Triathlon? Are you mad?

Super sprint triathlon.

200m swim

5000m bike

2000m run
I did it.
Around 6 weeks ago, my good friend Andrew George sent me a link to the Chichester Westgate Triathlon Club’s GoTri event – a super sprint event aimed at beginners and first timers. 
I mulled over it for a couple of weeks, then signed up. For £7.50, what was there to lose? I sent him an “OMG my finger slipped I think I’m in” email. He laughed and said he had only been joking, but I knew secretly he was quite pleased that he had indeed dangled a carrot, and this silly ass bit it.
Today was the day. I was supported by the ever present Hopkins. And the carrot dangler Mr George. And also by Junior George, the lovely Evie, who is now my team mascot.
So what did I learn?
Well I can honestly say that by the time I arrived just before 9am this morning, I was absolutely sick to the pit of my stomach. 

As a first timer, I was ill preparerd kit wise, but everyone starts somewhere, and I was relieved to see others with ordinary bikes, swimming costumes. Just stuff. Few had “all the gear” I was pleased however that my leggy costume did look ok, even if my un-model-like shape took the edge off it. And when they wrote the number on my arm and leg in that indelible marker, I started to feel the part.

The swim

I am a crap swimmer. Actually, Hopkins has corrected me, I am an ineffectual swimmer. All of the effort for absolute no speed at all. I can’t coordinate my breathing for the crawl, so I opted for my snail like breast stroke.  I frequently caught another lady’s bow wave and this unsettled me. I can float for hours, but I’m not a strong swimmer. I do need lessons and need to be taught to coordinate breathing, and arms and legs.
Transition 1

We had to leave shoes at the back door of the pool because we then had to run from the pool to the transition area nearby. As I intended wearing socks with my shoes, I pondered the need to have towel, talc, socks and shoes at the back door. I opted to leave my crocs, and sort my feet at transition. I am eternally grateful for Hopkins not videoing this section. Crocs squeak when wet.

Wet. Yes. My feet blister like peaches, so I do wear socks. Talc applied, socks on, shoes on, top on……. uh oh. Cycling shorts took a bit to get on. Got that arse for elbow. I spent a lot of time here, but not as much time as the lady who sent some texts, got some gear on and sent some more txts. My delays were due to the damp clothing and I now have permission to purchase a Tri suit. 

​Despite not being on my bike at all really in almost 3 years, I couldn’t complain about my ride. I have an urban bike, and it’s slow and heavy.  I was envious of the ladies on their drop handlebar bikes.

Transition 2
I was annoyed that the others either side of me returned their bikes and left me less space than I had previously. It was a faff to get my bike back in.  Wide urban handlebars. No good..​

I had been warned that the legs would be rubbish after the ride. OMG the Quads????? Treacle. It was like running through treacle.   And the damp!!! By now all the damp that had run off me was in my cycling shorts and they were so very heavy, so it took the best part of 500m to tie the waist tighter so I didn’t look a right dreepy drawers (anc. Scots – trousers hanging low). The run was a different kind of tired altogether than anything I have previously experienced, so I need to cycle more.
I’m even more driven to get a proper road bike again.
Sprint finish. No, no sprint finish, but i wasn’t the last to cross the line.

I finished in just under 40 minutes, which was my target. 

I’m hooked.
Massive thanks to Andy, and to Evie for hanging about (sorry you got cold, ask jo for my sweater next time), and of course to Jo Hopkins. My absolute rock.  Can I look at bikes now too?

Super sprint triathlon.

200m swim
5000m bike
2000m run



One bank holiday weekend

One bib
Three tags
Three races
Four medals

Saturday – East Grinstead 10mile
Sunday – Haywards Heath 10mile
Monday – Burgess Hill 10km

Bring. On. The. Bling.

S words….

If you are not prepared to help yourself, then its only fair that you shouldn’t expect other pople to do the dirty work. You also need to accept the saying – shit in, shit out. It really is true when Gillian McKeith famously told us – you are what you eat. 

I was a big sugar lump.

It is really not until you drop something from your diet and you lose a ton of weight that you realise how much damage you have been doing for years, and how food producers have been drugging us…….

I did sugar free Februray. Now, Davina told me that it was OK to substitue granulated sugar with honey, so at times, I did just that. I had already dropped something like 20 spoons of sugar a day by cutting tea and coffee out of my diet almost entirely, and I use a stevia based sweetener in my morning coffee, but doing sugar free meant I needed to look at every sugar in my diet. in hindsight, Davina didn’t do me any good…..

Morning juice – packed full of vitamin C!! l Iove it. However, it contains almost as much sugar per 100ml as a can of branded cola! Would you have cola with your toast in the/morning? No.  The process of extracting the juice from an orange or an apple or other fruit removes all of the fibre, which, in a whole fruit, binds to the sugar. Fibre slows the digestion process, it lowers cholesterol and blood glucose. It slows down the absorption of sugar, and makes you feel fuller for longer. Take 10 oranges, and figure just how much fruit sugar you are getting, without the fruit itself. Seriously, you can get vitamin C from whole fruit and veg, without the high sugar levels that pressed fruit drinks give. This includes smoothie drinks made with pressed fruit puree that have added juice, usually apple or grape juice to make them thinner.

Honey – with more sugars per teaspoon than conventional granulated sugar, this natural alternative is equally as bad if not worse than sugar as you know it, and don’t reach for the maple syrup, this other natural alternative, is just as bad. 

Look at the ingredients

There is added sugar in pretty much everything that’s tasty. And remember that here in the UK, ingredients are always listed in order of volume. If sugar is first, you can bet your last note that it is the primary ingredient. It’s not always called “sugar” though…..  Glucose, Fructose, dextrose, maltose, caramel, caramel syrup, syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar (wtf?).

We shall call them S words.

So what S words did I find in my sugar free month? Here are some “for goodness sake” moments:

Cooked Ham – I fancied a ham sandwich one sunday afternoon. We were in Sainsbury’s and we had nice bread, so I was looking at the nice packs of ham. None of that cheap crap – if there’s something I’ve learned, when you have a treat, make it worthwhile – nice ham. So I started to review the ingredients list. 20 minutes later, I found one. One. I didn’t mind so much that the honey roast ham types would have one of the S words, but to find virtually no hams that didn’t contain sugar was an eyeopener.

Stock cubes
–  Seriously, why do Oxo cubes even have sugar in them? Outrageous. And for  those of you that thought everything in my house was repared from fresh…. I do cheat. I doubt Jo would let me keep bones for boiling stock.

Sauce mixes
– I only found the Co-op Cheese sauce mix not to have any S words. The main brands of Schwartz and Colemans all had S words in their sauces, casserole mixes, dry marinades and the likes. They must taste really rubbish otherwise.

Tartar Sauce – This really is getting ridiculous – this was a dealbreaker for my fish finger sandwich, so I had to do without.
Jar sauces– almost always carry some S ingredient – which is why I have always tended towards home cooked, also supporting low salt intake.

Low fat – what a complete con. Take out the fat, remove half the flavour, and perk up the flavour with sugars and salts. Before you know it you are diabetic…..  The worst culprits for this are diary based products. Live yoghurt feeds the right stomach bacteria. Normal yoghurt, natural and unflavoured, is far better for gut bacteria, the live cultures keeping your stomach bacteria in check. Low fat or zero fat yoghurt contains less live cultures, and more sugars, or worse – artificial sweeteners, which in turn upsets the balance of bacteria and results in glucose intolerance, and increases the risk of diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners – can still raise sugar levels. Some sudies have shown that even normal weight people who consume above average levels of artificial sweeteners have a higher risk of diabetes than overweight people who stick to lower levels of sugar. Food producers have conned us all into thinking that artificial sugars which are non-calorific are healthy. They are not. Whilst keeping our sweet tooth fully engaged, they actually reduce enery intake. They trick our brains into thinking we need more sugar. We do still need sugars to survive. Just not as much as you might think. Here, the NHS, and in America the FDA recommends avoiding saccharin based sweeteners, and instead using sugar alcohols which are found in fruits and berries which can be artificially replicated for food, so look for sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt or maltolitol. But they do have a tendency to make you fart. Erythritol, is the least gas inducing.  Sugar alcohols are better metabolised without your body needing to produce insulin, and don’t have such a horrid aftertaste.
I have found that for me personally, stevia works best. It’s a plant extract but has been shown to have anti-diabetic properties, and reduces blood glucose levels. I buy Truvia tabs, and have found it equally palatable in tea and coffee.
Finally, I think my best advice is this: Look at what you eat. If tea and coffee are your poison, reduce the numbers of cups. If it’s sugary drinks, replace with water. But take little steps to wean yourself off. Bin the diet drinks with sweeteners. Food and drink doesn’t have to be crammed with sugar to be tasty. Make time to cook from fresh, cook in bulk and freeze food. If you don’t have time, you need to make time, before time is taken away from you by your health failing. 
There is nothing worse than running out of time due to sudden and avoidable death.  

Well I’ll be….

So Hopkins and I were jointly awarded the Horsham parkrunner of the month award yesterday. Jointly gobsmacked, and for the gentleman who asked Jo about how we share it….. we share a mantlepiece too!!
We are so very grateful to the parkrun community, nay……family, for their inclusiveness, friendliness and for the never ending support from other runners before, during and after three laps of our gently undulating course. parkrun, as a regular Saturday morning thing really is a stroke of genius, and Paul Sinton-Hewitt should at some point be made a knight for getting people off the sofa in such a lighthearted and friendly way.
For us, parkrun starts Friday evening, sorting our running kit, charging our watches etc. Saturday morning we leave the house at 8.30 for the short jog to the park, and at 9am we are off. When I first started parkrun, Jo had quite a wait while I dragged my small round frame round the route, she often passed me before I even started my last lap. 
We have made so many fantastic friends on our parkrun journey, too many to name, but the posse really are the most fantastic group of Lycra clad buddies you could ever ask for.  
For both of us, the regularity of the Saturday morning run saw the beginning of what has become a much more structured training week, and we even joined our local group, Horsham Joggers. At the last look at our diary, we have twenty events planned for 2017. So far……
We ran every day in January in the morning, in the dark, in the rain and in the snow, aiming for an average of 5k every day for the month, and that hard work paid off. We’re running 10 miles a couple of times a week now, over trails, road, and parkrun is an integral part of that.  
We both had longstanding parkrun PB’s. My 31.40 stood still and unbeatable for around 6 months, and Jo’s 25.03 was unbeaten in over a year. Late March and early April, we have both done back to back PB’s to take my time to 29.12 (catching her) and Jo’s to 23.17 (she moved the target), and we are both hugely grateful to our run buddies for helping us achieve these times.
Our main event for 2017 is the Barnes Green half, which properly broke me in 2014, last finisher and so broken, I didn’t run for a year. (I’m coming to get you.). Our target for year end is to be comfortably running 16 miles, so we can have a crack at the Brighton Marathon next year, and be ever hopeful of a place in London.

Horsham parkrun, this is all down to you, and we will be eternally grateful. You guys rock!
Carol and Jo

Fame at last!!!

Mentioned in the West Sussex County Times!!!