Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Mud Man

It really is winter over here. The last couple of weeks have been really cold and whilst I love cold crispy days, it's not that much fun when you have to work through them. Work has been pretty busy but manageable. The deal that I thought on Thursday had died, is back alive and made me stay in the office until 9 pm on Friday. Not fun. But I am looking forward to some time off between Christmas and New Year. Just chilling and not doing much. I haven't been taking much time off work this year because I am trying to save all my holiday and use it together with my maternity leave next year. So I am just plodding along.

Shaun and I raced last Saturday. There is a great sport events company here called Human Race Events (they were responsible for organisation of Olympic triathlon races) and we love doing their events. During the winter they put great off-road race series where you can either race off-road duathlon or trail race. Shaun did their off-road duathlon and I decided to do the trail run on Saturday. The run was just over 7 miles of mud and hills. I seriously have never done such a hilly run in my life. But it was so much fun. The night before the race Shaun was trying to talk me out of it as he was worried it would be too hard and muddy for a pregnant woman like me. But I decided to give it a go - what's the worst it can happen if I feel it's too hard - I would probably end up walking.

So I lined up at the start at the back because I decided to take it easy and just plod along at an easy pace and stay out of people's way and therefore minimising the possibility of tripping and falling. The first 2.5 miles weren't too bad - muddy but relatively flat and I was doing 10 minute miles. The next 5 miles were HILLY. You would literally have to go up a really steep hill which then wound back really steep downhill and then back up again - it went on like that for a while. I walked up the hills (and so did most of the other people) - they were just too steep for any meaningful running. But I ran everything else.

The race was so much fun, I have really enjoyed it. I was slow but who cares. It was the longest run I've done since I discovered I was pregnant and considering I am doing only ad-hoc training (when I feel up to it, which is not very often), I was really pleased with how it went. The next race is not until end of January by which time I will be 25 weeks pregnant so will have to wait and see how I feel by then.

Not much else is going on. I will be 19 weeks tomorrow. I am feeling ok, not great but not too bad either. I have put on around 7.5 pounds which is not too bad for almost half-way. We have a 20 week scan next week and hopefully we can find out if it is boy or a girl and start purchasing stuff.

And Christmas is just around the corner. Our last Christmas with just Shaun and me. Next year will be so much fun.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

16 weeks

16 weeks. I know, I know, this blog has every potential to turn into a maternity/baby blog. I promise I will try and do my best not to do that.

A lot more people know about it, especially at work. Although I kind of didn't really like how the news spread in the office. I really wanted to be the one telling people but there you go. I am feeling ok. Time is slowly ticking along and before we know it we will have our 20 week scan. We hope to find out the sex of the baby then. Hopefully, the little one will cooperate.

We had a lovely weekend at home in Wales. Our friend, whose husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan, came to visit with her two kids. One of them, my Goddaughter is very funny. She is 6.5 years old and says everything on her mind. It's funny because before they arrived Shaun and I were talking about what the world would be like if everyone was saying exactly what they thought rather than being polite. And then she turned up and we were both like "This is what the world would be like". On Sunday we climbed up Pen-y-fan, one of the higher peaks in Wales and very popular with hikers. It was a fun day out and at the beginning I was worried how I would cope but it turns out that when you are pregnant it is much easier climbing a mountain than going up two flights of stairs. Go figure.

I also went for a nice 3 mile run on Saturday and managed sub-10 minute mile pace. I was very pleased with that. Little things, eh.

The clothes is starting to get tight so I need to start buying few pieces here and there. I do not want to go overboard and definitely do not intend to spend a lot on maternity clothes but I do need to look ok for the office. So perhaps, this weekend I will pop over and do some shopping.

Not much else is going on. Work is thankfully not too busy at the moment and everyone is slowly starting to get into Christmas spirit. We have booked our litter continental break, with a visit to Belgium markets. Should be fun.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


OK, so it's time to get this blog up and running again. It has been far too long....

Not much has happened since the last time I blogged. Not much and ... everything. Some of you may have recently found out our exciting news - WE ARE PREGNANT!!! It came as a huge shock to me. I am not sure why because, although we weren't really trying, we were kind of letting it happen. And when it did, it was a huge shock for me. Maybe because we found out the week after I raced Ireland 70.3 which means that I raced half-ironman whilst pregnant... and ate a lot of sushi... and did/ate lots of things I shouldn't have. So I was kind of freaked out to begin with. But as the time went on I became happier and more excited about it. Could it be the hormones?!

I will be 15 weeks tomorrow and the baby Chandler is due in early May. The first trimester was hard. I felt tired and sick and nauseous ALL the time. Try hiding that whilst you work 10+ hours in the office every day. Whilst I really really wanted to work out I struggled to do very much because I was constantly tired and sick. I only managed to do some exercise over the weekends but nothing much. I have only started feeling better in the last couple of weeks so I am hoping the worst is over. I even went for a 5 mile run on Saturday and actually felt ok. My pace is still not too bad. I can run comfortably 10 minute miles but I am sure I will very soon start to slow down rapidly. I even managed to get in the pool last night for 1500 m. Since I haven't swum for 7-8 weeks (swimming DID NOT feel good at all) my arms were not happy with me last night. But I think that is more due to lack of fitness rather than pregnancy.

We really did not tell anyone the first 13 weeks. There were couple of people who knew (actually 4 in total) and funnily other than one, all of them are in the US. I guess the secret is kept easily if not in the same country :))) I was really paranoid about telling anyone and so we only told my parents at 13 weeks. Then it was my boss and then slowly we started letting more of our friends know. I didn't want for them to find the news out on Facebook - I really wanted to tell them in person. And it was so worth it - the surprise and joy on their faces were priceless.

I guess I am slowly starting to show a little bit but I am still at that phase where if people didn't know, they wouldn't ask because I may have just had one pie too many. I still haven't put any weight on which is nice but I also don't think I am eating too much. The whole 'this is your excuse to eat whatever you want' is really not rubbing very well on me.

So that's the news folks. I will try and keep this blog updated weekly so it is a diary of the pregnancy for when it is all over. I have already started plotting my come-back races. Not sure whether it's premature but it is nice to have a focus. I was planning on doing Pukhet 70.3 next year but then I found out last week that this year's race will be the last one. Boo!!!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Changes, changes..

Well hello!!!!

I know, bad at blogging....AGAIN. I know I should really stop mentioning it even. Anyway..... Maybe a bullet point blog post is in order....

Not much has been happening lately. After London marathon I decided to take a break from the sport. I had a look at my life and realised that I was trying to do too many things at the same time. And I ended up being too stressed and just plain tired. I knew I needed to make priorities and make some changes. And I did. And once I actually decided to do that I felt as if the weight was lifted off my shoulders. So I have decided to take the rest of the year off from triathlon. In the beginning that decision felt easy - Shaun and I finally had time to do all the fun stuff we wanted to do for a while but never had time - like hiking up some mountains and walking along Welsh coastal paths. We were loving it. However, as the time moved on, more recently, I am really missing it. I am dying to do some structured training and racing but I know I need to be patient. There will be plenty of time for that. I do miss the structure and routine of my training life though. But I have made a decision and am sticking with it. Another six months off and I should enjoy it. Come January 1st 2013 it will be back to work.

In other news, Shaun has been away for the past 3 weeks. He was due to be back in the UK tomorrow but then I got a call last night saying that he is not back until Monday morning. Urgh!!!!! Plus, his next assignment, from the summer 2013, is most likely to be in Brunei which we are really looking forward to. It was the first place where we lived as a newly-married (and oh so young) couple all those years ago and we loved it. This of course means that there will be some changes in terms of my work but I am not deciding or taking any action just yet - past has proved that these things in the army change all the time so nothing is ever 100% certain. But if we do end up going there, it will be soo good to be closer to my sister and niece (who live in New Zealand) and see them more often. And of course to race in some new places :)))

I am so excited about all the sport this summer - CAN'T WAIT!!! Wimbledon is just around the corner. Then Tour de France, and then finally....THE OLYMPICS!!!! London is already buzzing and I can't wait.

I am moving flats in London !! From the end of next week I will be saying bye-bye to Fulham. I love Fulham and have lived there on and off for year. But I am really excited to be moving to Holland Park. I love my new place and I absolutely LOVE the location - Hyde Park is literally less than a mile away.
Ok, that seems to be all I wanted to write about this time. Oh and the fact that we have been having some really rubbish weather. Where is the summer????

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

London Marathon - The race report

London Marathon 2012 was my first 'A' race of the season. I had two main goals - first: to get a PR, and second: to go sub-4. I have only run one stand alone marathon before and that was London Marathon in 2007. I ran it in 4 hours and 28 mins so I knew that going sub-4 was going to be tough but doable. I started training properly for it at the beginning of the year and my training has been going really well. Those of you who have followed my blog will know that, in the process I have bagged some PRs in 5 km, 10 miles and half-marathon. So I knew that, barring an injury, I could do this.

But not everything was going to be plain sailing. Two weeks before the race I was due to do my last long run - 20 miles. I set out very early on a Saturday morning and about an hour into the run I could feel pain in my knee. I ran on it for few minutes but it wasn't going away. So I decided to call it a day and not risk getting any real injury. I have had already done three 20 milers this year so I knew that all the hard work has already been done. Then the following week (around 10 days before the marathon) I started experiencing some pain in my right leg. After some googling I discovered that it was most likely posterior shin splints. Needless to say, at this point, I have started to panic a bit. My training up to then has been going well and and I don't think I missed any sessions until then. And now I was ten days out of the marathon and I could hardly walk. Jen and I decided that I should rest it and do some cycling/swimming instead just to keep moving. So I did no running in the last 10 days before the marathon, other than a short jog on Saturday, the day before the race. To make things worse, Shaun got home to London on Friday night and he wasn't feeling very well. I woke up on Saturday not feeling 100% either. But at this point it was too late to do anything about it so, other than Shaun, I didn't tell anyone about it, not even Jen. I knew that, it wouldn't make any difference. I was ready to go out there and run and run hard, regardless of how I felt.

The weather in the UK has been rubbish the last couple of weeks with rain every day. The same weather was forecasted for Sunday. Fortunately, I woke up to glorious blue skies and I am happy to say that, during my run, there was no rain. Things did turn for worse later on but by then I was nicely at home.

So, the race.... As far as I know and have seen, London Marathon is by far the best race in terms of supporters and crowds. There are spectators literally along the whole 26.2 mile long course and sometimes even ten deep. It is incredible. If you have never raced a race like this before you have to do it. Judging by Sunday, Olympic marathon will be amazing and the British runners got a real taste of what the home crowd will be like this summer. But at the same time, for us mortals and not so fast runners, it is crowded!!!! There were over 36,000 runners running that day and our British roads are not very wide. There was no moment during that race when I did not have to look for people and feet around me and adjust the pace accordingly. After a while that becomes really tiring and especially after 20 miles when you are fatigued and your body is not very alert. Around 13 miles the knee pain came back and it was now coupled by hip pain. Great :((( For about 5 miles I was in a lot of pain but then the things eased up.

I was right on the pace up until 18 miles - I started off conservatively and built my pace from there. But I didn't feel great. The pace that felt ok during my long runs didn't feel as easy as it should have been and I knew that I would have to work very hard to get that sub-4 today. From about 19 miles I started to loose 10 seconds per mile, then 20 seconds, then back to 10. I found dodging people and weaving around them too much hard work. By mile 23 I knew that, unless I run last 3 miles at 8 mins per mile pace, I was not going to do it. Deep down I knew that there was no way I could do it but at the same time I was not going to give up that easily. I remembered all the hard workouts I've done and the hard work I've put in and I was not going to go down without a fight. So I ran as quickly as I could. I hurt like I never hurt before. My legs were in bits. Before the race I made a wrist band and I wrote the following words on it "FOCUS. WORK HARD. NEVER GIVE UP". Some of those words come from facebook posts that Bethany and Caroline posted on my wall (thank you so so much), the others from Chrissie W's book. When things got really tough, I looked at the band and kept repeating those words in my head.

In the end it was just not meant to be. I crossed the finish line in 4:04:25. Not a sub-4 I wanted but it was a 24 minute PR. That is almost a minute per mile faster. It was a bitter-sweet feeling. I really wanted to see 3:xx:xx. Well, maybe not today, but it will happen some time soon.

Shaun and I are running Abingdon marathon in October which is a much lower-key marathon here in the UK with just 1000 people racing on some pretty fast course. I am now more motivated than ever. I know what I need to do. And I WILL do it.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Hello!!! Anybody there?

I really don't know where does the time go. I feel like I blogged yesterday and not last month.....must...be.....better. Work has picked up again and things are busy at the office. Which of course makes me angry because I missed some workouts. But I try to reassess every day and stick to as many workouts as I can do. Right now running is my priority. London marathon is less than four weeks away and I can't wait. I am terrified, not of the race, but that something will go wrong in the run up to the race, like injury etc. Things have been going quite well with training and so everyone please keep their fingers crossed. I have been slacking on the nutrition side though. I was so good the first couple of months with eating healthily but now I seemed to have relaxed a bit. This, it seems, correlates to how busy I am at work. It is like comfort eating. Really must stop with that. Please share some tricks (and treats) you do (and eat) to stay on healthy eating path. The clocks have finally changed over here in Europe and the evenings are wonderful. The weather has been glorious. But the mornings are still very cold. On Sunday, my plan called for a 3 hour ride. Shaun was running a half-marathon in Fleet in Hampshire which is very popular with military. I think it's the military half-marathon championship.
So I decided to get up early and ride there just in time for race start. Of course, the clocks changed the night before which meant that the mornings are now a little darker. But I set off around 6:30 and it was FREEZING. Wonderful but very cold. An hour in and I wanted to knock on someone's door to ask for some warm gloves. But I didn't and it got warmer. There was no traffic almost at all and ride through Richmond park was amazing. There was mist everywhere and lots of deer and birds. Beautiful. I mapped my ride the night before and I knew the first half of it quite well but the second half was unknown. It ended up being very cool ride. It would have all been perfect had my bike not decided to fail me. 7-8 miles from the end at a set of traffic lights my chain jammed. I nearly fell over but managed to stay upright. However I hit my calf against the chain and also the front side of my leg against something (not sure what it is but part of my right leg is now very lumpy and blue). I took this photo just after it.
I don't think it look too bad there but it is now very blue. Luckily, it doesn't hurt much and I think it is superficial. Yay!!!! But I guess it is a reminder to be very careful especially now that the first A race of the season is just around the corner.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Finally, a blog post!

I know, I know, it has been far too long since my last update... I am annoyed with myself for neglecting this blog. But here I am, so give me a chance.

What has been happening in my life recently? Well not an awful lot but life seems good at the moment and training is going really well. Actually too well and I keep thinking that I will wake up from this dream. Why so well, I hear you ask? Well, this year alone I have bagged three PRs in three different running races - 5 km, 10 miler and a half-marathon. I am over the moon about it but it did not just happen overnight. So, let's start from the beginning.....

Last year, racing and training wise was not a great year for me. It started off well with a half-ironman in May where I got a PR. Great start to the season I thought... Couple of weeks later and I ended up injured. I had a soft tissue injury in my foot that led to no running pretty much the whole summer. I ended up doing Ireland 70.3 in September because I was already signed up for it. Race didn't go great but I wasn't expecting much else either. Injury, coupled with a more-than-hectic work schedule, left me pretty much with no training or racing done last year. Work was crazy. Since June last year up until mid-January I worked on a deal that was all-consuming. If I left the office at 10 pm I was celebrating because that was an early night for me. By the time Christmas came around I was exhausted, physically and mentally. Naturally the training really suffered and I managed to do some workouts here and there but never really anything consistent. Around mid-December, I was just fed up with it all. I sat down and talked about it with Shaun. I felt that I was wasting my time and more importantly coach Jen's time. I did not want Jen to put in all the hard work to write a training plan for me, so that I would just end up doing one or two workouts of the week. I was seriously doubting whether I should have a coach and whether I am indeed coachable.

Shaun was very good about it all. He said that I should use next couple of months to see if things were going to improve. So I knew there and then that from January for at least couple of months I needed either to fully commit or to just walk away from trying to compete in this sport. I was hungry for work, I thought about it a lot, I wrote lists, plans goals..... I was ready to work hard...I was ready!!!

My first 'A' race is London marathon and naturally I have a more run-focused plan. I was really happy with that because I love running and it is with running that I ended up in this crazy sport of ours. I was determined to put the miles in, not skip workouts, do the hard work and prove to myself and Jen that I could do this. There were no more excuses. Last year so often I would go home from work and allow myself to think that I am too tired to train, that I had a crazy busy day at work and that I needed to rest- naturally with some cake in front of TV. This year as soon as I feel those thoughts creeping in, I dismiss them straight away. If I want to hit my target at London marathon I have to get out there, I have to train because noone else will do it for me. And yes, that cake won't help either. So, this year so far has been great. I have only missed two workouts because I was ill. The rest were done and they were done on time....no excuses. Every time I train I remind myself that I need to do it properly. As Jen put it in one of her emails, the workouts should not be done half-assed. And they are not. If I have a hard run on and some fast repeats, as soon as I find myself slacking, I remind myself that this should not be done half-assed. And it works.

And here I am with three races done and three PRs - over a minute in 5 km, 5 minutes in 10 miler and 4.5 minutes in half-marathon. I mean, these are not PRs of 5-10 seconds that I am used to, these are huge. The truth to be told I love this new way of training. I love seeing progress, I love getting quicker. It motivates me to go out there and do it day in and day out. There really are no limits for me any more and I finally allow myself to dare to dream big. I know that whatever I set for myself I can do it. I need to put the hard work in but I can do it. It really is like any other job in life - if I don't do something that I need to do at work today, noone is going to do it for me. There will be no results. What you put in, you WILL get out. Getting out there, doing the work and doing the work consistently is the key. Noone is going to do it for you. You either commit one hundred per cent or you don't commit at all.