The day I rode a bike…

Yesterday marked a huge achievement for me; I completed my first triathlon. At the beginning of the year I could barely ride a bike in a straight line, yesterday morning I rode 15k ‘competitively’ 🙂

Yesterday morning was definitely not the weather that we were all expecting for a triathlon taking place in June… you picture it to be sunny, maybe too hot, wearing shorts and a vest top… no, it was cold, miserable and absolutely throwing it down with rain!

The soggy bottom race was a triathlon with a difference, no swimming but kayaking instead 🙂 The Hardley Runners crew were in the doughnut wave at 10am, however the race organisers were obviously fed up of being cold and wet and set us all off nearly 20 minutes early! Julie and Sharon had to run down to the start line before they missed the beginning of the race!

Leg one, kayaking…

Wearing every piece of clothing I had we entered into the cold waters, wet arses sat on wet kayaks (giving us ‘soggy bottoms’.) Some of us COUGH* Julie *COUGH had difficulty thanks to the wind in directing her kayak! At one point me, Julie and Andy were stuck in a three way kayak dilemma all trying to bat each other out of the way with oars! Salty sea water was going EVERYWHERE, stinging your eyeballs and making you all the more thirsty everytime it got in your mouth!

Leg two, cycling…

My most dreaded part, the 15k cycle! Hoping to get a slight head start on any Hardley Runners owning proper road bikes, I ran as fast as I could from the sea and collected my bike from the transition area and headed of into the unknown… The course seemed to be like last weekend, nobody had a bloody clue where they were going! Luckily for me and Andy, we were going so slow that I was able to locate the arrows that directed us to the turn around point; whilst other team mates quickly whizzed past and got lost! The wind was brutal, completely horrendous, if it wasn’t fighting against you and it was trying to blow you off the bike completely. In my cycling training I’d never gotten the hang of ‘signalling’… when me and Andy got to a roundabout and I had to show people where I was going I simply shouted at drivers “I’m going that way!!!”… Definitely not what they teach you in the highway code! We made it back to the transition area in exactly 50 minutes, my fastest ever 15k!

Leg three, running…

After calling my mum and boyfriend ‘bastards’ for eating a burger and chips whilst I was working my ass off thriathlonging (it’s a new word I’ve made up, just call me shakespear) I hobbled off on 2 jelly legs, with Andy by my side to take on the 5k run! I kept looking out for other people on bikes, keeping my hopes up that maybe I wouldn’t come last after all, and to my surprise there was! The wind… yet again…was gale force! Zapping every bit of energy that you had left in your body, but once you turnt around to come back… it wasn’t there any more, there was silence, nothing to fight against just the wonderful home stretch. By this point, you’ve forgotten about the jelly legs, stopped listening to the voice in your head that’s telling you that you can’t do it and you see your incredible team mates cheering you back into the finish line!

Yet again, life has proven to me that I couldn’t do half the things I do today if it wasn’t for running club. Julie patiently taught me to ride my bike over the last few months, despite the verbal abuse she got along the way! Sally told me time and time again that I was amazing, and that I would not come last, despite my constant moaning and worries that I would! And finally, Andy stayed with me every step of the race, he kept me going on the bike and kept my feet moving when I wanted to stop!

But the best part of the story? I can ride a bike, a skill I never thought I’d master.

P.s. Also now know what a sail boat is…

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A tale of endurance… Episode 2…

I have honestly been debating the title of this blog post since Saturday afternoon! And decided to continue on the title from last years race, you never know next year there might even be a part 3!

On Saturday the Hardly Runners took to the fields of Henley on Thames to battle yet another 24 hour endurance race. This year we had 2 teams of determined runners ready to take on sleep deprivation, dehydration, hypothermia and the after effect of walking around like you’ve sh*t your pants… and if I do say so myself… we smashed it.

Due to not being able to take the time off work I arrived to the event 6 hours late, but my amazing team let me slot in as soon as I got there! The course was beautiful, breath taking in places but easy to get lost!… Mr Pritchard taking a detour on his first lap! My tour guide Adrian (fellow team member) took me around my first lap, pointed out any tricky parts where I may get lost and kept me going the whole way round. You left the race village to be greeted by a MAHOOOSIVE hill, on the race organisers website they call it a ‘view point’… they were not lying! You knew that you were at the top of the hill because all you could smell was this horrendous cabbage smell… bleurghhh. It was all downhill from there on thankfully, running through cow fields, past the Thames and back home to the race village where your greeted by fellow team members… and birds of prey!

My favourite lap was probably the night run, because for me it was the perfect temperature! Lovely and cool 🙂 However, could you see where you were going? NO! At 1am I was waiting for Jane the running machine in the handover pen, it was so cold that you could see your breath! Then running through the already tricky course was made even harder by a thick fog and the added mist from your own breath blocking the light from your head torch. The spookiest part of the course for me was running along the river… the fog was so thick I half expected some creature from the deep to emerge and steal me away then make me his swamp wife! We worked out this must of been where Brendon went wrong, when he added on an extra mile to his run and appeared back at the start line as if from no where!

A little line of head torches lighting up the fields below 🙂

After my night time run, I had the most amazing shower! They had warm showers, that you didn’t have to queue for, SUPER AMAZING, the bloke next door was obviously enjoying it as much as I was… trust me the noises coming from that shower were slightly disturbing. After my shower I plodded back to camp, scoffed down a piece of late night carrot cake and attempted to catch some Z’s. It was so cold this year, last year we were in the middle of a heatwave, this year we’ve been having monsoons! Luckily for us while running, we didn’t have any rain! But trying to sleep in an already uncomfortable tent was actually horrendous. I got into my tent; towel wrapped around my wet hair, fully clothed, zipped in my dry robe and bundled into my sleeping bag and still couldn’t get warm. When Lauren came looking for me in the morning she thought I wasn’t there and that I was just a pile of stuff in my tent rather than a human peacefully sleeping!

The thing I love about these events, is the team spirit. We sit in a circle all chatting, laughing, telling stories and reminiscing together! It doesn’t matter if you run as fast as the wind, or move as steady as a snail, its taking part and doing the best that you can for your team! All together both teams ran a total of 290 official miles over the 24 hours, some people ran more than they had too in order to support the other runners or add extra to their own total! We all as a team ran our last runners in with Sarah Fitton taking flight over the finish line and Andy sprinting his way to glory!

It was an amazing event, and I had so much fun. I’m so glad I have this amazing circle of running friends, that keep me going when I think I’m failing. And if it wasn’t for them, I would probably be 10 stone heavier and able to walk down the stairs like a normal person today 😉

Making noises like your in labour…

I’m currently a little bored sat on a train on my way to London, so thought I could write my little blog and inform you all of my latest bike riding session!

A few weeks ago I fell off my bike mainly due to a stupid white van man! But it really spooked me, and I started to have this irrational fear of going out on my bike again. Worried that I would either fall off going up a dropped curb again or getting stuck on a cattle grid… I found it far more sensible not to go out on the bike at all.

But I was wrong, I needed to face my fears.

On Thursday I went out with Julie and Sharon with hope of doing the distance needed for the triathlon! Success!! Unfortunately for us, the wind was horrendous; have you ever had a dream where your running as fast as you can but not moving? Well, yeah… It felt like that! The wind was sooooo strong, I honestly thought if I opened my mouth to breathe that my skin would peel off in the wind and I’d be left with a skeletons face attached to my body!

Hills, while running or cycling, are not my friends. While struggling to get up the usual mountains on our cycle route, I was making noises that could only be compared with the sounds of women in labour. Screaming and cursing up every incline, whilst bright red and super sweaty, I always made it to the top.

For some reason all of the ‘proper’ cyclists were out on Thursday, the ‘Padded Shorts Elite Club’ zooming past us constantly! I tried to catch up with them at one point, but unfortunately used up all my energy resources as they casually (barely moving their legs) glided away into distance…

The highlight was reaching 10 miles in an hour, I’m determined to get quicker. I’ve come to the realisation that I will most probably be the last finisher at this triathlon… in life someone always has to come last but at least I’ll have a cool medal and the satisfaction that I can now ride a bike :)…. Stabilisers not included!

Walking round like John Wayne…

This weekends antics have definitely taken its toll on my body… yesterday I was walking round like I’d pooped my pants and when it came to getting down the stairs, quite frankly I would have rather fallen down them than attempt to walk down them!

I completely shocked my body on sunday when I did 2 runs in one day. Last year, when I was running all the time, I found training for the 24 hour relay race rather fun… never easy, but enjoyable.

On Sunday I raced at the Moors Valley 10k, not getting a fantastic time due to being poorly, but managing to just about get round! I ran the 10k course 2 years ago, and was unfortunately poorly then aswell… I’ve come to the conclusion that Moors Valley is not the race for me as I’m obviously jinxed when it comes to illness with it. The course was supposed to be on trails, but unfortunately for me was actually mostly tarmac paths, so wearing my trail shoes was a BAD idea; no support underfoot.

After going home, having a quick shower and eating the best part of an entire roast chicken it was time for round 2. I met up with fellow hardley runners that are taking on the 24 hour relay race for another 5-6 mile plod around the forest 🙂 They are all complete running machines! Not only had they ran in the morning, they also went at lunchtime so the late afternoon run was their 3rd run of the day. And who moaned the most you ask? Me of course, little miss moany pants haha!! I can never be pleased while running, but I’m always happy once I’ve finished 🙂

Sunday was worth the aching legs! Just a shame that I couldn’t join the beginners group on Monday, my two little running cherubs Alisha and Charlotte hit the big 5k on Monday night!! I’m a very proud running mother ;)… Considering I’ve forced them to start running!!

My return to racing :)…

Yesterday was my first proper race since messing my knee up at the new forest marathon. It’s safe to say, I was rather nervous… but enjoyed being back into the atmosphere of races 🙂

Back in January, I signed up for the Southampton ABP half marathon, but after alot of thought I decided to drop down into the 10k. Let’s face it, I’ve been super lazy, put on nearly 2 stone, and have only been getting back into my running in the last 2 months or so. It was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately the right one!

I still get butterflies before races, no matter how confident you are. I think it’s the fear of the unknown, at the start line you have no idea what could happen, but the main thing is just to try your best. Yesterday, I set myself a target time, I wanted to finish in 1 hour 15 because that was the time I completed my first 10k in. Amazingly according to my garmin, I managed it in just under 1 hour 9! By far not my fastest 10k, but I don’t care. I’m proud of myself for not caring about time for once, I just wanted to enjoy it again, be part of the team, and I loved it.

I felt extremely sorry for any of the marathon runners, that had to run over the Itchen bridge 4 times, luckily for me it was only twice! The first time over it felt like it went on forever… A long drawn out incline where you see a sea of heads climbing upwards. Somehow the return journey didn’t seem as steep? And made my running downhill part look like I was a proper runner 😉

I feel so much more confident now, it felt great being out in my hardley runners vest, and being together with my running family… Who may I add, were all legends yesterday and all did incredibly well 🙂

Photo credit to Helen BTW, if it weren’t for knowing that you and Sharon were on the bridge I definitely wouldn’t of been running up it haha!!

Tiptoe through the bluebells…

I know, I know… It’s Tuesday, but I would like to write all about Sundays bluebell run! So sorry with the post delay 🙂

Since joining running club, I’ve always wanted to come along to the famous ‘bluebell run’. It consists of a few miles out in the beautiful New Forest in the Bluebell woods!

After last week’s social running breakdown, I won’t lie, I was super nervous to come. Since my break from running, I’ve really lost my confidence and so when it comes to club I’m always worried about holding people back. But this run was well worth the worry! I’ve never seen such a beautiful place, it was like a sea of purple flowers covering the forest floor 🙂

We ran past HUMONGOUS houses, all with their lawns covered in the flowers. But when you entered the woods, they were everywhere! Without running club, I would never know that these places even existed, tucked away in forest.

When running back, we plodded past a farm, and finally I got to see pigs! No joke, they are huge… I couldn’t help but think of how many packs of bacon I could of eaten off one of them! (I will clearly never be a vegetarian.) We also went past chickens, baby horses and some people even saw deer!

I then finished the day of by parking my bottom on the sofa, and watched hours of London marathon coverage. It took me back to last year, I want to be amazing again.

I have my first race of the year coming up on Sunday after my break from running. I’m so nervous, but excited. For once I won’t be running to do my best time, I’m going to go to enjoy myself, soak up the atmosphere, fall in love with running again and cheer on every person mad enough to be running the marathon that day! I however will be doing the 10k, so should have plenty of time to watch them all 😀

We have lift off…

So the latest on my bike riding adventure… I bet you’re all DYING to find out how I’m getting along! Tuesday evening was in my mind, and extremely successful bike riding lesson 🙂

So far, before Tuesday, I had mastered the art of: turning, hills (ish) and not crying whilst having a mental breakdown on the bike. This week, finally and not very gracefully my arse finally lifted off the saddle and I stood up whilst pedalling to help me get up a hill! Admittedly by the time I had reached the ‘summit’ of mountain (hill) I felt as if I was going to throw my guts up everywhere, but that doesn’t matter, Danii got up that blooming hill whilst standing up!! Also, may have taken one hand off handle bars due something hitting me on the face… unfortunately I’m a wimp and far too scared to take hands off on purpose… it was done subconsciously…darn.

I think that Helen and Julie were rather proud of me, they’ve seen me come along way. 4 cycle rides ago, going in a straight line was a struggle and I would want to cry during any slight incline, now I go really really fast on the down hills without getting scared and seem to be understanding gears slightly more? But when us three go out cycling, I’m like a small toddler with her parents as they shout “she’s doing it!!” in the background!

I’m so much more confident now, today I even rode my bike to work! I truly cant wait till June, with my triathlon on the horizon and many running events coming up. I feel a little brighter about everything again, I’m determined again and found my passion again, I hope and pray I don’t loos it again.