Category Archives: thirties

Lovely family day out?! aka Very late race report (found unpublished in draft folder!)

Last weekend I took part in an extremely painful duathlon in Cambridgeshire. Actually, as far as duathlons go it wasn’t any more painful than the next… it just helped me reaffirm my conclusion that ALL duathlons are painful, fullstop.

Our morning started at 5am, when I dragged my thirteen year old daughter out of bed and told her to dress in VERY warm clothes. She muttered something that I was clearly supposed to not quite hear under her breath which contained the phrases “middle of the night”….”standing next to a freezing lake”….. “lovely family day out….huh”

I then finished packing the car, forced down a bowl of porridge and bravely woke up Jon, who rather strangely  muttered something along the same lines as Rosie.

Troll was happy to get up at 5am, she likes a good adventure (declaring daily that she is going to be “an explorer and adventurer” when she’s bigger) and was smart enough to recognise that a 1.5 hour car journey in both directions would almost certainly at some point equate to sweets to shut her up.

Racing can be stressful enough without five children to entertain at the same time, so the remaining children, Violet (6), Daisy (10) and Clyde (12) had been split between two sets of grandparents the day before. This pleased Jon, who would be left entertaining the children by a freezing lake whilst I was two miles into a hilly run, wishing that i’d stuck to triathlon racing.

Google maps for once produced a shockingly accurate route for us, which only involved one very minor discrepancy at the end of the journey – when we pulled in to the wrong carpark at Grafham water and had a 20 second we’ve-got- the-wrong-day panic, with no runners or bikes to be seen!

The one good thing I can say about duathlons, is that at least you don’t have to climb into a freezing lake to kickstart your race. No, but you do have to either opt to strip down to your lycra racing clothes and freeze for the first ten minutes or, do what I did (which is ultimately more painful) and decide not to take off the layers you had put on as a keeping-warm measure over your tri-suit, race in them and boil.

This was only one of a handful of duathlons that I had ever done (being more familiar with triathlons) and the first race ever that had an “open” transition. This meant that you could rack your bike/collect your running shoes from anywhere you liked, rather than a specifically numbered place in the rack. I quite liked this idea, as I have a bad reputation for running up and down the racks like a head-less chicken and completely missing my bike. Despite this bonus, I still managed to run past my bike and almost steal another competitor’s cycling shoes (which were the same brand as mine)…

The start to the initial 5k run was fast, painful and made me feel like a baby elephant trying to keep up with herd of antelope. That’s duathletes for you. Mainly thin, mainly fast, mainly men, mainly sewn into tight black 2XU compressing lycra. I raced in my Aldi bike top.

I enjoyed the bike ride and final run because by then most of the mega-fast people had disappeared and the surrounding competitiors were more in my league and somehow (because 25 year old men’s results made no difference to my agegroup’s results) my overall performance managed to secure me a roll-down place for the GB age group team for the European sprint duathlon champs in the Netherlands in April 2014.

This blog has been sitting in my draft folder since 2013, April is now only a few weeks away and my nightly dreams mainly encompass baby elephants wearing lycra GB tri-suits…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under age-group, children, comedy, duathlon, family, fitness, funny, funny things kids say, grumpy husbands, health, humour, ironman, Running, Sport, thirties, Triathlon

Couch Potato Versus Runner Bean…

When I am not mucking out, social networking or wiping up child spillages, I can usually be found running round the local villages, cycling round rural Nottinghamshire or at the swimming pool.

I know some people think it’s mad but this is what I choose to do for my “me time” rather than, for instance, watching TV (unless either the Grand National or triathlon highlights are on, in which case you’ll find me under a duvet in front of the fire snacking on Quality Street).

I often read people saying on Facebook or Twitter that they would like to get fit, lose weight or get back into a hobby and, in so far as any of my blogs have a purpose beyond the fact that I just feel like writing them, the point of this one is to say: “if I can do it, anyone can”.

(All right, it is also because it is extremely cold outside and I need a good excuse to avoid having to clean the bathroom in which the sink, in particular, would not look out of place in a Glastonbury portable toilet cubicle).

The thing is that, while you might often hear me banging on about how much I love running, cycling, swimming, skiing and, of course, horse riding, I am far from a “natural athlete”.

Except for netball (which I seemed to be quite good at), I was more often than not picked in the last handful of people in school PE lessons. Admittedly, this might have been down to my bad haircut, very untrendy Puffa horse riding school coat and resolute refusal to wear makeup but it must also have said something about my sporting talent…

Apart from riding, I am relatively new to most of my sports and not necessarily very good at them yet.

Take skiing. I have spent a couple of my happiest weeks on the slopes but I am no expert. In fact, I have been told by various experienced skiers that my gung-ho, jumpy style would be far more suited to being on a snowboard. My husband, however, would never let me on a snowboard as snowboards are apparently not for respectable 36-year-old mothers of five. Besides, he says, I look grungy enough in my mucking out gear all year round without having to dress that way on our family ski holiday.

Despite my lack of grace on a pair of skis, I can already kick my husband’s ass down a long bumpy black run because I’m fitter and his thigh muscles get tired. (strangely, Jon strongly disagrees with what he describes as this “outrageous” statement and claims that I don’t realize how much he “slows down” for my benefit. I feel a down-hill slalom race coming on …)

My favourite hobby – or, as Jon would say, obsession – at the moment is probably running but I am not a natural runner.

Just as with skiing, I have a rather unique and unnecessarily “twisty” running action – which cannot be very efficient and must certainly waste vital energy that I could be using to make me go faster.

I have been doing various exercises to try to improve my running technique and I think might have succeeded in toning down some of the oddities. Even so, I still look like I’m struggling through mile 25 of an off-road marathon even when I’m just jogging a mile down the road and feeling as fresh as a daisy.

While I have always enjoyed running, I have to admit that it is far more enjoyable once:

a)      You are fit;

b)      You are doing the correct type of training;

c)      You start to do quite well in races

d)      You can see an improvement in your results in line with all the effort.

If you have bothered to get this far down the page and have had even the teeniest “I wish I did some form of sport” thought, then read on and let me persuade you to log onto eBay and order yourself a pair of new trainers…

1)  Firstly, when I am at the end of a run or have finished one, although I am physically tired – I feel full of energy and I know it’s a cliché but I feel “alive”.

2)  Exercise has made me fitter, faster and stronger and I have been able to take part in some fabulous fun things, which I’d have never been able to do if I were a couch potato. Examples being “Survival of the fittest” obstacle race, Dambuster Olympic distance triathlon and the most recent addition to my weekend schedule – running for the Readyfield hunt and being chased over the countryside by a pack of bloodhounds…

3)  I have lost weight, whilst still eating pretty much what I want.

4)  I have toned up all over and only have a minimal patch of lumpy fat at the top of my thighs now, as opposed to loads of it before I started my fitness regime!

5)  Running and triathlon races not only give me a “goal” to work towards but I usually sign up to them with a friend and we have loads of fun both on the day and in training for them.

6)  I have completely replaced my horse-buying tendencies with a much cheaper lycra running outfit addiction.

7) I have a valid excuse for falling asleep on the sofa every night and leaving Jon to deal with the 5-child chaos, bedtime excuses and washing up.

8)Schadenfreude – As in when I bump into certain old classmates who were “too cool” to speak to me at school and discover that their thighs are bigger than my waist. I know it’s wrong but no one is perfect.

 

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under comedy, fitness, funny, getting older, health, humour, Running, self-help, Sport, Swimming, thirties, Triathlon, weight-loss

Reasons to be happy about being 36

It is my birthday this week and I will be 36 and, as Shania Twain once said: “that don’t impress me much”.

However, to cheer myself up, I have been trying to come up with a few reasons why 36 is better than 26.

 Things I used to do in my 20s that I can’t (or wouldn’t want to) do now

1) Go out on the town in winter wearing only a mini dress and no coat.

(I might still be seen out on the town in a mini dress but Jon would never, ever let me out the front door without a cardigan AND coat.)

2) Ride lunatic horses – bucking broncos, stroppy donkeys and even the odd surprised cow, I have ridden them all.

(Not any more. Was I braver back then or have I just developed some common sense?   Maybe falling off just hurts more when you are older – or perhaps it’s that missing disc in my spine?)

3) My uni friends and I used to buy vodka, wine, whiskey, hooch, lager and many other ethanol-based liquids, tip them into a giant dustbin and add coke or orange juice to make what we called “carbuncle juice”. Strangely, we didn’t use this mixture to strip wallpaper but, instead, we drank it.

(I cannot explain or understand why I ever did this but maybe hangovers hurt less ten years ago.)

4) We would also all go night-clubbing dressed as described in point one and stay out until 6am.

(Sundays are better when you have had at least six hours sleep.)

5) Put both ankles behind my head at the same time as a party trick.

I can no longer do this due to a stiff back. However, why would I want to? Fortunately, I am still quite flexible and can still perform useful tasks like biting my own toe nails. Jon wishes it was the other way round.

6) Tolerate grumpy husbands.

I used to put up with high levels of grumpy man syndrome when I was married to husband number one. This didn’t help our marriage in the long run and only encouraged him to become progressively grumpier. Unfortunately for upgrade husband, I learnt from my mistakes and so I now maintain a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to grumpiness. Of course, this does not stop me getting a grumpy husband occasionally but he knows I won’t talk to him until he has cheered up. The alternative way of looking at this, as put forward by Jon, is that I have become a grumpy old cow in my old age.

Things I do at 36 that I could/would not do in my 20s

1) Run a marathon, race in a triathlon, swim front crawl  – although I ran the occasional 10k when I was younger, I would have much rather gone out on a Saturday night drinking than have to stay in and drink tea because I had a race in the morning. Plus, young women are such wimps aren’t they?

2) Wear shorts. All that running and swimming has made my bum smaller.

3) Multi-tasking. Like most mothers, I am well practised at simultaneously cooking, answering the phone, bouncing a toddler on my hip and constructing a Playdough and tinfoil T-Rex. Before having children, multi-tasking meant downing two shots of two different spirits at the same time.

4) Don’t have an overdraft. When I was in my 20’s my overdraft was an essential part of my life.  I have got better with money (I think only one horse buying error this year is an improvement, don’t you?).  Upgrading husbands has obviously helped matters significantly.

5) I can now walk well in high heels……..ok, that was a lie – I still walk like John Wayne after 48 hours in the saddle.

6) Go out the house without makeup. Makeup? Seriously? Strictly for going out  or special occasions – only because I can’t be bothered and, besides, you look stupid all done up when you are covered in horse poo don’t you?

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under birthdays, Family, funny, getting older, grumpy husbands, happy birthday, humour, large families, nearly forty, self-help, thirties