Saturday, 17 September 2011

World Triathlon Championships in Beijing

As part of my race preparations, I had been practising left hand cornering at speed as the run course in Beijing was flat but had eight turns. Unfortunately while out with my coach, I tipped my race chair over, giving myself road rash on my arm. It wasn't until I tried to swim later in the week that I realised I'd done a bit more damage...A trip to the physio revealed problems with both my rotator cuff and supraspinatus tendon secondary to two ribs that had popped out of place and my lat was in spasm. Just as well my pain threshold is high...
Of course, this meant rest, but my race was only a week away. I'd already been training at quite high intensity for two weeks with my injury, so it seemed sensible to take it easy.
Beijing was huge and sprawling, with a high level of pollution on most days. Race day was overcast, quite warm but not too humid. Team mate Jimmy Goddard was unable to race, so I was offered his transition helpers. I knocked a full minute from my transition time and was only 32 seconds behind my main rival-they were awesome! Big thanks to BA who flew them out to Beijing and GE who paid for their Hotel. It's such a shame Jimmy didn't race, as although he would have been up against 9 competitors, he got silver in Hyde Park and his chances were good for a medal.
Unfortunately, I had travelled all the way to Beijing to race my fellow GB team mate, which was pretty disappointing. Still, I aimed to race the best I could and ended up with two race PB's in the swim and race chair, and was first out of the swim as usual. The bike was hilly, technical and challenging. I felt immense satisfaction at overtaking my team mate on the steepest hill of the course, since I have only been cycling since mid January. But I was shocked when she went to overtake me on the inside of a tight right hand bend when I was taking a racing line. She passed within inches of me, and said afterwards that she didn't see me. Sarah Springman commented that it could have resulted in us both ending up in a concrete ditch and out of the race, which is sadly what happened to Ian Dawson and his guide on the first lap of the bike course. The run was ideal for me as it meant sprinting off at every turn, and I was only three minutes behind my team mate in her best discipline. My rapid improvement in all three disciplines has meant that I have kept pace with the small improvements she has made this year, which bodes well for next season.
Now I am looking forward to County Masters and East Midlands disability swimming competitions in October if my shoulder holds out, then a well deserved rest before starting winter training.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Chinese Visa!

My Passport arrived back today with my Chinese visa in it! The Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championships Grand Final is in Beijing on 9th September. I am travelling out on 5th September and hope to get over any jetlag quickly so that I can try the course and test my gear out after the long journey.
It's the first time I will have travelled with my hand bike and race chair and hope that my equipment is well looked after by BA. I've heard horror stories of bent and broken frames, ripped upholstery, broken spokes, etc.
I have three days off to see the sights of Beijing after the competition and then hope my coach gives me a well deserved break, although I only started training mid January so have not had such an intense year as others. I do feel that I have perhaps tried to do too much this year and will concentrate on only doing four major Sprints next year. The Europeans are in Eilat next April and the Worlds are in New Zealand, so I will have to work on getting some more sponsorship for travel costs.
I'm really excited about my prospects at Beijing. I just need to stay focused, be more consistent with my training and stay injury/illness free.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Coniston Water 2.4 mile/3.8km swim

Getting up at 5am to drive hundreds of miles for four hours to swim 2.4 miles in Coniston Water must be some people's idea of madness, but I had a great day!
I've never swum so far in the pool or open water, so it was a real taste of what an Ironman distance swim would be like. I plan to do Ironman in two or three years time, with an attempt at Kona if possible.
The organisers, Epic Events, were brilliant at making me feel included and doing all they could to help. Unfortunately, they did not have any water handlers, so it was a bum shuffle out over a stony shoreline until the water was deep enough to swim in. It was a deep water start of 108, the largest field I have ever swum in, with only 35 women competing overall. I swam the first mile at a conservative pace, not knowing if I could last the distance. Pyschologically speaking, once I was half way, I knew I could do it. It was a clear rectangular course and I had managed to draft a quick breaststroker, so I upped my pace and left him behind. It was considerably more choppy on the inward side and the wake from the steamer was disconcerting, but I managed bilateral breathing on the shore side.
My time was 1:25:10, which included another bum shuffle back up the shore onto the timing mat. I came 29th and ninth out of twelve in my age category. On the four hour journey home, I had plenty of time to contemplate what the rest of an Ironman would feel like...

Hyde Park International

It's quite exciting being considered 'elite' and using the same blue carpet the Brownlees and Helen Jenkins have sprinted over on their way to victory.
Unfortunately, having the ParaTriathlon race after the men's elite meant being ejected from the Athlete Lounge into the pouring rain and queueing for transition while they removed their equipment.
Dressed only in a GBR trisuit, I got very cold, being unable to control my body temperature due to my sci. Lots of my fellow competitors were willing to give up their clothing for me, but I refused to accept. I ended up being ushered into the first aid tent and wrapped in a woolly blanket and space blanket, where I put on my wetsuit.
The continuous shivering had made my lower back seize up completely and I considered not doing the race. Thanks to big hugs from Emma and constant attention from John, I did race.
George and Rebecca were excellent transition helpers, enduring the weather without complaint. I did a race Pb of 15:55 for the 806m swim, and 22:44 in the race chair, with an overall PB of 1:39:43, which I am pleased with. My bike was awful because I couldn't use my hands properly to change gear they were so cold. I ended up grinding my way round on the wrong cog, wasting valuable energy. I also left my pushing gloves out in the rain and I got no grip on the rims until they had shed some water. Lots of lessons learnt.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Dextro Energy Hyde Park International Weekend

My training did not go to plan after the Europeans, where I competed with a wrist tendon injury. My Physio insisted I take 10 days off straight afterwards and it was hard to get back to more intense sessions ready for Hyde Park. I then had an upper respiratory infection, ear infection and UTI all at once to add to my misery and had to take more days off plus take it easy for several weeks. I also discovered I have asthma with a persistent, annoying cough. So, a strong dose of antibiotics to cure it all and an inhaler for the asthma, which fortunately is allowed under anti-doping rules.
Unfortunately, the race weekend loomed all too soon. My train was cancelled and I got to London later than planned, as I was being a 'model' for a Classifiers course on Friday. I had a dip in the green water of the Serpentine for the swim familiarisation but broke the zip of my Blue Seventy wetsuit. Fortunately, Jonathan Riall introduced me to James Lock at Zone 3 in the Expo just before they wrapped up for the night. He supplied me with a top end wetsuit for the race.
Saturday was kit drop-off, a quick transition practice with George and Bex, a visit to the Science Museum and race briefing and registration, then to the Proms to see Nigel Kennedy perform. It was a late drive back to Twickenham.

Friday, 22 July 2011


This is me on my bike in Spain at the Europeans, which was a tough course, with a long gradual climb but an equally long downhill.
In an effort to pick up my speed and see how much I can push myself, I've done two time trials (TT's) with the lovely blokes at Alford Wheelers CC, which I'm now a member of. Handbikes are not normally allowed in TT's but they have organised an exemption for me to be able to participate and a H&S check of the 10 mile course. I also have two red flashing lights on the back of my bike plus a flag to allow others riders and motorists to see me.
Last week I did 44:10mins, in a negative split of 24:00/20:10, which was my fastest pace ever, then I caught a lurgy and was off training for three days. Still feeling a bit under the weather with a cough, I went along, determined to at least cut off a minute or two. I really pushed myself and did the course in 40:39 in blustery conditions, knocking 3:51 mins off my time!! I reckon the pasta lunch and wispa ice-cream before the race must be the answer. I'm hoping that I can do my next Triathlon bike race split in 46:00 (distance of 20km) which would be a massive 8:04mins faster than my first flat course race at Holmepeirre Pont in May.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Swimming breakthrough!

I've had a bit of a breakthrough in my swimming today and am really pleased. I discovered that I am naturally very buoyant in the water during a Swim Smooth day back in May and my style as a 'swinger' means I need the mobility in my shoulders to not be hampered by a wetsuit. I have struggled to swim well in a wetsuit so have been doing some (warm) sessions in my local pool.
Today I finally managed to be faster in a wetsuit than without one, beating my non-wetsuit PB of 14:43 mins and achieving 13:56 mins for 750m! I was actually quite tired after my gym session and I have a sore throat so thought my time trial had not gone well...
I'm so pleased that I have signed up for a swim in Morecombe Bay in late August (should be nice and warm by then) and an ironman distance in Coniston Water mid August of 3.8km. I'm looking forward to transferring my new found skills to open water, and contemplating an Ironman in 2012.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Pondevedra European Championships

Gosh, what a fantastic competition! It was amazing to be cheered on by so many Brits, in Pontevedra competing as age groupers, plus the Spanish crowds shouting bravo in my first International and only fourth triathlon!
My personal challenge was the steep hill on the run where a lovely man walked beside me every inch of the way shouting encouragement, twice. I couldn't even look up to see his face, but he approached me in town the next day to ask how I got on. I recognised his voice instantly and thanked him profusely.
I had a great swim and bike, beating the current European champ into second place, but the run was a bit beyond my current experience in a race chair. Still, only 6:30 minutes to improve on and there are a few months to go before the Worlds in Beijing. I think I definitely earnt that silver medal though as it was a tough course in 43 degree heat. It's just a shame that there are no other Tri1 women competing internationally, as surely if I can do six months of training aged 46 and compete for GBR, other women can. We really need to push the standards up too.
I had time to watch the elite men running through the historic streets of Pontevedra whilst enjoying a couple of celebratory cervezas, then cheekily asked Alistair for a piccy after the awards ceremony. When they play the National Anthem and you're wearing GBR kit, it's a very special moment, one I won't forget in a hurry!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Paratriathlon Performance Camp

The weekend started early with a 9:30am open water swim at Watermead Country Park near Loughborough. Luckily, I stayed with a friend in Lutterworth overnight so the drive was easy.
The water was surprisingly warm-in patches. I'm fourth from the left with my Swimsmooth cap on. The leech on my right ankle when I got out was a bit off putting...
Just time for a shower and coffee at the Hotel, then to the indoor track to be coached by Ian and Tanni Grey Thompson!! Awesome session, working on position in the race chair, gloves, pushing technique and flexibility. Increased my top speed out on the track straight away with a better pushing technique. I'm looking forward to improving with time.
Kevin Currel gave a Nutrition seminar centred around competing in Beijing and then dinner rounded off Saturday.
The good weather lasted until mid morning on Sunday. We set off-tandems, recumbents and bikes-to a marked four mile route for race pace practice. After a quick recce of the course, which included a horrible short steep hill, but a fast downhill section, we were timed over two separate laps. It was a bit like the loneliness of the long distance runner for me as everyone sped away on the first lap. Getting in the right gear for the hill without dropping my cadence was difficult but I have now moved the gear shifter so I can continue to pedal. My coach, Steve Casson, joined me on the second lap for a 'technical' ride. I could just see his knees in my rear view mirror. It was fortunate that he stayed with me as I tipped the bike over cornering too fast, just before the finish. A horrible metallic scraping noise on the tarmac resulted in a shredded footrest, some missing paint, a scraped hand crank and rear tyre. Not a scratch on me.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

QE2 Ashington Tri, Northumberland

Travelled up to Northumberland yesterday for the second competition in the British Paratriathlon Series. Registered in the afternoon, then watched Haseeb, Alan and Jane play in the Lake with Penny doing water handling training for volunteers. It was freezing and I didn't want a soggy wetsuit for today, so I decided not to take a dip.
Went into the Pub by the Lake for a warming cup of tea and ended up having a Pub meal with Jane. Neither of us fancied being billie-no-mates later. Left the Pub about 9:30, got to the Holiday Inn 11 miles down the road, only to be told they'd double booked. Sent off to find the alternative by SatNav, arranged breakfast for 7am and went to bed.
After very little sleep and no breakfast, I arrived feeling quite ill to set up my hand bike and race chair in transition. Just enough time to put on my wetsuit and the third wave was called-over 80 women and 7 Paratriathletes. The whole lake was choppy with swimmers and I had to stop twice to compose myself. I kept swallowing water every time I took a breath, very disconcerting. I didn't have any energy in my arms at all.
Penny and her crew stripped my wetsuit off and I felt dizzy again, but was expecting it this time. Gill helped me in transition and out onto an undulating, windswept bike course, with hardly a soul in sight. Alan passed me and then I was on my own, trying to distract myself as I huffed and puffed up the hills.
Back into transition still wet and cold, but soon warmed up on the run. Interesting bumpy and gravelly run course round the lake negotiating bollards, railway tracks and cobbles and some slight inclines which I found hard.
A nice crowd still at the finish was very welcome and instant feedback from Trihard timing showing all my splits was handed to me by Chris from Spalding Tri Club. A disappointing swim but a good bike section, so things are going in the right direction generally.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cleethorpe AC Open and Woodhall Spa Tri in one weekend!

This is Jack Booth and I lining up for the photographer after his first ever 100m wheelchair race, which he won in a time of 25.2. A fantastic achievement since Jack is only 12 and has only been training about a month. A well deserved win.
It was a very windy race at Woodhall Spa today, but at least the rain held off. The 400m pool swim was interesting, very busy with over 573 competitors going off in 2 minute intervals. Had a charming man swim over the top of me, then slow down, doing breast stroke. I kept my cool and drafted him to save energy. There was no distinct line along the bottom of the pool which made some swimmers weave all over the place-very amusing as I got squished against the ropes. Over all too quickly, just as I was getting into it...
The bike I knew would be a hard 24km, steadily climbing 300ft but buffeted by gale force winds the whole way. I was more aerodynamic than most and enjoyed a whizz downhill at 35kmh then into a gruelling headwind for the last 4km.
Transition was not ideal, being grass, so slow exit for the race chair. I was expected to turn 90 degrees onto the pavement, uphill, so I just stuck to the road. Amazing how large the turning circle is on a race chair...Awful head wind again, kept my head down and just pushed, before trees and hedges, then houses gave some shelter. Ironman Martin of Spalding Tri passed me and I just looked at his tattoo on his calf as he disappeared. Out onto the main road and a better, although pot holed, main road, meant I soon passed him, even though he had the shorter route on the pavement. Kept up a quick pace from the halfway mark, and fortunately a marshall stopped a couple of cars for me to turn into the finish. I did have visions of ending up on someone's bonnet! Grass finish-ugh! but everyone clapping and people I know coming up to congratulate me was awesome.
I didn't get to see any of my daughter Rebecca's race :-( but her brother George did. We hadn't been able to fix a bottle rack to her bike so she'd done the whole race with nothing and was pretty wiped out at the end. I'm very proud of her achievement though, especially as she was on a mountain bike! Times tbc.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

New bike cushion!

Rob at Bromakin put me in touch with Covertec Solutions:
a company that makes beautiful made-to measure upholstery for cars but also bespoke cushions for wheelchairs.
I went down there a few weeks ago to discuss my requirements as the old cushion that came with my second hand bike was making me sit awkwardly and aggravating my shoulder injury. Paul made a paper pattern and I hoped it would arrive in time for the Nationals.
I ended up sending them my own tracing paper pattern after taking Rob's advice about changing my seating position when I visited to collect my race chair. The cushion was made in a couple of weeks and came the day before the Nationals. I eagerly ripped off the old velcro, had a quick sit and realised my seating was too different to try out in my first race! I have now had a chance to try out the new cushion and bed it in and can't wait to do a time trial. But maybe not today-it's windy and rainy outside! Best stick to the turbo :-)

Friday, 20 May 2011

Every eight hours...

Today is spinal cord injury awareness day. Incredibly, someone is spinal cord injured every eight hours and their lives are changed forever-in an instant. Sadly, there is no treatment or cure for paralysis, but there are charities that support people to move on with their lives and rediscover themselves.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Paratriathlon Nationals-Silver medal!!

Well, what a day! The lovely warm weather deserted us, we were blown sideways and rained on, but all of us came out smiling at the end.
I was surprisingly calm all day, even though I had a very new transition 'team' consisting of one (although I am allowed two helpers officially) and had to talk Lucy through what I needed before the race. Fortunately Penny showed me exactly how the water handling was going to happen, as nobody had demonstrated this before.
I was so laid back that I only just got my gloves onto the race chair, put my swim cap on and slid into the water when the hooter went off.
Bit of a mad washing machine effect at the start-there seemed so many people- but by the first buoy things had spread out. Managed backstroke turns round both buoys and drafted Tom Perkins for a while but his strong kick made it hard to breathe. I really noticed the difference as I drew away though, so need to stick by the side of someone next time.
Felt horribly dizzy when I was lifted out of the water and thought I might faint, but ok once recumbent on the bike. I wasn't the only one to suffer this, and think it was the cold weather and water reducing blood pressure.
Bike was a steady 90 cadence and a good average speed to produce a PB for the 20km! The race chair was my nightmare ride, even though I beat Karen out of T2. I didn't know my way out, two marshalls carried on talking and ignored me and then the path was so narrow, I crashed into the drinks tent :-(
A 90 degree turn onto the service road uphill was rubbish, then on a small uphill section I slid backwards, frantically braking. I couldn't get enough weight onto the front of the chair and doing wheelies uphill with a head wind wasn't a good idea. Unfortunately, I had to do the circuit twice. I coped better the second time, but ended up opening my gloves and pushing one side at a time, not letting go of the wheels...Luckily it was not within sight of anyone, as I felt pathetic.
I could hear Tracy, Denise and Scott shouting me on, and the small crowd was great, clapping and cheering every time we went past. Brilliant! Can't wait for the next one-I'm hooked!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Paratri National Champs tomorrow

I met a friend in the pool today who I haven't seen for months, as our usual thrice weekly lunchtime swims no longer coincide.
We chatted about our teenagers who always fail to notice when things run out, and I complained about a lack of cereal and loo roll in my house, which nobody seemed to have noticed.
So, she came round this afternoon to deliver this lovely parcel of emergency supplies, plus a little note of encouragement, which exhorts me to make Eric and Robbie suffer tomorrow (bike and race chair) and carb load for energy.
I've packed what I think is required for transition plus spares and tools, my lovely neighbour Anna helped me put the bike in the car in between showers, and I foolishly watched the weather forecast which isn't brilliant. I think it was easier sorting my dive kit for a major expedition abroad than preparing for my first least I knew exactly what I was doing with all those tanks and regs and equipment, as I'd had years of proper training. Just got to remember it's fun when the rain is pouring down...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Brigg Charity Ride was persuaded ages ago to enter this fun event by Alan Rayment, a member of Lincsquad and Paralympic Affiliate squad member. It's all in aid of Lindsey Lodge Hospice. Needless to say, Alan and I didn't do the 100 miles or the 100km...but a good 10km ride into a headwind, with a glorious 10km ride home in 22 minutes, with a great tailwind! I got a PB of 58:59, but Alan had to wait for me several times on the outward course. It was definitely not flat! Jack, a visually impaired lad, rode a tandem and is coming to compete in the Nationals next Saturday. I think he will surprise a few people...
After a strong coffee and flapjack, we were off with a group of disabled youngsters from Hull Panthers who were all on the road for the first time. Alan and I used our race chairs and there were hand cycles and trikes set up for the others. We did a 5km course and everyone enjoyed themselves. I had a go on one of the bikes after, a Hase, which I had thought about trying to buy a few years back. Just as well I didn't, as it would not be race legal and they cost about £4,000.
I was about to head off home when I spotted a lovely lady doing massage in the awning for a charitable donation, so I had a quick neck, arms and shoulders done. Bliss!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Swim Smooth Day!

Apart from getting up at 5:30am to drive to Loughborough, today has been amazing!! I attended a SwimSmooth swim analysis day and although it seemed pricey, it was well worth it.
It's brilliant being able to watch yourself swim, above and below water and Paul did a great deconstruction of everyone's stroke. There were twelve 'punters' matched by twelve 'coach punters' all looking to improve their swimming or coaching.
We had three sessions in the pool, with some theory about efficient strokes, breathing, catch, etc. in between in the classroom, plus detailed discussion of each person's stroke. Apart from being filmed in the first session, we critiqued each other, which was an interesting exercise. Most comments were brutally honest and I felt sure that I breathed out sufficiently-apparently not!! I'm a 'swinger' who classically holds their breath and has naturally higher cadence. The good thing is that this is an efficient stroke type for open water. I was really surprised that my legs don't drag at all and my body position is good due to my natural buoyancy...(hum).
I got to try my wetsuit and increased my cadence to 72 bpm with a wetranome and came out smiling after a 24 second 25m which was hardly any effort. I know need to see what I can increase my stroke rate to before it all starts to fall apart.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Open Water swimming!

My new purple tri suit got an outing today as Layla and I joined Spalding Tri Club at the Coronation Channel for some river swimming.
I was slightly nervous, but with their swim coach sticking close, a canoe and about 15 enthusiastic swimmers in the water with me, I soon got into my rhythm. There were even some barmy chaps practising in just trunks for a team channel swim. Brrh!!
Initially I thought I would turn before the half mile mark, but then decided to go for it and swim the mile. Apart from a freaky bit of weed brushing my face, a duck taking off, and a slight chop caused by wind on the return leg, I was very pleased with my second open water swim.
Layla 'chicked' everyone, storming up the river in her new 2XU wetsuit, and staying in the water until I got out. I couldn't persuade her to go for a run after though...

Friday, 29 April 2011

West Pinchbeck Duathlon

Surprisingly, this is how we looked after my first ever Duathlon (3km run/10km bike/3km run) and Layla's first race of the season. Spalding Tri Club put on a great, friendly race and I got plenty of encouragement along the way from everyone.
It may have been a flat course but the wind certainly made up for it. Just as I thought Robbie the racer was going really well, or my technique had improved dramatically, we turned into the wind for the second lap...
I got stopped at traffic lights for road works, which was a welcome rest on the bike, then off into the wind again until Eric and I turned for home.
My transition team were Judith and Mike and we managed a pretty slick changeover twice. I've just got to figure out putting on shoes and helmet after the swim for Nottingham. Managed to squeeze my derriere into new chair, so getting into the swing of things. Spalding Tri do river swimming so Layla and I are off next week to give that a go. Roll on the summer!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

New chair!!!! Thank you Aspire!!

I picked up my new chair from Bromakin yesterday! I still have an outstanding amount on account to pay but Rob kindly let me have it so that I can get used to it before my first competition, the National Champs.
Well, it fits like a glove (so well, in fact, that transition may take slightly longer than I envisage) and runs really well. This is me in my miniature version, with Jack using my borrowed one. I'm going to ask Paul if he can borrow it until he gets his own chair. His mum, Louise, put what looked like gardening gloves on him, then bound his hands with tape more normally seen under boxing gloves...
Still, we managed a decent session on the track doing skills and drills which Nikki Emerson talked over with Judith at the Paratriathlon training camp.

Monday, 18 April 2011

British Triathlon Training Camp

I can't believe that I was so nervous about attending my first training weekend with the BTF Paratriathlon Squad, when everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I fumbled around with my kit, lost my ipod shuffle, had too many bags, and worried about looking stupid, but nobody judged me (except perhaps the coaches, who were busy making notes on our performances all weekend...)
Saturday was a particularly busy day for me as I had squad training and a set of tests for a sport study by Scott Murray for his MSc. We started off with two hours in the pool with one hour of drills, followed by a speed set and video analysis. I can't wait to see myself swim, as I need that mental picture to see what I need to improve on.
After lunch we had track, but I was advised to rest before my test so I got to watch Nikki on the track-she looked really fluid, with a completely different style to both Jane and I, much more propulsion.
Scott was measuring lactate threshold by taking us through a simulated race, using handbikes on the track, followed by a 5km run. It was awful going round and round the track on the bike on my own plus the fact that we were doing nearly 25km as on the outside lane. I was finding it hard to maintain my pace of 18kmh which I'd decided might be my possible race pace. I'd done 6 warm-up laps, had blood taken, then was 12.6km through when we had to abandon it because they wanted to close the track. Gutted. I ended up missing the morning cycle ride, as well as what would have been a useful track session.
Up at 5:30am after a terrible nights sleep, no breakfast and at the track for 7am to share the track with Jimmy, who was also taking part. I knew I couldn't maintain any kind of race pace so settled on a constant 15kmh with Jimmy's ipod blaring out and me singing badly. Managed the two last laps at 18kmh, but my time was an appalling 1:33.52 (24.6km), but then told I couldn't do 5km run as Jonathan, our Manager, didn't want me to and a track meet was due to start.
Went back to the Hotel for breakfast and straight to my room to lie down and watch the London Marathon with Layla. We had a maximal weight test in the gym after lunch which was interesting. I managed to lift fairly evenly left and right which surprised me and bench pressed 35kg, with a seated cable row of 35kg with my right arm.
Jonathan gave me a GBR tri suit to try on (sure it was meant to be motivational) and I have to admit to taking a picture of myself in it. It did look good...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What a week!

Gosh, where do I start? Decided to give my day chair a bit of an overhaul since I have some Fenwicks bike cleaner and didn't realise there were so many bits to wash/scrub! It's about time, as I've had it for three years now...
Jonathan Riall at BTF asked for volunteers for a classification course last weekend so I went along to Coalville as an interesting 'body' for the trainees to decipher. I now have three classifications (all the same). We enjoyed a lovely Italian meal afterwards.
I also received two pieces of really exciting news!! One is that I am finally going for a trial of FES at Sheffield this month, so I will become truly bionic soon! My physio thinks it may even be possible for me to walk without sticks for a friends Wedding in August and I'm planning on maybe dancing a bit! She is giving me some exercises to help loosen me up ;-)
The other is that I have been sponsored by The Challenged Athlete Foundation (CAF) for my trip to the World Paratriathlon Championships in September. With my racing chair still to be completely paid for and the Europeans booked, it's fantastic news.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Last Leeds winter training session

Actually managed to turn up five minutes early to the last winter training session at John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds on Saturday, much to Paul's amazement. It's only because I didn't stop at Ferrybridge M&S on the way for some goodies...
Sadly, it's the last one until the autumn. I brought some choccies for everyone, but we had to work for them!
Warm-up inside, starts, stretches then outside in glorious sunshine for some tempo and fartleks sessions. I lost count of how many laps I did. Probably not as many as the others but I'm pleased with my 5km run time of 24 mins for the time being. I'm sure I'll improve with my own chair. Paul has kindly said I may keep his chair until mine arrives, then come down on a Thursday evening to test it all out. It seems ridiculous that I have to travel two hours out of Lincolnshire to get some quality coaching, but it just highlights the lack of wheelchair sports provision.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Course familiarisation

It's been a few years since I was last at Holme Pierre Pont in Nottingham doing this...
Just as well there is no picture of me after my bike ride there yesterday...Trust Judith and I to attempt it in a full Westerly Gale. We kept passing the same cyclist going the opposite way, who commented that I was very aerodynamic for the arms certainly didn't think so! Got a great 30km speed with the wind behind, but back to the granny cog for the next side, doing 12-15km. The surface is not brilliant for my hard recumbent ride, despite Spinergy wheels which take some of the shock out. The vibrations are horrendous, making my legs jump around with spasms and my fingers numb.
I met Pete, a friend from my waterskiing days afterwards and went for a huge Pub lunch of steak and chips (protein and carbs!) followed by chocolate fudge cake and cappuccino before setting off to Lincoln for a massage with Miss Whiplash aka Maddy.
She did warn me that I would have bruises and I have a nice set of fingers marks on my left bicep today. Just as well I'm not swimming-people would worry about me!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Woodhall ride

Wow! Sunshine and shorts last Friday on a ride round Woodhall Spa with Layla. I'm really pleased with the work TFN have done on my bike; it switched gears beautifully, I didn't get any shoulder pain and my helmet and tri suit were comfy.
I only lost the chain once and that was my fault for trying to switch to the granny cog. Layla popped it back on and wiped the oil onto her leg!
We stopped in Woodhall for an ice-cream, much to everyone's amusement, before changing to the race chair and doing the 5km run course. Someone at the Council has decided chippings on tarmac are cost effective, but it doesn't make for a smooth surface to push the race chair over. I managed to push Layla into a faster pace than she normally does and finished in 25 minutes, so really pleased. Roll on summer.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Volunteer Marshalling at Dambuster Duathlon

As I have never witnessed or participated in Triathlon yet, I thought it would be a good idea to volunteer as a Marshal at the Dambuster Duathlon on Saturday, run by Mark and Sibs of Pacesetter Events. It was a great experience, apart from a severe lack of sleep and a 6:45am start.
I believe everyone should have a go at Marshalling to gain a real insight into exactly what goes into organising and running an event. You'd be surprised!! We were onsite from early in the morning until 2pm, but Mark had provided all the volunteers with dinner, bed and breakfast, lunch and lovely goodies consisting of a sweatshirt and beanie hat.
We were blessed with gorgeous sunshine and I managed to enjoy a leisurely cycle round Rutland Water with Judith and Mike running alongside before my journey home. My hand cycle caused a lot of comments and waves and I even got my photo taken!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Ramp Test!

This is me smiling before the ramp test...You can't see the computerised turbo on my front wheel, or my coach Judith holding the control, and increasing the resistance every two minutes. The pace got progressively harder, until my pesky right shoulder started to hurt and we had to call it a day. I'd worked up a bit of a sweat but wasn't really breathless.
I wore a heart rate monitor for the first time and was pleasantly surprised that my HR dropped quickly after exertion. Judith reckons I must be aerobically fit but now need to work on my endurance. So, either all that swimming has paid dividends at last, or my sci complicates things with an artificially low heart rate. I'd be very interested to know the answer.
Today I have been icing my hand and shoulder after skipping wheelchair training at the track last night. I can't afford to miss training through injury at this stage. I really need to sort out my hand grips and technique first though.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Wheelchair race results...

I never expected to come home with a medal today...but placed second in a time of 20.9 for 60m. I know, it's not fast compared to others, but it was my first race. My second race I did in 20.2 and kept better form until the last ten metres. So, a learning curve. I was surprisingly nervous lined up with all the other novices, all teenagers, but managed to give a young lad in lane six a pep talk before the start! I had to adjust the chair twice in the race as I am right side dominant and I was a bit tense.
Second race I was calmer even though I was up against Matt and Georgina who are awesome racers and did 12.8 and 12.7 respectively and a bright young thing who creamed me. But my technique was so much better, nice and even down the track until I wobbled my head near the finish. I was complimented on my performance by one of the officials whose son was World Champion in the past and he has offered to help me build some gloves and suggested some modifications to the chair I have on loan to get a better seating position. He's also suggested I come along to a CP Athlete Development Day in two weeks time. Maybe my new chair will be ready by then?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Physio and Yarborough training

This is the cheery lot of novices at Yarborough in Lincoln, before they did a Duathlon...
As I have my very first wheelchair racing competition tomorrow, I decided to practise transitions while I had Judith and Doug all to myself, and save my arms.
My lovely Neuro Physio Laura came and watched me cycle before her hockey practise, to see how I am using my left shoulder on the handbike. I have compensated for years for my weaker right side when walking with sticks, and now have muscle weakness and imbalances in my left side. I even manage to compensate on the bike! I can't hide anything from Laura...She has known me since my initial rehab post injury, and knows all my tricks! Still, I have lots more mobility in my shoulder now since we started working on it in January for which I am very grateful. Still some room for improvement, but it will come right eventually. It took nearly six years to get it wrong, now I just have to unlearn bad habits. I'm going to set up the turbo in the hall with a mirror in front so that my brain logs the new pattern.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Decided to take my bike and turbo to Alford Wheelers Club house tonight to see if I could get some help with my gears, which are still problematic. Two very helpful blokes had a look at the derailleur and I got my trusty screwdriver out my expanding kit bag. It's still not perfect but better than it was.
They then carried my bike upstairs, set up my turbo and put the telly on! I thought we'd be cycling along watching some country scene, but no, they did all that weeks ago, and this was a Lance Armstrong time trial special.
I valiantly managed to keep hand cranking for an entire 58 mins with cries of "Good job!" from the telly. Seriously, I did learn that I can do different cadences and when I might need to do them, shift gears more smoothly and keep going when it gets tough!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

New Wheels!

Well, another exciting day! I turned up half an hour later than planned at John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds, after a coffee detour, to find the place buzzing! All available disabled parking bays full and it wasn't the bowls centre taking up all the spaces, but elite athletes doing wheelchair race training with Tanni Grey Thompson.
If, like me, Dame Tanni was the first disabled athlete you had ever heard of, have watched winning medals for GB in countless Paralympics and followed avidly throughout her career, you'll know what a pleasure it was to talk to her. In fact, I questioned her mercilessly about her first ever, and definitely last, Paratriathlon, which I had read about in a magazine last year. To say that she is pretty hopeless in the water-by her own admission-is apparent by the tale of the triathlon ordeal, where she thought she might actually drown. It makes my fears about competition pale into insignificance, until she told me about someone who ended up in the lake...strapped to his bike.
Paul Mosely, who runs the wheelchair racing clinics, put a brand new pair of wheels on my chair so I am eager to try them out tomorrow. I did consistent 3:08mins for 400m on Thursday at the track and 1000m in 5:10mins on the last set, so am hopeful of a time of 25.5mins for 5km if I can keep to that pace. And I've still got ten weeks of training...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Things are hotting up!

I feel like I'm on a bit of a roller coaster ride right now! Having just received news of gaining a place on the affiliate performance squad and put the training weekends in my diary, I've had to contact Tom Goldspink, the media manager at BTF, with a quote for a press release to announce the new squads. Gulp! I said how the Open Day in Loughborough really set the ball rolling as it enabled me to think about actually competing in a whole race not just as part of a team, once I was classified. I hope it sounds o.k. after being 'media-managed'.

I also received information from Jonathan Riall, Paratriathlon Programme Manager about a research project specific to Tri1 paratriathletes. It's a study into training for TRI1 Paratriathletes run by Scott Murray who is studying for an Msc. I'll first be assessed using a DXA scanner which shows body percentages and bone density. As a sci paraplegic and going through the menopause, I'm definitely interested in bone density. Then, there will be a series of physical tests done before and after a simulated race, with a program devised from that. Then, after eight weeks, another set of tests to see how things have changed. I've signed up for it as it will be immensely useful for my training. I'll post any interesting information, even if it means I have to admit to too much body fat...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Ramp test?

This is me at the Zoggs swim zone at the TCR show a couple of weeks ago. Not sure what's happening to my legs...I think this is when I was trying to hold a pullbuoy between them but couldn't feel it through the wetsuit. One has gone up, one down and I'm not kicking-honest! My legs normally spasm when straight so I usually leave them to their own devices if I can't see them. Maybe it was all the cameras that set them off...

As an alternative training session, Judith asked me to do a ramp test based on arm cadence at the pool today. The idea is that you should get more efficient the more arm strokes you do over a set distance. I am absolutely hopeless at maths so water and maths was difficult-even though it was simple counting of strokes (left, then right) over 50m. It was interesting to find that I became more efficient the more tired I got and nearer the end of my sets. Just as well I'm doing an endurance sport then! I shall eagerly await Judith's verdict on the test to see if it sheds any light on my technique.

Tonight was a track session, thankfully only 27 minutes (pretty random, I know, but Dr.J. prescribed it, so I do it). Bit difficult to time myself using my iphone as I had to use my chin to set it off as I have racing gloves on, and it decided to die from battery failure half way through my session. Typical.

Monday, 28 February 2011

British Paratriathlon Performance Programme!

I'm very excited to find out today that I have been selected for a place on the Paralympic Affiliate Squad by British Triathlon for 2011!
I know that there is not a lot of competition (I've only heard of one other new athlete who's transferring from wheelchair racing to Tri1 women) so I didn't really have to contest my place, but it is a huge boost to be recognised as an athlete who wants to achieve whatever they are capable of. They could have said no and waited for a someone with better times, more training under their belt or a bit younger :-)
What this means, is that I will be able to attend three training camps this year and compete for GB in all major international paratriathlon competitions! Crikey, no pressure then...
The Europeans are in Spain in June and Worlds in Beijing. The downside is that there is no funding available to cover the costs of these competitions, so I will have to get my thinking cap on and stop spending money on my bike!!

Saturday, 26 February 2011


I've realised there is a bit of a purple theme going on with my training kit and have been reminded of the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph about wearing purple and not caring about what people think. As I am 46, I guess I qualify on the 'old' scale and there is a certain laissez-faire attitude I have now, having been through quite a few 'experiences' in my life so far.
But, this week has been a bit of a low point in my training due to minor injury and some hurtful comments made 'in jest'. I know I will never be 16 again nor completely able-bodied or 'normal' but I just want a chance to participate in sport at whatever level I can achieve. That Triathlon is so inclusive has been great encouragement, but the cost of participation is prohibitive, so it is no wonder there is only one female Tri1 competing in the U.K. at present and only three at the Worlds in Budapest last year.
The equipment in the photo, without which I cannot compete are: custom-built racing chair £2095 for a basic model, £110 for gloves (which only last 6 mths), Hand bike £4, 295 (mine was £2553.08 second hand and I have just spent £399 on it, including £150.00 just in labour costs at Draft), which totals £6500 (or £4157.08 expenditure for me) before you have even entered a race! Of course wetsuit, computers, turbos, helmet, clothes etc. are on top of this.
This represents a huge investment and is probably equivalent to an able-bodied athlete buying a carbon bike, a good pair of running shoes, plus a top end wetsuit for their very first triathlon. Most people would think they were mad! If only there were rental schemes or clubs with equipment to try or more second hand gear on the market, or coaches trained in coaching paratriathletes...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Injury- time out!

A very appropriate book title for this week...I have managed to injure my shoulder this week, plus my wrists are playing up and my thumb won't bear any weight :-(
Dr. J. is worried I have overdone it and ordered two days off this week, so no swim, track or turbo these last few days. I feel slightly bereft, like I'm missing something important, as my work out sessions have taken over my life at the moment. I keep passing the static turbo in the hall and wondering if 15 minutes wouldn't hurt...
Still, on a positive note, I am doing my assignment for my English Literature Degree with the Open University which I had completely lost interest in. Luckily, I have Dragon dictation software to 'type' my essay for me. Shame it doesn't do it all for you...
My son needed taking to his Driving Theory test this morning, which he passed, so it hasn't been all bad. I am also doing a Sport Relief funding bid for Cleethorpes A.C. to get some race chairs, gloves and rollers so we can then offer 'come-and-try-it' sessions and expert coaching. I'd like to ensure there are is wider variety of choice in sport for people with disabilities in Lincolnshire. I'm meeting Heidi at Tesco's cafe before training tomorrow evening to go through all the forms.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


I was determined to do an 18km ride this weekend, so I decided to map a route out. I prefer not to cover the same ground twice, but in the end, I got a little lost down the small windy lanes and I missed the nice circular route. Layla and I were out for an hour and twenty minutes of almost non-stop cycling, with a fast downhill section going over 30km/hr! A quick transition to the race chair and off onto the road for a 15 min push, which was surprisingly 'easy' after the handbike. The change in position is nice, as my legs spasm more when straight in the footrests of the bike.
A bit wiped out this morning though, so perhaps overdid it. It didn't help that I also slept particularly badly. Still, off for a Hospital appointment for 9:30am so no lie-in to recover. Saw the continence nurse to try and sort my pesky bladder out. Only six weeks after having Botox injections and it has failed already. I have heard that most Triathletes who do longer distances have learnt to wee whilst in their wetsuits and on the bike, but that isn't an option for a girl who does ISC (that's Intermittant Self-Catheterisation or emptying your bladder with a thin tube called a catheter).
As if I hadn't done enough, Danny gave me a new program in the gym today and I will now have to fight the big boys for the free weights and the station at Meridian. My lovely support worker Becki washed my bike and brought it into the house for me and I attached the turbo to the bike in my narrow hall. It fits without the footrests on, so I just put my legs on the floor, strap myself in and go nowhere! A very strange sensation, but I am concentrating on smooth cadence for only 15 mins. The bike is 7 foot long, and probably won't go into the sitting room door as it's a 90 degree turn, so no telly to pass the time for me.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Bike fixed!

Went down to Draft Wheelchairs in Cambridge yesterday on my day 'off' to get my hand bike sorted as the gears have been problematic for me. The bike is obviously not designed with petite ladies in mind. Chris spent over three hours changing the gears, rear derailleur, hand brake, attaching a bottle holder and a mirror, and sorting the seating position plus hand cranks out. I tried it all out in the car park, then on my new turbo trainer. There was a sadistic grin on Chris's face as he secretly adjusted the resistance...Apparently, most top hand cyclists are my age, so there's still hope, but I'm not sure many women compete. Perhaps they should have a go at Paratri and coach me!
As well as a turbo and the bike bits, I came away with a new pair of Harness gloves, £110. Ouch! My credit card has taken a serious hammering. The white liners absorb sweat and help get them on and off. They were a snip at £2...I will retire my thermals glove inners when Spring eventually arrives.
I tried out my lovely new wetsuit in the pool today, but it was a strange experience, swimming without feeling the water. It did keep my legs nice and buoyant (although I couldn't really tell) and I managed 40 lengths of drills with Doug. I also came out of the pool lovely and warm instead of with my usual blue lips. It will be interesting to get into open water in a couple of months time.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Parallel Success, Poolmate and Peristeen!

At Loughborough University High Performance Athletics Centre on Sunday for an Aviva Parallel Success Talent Introduction Day organised by Job King (EA) and Katie Jones (UKA). Coaches were Ed Grazier and Lincoln Asquith for wheelchair racing. It was a great day and Lincoln was an amazing coach! I need to drive into the push rim to pick up my top speed, then maintain it, with more explosive work in the gym to help. It's wonderful how supportive everyone is, considering my age :-) and the fact that I'm doing Paratriathlon!

This week of training has been my hardest yet, with nearly 8 hours planned, and two sessions a day. Decided to do a supersprint 'Brick' session on Tuesday, with a timed 750m swim instead of 400m. Pleased with my time of 17mins and reckon I'll be faster in a wetsuit! Cycle of 10km then off onto the road for the first time in my racing chair with a wonky compensator-and I made it to the track in the evening...I'm going to chat to Chris at Meridian about protein/carb supplements to see if I can increase my energy levels for training hard.

I've been playing around with my new "poolmate' watch this week. It counts laps, metres, time, calories, average strokes, but more importantly efficiency. I still forget to set it properly and I haven't got the hang of interrogating it afterwards, but it's a great bonus.

On a more personal note, I'm on a trial of Peristeen for bowel management for a month having finally persuaded my G.P. and been trained by the Coloplast nurse Tuesday. I'm hoping it will enable me to compete without any worries and reduce the number of UTI's I currently get. Any SCI person will know that this aspect of an injury is usually the hardest one to come to terms with.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

TCR Show and Coaching my Coach!!

I'm not sure how I managed to get both myself and my daughter to the Novice training at Yarborough for 9am today as we got home from the TCR Show at 1.30am. It's a 5 hr drive each way, but luckily I met Layla outside Boston and she kindly drove to Surrey and back.
We both raced to the Zogg swim zone to book in for swim analysis and were the first names on the list! Unfortunately, a technical hitch meant the water was only 16 degrees, but wetsuits were provided. It was still pretty chilly and meant I ended up breathing every second stroke. It was a bit like swimming against Niagara Falls and not making any headway...Still, I got some very good input on stroke technique.
Morgan Williams, National Development Manager, Triathlon England, kindly arranged a massive 40% discount with TFN after watching me swim and advising me on a suitable wetsuit. I am now the proud owner of a Blue Seventy Axis and can't wait to try it out! I need extra buoyancy in the legs to stop drag because I only use my arms to swim. Even though I have some use of my legs because of being a sci incomplete, ITU rules state that I must bind them for competition, which hopefully means a level playing field for everyone in Tri 1.
Today, I coached my coach...amidst lots of laughter! Judith tried out my handbike, then racing chair and made exactly the same 'mistakes' I did when I first tried both only a few months ago, veering off to hit the curb, worrying where the brake was, getting the hands on the push rims without catching fingers in the spokes, steering round bends whilst 'pedalling'...It has given her a great insight into what I need to do and I hope she is not too sore tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fartleks and Competitions!

This week has been all about improving speed on the run section, so Fartlek sessions at the track tonight. I know it sounds odd, but it is a Swedish term for playing around with speed. My session consisted of several changes of pace in each set, with active recovery at a jogging speed. The faster speeds were at my threshold pace from the VDOT test done a few weeks ago. Since the workout was only thirty minutes, I did an hour swim concentrating on speed earlier in the day. If I could sustain my 50m time over 400m I will complete my swim in 8.24, but my 750m time could be 15.30, over three minutes faster than the current World Champ. That would mean a huge psychological advantage to me coming out of the water first.
Entries have now opened for the National Paratriathlon Championships at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, on Saturday, 14th May and I'm very excited as I've entered! It will not only be my first Triathlon, but my first open water swim, so I will have to train in April (brrhhh!) at Tattershall lake-once I actually get a wetsuit...
I'm up at 6am tomorrow to get down to the TCR show in Surrey for lunchtime. Layla and I plan to queue for the swim analysis when the doors open and my daughter may just get an early 16th Birthday present. No training tomorrow, just spending. I have a small but expanding shopping list!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Taper week

Sitting on the sofa eating edamame beans as a source of protein, but not sure the glass of ale will be allowed in my new training plan done by 'Dr. J coaching' aka Judith Brand at Lincoln Tri Club. Still doing base training as only week four and having a taper week, which means less intense sessions and fewer hours spent on training. I also had a massage Friday at Fitness first in Lincoln with Trish and felt like I'd been run over by a bus in the morning. She has impressive strength in those hands of hers!
Off to the wheelchair racing clinic at Leeds yesterday, arriving late but managed to glean some tips from Hannah Cockroft, fresh from her victories in New Zealand and Paul Mosely who runs the sessions. The picture shows her with gold medals for 100 and 200m. If you watch the video on BBC Sport she leaves everyone else standing...Of course, having a set of rollers at home would be ideal, but as they cost £900, I'll have to keep practising at the track and round the airfield, plus on the road when these gale force winds stop.
I've tried to upload a video of me on the rollers and left it loading last night, but it didn't work, so why don't you check out: It's a lot easier to master than an Excel spreadsheet and gives you nice graphs, even in the free version!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Equipment fiddling!

Getting up early last Saturday, sitting outside in -2.5 degrees, and fiddling with bolts, screws and cushions for four hours is not every girls dream...but I was determined to make the most of meeting Alan Rayment, who has spent years making Triathlon accessible and possible for people with disabilities. With cups of tea supplied by his wife Nat and his mum, plus eighteen month old son wielding a screw driver, we sorted out a better riding and propulsion position.
Alan's enthusiasm for Paratriathlon is infectious and I came away more positive about putting in an application for the British Triathlon Paralympic Affiliate Squad. So, I've applied. There was a 50% increase in applications this year, which can only be good for developing our sport in the future. I'm keen to make the squad of course. Fingers crossed!
To test out the bike, my daughter and I went out on Sunday together. This was only the second time we have been able to cycle together in five years and I really enjoyed it. Our aim was to ride for 30mins and see what distance I could cover. I managed 7km out with a couple of quick rests, including one where Bex had to pick up my front wheel and pull me round as the road was too narrow for my turning circle! A total of 14km in 60 mins was a vast improvement on 12km in 1.5hrs on my very first ride out on the road two weeks ago, so we are aiming for a 10% increase in distance every week until we reach 24km, then we'll work on speed.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

To try or not to try?

Well, feeling a bit tired this week as not getting good quality sleep at the moment. Seem to be awake until 1am tossing and turning, then wake up at 7:10am when the kids get ready for school. I'm dreaming about triathlon, which is me stressing about it all. When I've actually done an event, I'll be able to plan in my head how and when things should happen. One particularly bad dream had me hit by a truck-needless to say, there were not many intact bits of me left as I ride inches from the ground...I have bought some mini red LED's. I hope they help.
Training this week was meant to be a bit more intense but I can't fit the three sessions for each sport in without major muscle soreness and fatigue. On the plus side I joined Meridian as a member and don't have to sneak into the sauna anymore when I am blue from swimming...
The 'run' training (if only...) is long intervals this week, which means a mile at a time, with one minute rest between two sets. I'm really pleased that I have already dropped ten minutes from my estimated race time for 5km. That's after two weeks of training and three weeks with a different chair.
The disappointing moment in my brief euphoria is that BTF have organised a talent ID date on 12/13th February in Loughborough which consists of a 400m swim (I'm already a minute faster than the world champ and haven't started speed training or improved my turns yet, so no worries there) and a 3km run. Agh! The timing is awful with me only being back to training for 3.5 weeks. I know that I need to beat a time of 34:58 for 5km to place third in the world (standards aren't that high yet) and my estimated race time is currently 40:28. I know I can do it with enough training and a well fitting chair, but this is what puts me off:

In 2011, unless there are exceptional circumstances, no athlete who was unsuccessful will be allowed to compete for team GB at a major championship, this includes all world and European triathlon and duathlon competitions

Do I try and possibly fail as I only have two weeks to train? Or should I just relax, enjoy my new found fitness and friends and see what the future holds?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Swim+bike, Run, Massage, Run, Swim, Swim, Bike

Only my second week back training since being given the go-ahead and I'm struggling to fit it all in. I have altered the Excel spreadsheet Judith gave all the novices at Yarborough on Saturday, as lane swimming at Meridian is at set lunch times and I go with my son to Cleethorpes A.C. every Tuesday and Thursday night. Not sure where or how to fit in strength and conditioning!! I had an 'extra' day off on Wednesday as my birthday treat from my children was a lovely aromatherapy massage.
Total training time this week was 6hrs 20 mins; 3500m in the pool, 21.65km on the bike and 5.24km in the racing chair. Doug's training session at Meridian Leisure Centre in Louth was particularly punishing as we covered nearly 2000m in an hour. That's 80 lengths of a 25m pool and the furthest I have ever swum. Maybe I should aim for a channel swim? Aspire are actually organising one for this summer if you fancy giving it a go.
Went for a great ride this morning with Mick jogging/running alongside. Top speed of 24.7km, average about 12km which would mean two hours for my bike section in the triathlon, but I have to remember it's only my fourth ride out on a hand bike!! I'm sure I will improve as the weeks go on.
I've worked out how to get the hand bike back into the car-a Zafira-using my wheelchair hoist (good for 40kg and bike is approximately 22.7kg) and a good shove, but not how to get it out as it gets wedged between the two front seats. Sadly it has to live in the car at the moment as I do not have room in my house and don't want it in my leaking, mouse infested garage. Said mouse has already chewed one pannier, a cycling glove, a bag of corn, some plastic bags and made a lovely nest in a cupboard with some extra straw which we keep for our three hens. Certainly don't want it nesting in the seat of my bike...
I've yet to work out how to get my feet strapped into and then out of the foot rests on the bike independently. So frustrating. I defy anyone to be stretchy enough to do it. Answers on a postcard please...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Mr Fixit!

I've had problems with the lowest 'granny cog' on my bike, so popped into James Cycle in Alford on the way to pick my daughter up from school on Wednesday. I drew a small crowd of bike enthusiasts and blocked the pavement as my hand cycle was 'oh-ed' and 'ah-ed' over. Glen did a lovely job of fixing it at no charge and didn't try and sell me anything! I think I have found my bike nirvana. I also found out about Alford Wheelers CC.
After a spin round Manby airfield in the racing chair on Thursday-thank you Manby Motorplex for allowing me access to the airfield for safe off road practice- Parent's evening loomed. We got out in record time, grabbed some chips (first time in months-honest! and I was starving!) and bumped into Mike, a customer from the cycle store, who we followed to the Wheeler's Club house hidden behind the Market Square.
Lots more 'oh's' and 'ah's' and a bit of lateral thinking showed me how my bike would fit on a turbo trainer placed back to front. Unfortunately it requires a spacer which they are hunting down for me. I might then be able to join in a turbo session one Wednesday evening. In the mean time, I need to put in some hours on the bike to be able to join their twenty mile 'social' rides-eek!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Funding from Aspire!

Fantastic news!! I have received funding from Aspire, a charity that supports people with a spinal injury, towards the cost of a brand new custom built racing wheelchair. I have already put in my order as I was measured in November. I've actually lost some inches round my hips as a result of my op plus training. The chair has to be a snug fit so that I don't pull myself out of it when pushing. Just got to chose a colour...a friend has already suggested red with flames as I'm going to be 'smoking fast'. (Thanks for your unending positivity Steph!)
Track training last night, 3200m at a constant pace of 3.45 mins in 400m intervals with 1 min rest. Since I have only been able to manage four laps in total since I started training again two weeks ago, I'm pleased, if a little sore this morning. I know I have a long way to go, but feel confident my times and speed will improve when I have my own chair.
I've realised that I am having to learn new skills and develop new muscles while battling long standing muscle disfunction five years post sci injury. But I've had such fantastic encouragement from the coaches at Lincoln Tri Club, Leeds Wheelchair Racing, England Athletics and UKA. My hope is that in the near future younger disabled people will take up and succeed in Paratriathlon, ready for Rio in 2016.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


The meccano set is now all put together but still needs tweaking. I've changed the long hand pedals for a short set, lifted the seat and crank arm but can't get my legs bent in the right position. I may try a bar across the foot rests to shorten them, as being 5' 1.5" this bike was not made to fit my size!
The first time I took it out on the road was a bit scary and hard work with the first set-up. Typically, it was raining. A friend, Mick, got his bike out to accompany me thank God.
I tried a 'brick' session with Layla yesterday, 30 lengths, timed swim (8.50 for 400m but only second week back since op for me) then off for 12km ride along pot holed roads-ouch! The sun even came out! Got lots of surprised looks from motorists...
Rebecca and I did a V-Dot test for run with Lincoln Tri Club at Yarborough on Saturday which gives us a base for our training schedules. I'm not sure how I will have to adapt it for handcycling and wheelchair racing plus my bike doesn't fit on the turbo trainers because of the foot rests. I also can't get the bike out of the boot of my car independently nor can I get in or out of the chair without help, because my feet need strapping in. Just a few things to sort out.