Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Great Manchester Cycle - a report

When I was asked if I wanted to take place in the Great Manchester Cycle, I jumped at the chance. I find it difficult to get long bike rides in, way more difficult than long runs for some reason, so I figured this would be excellent triathlon training and an opportunity to earn my first bike bling.

I met Chantal at the station and we cycled along the canal to the event village and start at the Eithiad Stadium. There was a great atmosphere here, with food stands, bike maintenance help from Edinburgh Bikes and the all important toilets which were (shock horror) actually clean! We were taking part in the 26 mile event, and as we arrived the 52 milers were just finishing. Well done you.

Cyclists assemble
After a small delay we were off! It was a little cramped at the start, with everyone trying to get out of the stadium area and on with their cycle, but once out of the roads everyone dispersed and it never felt really congested. The route took us towards town, over Mancunian Way and on towards Old Trafford. After another little loop near the Quays we went back towards the stadium ready for lap two of the 13 mile route. The 52 mile option did four loops before we started, and the 13 mile event one loop. The staggered starts for the different distances meant that you were only ever among people of your event which felt like a good thing as well as keeping congestion to a minimum.

The route was good, very urban (ie city roads) but did take in some of Manchester's famous landmarks including the two football stadiums and the Beetham Tower. The freedom of riding on traffic free roads felt really nice and was way more enjoyable than riding with the traffic. It was also pretty flat with just a couple of short inclines, and there were little pockets of supporters dotted around the course. There was also an area halfway through the loop where you could stop for any maintenance issues, food or water if you needed to, which was reassuring even though we didn't use it.

Back into the stadium area at the end, music was blaring adding to the party atmosphere and names were announced as you crossed the finish line. We collected our goody bag including t-shirts and all important medals before cycling home to enjoy some well earned post-ride beers.

As with everything, cycling with friends is way more enjoyable than going it alone and as a way more experienced cyclist than me, Chantal kept my pace up whilst also having a good natter and a catch up along the way. One lap of the route is the distance I'll have to cycle in the triathlon, which we covered in 47.55 which I was really happy with. If I manage that on the day after a swim and before the run I will be a very happy Crandon.

We were kindly given our places in the Great Manchester Cycle for free and they knew that I would be blogging about the event.

Friday, 26 June 2015

The long run - Friday Photo #38

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

Triathlon training is all go this week. All my spare time currently consists of swimming, biking and running, and sometimes, like twice this week, all three in one day. Which is great! But the extra sports for me seems to mean shorter runs and I've found I'm missing my long run fun. Running makes me do this...

Disco run!
...and not only when there is a giant glitter ball around (although obviously it helps). When my brother in law suggested we run to and from parkrun last weekend whilst he and my sister were visiting I was so happy. A 9 mile run! With long working hours and tri training I haven't been able to get above 6 miles for weeks.

So off we went. I remembered how much I like longer distances, and so did what anyone would do while training for a triathlon: signed up for my next half marathon in a couple of weeks. That should get me back into double digits where I belong whilst also attempting to become a triathlete.

Do you prefer short runs or are you more of a longer distance runner?

Sunday, 14 June 2015

GUEST POST: Gauntlet Games race review

One of my sisters once claimed she 'didn't do running' then this year she requested some running tights for her birthday and text me to say she'd run 5 miles. *proud face* 

Last weekend she took part in the Gauntlet Games and is here to give us the lowdown. Over to Vici...

*Guest post alert*  

I feel it's only fair to warn you, I am a guest poster. If you are an avid runner and reader of Crandon Runs, who looks forward to the helpful running tips, you might want to stop reading. I have none. Except choose good pants. 

My running experience looks like this:

That being said, I have recently started going for the occasional run (by this I mean mostly fast walking) and I quite like plodding along to my tunes. 

So when my friend Becci mentioned the Kidney Wales Foundation Gauntlet Games, I was quite enthusiastic. Only 5k? Fighting gladiators on the way? Why not? I could do that!

On a slightly wet Saturday morning in early June, myself, Becci and 20 other friends arrived at the Coedarhydyglyn (sorry if you're not Welsh and can only guess how you would say a word with so few vowels!) estate in St Nicholas. We parked in a field where the grass was way up to my knees, and went in search of the enrollment desk to collect our race packs. 

We were given our lovely blue kidney Wales t shirts at this point, and we just waited around for a bit on the side of a mountain waiting for our warm up to start. 
Alicia and Danni Mac pre-race relaxing 
There are two races on the day: the 5k Gladiator Gauntlet and the 10k which consists of a 5k trail run before the Gladiator zone. The 10k runners went off first then we were called in to warm up ready to start.  

Now we were told the estate contained 'breathtaking views, rolling hills and extensive woodland,' but the hills! My poor old legs! I can honestly say I never thought whilst doing the course 'oh what a lovely view,' instead my mind was mostly preoccupied by 'oh another hill,' along with 'oh no - more mud' and 'why does the mud I am crawling in smell of animal waste?' At one point I actually said aloud... 'Oh good. A zombie.' So not your average race thoughts I should imagine.

All this being said though, it was quite good fun and the gladiators were on hand to battle you at a number of obstacles: a tyre wall, elastic web, very deep bogs, a balance beam, a giant ball pit, foam pit (tastes disgusting - close your mouth) and a massive wedgie-inducing slip and slide to name a few.  

Josie realises her underwear may have disappeared

Toni executes a non-wedgie slip and slide run

The gladiators were mostly encouraging and helpful, and you were able to skip any obstacles you didn't want to do. Thewere not particularly fierce thankfully, the worst were the children  who were bored spectating and were asked to help attack the runners at the bottom of the very last hill. They were, quite frankly, viscous! 

Then we all got a lovely medal to commemorate the worst experience of our lives. How kind! (This is a joke, I have had MANY worse experiences!)  

There were a couple of things body wise that I was not prepared for though like the pain in my back. Apparently running uphill is not good for your lower lumber so the fact that I was in quite a bit of pain there worried me (I was blaming impact of jumping on the slip and slide so eagerly!)  
Stretching out my painful back

I also found that running on the side of a mountain (I am stopping with the hill pretence) hurts your ankles as they are always at an angle.

The other things that didn't massively impress me were the lack of water stations. We were told in the info pack that we would have lots of them throughout but there was only one at what they informed me was the three quarters mark and then at the end when we collected out medals.  

The set up was very basic, I was expecting dirt and mud but you also run through mud and clay, get squirted with paint, travel down a slip and slide and just keep going into more mud and grass and more foam. There is no where to shower or even wash after that. We were warned of this, but the volume of dirt that came home on my body was surprising. I ended up throwing my trainers away as I couldn't bear having them inside my washing machine.

Jess and Morgan in the final stages

The changing facilities were two igloo tents labelled men and women and some portaloos, and the race registration was a marquee, but the volunteers there had it under control. Key lockers were what appeared to be big water buckets where your labelled key sat and waited for you. Luckily we had spectators who were weighed down by all our crap, and they got to meet Welsh Rugby legend who came along to show his support.  

Our supporters meeting Jamie Roberts

The signposts on the course were unclear and consisted of some red and white plastic on a stick. This was confusing and sometimes hard to sport. I met a group of people that had accidentally ended up on the 10k course and more than one of our group went in the wrong direction at one point.

And then the final hill. No, not in the race. To get to the start, you had to walk down a fairly large incline and up another one. To get back to the car, you had to walk UP that same hill. Honestly, I thought I wasn't going to make it. My legs were like lead and jelly combined (strange, but trust me go with it.)  

Things I found about running; 
I don't like running with people - I'm not sharing my '99 with anyone! But also not in an exercise environment.  

There's this opinion among my friends and family that I can be quite a difficult person (in reality I am a constant delight). I don't like small talk for the sake of it and I'm not a fan of people shouting encouraging things at me to 'help' me out. I just like to huff and puff as much as I need to, walk when I feel like it and run when I want to. I'm solo running from now on, but should mention that I still very much like everyone that took part in this with me.  
Some of the crew at the finish
Was it fun? Absolutely, looking back it was quite enjoyable. Would I do it again? No. I am not the right person but if you're the Tough Mudder type and loves getting a mud wrap while doing some exercise then this is for you! The people from our team who actually enjoyed it were Toni (army personnel) Tuesday (actual name) and Lucy who are quite strange to put it nicely. I will stick to fairly flat roads and trails from this point!  

Tuesday, Lucy and Toni really enjoyed themselves
But we did this run for another reason. Becci's partner had a very scary and miserable time early this year due to his kidneys. It was very severe, but luckily they did an amazing job and she wanted to give something back to the people that helped during this time. Extra kudos to her for completing the whole course with a fractured rib! 
Becci pounding home
It's a challenge, it's hard going, but it is for a wonderful cause and its something a bit harder and different than the average 5k race for charity.

DO IT! I'll be there next year laughing at all the contenders as they try to run after the slip and slide with the majority of their underwear in their arse crack!  

Friday, 12 June 2015

Fitting it all in - Crandon Runs Friday photo #37

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

No matter what your goal, fitting in your training around a full time job is hard work. We are all familiar with the 6am alarm, the midday 'runch' and the post-work work-out in a bid to get it all done. Knowing I would be working long hours away from the office all week, I was worried how I'd fit triathlon training in too. Then I realised I would be working on location 10 miles from home - a perfect distance to get on my bike and a chance to log some longer rides.

Cycling selfies!
I've cycled about 70 miles in the last few days, which is a massive increase for me. The sunny weather has made me happy to jump on my bike for my morning ride, despite the enormous hills and the rides home have helped me unwind AND saved me from a later workout after I got home. Commute training is a total time giver. I've also been channeling my inner diva and having a little sing song. Sorry about that, people of Manchester. But after swallowing many many bugs, the biggest lesson I've learnt is to cycle with my mouth shut. So there goes tonight's stage performance.

How do you manage to fit in your training? Share your top tips in the comments below.

Monday, 8 June 2015

These Girls Can (and so can you)

The This Girl Can campaign from Sport England has been a huge success since it's launch in January. Empowering women to get fit and feel good while doing so, we have been encouraged to sweat, have fun and not give a damn how we look while doing what we love.

You can't have escaped the brilliant campaign, featuring real women (ie not professional athletes) doing sport which makes them happy and not giving in to the fear of being judged. And now, you can not only get the t-shirt (sadly only in pink and white) but also feature in your own poster ad! The best submissions will also be shown on billboards in your county and on the campaigns facebook page.

I cannot get enough of the campaign, the message and these ads. Just brilliant.

Head here to make your poster now and continue to be awesome ladies.

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

A return to Yoga - Crandon Runs Friday photo #36

A round up with of Crandon runs in one weekly photo

With all the triathlon training, yoga seems to have fallen by the wayside recently so I was really excited when I found The Yoga Lounge was holding a 3 hour alignment and technique workshop on a day which I was actually free!

I'm not at all advanced in yoga; I find some classes way too quick (read: hard) for me and I'm often unsure whether I'm practicing and holding poses correctly. A workshop focusing on technique sounded perfect for me, especially as it was being run by my favourite yoga teacher Eleanor who has recently left Manchester to live in Bristol.

Yoga workshop - view from my mat
Over the three hours we warmed up with some flow sequences before breaking down about 10 basic poses found in many yoga classes and looking at them in detail. What I really took away from this was focusing on your individual alignment and technique rather than what you think might 'look' like the 'proper' yoga pose. We also used belts and blocks to help us further and handouts to make handy notes for future yoga practice.

It was great. I felt that I really learned a lot and know now that it's much better to get the basics straight before attempting more advanced postures. A good life lesson there too! Making notes felt like I was in yoga school (does such a place exist and if so can I go please?!) and teas and nibbles kept us going throughout the class.

Now I just need to find some time to head to yoga and put what I learnt into practice.

If you live in Bristol, count yourself lucky and go and seek out Eleanor's classes. You will love them!

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