Face Plant

‘I’ve signed you up for a charity cycle’ – text received from Joe.

Cool, sounds fun, I’m up for that.

Keyline was the company that had organised it to raise money for Prostate Cancer and Joe was a regular customer in there.  They knew he liked cycling so asked if he wanted to join them.  He asked if I could come along and signed us up for day 3 of their 4 days.  Loch Lomond to Fort William – roughly 80 miles.

We met up with the group at 8:30am.  There was only one other female (Hayley) but that didn’t really bother me.  Everyone introduced themselves and after seeing the extent of the sun burn on a couple of them I gladly accepted the offer of the sun cream!  The brief was simple (even for me) – we were cycling on the A82 heading to Fort William. Straight road.  Easy.


We set off and man it was difficult trying to figure out what position to put myself in.  Do I push? Do I do a comfortable speed? Do I hang back with Hayley and keep her company? Oh my word the pressure!  

But…. oh my word… instantly the views were gorgeous.  We were going along Loch Lomond and I couldn’t resist a photo or 2.



The road was bumpy in places and about 3 miles in one of the guys hit a kerb.  A small bump but a bump none the less.  On to the road and it was a lot smoother but quite busy.  At 15 miles it was decided the next part was too dangerous for a big group of cyclists as it was full of twists and turns with very few passing places for the impatience cars and vans.  The bikes were loaded in to one of the support vehicles and the riders went in the mini bus behind.



A few miles down the road and we all got out and got our bikes.  Cue fall number 1.  I stupidly tried to clip in whilst pushing up a gravel path and promptly fell over – slow motion of course.  No biggie though.  It happens.

I decided to stick back with Hayley for a wee while and started chatting.  She was doing all 4 days and had the attitude of ‘I will get there when I get there’.  4 days for someone who only really cycled to and from work was a bit of a difference! 

Glancing down I noticed my handle bar was bent.  Oh you’re kidding.  How could a simple fall like that have bent my handle bars?  I was going to have to see if I could get this fixed.  I shouted to Hayley I was going to try and catch up with Joe and see if he could sort it.  ‘See you soon’ she said.  I put my foot down and pedalled harder.  

It was busy but it was ok.  I see another from the group just in front of me.  As I began to catch up with him I see a large sunken drain in the road.  I turn to my right to make sure I have space to go round and I’m met with a van so close to my face I could have stuck my tongue out and licked it.  I swing my head back round but the gust from the van pushes me straight in to the hole.  As I bump out of it I throw myself to the left and away from the road.  The force of the bump has me flying over the handle bars.  I see a solid iron man hole cover and thank the lord I’m wearing a helmet as I hit it face first, my left hip stopping my motion on the side of it.

I roll over and instantly throw my right hand on to my face, knowing I’ve hit it quite bad.  It’s wet.  Ok I’m not moving my hand.  I lie there for a few seconds a bit shocked.  Did that really just happen? I move my legs still expecting them to be attached to my bike (I’ve never crashed before! I’m amazed they unclipped!).  Legs are fine – I can still run.  I try to move my left hand which is sticking awkwardly out.  Nope! That isn’t happening without considerable pain! Oh… shit.  Ok, leave it there.  You know Hayley’s not far behind you.  

The rider that was in front of me is now at my side.  I suspect I let out some hell of a yell or made a very loud noise as I face planted a solid object.  Soon enough he says ‘Here’s Hayley now, it’s ok, she’s a nurse’.  There’s a few people round me now.  I feel a bit of an idiot.  This wasn’t even 20 miles in! She asks me to move my hand and I garble some rubbish about there being blood – like she can’t see it!  The support vehicle pulls up and she shouts for a first aid kit.  

I’m lying on the ground focusing on my breathing trying desperately not to cry or think about what the hell my face looks like when there’s a thump on my cheek.  For a second I remember back to Mags hitting her face at Tough Mudder, sneezing and her whole face blowing up.  Please, no.

‘Fraser!’ ‘Jesus Christ!’.

Turns out Fraser had thrown the first aid kit across the road and hit me square in the face with it.   No, I don’t blame you for laughing out loud at that.  Comedy gold to be fair.

Hayley patches my face up with some steri strips and a bandage.  She tells me I’ve punctured it and will need to get it looked at.  As she’s doing it I ask if my bikes ok.  I’m convinced I’ve buckled my wheel and I’m worried about Ironman in just 4 weeks time.  Luckily it was just the other handle that was bent and a couple of the guys managed to push bits back in place.  I sit up and try to move my shoulder, which I can do but bloody hell its sore.  I can’t really move my left hand either but it’s not really grazed or anything.

I decide to carry on.  I know that if I don’t get back on that bike right now Ironman will be over for me.  I won’t make the start line.  Everything still works on the bike and the support vehicle is right there.  I start off with Hayley and agree to take it slow but as soon as I’m confident the bikes ok I speed up.  I think the adrenaline just kicks in and I refuse to let ‘that fear’ creep in to my mind.  My hip is screaming at me and I can’t move my left hand but I am doing this cycle.

I stop at the round about.  Naturally both exits say A82.  I wait for a minute or two to see if the rest of them catch up but all I can think about is getting to the next stop (The Green Welly Boot) where I can get red bull and pain killers.  So I carry on.  The van goes past me and I give it a wave to say I’m fine.  Not so sure my face said that though.  I was extremely aware of how close some of the cars and vans were coming and after my fall I was what can only be described as a small ball of utter fury.  

I’m about a mile and a half out from the stop when this blue crappy fiat 500 literally skims past me.  I blow my top shouting and screaming at it and try to chase it down – fully intent on banging on the window and letting all my rage out.  It’s a car though.  It has an engine.  I don’t catch it.  

When I finally arrive at the stop Joes standing waiting there.  ‘You alright?’ He asks.  ‘I need red bull and pain killers’.  We walk round to the van to get his wallet and I scan the car park for the Fiat, just in case.

I am genuinely fine.  The bleeding doesn’t feel like it’s stopped yet and the pain is ‘a bit much’ but overall it’s not stopping me from cycling.  I can’t really eat anything as I can’t move my cheek but I can drink my red bull.  What more do I need? Ha ha.


Back on the road and the wonderful sites continue.  I draft Joe along one section and enjoy taking it that bit easier.  Every time we stop and I put my left foot down I get a shooting pain right through my hip so I don’t stop for many photos.  The faster guys in the group go on ahead and stop for selfies.  This gives me a bit of a chuckle as I go past grown men in Lycra cheesing at their phones.  Only for them to go past again and it all to repeat.  


The views are what keep me going.  Gliding down through the hills past Glen Etive – it’s astounding.  Despite the pain I was enjoying it.  


We were booked on the last train back to the start so it was a race against time to get there after my fall.  At times I wasn’t sure we would make it and we would have to bail.  With 15 miles to go I have to admit I was cracking.  There was another hairy moment when another hole in the road appeared and it was a close call.  There were tears shortly after that.  As I counted down the miles I just wanted to get there.  

The final stretch to Fort William was bad with cars and vans.  They seemed to be in a competition to see who could get closest to us.  Joes temper was going at this point so when we finally saw the group it was a great relief.  I wanted to punch the air but my I couldn’t raise my left arm and I couldn’t hold on to the bike to raise my right.  Lots of hand shaking and well dones all round – and a few ‘you’ve got bigger balls than me lass’.  
Unfortunately we couldn’t wait for Hayley and Fraser to come in as we had to get the train.  I went to shop there to get more painkillers.  ‘Oooh that looks sore’ the woman said.  ‘It is, can I have you’re strongest pain killers please’ I asked.  She didn’t take card but she insisted I take them with me as I hobbled back to Joe to try and scrape some change.  

Waiting for the train and I spot the drink and food trolley.  ‘Are you going on this train?’ I ask her.  ‘Yes I am love’.  ‘Oh thank god, do you take card?’  – ‘yes, signals not great, what is it you’re after?’ She asks.

‘A cup of tea, a sandwich, biscuits – actually, everything.  I will take everything’.

I’m hungry now – so is Joe.

3 hours on the train back to the start and surprisingly I can move when it stops.  Pain killers were doing their job.  A quick call to my mum to say I was having to nip to the hospital to get my face seen to (no jokes please) and we were back on the road heading to Perth. 

For a late Friday night the emergency room was really quiet.  I was seen very quickly and thoroughly checked over.  An X-ray showed a tiny fracture in my hand which I thought was just bumped hard.  They were a bit concerned on my hip.  Said it should be ok but if it didn’t get better to go back.  And I got away with glue in my cheek as the puncture didn’t penetrate all the way through.  

I’ve spent the day after resting and frustrated.  I missed park run, I’m tired because it was a long day and an uncomfortable sleep.  I have a half marathon race tomorrow.  It’s a championship race.  I really don’t know if I’m going to manage it.  If I do get round it’s not going to be in a spectacular time, so for me, it won’t be a race.  But I do want to see if I can do it. The positive is that I cycled 75 miles yesterday and my legs are fine.  

It was a spectacular day, there’s no denying that.  Some great people and laughs (including the bag to the face!) and the scenery.  I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to do it and I admire Keyline for encouraging its employees to do it also.  It’s got me thinking what I could do at my work!

Not My Strong Point

Last night saw the second race in the Hills Are Alive series I for some reason thought would be a good idea for me to take on.

It’s not.

My day started great.  My original running buddy and the guy who did the cycle to John O Groats – just the other week! – with Joe (husband) invited me through for a cycle.  30 miles on windy, country roads through beautiful landscape isn’t to be refused.  


I also wore my new Wonder Woman leggings which are ridiculously comfortable!


Back home and I was unusually organised managing to get the youngest out on his bike and then bags packed for the hill race later on.  Joe had decided to run it too after I had told him how bad the first one was.

Off we went (slightly late but that was his fault) and we bumped in to Heledd (from the club, always beats me, got me right at the end at Path Of Condie, still not over that one) at registration when we finally found it i.e. It was the picnic table outside the pub! It’s a small race to be fair.  

Only about 55 of us were lined up at the start.  7 Road Runners but only 4 of us had done the first race.  Stewart tried to joke that the game was on between Heledd and me but my only goal was genuinely to finish.  I find these Hill races incredibly hard.  Give me 26.2 miles any day over the 4 miles of steep up and downs.  But! I’ve started.  So my god am I going to finish them!


Off we went under the promise that there was lots of red tape to guide us.  Same as Birnam Hill and before long I was deeply out of breath and very slowly climbing up hill.  ‘Come on you need to run’ a guy who was sat at the side said.

I didn’t like him.  Twat.

I had looked at the elevation many, many times beforehand if for no other reason than to assure myself it wasn’t going to be as bad as the last one.  I knew it had the biggest climb to start, down then back up then down again. I could handle that.

My stomach had other ideas though and started cramping.  Luckily, the fact I’m not used to running trails with big branches over them was a good distraction.  About 2 miles in and I was overtaken by Mike and Fiona.  They like the hill runs and enjoy these races.  I, do not.  I tried to keep them in my sights and was quite successful in doing so but lost them not long after the turn.  Had I not seen Fiona at the turn I’m not sure I would have known to clip my bib number! 

At one section I had to stop and look for this large amount of red tape we had been promised that would guide us.  I can only assume the woodland creatures had eaten it or the fairies had taken it away as I barely saw any!! 

At a steep, wet, muddy and rocky section the lead runners started coming down past me.  I was so out of breath I couldn’t muster the usual ‘well done’ so ended up clapping as they went by.  I will be honest though – I only started running at this point up the hill (yes, I had stopped to walk, bite me!) because I knew Joe would be coming past very shortly and I didn’t want him to see me walking.

Obviously as soon as he passed I walked again.

On to the final run down and I started thinking about the elevation chart I had looked at and how this hadn’t felt anything like that.  It appears to be a trend with race organisers to lie about this.  I wonder if they all get together, sit around a table and think ‘hmm, what would annoy the Runners the most? I know, let’s tell them this is relatively flat so they spend the whole time wondering if they have gotten lost – Runners love that!’.

Twats.

Final stretch and Steph is there with the camera – poor soul had kindly walked down a bit to get some photos.  She had no doubt had to wait a good 20 minutes for me and all she got in return was a very pained expression of ‘I am not enjoying this’. 

Across the line and I was very kindly handed a cup of water from the other half.  Kind of wished it had been vodka though.  We didn’t stick around long as he was wanting to get to Tri Club for a swim session and I had somehow cut my legs and had blood all over them.  I hadn’t even felt anything but when I stripped off at the van both legs were covered and I had small tears in my leggings.  Luckily I hadn’t wore my Wonder Woman ones! 

There are 3 more of these hills to go.  I am not enjoying them.  I do not like them.  I am awful at them!  Last road runner again, not that that gets to me too much but being in roughly the last 10 to finish all together is quite difficult.

And if you’re about to say it’s character building you will join the list of twats that is currently growing! 

No, I’m sure they are ‘good’ for me.  Well.  Maybe.  But, as I said, I started them, so I’m going to finish them.

Next is 4 days before Stirling Marathon.  It’s a safe bet that I will actually be last at that one.  No amount of ‘character building’ is worth risking the marathon over! It is up a hill I have ran a handful of times though so maybe that will give me a little boost.

As you can see from Strava – the race lied!

As Easy As Riding A Bike

What a stupid saying!  I fell off twice on my last cycle!

I’m going to be honest.  The cycling part of this Half Ironman is beginning to scare me.  Reality is slowly hitting me across the face as it dawns on me that there are 2 different types of cyclist – those who are out for a leisurely cycle, and those who race.

Naturally, I fall in to the ‘leisurely cycle’ category.

Not ideal when you are racing.

I’ve looked at average times for my age completing a race like this and it has it down as 3hrs 30mins for the cycle.  That breaks down to roughly 15mph average.  I can manage almost 19mph on a 30 mile turbo ride but a recent trip to Pitlochry and back (also 30 miles there, 30 back) was more 13mph.  That’s quite a bit to make up.  

And it’s also only about half the distance I need to do…….

With no half hour stop for lunch either.

Pit stop in Pitlochry – was a good cycle with Joe

Pitlochry was Saturday and on my lunch run today (Monday) I could feel it in my legs – just above the knee on both legs.  My other half had challenged me to run sub 8min miles today, even set my watch to keep my pace so it would go off if I was too slow.

I knew I wouldn’t do it and turned off the pacer before even starting.

First 2 miles were under 8 mins to be fair.   I just knew I wouldn’t be able to climb the hill at that speed though, and I don’t like running less than 5 miles.  Maybe that’s what I should concentrate on though – faster but shorter distances just for a little while.  

I’m seeing some good progress with my swimming though.  It’s all been pool based so far as it’s too cold for open water but that’s going to be coming really soon. I’m choosing to believe open water will be easier and I will enjoy it more (I’m a huge fan of positive mind set).  I can not let it scare me.  I will allow myself one – and only one – freak out, then it’s head down, get on with business! 

On the upmost positive point though – I am dealing very well with panics when swimming.  No longer do I choke and gag in the most unsightly manner when I don’t have my breathing right and proceed to give an Oscar worthy performance of my dying moments.  Ok, slight lie, I do still choke from time to time but I can successfully recover from this and THAT is huge.  Because let’s face it, that is most definitely going to happen on the day.  I’m going to get kicked, elbowed, pushed around, water is constantly going to be where I need to breathe so if I can  calm myself down – I’ve already won.

So.  Running is still there.  It’s taken a knock but I have a few races coming up that will keep me at it.  Swimming is good.  No room to slack and time to get in the ‘real pool’ but it’s good.  And cycling? Well…… just got to keep at it.  Ignore the average time as, at the end of the day, I’m not ‘average’.  I’m a first timer at this.  I will do what I do on the day.

I am my only competition.

Training Update

Almost 3 weeks in and time to recap how the training is going.

Starts with S and ends with It.

No only kidding.  It’s ‘going’ shall we say.     I’ve discovered I need to do a hell of a lot more on the bike than I thought.  The cycling is putting additional pressure on my rotated pelvis so getting comfortable is hard.  Oh how much do I want to just reach in there and ‘rotate’ it back.  (Don’t worry, I know that’s impossible).


Luckily I have found a really good physio to get it realigned Ina regular basis and although it can be uncomfortable the sessions aren’t torture and he has a good sense of humour so I can have a laugh when I am there.  

I also have no idea what people are on about when they use their favourite buzz words such as ‘watts’ and ‘rpm’ and ‘cadence’ when it comes to cycling.  I’m still very much in the frame of mind of sit on the seat and peddle. I guess I need to do more research.


Swimming is definitely improving.  Slowly but surely I am breaking that barrier.  Still have occasions I am convinced there is a shark in the pool right beside me about to kill me and yes, I have freaked out when something’s touched my foot when I am the ONLY one in the lane only to realise later it was my other bloody foot but hey, I’m still swimming.  (Took a good few weeks to realise I was kicking my other foot but surely I’m not the only one to have little freak outs like this?).  More focused drills seem to be helping my speed instead of going Dory style and just keep swimming.

That leaves my running.  Now I truly love my running.  It’s my release, my ‘head’ time, my listen to music that no one listened to when it was released time.  

But.

Back at the Road Runners after not going for club runs for a couple of weeks and I got a very hard, sharp wake up call.  I’ve never been ‘fast’ – yes I can run and I’m happy with my pb’s to date – but I will never be first over the line.  And that’s not because I have more chance of getting lost (which coincidentally is true), I just run because I simply enjoy it.  I didn’t however enjoy finding out I have lost some speed.  The cycling seems to be having more of an affect on me than I gave enough thought to.  I couldn’t keep up on my first run and ended up doing the last 2 miles solo.  It was embarrassing.  I was really down about it. Perseverance is key though and although I was last again the following week on the hill run it was slightly better. Just need to keep at it and stop ignoring the fact I need to do speed work.  GOD I hate speed work! What is the point of running when you can’t bloody breathe?! What is the point of pushing your body so you hurt the next day?! Collapsing at the end picturing your grave site?!

Oh yeah, because you need to do it.

Races have cut off times.  If I pull myself through the water and drag myself round the bike course you’re damn sure I’m putting everything I have in to MY run.   No it won’t be a time that will impress everyone but it will be my time on a Half Ironman course! 

Not going to stop moaning about speed work though.  Ha ha.  Kind of also got to remember in doing a marathon before the Half Ironman too!

Oh Why Not?

Last Thursday’s club session was replaced with their annual Duathlon.  I had hoped the other half would be interested but he said he wouldn’t be back in time to change and get ready. I hummed and ha’d then decided if I can do a triathlon I can do a duathlon and the only way to get to know people in the club is to to actually go to events (kind of a key part!).

So, Thursday night I wolfed down a bit of food, got the bike in the car and headed off repeating the directions over and over so as not to get lost.  I parked up and walked over to the group, slightly hovering around the woman with the clipboard who was clearly taking registrations.  She took my name and I recognised her instantly as one of the marshalls you ‘heard before you saw’ at the Brig Bash 5 – fabulously enthusiastic!  Fiona came over with a warm smile and bright yellow jacket on – she was one of the many marshalls – and went over the route for me.  I was with her as far as ‘you start here and turn right just up there’ then I was lost.  Good thing I will never be out front in a race!

All registered and with my bike at the side we had a little debrief.  Yes it was a race but it was also for fun.  We don’t own the road so be careful.  There are lots of marshalls so you shouldn’t get lost (I felt this was slightly tempting fate but time would tell).  We shuffled to the starting line and someone asked me if I was doing it all myself or just running (we had the option to enter as a team).  I said I was doing both and asked her the same – ‘oh god no I’m just running’.  I asked if she knew if there were many females doing both and her reply…

‘I think you’re the only one’.

Genuinely almost broke my neck with the speed I twisted round to face her.

‘Are you serious?’

‘Yup’ – very long pause – then she laughed.

I didn’t.

I was busy picking my stomach up from the floor.

If you can’t laugh at yourself though what can you do.  Turns out there were about 5 of us female varieties putting ourselves on the line and going for both.  Why not.

I started off not too bad, it was a LOT steeper on hills than I thought it was going to be.  In fact, when I got half way I glanced at my watch only to realise I was only 1.5 miles in! The run was 4.2miles, this did not pose well for me.  However I kept my head down and my eyes on the woman in front.  She was wearing a cycle club top so process of elimination – she was a cyclist! (Proper Sherlock Holmes I am).  Hmmm, I wonder if I can get past her?  I’ve always been told focus on the person in front and make them your goal to over take and you’ll be across the finish line before you know it.

Right ok, let’s try it.

More up hill.

Forget it.

I’m fine where I am thank you.  Be your own competition and all that.  Run your own race not someone else’s, and all those other sayings etc.

Then came a bit of a down hill.

Ok, well, maybe.  Very, very, slowly I started to decrease the distance between us.  This quite possibly was more down to her slowing down than me speeding up but the fact remains, I was gaining on her. She was quite clearly going to whip my ass on the cycle route but at this moment in time it was all about the run.  On I went and about half a kilometre before the transition line I did it! I had focused on the person in front of me and I had made myself get past them! Wa hey!

Naturally the minute she was on her bike I blinked and she was gone. Not even a cloud of dust, just, gone.

The cycle was 2 loops of another steep hill and was 12.2miles.  I cycled as hard as I could, I have what I like to think is a decent bike, I’m just not that great a cyclist yet.  That will come with time though.

Not looking too confident!  Photo courtesy of Roy Mitchell from Perth


I finished in 1hr 24 I think, quite far down the field but it was never about being ‘top 3’ or anything.  Everyone was in a great mood at the end despite being eaten by the dreaded midges but there was cake.  I’m pretty sure at every Road Runner event there is cake!  I’m certainly not going to complain about that!


Now I’m focusing on the Great North Run in 2 weeks and Loch Ness Marathon in 4 weeks.  I’ve had a great weekend this weekend but more about that later 🙂

New Bike – finally!

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At last!  I have finally gotten myself a road bike!  It’s taken a while – they aren’t cheap after all – and I ended up using a scheme through work to get it but at one point it looked like I wasn’t going to have it until 3 weeks before the triathlon.  This put me off signing up as although the New Years Day Tri was ok it wasn’t great on my hybrid.  Hubby came to the rescue though and here it is.  Went out on it tonight with him as I have never been on a road bike before.  Very nervous at first as I’m ridiculously over cautious about getting hurt so close to the marathon (do not stand on my feet or I will cut your heart out with a spoon!).

Went good though.  First clip in was a bit of a panic but after that I think I managed quite well ie didn’t fall.  We only went about 5 miles as I was looking at going up and down the gears and getting comfortable.  It was also really cold, I didn’t have gloves and we had to get back for the kids.

Amazed at how much faster it is compared to my hybrid, oh so much faster.  Once I get confident on it I think I could get a speed I will be happy with.  I’m not aiming to be ‘the best of the best’ – I’m 34 and haven’t been doing this very long at all – I have ambition but I’m also aware of reality.  I aim to beat myself.  I’m my competition no one else.

But if I can get close to my husbands times I won’t complain…….

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Looking forward to getting out on it again, and for longer and longer rides.

On another note for anyone that read my post on nutrition I now know there are 6 essential nutrients.  And no, greens was not one of them.

Every days a school day 🙂