My C.R.Y. Heart Screening

My Free CRY Screening

Back when I was training for the London Marathon I said I’d booked onto a heart screening run by Cardiac Risk in the Young. Practice what you preach and all that. There was no symptoms suggesting I needed a heart scan, but Ryan wasn’t showing any symptoms either.

With the free heart screenings booking up so quickly I was lucky to get onto one in the Marches School, Oswestry. The closer the scan got the more it played on my mind. Being active became difficult because I wasn’t sure what results I’d be walking away their with.

Getting to the school with the C.R.Y. flags outside, I signed a few forms then waited to be called though. I’d be getting an E.C.G, but to keep it all simple what you get is essentially a heart scan checking your ticker is all ok. They noted down my height, weight and age and put these onto the forms I’d filled out previously. These forms asked things like if I’d experienced anything like chest pains and other medical history information.

All that was required for the heart scan was for me to lie on a bed with some sticky pads attached to me while the machine did its thing. Honestly, it lasted less than 5 minutes. The nurse takes the scan results away, which are then looked over by a Doctor. Another anxious wait then I was called in by the Doctor.

After asking me if I’d had a heart scan before and if I show any symptoms, to both of which I responded no, he said my results were clear.

It was definitely a ‘and breath’ moment, so everything is good and I can carry on as normal.

The screening I went to saw nearly 100 people and only one showed signs of something abnormal. So if you’re nervous (like I was) about booking on to a C.R.Y. screening, the chances are you’ll be absolutely fine, but even if the results do pick anything up C.R.Y. send all of the details to your G.P. so you can be referred for further tests. Testing runs for those between the ages of 14 and 35 years old.

SIGN UP TO A FREE HEART SCREENING HERE

Now the money to run these heart screenings has to come from somewhere, so to help C.R.Y. carry on their amazing work, Ryan and I are organising a day of Crit racing at Marsh Tracks in August. It would be great if you can come along and join in the fun. The more riders that race the more money will be raised! There’s even big points on offer in the National B E123 Men’s race! Racing and raising money for charity, what a great combo!?! What a perfect event to have a go at racing too. First time racers can enter the 4th Cat only race, and women can  have a go in the E1234 race!

Crit Races for C.R.Y

Have you been to a C.R.Y. heart screening? Share your experience below to encourage others to do the same!

Reflecting on London Marathon 2019

London Marathon 2019

Well I’m still getting use to the idea it’s all done and dusted to be honest. My legs well and truly know the big event has been and gone, but when I don’t have a run to do each day I just don’t know what to do with myself. I know some of you might be thinking ‘get out on your bike!’, but I know my body needs a good rest before I get back into training. So this week, whether I do some sort of sport or not, it will purely be for fun. No number chasing, just moving and taking the world in as I do it.

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The closer London got the more difficult it got to concentrate on anything but something running related. What did I need to pack? Would we get down there ok? Would the hotel have anything I liked for breakfast?

A million questions going through my head constantly.

Someone wanted to test me before race day after a long list of things didn’t exactly go to plan. Trains not leaving stations, trains being cancelled, hotel rooms getting trashed so we couldn’t use them. It was just one thing after another.

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After working out the maze that is the London Underground, it wasn’t until I had my number in my hand that I relaxed just a little. I was still nervous, but not flapping if I was going to get to the Expo in time or not. That’s one thing I will say about the many emails you get before the marathon, they like to be a little overly cautious. Apparently getting to the Expo at 12 the latest was needed if you were going to get your number by 5pm. Granted getting there the earlier the better, we got there past 12 and were out by 2.

That was something that shocked me to be honest. I went in with the agenda of getting my number and some marathon merchandise. After picking up my number and some New Balance kit, I found the whole thing a little overwhelming. I suppose that’s the competitor in me. I needed my own headspace before race day. I was also conscious at how long I had been on my feet. Although Ryan had already scheduled in our busy day into my taper week.

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Back at the hotel after figuring out how to get to our pre-booked table at a local Italian by Bus, I was praying I’d be able to get some sleep. It’s rather stressful sitting on a bus in London having no idea where you are and having no idea where the bus is going. It felt like the crazy bus off Harry Potter…just not as fast but could turn a corner in the completely wrong direction at any second!

I quite like the night before race day, if I manage to keep the faffing down to a minimum that is. Laying my kit out checking everything is sorted. Pinning my race number on. It helps me get into the right head space. I did put off going to sleep quite a few times, but eventually I forced myself to sleep.

It wasn’t a completely undisrupted sleep thanks to the sirens and cars that come hand in hand with staying in London, but I woke up with the mindset of getting race ready. Food, plaits and kit. Ryan managed to push me out of the room on time and we got downstairs for a proper breakfast that I had to force down me. Race nerves and a big appetite aren’t things that tend to pair up with me. I’d picked up a reserve porridge pot in case I wasn’t a fan of breakfast at the hotel, so I managed that, a banana and then egg on toast.

Along with another runner nervous about relying on another runner’s taxi to get to the start line, we opted for the train which wasn’t too far from the hotel. We also played the system by getting on the train one or two stops before it got rammed. Following the sea of runners it wasn’t hard to work out where the start was.

London Marathon 2019

Walking up the street Greenwich Park opened up in front of us. The bag trucks making up part of the barrier between spectators and the Blue Start Zone, it took me a while to walk in. This was it. Ryan would head off to mile 21 to be part of the Cardiac Risk in the Young support crew and I would soon be making my way around London. Emotions were high. I’ve always been the same. Would I achieve my sub-4 hour goal? Something I found to be quite ambitious for someone’s first marathon. Would I get around at all? I have been riddled with injuries all through training. Could I get round without walking? All of this going through my head making it impossible to go under the blue arch. It felt like the first day of high school all over again. Luckily, like back at the first day of Year 7 when my brother came to see how my first day was going, walking under the blue arch went better than I thought. Everyone was on a high and the general topic of conversation being on deciding whether we actually needed a wee or if it was just nerves.

London Marathon 2019

I wandered round managing to find my bag drop trying not to get drawn into the amount of static stretching going on. Dynamic stretches are always the way to go. I made my way over to the right zone in some of Ryan’s Mum’s old kit over the top of my race kit to keep warm. Packed into the zone like penguins you could feel the buzz and anxiety floating around the group of god knows how many people. By chance I bumped into a cyclist who agreed with me that trying to cycle whilst marathon training didn’t really go hand in hand. I looked at the pacers dotted around, but could only find a 4 hour pacer. Thanks to Ryan’s advice I’d picked up a 3:55 pacing band from the Expo. His opinion was if I had a wobble on the way round I had 5 minutes spare to still get under 4 hours. The cyclist who I’d bumped into also said about not knowing how the pacers get you to the four hours. If it was go slow and speed up at the end…I would have been buggered.

Having the pacing band actually helped a lot more than I thought it would. Each mile I was chasing time for the next one, not the full 26.2 miles. It broke it up into doable chunks. Being a very numbers orientated person it just worked for me in that sense too. If I have something to follow I’m quite good at being able to dig deep and find the strength from somewhere.

Old clothes dropped in the clothing recycling bin, it was time for us to head under the big red arch that marked the start of my 26.2 miles. I knew round London it would be crazy and there would be people watching on the TV all around the UK hoping to spot their friends and family. But from this point to the finish line would be my experience of the London Marathon.

I was nervous about getting to the first mile and seeing how fast I’d started. At the various races I’d done in the run up to the big event I got into the habit of doing sub-8 minute miling for the first mile or two. When you’ve got 26.2 miles ahead and not a club runner, this isn’t something I wanted to be doing. Somehow it was like my body knew what it needed to do. It just kept ticking away whilst I ticked of the miles ahead of my pacing band. Meanwhile I was waiting for the Tower Bridge to come into view as I knew that would signal somewhere near half way. Right from the start we were running through a tunnel of people cheering their friends and family. I started giving high fives to all the little ones who had been dragged out to cheer, but soon realised I needed to focus on the task in hand.

I kept track of when I needed to take on board some sort of nutrition and looking out for the first Buxton water station. In term of nutrition I stuck to my tried and tested Clif Block and Clif Bar method. I saw people with belts full of SiS gels, but I knew my body would reject them after my experience of one in Majorca

I thought when I was running around London I would be able to take myself somewhere else. Running down the lanes at home. Running with Jenson my chocolate lab. Swimming in Cadair Idris, but it was purely a numbers game that kept me moving. There’s so much going on around you there is a lot to take in. Like looking ahead to see where the course is going so you can find the shortest line round the corner. Looking out for bottles so you don’t end up in A&E with a broken ankle thanks to the many dropped bottles. Whilst I had to drop bottles I was making sure I finished one before getting another. I don’t see the point in picking one up taking a swig and dropping it. It’s just a waste. For your average runner anyway. The club runners sort of have a reason when they’re running sub-6 minute miles (probably quicker).

Sooner or later Tower Bridge came into view, but the finish line still felt like it was a long way away. I think it was mainly the uncertainty of if I could keep my pace up. After 6 months of training I desperately wanted to run sub-4. I naturally seemed to run at 8:30 to 9 minute miling, so I knew it was possible. It’s just if I was mentally strong enough to carry it off.

I say I could naturally run at that pace, way back in October 2 miles was a struggle for me. It wasn’t until Ryan bought me some Endura compression socks that I managed to up my distance and pace. It took me a while to get into my Marathon training, possibly down to the fact I didn’t know what I was capable of when it came to running. I was quite happy remaining in the unknown. Eventually 2 miles lead to 3, 3 to 6 etc. It wasn’t until I booked a 10km, half marathon and 20 mile race that I really got into it when I had milestones to hit.

Those first few runs around the village seem so long ago now.

If you asked me where I actually ran in London, I don’t think I’d be able to tell you. I don’t even remember running past Big Ben because of all the people. You only notice the Tower Bridge because of how vast it is. It was all about putting one foot in front of the other and ticking the miles off on my pacing band.

I guess it’s time to bring up how my reason for running the marathon changed. You’d think the only thing that happened over the past 6 months would have been completely running related, but life has to carry on I guess. Whether that’s positive or negative. Carrying the Cardiac Risk in the Young vest round London was certainly an emotional thing to do. It signified what had happened over the past 6 months. Ryan had come to terms with his Mum being diagnosed with a heart condition, only for him to find out he had one too at the start of 2019 after a free CRY screening. The cycling stopped for him and I turned to running to come to terms with it all. Something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I may have turned to running, but I still carried the guilt of still being able to exercise. So now I won’t be taking that privilege for granted.

That’s one thing that changed in me as a result of training for the Marathon. It taught me discipline. I dragged myself out the door in my running trainers whether I felt up to it or not. Some sort of run was better than no run at all. I eventually decided to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young as thanks to them I still have my partner in crime. And if people were willing to sponsor me, I wasn’t going to go into it without having given 100% commitment. If anyone who sponsored me is reading this, from the bottom of my heart I can’t thank you enough. It pushed me on when the going got tough. It helped me come to terms with what was going on, because I had something to focus on. The money raised could potentially save another young person’s life by not letting an underlying heart condition go unnoticed.

London Marathon 2019

When it got to around mile 16 or 17 I was running to Ryan at mile 21. When I ran past Ryan I was running to my Mum and brother at the finish. Despite being riddled with calf injuries throughout training, my legs held up rather well  up to mile 22. I was ticking off the pacing times well and it wasn’t until about mile 22 that my right quadricep started playing up. All I could think of in my head was ‘don’t  give up now’. People were dropping like flies with injuries, toilet stops or just slowing down to walk. I desperately wanted to run the whole thing. I’d got this far matching my pace band well, so I wasn’t going to give up now.

Getting near Big Ben (despite not actually seeing it) was where it got really tough. I was so close. I just needed my body to hold on until then. I was so lost in my own mindset getting to the end I didn’t hear my Mum and Brother shouting me down the Mall. I wanted to pick up the pace but had nothing left. My pace had started to drop, but luckily my legs carried me across the line in 3 hours 57 minutes. The last 6 months caught up with me and I burst into tears.

It was done.

My life had been consumed by running for 6 months. I was one of the lucky ones who got into the ballot on their first attempt, but honestly I couldn’t have been more grateful for getting the chance to do one of the biggest running races in the world. It carried me through a rough patch I don’t think cycling would have carried me through. Running took me away from everything I was use to. It gave me an escape without noticing a space beside me. Running the marathon made me take my body to a level of discipline I’ve never managed before. I had a goal and I wasn’t stopping until I got to that finish line.

I’ve been saying this whole thing was a running race. Granted I wasn’t racing for a finishing position, but I was still racing. I was racing myself. I was giving myself the confidence in what my body could achieve.

London Marathon 2019

I suppose this is where you expect me to say turn to exercise to find piece in yourself, but the reality is that it’s not possible for everyone. All I’m going to say is find something that makes you happy. If you’re blessed with a body that lets you do sport, do it for the enjoyment. If all you can do is a walk in the park, soak up those sunshine rays. The stresses we put on ourselves really aren’t worth it if we’re not happy. If you’ve got exam season coming up, don’t shut yourself away from the world and live in a book for the next few months. Get yourself out, even if its to the park for a picnic. Laugh more than you stress.

If you are a young athlete, for your parent’s piece of mind book onto a local CRY screening if you can find one. I’ve booked onto one in June and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it. If the worst happens as a result, there’s always something else you can turn your mind to. Even if it takes a little while to adjust.

So I’ve ticked the London Marathon off my bucket list in circumstances I didn’t expect. I got the gold medal with the red ribbon, which is a small consolation for never getting good enough at a sport to go to the Olympics, which I always secretly wanted to do. I did the ‘people’s race’. It won’t be something I forget and I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity. Ryan’s always said everything happens for a reason and I really think me getting into the ballot did happen for a reason.

I need to finish with a million thank you’s to everyone who has helped me along the way. I couldn’t have got to the finish line without you!

This has possibly been one of my longest posts, so I hope you didn’t have to get up and make another brew to get through it all. My posts should be getting back to bikes now Ryan has found his new role as coach. My legs are screaming already…

Want to read about how I prepared for London?

Half Marathon

20 Miles and an Ice Bath

Running for CRY

20 Miles and an Ice Bath

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I’m not going to lie…I could have had more enthusiasm when my alarm went off at 6.30am on a Sunday in aid of a running race. I was expecting to be running in rain and sleet, so it could have turned out to be an emotional day. However, waking up and being able to see the sun starting to rise, I was slightly pleased I wasn’t going to be battling Mother Nature at least. I still had a 20 mile run to tackle, but the improved weather was a small positive to hold on to.

It was a fairly early start in comparison to other running events I’ve been doing to prepare for London. 9am and the start buzzer was going off. I was running in a mix of people where some were doing marathon distance, half-marathon, or like me doing 20 miles. So I needed to keep telling myself to run my own race as I could end up following someone who’s running 7 miles less that me and go off too quick.

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Regardless of being conscious about not going off too quick, I was still around the 8 minute miling mark to begin with. A pace that gave me a slight boost in confidence that I was doing ok. Yet somehow it still felt like I was struggling 3 miles in. So if it’s not already obvious…my chimp was putting up quite a fight whilst I made my way around the course today!

It was odd running through the centre of the town where I’ve grown up. People were still looking at us like we were crazy but still ha!

If I’m completely honest, a lot of the course is a blur really. Apart from the times I may have had to try very hard not to get distracted by Shetland Ponies or Spring Lambs…

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One part of the course I will not forget is having to wade through thigh deep water thanks to Storm Gareth! I know ice baths are suppose to be good for athletes, but I’m not so sure it’s good in the middle of a run! Luckily it was just below my shorts, but it was definitely a good day to not wear leggings!

I did panic a little bit at having to run through the cold water. As a Raynaud’s sufferer it wasn’t ideal, but somehow it didn’t affect me all that much apart from being a little uncomfortable to run when we managed to get out of it. My legs felt like they did transitioning from bike to run in Chirk Triathlon! Character building I guess…!

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Surprisingly I seem to get through the first 10 miles quite strong. I sort of settled into things then. I was like ‘right I’m half way there’ and the next target was making sure I hit my half marathon PB of 1:51. If I hit that I knew my pace was good, especially as I wanted to do the 20 miles in under 3 hours. That’s the biggest thing about running for me is that it is a massive numbers game. I get times in my head to hit on the way round which gives me something to focus on.

15 miles in I was starting to suffer. My head started to go, but I’d done a 15.5 mile run last weekend, so I got past that by telling myself I’d not even hit unchartered territory yet.

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Despite getting to 17 miles and using the mental aid of it just being one Park Run distance to finish, it was the longest three miles I’ve ever done! Hills galore and my legs were suffering. I don’t know how I pushed on but I did.

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It was particularly tough near the end as the field had spread out a lot by then. I’m not sure whether most had done the half marathon, but I was running mainly alone trying to push on as hard as my legs would let me chasing that three hour mark. When it got really tough I thought back to all of the people who have helped me raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young. I only had to look down at my vest top to remember that. Ryan can’t train or race anymore, so I need to make sure I put my all into it when I do.

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Crossing the finish line seeing my Mum and Ryan, a few tears started coming out. I’m not sure why, but it probably come from spending the last three hours wondering if I was going to be able to make it or not. Well 2:52 to be exact…

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I’m Running London Marathon for…

London Marathon

Things have been a little quiet on here lately…I didn’t even do an International Women’s Day post! Some will possibly know already, but we (me and Ryan) didn’t have the start to 2019 we’d hoped for. It started with laughing and memories thanks to our eventful trip up Snowdonia, but swiftly took a sharp turn when Ryan got diagnosed with a heart condition. All of a sudden he had to go from a life of sport to being told he couldn’t do anything more than a gentle game of golf.

He’s been diagnosed with ARVC, Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy.

To most it has been hard to get their head around when Ryan took the titles of RAF Road Champ and RAF TT Champ for 2018, on top of coming 26th in the British Cycling TT National Champs.

Now Ryan’s at home when I’m going out training for the London Marathon when he would have previously had been out on his bike for 3-4 hours.

Now we’re both trying to get to grips with golf again to cut a long story short, a heart screening run by Cardiac Risk in the Young has saved Ryan’s life. More commonly known as C.R.Y., they are a charity focussed on preventing sudden cardiac deaths in the young. They run free screenings across the country that help highlight any heart issues that may have gone unnoticed until it is too late.

Being surrounded by a lot of people with a passion for sport, I’m hoping I can raise awareness of heart conditions in young athletes, as well as encouraging them to attend a C.R.Y. screening. With a screening per person costing £85, I’m hoping money raised from doing the marathon can help C.R.Y. carry on the amazing work they do.

If you’d like to put any money towards this amazing charity, then I’ve set up this Virgin Money Giving page:

Click here to support Cardiac Risk in the Young

The marathon was originally something I was doing to tick off my bucket list, but when we found out the news the reason I was training has drastically changed. I’m training because I still can. So no matter how extreme your training regime is, #trainbecauseyoucan

Half Way There, Running On A Prayer…

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Either way I’m not entirely sure where today came from. A 1.51 Half Marathon.

With the weeks leading up to said Half Marathon being less than ideal due to injuries…going into it there was the main aim of getting round at all with a slight hope for a sub 2 hour time. Sub 2 hours means a sub 4 hour London Marathon time could be in sight.

Getting ready for a local half marathon was rather odd. I needed my race number and trainers as a bare minimum. A lot less faff compared to going to a cycling race! Needless to say I was pretty calm because of this.

There was a dilemma of needing a wee with not long to go to the start. It wasn’t even a nervous wee. I genuinely needed to go! Yikes!

Having to find alternative means to the handful of porta loo’s for 5,000 runners…it was working out where I needed to place myself. I came across the 2 hour pacer, so I’d found my position ready for the start gun.

The gun went but it took me a while to get to the actual start line whilst all of the runners funnelled through it. I kept all of the eagerness at bay and stayed at the 2 hour pace to ease me into it all.

Considering my interrupted training plan, I was hesitant to pick up the pace, but as the miles ticked by and I felt ‘comfortable’ I knew I had room to pick up a little speed. Hovering around the 8.30 pace, my Clif Shot Blocks seemed to keep me fuelled and on target for sub 2 hours.

We couldn’t have had more of a perfect day for it. It didn’t feel like the middle of July obviously, but it was warm enough to run in shorts. A pair of Nike shorts I found in the sale that turned out to be the comfiest pair of shorts I’ve ever ran in! Paired with my compression socks (which have literally saved my marathon training) I was channeling Lucy Charles all the way round, plaits included…just maybe not her pace ha!

There was one point I slipped back into my comfort zone, but quickly snapped myself out of it. After some advice of Ryan’s friends on thinking ‘tummy muscles’ on the way round, I felt like my technique was quite strong for once. No slouching today!

Thanks to my training being fairly hilly and the race route being fairly flat, the hills on course were gladly not too much of an issue. I made sure to power up them. It was just one of those days where I had a kick butt attitude. None of this ooo I’ll play it safe, which was a lot different to how I normally approach things!

In my head I wanted to get to the 10 mile mark then pick up the pace. I only had a Park Run distance left then! And that’s what I did. Then with about a mile and a half to go I put all of my cards on the table. It was my final big push to make sure I got under the 2 hours mark. Managing quite a few minutes quicker than that, it was rather surreal crossing the finish line.

I suppose that’s one thing I like about endurance running. It’s all on me. No tactics or attacks to respond to. Just getting from A to B in a time I’m happy with. Granted if I took it more seriously it wouldn’t be like that, but still…

Thank you to all of the organisers of the Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon and all of the marshals cheering around the course. There was such a good vibe out on the course today, so I loved spending my Sunday getting a Welsh Dragon medal.

Having my family out on course pushed me on no end too. So hopefully all of this means marathon training is back on track.

Knowing When To Stop

I suppose I’ve never really done sport seriously enough for it to lead to things like injuries before, that or I’m just getting old!

Training for the London Marathon has opened my eyes a fair bit when it comes to looking after my body with it pushing my body on the endurance side of things. Cycling longs distances took some time, but it’s something I can push on with. Running however is something I have and will have to work on.

I can no longer miss that stretching session and carry on like my body is perfectly fine. I know a lot of stretches from my dancing days, but just because I have that knowledge doesn’t mean I always use it…

Post-Christmas my running was going surprisingly well. I was comfortably running 10 miles and was on target for a training plan I’ve put together. The past two weeks however haven’t been great. An ankle injury has put a stop to me going out for a run. I went out for the odd jog to see how strong it was, but it still didn’t feel right. I managed something low impact like swimming, but with a timer on my phone counting down the days to the marathon, I needed my ankle sorting out.

That is where Phoenix Sports Massage Therapy comes in. My legs were way past being able to be sorted by a foam rolling session, so it was over to Richard to get rid of all the tight spots in my legs.

All I can say is you will never know how many knots are hiding away in your legs until a sports masseuse gets hold of them. Cupping turned out not to be as painful as it looks, but my legs did feel odd getting up afterwards!

So there’s no big day out to share on my blog this week, just how I’m hopefully getting back to training.

If you’re looking for a sports masseuse in the area, then head over to Phoenix Sports Massage Therapy Over on Richard’s social media pages and give them a follow:

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If Chester Football Club trust Richard to keep their players in tip top condition, then I don’t think you can go far wrong really.

Snowdon on New Year’s Day

Snowdon on New Year's Day

Boots and a packed lunch in the car, we were following the twisting roads across Wales to the highest peak in the country. It’s not a mountain I am familiar with as the only thing I knew about where we were heading was the car park at the bottom of the Watkin Path. We’d ventured up to one of the first waterfalls on the path last summer, taking a dip to cool off on a hot blue sky day.

The 1st January 2019 obviously looked very different; deciding on how many layers to wear by looking between the seasoned walkers and those less experienced in the car park. I’ve learnt from my mistakes of over-estimating how well my body copes with the cold, so I opt for more layers than less.

Laces tied we cross the road to the stone pillar reading ‘Watkin Path’ that shows the start of our New Year’s Day wander.

The winding roads had already brought us far from any sort of noise that daily life seems to entail these days. Yet, walking up through the trees pushed it all further away.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We reached the waterfalls that we’d came across last summer. The water still looking just as enticing to jump into. The water so clear, yet it still has a colour you only find from water in the mountains.

Whilst we weren’t expecting to have Snowdon to ourselves, we were glad to have chosen the less popular route to the top. We might not have been able to see much of it with the clouds hanging so low and rain coming down, but it still offered sights to remember. A mountain-side teeming with history and tough work, but now it is something used for leisure.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

At first we were following the river and crossing railway sleeper bridges, but soon we found ourselves ascending steps made up of perfectly placed rocks. We mainly walked alone but did come across other walkers every now and then. Some in two’s, but others in groups with their four-legged friends.

500m.

600m.

700m of elevation.

We were slowly edging closer to the peak.

Fog making visibility difficult and way markers few and far between, we took a turn on what we thought was the path. When walking turned to scrambling, we only then started to think we’d taken a wrong turn. You know, past the point of being able to turn back…not like us at all!

Snowdon on New Year's Day

The only thing I will say is that I feel sorry for the poor guy who followed us thinking we knew where we were going.

Two became three whilst we got ourselves out of the pickle we’d found ourselves in.

A few points of brushing off our bouldering skills later, we all looked at each other when the sound of people reaching the summit came into ear shot.

It was one time I was actually thankful for fog as it meant we had no clue how steep the mountain-side actually was. Although, without the fog maybe we wouldn’t have made the slight navigation error in the first place…

Snowdon on New Year's Day

The thought of being able to have lunch kept me moving up the mountain. We climb the steps to the official summit by doing that typically British thing of forming an orderly queue on the steps and waiting our turn to see the grand total of bugger all. You’ve got to love Wales. Even when the weather’s against you, it can still put a smile on your face.

We head to the side of the closed cafe in order to get out of the howling wind. Our planned lunch stop turned into a quick sandwich break only for us to get moving again.

Our scrambling adventure meant I had to ditch my thick gloves, so the mountain sapped out any sort of warmth my hands had. I was relieved to come across a sign for the Watkin Path that pointed us away from the steep ascent we had just climbed.

This confirmed we had definitely strayed away from the Watkin Path.

We left the swarms of people that had climbed the Pyg track behind and began to feel more human again the warmer we got.

We passed groups on their way up.

We were overtaken by those swiftly on their way down.

But all of a sudden about an hour had passed without us seeing a sole.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We stopped for a short while as the sun started to burn away the clouds. I threw my arms up in the air and shouted:

“Sun me!”.

The mountain we had just climbed slowly started to reveal itself. The rocks were jagged, but somehow still uniform. Their shadows came and went as the sun tried its hardest to come through.

The further down we got, the more the clouds started to clear. It seems we had quite literally had our heads in the clouds. Still drenched from our 5 hours wandering, we were fairly close to the bottom, only to pass a couple saying:

“We must be over half way now!”

Ryan and I looked at each other and smiled.

Back to the railway sleeper bridges and waterfalls, we breathed a sigh of relief. Then burst out laughing as we followed train of sheep down the path, with one attacking, going for the breakaway.

Then there was a stop Ryan had already anticipated when his eyes fell on a black Labrador who I would soon be giving all of the attention to. We chatted to the family of four, then covered the last stretch back to the car park.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We got changed out of layers, then stopped at the closest cafe as during the walk Ryan had realised his coat wasn’t exactly waterproof anymore. We sat in the Moel Siabod Cafe with our hands wrapped around cups of coffee desperately trying to warm them up. We were also munching on cake I’d bought after feeling guilty I’d eaten the Mars Bar Ryan was planning on eating…

The cafe was full of friends, families and their woofers in tow. There were no Instagram perfect selfies going on here. It was all wind-swept hair and damp clothes, but it was perfect in the real sense of the word. Everyone was smiling, chatting and completely disconnected from the digital world.

 

 

Major Milestones for 2018

I often get to this time of year and feel a bit deflated thinking I haven’t done a great deal throughout the year. So I’ve made myself sit down and write this blog post to summarise all of things I’ve done that I may have forgotten about!

The first exciting trip for Lucy’s Life and Bikes in 2018 was a trip to British Cycling HQ. We got to hear about British Cycling’s plans for the year and watch the National Track Champs. Nothing major really happened but it was a good way to kick off the year. It was quite odd meeting other cycling bloggers really with how rare we seem to be!

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Gosh…it’s been a #busy week! Rushing to get an assignment done so I could really chill out in #Manchester this #weekend . Cramming in the #gym to get myself back into a #training regime and have a day at British Cycling yesterday! _____________________________________ Watching the National Track Champs yesterday was mental. The tension of who’s going to cross the line first is intense 🙉 If you see local track races popping up near you, I definitely recommend you go and watch. The #power the #athletes produce is mind-boggling 🙈 _____________________________________ #cycling #BritishCycling #TrackChamps #ukcyclechat #ukblogger #activelife #ootd #anotheroutfitpost

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One memory I do want to take away from 2018 is when me and Ryan pulled a route map out of a magazine and walked up Cadair Berwyn. The walk wasn’t exactly up a mountain, but we still took in some amazing views that day. I think Ryan just wanted to get me out of the house really with #GirlsAtLlandegla coming up the following weekend!

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So then came #GirlsAtLlandegla. I’m not as mountain bike focussed as I use to be, but I still love heading to the forest on my bike every now and then. I’m not exactly sure where the idea for #GirlsAtLlandegla came from, but all of a sudden Manon Carpenter was coming up from South Wales to attend the event. Due to snow, the brave 30 girls who attended the event got to follow Manon around the trails. Still to this day I think about all of the girls who rode that day and were completely amazing. As were One Planet Adventure, Llandegla who made sure the girls could quickly warm up when they got back! We also ended up raising nearly £300 for Help for Heroes!

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It didn’t take me too long to defrost after #GirlsAtLlandegla, but the thought of getting to the beach in Majorca the following week got me round those snow-covered trails! My first cycling holiday, I had the best time cycling roads that dreams were made of. The climbs went on forever, but the views took your mind off the pain in your legs. Despite only being out there for a few days, quite a few blog posts came out of it!

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

One of my big goals for 2018 was to race more on my Liv, so post-Majorca a lot of my time was spent ‘attempting’ to train. Paired with wanting to gain more confidence with open-water swimming, I was either on my road bike or in a lake! I also had to chuck some running in there after going back to Oulton Park at the end of April for their Spring Duathlon.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

When we started to enter the road racing season, that’s when I ended up making an appearance in Cycling Weekly for a ‘Training Makeover’. They looked at my training and gave me some pointers on how to tackle it during the Summer.

Unfinished Business

The closer we got to the Summer, the more my confidence with open-water swimming came, meaning I wanted to tackle the unfinished business I had in the lake at the top of Cadair Idris. I don’t know why I felt I needed to return to the lake and actually swim in it, but I went back and somehow managed it. It may have taken me a while, but I got there. This was quite a major milestone for me, because, anyone who knows me will know the mental battles I’m sometimes up against. Getting to the point I’m at now has been a long road, back to before Chirk Triathlon even. Some might say I should have gone to the Doctors, but when their only response was to put me on medication, I knew it was getting out of my comfort zone that was going to help me. I’d often feel anxious sitting in a classroom, but now I’ll talk to anyone. I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘cured’, but it certainly doesn’t seem to control me anymore. Unfinished Business was the biggest blog post for me this year. Letting my mind stop me from doing something as simple as swim in a lake had been a weight on my shoulders I had finally lifted. For 2019 I’m hoping I can find some sort of open-water swimming event to enter.

After Cadair I had a busy few weekends getting to concerts. Thankfully Stereophonics was local, but I also travelled to Manchester to see Taylor Swift with Georgia. Taylor Swift was something that was completely spontaneous and booked last minute, so maybe the getting out of my comfort zone was starting to pay off!

After some sad news about someone I use to race Downhill MTB with, I soon found myself booking an uplift day at Revolution Bike Park with my brother. It was funny going on a road trip with my downhill bike again, especially with my brother. He took me to a few of my races, mostly thanks to my bike fitting into his car a lot easier than anyone else’s! It would normally mean a trip to Chirk McDonald’s after college on a Friday with a packed car heading to the Ludlow area for a Pearce DH race. The good old days that I miss massively and all the people I use to ride with too. I wasn’t as quick as I used to be, but I don’t think I ever will be…

Mountain biking aside, I was soon back on my road bike leading the Women’s Tour out of Dolgellau as a Breeze Champion. Ryan even gave me a taste of how much pain the pro’s would have been in after taking me up the Bwlch Y Groes…

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The aftermath of the Bwlch Y Groes 😰 •••• Head to my Instastory to hear what I thought after I got my breath back 😂 •••• I’ve never ridden a climb like it…I can’t compare it to anything 🙈 Sa Calobra was longer, but the Bwlch Y Groes felt so much harder 😂 My chest hurts from breathing so hard 😂 Ryan shows me some pretty epic places 🙈 •••• This is my entry for @hayleyjanewarnes competition to win a spot on the #OakleyCyclingTour 😍 •••• #womencycling #LivCyclingUK #ukcyclechat #100climbs #roadielife #digdeep #wildernessculture #adventurevisuals #goexplore #outdooradventures #outdooradventurephotos #SheAdventures #fromwhereiride #outdoorbloggers #ukblogger #ASSOSofSwitzerland #HaveAGoodRide #shareyourkask #RideLife #RideGiant #lovecycling #ridelikeagirl #roadslikethese #bikeridewithaview #knackered #jellylegs

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Following that soon came the time I started road/crit racing. There were some rookie errors (like the major one of miscalculating how many laps we’d done) but then there were some bonkers moves I made by accident that completely changed the race. I never placed very well in the races, but I just loved the buzz of being in the action for once rather than just ‘getting round’. I’d finally got an adrenaline buzz from road racing…ha!

Getting such a buzz from racing again soon saw me organising a day of racing at Marsh Tracks in Rhyl, which I somehow even managed to interview Coryn Rivera as a result of organising it too. Whilst I didn’t get the entries I’d hoped for, I still won’t forget that day of racing seeing so many under 12 riders racing round Marsh Tracks. Stay tuned whilst I finalise the date(s!!!) for 2019. I’m not going to lie, the event was a massive learning curve, so I’m hoping I can fine tune it slightly for 2019.

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I sort of wound everything down after Marsh Tracks. I’d put so much time into the event like making the trophies and understanding the logistics of it all, I didn’t really have much energy left for racing! I started running Breeze rides instead, which is how I met Lucy…who happens to have the exact same Liv Envie as me…ha! From our first Breeze rides, 7 days later I had managed to persuade Lucy to do the local hillclimb up the Horseshoe Pass! She did an amazing job and I can’t wait to organise more Breeze rides for 2019.

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To finish off the year I found myself skiing in France with my brother. I’d done my normal thing of being hesitant to book it. So my brother took the deciding out of my hands and booked it for me. It was pretty much a week of eat, sleep, ski, repeat so I was knackered by the end of it!

So looking back, 2018 has been pretty jam packed! I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me this year with events. They couldn’t have happened without you! I really do appreciate it!

What would you like to see from Lucy’s Life and Bikes in 2019? I’d love to hear, so don’t hesitate to drop me a message!

Revisited: 18 Things to Do in 2018

On this day last year I posted an 18 Things to Do in 2018 blog post, so I thought I’d see how I got on in achieving anything on it. Granted, I probably should have printed it off so I had more chance of ticking each one off, but I ticked off more than I thought.

1. New Year Resolution?
With Ffion on our mountain bikes the other day, we were having a good old chat about New Year Resolutions and fitness came into both of ours. Mine is to get functionally stronger. I’ve let my fitness slip the past few months so its about time I did something about it! I just need to decide on a gym to join…

I didn’t quite get there in terms of being functionally fit like I use to, but I did gain a lot of fitness when it came to riding my bike. A trip to Majorca meant I hit the 70 mile mark and had some pretty exciting crit races on my road bike to.

2. Sport to Try?
After hearing all about my brother’s trip to Whistler, I’m hoping I’ll get to try Snowboarding this year.

Well, I went on a snow sports holiday…just on a pair of ski’s rather than a board!

3. Place to Visit Abroad?
Oo a tough one, but France is probably the most likely whether that’s to hit the slopes on a snowboard or climb the mountain roads on my trusted Liv Envie.

I ended up in France twice this year. Once with work and then with my brother skiing. 

4. Staycation to Book?
I haven’t managed to knuckle it down to one particular location, but I’d love to organise a group holiday to a cottage/cabin somewhere with lots of cycling and mountains nearby!

We never got that group holiday booked, but we did end up on some short breaks in Dolgellau quite a lot, which is probably my favourite village in Wales by now. 

5. Bad habit to get rid of?
Overthinking everything!

Not going to lie…I think I’m always going to do this!

6. Book to read?
With motorsport being another big part of my life, the book I want to read os one written by the wife of Frank Williams. Williams: A Different Kind of Life is written by the wife of Frank Williams and the troubles they’ve overcome after his accident.

I’ve not got round to reading this book, but it is still on the list! One book I have read was Running For My Life.

7. Unfinished project you want to finish?
Paint some canvas’ to put up in the house.

I’ve painted one…

8. Mountain to climb?
Cadair Idris as I have actually only been up to the lake…which I ended up swimming in!

I took it up a notch this year and swam in the lake at the top of Cadair…I mean actually swam not just paddled aha! I’d love it if you read my blog post ‘Unfinished Business‘ on this!

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I finally went back to Llyn Cau over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Ryan and I climbed a bit higher above the lake first, then went to the lake on the way down Cadair Idris. •••• It still took my a while to get the confidence to swim, but it was the best feeling afterwards 💕 •••• A Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM lens providing the goods 👌🏻 I love so many of the photos in the blog post, I really hope you go and have a look so you can let me know what you think 😁 •••• #SIGMAUK #lr_people #Wales #CadairIdris #swimwithaview #huubdesign #outdoorbloggers #girlsthatwander #girlywanderlust #outdoorbella #choosemountains #likeamountaingirl #wildswimming #ukblogger #wildernessculture #adventurevisuals #goexplore #outdooradventures #outdooradventurephotos #SheAdventures #CadairIdris #Dolgellau #LlynCau #mountaingirls

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9. Skill to improve?
It’s cheating but I want to put two down, my photography and cycling fitness.

My cycling fitness took quite a big step up this year. I can’t wait to get back to Pimbo in 2019!

10. Film to watch?
The Nutcracker, which was actually filmed somewhere I have been with Ryan earlier this year. I can already recognise the place from the trailer!

Yea…we missed this in the cinema, so waiting for the DVD it is!

11. Recipe to master?
Any recipe out of a cookbook I had off Ryan for Christmas, RAF 100 Cookbook.

I may have used the book for a few recipes, but I honestly can’t remember! My cooking has improved quite a lot though, I don’t really follow recipes anymore aha.

12. Planned event you’re already looking forward to?
Going to see Stereophonics.

I can confirm Stereophonics was very good!

13. Something to start saving money for?
Snowboarding holiday.

I didn’t exactly save…but went aha.

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If you’re wondering where I’ve been…I’ve been living the high life (quite literally 😂) in @tignesofficiel with my brother ⛷ • This will always be the most memorable part on top of the #Borsat #ski lift regardless of how 🥶 it was! It felt like I’d been dropped in the middle of a David Attenborough documentary to find some penguins 😂 Battling the wind and wind-swept powder made it an interesting trip down to the bottom 🙈 Especially when we got back to the hotel and realised we’d covered 22 miles…so basically 22 miles in the squat position 😂 • #tuitravelgoals #tignes #tignesaddict #ladaille #ski #snowboard #olympusuk #olympusfrance #france #moutainlife #winterseason #everytrailconnects #powdergirl #outdoorbella #blueskies #sunandsnow #pistelife #girlswhoski #mountaingirls #powderlove #GetMoreWinter #igtravel #skiholiday #bluebird #skiseason

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14. National Trust Heritage site to visit?
Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire.

I think I still follow their page on Instagram, but I still haven’t been. I did go to Chatsworth House, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go thanks to Pride and Prejudice…

15. Film to carry on watching a million times over?
Any of the Fast & Furious Films or Skyfall. I always love getting all cozy with a hot chocolate with Skyfall on the TV.

Not sure I’m a massive fan of these anymore…

16. 2018 Challenge to complete? (#365PhotoChallenge?)
In relation to my blog it will be to make sure I post every week, but for cycling it will be to enter some more CRIT races.

I decided against forcing content for my blog, so I didn’t post as regularly as I’d hoped unfortunately! I did have great fun at crit racers though. I even ended up in Cycling Weekly!

17. Fitness/Activity event to conquer?
Welsh Champs TT.

I ended up doing Welsh Road Champs…which didn’t go too well!

18. Thing to be most grateful for?
Having supportive family and friends around me.

I’ll always be grateful for this. 

 

I didn’t tick all of these off, but it was a rather long list! If you look at my year as a whole, you’ll realise these pointers don’t even scratch the surface with everything that has gone on this year. There’s been quite a few milestones meaning a ‘Milestones for Lucy’s Life and Bikes’ blog post will be on the way shortly. But until then, don’t get too bogged down with New Year’s Resolutions, because as above proves, keeping it simple and going with the flow is a good way to be.

Silverstone Classic Photo Epic

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If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know I spent last weekend at the Silverstone Classic, which attracted the crowds to watch the cars of years gone by return to the track. I spent the weekend around the Volvo S40 which Rickard Rydell had come from Sweden to drive again.

I was forever behind the lens of my camera like always, so got quite a few pictures over the weekend. A weekend that saw original mechanics reunited with the driver they use to spanner check for, whilst current mechanics kept the car running in tip top condition.

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A team put together by Jason Minshaw it was all hands on deck to make sure the car got to where it needed to be over the weekend.

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With unpredictable weather, a few wheel changes took place as well as alterations to the tracking and gearbox over the weekend.

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Qualifying on Friday turned out to be quite eventful with some cars facing issues that lead them to retire from the weekend.

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Luckily the Volvo didn’t suffer such issues and Rickard placed the car in pole position for the race the following day.

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Celebrating 60 years of the BTCC, the JET Super Touring Car Trophy was a popular collection of races over the weekend.

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With plenty of fans coming to meet Rickard when he wasn’t driving the Volvo.

In between its time on the track, the Volvo was checked and adjusted following feedback from Rickard.

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Despite biblical downpours at one point over the weekend, the heatwave meant hydration was key before and after jumping in the car.

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The cars waited by garages 1 and 2 to get to the pit lane and out to the track.

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Rickard’s biggest competitor over the weekend, James Dodd, who was driving the Honda Accord.

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Despite the multiple position changes on track making it impossible to predict who would come out on top, Rickard and James showed impeccable sportsmanship off the track.

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James Dodd pipped Rickard to the top spot of the podium, to which Rickard responded in good spirit “if it was my car he wouldn’t have got past”.

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I was possible too young to remember these cars racing in their day, but I surprisingly still recognised some of the liveries thanks to the countless motorsport books on the bookshelf and not a BTCC race missed on the TV.

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Bjorn and Daniel flew from Sweden to help with the car over the weekend.

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With a few season back racing, the hype around the Volvo S40 was even greater with Rydell back in the driver’s seat.

Head over to the full album of photos by clicking here.

For more on what Rickard Rydell thought of the weekend, you can also read this article on his website.