Monthly Archives: March 2016

Confession time

Here’s a big confession – if you are reading this and don’t know me in person, I haven’t yet told you about something that makes me uniquely me. If you do know me, then thanks for being kind enough to repeat a few things you say because you already know that I wear two hearing aids and have about half my natural hearing. I was unfortunate enough to contract the measles about ten days before my first birthday and this is the most likely cause of my subsequent hearing loss.

I am always open about my hearing (or lack of it) but I also would rather get to know someone before I disclose the fact to them. I have had some experiences where I have mentioned it to someone and then they start to talk as if I am a bit dim rather than hard of hearing. With my hearing aids, theoretically, I should be able to hear just as well as the next person.

The problem is that when it comes to being active near water, I cannot wear my hearing aids. This has proved a bit tricky while swimming and learning to canoe. I recently found out Siemens has developed a waterproof hearing aid but at the cost of £1,495 each, this is a bit beyond my means. On the plus side, it is good to see hearing aid technology moving on as it is my impression that it hasn’t really changed much during my lifetime and  it doesn’t receive much funding on the NHS.

AM on bike at Wirral Tri

Not wired for sound…during the Wirral Sprint Triathlon

Although it costs me time in transition 1, putting the hearing aids back in after swimming has not proved to be a major problem at triathlons. The only hiccup I had was during the Wirral sprint triathlon – my first triathlon after 10 years or so – and with the excitement and lots of noisy and enthusiastic supporters during the first transition, I forgot to put them back in for the bike leg! I didn’t realise until I was about 500 metres along the road that something felt different. Although it was risky, I made a conscious decision that I would be relatively safe in a crowd of competitors and thankfully, that was the case. The hearing aids went straight back in my ears for the run leg and all’s well that ended well.

I was curious to know if I am the only person to wear hearing aids for triathlon so I posted in 220 Magazine Triathlon’s forum asking that question. There were no replies. I assume that there must be other hard of hearing triathletes?

As for canoeing, during my training, I couldn’t wear them as we practised capsizing at every lesson. As I have posted elsewhere, this does make it difficult to follow the instructor. Again they have been incredibly patient when aware of the problem.

So, the moral of this post perhaps, is don’t let anything minor stand in your way of what you want to do. I didn’t hesitate to get back into triathlon in 2014, even though the logistics of competing with hearing aids can be a bit tricky. Also remember to put your hearing aids back in after transition 1!

I would love to hear from you if you have a hearing problem or maybe other disability that makes it slightly harder for you to take part in active or water sports. Perhaps we can share stories to encourage others to get started if they wanted to do something but felt that their disability was holding them back?

 

 

The Long and Winding Road

Since I completed Wirral Half marathon last year in 2 hours and 4 seconds and having become obsessed with the notion of “breaking” 2 hours, Liverpool Half Marathon was an important race for me. I felt I had a good shot at it because the course was reasonably flat with only one major hill at the start. Would the weather co-operate? I was in Liverpool last year when the half marathon was on and it was pouring with rain and blowing a gale. There were a lot of bedraggled runners in the cafe and I was glad I was not running! However the weather this year was looking really good and most importantly no real wind to contend with.

So everything was in place…apart from being sick in the week before the race. I will spare you the details, suffice to say it was a stomach bug which set off a reflux problem that reared its head last summer during Ripon Triathlon (but that’s another story). I was a lot better by Saturday morning so I thought I was ready to go.

The Liver Building

The famous Liver Building

The start was in the shadow of the famous Three Graces on the waterfront. It was busy with 6,500 runners taking part. Thankfully there were plenty of toilets and although I waited for about 10 minutes, I was still ready in plenty of time for the start and made my way to the 2 hour point. I took it as a good omen that this was right in front of the Liver Building. I was feeling good as we headed off and even the hill on Upper Parliament Street didn’t faze me. I noticed the 2 hour pacer was starting to pull away but wasn’t too concerned as I thought he was going too fast and that I would pace myself using my Garmin.

After completing 10km in 55 min 57 seconds, I was still on course for sub 2 hours. My inner critic was wondering if I had gone out too fast but I convinced myself that it was fine and that this was the time I needed to reach my goal. I was enjoying running round Sefton Park; it really is a jewel in Liverpool’s crown. It is a reminder of Liverpool’s rich heritage with the beautiful Palm House, vast expanse of open space and grand Victorian houses surrounding the park.

Heading away from Sefton Park, my troubles began. We had to run under an underpass and up and over to the Otterspool Promenade to start the last 4-5 miles back to the finish. I felt really dizzy as we came out of the underpass. When I got onto the prom, I started to feel really sick. It subsided if I stopped to walk and got worse when I tried to run. I also looked at my fingers and they had swollen up like fat sausages.  I later wasn’t able to get my wedding ring off and it is normally loose on my fingers.

AM at Half Marathon

Still smiling through the pain for the camera…thanks to Jon Fairhurst at Mersey Tri for the photo

By this time, it was truly hot and I was regretting wearing my long leggings so I pulled them up to my mid-calf. But nothing was helping; I just couldn’t power through the sickness. Even when I got to 10 miles and my Garmin said 1 hour 33 minutes, I was still thinking that I could do it so tried again to push to no avail.

There were some lovely people urging me to “come on we are nearly there” and some friends gave me a boost at 12 miles so that I managed to run a bit longer.  Eventually the finish appeared and there was my family with a big cheer. I finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 50 seconds.

I cannot pretend I was anything other than disappointed. I have examined my training regime (did I skip one training run too many?), my state of mind (I felt that it was positive on the whole), my fuelling (I was drinking an electrolyte drink through the race) but in the end I can only conclude that I was simply not well. I cannot fault the race organisation or the route which were both excellent and I would recommend this race to anyone.

Liverpool HM medal

More race bling! I need to get a medal hanger for Easter…hint, hint!

I have to chalk that one up to experience and consider the other reasons why I run. Chasing PBs is only one aspect of it. I love running because I like to be outside feeling the sun on my face (rain and wind are less welcome but come with the territory); I enjoy exploring new places through running; I like feeling strong and fit and able to cope with what life can throw at you and I like meeting up with like-minded people. Races make you feel that you are part of a bigger community and I like that too.

Edinburgh Half Marathon is next at the end of May (just the small matter of Chirk Triathlon before then). One of my friends said to me this morning, perhaps you are saving the moment that you break 2 hours until you are on home soil. It will be all the sweeter when the moment does come.

Five under £5 – March 2016

Five items under £5

Five under £5 – March 2016

I love Rainbeaubelle’s blog where she runs this monthly feature. Her blog is what mine wants to be when it grows up! She deals with family, love and loss on her blog so do check it out here http://rainbeaubelle.com. As this is a fitness/family blog, I have elected to try to find 5 running items under £5. A bit of a challenge but I think I have done it.

1.Water Bottle

AM at Wirral Half marathon

When the going gets tough at the Wirral Half Marathon..

I have had the water bottle  for a while and use it when I am training for a half marathon. I took it during the Wirral Half Marathon last year and taped a Nakd bar to it for fuel. The water bottle is handy so that you don’t have to stop at the water stations and lose precious time. I bought mine from Runner’s Sports in Hoylake for £1.79. This is where I get my shoes from which cost considerably more than £5 but the advice on fitting there is priceless.

 

Running vest

Dreaming of summer…or at least of buying some fake tan!

 

2. Running vest from Decathlon

I found this running vest from Decathlon in Warrington for £3.99. I am already dreaming of warmer weather so looking forward to wearing this lovely colour in the warmer months. It will be great for my weekly yoga class too. Just be careful with the sizing. I recommend that you try the clothes on before you buy as I am normally a medium (size 10-12) and I had to buy a medium/large in the vest to get a good fit.

 

Pants and socks

More Decathlon goodies

3.Socks/pants

These were both £4.99, again from Decathlon. I haven’t tested them yet but the pants are super soft. The socks look as good quality as any I have bought from more recognised brands. Decathlon has great stuff for kids too; my 9 year old daughter is kitted out head to toe in Decathlon for her running club including trainers which I bought for £11.99. She loves wearing them. (PS I am not a Decathlon ambassador although I wish I was!)

  1. Event clips

    Event clips

    Event clips – they do exactly what they say on the tin.

These are £3.99 from UK Run Chat web site. As my Mersey Tri run top suffered a run from a safety pin I ordered these. They are more stylish and are less likely to pull your running tops. I wore them to the Manchester Winter Series Run and was very pleased with them.  If you are on Twitter, one of the best things about UK Run Chat is the support offered to runners by tweeting. They have chat hours on Sunday and Wednesdays between 8-9pm where you can ask anything and get answers from your fellow runners. A great way to find like-minded runners when your family are fed up listening to you discussing races!

  1. Parkrun

I have saved the best until last.  This doesn’t strictly speaking cost anything but it does help to laminate your card (see the main picture) so there is a small cost. I will explain more if you have not come across parkrun before. About 11 years ago, the founders set up a free timed run in a park. The aim was that it would be free if everyone took a turn a volunteering. The model has proved enormously successful and it is now a global phenomenon with over 543 parkruns worldwide and 1 million runners having taken part.  My local parkrun is Birkenhead; 3 laps of the upper park, a total of 5km. I never thought it would be possible to get under 25 mins for my PB for that distance but I managed it last October with a time of 24.43. The volunteers do a great job and the magic with the bar code is amazing. About 3-4 hours after the race, the results are sent to you by email. The mantra is don’t forget your bar code!

I hope you like my selection and feel inspired to lace up your trainers now!

Mad Dog looking for Winter Fun

When I was invited via a fellow blogger Elle (who blogs at this stylish blog http://www.keepitsimpelle.com) to take part in the Manchester Winter Series Run in Manchester, I didn’t take much persuasion. Some friends who had already done the Liverpool race had a great time while I was slogging around the hills of the Helsby Half Marathon. The prospect of polar bear hugs and a shiny snowflake medal was enticing.

Being allocated the early wave at 9.30am meant an early start from my home on the Wirral.  I used the postcode in the pre-race email for my Sat Nav which led to the only hiccup of the day. I drove round the Ethiad Stadium and carried on with the Sat Nav which took me to a terraced street!  No sign of an event car park.  I decided to head back to the stadium and this time, I saw the signs to the event and still parked up in good time. The car park was only 200 metres from the start as advertised thankfully.

At the start of Manchester Winter Run

The welcoming party – is there any brandy in that thing round your neck?

Having worn my Mad Dog T shirt, I had to get this photo with the St Bernard at the beginning. I then had plenty of time to look round the event village and join the relatively small queue for the toilet. I watched the kids 2.5km race go off and then it was time for us to line up and get warmed up. It was quite sobering that when the race announcer asked if anyone knew someone touched by cancer, everyone put their hand up. Some people there had cancer and were currently undergoing treatment so they got a huge cheer. It was a good reminder why the Race series was taking place.

AM at start  of race

Sunglasses! In February! In Manchester!

With the snow machine pumping out snow and “Ice Ice Baby” playing, we were off. I knew the race was two 5km loops around the stadium but I hadn’t really paid much attention that the Ethiad Stadium is the home of Manchester City FC and that it was the venue for the Commonwealth Games in 2002. So when I rounded the corner, I had a jolt of recognition followed by a flash back to a beautiful summer’s day when I attended the Games. It was the night that Paula Radcliffe won her Commonwealth gold medal for the 5,000m.  I remember being hugely inspired by that and really getting into running at that point.

I decided there and then to channel my inner Paula and make this my best shot at a new personal best for 10km. It was a largely flat course with no wind with only a few U-turns to slow you down slightly so I figured I would go for it. Part of the course involved a running track so I had fun imagining the crowd going wild as I crossed the finish line!

Batala Mersey drumming troupe, who had been at Mad Dog 10k, were out in force and provided a boost at 1 and 9 km. There was also a penguin party in the running track with lots of enthusiastic penguins cheering on (not real ones you understand – that would be too weird and/or ground breaking.)

AM and St Bernard puppy

Running and dogs – what’s not to love?

All my training for the upcoming half marathon In Liverpool on 13th March felt like it was paying off as I felt really strong. I did wonder if I was going too fast and was going to fade towards the end but my Garmin stats show that the last kilometre was my fastest. I managed a sprint finish much to the surprise of the race announcer (who also thought I was a man, go figure!). A personal best of 52:04 was in the bag! This is a whole minute off my previous best.

At the finish, I was drawn to the podium with a picture of the Alps in the background. As I got closer, I realised that there were two real St Bernard dogs. The puppy was adorable so I got in there for a photo opportunity. One of the volunteers took this great photo for me. As a dog lover, this was the icing on the cake of a great race experience.

Medal of Winter Run

Lovely race bling

All three Winter series Runs in London, Liverpool and Manchester  were inaugural races. Manchester attracted 3,000 runners and clearly the organisers are hoping to expand on this next year; watch their web site for details of the race in 2017 being announced. I would recommend it as a race for all the family to attend; there was a lovely atmosphere and the loops meant it was spectator friendly. I will persuade Adventurous children along next year. It’s obviously a good one for a personal best too with a nice flat course and the sight of the Ethiad stadium in my case providing inspiration!

Thanks to Human Race for inviting me via Elle to take part. I didn’t have to pay for my entry but all views are my own.