29 Oct 2013

Swain's Lane Conquered!

In north London  you can find the (in)famous Swain's Lane, feared by cyclists and runners alike. This neat little lane has got a maximum gradient of a whopping 18%, is around 1.2k long and if you climb it 24 times you will have climbed the equivalent of Mont Ventoux!

Yesterday my colleague Debbie and I did our inaugural post work hill interval run. Having met up at The Flask (who I much recommend at this time of year for their lovely mulled cider!) we walked to Swain's Lane and started off our run with a warm up run down the hill. I had earlier done a gruelling bootcamp session with Shane the Slavedriver at Barry's Bootcamp and felt pretty spent even on the first run down, but running with a slightly less fit friend hid that fact. We didn't go fast, letting Debbie set the pace, but we did keep going the entire time. No walking, no stopping. Three times in a row I talked Debbie up the hill, setting the bar high for coming hill climbs in London's best lane.

26 Oct 2013


I'm well into my second week of my second month-long Barry's Bootcamp stint and I'm loving it. There have been plenty of times when I've thought about writing how Shane, in three months, have made me go from a top sprint speed of 10.5mph to running no less than four 12.5mph sprints in the same session. Or Sandy's hustle runs. Or Anya's crazy hard full body workouts. Or Olly making my sprint up a 10% incline at 11.5mph. But I haven't and that's partly because I've been busy changing jobs and partly because however happy and proud of my achievements I've been I've not really felt like I could do them justice in writing - '...and then I turned my treadmill up to 11.5mph and sprinted up that incline. It was hard but I made it!'. Yeah, I know, not exactly riveting reading.

Then yesterday I went to Faisal's class, Faisal who is a bundle of endless energy, encouragement and PMA - positive mental attitude. Before hitting bootcamp I was feeling a little bit 'meh' as I like to call it - you know that feeling when you can't be bothered with much and there's a slightly blue tint to your mood - but during the Friday 7 minute mile challenge (run a mile as fast as you can, aim to get under 7 minutes) something changed. Faisal was talking us through this mentally quite challenging run and basically infusing us with positive mental attitude, making us believe that we not only could but would and that no one could stop us from taking what we wanted on the treadmill in specific and in life in general.
I walked out of the gym feeling a little bit invincible, confidence boosted by my accomplishments in Barry's red room of pain (I did the mile in 6 minutes and 40 seconds and with relative ease) but also boosted by Faisal's positive mental attitude affirmations. Now, I know we can't solve all the worlds problem with only a positive mental attitude but I think that a more positive mental attitude could change most peoples' lives. I suggest you try it, it's free and with very few side effects....

14 Oct 2013

Putting The Fun In Your Run

This weekend I ran my first 5k race. It was an untimed 5k race, I more ambled than ran and I absolutely loved it. I only ever entered this race because my friend Olly wants to get into running and this was his inaugural race - but I think it was one of the best race experiences I've ever had. My friend Julia was visiting from Sweden and we grumbled plenty upon getting up nice and early on Saturday but once the race kicked off and we got going it was pure enjoyment. Running, talking, laughing and rekindling your love of running. After the race we had a post-race beer and started planning for the next race....

Putting The Fun In Your Run

This weekend I ran my first 5k race. It was an untimed 5k race, I more ambled than ran and I absolutely loved it. I only ever entered this race because my friend Olly wants to get into running and this was his inaugural race - but I think it was one of the best race experiences I've ever had. My friend Julia was visiting from Sweden and we grumbled plenty upon getting up nice and early on Saturday but once the race kicked off and we got going it was pure enjoyment. Running, talking, laughing and rekindling your love of running. After the race we had a post-race beer and started planning for the next race....

8 Oct 2013

Race Report: Royal Parks Ultra

Have you heard that song by José Gonzalez where he goes 'every step feels like a mile'? I've never grasped the full meaning of those words until the last 5 kilometres of my first ever ultra marathon, and every step felt like an actual mile. But let us not get ahead of ourselves, the race started way before that...

My alarm went off at 6am and as I was (trying/forcing myself) to eat breakfast all I could think was 'all my friends are still cosy in bed, yet here I am about to head off to run 50 kilometres'. I felt slightly mad and/or stupid but eventually I got myself into my kit and headed off to Hyde Park and the start. In Hyde Park there was a specific 'ultra' tent where you could drop off your bag, get some last minute energy and water and talk to the other runners. I didn't talk to anyone, I merely stood there and stared at this plethora of runners who all looked like they were semi-professionals. If I'd been scared sh*tless before, I was now terrified. As per usual I debated so long about going to the toilet that I didn't have the time and then I found myself standing in the starting pen. I struck up conversation with the only other girl who looked as lost as I did and we kept chatting until we set off.

The start was at 8.30am and my plan was to take it nice and easy the entire 50 kilometres. I knew that I hadn't done as much training as I'd wanted to but that I'd done enough training to get myself through the ordeal. The girl I'd talked to before setting off (you can see here on this picture) and I were running together and it was nice and relaxing to have a fellow runner to chat with - it made it feel like it was a good Sunday training run! We were running through a sunny, stunning, London (waving to the queen at Buckingham Palace) and after a few miles of running and chatting we picked up another guy in our chat/running group. We ran togheter and chatted amicably up to the 25k race mark where they dropped off on one of the feeding stations. As they stopped  for the loo I kept going, looking forward to the 35k mark where my friends were gonna stand and cheer me on.

Around this time the surface changed, from tarmac to towpath - gravelly towpath. My bad hip had started bothering me wat too early in this race, after only 10k, and once the surface changed it got worse. The whole leg (i.e. the leg muscles) were all sore and stiff and the five kilometres between 25 and 30k were long. After 30k I got a new little energy burst, knowing I 'only' had around 2 hours running left and getting closer to Richmond Park (and my waiting friends). It got warm in Richmond Park though, and I was looking forward to getting into the shade again. I reached the 35k mark and...no friends. Later on they told me how it had taken them some time to get to Richmond Park and that they missed me, but that actually worked in my favour. I spent the five kilometres between 35 and 40 looking for my friends thus not really noticing that I was running them. At 40 kilometres I had given up seeing the and instead focused on the fact that it was the last 10k ahead of me and that the 42.2k mark would mean that I'd become and ultramarathon runner!

But, the 42.2k mark didn't cheer me up. Instead I realised that while 8k is short in comparison to what I'd done, it's still pretty far - especially when your left leg and your shoulders are killing you. I aimed to get into a flow, listening to music and letting my thoughts roam free. When I finally got to Bushy Park I was ecstatic but those last 5 kilometres might have been the worst 5k I've ever run. Every step hurt. When I finally saw the finish line in the distance I was so god d*mn angry with Bushy Park that I managed a little sprint and finished the race in 5 hours 6 minutes. Once I had finished I got a text from a friends saying they were on their way (they had had a more eventful trip to the finishline than I!) and then I met a photographer that I'd promised a photo for a photo project. Eventually my friends came and after I'd had a quick shower we headed to Kingston, via the Railway Tavern in Teddington, and had a pre-birthday celebration on a riverside pub...a perfect way to celebrate being an ultramarathon runner!

The last ten kilometres I had a mantra in my head: 'I.Am.Never.Doing.This.Again!' but once my friend Claire had bought me my first post-race beer it happened....you know that thing that aaaaalways happens.... the 'I wonder if I could run a 50 mile race?' and the 'I want to get under 5 hours!'. So, here I am, sore but happy and looking for a new challenge. Just don't suggest I do an Ironman.....

7 Oct 2013

This Photo.

This photo makes me forget all my insecurities, doubts and worries. This photo helps reminding me of the good things in life, and the strength of my character. This photo boosts my self-confidence and my self-esteem. This photo helps me realise that yesterday I became an ultra marathon runner. Yesterday I conquered 50k, on foot, and I will always be a better person for it. Yesterday I proved to myself that I truly am the master of my faith; and the captain of my soul.

Full race report to follow!

2 Oct 2013

Nailed it!

With only a few days to my first ultra marathon I'm just doing the odd training session this week. I want fresh legs for Sunday but I still want to be a bit active so I've settled for a few Barry's Bootcamp classes and yesterday it was leg and butt day. Now, I've got pretty strong legs but when it comes to any kind of plyometric work I'm rubbish. Well, at least until yesterday....

Shane at Barry's had us working pretty hard, doing everything from plain ole squats to various jumps - including tuck jumps.... Normally that's one of my big weaknesses, as I seem to be very attached to earth - I just can't gain any height in my jumps! Shane set us off jumping yesterday, stressing how we should focus on the jump, not the little bounce inbetween, and to pull our feet up against our chest when airborne and voila! All of a sudden I was doing actual, good quality, tuck jumps. Instead of rushing them I took a few seconds longer and focused on exploding, landing softly and then re-chargw before doing the next jump. It was with almost childish pleasure I watched myself jump higher than the fit guy next to me and I left the studio almost as happy with myself as the first time when I hit 12.5mph sprinting speed.

So what's the moral of this story? Just because you've not been able to do something in the past doesn't mean that you will never be able to do it. Work hard, stay focused and never give up.

28 Sept 2013

Don't Let It Take Over Your Life

Today I'm gonna rant a bit. I've been off work for a week and have plenty of time to catch up with my favourite fitness blogs and my exercising Facebook/Instragram/Twitter friends but it's all left me with a slightly sour taste in my mouth.

You see, I think way too many people are slightly obsessed. For some people their entire lives seem to revolve around training and food, and whilst I can understand having exercising as your hobby (hell, I have exercising as a hobby!), I think that people need to relax a little. People are training and eating/dieting like they were pro-athletes, their lives ruled by a rigorous training regime and a food diary thicker than the Oxford Dictionary - and you know what I find the most disturbing part of this whole malarky? I don't even know if they do it for themselves or if they do it to prove something. Way too many people seem to have a need to validate themselves and their training by always running longer, more races or more challenging races. I see, on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, people with such one-dimensional lives that all that make them, well, them is lost. All you see is a person seeking validation through their achievements in Lycra.

I do not want to become that person, I'd even go as far as to say that it's my greatest fear in life to become that person. Do I like running? I'd say I bloody love running. And cycling. And bootcamp. And a few other things. BUT I also love having a glass of wine at the rooftop cinema, eating a piece of chocolate at work when it's one of those days and I love going out dancing and drinking with my friends. I'm excited about running the London Marathon and I relish the challenge of my upcoming ultramarathon - but running and racing isn't who I am. It's a part of who I am, and I don't want it to be all I am. As some people might know I lived with an eating disorder for the majority of a decade and if it tuaght me anything it is that a one-dimensional existance is soul destroying.

So, what I'm trying to say with this blog post is....Don't Let It Take Over Your Life. You are more than your accomplishments in Lycra.

26 Sept 2013

Knowing When Enough Is Enough

In ten Days time I'm meant to take on the Royal Parks Ultra and I'm scared witless. Logically I know I can do it but I still worry. Today I ran a little 13 mile run and I should really leave it be now. Do a fre short runs, some cross training and trust in the training I've already done. Yet I feel like I could fit in another long(isg) run on Sunday and will have to stop myself from heading out for a run. I hope I succeed.....

Stylish t-shirt! 
Beautiful Victoria Park
Regent's Canal 
That race t-shirt from when I was 63rd out of 3386 in a London 10k! 

London Marathon 2014

I'm in! I finally get to run the London Marathon, and I'm so excited that there no words for it.  Wooooo!

17 Sept 2013

Running Really Is Cheaper Than Therapy

You could say it's exhausting running a marathon. As someone who's run several marathons I can confirm it is, but I can also say that there is nothing as exhausting than those few moments when there's a collective intake of breath as everyone realises that depending on what happens in the next few moments someone might live or die. Those few moments fills you with more adrenaline that anything I've ever experienced and pretty much ages you 10 years. As some of you may know I'm a nurse by profession, and without saying anyhing confidential I can say that sometimes I encounter emergencies. Full blown, life or death, kind of emergencies that make you realise how fragile and previous life really is. Yesterday was one of those days and I ended up staing a full 18 hours at work so when I finally got to bed around 3.30am I was exhausted yet twitchy from adrenaline. Around 11am I woke up, feeling more hungover than after a night of drinking, to a grey and cold London. I had, before yesterday, planned to do thousand and one things today but when I woke up today there was only one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to run.

By the time I'd had breakfast and gotten dressed it had started to raining, and not a Little light drizzle either - no it was proper pelting down. A part of me wanted to climb back into bed and pull the duvet over my head but logically I knew that I needed to get outside and do some running therapy. After the initial few miles when the rain annoyed me slightly I was soaked and had started to enjoy it. For every step a little bit of my worries seemed to slip away, alongside the remaining adrenaline. If you asked me what I was thinking I wouldn't know, all I know is that it was more cleansing than any therpahy session. Life, death, love and happiness seemed to make more sense than after two hours than before so whilst I was soaked and frozen solid post-run I was also more content and calm.

15 Sept 2013

Admitting Defeat

Today I was meant to do the London Duathlon, but the last few days sore throat isn't budging and with only three weeks until my first ultra marathon I had to admit defeat. No duathlon and I'm absolutely gutted.

Over and out, people.

3 Sept 2013

It's Getting Close...

Two weeks. Two weeks is all I have until I make my duathlon debut. I feel ridiculously unprepared, having put all my focus on surviving a month with Barry's Bootcamp and then the Royal Parks Ultra Marathon. Instead of rigorous preparations I'm following the Nike approach...just do it!

29 Aug 2013

Get Fit Or Die Trying - A Month At Barry's Bootcamp

Before I started Barry's Bootcamp I thought I was pretty fit...running marathons faster than your average Joe, finishing 63rd out of 3386 in a London 10k, cycling 100 miles for fun and actually passing the press up test for the Royal Marines Fitness test (60 press ups in 2 minutes). Yeah, pretty fit.... But when I did my first Barry's class back in June I struggled. A lot. I left feeling tired and unfit, which for me is the equivalent of a red cape shown to a bull - I decided I simply had to conquer this bootcamp malarky. I set my sights on doing one of the month long membership options as a sort of 30 day challenge and August was the month it was going to happen.
I went into the membership feeling unconfident as a runner, after my slightly 'disastrous' July halfmarathon, but not too unfit after Ride London relay. I would now like to write that 'the first week it was hard, but then I could feel myself getting stronger...' etc., and while I do notice some good improvements in my fitness it hasn't gotten any easier! This is mainly to do with the fact that the fitter you get, the more you push yourself. Or rather, the more the instructors push you.... I've done a lot of cursing and complaining but the truth is that I've enjoyed myself a lot more this month than I previously have in a gym - this has well and truly been right up my alley. Do I like people shouting at me? I actually do, or rather I enjoy knowing that they care enough about improving my fitness to go round and push me. This has been a challenging month (it's a challenging workout!) but that's what's made it good, there's always been a goal to work towards and no stagnation
So what are the biggest improvements?
Core strength. I've never had a core of steel, and I probably never will, but this month-long residency at Barry's has really improved my core strength! I still have some major weaknesses but at least there are fewer of them than there used to be....
Sprint speed. When I first started Barry's my top sprint speed was probably 10.5mph, and even that made me think I was either gonna fall off the treadmill or die (probably both). But in the third week I managed to reach that elusive 12.5mph and now I can honestly say that 12.5mph is my top sprint speed....big achievement from your resident Captain Slow! I've also regained some of my lost confidence, big thanks to the Barry's crew for that.
Working when fatigued. I've done a fair amount of classes these last few weeks, in addition to my ultra marathon training, and some days I've felt tired, with legs like lead. Despite being tired I've worked through the fatigue and I now feel that my body now responds better to hard work despite being tired.
Challenging myself: I've gotten better at working until failure. Barry's have challenged me to try more reps, faster speeds, bigger weights - and occasionally I've failed or come up short. BUT, it's okay to not be able to do every single rep, or every single increase in speed on the treadmill, as long as you've worked as hard as you can.
A lot of people have asked me if I've lost weight but that's hard to know as I never weigh myself. My clothes fit better (or so I want to tell myself...) but since improvement in fitness and not weightloss was the goal I can honestly say I don't really care. Let's just say that I think the non-existant weightloss has got more to do with my love of cold beer in the sunshine than Barry's not being effective enough..... Would I do the 30 day challenge again? In a heartbeat! Despite all the classes following a similar format no two classes are exactly the same, you work different body parts on different days and you've got a plethora of great instructors that will give their all to make you give your all. If you go to an 'off peak' class you sometimes get pretty close to having a personal trainer.
Do I still think I'm pretty fit? Ask me in the middle of a Barry's class and I'll say no, but I do know I'm at least a little bit fitter than I was before I started....!

26 Aug 2013

Keep Moving Forward

Today I did it again. I went home from the gym mad with myself for not performing as well as I wanted to.  I went home mad because I couldn't sprint as fast as I wanted. I went home mad because I wasn't feeling strong enough. Mad, mad, mad.

But you know what?! No more of this belittling myself, no more of belittling yourself. Today I was as disappointed with myself as I was after my half marathon in July, when I almost wanted to cry because I felt like I'd let myself down, but today I tried to stay and think logical. You can't be strong and fast everyday. Some days you'll feel tired, your legs will be heavy and your arms weak - and that's OK. Don't lose focus of where you're going because you had a bad day. Learn from it and then move forward, and progress!

22 Aug 2013

That Elusive 12.5

So, this month I've been hitting Barry's Bootcamp hard (and done very little actual blogging). Sure, I've done a few longs runs in preparation for the Royal Parks Ultra I'm doing in October and a few good, hard spin sessions, but mainly I've been at Barry's getting whipped into shape by mainly the two  gentlemen Sandy and Shane. For someone who considers herself pretty fit it's been hard going, not to mention slightly shameful to realise that I seemingly only have one speed that I run at...slow. I mean don't get me wrong,  I've always known I'm no Usain Bolt, but I didn't think I was as firmly stuck in a comfort zone as I am(was?!).

It's been great having the people at Barry's pushing me on, getting me to challenge myself and try and break out of that comfort cage (as I've started referring to it as), as my next marathon goal is to try and qualify for Boston Marathon (eeeeek!)..... Having done three marathons with 4.10 - 3.59 - 3.44 as finishing times I know that I can improve, but knowing I've got to cut at least NINE minutes on my last finish time  feels daunting. I ran a half marathon in June at the Boston qualifying race pace in July but I don't know if that made me feel any better as I knew that to qualify I'd have to keep that pace for yet another 13.1 miles. Gulp.

Yesterday a glimmer of hope was lit though. Having done my normal morning class at Barry's I decided to go to another class in the afternoon when I got let out of work early. I felt a bit tired leaving work so I silently hoped that it would be a busy class where I could hide behind legions of other people - but no such luck! It was five other people there and Shane was not going to let anyone off easy, he made that clear early on. I decided to just go for it as much as I could and hope for the best (my standard survival strategy at Barry's...) and in all honesty I was doing fairly well considering it was my second class of the day. When we were on our last treadmill sessions and were doing the dreaded 90 seconds runs with sprint finishes Shane jumped up on my treadmill for the second to last and resolutely cranked up my speed to 11.5. Upon seeing my terrified face he just said 'I know you, I know you can run at this speed' and quite correctly I did manage to run at 11.5mph. For the last one I myself turned the speed up to 11.5 only to have Shane turn it up to 12.5  - and you know what, I managed that 30 second run too! It might have only been a short amount of time but at least I for that time I got out of my comfort zone, challenged myself and properly sprinted. For those 30 seconds I did feel like I would be able to reach that qualifying time and I left the class tired but with a big grin on my face. 12.5 mph has always seemed like an elusive speed and I've never believed that I'd be able to reach it but apparently Shane believed I could. Sometimes you need to have someone that believes you can do it, and you will be able to do it!

15 Aug 2013

Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down!

This morning Shane at Barry's Bootcamp was in his most sadistic mood. After a hardcore abs and core class he let us believe we were done for 30 or so seconds before he introduced us to Sally....Sally is the main character in a cruel, cruel push up challenge, a full three and a half minutes of pain. Moby's song Flower takes you through it, and on paper it's easy enough - when the lyrics go 'Bring Sally Up' you hold a high plank, when the lyrics 'Bring Sally Down' you drop down low and hold.....in reality it's not so easy. I am pretty sure the whole room was in absolute agony about halfway through and I don't think anyone managed to do the full 3.5 minutes....

If you've not heard of it before, look at this video  and take the challenge!

11 Aug 2013

What I Did This Week

The lack of blogging might suggest otherwise, but I have actually had a good training week. I did my first week with the Silver Membership at Barry's Bootcamp, fitting in 5 bootcamp classes this week and on Wednesday I also managed to attend Mark's freaking amazing class at BOOM! Cycle.  Yesterday I managed to fit in a rest day and today I was meant to do a ong run with my friend Zoe but life wanted differently and instead I ended up running home from central London via the South bank and Wapping after watching the hurling with my irish friend Claire. It was one of those run that made me fall in love with London all over again and running wise I easily ran the 10k with an average pace of 5.20min/k. Life's pretty good at the moment.

5 Aug 2013

Race Report: Ride London 100 Relay

So, yesterday was the big day, the day where Team BOOM! were to dominate the streets of London. I was to do the third leg, meaning that I'd climb Box and Leith Hill, starting at Guildford and ending in Leatherhead. I was up at 5am to cycle down to Waterloo and arrived a whole hour too early....hence having to wait on the station with all the lads and drunks before finally being able to board that train. I was quite nervous about not getting to the start on time as our first rider started the race at 6am, and it would so turn out that my worries would be true....

I got to Guildford at 8.15am and met Rob from Team BOOM! Cycle's mens team and we were to ride out to hub three together and take over from Keith and Hilary. None of us had any local knowledge of Guildford and had only maps to guide us, since no one at the station knew anything about it and there weren't a single sign showing us the way to the start. Rob put in the location on Google maps and off we went. Almost straight away we had to climb this ginormous hill, which in hindsight not only acted as a warmup hill but might have been the hardest hill of the whole day. Once we'd gotten to the top of the hill Google Maps wanted us to go through a wooded area via footpath(!) which we reluctantly did with out narrow road tyres. From there it only got worse. After a little while we  realised that it was most definitely not the right way to the hub but we'd been going too far to turn back - we just had to make the best of it. We found a local who gave us some quick directions, meaning that the last bit up to the hub we were crossing fields, barbed wire fences and mostly carrying our bikes as we had to go up the hill to Newlands corner but couldn't use the road as that would've meant going against the flow of the cyclists! Eventually we got up, and Hilary and Keith had been waiting for a while by that point.

I set off on my own down the same hill I'd just carried by bike up and hit some really decent speeds going down, while I kept thinking that it would be a miracle if I didn't end up with a flat tyre after crossing those thorny fields earlier (in the end my tyres were fine but Rob had apuncture 30 seconds after starting....). The first few miles were just gently rolling Surrey Hills and I'd done that stretch of road before on our training/recon ride. I kept a good pace on the flat and going up but I quickly realised that people would overtake me en masse going downhill - I'm a chicken going downhill, and not embarassed about it! When we turned off down to Leith Hill I got a bit nervous although the first few miles were pretty easy. Once I saw the KOM sign (King of the Mountain-sign for the professionals that were riding the Classic after us) I knew we were in business and I was right.... I quickly got into a good rhythm climbing and was climbing strongly up hill, passing loads of people without anyone passing me, when my chain came off! This has never happened before but I quickly got it back on and could carry on. On top of Leith Hill I heard people calling it 'Lethal Hll' but I honestly didn't think it was that bad...hard yes, lethal no.

Going down Leith Hill is a bit of a blurr....partly because of the speed and partly because of all the cyclists passing me - it was a flurry of lycra! I did come down though, albeit a bit slower than some, and could get back into the flow on the rolling hills again en route to Box Hill. Passing through Dorking there were loads of people cheering you on and I knew that Box Hill was just around the corner. When I hit Box Hill I was on familiar ground and I had my strategy clear for me, get onto a good gear, find my rhythm and just 'tap it out' as Coach Mark always tells us at BOOM!. I did just that but when I was changing gears to go through a hairpin curve (that IS what you call them, right?!) my chain came off again! This time I noticed a little branch from a tree stuck to my chain, probably a remainant from our earlier attempt at Cyclocross, and once that was gone I practically flew up Box Hill. Even when we got on the top I had so much  power left in my legs that I just kept overtaking people for miles despite the rolling hills. Downhill to Leatherhead I got overtaken by some of them, again, but the last few miles to the hub I kept a great pace and just before the hub I saw my friends cheering me on and was wearing the most goofey smile evern when I entered the hub. When I got there it turned out that Rob had sent Daz and Mark going without chaging over properly as Rob was so much behind schedule with his puncture. I chatted with my friends for about half an hour before I decided to get on my bike again and ride back to London along the route.

I was first thinking that I should do the last 25 miles at a leisurely pace but then realised that I could use it as a solid training session and did just that. I kept my pace up as good as I could, hanging on to peoples' wheels and then passing them if they were too slow. I only got tired with about 10 miles to go but then I saw my friend Zoe walking down the road in Wimbledon and her shouts of encouragement gave me enough energy to keep going quite hard until I hit The Mall where I just gave it my all! After crossing the finish line and getting my medal I met up with Team BOOM! and we had a bit of a picnic and beers in the park for a few hours before going our separate ways again. All in all it was a great day out, and it turned out that I'd done almost 120k cycling to do on 25 miles leg of the relay! Next year I'm definitely doing the full race, cycling on closed off London roads with 20000 cycling enthusiasts is simply as good as it gets!

'My' hills! 
My cheerleaders! Love them all! 
This is how your legs look after an impromptu cyclocross session... 
At the 'finish' at the hub in Leatherhead (photo by Max Raymond
It's pretty great finishing in front of Buckingham Palace....! 
Team BOOM! in all it's glory! Photo by Rob at BOOM! Cycle

'How Do I Get Fit?'

Ah, if I had a pound for everytime a friend or colleague asked me that I'd be able to buy myself many pints of Ben and Jerry's. It would appear that just because I do a lot of sports and exercising I would be able to tell these people how to, overnight, become fit - and of course without them having to do much work. Eh, riiiiight.... The thing is, a lot of people that ask me that don't want to get fit and healthy, they want to get thin. They want an easy fix, not a lifestyle change.  I'm the first one to say it's not easy to get fit. There is blood, sweat and tears involved and you have to put in some effort.

BUT if you do want to get fit and not thin (although you probably will slim down, too)  then I do have some pointers.....:

1. Get Active!
Yup, start exercising. If you find it boring to run in the park, do something else - spinning, bootcamp, swimming, you name it. Just do it. Not tomorrow or next week, right now. Get into the habit of exercising regularly, but don't overdo it  - remember that this is something you should be able to keep up for life.
2. Prioritize Fitness.
Make it your hobby or interest, or at least something that take top priority on your list of 'boring things I have to do'. If you constantly skip exercising to do other things you'll never get fit. Simple as.
3. Eat to Achieve.
As you might have noticed, I love things like Ben and Jerry's and I'm a firm believer that you can eat everything in moderation. But if you want to boost your fitness you need to start eating well so that your body can achieve more. Your body needs proper fuel to keep going and build its strength, and it needs it in decent quantities.
4. Cut Down on Alcohol
Especially if drinking means you'll skip your exercise. I love a pint of cider, or a cold beer in the sunshine, but your body will thank you for cutting down on your alcohol intake. Keep it to a day a week and don't binge. Alcohol contains a lot of alcohol and increases your appetite - what do you think that does to your fitness?
5. Lift Weights
Now, I'm a cardio fanatic - I looooove running and cycling - but weights will boost your fitness to no end. It will make you run and cycle faster, it'll make your working life easier.  More muscle will also burn more calories if your thus inclined.

Now that wasn't so hard now, was it?!

3 Aug 2013

All Set

Or at least I hope I am. Washed my bike today. Put on the stickers. Did my laundry. Located all my gear. Sorted out my train journey to Guildford. Carb loaded with Ben and Jerry's. Yeah, I think I'm all set.