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.

London Marathon 2019

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.

London Marathon 2019

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

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.

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!

What To Take On A Winter Breeze Ride

Winter Breeze Kit

You might be a regular on your local Breeze rides, or you might be thinking of attending your first ride with no idea what to take with you! As a bare minimum all you need is a working bike and a helmet and you’re good to go. This post just contains a few things to make your ride that little bit more comfortable!

  1. Bike & Helmet

As I’ve already covered, a bike and helmet is a good place to start when you’re signing up to your first Breeze ride, but more importantly that they’re both in good condition. Your bike doesn’t have to be the latest model to come out of your local bike shop, it could just be one you’ve dusted the cobwebs off in the garage. Local Breeze Champions will list what bikes are suitable for the ride, so you just need to check on the Let’s Ride website what they’ve said about the ride. If you’re unsure if a ride is suitable for you, look out for a future blog post where I explain how to work the Let’s Ride website! Or drop your local Breeze Champion a message.

The important thing to remember is as Breeze Champions we aren’t trained bike mechanics too! If you’re unsure whether your bike is good to go, book it into your local bike shop so they can check it over. And lastly, as a Breeze Champion myself I wouldn’t let someone attend my rides without a helmet.

2. Puncture Repair Kit

Now when I say puncture repair kit, mine is made up of:

  • Spare Inner Tubes
  • Mini Bike Pump
  • Tyre Levers (to help get the tyre off and back on!)
  • CO2 Gas Canisters (a speedy way to pump up your tyre again!)

I tend to just replace the tube than put a patch over it. Some people still patch their tubes up rather than replace it, which does get more use out of the tube. But when its cold you tend to want to get back pedalling as soon as possible!

A good thing to remember on local Breeze rides is whilst we love what we do, we are volunteers who give up our time to lead the rides. We can’t keep giving out inner tubes as we’ll have bought them ourselves!

Making sure you have the correct spare inner tube is important. Inner tubes come in many different sizes, just like the bikes they go on to! I could list all of the different sizes here, but the blog post would never end! If you’re unsure of which ones to buy, your local bike shop will be more than happy to help.

3. Snacks or Cafe Money

Now your Breeze Ride might not have a cafe stop, which is completely fine. However, from experience I can tell you that there’s nothing worse than being out on your bike without money or snacks when you need them. Especially during the Winter (I’m not selling this Winter Breeze Ride thing very well am I?!?). Even if you’re not stopping at a cafe, having some emergency money in the back of your phone case and a snack of some sort is a good idea when it’s so cold! You never know how your body is going to react to the cold. I can go out on some rides and be completely fine, but others an emergency snack or cafe stop have been life savers! And who doesn’t like a good chat over some coffee and cake?

4. Gloves!!!

This can be something people tend to forget about but I couldn’t recommend a good pair of gloves more! As your riding along the cold air will tend to hit your hands first. Sooner or later you’ll barely be able to uncurl them from the bars. I know…I’ve been there! Standing under the hand dryer at work melting the icicles off my fingers after commuting by bike…and you think I’m exaggerating! I’m really not ha!

5. Warm Jacket & Leggings

For your first Breeze Ride these don’t even have to be cycling specific. I’ve cycled in thermal gym leggings from Matalan before now and a Muddyfox Waterproof Jacket from Sports Direct. All I’ll say is make sure you’re warm, but as well your clothes don’t restrict you whilst riding your bike. Make sure there’s enough flex in the material so you can reach the handlebars! I’d only say ride in leggings too. Whilst sweatpants are warm at home on the sofa watching Christmas films (gasp I said the C word!) they’re not ideal for riding a bike. They’ll probably fall down if it rains and get caught in your chain!

6. Bicycle Lock

Now I’m not saying carry a heavy bicycle chain round with you on your ride. Luckily many brands make small locks that are perfect for a cafe or toilet stop on your way round. They’re small enough to slide into your pocket but happen to be very useful if you need to leave your bike to go and order a coffee!

7. Water Bottle

You wouldn’t go to the gym without one, so make sure you pop one on your bike for your next Breeze Ride!

Like the look of the cycling kit I’ve included in the image at the top of the post? Follow the links below!

Mini Pump

CO2 Canisters

Bicycle Lock

Clif Bar (my favourite flavour!)

Gloves

Cycling Leggings

Cycling Jacket

Helmet

Bottle

Breeze Poppy Ride

Breeze Poppy Ride bpMeeting up with Lucy for the start of the ride at Alf Jones Cycles, we were pretty swift to get out on the roads. With a ride planned just short of 20 miles, it was a relaxed ride on country lanes and a lot flatter than the rides Lucy was use to doing. Setting off at half 11, it gave us chance to take part in the 2 minutes silence for Remembrance Sunday.

For mid-November it was surprisingly warm, so I didn’t need to pull out my thick Winter Mavic gloves like I did on our last ride over towards Llangollen.

Having not seen Lucy since the Horseshoe Hill Climb a few weeks ago, it was good to catch up and hear if she’s managed to get back on the bike since and how she felt after her first Hill Climb. With an exam looming on Monday, the ride out was a well-deserved break from all of her Maths revision.

After a quick coffee at Cleopatra’s Coffee Shop, the country lanes soon brought us back to Alf Jones Cycles. A relaxed ride in the Winter sun is the perfect way to clear your head for the following week.

I’m going to be making these rides, which are aimed at 16-20 year olds, a regular thing, so if you want to hear about future rides just drop me a message. Otherwise, you can follow me on social media to keep up with what rides are coming up next.

Oulton Park Spring Duathlon 2018

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

My never ending habit of entering races last minute came about again recently. Less than two weeks prior to Oulton Park Duathlon I put in an entry. I was getting restless not competing, so I just thought I’d wing it as per normal. People train months for these things…I just chuck myself in at the deep end ha!

The closer the Duathlon got the more I wondered what the hell I was doing. I massively upped my training and managed to get a lot of running in. I felt guilty not getting out on my bike much, so I knew I’d rely on my ability to dig deep on my bike.

Feeling rather lethargic throughout the week I was praying that I wasn’t coming down with an illness. Luckily I felt a lot better come race day, but those nerves were still there questioning if I’d even complete it.

Arriving at Oulton Park, I (we including Ryan) were actually on time for once. I have a habit of making race mornings stressful because I’m running late.

I got my numbers all sorted and jumped on the turbo trainer. Most people were running up and down the paddock to warm up, but I was in the mood for sitting on the turbo spinning my legs with my headphones on. And when some of my favourite Stereophonics songs came on I switched off from what everyone else was doing and focussed on beating my last time at Oulton Park of one hour 28 minutes. Out of all the years I’ve spent racing, from downhill to road cycling races, this was the first time I managed to not let my nerves get the better of me. This came as quite a shock to me to be honest.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Following race briefing we were soon lining up on the pit straight waiting for the whistle.  Now last time at Oulton Park I ended up getting a PB for 1 mile in the first mile of the race, so I was trying to pace myself…nope I ended up running a 7:22 which is by far quicker than what I run in training! I thought, one lap is just over two miles and I’m use to running longer than that now, so I just got on with it. Not going to lie though, Oulton Park does lure you in with a fairly easy start, but chucks hills in at the end.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018Oulton Park Duathlon 2018Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I come back in from the first run feeling fairly ok. I thought I’d be struggling with my non existent training plan prior, but I hopped on my bike avoiding slipping in my road cycling shoes running through transition. Thankfully the marshals reminded me to move my number round to the back!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I exited the pits where transition was and onto the race track, again surprised by how much power I had in my legs. I settled into the bike leg rather quick. I’m not sure whether I just find it easier to get into a rhythm on the bike. I loved being back on my Liv, as I’ve not ridden it since Mallorca. That also reminds me…the 70 mile ride from Mallorca possibly became more useful than I first thought as I was use to my legs hurting a lot more after Sa Calobra!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018img_0796Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Unsure on what lap I was on, I was lucky I didn’t do one too many laps! Making sure I got off my bike before the dismount line I swapped back over to my running trainers. My legs feeling like jelly going straight from bike to run. I was looking down at my watch trying to figure out what time I had left to beat 1:28.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I wanted to up the pace, but knew the short climbs were still to come. So I stuck to my pace until I got the hills out of the way. Then it was a sprint finish to make sure I beat that time. If I hadn’t of sprinted and been a few seconds over 1:28, I would have been gutted.

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I completely forgot to grab my time at the end. I must have looked a right mess because the girl handing out the medals asked if I was ok…ha! I’d dug deep…

Going back to the gazebo to get my time I somehow managed to get confused by the system to get it. The Duathlon really messed with my head ha! Either way, I printed my little slip out revealing I’d done 1:23…thank god! I could be in a good mood for the rest of the day…ha! I came 20th overall in the women and second (out of three…) in my age group.

Whatever way I look at it, I can somehow still push myself despite not having the winter I wanted. I just want to find another event to enter now!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Alderford Lake & Open Water Swimming

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A lot of what I do is overcoming the mental barrier to do it. This year a big goal is to gain confidence open water swimming. I’ve got confident in the pool now, so why not swimming outside too?

With the weather we’re having I knew it would be a good time to get my wetsuit back out. My last and first trip out in it wasn’t very successful at Manley Mere.

I messaged some friends I use to work with about Alderford Lake and I suddenly had plans to go open water swimming. With friends and not on my own this time.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

For newbies to open water swimming I’d definitely say Alderford Lake is better than Manley Mere. Alderford has an island in the middle and jetty’s you can swim too. Once you start swimming at Manley you’re committed to the 250m loop.

Squeezing into my wetsuit, we ventured into the lake. The expanse of water between me and the island was daunting. I knew I could do it if I managed to stay calm, but it was that weird situation of stressing about being able to stay calm.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A few breaststroke’s in I was off. Slowly, but I was moving. I tried not to think about not being able to put my feet down and to just concentrate on my stroke instead.

I wasn’t quite ready to do front crawl, so I just carried on smoothly and calmly with breaststroke.

I must admit I was making my shoulders works that’s for certain!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

Getting to the island was a massive hurdle for me. How far I swam probably wasn’t even that far, but I’d managed to keep my Chimp in its cage for once.

It was a big hurdle that also came as a massive relief. Like a massive weight off my shoulders had lifted. Open water triathlons have always been something I’ve wanted to do, but the swimming has stopped me doing it.

I’d love to have stayed in the water longer, but knew my body had dealt with quite a lot for the hour we were in there. It was better to get out when I felt good in the water, than let myself get too tired.

From the island we went to the other side of the lake, I had another break, then took the same route back. Swimming with other people definitely makes difference and I can’t thank Natalie and Emma for being so patient!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

I’ve overcome the first big hurdle…onto front crawl in open water next!

Swimming in Alderford LakeAlderford Lake

Lighthouse of Cap de Formentor

On the first day in Puerto Pollenca, the manic handful of early mornings and jam packed days had caught up with me. So whilst Ryan went off on his bike, I went for a run along the seafront.

A fairly chilled first day however lead to a day on our bikes with Ryan showing me around Puerto Pollenca. To ‘ease’ me into cycling in Mallorca we made our way out to the Lighthouse in Formentor. A road that climbed out of Puerto Pollenca before meandering down and down to the lighthouse.

Unfortunately it was far from a ‘training’ ride for Ryan as I felt the need to take photos at every viewpoint. Everywhere was just so damn pretty! It was pretty obvious I was the newbie to Mallorca.

Blue sea. Blue skies. A lot of the time all you could hear were birds and your tyres on the road.

It was bliss.

The first time riding my Liv and on dry roads for a good few months, I was certainly hesitant to descend. I was following Ryan and then all of a sudden it was like I flicked a switcn. Literally at the snap of my fingers my nerves went.

I’ve never ridden corners like it.

No potholes either, which was a definite bonus!

At the Lighthouse we didn’t actually stay that long. It was getting pretty busy and I didnt fancy getting cafe legs 15 mile in. We had a lot of hills to go back up…ha! Luckily our 30 mile loop could take us back along the seafront in Puerto Pollenca to Tollo’s. A cafe extremely popular with cyclists thanks to it being full of Bradley Wiggins memrobilia. With Nacho’s and coffee ordered we could of happily sat there in the sun all afternoon.

Dragging ourselves away from the sun, I ended up doing a session in the pool whilst Ryan went to do hill reps…you know the normal things you do on a holiday…!

I don’t think I could have anything but an active holiday to be honest. Training and then sitting by the pool in the afternoon seems to be a winning combination for me.

Got any traditions or habits you do on holiday? Got memories from routes you’ve ridden round Mallorca. Feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Trail Running and Labradors

I was suppose to be meeting Ffion at Llandegla, but after waking up with a sore upper body after going a little too hard in the gym, for some reason I thought I’d go running at Llandegla instead. I don’t get to see/walk Jenson much these days, so I brought him along too.

We parked up in Llandegla and went to see where the running trails started. It felt weird seeing the #GirlsAtLlandegla posters up! I can’t wait to see everyone riding the trails!

I eventually found the start of the running trails and could let Jenson off the lead. His tail was up and wagging. He loves it in the forest and I’m pretty sure it’s because of all the muddy puddles.

I’ve not been running for a while and it felt good to do it again really. It’s just simple. Chuck your running trainers in the car (possibly a dog too if there’s one available) and find a forest to go and run around.

I desperately wanted to go and ride my mountain bike, but the downpours forecast on the weather didn’t fill me with confidence.

There’s two 10km running trails at Llandegla, the red or the blue. As much as I’d like to think I could get round the red, the vertical inclines up a boggy bank that the red entailed meant I’d leave it for another day. The blue was enough really. There were plenty of hills for me and Jenson to get up to get my glutes burning…and that they did!

I’m not going to be the ‘hero’ and say I ran all the way round. I had to have a few breaks and I couldn’t not take a few photos right?

When the running trails went away from the mountain bike ones, the forest was so quiet. Seeing all of the mountain bikers ride past with mud splattered faces, part of me did feel a little jealous. But I couldn’t have brought Jenson if I was mountain biking.

On one part where the running trail runs near the start of the long climb on the red MTB trail, I just assumed Jenson had followed a scent into the bushes.

“Oh hello”

He decided to go and say hello to the mountain bikers…

Thankfully they were happy mountain bikers and didn’t bother too much! Ha!

Once Jenson and I had got back to the car park and had past the 10km finish post I just wandered back to the car.

Only the have a young shredder racing through the car park with his Dad and the BIGGEST grin on his muddy face. You could tell he had love every second of being out on his bike.

Next thing his Dad is saying close to their van…

“Ready…ready…go!”

And they skid round the corner to their van in sync. The young lad must have been about 5 years old. 5 years old and he was skidding in sync with his Dad.

That is what cycling is about…having the BIGGEST grin on your face.

I mentioned about the posters for Girls At Llandegla and I thought I’d post the links again here in case you’ve lost them! So…

Click here for the blog post!

Click here to book on!