triathlon training purchase this week: please meet our new lodger...

Pictured here with my (ahem - also new) road bike for my upcoming triathlon with Team Tricurious, this wet suit is the latest addition to my kit bag.

Although these are big bits of kit and necessary items for competing, I've made sure they've not blown the bank. The wet suit is brand new but hired with the option to buy at the end of the season (much cheaper than hiring each time I go for an open water swim), and the bike was at the lowest end of the range and on a massive reduction. I've also invested in a tri suit for the bike and run legs, which cost a very reasonable £15 from Aldi. So although three sports means more equipment it doesn't have to mean three times the money. Which leaves me with more money to spend on my other love - FOOD.

Apologies to my very understanding boyfriend for turning our spare room into what looks like a transition zone.

You can read more about my open water adventures here and follow my fellow Team Tricurious members here.

What's top of your kit list? Do you splurge or save?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Making a splash - a Tricurious post

‘Countdown to Rio – 497 days’ was the unexpected sign that greeted me at my local pool on Sunday.  Surely intended to instill motivation and inspiration to the pro swimmers that frequent the Manchester Aquatics Centre, to me it screamed, ‘YOU DON’T BELONG HERE CRANDON!’. Still, I was pool side by this point; too far gone to back out now.
Having spent three weeks dutifully heading to the pool alone to try and remind myself how to front crawl, I was told about a local swimming group who offer coaching sessions. I knew I was in need of some tips and help from someone in the know and was looking forward to rounding off my weekend with a Sunday night swim. Despite the unnerving Olympic countdown, it wasn’t as scary as I thought. Put in a newbies group, I had lots of fun doing all different types of swimming strokes including an attempt at one armed butterfly – thankfully not a requirement in the forthcoming London triathlon – as well as various team relays. On my cycle home (is this a brick session then?!), I realised I’d swum way more than I had when swimming alone, and tried out lots of new techniques. So, all in all, a very minor swimming success.
Having fun in the pool was all well and good, but how would I fare in the open water? I was keen, and anxious, to find out. Although I’d once swam in Hampstead Heath on a hot summers day, this was something totally new. I wasn’t sure what I was more scared of: the wetsuit or the freezing temperatures of the water in Salford Quays. I spent my lunch break reading up on the open water section in ‘Tricurious‘ and tried to remember the tips for getting into my wetsuit like a pro. It turns out, these were a success. I slathered my wrists and neck with baby oil to prevent rubbing and popped a plastic bag over my arms and feet to get the wetsuit on with ease. Thankfully, I had my friend Sheila with me to show me the ways of the open water and I was glad to have her there to chat to whilst we swam. Like running, I’m learning that swimming is way more fun with friends.
Pre-dip - nervous anticipation
The temperature outside was cold, little waves were lapping in the quays, and there was a breeze in the air. The sky was a greyish blue and the walk to the quays was cold enough without being in the actual water. But I knew I had to get on with it. For about 5 minutes, my face was one of shock as I ducked into the cold water and filled my wetsuit with water before pressing it out again (*proud Tricurious student face*). My arms and feet were pretty numb and I had a little brain freeze, but I soon forgot about these. What I noticed more than anything was the fun that I was having.
I must admit, I mostly did breaststroke while I got used to my new environment, and having Sheila there to laugh with when we got freaked out by the ‘things’ in the water (possibly a leaf, possibly a pre-historic creature) made it all the more enjoyable. We did a short lap of 300m followed by the longer course of 500m, and I changed between front crawl and breaststroke as much as I could.
Open water - DONE!
Finally taking the, literal, plunge has put my fears of being in the open water to rest. How would I cope in a wetsuit? Would I freeze in the cold? Would I be able to actually swim with that distance? Would I need to be rescued? These were all genuine concerns. I wasn’t at all fast, the other triathletes have nothing to worry about here, but I did it and I loved it. As my wise friend Sheila said, “it’s nice to do something ‘real': not be in a boring gym or running a treadmill, but outside in the elements reallydoing something” and she’s right. I’m looking forward to going back next week.
This post first appeared on the team Tricurious blog - where you can follow the journeys of my team mates, as we venture into the world of triathlon.
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Monday, 18 May 2015

Triathlon nutrition tips from SiS

On hearing that I am due to embark on my first triathlon with Team Tricurious, the nice people over at Science in Sport sent me over some nutrition tips to help me on my way.  Sharing is caring and all that, so read on for some advice from the professionals...

With all the excitement over your shiny new race kit, elastic shoe laces and changing times to rival superman, your nutrition might not be the focus of your attention.
You’re likely to need 1-2 hours to complete your event, which means you need to pay some attention to your nutrition to enjoy your race and get through it comfortably.

Ideally you should have a carbohydrate-based meal the evening before the race, based on pasta, rice or potatoes. Some lean protein is fine but try and avoid anything too fatty (cheese, processed meat, pastry etc.) that will be slow to transit through your gut and may increase the risk of GI distress during your event.

You're bound to feel nervous on the morning, but it’s really important that you try and have a decent breakfast. It should be based on high GI carbohydrates, at least 2-3 hours before your event starts.
This could be cereal, porridge, toast and jam, or fruit and yogurt. Ensuring that you are well hydrated is also very important. Ideally you should drink 500-1000ml of fluid from waking to starting your event. This could be SiS GO Hydro or if you’re struggling to eat too many carbs in the form of solid food then try SiS GO Electrolyte. 

The swim starts are usually staggered, so you may have to wait a while before you dip in! Keep some SiS GO Electrolyte with you so you can keep your energy and hydration levels up.

During the event the bike is really the only opportunity to take fuel and fluid on board, and typically lasts 30-60 minutes depending on speed. It is useful to carry one 500ml bottle of SiS GO Electrolyte to sip from during the ride.

You may want to carry a gel with you to take just before the end of the bike leg to give you a lift for the run.

After around 1-2 hours of intense racing you will have used a good proportion of your muscle glycogen stores. This needs to be replaced as quickly as possible after the race. Your metabolism remains lifted for around 30 minutes post-exercise, and you will absorb nutrients much faster in this period. SiS REGO Rapid Recovery contains carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes to replace what you have lost during the race. It can be mixed in your training bag or transition box ready to go as soon as you finish.

Keep hydrating afterwards and make sure you stretch properly. Have a balanced meal within 1-2 hours of finishing and then enjoy your achievement!

Emma Barraclough is the Sensior Sports Nutritionist for Science in Sport,

So there we have it! I sometimes find nutrition is the last thing on my list to think about, but I sure notice when I do let it slip! I'll be sure to practice these tips during training and hopefully this will help me towards traithlon success....fingers crossed!

Do you have any other triathlon tips? Leave a comment or drop me an email!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Into the Open Water - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #33

A roundup of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

This week has seen me tackle some swimming and last night I did something I once thought I would never do - I willingly went swimming in Salford Quays. 

Anxious before

As part of my forthcoming triathlon, open water swimming is something I need to get used to. So, despite the cold wind and greying skies, I literally took the plunge. Thankfully I had the all round awesome Sheila there to help me navigate the way and chat and laugh with. It was surprisingly warmer than I thought, and way more fun than expected. Full post is coming soon but in the mean time enjoy these before and after shots!

Open water - I didn't drown

Friday, 8 May 2015

Running kicks and politics - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #32

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

Whilst the country was gripped by election fever this week, I also had to make time to get some running in yesterday in the midst of navigating swimming and cycling triathlon training. The voting gods were very nice to me this year and put my polling station at my running club HQ - cheers guys.

Running kicks and politics

I cycled to and from work, ran to poll, queued, cast my vote and then got out on a very lovely spring evening 9 miler down the canals with the harriers. It was a long run but so good to be off the roads and on some summer routes. All in the safe knowledge I had exercised my right to vote. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Crandon Runs goes trampolining

The BBC recently looked at whether trampolining was better for you than running. Apparently since then, fitness trampolining classes have been booked out with people ready to take the jump. I went along to Jump Nation with my two friends Mel and Chantal, to see what the fuss was about. Incidentally, it did take us ages to book on! 

Fitness Trampolining
As soon as I got on the trampoline, I literally could not stop smiling. It was just so much fun. I defy you to get on a trampoline and be unhappy. If you are feeling a little blue and down in the dumps today, stop what you are doing and go get yourself on to a trampoline immediately - I guarantee you will feel instantly happier. More than happy: deliriously joyful.

Like most fitness classes, the instructor led the class from the front on her own trampoline, higher than the rest of us so you can all see what to do. She took us through a 45 min class to pumping music. We started off with a warm up including some bouncing, holding arms out which is more intense than it sounds due to the resistance, and doing various different jumps. The class then got progressively harder and as well as different jumps, also included loads of squats, push ups, sit ups and other exercises which were harder whilst also trying to hold your balance on the trampoline. I forgot how much fun it was to work out to loud music too and after the class I really felt like I'd had a good work out.

We have since been back, and whilst the second time was still really fun, as with any fitness class the enjoyment and quality of the class really depends on the instructor. Our second time was not as good instructor wise but we still got to go and spend an evening jumping about on trampolines like total loons.

All through the classes I had a smile on my face and I think this has to be the most enjoyable fitness class I've ever taken. I kept thinking of the scene from 'Big' and wishing I was like Tom Hanks and had one in my flat.

Get yourself down to a class for some fitness fun - puff ball skirts are optional.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Making the Team - Tricurious Triathlon

I was so excited when I received the email from Laura and Katie, asking me if I wanted to do a triathlon with Team Tricurious. I’d applied for the team on a bit of a whim: after taking on two marathons last year, I had vowed to lay off running the full distance in 2015 and was in need of a new and different challenge. I forgot to think about the reality of swimming in open water at (attempted) speed with other people, followed by cycling further than I’d ever cycled before, and topping that off with a run.  I was just excited at the prospect of something new and experiencing it as a team; the help from Laura and Katie was the icing on the cake.

Then I was asked to select my triathlon distance and the doubts began to creep in. How far is a 750m swim, really? I know how far that is in running terms but swimming is a whole other world, as I’m learning. Despite my idea of a swim being a couple of lengths of breaststroke before hitting the pool side bar on holiday, I genuinely considered taking on the Olympic triathlon distance, including a 1.5 km swim. Having now hit the pool a couple of times in a bid to re-teach myself the front crawl, I am ever thankful that my boyfriend pointed out that, whilst I might be able to comfortably run a 5k in under 23 mins, I might not find it so enjoyable after an hour and a half of swimming and biking of which my current experience level is, well, low to say the least. Senses restored (almost), the Sprint distance was thankfully chosen. As it turns out, 750m is quite a distance to swim.
So I’ve got a long way to go on the swimming front, before I even think about tackling a wetsuit and the open water of Salford Quays. But I’ve covered the distance I need to do on the day in my swimming sessions, which has reassured me a little bit. Now I just need to stop having a rest every few lengths.
On to the bike. My current ride is this very beautiful little yellow number.

Now, whilst the other competitors would certainly agree that she is very pretty, I think we might get laughed out of the cycling leg and I’m pretty sure the wicker basket is not an aerodynamic feature. Although it would be very handy for storing all my food, which would be an added bonus. So I seem to be finding myself unwittingly thrown into a scary world of road bikes, of which I know nothing, and trying to break it to my boyfriend that our flat might have to house another bike.
I cycle commute to work every day and pride myself on being an ‘all weather’ cyclist, but I realise I need to start upping the mileage from 5 miles a day pretty sharpish. I plan on roping in my keen cyclist friend and undertaking some scenic cycling routes, which just so happen to end at a country pub that serves a nice lunch.
With the real possibility of having to be rescued from the open water and a rather dashing but unsuitable bike, you might think my decision to take on a triathlon is a little foolhardy. But as I’ve found before, sometimes it’s good to not think about these things too much, and just knuckle down and get on with it. Being out of your comfort zone can be frustrating but there is also the constant opportunity to achieve new milestones.
On that note, I’m off to buy some goggles and attempt to swim four lengths without stopping.
This post first appeared on the Tricurious Blog - check it out to meet my team mates and follow our journey as we venture into the world of triathlon.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Spectating at the London Marathon - Crandon Runs Friday Photo #31

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

On Sunday, like lots of people waking up in London that day I got up early, dressed in the clothes I'd laid out the night before, ate a carb heavy breakfast and felt nervous and excited about the hysteria and stresses of the day. That's right, I was going to spectate at the London Marathon.

I absolutely love the marathon and can't help but get caught up in the excitement of it all. The emotions, the happiness, the trials and tribulations, I just love it all and am guaranteed to shed a tear, whether I'm running running or watching. We'd traveled down to London for the weekend to watch my brother in law, Gavin run his fourth marathon whilst also keeping a beady eye out for many many others we knew running, and hopefully to catch a glimpse of Paula doing her thing one last time.

I was also looking forward to watching a marathon with my pro-supporter boyfriend and my sister, who are experts at watching and cheering me and Gavin on when we run. This is definitely their domain in the marathon and I felt like an impostor as Jamie negotiated the crowds, the trains and knew all the best spots, while I followed in his trail.

Paula Radcliffe whizzes by - she's in there!

Paula didn't disappoint and we managed to catch a glimpse of her at both Greenwich and around the 17 mile mark, surrounded by a little pack of runners and looking like she was having a leisurely Sunday morning jog whilst getting a 2.36 marathon time!

The boys from my running club were all too speedy for me to see, but we did manage to catch Gav storming through both of our cheer points looking strong, which was both amazing and a relief. We also saw Lindsey at mile 17 who we were keeping an eye out for. She looked a little shocked as we both yelled our heads of at her, but she came over for a quick high 5 and went on her way, looking good! 

The pressure as a spectator to see the people you're there to support is huge! And it's especially hard in London where the crowds are three deep, but it's such a high when you see them running, looking strong and you're able to give them a little boost in their brilliant challenge.

I was worried that I'd really hate not being a runner on the day, but I didn't. I loved supporting the runners we knew, and seeing the lift it gave them, as well as cheering on all the runners passing us. I did however, feel mighty jealous once the race was over and seeing everyone's medals but mostly, seeing the pride and relief on everyone's faces having finished the marathon and achieved their amazing goal. All in all, I'm all set to do the marathon again next year.

If you ran, huge congrats! You are amazing. I hope you loved every second.