The London Triathlon

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I know this is a little (read, very!) late but I finally completed my first ever (definitely not last) triathlon! The London Triathlon Olympic distance! I bloody loved it! SO much fun, as you will have probably seen by my instagram feed, the smile says it all! Anyway, let me start at the beginning, apologies if this gets a bit long…

The Friday before the race me and a couple of friends took the bikes out for an easy 20 miler, there were a couple of hills but we kept the pace super steady so it was really nice to spin the legs out, the bike felt perfect and I finished feeling nice and fresh and ready to race!! Saturday morning I was up with the birds and off to the lake with the lovely Vas, I knew the distance wasn’t going to be a problem but I just wanted to cover it one more time and also get in a last minute bit of OW practice, I have had issues here in the past and so I wanted to make sure I felt as comfortable as possible in my wetsuit and in the water. I then spent the rest of the day with the parentals who had come down to London for the race…

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAll packed and ready to go…

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Somehow I dropped off to sleep at 10:30 the night before with zero problems, I was expecting to get little to no sleep to be honest so this was awesome! It wasn’t a super early start for us either so I was up at 6:00 to be out of the house by 8:30. Here is where I encountered my first problem. The night before, me being me, I just had to mess around with my bike, tightening things that clearly didn’t need to be tightened and just generally messing things up. As I looked over my bike on Sunday morning I noticed that my chain was outside of the derailleur and was catching on it! Cue panic!! Luckily we got to the ExCel centre with loads of time to spare so I quickly picked up my race packet and chip and took it over to one of the guys at Tri Radar who told me that it was pretty much buggered and needed a proper service! #facepalm He fiddled with it a bit and said he thought it would tide me over, I had a little ride and all felt normal, massive sigh of relief!

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We walked around a bit and went to watch some other athletes starting the swim, man those buoys looked a long, longggg way away! I reminded myself of the 5km Eton Dorney swim and the more recent 3km charity swim at Stubbers and all those early mornings in the pool, I could totally do this! Despite a few pre race jitters and loads of chomping at the bit to get going, I actually felt really, really calm. When it was our turn to load into the swim start coral I followed the advice of swimming guru Dan Bullock and already had my wetsuit on and zipped up, I pushed (politely) through the crowds and made sure that I was at the front so that I would have extra time in the water to get acclimatised and fight any panic, should it arise! I also took in a bottle of water and flushed my wetsuit as you don’t get the chance to do this properly when you’re already in the water. Finally, I started warming up. You might feel a bit silly swinging your arms about and mimicking front crawl etc but at the end of the day, you have probably trained hard and sacrificed a lot for your races and so you can’t let something as trivial as that stop you from preparing properly. Also, when Dan tells me that something will help, I listen! :)

Finally, it was time!

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I lowered myself slowly into the water, not much badassery going on here but what the hell! Spent a few minutes holding onto the pontoon and breathing out under water, still feeling calm, so far so good! The actual swim start was about 50m from the pontoon so I swam out, honestly expecting to start panicking and flapping but I’m ridiculously relieved to report, the panic never came!! Whoop! I positioned myself to the left, a little more at the front of the pack than I would have liked (or would advise, to newbie triathletes) but I had a bit of space around me and was feeling good. I could see (and hear!! Good god a mix of Northerners, Americans and Canadians are LOUD!! Haha!) my family and friends shouting and hollering so I gave them one last wave, the gun went off, I got my head down and got swimming! It was awesome! I felt pretty strong, didn’t get swam over ONCE! Thank f**k! I really loved that it was one massive loop so on that first long straight I breathed to my left and used the side of the dock to keep me in a (relatively) straight line and just got into my rhythm. I must say, I was enjoying it so much I didn’t want it to end! Definite breakthrough! I was so lost in the swim though that I didn’t start swimming to the right, towards the buoy, until the very last minute so I definitely added a fair bit of distance to my swim that wasn’t needed but hey ho! The way back was a little tougher, it was against the current and I couldn’t really see the buoys so I just had to keep an eye on people around me, again I think this method of ‘sighting’ added a bit more distance as well. Things were a little rougher here but still, pretty enjoyable!

I came out of the water in an official time of 35:10. About 5 mins longer than I had hoped for (and am capable of) but for my first attempt, I am pretty happy! That swim was brilliant, if only just for how much confidence it has given me, going forwards!

I unzipped and squeaked out of my wetsuit and started running towards transition, such a buzz!!

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Spent a ‘bit’ of time faffing in transition, I mean it was a huge transition but I spent 4:59 in there doing gawd knows what!! Will do better next time, hopefully!

Out onto the bike. Literally as soon as I put force onto the pedals, something went and I had ZERO tension! Arghhhhh! (Lots of swearing ensued!) I managed to shift it back into a gear (any gear) and despite the awful noise the bike was making, I could at least move forward!! The bike course was fine, it could have actually been quite enjoyable had I had a properly working bike but as it was, the wind and constant change of gradient / direction etc (nothing too crazy but there was always something going on, if you know what I mean?) was a pain in the arse! I couldn’t hammer it on the flats and downhills as much as I would have liked and going uphill was more difficult than it needed to be, as I could either have NO tension at all or a way bigger gear than I would have usually used. Also, every single time I went over a bump in the road my gear / chain would pop out and I would have ZERO tension again. Talk about frustrating! I must have looked a bit scary at this point, cadence at 160 (jokes), red faced and swearing! Haha! Joking aside though, thanks to my lovely coach, Stevie T making me do lots of high cadence work, I just stepped things up a notch and was able to keep moving at a decent ish pace. This was also helped by meeting and chatting to a lovely guy called Dan who, due to our mutual need to beat each other, kept me pushing on despite the issues! I finally finished the bike in 1:11:07. Not totally happy as my average speed was a good bit slower than I know I am capable of and the bike is my strength (or at least it isn’t a weakness! Ha!) so I really wanted to hammer it BUT so far I was loving the whole triathlon experience! Reminded myself that it’s all a learning curve and that I should be happy that I had a mechanical here and (hopefully) not at Weymouth in a months time! It definitely helped having my sister from another mister, Anna and my parents screaming and hollering louder than EVERYONE else!!! Ha!

Again, considering I am still using toe cages and not clipless pedals I took me sweet time in transition… 3:21… whoops! Oh well, out onto the run!!

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As I was still leaving transition I got to see this crazy lady, her hubby and one of my good friends from ooop North, Jon, which gave me another massive boost! Felt pretty good here, legs felt good and didn’t have that jelly sensation that I was sooo dreading! I wasn’t running particularly fast though, started out slowly and although I felt good I had it in the back of my mind not to push too hard and end up having to walk! After my stress fracture, my training (specifically my run training) has been less than stellar (to say the least!) so I really just wanted to finish! In hindsight I should have had more faith in myself as I finished with a sprint and plenty left in the tank, immediately regretting my decision to take it steady. Anyway, I started to step things up after the first few hundred metres but still didn’t check my time as I was sure that after my bike, my goal time wouldn’t have been possible. It was only as I was coming out onto the last lap that I checked my overall time and saw 2:2o something that I realised that if I just kept running at the same steady pace I would come in under 2:40 (this was the original goal I had set myself before I even started training properly so it was a bit of a stab in the dark at the best of times! Factor in injury and time off and I was honestly just hoping for sub 3hrs). As I rounded the corner to the finish shoot and saw 2:38:41 (we started at 12) I couldn’t believe it and sprinted to the end! Got a lovely little shout in from my coach, who is also triathlon legend and commentator extraordinaire! I retuned the favour with a massive sweaty, over excited hug! Haha! I also saw Dan at the finish line who beat me by about 30 seconds! (Damn it! Haha! I’ll get you next time! ;)) Official run time was 46:06 which will ding dang do for starters!!

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetCan you tell I’m enjoying myself?! :D The day finished with me on a high achieving a time of 2:40:56 (stupid chip time was over a minute out from my garmin time so I didn’t quite reach my goal of sub 2:40) and absolutely chomping at the the bit to get out there and do it all over again!

Anyone out there thinking of doing a triathlon but hesitant to take the plunge? Or do you have a ‘first time’ story that you fancy sharing? Would love to hear them, if so!

Lots of love,

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Giveaway // Review // MyProtein

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Hello you lovely lot! Sorry it’s been a little quiet over hear as of late, I had a nasty chest infection which put me out of action training wise AND I have also started a new job which involves shift work so I have been a little all over the place! Such is life! All good in the hood though and I will hopefully be getting back to normal (whatever that is) soon!

Right, to get to the main point of this post! The folks over at MyProtein were kind enough to get in touch and ask me if there was any particular products I would like to try out… errrm… YES PLEASE! After much deliberation I decided on these ENER:GELS. I have really struggled to find a gel I love, with most being too thick, sweet and gloopy for my liking. I have also been yet to find a gel that does for me, what simple dates with peanut butter do (they were a LIFESAVER at Tough Mudder! Although maybe I was just really, really in need! Fucking hills! Ha!). That being said, of course I was willing to give them a shot! ;)

First up, these gels aren’t small (whopping 70g sachets) so it might be an issue with storage, if you need a lot of them. However, I LOVE this for the added hydration and also for the fact that they are super easy to swallow, more like a sports drink than a gel. I cannot cope with those thick, overly sweet efforts! Yakk!

As well as containing those much needed carbohydrates, they’re also full of electrolytes AND B vitamins! I have waxed on in the past about how much I love B vitamins and rate them for giving me an instant mood and energy lift (my chlorella and spirulina tablets are a daily necessity)! So, do I love the idea of having that wonderful lift 2 thirds of the way into a mammoth ride or run? Hell yeah!! Where do I sign?!

I have tested these gels out on three different occasions, all three times on the bike (I’m yet to do a run long enough to need them, post foot injury) and I really like them, they definitely do the job!  I completed a 3 hour trainer ride a couple of days ago and with solid consistent pedalling (and nothing to take my mind off the tedium), I was surprised to note that I didn’t feel a drop off in energy, like I usually do. What I tend to do is alternate gels + water with energy drink, more for a bit of a change taste wise than anything and I’m still messing with nutrition to get it just right for me. The only niggle that I have with these gels are that the flavour is a tad strong for my taste, but then I’m not a fan of any gel or drink that is overly concentrated. (Luke has tried both the Blackcurrant and the Tropical and he really liked the taste so it’s probably just me being fussy!) Seriously, if water contained CHO I would be one happy little triathlete (in training)!

A MAJOR selling point for me, is the price. At £17.99 for 24 gels, that works out at a measly 74p per gel! I have previously paid double that amount for other gels with almost identical stats (MINUS the all important B vitamins) and when you’re shoving them down your neck at a fair rate of knots, price is probably something you’re keenly aware of!

SO the bit you’ve all been waiting for, I am willing to share my spoils! One lucky reader will win a bunch of these gels (in both blackcurrant and tropical)! To be in with a chance of winning, do the following;

 

1 // Follow me on facebook here

2 // Follow My Protein on facebook here

3 // Follow me on Instagram here

 

You get a separate entry for each follow, but make sure you leave me a separate comment for each one so that you get entered into the draw fairly!

Good luck!

Winner will be announced Monday 4th August!

 Lots of love

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 [[[This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been notified! :)]]]

5km OW Challenge // A Recap!

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(That is a smile of absolute relief, people! R.E.L.I.E.F)

Whew! Sorry this is mega late but WE DID IT!! We completed the 5km Financial Times Eton Swim and with some time to spare! ;)

It wasn’t pretty…

It wasn’t easy…

It wasn’t (always) fun…

But, we DID IT!

I mentioned before that I had serious doubts going into this and nervous doesn’t even cover it! If I hadn’t had young Victoria with me every step (stroke) of the way, the outcome may have been very different! But, let me start back at the beginning…

I woke up and ate my usual breakfast of porridge, peanut butter and honey and made a coffee to go. In hindsight the coffee probably wasn’t good for my nerves but I was looking for some (any!) endurance benefits and eh, might give it a miss next time and just take a caffeine gel half way through, or something. I made a bottle of my favourite SiS Go Electrolyte drink (in tropical) and made sure I finished it before starting the swim. I also ensured that I got in some proper carbo loading the night before…

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(As you can see my ‘eating like an athlete’ kick is going well! Ha!)

Anyhoo we arrived a little (fashionably) late due to a mammoth walk from where we had to park the car and so by the time we had registered, we literally had 5 mins to use the loo (I only got to go ONCE which really isn’t optimal for the size of my bladder / amount of nervousness I was experiencing! Haha!) and get into our wetsuits etc before the gun went off! Cue mad rush and panic and somehow we did it and queued up just as things got under way. Big thanks to Steve and Wilf (Vic’s hubby and dog, respectively!) for getting us there and to the start line in one piece! Also for dealing with the last minute frantic requests of ‘Agh I forgot so and so’ and ‘Can you hold this, please?’ and ‘Please can you put my inhaler on the feed station?’ etc etc, Steve you’re a bloody diamond! We were right at the back of the group and took our own sweet time in getting into the water… I am talking one leisurely entry! Ha! This is where things got interesting… we started by doing a bit of breast stroke, putting our faces in the water etc, the usual routine and lo and behold I started panicking and couldn’t get my breathing right. Now, to make this whole shameful process even worse, because we were right at the back, the photographer (damn you to hell, whoever you are!), got some hilarious pics of me having a panic! In the interest of keeping it real and also because I do love a good bit of comedy, I’ma share one…

Ready?

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I mean… I have no words! Hahaha! That is full on fear, right there! Look at Vic trying to talk me down, she was absolutely incredible and I really can’t thank her enough for that! It probably took us 10 mins or so and we got up to the first buoy before I got my act together.

Anyway, thankfully, the embarrassing bit is now over with and you will be glad to know, that we got going! Yayyy! The course looked like this…

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We did two loops of the yellow for 5km in total. We stuck to the inside buoys which was awesome because they were attached by a submerged rope which acted as a lane rope so we just got our heads down and started playing a game of catch up. We were making pretty good time but I had to stop a couple of times up that first straight and compose myself so we ended up leap frogging with a few other swimmers.

It’s funny because unless you’re a little fishy, swimming 5km is gonna mean you being in the water for a fair amount of time and you really do go through a roller coaster of emotions, especially if you are a nervous nellie, like me! I was terrified of losing Vic and getting left behind, to the point where I would panic when we would come up behind someone and I would have to leave her side to overtake them. Pathetic huh? I probably wasted more energy fretting about silly things like that than I did from just swimming! But then as you may or may not know, rational thoughts are easily pushed to one side when you are a million miles outside of your comfort zone! When I did start panicking, one particular thought / mantra, whatever, really kept me focused. I just said to myself ;

‘You can’t control anything around you, Hayley! You can only control yourself so you just need to focus on breathing, lowering your heart rate and perfecting your stroke’

…then before I knew it I’d be back in my rhythm again!

On that more positive note, there were periods where I just felt brilliant, easy breezy and yet super powerful! Pockets of time where my form felt the best it’s ever been! Rotation, reach, catch, pull, recovery… even my kick, all working together perfectly! There is something so cool about looking over your shoulder to breathe and catching sight of your wake and it just feels like you’re flying along! I love OW swimming for those moments, there really is nothing like it! (Where were you then, Mr Photographer?! Huh?!)

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We stopped at feed station 1 twice and feed station 2 once, there was no point stopping at feed station 2 for a second time as taking on anything else so close to home would have just been pointless and we really just wanted to get finished! The guys manning these stations were all lovely and the words of encouragement were much appreciated! As soon as we completed the first lap, I knew we had done it! That might sound a little cocky but it really isn’t meant to, for me it was just a case of, well if I can get around once then I can damn well get around twice! If you had asked me to do a third or fourth lap however…

For about the last 1.5km I had the beginnings of a calf cramp which I THANKFULLY somehow managed to keep at bay by just keeping my legs and kick totally relaxed every time I felt it twinge. I am hugely grateful that it didn’t progress into full-on cramp!

Getting out of the water and going up over the finish line was just fantastic! I must admit I was (and still am) rather proud of us for getting it done, and with big smiles on our faces too! The cut off time was 2 hrs 30 mins and we finished in 2 hrs and 3 mins which isn’t bad at all considering the 10 mins of faffing / water treading that we did at the beginning, also the fact that we didn’t rush through the feed stations either! A little chat here, a sampling of the buffet there… ha! We really wanted this swim to just be about finishing it and having fun whilst doing so, rather than getting any particular time however, I must admit, I do hope that we get to go back next time and see if we can finish a little faster! ;) Thank you Human Race for a brilliant event and my very first medal! Wooo!

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I hope you enjoyed the recap and I really hope that it has inspired you to give OW a go! It is challenging (see 2nd photo) but definitely doable and persevering with it is oh so worthwhile! Just remember that everyone has to start somewhere and there is no shame in giving things a go, being a beginner and taking things slowly / progressing at your own pace!

If anyone has any questions at all about getting into the sport, or if you have a triathlon coming up and haven’t yet tackled OW swimming, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email at oatcouture@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction! 

Lots of love,

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Best Foot Link Up – The Challenge Edition

In my previous post (I know, it’s been a whole week!) I mentioned my little freak out at Denham Lake. What I didn’t mention is that after my first ever open water swimming experience, the week before, in all my excitement I signed up for, wait for it…

A 5km swim. A week today.

The Financial Times Eton Swim

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Yep, you read that right.

One week from now, 5 whole kilometres of nuthin’ but me and lake… oh, and a few hundred other flailing, kicking, neoprene clad beings. Welp.

The course… I will be aiming to complete two laps of 2.5km (in the yellow). Hello feed stations, man am I glad you’re there! I might not really need much nutrition but you can be sure I will be using you both for a little breather! ;)

2014EtonSwimCourseMapx1055I must admit I am really glad that it’s two big loops rather than loads of small loops, this should (hopefully) mean that we can just get into a nice steady rhythm and stay there, for longer, without having to turn constantly.

I’m not expecting to be the fastest, by a long shot, but I was actually really looking forward to it, until last week. Last week has left me seriously doubting my ability to complete the damn thing. Now, if there’s on thing I hate and generally try to avoid, it’s doubting my ability to do things. So I really need to a) suck it up! and b) get in open water as much as is possible in the next week! I’m slightly hindered by my lack of transport, what with most of the lakes being outside of London but I figured that a little trip down to the Serpentine Lido would be the next best thing.. cold, murky and full of weeds. (It actually turned out to be not so cold which enabled me to get my heart rate down and get my breathing dialled in fairly quickly. Perhaps it was the cold at Denham that threw me off? A couple of other ladies mentioned having the same problem but them being seasoned pros, they didn’t have a full blown panic attack and have to get out of the lake. Oh the shame.)

So anyway, yesterday was just the perfect day, beautiful weather, nothing (much) on the agenda! So I decided to head down to Hyde Park for a little dip! If you’re not from London, just to fill you in, there is an area of the Serpentine lake cordoned off for swimmers. So essentially it’s open water swimming in that it’s in a lake rather than a purpose built pool BUT it’s only 100m by 20 or 30m or so.

Me, in action… really need to focus on looking back over my shoulder when I breathe and not up to the sky…

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It was glorious! Definitely would have been nice to swim without the wetsuit but I love mine for all reasons buoyancy related and also that I need to get used to swimming in it… baby steps, and all that! My garmin lost signal about 400m in but I did around 15 lengths (1500m), not a lot, considering what I need to achieve on the 26th but any positive experiences I can have in non pool water, will help me so I shall continue putting my ‘best foot’ forward all week in the hope of completing this mammoth (to me) challenge!

Bestfoot This Week Link Up

 

In other ‘best foot’ related news, heres a rough recap of my training last week;

 

Monday – Morning // Gym (strength + Afternoon // Swim 1500m main set with 500m warm up / cool down. (I was attempting to TT it but the fast lane was full of breast and backstrokers so it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked!

Tuesday – 1 hr Interval session on the bike.

Wednesday – I had an exam on this day but the weather was lovely so afterwards we headed to the lido and I tried the 1500m TT again along with a few hundred metres warm up / cool down. It went much more smoothly and I came in at 28:08. Not impressive at all on it’s own, but considering my first 1500m time trial came in at 39 something, that’s 11 minutes improvement!! I’ll take that ANY day!! :)

Thursday – 1hr 10 minutes interval session on the bike today!

Friday – Again, another KILLER interval session on the turbo, this was the result… (Both sessions are courtesy of this awesome book, which you all NEED if you’re training for a triathlon! So, so good – in a really painful way!)

Saturday – I attempted a really long / hard trainer ride but I ended up cutting it short after an hour or so and I will be attempting it again today. The two previous sessions took it out of me and after the first hour my heart rate was much higher than it should have been so I listened to my body and gave it the rest it obviously needed.

Sunday – Swim in the serpentine. Again about 1500m, including warm up / cool down.

Not a great week, came in at around 8 hours of training but I really feel that I made great strides with both my swimming and cycling so I’m pretty happy with how it went! Saw the physio on Friday and she thinks I can start running again in a couple of weeks, literally CANNOT WAIT!! Whoop!

((Thanks girls, as always, for hosting ‘Best Foot’ Krysten, Amanda and Ericka!))

 

So there you have it! My training week and my challenge! As long as I don’t drown, I’m sure it will be an awesome day! Ha! There’s a whole bunch of us going, all the guys I swim with and I think Luke is gonna come and act as cheering squad. Let’s do this!!

Is anyone out there signed up for the Eton swim? Or have another challenge coming up? Would love to hear from you, if so!

Lots of love,

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Back down to earth with a… splash!

My nemesis…

2014-05-10 11.47.48 2_resizedWell, after my post last week raving on about how awesome open water swimming was, I feel compelled to come back and tell you about todays less than stellar attempt! I had a major melt down people… major.

I just panicked! For no apparent reason! I struggled all the way to the first buoy, getting progressively worse! My breathing felt super shallow and all over the place and mentally I was just not having any of it. The water was pretty cold but I don’t think it was that, or maybe it was?! I hated that I could see weeds and ropes from the buoys, underneath me! Freaked me the hell out! Open water swimming is definitely a mental game and I must say for the first 30 minutes or so, it was a game that I was losing, hard! One of my swimming peeps, John… (Hi John!)

2014-05-10 11.47.29 1_resized…Cut the lap short and swam back with me to the jetty. I sat there for a bit feeling more and more ridiculous but also terrified at the thought of getting back into the lake as it just seemed so huge (way bigger than the lake last week although I’m sure that’s just in my head!) and I didn’t know if I would make it round. So I sat there a bit longer, knowing that I had to get back in otherwise a, it would have beaten me (absolutely NOT!) and b, I would have spent the next week building it up in my head and making it ten times worse! Luckily Vic’s hubby swam over after just finishing a lap (with the intention of getting out, sorry Steve!) and he agreed to swim up a bit with me and then back down (you’re not normally allowed to swim anti clockwise but the lake was emptying, so that was the plan!), anyway I got back in and all in all, I felt fine again! What an absolute numpty! It was fine, so we decided to do the smaller loop and I got back into my groove! Felt myself enjoying it again! SO annoyed with myself for wasting all that time when I could have been swimming! Also feel pretty bad for slowing John down so spectacularly! We had planned it all out… 3km, taking it in turns to pull, we had a rough time we wanted to do. All out of the window! Ha! Lesson learnt!

So now I’m sat back at home and just like last week, I reeeally wish I could go and get back in that damned lake, although this week it’s more because I want a do-over! Ugh! Anyway, I’m glad I finished on a good note and I can’t wait to go next time and (hopefully) have a brilliant swim!

Now, unfortunately, I have a day of revision ahead of me! Welp! Counting down the days till Summer!

Anyone else out there had a similar experience with open water swimming? If so, how did you overcome it? I know it’s all in my head so I really need to figure out what I can do to keep things in check, without actually having to get out of the water… hopefully it will all come with time (but not too much time, please!) and practice!

Lots of love,

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First open water swim of the season!

2014-05-03 10.57.27 1_resized_1Perfect day for it! I mean, how awesome does that lake look?

I know I’m supposed to be doing my coursework BUT I’m just so hyped up after what was my first ever (proper) swim in open water, that I had to come here and blog about it! Shout it out to the world!

I want to swim in a lake every. single. day!! It was THAT good!

My wetsuit arrived yesterday, after much deliberating and a few failed attempts at getting the Orca S5 from Malta, I opted for the Zone3 Advance and I must say, I’m really glad I did! When I first tried it on yesterday I was a bit worried that it was too tight but honestly, even if you feel like it’s constricting your chest, like mine did, it will be perfect when you get in the water! Remember, the tighter it is, the faster you go! ;) Mine is also bloody short (on both the legs and arms!) so if you’re a tall bird and you’re worried about it not being long enough, don’t be, I can tell you that it doesn’t really make any difference!

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See, perfect fit! Hahaha!

Anyway I knew that one of my swimming buddies, Vic, was heading to the lake with her hubby and so when my suit arrived I asked them if I could tag along and they very kindly agreed! I was more than a little nervous about the cold, I’m not too sure why though, cause things like that don’t normally bother me (hello weekly ice baths!). I then panicked a little more when we arrived and the ground was all frosty but then as soon as I dipped my toes into the lake we realised that it wasn’t that bad at all! Phew! What a stress about nothing!

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I had a bit of a panic when I first put my head in the water, not sure why, I did the same thing when diving as well, back in Cyprus… Possibly because I couldn’t see anything? Probably just a bit of a ‘Oh my god I’m out of my comfort zone here’? who knows! Vic was an absolute star and just treaded water / swam breast stroke (proper holiday breast stroke, none of that professional stuff! Haha!) with me for a minute or so whilst I got in a few slow exhales under the water and calmed down a bit and then, we were off! Well, I started by swimming about 20 metres in the wrong direction but WE WERE OFF! Haha! After that initial panic I started to really enjoy it! There’s just something so awesome about not having lane ropes or walls stopping you and forcing you to turn round, you can just get into your rhythm and SWIM. I feel so lucky to have ‘found’ swimming as it really has always been so far off my radar and just something that has generally scared me to death. I feel more than a little silly for wasting all these years but, it’s better late than never, right?!

I have never swam any kind of distance solidly without stopping and so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I got my head down and swam 1 lap (1km). I then noticed some guys stood on a little underwater pontoon thingy so I stopped for a little break to assess the situation, see how I felt and see if I could see anyone from our gang. I ended up chatting for 5 minutes or so and then as I couldn’t see anyone I thought right, I feel absolutely fine, I’m calm, let’s just try for another half a lap and see what my (rough) time is for 1,500. For some reason though the second lap seemed to whizz by and so I just thought sod it, I’ll do the whole thing! Timed it pretty well though as I swam right into Vic waiting for me at the finish! I tried to talk to her and tell her how much I loved it and realised I must have been cold cause I was a numb, dribbling mess! I’m sure it was a pretty sight! Haha!

After a quick cold shower it was tea and biscuits time and then we headed back home! Brilliant morning and home before 9am to enjoy breakfast!

2014-05-03 10.59.13 1_resized_1It was organised by the lovely folks who I did my lessons with (Swim For Tri) and as expected it was brilliantly put together and there was a safety boat keeping an eye on us all! Will definitely be going again!

A couple of wetsuit / open water tips from a first timer!

  1. Don’t be afraid to get the tighter than tight wetsuit, it will feel uncomfortable, especially if this is the first time you have tried one on! You might even feel a little panicky and restricted. The wetsuit will definitely give when you get in the water.
  2. Lube up!! Invest in some bodyglide and apply it liberally around the under arms, and neck. In a pinch vaseline will work but it will erode the wetsuit if used too often.
  3. Walk into the water slowly rather than bombing it in, unless you want to have a minor heart attack, that is!
  4. Let a little water into your suit and let it circulate, also splash some water on your face to get used to the cold.
  5. If you’re feeling a bit panicked, take a minute to practice exhaling slowly under the water. I am quite happy doing this normally but I think I just needed a little reminder / calming down.

Above all, enjoy it! I have met some awesome people through swimming and it really is a wonderful community! If you are less than confident in your swimming skills then I would recommend a few lessons to start you off (I mentioned these guys in the past! Swim For Tri They’re awesome!) and make sure you always have someone with you, either in the water or on land, keeping an eye on you!

Sorry for the slightly mammoth post! Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

Lots of love,

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Grilled Cheese with a TWIST!

Hey, happy Monday, folks!!

It’s a sunny one over here and whilst I am trapped at my desk, I’m still feeling pretty darn good! Was inspired by a typical #OMGcheese moment over on the lovely Jenn’s (Peas & Crayons) Instagram… and so decided to throw together my own grilled cheese extravaganza!

I’m still sticking to the no meat thang and I must admit, it’s forcing me to get a bit more creative with my veggies, which is always a good thing!

Grilled Cheese with a TWIST!

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Ingredients

  • Organic Rapeseed Oil
  • Red Onion (I used 2 x small ones – chopped)
  • Garlic (2 x cloves – sliced)
  • Wild Garlic (small handful – chopped)
  • Asparagus (3 x Spears – sliced in half lengthways)
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli (Handful – about 6 or 7 stems)
  • Wholewheat Bagel (Sliced and toasted)
  • Smoked Cheese (small handful – grated)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)
  • Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)

Directions

  1. First I heated a pan and then added a little oil, and my sliced onions and sliced garlic, let this all sautee on a low heat for 5 minutes or so.
  2. Then I added my (washed and chopped) veggies, seasoned with salt and pepper and left to cook for another 10 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it though, the onions and garlic are easily burnt!
  3. A few minutes before they were finished cooking, I popped my bagel in the toaster, grated the cheese and turned the grill on.
  4. For the final step, add some cheese to your bagel, then the sauteed veggies, then layer on the remaining cheese and a little more cracked black pepper and pop it all under the grill!
  5. Leave for a few minutes until the cheese has melted into ooey gooey deliciousness and voilaa!

I might have left it under the grill a little longer but I was hungry and impatient… as always!

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A little update on the foot, for those that are interested! I am allowed to put weight on again it now (the pups are over the moon!) and so I did a slightly ramped up turbo session yesterday, however, I’m annoyed to report that it has swollen up again! Just a little bit but I am totally paranoid about re-fracturing it so I will dial things right back down for a couple more days. I have swimming in the morning to look forward to and it IS feeling a lot better, so not all is lost! ;)

Right, I will leave you with a little bit of ‘Monday Motivation’ in the form of the awesome Linsey Corbin

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I mean, really… badass or what?! I can only imagine the work she puts in… inspirational for sure!

Have a fabulous week peoples!!

Lots of love,

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