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!

You Survived January…

January can sometimes be the hardest month to get through. Everywhere you go you find yourself having the idea of New Year Resolutions forced upon you and to ban yourself from eating almost every type of food.

This diet will make you lose 2 stone in a week.

Food to avoid and why.

The fitness plan that changed my body in 6 weeks.

Those article titles make me feel sick. They make you feel guilty about eating foods without you even realising it.

That one training session missed and the immense guilt that follows.

January is suppose to the be the month of positivity is it not?

My point is don’t feel down because your 2018 so far hasn’t gone as well as you’d hoped. Because I’m in the same boat.

My 2018 has been hard physically and mentally.

The return to work after Christmas was a massive shock to the system, which probably wasn’t helped by the flu I was battling. I can’t remember the last time I was so ill I could barely walk round my local park.

So that was the first week of 2018 scuppered. It was me and a box of Kleenex tissues rather than sweating it out in the gym.

I’ve also been worrying about the up coming race season and how the amount of training I’ve done for it being zero.

I kept finding myself in the mindset of it being too late to start now…

My point of all of this is, is if you find yourself in the same boat of the start of 2018 being anything but positive…keep your chin up.

How I’m getting out of this rut is to say I’ll just start a fresh in February (well now really). I’m prioritising what is important so as to not spread myself out too thinly. And plan out all of my trips to the gym to get back to my old self.

So if you feel like writing off any goal achieving in 2018, why not start a fresh in February? There are 11 months left after all. We don’t need to go from zero to hero in a month, we can just take those small steps to get us there.

18 Things to Do in 2018

18 things to do in 2018

I suppose it’s that time of year I should write a little post about the approaching New Year. I’ve had such a great Christmas, even if I was a little unwell for part of it. I couldn’t dive into all of the food like normal…ha!

To make a post that’s a little different, I wanted all of my readers to be able to get involved too. 18 questions about what you want to accomplish in 2018. Write your answers on a piece of paper or in the comments below. I’ve even put my answers at the bottom of this post!

1. New Year Resolution?
2. Sport to Try?
3. Place to Visit Abroad?
4. Staycation to Book?
5. Bad habit to get rid of?
6. Book to read?
7. Unfinished project you want to finish?
8. Mountain to climb?
9. Skill to improve?
10. Film to watch?
11. Recipe to master?
12. Planned event you’re already looking forward to?
13. Something to start saving money for?
14. National Trust Heritage site to visit?
15. Film to carry on watching a million times over?
16. 2018 Challenge to complete? (#365PhotoChallenge?)
17. Fitness/Activity event to conquer?
18. Thing to be most grateful for?

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…

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

I’d love to hear your answers below and what goals you’ve got for 2018!

Christmas Cards & All the Trimmings

It was a lazy start to the morning. I woke up, but instead of getting ready straight away I went downstairs to grab a coffee and some Weetabix (because this girl is rather fond of some Weetabix in the morning) and hopped back into bed to write some Christmas cards. Catching up on Made In Chelsea as well of course!

However, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be a fan of the big MiC. There’s always a drama and they just seem to go round in circles rather than resolve arguments about the most minuscule of things.

So, with some Christmas cards written and my tummy full of Weetabix I slowly got my things together to get out on my bike. With a million layers thanks to me being so pathetic in the cold…ha…I headed out with no real plan of where I was heading.

The hills probably weren’t the best idea yet with all of the snow refusing to melt, so I ended up following country lanes over into Cheshire instead.

Having completed assignments I wanted to get sorted before going back to work after Christmas the night before, it was so refreshing to be able to get up and ride my bike with a clear head. I can try and switch off from work, but those deadlines always seem to play on your mind until they’re done don’t they? I can actually enjoy Christmas and not feel guilty for those assignments I haven’t done yet…because they’re all done. It was a hard slog to get them done, but they’re finally sorted.

The weather was fairly pleasant actually so I thought a 20 mile ride would be a good distance to aim for. Since I’ve been spending more time sitting at my desk than exercising lately, my fitness isn’t exactly great so I’m just easing myself back into things. I could just ride along at my own pace and get my legs use to being on the bike again.

At one point in my ride I thought it was going to become quite interesting. I turn the corner and the road is completely covered in hedge cuttings. I mean it was like a carpet of hedge cuttings right across the road. Yet somehow my tyres coped and I got around my ride ok, although I did have to stop a few times to check them!

Apart from that it was a fairly relaxing ride to be honest. I pretty much used my Garmin to record the mileage as I knew the stats wouldn’t be anything amazing. Although as the sun started to come out on my way home I knew I’d made the right decision in going out in the first place. I can’t remember which cyclist it was, but they said earlier in the year that a short ride is better than no ride. And I can totally agree with them.

Now though? It’s definitely time for a brew.

#PugsNotDrugs

Ryan seems to think I’m not too bad at going up hills, so a hill climb is what I ended up doing. One of those old traditions of road cycling that rears its head through September and October every year.

Apart from going up a hill as fast as you can, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was familiar with the undulating climb out of Oswestry as it was the road I’d use to get to the downhill tracks at Moelfre. As mad as it sounds, I’d always wanted to ride it on a road bike. The surface was good and it was a fairly long climb. And now I was racing up it… Naturally, I wanted to ride down it too.

We went to warm up by heading up the 1.6 mile climb and down a little lane. I was thankful for this as my legs needed waking up a bit. It did almost feel counter productive with the descent back down to the bottom, but nevermind. Finding myself close to 40mph through no effort of my own was a surprise ha!

Promptly getting to the start line, Ryan was setting off ahead of me. Shortly before he set off we were both in hysterics after he blurted out ‘#pugsnotdrugs‘. It definitely calmed my pre-race nerves when the image of ‘Bella the Pug‘ popped back ito my head. 

I soon found myself heading through what was almost like a tunnel of trees before popping out into the open again. It wasn’t a straight forward climb, more of an undulating one. There was the first kicker, a dip in the middle and a steep shoot up just to finish your legs off with the sting of riding uphill having sunk in ages ago. My head completely went. I was trying to jump up the cassette to find an easier gear whilst still in the big ring. When I finally found the easiest gear, I was going up the last steep shoot towards the end. 

Trying not to get distracted by a cute dog watching on the side, I was definitely at max effort. I crossed the finish line and darted off down a side road where I could do nothing but rest my head on my handlebars. Only for a farmer to shout out,

“A bit tough up that bank?”

Just a bit…

Swimming with Fishes

Swimming outside in the likes of lakes and meres has always been something I’ve wanted to do. After my failed attempt around this time last year, I’ve been working on my swimming ever since to try and conquer it. That and getting my body accustomed to being a bit cold!

Towards the end of this week I decided I wanted to try out my new Hubb wetsuit, which I bought a few weeks ago. Although this meant an early start to get to Manley Mere, I was curious to see how I’d get on.

Once kitted up it was a bit warmer than I’d expected. My hesitant first toe dip into the water, I didn’t feel the chill through my body I was expecting. It was actually quite pleasant. It was a little different when water started going through the zip of my wetsuit however! 


Since my last attempt, I’ve been working on my swimming quite a lot. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, but that’s something I want to change. Especially after getting the Triathlon bug and now wanting to try an outdoors one. 

So I’m a much stronger swimmer now, surely I’ll be ok?

Yea…swimming in open water is so much different to swimming in a pool! You’ve not got a wall to kick off every 25m…

But I gave it my best shot. My goal of trying to get at least the first buoy tarnished my weeds getting stuck around my ankle. And my body deciding it didn’t like the constant swimming. 

After my little dilemma and standing at the edge of the lake with every part of me wanting to get back in. A lady who’d already been around the lake once offered to show me the ropes of outdoor swimming. Up until this point I’d only managed breast stroke, which is quite ironic as it has always been my weakest stroke. She pointed out front crawl was much easier to do than breast stroke in a wetsuit. 

I just struggled breathing out under water when I was swimming outside for some reason. So she got me doing breast stroke, but this time put my head under a few times to get used to it. 

And it worked! 

All of a sudden I was doing front crawl. Granted, not very far, but still, we had progress. I’d not come away from there a complete failure.

On first arriving, I couldn’t have felt more of a newbie with the amount of Iron Man tattoos around. But thanks to the lady who showed me the ropes, I couldn’t wait to go back. 

I wanted to swim for longer, but thought it was best to end on a high and go back again soon. Especially now I have more of an idea what I’m doing. The morning’s antics had completely tired me out, so I was glad Ryan was there to get me home! 

Review: Speedo Tri-Suit

 

Speedo Tri-Suit Review, courtesy of Simply Swim

Going into my first Triathlon was a bit like going into the unknown. I had no clue how my body would react to it or if there was any special kit I needed. It was a sprint distance Tri in a swimming pool, so thankfully I didn’t need to splurge out on a wetsuit! However, I did need a Tri-Suit.

I was looking around on the Internet and trying to figure out what size and brand I should go for, then the opportunity arose to review one for swim shop, Simply Swim. Looking through their website it felt like I’d struck gold. A reasonably priced Tri-Suit by Speedo. It looked great online and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to the pink stripes on it! I knew I wanted a predominantly black suit, but I like to keep things a bit colourful too!


When it arrived I was surprised how well it fitted my athletic body shape. I’m forever struggling with sizing due to my broad shoulders and chunky cyclist quads. The only query I did have was how I would deal with the thin padding on the bike. The padding can’t obviously be as bulky as normal cycling shorts, or it would just fill with water!

On the morning of the Tri, I was eager to get into my Tri-Suit and race. Luckily I was one of the first off so I was soon in the pool. I’d only trained in the pool in a normal swimming costume, so I was surprised how comfy and non-restricting swimming in the Tri-Suit was. Due to the wide panel that goes between the shoulders, I thought this may restrict my shoulders. However, the more you look at it, the outer parts of that panel are mesh, meaning the main section sit right in between my shoulder. Hence, little restriction whilst swimming.


There is also another mesh section a bit further down the back and in the centre. I felt this also aided the swim, allowed me to get into my normal position on the bike, as well as accommodating the slight twisting of the upper body on the run.

Riding through the Glyn Ceiriog Valley and out on the run, I was expecting the legs of the Tri-Suit to rise a fair bit. I have this dilemma with my cycling shorts quite a bit! But I can genuinely say I had no issues with the Tri-Suit legs rising up, which is most likely thanks to the grips on the inside of the legs. With some women complaining about discomfort in their suits, I’d obviously chosen my Tri-Suit well!


All of the seaming is overlocked meant I had no issue with discomfort from the suit rubbing on my skin as I put all my effort into getting round. The thin padding I mentioned previously did its job particularly well too. Granted it was only around 14 miles on the bike, but the majority of that was sitting down.

For the £80 it was being sold for, you are definitely getting a lot for your money. It’s clearly designed around the task in hand as well as comfort for the athlete using it. I’m even considering getting a swim suit to train in, as I was much more comfortable swimming in my Tri-Suit than my normal swim suit.


For a newbie to Sprint Triathlon’s like me, this suit was perfect to get me round my first Triathlon, and most importantly make me want to do another one!

Find out how I got on during the Triathlon through the link below, as well as my first thoughts on the Tri-Suit when it arrived and its detailing…

Chirk Tri

First Thoughts on a Speedo Tri-Suit

#WorkoutWednesday: 5th April 2017


Swiping to the right on my phone to see the countdown to my first triathlon ticking away, it hit me. We’re now in the month of April and it’s less than 20 days until it all kicks off. 

Yikes!

I’ve had plenty of training to do and thankfully got the 400m mark in the pool, which is what I need to do come race day. It was an odd session really, definitely mind over matter. 

Getting into the pool I was tense and unsure of if I could hit the 400m mark. With obviously not long left to get there, I was naturally a bit worried! Worrying played havoc with my breathing, but all of a sudden I found my self just going back and to in the pool. Racking those all important lengths up. 

Granted, once those 400m were done I had to sit in the jacuzzi pool for a bit to get my breath back…but I still reached my 400m milestone!

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in getting a personal trainer or following a strict diet, but sometimes setting yourself some realistic goals each month can make a huge difference! I’ve built up my ability in the 100m at a time.

What do you find helps with training? Do you prefer to train alone, or get someone to sort all your sessions out for you? Leave it in the comments below, whether you’re a training champion or just do it to keep healthy/enjoy it.